Fallback mode is going away – what now?, is the question that Matthias Clasen does in Gnome Desktop Lists.
The point is that Gnome wants to support a more “classical mode”, as many people requested it and now that Fallback is gone, Gnome do (or will) the best move. They will provide support for a traditional desktop through their real power, Gnome Shell Extensions!
One piece to the dropping Fallback mode story is that it’s possible to get some of the GNOME2 style workflow with extensions (bug #685744). What we might see is a “Classic” switch either in Gnome Control Center or more likely in Gnome Tweak Tool, that enables some extensions that revert the traditional Gnome2 workflow -as much as possible.
The real good news is that Gnome will work pretty close with Extension Authors to further improve that experience.
This is the very interesting email of Matthias.
In the discussion over fallback mode at the Boston, we’ve talked about GNOME users who use fallback mode because they are used to certain elements and features of the GNOME 2 UX, such as task bars, minimization, etc. GNOME 3 has brought new patterns to replace these,such as overview and search. And while we certainly hope that many users will find the new ways comfortable and refreshing after a short learning phase, we should not fault people who prefer the old way. After all, these features were a selling point of GNOME 2 for ten years!
So, what to do ? Thankfully, we have a pretty awesome extension mechanism in gnome-shell (extensions.gnome.org), and there are a ton of extensions out there which allow users to tweak gnome-shell in all kinds of ways. This also includes extensions which bring back many of the aforementioned ‘classic’ UX elements. The downsides of extensions are that (a) there is no guarantee that they will work with a new shell release – you often have to wait for your favourite extension to be ported and (b) there’s so many of them, which often do very similar things – choice is always hard.
As part of the planning for the DropOrFixFallbackMode feature, we’ve decided that we will compile a list of supported gnome-shell extensions. This will be a small list, focused on just bringing back some central ‘classic’ UX elements: classic alt tab, task bar, min/max buttons, main menu. To ensure that these extensions keep working, we will release them as a tarball, just like any other module. Giovanni already added an –enable-extensions=classic-mode configure option to the gnome-shell-extensions repository, which we will use for this work.
We haven’t made a final decision yet on how to let users turn on this ‘classic mode’ – it may be a switch in gnome-tweak-tool or something else.
Some questions that I expect will be asked:
Q: Why not just make gnome-shell itself more tweakable ?
A: We still believe that there should be a single, well-defined UX for GNOME 3, and extensions provide a great mechanism to allow tweaks without giving up on this vision. That being said, there are examples like the a11y menu or search, where the shell will become more configurable in the future.
Q: Why not cinnamon ?
A: Cinnamon is a complete fork of mutter/gnome-shell/nautilus – ie a completely separate desktop shell. Our aim with dropping fallback mode is to reduce the number of desktop shells we ship, not replace one by another. We’ve had a friendly discussion with clem about the reasons why they went from a set of extensions to an outright fork, and we don’t think they apply in our situation.
Q: Why isn’t it enough to just have these ‘classic mode’ extensions onextensions.gnome.org ?
A: We want to support these, ie make sure that they are available and work at the same time as the next major GNOME release. The most straightforward way to do that is to make them part of our traditional release mechanism – git repositories and tarballs.
Q: Who is working on this ?
A: Giovanni, Debarshi and Florian.
Comments, questions, suggestions welcome.
There isn’t any decision yet but what is going to happen it will happen in Gnome 3.8. The scenario is to see a “Classic Mode” in Gnome Tweak Tool (that loads a set of extensions) and the fans of more traditional desktop, will get a better Gnome 3 experience, as Gnome doesn’t want to sacrifice the quality in this new mode (if comes of course!).
This is clearly another opening of Gnome in “core” community alongside with Extension Authors.. We can’t but welcome the move!
Don’t miss to read the interesting discussions in the Gnome Desktop Development Lists ..and participate of course if you have some good ideas!