First of all, as far as I given to understand, purely from an ergonomics perspective, using keyboard shortcuts is way better than using your mouse to navigate through a Desktop Environment, factually speaking.
AFAIK, DEs like i3 or dwm are King when it comes down to that. However, I’ve tried both and as someone who has to use Gnome at work (Vocational School) it is simply not worth it to invest in those DEs, purely from a time perspective. I also don’t like the fact that you have to spend countless hours in setting up your DE, learning the shortcuts, and simply, they’re not as plug & play compared to Gnome.
As we all know, Gnome is a completely different DE compared to more traditional style, aka with a start button DEs, like Windows Explorer or KDE. What I thus conclude is that in order to use Gnome efficiently, one has to start thinking in Gnome-ish terms independent from the aforementioned DEs.
One of the concepts that I can’t just wrap my head around is Virtual Desktops. No matter what I do, I can’t incorporate into my daily workflow, and see them as completely “ubiquitous” in Desktop Computers with multiple monitors. Right now, I use Gnome with almost not customizations and I’ve only remaped ESC with Caps Lock on my Keyboard. I use a few Keyboard Shortcuts, like the traditional Windows Key + Left, Right, Down & Up Arrow Keys, or Windows + D in order to show the Desktop, etc… I am no power user by any means.
So my question is, how do you use Gnome efficiently, and why do you like Gnome vs. other Desktop Environments?
The Windows key brings up the application menu. The task bar is on the left where you can quick stash applications you use frequently. You can also search by typing. Also, you can mouse over the upper left corner for the same effect.
I found GNOME3 the most efficient and friendly DE for any OS/distro.
As I’ve said before, I do not have an issue per se with Gnome. I like Gnome and enjoy using it. However, what I’d like to hear is how other people use Gnome and if they have a particular setup or methodology that allows them to use it “efficiently”.
Gnome - Touch.
MATE - Traditional Unix.
Cinnamon - It is a nice Windows like environment replacement.
XFCE - Interesting concept but seems overtaken by MATE and LXDE.
LXDE - When you want to run it on a toaster.
Depending on how much you use your computer I’d argue that taking the time to figure out one of the more configurable window managers may be well worth it, the ability to tailor your work environment to your needs instead of having to adjust the other way around is priceless.
I honestly have no clue why we keep accepting “being told” how we should be using our computers. Anyone that comes in and tells me how to organize my desk better be able to dodge heavy old IT books or broken hardware.
I don’t use Gnome, haven’t really touched it since Gnome 2.0 (probably used it here or there, but never used it). However my day-to-day workflow rests entirely on virtual desktops[^1], so I figure I’ll chime in on that topic. Note that I don’t know whether Gnome can even support this.
What I tend to do is just have a load of desktops (like 20) and have them all mapped to keys so I can swap to them instantly. I then set up applications to always open on the same desktops (or start them in the same place manually). This way I know where my browser is, I know where my editor is, I know where project-x is,… You get the idea.
I never minimize anything (literally, I removed the minimize button), nor do I use a task bar or any other form of application switcher. I also don’t close applications very often, Linux’ memory handling and scheduler are good enough that I don’t need to unless I run out of memory (which isn’t exactly common, especially not nowadays…)
So instead of rummaging through a taskbar, or alt-tabbing through a billion windows I just instantly switch to the desktop I know the application I need should be on, and if it’s not there, I just start it, and it’ll be where I expect it to be[^2].
It’s really hard to overstate how beneficial it is to be able to stay in the flow by not having to constantly think about something that should be trivial, like finding the application window you need.
Of course, as with everything, ymmv, what works for me might not work for you.
[^1]: actually it’s virtual desktops and pages, but as far as I’m aware Fvwm 2 and Enlightenment 16, and likely twm, are the only window managers that support both. Either way the difference is not particularly relevant here.
[^2]: well there’s some misbehaving applications, but that’s another topic entirely