My two cents on improving GNOME

Note: This is not bashing, but constructive criticism. This post is based on my personal experiences.

I have been a GNOME user since I have jumped into Linux bandwagon. Even though trying out KDE and XFCE, I always had to fall back to GNOME even though people are said never to be happy with it. As I feel, just jumping here and there, changing DE’s won’t help. If I feel something is lacking or some feature is buggy, I would surely poiny it out. The criticism would be constructive. Just have a look.


Even though Nautilus is not like Konqueror, its still far from perfect. I have always faced problems using this file explorer. It crashes, freezes and sometimes doesn’t generate thumbnails when it should. In my last hardy installation I installed apport just to report bugs more properly. To my surprise, it always came up once or twice a day with “nautilus crashed” report. Nautilus suddenly dies or when I click Quit, apport shows up a bug report. Even though it is tolerable, one day I met this error report which made me go mad. I didn’t try deciphering what went wrong, just clicked on Close and slept 😦

Crash Report Crashed
Now what to do next?

Maybe I should shift to Dolphin for the time being, but Konquerer is no no for me.

Gnome Power Management

This is a place which can be improved a lot. Let’s have a look at the interface.

GNOME Power Monitor can be improved
Want to change the minimum time

“Put display to sleep when inactive for” shows a minimum of 11 minutes.  Sometimes when I go to sleep and set a torrent on download, I would like to screen to go off immediately, say 2 mins. The minimum time should not be so high. I know a simple workaround would be to hack the source code and re-compile. Here is an example of the geekery.

Update: Anon pointed out in the comments that the minimum time is greater than the minimum time the screensaver comes in action. So, what I wanted to say exactly is here , maybe it’s stupid in the first sense, but this is what I look for every night. This won’t drastically change GNOME, but can surely give me what I want (or maybe others too)

Let’s imagine I want my display to turn off instantly? Is there anything which allows he to do so? The workaround is to type this command in the terminal

xset dpms force off

Will every tom, dick and harry would be able to do this? I too figure it our googling here and there.

GNOME System Monitor

This is one application I love a lot since it shows everything I need. The biggest problem is the amount of CPU it sucks while running. If you don’t believe, then check this Bug Report on GNOME Bugzilla and on Launchpad bugs

This problem would seem hardly of any relevance, but it defeats the purpose of having this app in the first place. The advise of using “top” isn’t so handy. Everyone doesn’t know about “top”.

Gnome System Monitor going crazy
Gnome System Monitor going crazy

GNOME Configuration Editor

Please add some sense to gconf-editor. It is no better than Windows Registry. GNOME doesn’t have much configuration options available via GUI and for advanced hacks, we need to fall back to this place. Initially I was taken aback by such confusing interface. The only thing which is better than windows registry is that the key names are a bit sensible. I can understand that gconf-editor allows fine tuning the advanced settings, but still it is hardly of any use when you need it badly.

Sometimes you might face a problem that the background isn’t being able to set howsoever I try. The fix was in this app. You need to move to /desktop/background/ and check the draw_background checkbox. The sensible names of the keys save us or else it would be just another nightmare


14 thoughts on “My two cents on improving GNOME

    1. Thanks for this info. Didn’t know about this.

      Well, the reason for that wish is that say at night, I put on some torrents/distro to download and switch off the light. The room is fully illuminated and I can’t sleep 😀

  1. One thing that is key to my continued use of Gnome is making sure it provides the functions and programs I need without having to depend on Mono. Until I am sure that there are no patent problems with using Mono I will not install it on any important system.

    1. AFAIK tomboy uses Mono and libmono is by default installed in Ubuntu and Fedora.

      I am also a bit sceptical about Mono as it looks like a trap. I have used .NET on windows (as a dev) but I feel repelled from Mono

  2. Some month ago I had written an article on the GNOME Power Management insane unusability – thanks for your article!
    I still wonder who came up with this absurd Power Management design idea…

    1. Maybe you meant the usability factor which is not upto the quality.
      It has always worked like a charm for me, except that it has too few options like the one I pointed out (LCD off).

      I agree that minimalist design should be a driving principle, but it is no excuse to stripping off important features. This principle should be followed just to avoid bloat from being incorporated.

  3. You are an opinionated person and like to change things you dont like. I appreciate that in you. Keep it up 🙂

    1. Thanks Debayan,
      After all, its one of the four freedom of FOSS. Everyone should exercise it. I just exercise it too much and a bit fanatic about customisation 😛

    1. Jason,
      That locks the screen, not switches off the LCD/Monitor.

      Do this and then switch off the lights. You would still find that the LCD is illuminating your room 🙂

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