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Thursday·02·March·2006

Why Galeon 1.3.x and GNOME 2.x still suck and I stay with Woody on the desktop //at 01:56 //by abe

from the rant dept.

Many of my friends and probably also many people from the #debian.de channel know that I stick with Woody on my desktop because I hate GNOME 2.x and especially Galeon 1.3.x which is a complete rewrite of Galeon 1.2.x from GNOME 1.x, but with many features missing. I often get asked for the “why”, so here are the reasons, why I won’t switch to GNOME 2.x and Galeon 1.3.x…

Thanks to gconf-editor, I could enable some more features in Galeon 1.3.x, which cannot be changed using the configuration interface of Galeon 1.3.x or the GNOME 2.x Control Center (but could be changed in Galeon 1.2.x or the GNOME 1.x Control Center, which counts already as big minus for Galeon 1.3.x and GNOME 2.x). The main thing belonging here is the position of the tabs and detachable menus. I prefer the tabs on the bottom and menus being detachable. (Another thing, which sucks in Firefox but works in Opera, too.)

Another set of configuration items are only available via about:config, e.g. the deactivation of “type-ahead find”. (Although I think, that “type-ahead find” is a good idea and feature, it also sucks in Galeon 1.3.x because of some focus bugs removing focus from input fields when a meta-refresh starts in another tab. After the focus is removed, further typing triggers “type-ahead find”.)

Other features I missed in earlier version seem to be implemented in Sarge’s version of Galeon 1.3.x, e.g. automatically focus the address input field after hitting Ctrl-T, Ctrl-N or the equivalent buttons. Similar, many of the “use middle button or Ctrl to open in new window/tab” features on buttons are now available in nearly all necessary places (address field, smart bookmarks, back button, up button, new button, etc.)

But there is still a lot missing, so here’s the big list on why Galeon 1.3.x still sucks and therefore my desktop will not be upgraded to Sarge until I managed to get Galeon 1.2.x running under it, or Etch is released with a Galeon 1.3.x which has all the features I’m missing since 1.2.x:

  • The state of tabs isn’t shown in the list of all tabs. In Galeon 1.2.x tabs still loading were marked red, already loaded, but not since then visited tabs are marked blue. In Galeon 1.3.x only the tabs itself but not the list entries in the menu are marked that way. (What I also dislike, is that you can’t get the list of all tabs anymore by right clicking any of the tabs. That way you can change tabs much faster then first selecting the “Tabs” menu from the menu bar.)
  • Scrolling through the list of tabs using the arrows beside the tabs bar switches instantly to the next selected tab instead of just scrolling through the tab bar, which makes scrolling endless slow and urges you to use the list of all tabs to change to another currently not shown tab, but as mentioned above, this list isn’t accessible anymore by right clicking any of the tab. *grmpf*
  • There is no more “Related Links” button or equivalent feature to access any relationship information about the currently visited page.
  • Editing key-bindings was as easy as just pressing the wanted key-binding for a menu entry when hovering with the mouse over it in GNOME 1.x. Haven’t found out yet, how to change or add key-bindings in Galeon 1.3.x…
  • Pressing Ctrl-U in the address line or any smart bookmark opens the source code of the current tab instead of just clearing the input field (without copying its content to the clipboard).
  • There is no more “search in current page” widget for the toolbar anymore. You have to open a (very slowly opening) popup window, if you want to have a search function besides the type-ahead search function.
  • If you click the “New” button for opening a new tab, it always opens at the end of the tab list instead of directly after the current tab. So I always have to move that tab back to where it should be. This sucks in Firefox, too. In Galeon 1.2.x there was a switch for this behaviour (as well there is in Opera), so both behaviours were possible: “Insert new tabs after current tabs”.
  • You cannot Drag & Drop a link from a window into itself in Galeon 1.3.x. This was a useful trick in Galeon 1.2.x if you want to work around barefaced hyperlinks with target attribute or want to temporarily not send requests with referrer header.
  • You can’t switch the proxy temporarily on or off just via the menu. You have to click “Edit → Preferences → [Wait for a few seconds] → Network → Configure Network Proxy → [Wait for even more seconds]” and then you can switch it temporarily on or off. In Galeon 1.2.x it’s as fast and intuitively as “Settings → Proxy → Disabled”.
  • And in general: Galeon 1.3.x is just fucking slow compared to Galeon 1.2.x. Every menu I open, every mouse click I make, every key I press, … 1.3.x is just not as responsive as Galeon 1.2.x was. (Although I guess that this is more a GNOME 1.x vs 2.x than a Galeon issue. But, well, you probably guessed it: GNOME 2.x sucks, too. ;-)
  • The bookmark editor in Galeon 1.3.x just sucks:
    • First, it’s just horribly slow (the rest of Galeon 1.3.x seems quite fast compared to it).
    • Drag & Drop often doesn’t work as you are used to how Drag & Drop works, e.g. you can’t drag items from the right folder content view pane to a folder in the left tree view pane.
    • Although I see that I may make sense in some environments, I dislike the “feature” that some of input fields for proprerties have been moved to a tabbed popup window. So you can’t scroll through your bookmarks anymore and have a look at e.g. when you added it whitout having to do a few click for each bookmark.
    • Also the tree view structure was easier to recognise than the new one without the helpful tree being shown as lines.
    • The Galeon 1.3.x bookmark editor doesn’t show the favicons neither in the folder content nor in the tree view. This another big step back in ergonomy.

And the following is the list, why Galeon 1.3.x also sucks. But these issues aren’t big problems for me, since I solved them somehow or can live with them:

  • Not all configuration options can be changed using Galeon’s configuration interface nor using the GNOME Control Center. Which user knows that he can change even more options by using gconf-editor or opening the URL about:config by typing it into the address field?!? A big minus in ergonomy for GNOME 2.x and Galeon 1.3.x.
  • The toolbar icons and the spinner are no more themeable.
  • There are no more buttons for toggling the history or bookmarks pane.
  • The toolbar isn’t editable by right clicking on a blank part of it.

Oh, and Epiphany even sucks more, because it has even less of my favourite Galeon 1.2.x features than Galeon 1.3.x has. Same counts for Ubuntu btw: There even is no Galeon in the standard distribution. (And no, Universe and Multiverse just don’t count for me. The philosophy “one application for one purpose” always sucks but does even more suck if we look at web browsers. Seems as if Ubuntu hasn’t learned from the history of Microsoft and the Internet Explorer. *slappingallaround*)

But not only to argue about Galeon 1.3.x, there are also some few details better than in Galeon 1.2.x, e.g. that the arrows for scrolling through the tab bar are located on both sides of the bar and not ony on the right. And the optional split view in the bookmark editor is quite fine (if Drag & Drop would work right)…

And yes, from the security point of view, Galeon 1.2.x sucks. It’s no more under developement, Galeon 1.2.14 from 17th of June 2004 was the last release. Also the Gecko releases based on the Mozilla 1.8 line (aka SeaMonkey 1.0 and Firefox 1.5) won’t be supported in Galeon 1.2.x, because anti-aliassing support for GTK1 has been dropped in those versions of Mozilla respective Gecko. But I’m sorry, sometimes, user interface and ergonomy come before security…

Oh, and btw: I would love it if somebody proves me wrong in any of my arguments against Galeon 1.3.x. (I just don’t think, someone will… ;-) But nevertheless feel free to leave a comment in the blog — They should work since now…

Now playing: Roxette — Jefferson

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Hackergotchi of Axel Beckert

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This is the blog or weblog of Axel Stefan Beckert (aka abe or XTaran) who thought, he would never start blogging... (He also once thought, that there is no reason to switch to this new ugly Netscape thing because Mosaïc works fine. That was about 1996.) Well, times change...

He was born 1975 at Villingen-Schwenningen, made his Abitur at Schwäbisch Hall, studied Computer Science with minor Biology at University of Saarland at Saarbrücken (Germany) and now lives in Zürich (Switzerland), working at the IT Support Group (ISG) of the Departement of Physics at ETH Zurich.

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