GNOME 3,issues,bugs and fonts

This post attempts to share what has been happening in the GNOME world in the last couple of weeks and few of the issues I had been having.

This last weekend, GNOME 3 got a huge boost which catapulted it into being usable for sid folks. It was actually usable for sid folks for about couple of months now but you had to pull things from experimental and from whatever I saw/knew at that time it was not a good show.

When I did my transition to GNOME 3 I had the wisdom of search engines and the wiki at Archlinux which has surprisingly a very good collection of documentation on many a topics. I have been finding using it quite a bit rather than the wiki at Debian.

One of the interesting things when upgrading what happened was it had to upgrade glib2.0 as well as gdm3. It was good that I have two other display managers installed as during the upgrade it needed a different one to make the transition over. Once the new one was installed it again prompted me for a default display-manager.

One of the first things I did was to make gnome-session-fallback as my main thing as my system doesn’t have the graphic digs to take on GNOME 3. I do have a spare PCI Express slot where I could slide a Rs. 2k/3k graphic card AMD card and see GNOME 3 in all its glory but that would be expensive if just doing it for GNOME 3.

Anyways, I do have to do much as all my shortcuts/soft links/symbolic links which are on the desktop have disappeared and the desktop itself isn’t usable. As people know can use the panel also but just, cannot manually position the icons as before. So this made me a bit sad. Add to that being unable to put anything on the desktop made it doubly so. I do hope though that gnome 3.2 does fix some of these big eyesores at least, otherwise there is also gnome-shell-extensions but not sure if they do something with gnome-session-fallback as well. I had read the musings on it at the time it was being discussed, see a design post which talks about the same. So one can think of gnome-session-fallback as gnome2.5 rather than gnome3 which needs hardware acceleration. While I have shared about GNOME 3 in the past, for the more curious the GNOME 3 history page gives more of a clue of how it came to be.I cannot use GNOME 3 because of Intel’s laziness/business decision whatever you want to call it. As GNOME shell‘s FAQ and the above history explains they were doing it for netbooks and touch interfaces which lot of these new-generation laptops,notebooks and netbooks have and would be surely having down the road.Also the explosion in resistive,capacitive and other tactile technologies is going to be big down the road. So when you have a combo of the two there is a need for interfaces which can use that.

What was interesting to me was the upgrade from GNOME 2 to GNOME 2.5 (my take on gnome-session-fallback). I followed the explicit instructions to make backups of three dot directories/hidden files so as to give GNOME 3 have a fresh perspective. The only biggie I think I lost was chromium session apart from it, it has been nice.

I also ran into a few bugs, see for e.g. this and this which is to be expected with a transition so big and large.

One of the big things I came to know about the transition is the inclusion of packagekit as a part of GNOME 3. I haven’t played even a small bit with packagekit but know its RedHat‘s take on package management and from what I have seen of its operations in the wild (other people’s blog posts) it seems similar in aptitude at least from user’s/sysadmin’s perspective/operations. I think the inclusion seems to have been due to RedHat’s taking an active interest in GNOME 3 deployments and I’m sure there is already a partnership or something on that lines. Nothing bad in it but just to keep in mind.

The other big change was of Nautilus and it clearly has made it better looking. What is good for me is that finally I can use CTRL++ in any application and the font-size increases so basically all those hours spent in front of Mozilla Firefox/iceweasel and other browsers didn’t go to waste 🙂

So in the end, how would I rate Debian’s efforts to get GNOME 3 to people. On a scale of 1 to 5 I would give it three, I would have given it a five if it had been done a month ago but then this is a volunteer project as well .

Anyways, I do see some half-finished jobs in GNOME 3 which should have been fixed in GNOME 3.2 or/and GNOME 3.4 in the near future. I had been using gnome-terminal 3 for quite sometime and have grown to like it.

While I was doing that, I also came across a bug/issue about gnome-backgrounds. If you go to Apps > System Tools > Preferences > GNOME System Settings > Background or use :-
$gnome-control-center background you will see only something like 10 odd backgrounds. Even if you add wallpapers from some other directory they will just remain for the session and that directory would not be there for the next session.

I do remember seeing/attempting to use /usr/share/gnome-background-properties/gnome-backgrounds.xml to let the system know the existence of other backgrounds/wallpapers but it is/was too hard. Each picture entry names had to be translated to 50 names which is a pain.

Why I am so much behind wallpapers is I get bored quite easily by looking at the same background every day. So I want a way in which the background is changed everyday without me having to do the same thing everyday. Sadly, such a thing seems not to be possible at least in GNOME 3 (where I had hoped it would be). Later, I came to know of two apps which promise to do the same, the first one is drapes

$ aptitude show drapes
Package: drapes
State: not installed
Version: 0.5.2-3.2
Priority: optional
Section: gnome
Maintainer: Francesco Namuri
Uncompressed Size: 2,392 k
Depends: mono-runtime (>=, libc6 (>= 2.10) | libc6.1 (>= 2.10) | libc0.1 (>= 2.10),
libgconf2.0-cil (>= 2.24.0), libglade2.0-cil (>= 2.12.9), libglib2.0-cil (>= 2.12.9),
libgnome-vfs2.0-cil (>= 2.24.0), libgnome2.24-cil (>= 2.24.0), libgnomepanel2.24-cil (>=
2.26.0), libgtk2.0-0 (>= 2.18.0), libgtk2.0-cil (>= 2.12.9), libmono-corlib2.0-cil (>=, libmono-posix2.0-cil (>= 2.4), libmono-system2.0-cil (>= 2.4.3), libx11-6, gconf2
(>= 2.10.1-2)
Suggests: mono
Description: a desktop wallpaper management application for the GNOME desktop
The aim of drapes is to complete (or replace) the built-in GNOME desktop wallpapers selection tool.
It can be configured as a tray application or as a panel applet. The biggest selling point of drapes
is the ability to rotate wallpapers on a timely basis. It strives to be as simple as possible and
fits in the rest of the GNOME 2 desktop.
Homepage: http://drapes.mindtouchsoftware.come/

Tags: implemented-in::c-sharp, interface::x11, role::program, scope::utility, use::configuring,
x11::applet, x11::application

The above is/was rejected as it’s a mono-based app and I don’t want mono as it’s not needed for any other app. The other is an online script but that too is quite a bit of hard work.

The third and the most promising one is Wally . There is an RFP bug on that for at least a year and nothing seems to have been changed. In part probably because it’s a QT4 technology.

Anyways, while I was reminiscing or thinking about the .xml file it also occurred to me that many of the fonts/font-faces I have not installed in the system. While I do not read any of the other languages on the web I do like to read people’s names who are maintaining the packages via the package apt-listchanges and many a time the name is not readable because they have used a font which I have not installed and hence don’t get it right. It took me sometime to get it right. I wish there were meta-packages such as fonts-asia,font-latin-america or something on those lines and I could download all the fonts at one go. I’m sure going forward they will try to make it simpler for guys like me.

Anyways, that’s all for now. There are lots of things which I need to set up in GNOME 3 so hopefully would set at least set some things by this weekend. Looking forward to seeing GNOME 3.2 soonish.


4 thoughts on “GNOME 3,issues,bugs and fonts

  1. Dear Debashri,
    Thank you for writing. The system I am using/playing with is a LGA 775 Dual-Core 2.7 Ghz E5400 Codename : Wolfdale proc. The Intel chipset given on the Asus P5KPL-AM IN mobo (the IN is symbolic for indian otherwise world-over is/was sold as just Asus P5KPL-AM) which has an Intel G31 chipset. Think it has something around 256 MiB of onboard memory and if memory serves it can’t take more memory from the main memory. Have 2 GiB non-ECC memory.

    I shared about it in

    After seeing your comment I removed and let GNOME 3 choose if it needed to choose fallback or do GNOME 3. Funnily or not, it choose to also go with the fallback option.

    As far as packagekit is concerned, I didn’t say or have any other meaning other than saying that RedHat was pushing a solution. Its good in the sense there is an alternative which also does work as a pressure to the various package management tool makers as well (apt,apt-get,aptitude etc.) . It might also be good for people who are already familiar with packagekit to also use it on Debian as well. For people like me who swear by aptitude (even though its a memory hog) can’t change. I am biased 😉

  2. Two things.

    What graphics card do you have? I am running GNOME 3 on an ancient Thinkpad X60 with the integrated Intel GPU.

    Secondly, PackageKit is not Fedora or Red Hat specific. Neither is it meant for server administrators. It tries to provide a distribution neutral API for very simple package management tasks that an ordinary user wants to do. Hence it provides a small subset of the features available through conventional tools like yum or apt. (See the yum vs. zif discussions.) However it still uses the distrobution’s packaging format through different backends.

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