GNOME 3.2: Who Invited Nautilus to this Environment?

So to no one’s surprise, I made the switch to OpenSUSE 12.1 on my main laptop, a Lenovo T420i.

The main reason? I fell in love with GNOME shell. Sabayon LXDE was nice, but tiny things kept creeping up, like clamz not working to unpack Amazon music. It was nothing that impacted the usability of the machine, but it was just enough to make me open to switching distros.


I still like all of the OpenSUSE things I liked when I reviewed it a few weeks ago.

I’ve been reading up on GNOME 3 and one thing I didn’t pick up in my review was that OpenSUSE has a curated GNOME shell implementation. They pre-installed some GNOME extensions that have made GNOME much better. For instance, OpenSUSE uses the extension that gives shell an option to power off. They also install the GNOME tweak tool by default.

Of course, that’s a little less necessary thanks to the GNOME extensions site that recently went live as an alpha. It allows one-click extension installation (and removal) from a web interface (as long as that interface is Firefox). There are some cool extensions, but I was most interested in the one that brings back traditional alt-tab behavior (GNOME 3 lets you tab between applications, not windows. To tab through application windows, you need to use alt-`, which just wasn’t ideal for me).

One thing that’s not so great about GNOME shell? The Nautilus file manager. For instance, to delete a file, you actually need to click ctrl-delete. Delete by itself doesn’t actually delete. Also, you can’t drag files into bookmarked folders via the file tree navigation. And apparently, it’s deliberate functionality. I didn’t want to uninstall it, since GNOME seems to have Nautilus do a lot of different things, so I just installed my beloved PCManFM file manager. GNOME treats it as the default, so I don’t even really see Nautilus anymore.

I wish the desktop calendar, which lives along the top panel, could read your Google Calendar directly. There’s a script to make that happen, but it seems easier to just have Evolution import the calendars for me (although it would also be nice if you could choose the calendar GNOME uses — I’m not a huge Evolution fan).

In general, I’m getting used to OpenSUSE. YaST, the software manager, is logical. OpenSUSE uses a lot of repositories, so I’m getting used to finding and adding those sorts of things. For example, KeePassX, my password manager, isn’t in one of the default repositories. I had to add a password management repository. And the restricted codecs are all in another repository. It’s a bit of a shift from Ubuntu and Sabayon, where just about everything is in one giant repository.

In general, though, I’m loving GNOME and OpenSUSE. It’s a very fast desktop environment, but also a very nice looking one. I mentioned the word cohesive in my previous review and I keep coming back to that concept. LXDE felt like a lot of nice parts that worked independently of each other. GNOME feels like all of the parts are in sync. It’s not a knock against LXDE, which is a great desktop environment in its own right, so much as its a tribute to OpenSUSE’s GNOME implementation.

Now, if they could just somehow extract Nautilus from the equation.