GNOME 3.16 Preview: The coolest GNOME till date

Okay, so the coolest thing in the history of GNOME has arrived, dubbed GNOME 3.16. With its cool, improved, minimalist and modern UI that now has a grey theme along with a redesigned notification system, it looks neat and clean. The new decorated windows and more improved notification popups make the whole thing look much more polished and better than any other versions released till date.

However, at the same time there’re also some frustrations associated with it because of shortcomings in critical areas. I’ve been a KDE Plasma user till now, so I’m going to examine and compare everything that new GNOME has to offer from the eyes of a Plasma user. Enough talking, now let’s get down to the business.

First impressions on UI

It must be said that the work done on UI of this release makes the whole environment look much more polished, so chances are good enough that you’re gonna like what you see at first. However, you’re not gonna like the default icon theme because it doesn’t look modern from any angle and reminds of something from 90s. To make it worse, you can’t install any new themes easily – it requires a hack. Leave installing aside, you can’t even change the theme easily, which is quite frustrating.

Weak Nautilus

While there’ve been considerable improvements in terms of design, it’s worth mentioning that Nautilus file manager of GNOME is still far behind industry standards because it lacks several critical features. The old drop-down “gear menu” has been redesigned, which now appears in popover style and looks great. However, you can’t simply delete the files by hitting the delete button. You can’t have an editable path-bar. And you can’t batch-rename files too. Period.

Compared to Dolphin file manager of KDE Plasma, this looks childish.

Improved notifications

Aside from UI if there’s anything else that has matured enough with this release of GNOME then it’s notification system. Now notifications  appear in the center of the upper part of screen instead of top right corner. And it only gets better from there – you can interact with these notifications either by opening the app that pushed the notification or simply ignoring it, unlike Ubuntu Unity in which notifications remain stuck on the top of screen to keep distracting.

Half options in one place, half in another

This is perhaps the most confusing part of GNOME 3.16. Half of the options that you meed reside in app menu while remaining half reside in embedded menu. I don’t understand why developers don’t merge everything into either of these menus for the sake of easy access.

Broken Extensions

And here comes the biggest problem – you can’t live an extrension-free life while using GNOME, but they become broken with every new release. If developers could fix this somehow that could be another much welcomed improvement.

My final impressions of GNOME are that it’s a very good and polished desktop environment. The design is minimalistic in comparison to KDE and there’re many other improvements too. But if frustrations given above are quite frustrating for you then I would suggest to stay with KDE instead, because by the end of the day it can also be customized to look like GNOME 3.16 with help of themes.

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