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A New Message Tray Button for GNOME Shell 3.10

This post was made with an older stylesheet

This is a patch for

and it hasn’t yet arrived in Master. That means it might change before it arrive in 3.10, but since it follows the designs there is high chance to see it in 3.10 as it is in the bellow figure.


Notifications menu will possible get some more options

From now on, you won’t be able to right click or long press anywhere on the message tray to open the Notifications Menu. You can only click on the this icon (button) on the left.

The way I see it, GNOME3 is trying to reduce the areas that user can interact with the interface and they (gnome) also set lots of fixed items positions (like the system icons on the top bar). In some degree GNOME is trying to reduce the number of actions a user can take in general.

That makes perfect sense for users to get used to GNOME’s way (do things faster/best way), and for GNOME to get more control over the workflow of the platform (easier to improve things through feedback).

And I know of course there are many annoyances (usability bugs), but GNOME’s interface is constantly evolving and tries to fix user’s complains in each release.

What I can’t understand is this habit of GNOME3 to force users to travel long distances with the mouse in order to use common tasks.

  • In GNOME3 prior to version 3.8, you had to open Applications Overview from the top-left side of the screen, but for picking a category you should go all the way on the right side.
  • In GNOME 3.8+ for opening an application you should go all the way top to enter the overview, and then -almost- all the way down to the 9-Dots Icon.
  • In GNOME 3.10 you can see the notification in the bottom right, but for clearing them you should go all the way on the left edge of the screen.
  • In not full screen windows (which are we usually arrange in the middle of the screen), you need to go all the way up to access their menus (Gmenu/Application Menu).

And then the critics come about the hard long road out of touch screens that GNOME is taking. And my answer is actually a question.

What is this thing that distinguish Desktops from Touch Devices other than motion sensors? Most screens are going to get touch capabilities anyway.

It isn’t even about size, there are touch screens bigger than Desktops screens. Besides Win 8 works in both platforms (actually is one platform) , Chrome OS the same, the 1 Billions Web-Sites the same, Android works with a Keyboard,  many applications can work both in touch and with keyboard/mouse combination.

On the other hand, one the strongest points of GNOME3 is that excels with keyboard and shortcuts. So whatever thing GNOME Team do, that I don’t really fancy, as long as they provide me a Keyboard Navigation I’ll be fine.

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  • Rajesh KSV

    Difficult to understand Gnome logic sometimes!

    • Fitoschido

      They don’t have a logic.

    • JJ

      Their logic is simple; If it doesn’t work well on touch screen. remove that feature (even if it works well with mouse/keyboard). They want to define a simple and predictable interface. They don’t like more than one way of doing the same thing.

      Unfortunately that does not always go well with the users. I completely agree with alex, it doesn’t take much effort to incorporate changes to make it mouse/keyboard friendly; but they won’t do it.

      • Alex

        Seriously, why do they design for touch screens if nobody uses GNOME on a touch screen, and nobody is selling tablets with GNOME preinstalled? Do they seriously expect users flashing Fedora on a Nexus? Also, I’ve heard GNOME doesn’t even work well on tablets.
        I hope they at least remove the app menu abortion, it doesn’t work well with touch after all.

        • alex285

          Gnome doesn’t come pre-installed either in Desktops (at least in wide scale and till recently). The point is that some OEM manufacturers or distributors will include GNOME in tablets and ship them at somepoint.

          There are many no-name tablets on the market, isn’t just Nexus, but as last resort yes, some guys will install Fedora on a Nexus :)

          • Michael Mistretta

            Why don’t the GNOME folks just come straight out and say that GNOME is for tablets and desktop users need to just move on to something else? Why do we need a slow de-evolution of a much used desktop environment being slowly whittled down into an Android/iOS clone?

            I find it hard to believe that Red Hat which includes a corporate desktop would want to replace it with a tablet desktop environment?

            Talk about straddling the fence..

          • Alex

            Even worse is that their design choices can break their apps even if you use them in another DE. I use File-Roller in XFCE and with their new UI there is a menu bar with just one menu named “Archive Manager”, which makes no sense when menus have one word describing an action.

            This is the default behaviour when GNOME apps with an app menu are run outside GNOME Shell and it’s absolutely broken, specially when you open File Roller without a file so the title bar is also labeled “Archive Manager”. It’s unintuitive yet the GTK+ devs refuse to change it.

          • JJ

            I don’t think how Gnome apps behave in other desktops are very relevant to this discussion. Gnome already publicly made it very clear that they are not to be considered as a base of any sorts. They don’t consider themselves to be a base (for OSes or other desktops) anymore and they don’t promise anything to the downstream.

            Anyone can use Gnome (including apps) ‘as is’; but no promises. And I don’t think anything wrong with that attitude.

            Either XFCE can use the file-roller as is, or develop a new one or fork the current/previous one to their liking.

          • Michael Mistretta

            Let’s chase away people who don’t want touch so ‘some guys’ may install it on a ‘no name’ tablet. Come on..

        • Michael Mistretta

          It’s called ‘purging your user base’ and replacing it with one that only exists in their minds.

          • JJ

            I don’t think designing for touchscreens is such a bad idea in itself. Touchscreens are inevitable in the future and there is nothing wrong in preparing for it.

            It turns bad when this idea is clubbed with their goal of simplistic, predictable interface, This clashes with the mouse/keyboard navigation preferences and they most always decide against mouse/keyboard.

          • Michael Mistretta

            Should of just done what KDE did, create a separate environment for touch screens. Why kill GNOME and chase away the actual USERS in the hope you may get new users…. maybe?

            I’ve said this many times before, I like GNOME. I’ve used it a fairly long time, I like many of the core apps and it’s a shame for them to get harder and harder to use efficiently on my desktop and the constant need for extensions to ‘add back’ what GNOME developers take away.

            I feel like this is a slow and gradual death.

            No one is using GNOME for touch, I am not convinced touch is the ‘future’ will tablets and phones eat away at desktops for many ‘users’? Yes because for facebook/email junkies you don’t need an i7 with 16gb of ram, but will the desktop/workstation die? Not for many people who need powerful machines.. tablets and phones are still toys. I have a tablet but I wouldn’t want to use it exclusively..

            Windows 8 shows us quite clearly that hybrid OS are a complete and utter failure.

          • JJ

            “will the desktop/workstation die?”

            No it won’t. But thats not how changes happen. Were all the existing mp3/cassette players thrown away when iPods came? No.

            The existing technologies continue with its set of users. But new users will migrate into the newer technologies and they gradually have majority and start to control/guide the market.

            When majority uses touchscreen, (and when major OSs support touchscreen) hardware vendors move towards touchscreen enabled systems even for lap/desk tops. It doesn’t mean that the traditional desktops/laptops will be thrown away in a day.

            If Gnome do not have touch capabilities users with touchscreens will move into some proprietary OS. You can either continue with serving only the existing users or prepare for the future (set of users).

          • Michael Mistretta

            I think it’s very foolish to say the “PC is Dead” are PC sales down? Yes because the hardware is powerful and the life cycle on PCs is much longer than it used to be. An Intel Core Duo PC that is 6 years old is still fairly powerful for most users.. much more powerful than a tablet.

            Is touch “THE FUTURE!!!”, kind of.. maybe every grandma and teenager out there Twittering and Facebookin’ only need a tablet.

            I work in an office and my desktop isn’t going anywhere.. at home my desktop isn’t going anywhere.. anyone that does actual WORK still needs a Desktop or Laptop. Decline? Yes, popular among the masses? Not so much, Desktops are more of a power user or a person that does actual work with a computer.

            Should GNOME throw the current crop of users that use their computers for real work under the bus for the recent influx of grandma and teens web browsing on tablets and smartphones?

        • IsacDaavid

          You my friend are mistaken. This may not be as groundbreaking as Android or iOShit, but some Venezuelan company has been retailing a tablet model with Debian Wheezy (hence Gnome 3) for some time. Check out, content is in Spanish:

  • Marco Scannadinari

    While you may raise a good argument, Alex, I think you should keep your personal opinions about the subject matter out of articles in general and keep it neutral (I am not saying this in defence of GNOME), as they make the post look unprofessional.

    • Domagoj Bet

      It’s a blog, dude.

      • Marco Scannadinari


    • alex285

      “as they make the post look unprofessional”. I hope you understand this is not our profession ;)

      • Marco Scannadinari

        It may not be, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep posts neutral and/or sensible

        • Saxa

          IMHO there is nothing wrong to express your feels when you do a review.

          More over this can influence you to think in some other way too. I use gnome3 like it, but the thing of upper left corner to start something is not the best one IMHO.

        • Renato

          Man, this not a news site! More over the theory of neutrality on communication is very controversial. So, when reading a blog post you should have in mind that they are opitionated, just like any other communication medium. In the end I don`t think that Alex is worried about to look professional.

          • Marco Scannadinari

            Yes, but when the opinions stretch to >= half the article
            (literally), it gets in the way of the content and in this case, even gets off-topic to some extent. Some expression is okay, but not to that degree.


            “What I can’t understand is this habit of GNOME3 to force users … $list_of_historical_complaints”

            “What is this thing that distinguish Desktops from Touch Devices other than motion sensors? Most screens are going to get touch capabilities anyway.”

            “It isn’t even about size, there are touch screens bigger”

            “Chrome OS the same … Android works with a Keyboard”

            “as long as they provide me a Keyboard Navigation I’ll be fine”

            // all in one post

            PS I did not mean for this comment to gain so much attention, it was just a suggestion.

          • alex285

            Well, I don’t disagree, I could skip those comments.. Next time, too late now ;)

          • JJ

            Please don’t skip those comments. Your comments and opinions are what gives your blog uniqueness and character among thousands of other blogs. Anyone can copy/report the news but only you can give your personal opinions.

            Don’t worry about the criticism.

          • Saxa

            One thing is true, going every time to the upper left corner is a bit annoying. Why not just use the right click to open that shell options like when going with the mouse to the upper left corner ?

            That would simplify my life way more.

  • Domagoj Bet

    Yeah, those long distances are ridiculous and contradictory with their filosophy of making things simpler and faster.

    That 9-dot app drawer icon sitting there at the bottom is particularly annoying.

    Not to mention the decision to remove the titlebar for maximized apps before being able to implement side decorations properly with wayland! Really great for new users and usability! Have fun explaining to your mum where the x went and have fun with keyboard gymnastics and menu dancing!

    Totally contradictory.

    Also, moving these notification options to the left to a fixed button actually makes sense because it is more easily discoverable but why then not leave the right-click option for more advanced users? Would that one extra option really hurt anything? The removal of it hurts usability, that’s for sure. And we’ve seen it time and again.

  • Brian Robles

    At the very least, it’s now more discoverable…

  • Anonymous_Coward

    Thanks to gnome to make me come back to Windows in my desktop after using Linux for 5 years.

    • Another_Anon

      “What’s KDE/Openbox/etc?”

    • kostaskaz

      Holly crap AC STILL hasn’t given up? Either dedication or too much time to kill, either way a rare breed of trolls.

  • Prowler

    Say, how can I open that notification bar at the bottom? It flashed up once, since then I never could bring it back.

    I’m running openSUSE 13.1 with gnome 3.10.