The Future of GNOME Control Center

Hello, GNOMErs! As some of you may be aware, I’m working on porting our beloved GNOME Control Center to match the latest mockups. Not alone, however; we’re a Team.

The Porting Team

We’re short on human resources here, but we’re doing our best to make the new Control Center for 3.22 release. Meet the Team:

  • Bastien Nocera (the maintainer), an amazing long-term contributor who is doing a quite huge work on porting it to Network Manager 1.2, and reviewing all the patches that goes in. Thanks to his reviews, the code quality is always top-notch.
  • Felipe Borges, who ported the Mouse & Touchpad and now is working on porting the Printer and the Users panels. He’s the leading force of porting the panels, and an awsome guy.
  • Georges Basile (I), who’s working on the new Shell with a sidelist and will port some panels as well.

Feel free to contact any one of us and get in-depth details abot The Plan.

The Plan

We’ve been attending secret meetings (in plain open #gnome-hackers room :P) and we came up with a plan on how we’ll work on moving things forward. Here are the outlines:

  1. A new non-installed binary gnome-control-center-alt will be introduced.
  2. The panels that must be ported are: Online Accounts, Networks, Sound, Users, Printers, Details and Keyboard.
  3. We’ll port as much panels as we can, obviously prioritizing the panels above.
  4. As we port the panels, we test them both with the current icon grid and the new sidelist.
  5. The old icon grid will be removed and this binary will be the official Control Center after all the required panels are ported.
  6. Everyone will be happy 🙂

The reason we’re doing it this way is safety. We’re absolutely not releasing a half-backed feature in such an important component. Worst case scenario, we’ll release the current GNOME Control Center with properly tested ported panels.

The Benefits

The work on these features have a real, concrete impact. This is not coming out of nowhere. Out of my head, some of the benefits we gain are:

  • The Control Center will be able to work on really small screens AND big screens, out of the box. This would probably won’t affect the current regular GNOME user, but there are millions out there who can only afford a Tube TV with 720×480 resolution (and yes, my employer Endless opened my eyes to this reality).
  • Much improved interaction. Thanks Allan for working on that.
  • Easier to find panels.
  • Much more GNOMEish.

Excited? Read below.

How To Be Part of It

There are plenty of ways to contribute with this monumental task. Don’t like coding? You can test, update the documentation and spread the word. Every single contribution is absolutely appreciated.

Some relevant links:

These patches need testing, love and work. Are you new to GNOME? No problem, there is a page crafted for you: Newcomers. Feel free to ping us to get some directions, join the #newcomers IRC room and, as always, you’re very welcomed to be part of this community!

Acknowledgments

This work wouldn’t be possible without the support of my employer Endless, and also Red Hat for allowing Bastien and Felipe to work on that.

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29 thoughts on “The Future of GNOME Control Center

  1. Something I hear a lot is how the community is interested in dedicated plugs considering AMDGPU as we already benefit from the Wacom plug immensely.

    The current control center works great, perhaps the only oddities I’ve experienced are the inability to resize on 4k.

    Also maybe it would be prudent to add plugs for enabling\disabling extensions and being able to edit startup applications.

    It’s not really reasonable to install a whole other app – gnome-tweaks to accomplish these core tasks.

    All this is IMO of course, good luck don’t make anything explode & thank you for not disrupting my production use of the control center by introducing -alt binary

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh before I forget please for the love of God make it possible to launch directly to a plus like Sound that way I can have a .desktop launcher and load from CLI.

    This will allow sound to be used as a mixer app and allow me to mute games while listening to music easier by binding the launcher to say Super + V for volume or so.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks, I can’t believe that was it I assumed gnome-control-center –help would yield that tip, in the meantime I learned of /usr/bin/pavucontrol which at least has done the trick lately.

        Like

  3. hi,

    thanks for sharing that :).
    what about the a11y settings? please take care that is good usable via keyboard. I m blind and need this. thia is nowadays sadly not always the case.

    cheers chrys

    Like

  4. “This would probably won’t affect the current regular GNOME user, but there are millions out there who can only afford a Tube TV with 720×480 resolution (and yes, my employer Endless opened my eyes to this reality).”

    Drop the `would’ before probably.

    Suggestion:

    “The reason we’re doing it this way is safety.”

    safety?

    Try:

    The reason we’re doing it this way is assure quality of product, while achieving the goal of unifying the GNOME 3 experience.

    Like

  5. “The reason we’re doing it this way is assure quality of product, while achieving the goal of unifying the GNOME 3 experience.”

    Oops: add a to.

    “The reason we’re doing it this way is to assure quality of product, while achieving the goal of unifying the GNOME 3 experience.”

    Like

  6. n the first clip, Gardner talks about the events that led him to explore the 3 Es of Good Work (excellence, ethics, and engagement) and how he came to devote the past two decades of his career

    Like

    1. One thing I wondered about yesterday is why something like the color panel is separate instead of being merged into something else.

      I’m not saying color management is useless or anything, but really, the vast majority of users probably aren’t going to ever click it (unless they happen to think they can customize the theme colors) or need anything in it or even care one bit about it. So why is it eating up so much space?

      Maybe it could be a subwindow in the displays panel?

      Like

  7. Maybe with this redesign, it will be a good idea to also make possibility for making third-party plugins to add panels, which will not require patching GNOME Control Center itself?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Why does the Control Center require Cheese, which in itself pulls in so many dependencies I do not need? I do a minimal Gnome install because there is a lot I do not need (I start with Gnome-Shell on Arch Linux), but I cannot install the Control Center because it requires Cheese, which pulls in things like Telepathy, etc. etc., which run services I do not need (on that note, please make Avahi optional!!) I don’t even have a webcam, and honestly I am not the type that wants my mug posted everywhere. Come on now, don’t force “edge” dependencies on us for a Control Center install. I end up hand editing dconf settings for a lot of things because of this.

    Like

  9. I hope this will be the first step toward a unified and unique control center in which you can edit ALL the settings that are spread in 4 different programs: the actual gnome control center, dconf, gnome-tweak and gconf.

    Like

    1. I wouldn’t mind simplification of control center and tweak, aswell as dconf and gconf however sometimes a hammer should just be a hammer and not a screwdriver, so oversimplifying (say making the filesystem one big folder for example would be overkill – all 4 in 1 might be overkill, so maybe into 2 and I’m with you on it for sure)

      Like

    2. Do you really, ~really~ want a toggle button for every dconf option available? “System Settings” app does system settings; want to tweak your desktop? There is the “Tweak Tools” app. And so it goes.

      Like

      1. This gives me an interesting idea – would it improve the experience if you could star/favorite dconf options to make it easier to find them again. Or see only which options the user has changed instead of the whole tree.

        For me, I have no idea how the tree is structured – I use the find tool to locate everything.

        And it’s honestly quite frustrating because when the menu pulls out the page scrolls up and down making it difficult for my eye to focus on reading the dconf-entries list.

        With regard to the Tweak tool – I sometimes find that the overlap is what is confusing.

        For example – having Power and Keyboard options in both System Settings and Tweak makes it difficult to understand the scope of a users abilities when they’re new to Gnome.

        It wouldn’t be such a big deal if Tweak was a plug in System Settings like ElementaryOS does with Switchboard it’s just confusing to have to download a completly seperate application on most distros if you don’t already know you need it.

        Anyways, there’s my contribution to the brainstorm .

        Like

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