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I’ve tried Cinnamon

Another intermission while I’m still not having anything new to say about my current line of work. Since the new GNOME 3 was released today, I was discussing it with Luca, and he suggested me to try Cinnamon which is Linux Mint’s user interface, based upon GNOME 3’s technologies and libraries, but providing an experience much more in line with GNOME 2. Exactly what I wanted.

Indeed, after trying it out a moment, it seems to me like it’s exactly what I want: it propones again some of the features that I used from Compiz (including the Expo support for workgroups, even if they are still in-line rather than squared around), and it provides an experience in line with the one I get from Xfce4 right now…

So why did I go back to Xfce, if all seems to be what I want? Well, beside the fact that Cinnamon shows to still be in its infancy, I’m having some serious doubts about Gtk3’s viability, but I’ll wait for the new release before judging I guess. What’s going on here is simple to put in works, but probably not simple to explain: part of the behaviour of Super and Alt_L keys is switched.

What I mean is that if, with the default configuration, I hit the Super key (i.e., the one with the Windows logo on it on this keyboard), then I get Cinnamon’s Menu, exactly what I want. On the other hand, if I press Alt-Tab to get the application switcher, I get nothing: the switcher comes up with Super-Tab. The same applies to other parts of the bindings: Alt-F2 brings me to the second workspace, rather than to the “execute command” dialog, which appears if I press Super-F2.

I would have said the problem lied in Cinnamon, if the documentation didn’t report everything to be correct as I expect it to be, and having had some serious issues with Super not working correctly on my home desktop where I tried GNOME 3 before (It wouldn’t let me use Super-C/Super-V to copy and paste from GNOME Terminal).

There actually is an option in the xkb configuration that allows you to switch the two keys, making it possible to have a quite reasonable experience — if it wasn’t that then you would have Super and Meta switched within Emacs, which otherwise respect the same correct configuration as I’m expecting out of the box, d’oh.

Add to this that Clutter’s cogl library seems to be unstable on nvidia-based hardware, and you can probably see why I’m still not convinced to move to that desktop environment, which is a shame, since I actually think it has a much better experience right now than Xfce4. If it worked correctly, sigh!

I’ll wait on it.. and if somebody has a clue about the issue I’m describing with the keys (I don’t want to debug it further myself for now, that’s why I haven’t reported it upstream yet), please let me know!

Comments 6
  1. A french article on new Gnome noted this change in gtk+ 3.4: use Mod1 instead of Alt and correct Mod1 association on Mac or Linux…Too lazy to read gtk+ changelog, but with 3.4 packages your problem may be solvedMaybe with Gnome 3.8 or .10, I’ll try it again (or Cinnamon if it still exists then).

  2. About the key mapping, I read that in a comment somewhere:« System Settings > Keyboard > Shortcuts > “Show the run command prompt” »It’s worth a try.

  3. I’m afraid that’s not going to help at all. The issue is that Gtk3 is messing the keymapping, not that Cinnamon has wrong predefined shortcuts. Anything that would use Alt_L uses Super, and vice-versa, as long as Gtk3 is involved (when started with a GNOM3-based session). The same does not apply to Gtk2 or other toolkits.

  4. This seems more like a configuration issue than a software bug to me. Normally configured GNOME 3 applications, including Shell, behave exactly as you expect. You might want to create a new user account and try there (without any settings, to see where the problem lies).

  5. Thanks Julian for the idea! It is true that with a completely new user, it seems to get the keys right, which is good. Of course I’d _love_ to know which setting is changing them, but that can wait.The remaining problem is that clutter and nvidia don’t seem to work well together, sigh!

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