Ximian Desktop 2

Well, I recently took the plunge on my RedHat system and installed Ximian's Xwhich is their Gnome 2.2 desktop system. Overall, it's a very well put together system, which is what you'd expect from Ximian. My main complaint with it, though, is Gnome's choice of Metacity. Metacity, for those of you who aren't familiar, is the window-manager that Gnome defaults to nowadays. Unfortunately, Metacity is the window-manager designed for people who don't care what a window-manager is. That's all fine and good, but for those of us who need a little more configurability in our window-manager, there is no simple way to change it. Actually, under Gnome 2.x, it is IMPOSSIBLE to change the window-manager in any meaningful way. There are two ways to change it:

  1. killall metacity && sawfish &

    Save your session using

  2. mv /usr/bin/metacity /usr/bin/metacity-old;ln -s /usr/local/bin/sawfish /usr/bin/metacity

Yuck! That's just silly to have to do all of that work just to change the default window-manager! And no, the gconf-editor route doesn't work. I spent lots of time trying to get that to work with no success.

Most people won't care, because Metacity is "good enough" for their needs, but it's just one more sign that Linux and UNIX are moving in directions that are disturbing for people who know better.