Originally Posted by Mac The Knife
Mint is still trying to figure out exactly which direction is going to work best for them, so they have a couple of different things going on.
They tried just writing extensions to Gnome Shell but that turned out to be a nightmare.
And they've trying MATE, but there are concerns with the long-term prospects of MATE. Like what happens to new apps that based on GTK3? Who, if anybody, is going to backport them to MATE? Odds are nobody will, so MATE is essentially a dead-end.
So now they're trying to write their own shell (cinnamon) on top of Gnome 3. This looks like it might give those of us that prefer a "classic desktop" about 98% of what we want. But if the underlying API's aren't stable, it'll turn out to be unsupportable too. The jerks over at the Gnome foundation could make Clem's job impossible if they want to. But so far, the prospects for cinnamon looks hopeful.
I suspect that if cinnamon fails, then Clem will look into what it would take to make XFCE a full-fledged Gnome2 clone. But I'd bet he waits until after XFCE switches to the GTK3 library. There's no point in wasting time working on the GTK2-based dead-end.
Good summary of the current state of Linux desktops and associated GUI API's.
We're going through a lot of change right now with the entire UI paradigm- all OS's are experiencing it. Whether it's Win8 and Metro, the iOS-ification of OSX, or Unity/Gnome3 Shell and associated touch UI methods.
Don't know why Canonical/Ubuntu has been singled out for so much criticism given this general trend.
Canonical (any distro, really) ends up being damned if they do, damned if they don't at this point:
If they just use Gnome 3, the drama queens bitch how they've taken away their beloved Gnome 2 (deprecated, dependent on obsolete GTK2, and was buggy anyways), or bitch how bad Gnome 3 Shell is (go whine to the Gnome Foundation, not the distro). Plus, simply using Gnome 3 is just doing what everyone else does. Aren't we tired of that? The days of a distro getting by with simply packaging upstream projects are numbered. A distro needs to contribute something more and differentiate itself.
If a distro decides to do their own thing (Ubuntu-Unity, Mint-Cinnamon), they risk getting bashed for being "non-standard", too different/ unfamiliar, and suffering bugs/instability for some time.
In the end, I believe Ubuntu and Mint realized that to have control of the end-user experience, you need to do it yourself. Relying on the whims of upstreams like the Gnome Foundation has demonstrated that it's not working, whether due to personalities, politics or individuals involved.
We're very fortunate in Linux/FOSS-land that most significant distros package several desktop alternatives for every major release- KDE, LXDE, XFCE, and maybe some others.
We're also fortunate that the major desktops like Gnome, KDE and XFCE all have different release schedules, so that when one goes through a huge change, we can bail to another more stable, mature desktop. A few years ago it was KDE4, and most of us went to Gnome2. Now with Gnome3, KDE 4.8 and XFCE 4.8 are there, as well as the up and coming MATE, Trinity and Mint-Cinnamon desktops.
Where do Win or OSX users go when their default UI is overhauled? (hopefully some Linux distro
The transition to GTK3 is equally important for supporting basic touch hardware going forward:https://mail.gnome.org/archives/gnom.../msg00074.htmlGTK+ 3.4.0 released
* Add support for touch devices
- New device types GDK_SOURCE_TOUCHSCREEN and
GDK_SOURCE_TOUCHPAD for direct and indirect
- New event GdkEventTouch and GDK_TOUCH_MASK
- New signal GtkWidget::touch-event
* Add support for smooth scrolling
- Scroll events can contain scroll deltas,
obtainable via gdk_event_get_scroll_deltas()
- Scroll direction for such events is GDK_SCROLL_SMOOTH
- To receive scroll events, widgets must now
set either GDK_SCROLL_MASK or GDK_SMOOTH_SCROLL_MASK
* GtkScrolledWindow will do kinetic scrolling
with touch devices
Preaching to the choir here, but sometimes it's good to be reminded and also for the benefit of Linux noobs.