Hacker News Re-Imagined

Exploring System76's New Rust Based Desktop Environment

  • 505 points
  • 10 days ago

  • @Parseus
  • Created a post

Exploring System76's New Rust Based Desktop Environment


@dnautics 10 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

I wanted to be able to move the applet bar to not the top of the screen, because I have two monitors and I like to spread vscode over two monitors -- top section for code, bottom section for console (for my purposes vscode console is, sadly, strictly better than the builtin linux console because it opportunistically makes IO output that references file:line clickable). I was able to do this in linux mint, but not in PopOS.

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@NotVerstappen 10 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

I think I would've tried Pop!_OS by now if not for the name - I know it is totally irrational, but having a ! in there really pisses me off.

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@999900000999 10 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

But is it going to be faster, what I really want out of a Linux desktop is for it to look nice, but not eat up in indefinite amount of RAM.

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@chungy 10 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

"There’s no visible distinction between the window title bar and the body of the window."

Strikes me as a bit amusing, as this was the case also in early versions of GNOME 3. I believe it was abandoned because non-GNOME apps (or more specifically, ones that didn't follow the GNOME HIG) had a visible distinction and greater consistency was desired. Changing GNOME's own look was the way to do so.

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@Zababa 9 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

I like the idea, on the other hand I wish Pop!_OS would stop changing the UI with each version release, especially when version are supported for a short time. I don't know how I'm supposed to get comfortable and productive with an OS that changes every year.

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@jklinger410 10 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

I love System 76 and I love the idea of Pop OS but I just know it's going to be ugly as sin.

I don't know who their designer is, but they're the only reason I'm not pumped about all of this.

There is a good reason these color schemes aren't seen elsewhere, ever, in any interface. Hopefully they will fully support theming or even provide a different built in theme.

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@anthk 10 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

I don't like Rust, but between Gnome's JS abortion lagfest and Rust, please, use the second.

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@apatheticonion 10 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

Great to see!

Selfishly, as a MacOS refugee and someone who has an on/off relationship with using desktop Linux as my main (and a desire to use it daily); I would love it if there was a shameless clone of the MacOS DE for Linux.

I don't care for customisation, I just want a sensible default that I can get up and running with immediately.

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@javier2 9 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

I really wish they would instead dedicate this time to improving GNOME.

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@tannr 10 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

Go-go System76, life has to be fun why to keep suffering?

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@Mikeb85 10 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

Why aren't they working on making a laptop in-house? This seems like a massive diversion and waste of time...

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@skavi 10 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

Looks like the Android 4.0 UI with a bit of neumorphism thrown in. I really don’t like it. I hope that’s not the style they end up with. The GTK window conveys the same information more clearly (and it looks better).

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@zkldi 10 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

That padding is genuinely terrible.

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@diskzero 10 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

Original Nautilus and early GNOME developer here. I am very out of touch with what is current, so excuse some possibly ignorant questions. How is this a Rust-based environment if it is based on GTK? I assume GTK is still essentially the C-based GTK we used with some improvements.

Why is this called Rust-based? I’ll do some more research but would like to get some insight from more knowledgeable sources.

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@ijidak 10 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

I know we developers love our languages.

But I'm always skeptical when underlying language choice is featured prominently as a selling point for any new project.

It tells me, this is a technology-first, users-second enthusiast project.

And thus, I'll be surprised if it tackles the deepest issues users need solved.

That doesn't mean it isn't cool as a proof of concept for a new or popular language.

It just makes me question to what extent it's going to solve the deepest problems with similar or older projects it is competing against.

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@junon 10 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

This looks like an accessibility failure. The contrast of the selected items is way too low, and the dark theme itself is going to cause a lot of issues for those with blurred vision.

It's of course aesthetically pleasing but it's technically very ill suited for actual users aside from those without vision impairments.

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@apierre_cardoso 9 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

I have to say, they should get a designer (or a better one, if they have one already), because that feels like an engineer just discovered border-radius and is throwing it everywhere.

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@amaznasd 10 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

Will it be compatible to run applications written in Python, Go or C++?

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@mdoms 10 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

"Written in Rust" is simply not a good enough reason to adopt something like this. It's visually identical and functionally inferior... so what's the big deal?

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@trulyme 10 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

Nice, exactly what Linux needs the most - another desktop environment!

Sarcasm aside, it does look pretty good. But between indistinguishable window title bars and yet another settings app (wanna bet it will miss some config so users wil still need to run one of the others?), I think I'll pass. As far as I'm concerned this problem was solved ages ago, so I simply don't understand why the designers keep mucking with it. Maybe I'm just getting old. :-/

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@lawl 10 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

I honestly don't quite understand what System76s intentions with COSMIC are. To me it feels like a regression from the previous gnome and i've kicked their plugins to get a regular gnome back.

It just... Doesn't do anything my custom openbox or i3 setups in the past didn't do (imo better). Nor is it better at being gnome than gnome.

And now that i'm getting old and gotten used to stock gnome it just seems like it makes me change my workflow again for no good reason.

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@pkulak 10 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

I know that open source and Linux in general don't need/want another DE, but selfishly... I really want System76 to succeed. They give me the same kind of feeling I had when Apple was kicking butt in the early 2000s. And I think that for them to become a general-audience company, they need to really own more of their software. They have some great ideas, and they've already plugin'ed Gnome to within and inch of it's life; it's time to move out on their own. And it's not like a new DE means apps won't work. DEs are just the window dressing and computer management.

What I really wonder about is Wayland support. Is this going to be a brand-new DE that's X only? That would be a real shame. I know System76 has stuck doggedly to X because they sell so many NVidia cards, but NVidia supports GBM now.

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@flenserboy 10 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

Better to adopt Budgie and move it over to Rust if that's really where they want to go.

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@seb1204 9 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

Honest question: would the Linux ecosystem benefit from a UI style guide? Similar to what Apple and Google provide for the mobile platforms?

My thinking is that such a style guide could help developers, desktop environments and distributions at the same time.

As many mention here the developer of a small app or program is not a UI guru. So if there is a guide to follow why not?

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@jonpalmisc 10 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

At the risk of sounding too negative/critical, I honestly just don’t like the design language here.

Everything seems overly rounded, and more importantly, the screenshots even show very weird/inconsistent alignment and padding in the UI.

Why is it that so many Linux GUIs — between apps and desktop environments — suffer from a lack of attention to detail?

Once again, it’s early, I’m sure they are aware of some of these issues, but I can’t say I’m excited for this based on what I just saw.

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@rhn_mk1 10 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

What is the point of the effort though? It doesn't seem to me that the user is gaining a whole lot from an almost exact rewrite of some apps that already existed.

They don't need to be fast to use, so there's nothing to gain from better speed. They weren't ugly, so a slightly different styling is not a win. They weren't crashing all the time, so reliability is not it.

They don't try to redesign some core desktop experience from the looks of it either.

So... why?

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@pleb_nz 9 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

Subjective. But some very very round edges going on in that new UI.

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@shmerl 10 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

GTK4? It seems like Rust based UI toolkit is still missing.

I like the idea of using Rust for the DE, but personally I'd stick with KDE.

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@fossdd 9 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

The new settings window looks really customized. Not sure. I've no problem if they change things in PopOS. It looks better then their custom GNOME. GNOME without customizations is in my opinion the best DE.

Also cause GNOME uses by default Wayland. COSMIC uses Xorg..

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@DCKing 10 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

This blog post focuses on some superficialities of how their DE's apps will look slightly different. That's understandable for first impressions.

I do hope these superficialities don't have all of System76's focus, as they're a dime a dozen in Linux DEs. Even the category of "we kind of look like Gnome, but with more familiar workflows" is oversaturated amongst Linux desktops (Budgie, Xfce, Cinnamon, MATE, Elementary/Pantheon, even "Gnome+extensions" are all in this category to various degrees). I suppose one distinguishing factor that Cosmic has is a strong Wayland focus, which is still missing from nearly all Gtk based alternatives.

System76 with Pop_OS! has an opportunity to tackle topics head on like "we can make fractional scaling work somewhat decently across all apps" (IIUC currently requires shipping a forked XWayland, unfortunately), "we can make trackpads the best they can be" (requires shipping some forked libinput related things IIUC) or "we can make font rendering best we can make it". The actual desktop environment stuff I'd be interested in.

A desktop environment needs more vision than shipping the same old Linux desktop problems with some other apps. I really hope System76 can make an effort there. They're trying to make their paycheck depend more on their own Linux desktop's success, and that I can only encourage.

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@nirui 9 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

So... besides the Rust war, I want to talk something more obvious...

Take look the screenshot under "The search bar is available everywhere in the app" section, the Navigation button is not aligned with (I assume) the window title.

The Navigation button did in fact aligned with the "Find a setting..." search input box (trust me, I measured it with two different rulers). But... visually it's misaligned still because the bottom borderline of the Navigation button is too blended in with the window background color.

Well, that's ... dare I say... ugly?

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@benatkin 10 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

I can see 2022 being another almost Year Of Linux on the Desktop. I wonder what dirty tricks big companies will pull, like Microsoft did when netbooks became a threat.

(Searching around, I see a lot of people don't get it, they say that Year of Linux on the Desktop has happened. It hasn't yet and some think it never will.)

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@Shadonototra 10 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

> COSMIC desktop using GTK 4

GTK.. what a waste of an opportunity

I wish Canonical didn't gave up with Unity 8.. Ubuntu and unity was the reason i was using linux as my main desktop OS, when they announced they'll use Gnome 3, i reinstalled windows.. when windows 10 got announced i moved to macOS, i now back to linux with Mint (i love cinnamon desktop btw)

Gnome and GTK are a curse, they drive people away from linux desktop

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@0xbadcafebee 10 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

I could not possibly care less what language you write the UI in. Write it in Brainfuck, I don't care. Just make the UX not suck and provide the functionality I need.

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@udbhavs 9 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

I don't know how to feel about the settings app. The floating menu bar stands out too much for a navigation element, the different color scheme makes it feel like a widget. The "Navigation" button in the top left happens to be on the title bar gradient which gives it an off-putting neumorphic vibe, especially with the box shadow being much stronger at the bottom. I am not a Linux user but at first glance I prefer the more clearly segmented look of Gnome.

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@tibbydudeza 10 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

So what is the win for System76 here ???.

They just make boutique computers computing against the like of Dell/Lenovo when it comes to Linux friendly computers.

How many sales do they do per year to justify this direction

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@Underphil 10 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

"...we’re all curious as to how this desktop will look like..."

Is this an Americanism? My brain can't read this properly.

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@71a54xd 10 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

This is awesome! Very cool to see developer-first real modern desktop tooling being put together.

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@ThinkBeat 10 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

What exactly is a Linux "desktop environment"?

Does it contain a window manager or is that fully separate? Is it the "explorer", shell, menu, dock, what not? (But didn't that at least in part reside in a window manager)?

Is it libraries that applications that are to be executed under the DE?

If it is using the GNOME libraries (GTK???) ? Will GNOME applications be native?

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@monsieurgaufre 10 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

While I admire the effort and all, it just looks like a case of NIH to me.

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@phendrenad2 10 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

It's exciting to see a new desktop environment that isn't just someone's hobby project. When was the last time this happened?

The fact that System 76 can just tweak Gnome, but is choosing not to, points to the deep levels of custom development they want to be able to accomplish. New ideas... now THAT's exciting.

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@adamnemecek 10 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

System76 should build a Rust GUI framework. I can't think of many other companies that are better positioned than them.

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@syspec 10 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

I looked at the screenshots, then I did cmd+f for "Apple" / "Mac" and found no results.

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@a5aAqU 9 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

Sounds interesting, but I hope there is a light mode too. Dark mode isn't readable for some people.[1]

[1] https://www.boia.org/blog/dark-mode-can-improve-text-readabi...

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@anthropodie 10 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

After unity, I tried couple of DEs but then forced myself to stay with Gnome because I wanted to stop endless tinkering and get work done. I tried it for half a year and then switched to Sway, a tiling window manager.

Sway has little to no footprint. I have configured my system the way I like it. Now I do minor tweaks sometimes but nothing major. My entire configuration is in a single file! I am not going back to DEs ever.

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@a-dub 10 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

i always disliked gnome 3 because of the user interface (it seemed to be an amalgamation of all the bad things from os x or even macos), not because of the underlying language it's coded in.

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@isaiahg 9 days

Replying to @Parseus 🎙

I know it's early but I was really hoping for something that looks different from the regular gnome desktop. Let me preface that by saying that I like gnome fine. And I've used it many times. But it's always felt like the design is less focused on desktop users and more an attempt to make a mobile friendly layout fit to desktop.

What system76 is doing could be a great opportunity to rethink a desktop for desktop users. And I understand that after so many years, users have come to expect certain things from a desktop and there's less room to innovate without alienating a huge segment of the userbase that doesn't want to relearn how to use their computer. But still it would be great to get a new idea in the space. And I would love to get an alternative to gnome and kde that isn't just a remix of the past desktops.

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