Despite its many irritations, I’ve been actively tolerating Gnome on my extra machine (running Ubuntu 9.04), with only a few adjustments for the really infuriating things (The “presence” features in OS X/iChat are irritating enough, a half working clone is maddening), and, with those adaptations made, it is a pretty tolerable environment.
…and the GNOME folks went and did something to re-stoke my hate. I use GDM (and a number of other Gnome-dependent pieces, many of which have no compelling reason for the dependencies) on my usual Arch/XFCE4 machine as a matter of convenience and/or preference. In the 2.26->2.28 upgrade (Arch tracks current) the Gnome developers decided to change the way GDM is configured. This change included breaking all existing GDM themes (admittedly, to be more consistent with GTK, which is a good thing, just not graceful), and making it impossible to configure GDM without gconf and/or horrible dbus stunts, which, of course, don’t work on my system. They also seem to have depreciated the “new session in nested window” feature of gdmflexiserver that made GDM preferable to the alternatives… I think I’ll just install SLiM, write a script with Xephyr to replace the nested window feature, and stop whining.
This is an arm of the argument about conventional releases versus Rolling Releases , but brokenness and compatibility issues from holding on to obsolete versions and the issue of occasionally breaking everything with a dist-upgrade/ OS X style point release upgrade still doesn’t seem preferable. This kind of behavior in Gnome is also a big part of why the non-Gnome *buntu distributions (Kubuntu/Xubuntu/etc.) feel like second class citizens; if components inside the Gnome obnoxious-integration umbrella are acting as part of the OS, the other environments are all going to have issues. Apparently Ubuntu 9.10 is built around Gnome 2.28, it will be interesting to see how it all works where everything is done the Gnome way.
This is not to complain about things the GNOME Project does, I do use, and like, a number of their products, especially Evince (which has apparently recently gained annotation features and a Windows port, the two things I most wanted for it). Likewise, the current round of development cycles are cutting a lot of the slow, crufty dependencies out of a number of programs… but I still find their ideas about useless (and forced) integration (see above) and non-configurable interfaces (sane default AND configuration options; it’s not one or the other guys…) incredibly frustrating.