The Switch: XFCE from GNOME 3

I never really hated GNOME 3. I can’t say I was ever overly thrilled with it, but I feel like it gets innovation right to some level.  I was willing to put up with Alt-`, no taskbar, and wonky dual monitor support  in the name of “innovation,” but there was one thing I could never get used to: temporary notifications. If you happen to miss a notification, you can lose track of an IM conversation for quite a while.

I eventually got frustrated enough with Empathy (the XMPP support is really lacking, and the whole thing felt buggy to me) to switch to Psi, which led me to another realization: tray icon notifications were now completely useless, and I’d be stuck with Empathy forever, as it seems to be the only one to support the (frustrating) GNOME 3 notifications.

Well, I’ve had enough. I decided to cut the cord two days ago and it’s been smooth sailing since. I’d share some screenshots, but I’ll make it easier for you: it looks exactly like GNOME 2.

While I eventually got frustrated with GNOME 3, it did have some features I liked. Luckily, most of those were easily replaced:

  • Kupfer ( is in the AUR, and is a welcome Gnome-Do/Quicksilver/whatever clone (since GNOME-Do is conspicuously absent in all Arch repositories)
  • xfwm4-tiling ( or the patch linked from that package provide the “aero-snap” functionality that Windows 7 Aero and GNOME 3 provide
  • Panels can be tweaked on each monitor to show only open windows (think UltraMon on Windows)
  • I actually tweaked the virtual desktops to match GNOME 3 style, since it interferes with the -tiling patch otherwise
Both XFCE and GNOME 3 aren’t perfect, but it’s actually nice to have a bit of freedom outside of the GNOME 3 workflow-box for the first time in a while. Sure, there’s still some bugs (why do my desktop icons only fit on space common to both monitors?), and sure it looks a tad bit dated (it’s as close to a GNOME 2 ripoff as you can get), but for the first time in a few months, I don’t feel like my desktop environment is choking me.
Posted in Linux | 3 Comments

3 Responses to The Switch: XFCE from GNOME 3

  1. ToBe says:

    I understand those points, and I cant understand why they take away all the options for the user (actually this was one of the most power of Linux-Desktops)

    BUT for GNOME3 there are a lot extensions wich should fix nearly all your problems.
    On my GNOME3 Desktop the notofications staying until I mouseover them. (for example)

  2. Philip says:

    I also hated gnome3 when I was first pushed into the pool, but I have to admit except for alt+`, I’ve grown to accept it. In the beginning I found myself falling back to mate-desktop which is a gnome2 “clone” desktop environment Don’t get me wrong… even it is not perfect. There are a lot of things missing from gnome2 but it was a good interim “fix”.

  3. Philip says:

    And now I’ve found an alternate alt+tab that works like you would want and expect!

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