Why Don’t Gnome Shell/Unity Become Tiling Window Managers?

I have given Gnome Shell and Unity a try. I didn’t mind them but something kept holding me back from using them in a productive manner.

Both Gnome Shell and Unity want to maximize the working area by reducing the homepage clutter (no pun intended) by:

  • removing desktop launchers, replacing them with a launcher overlay
  • supporting maximized applications better, through default maximized modes, removal of minimize button and global menus
  • separating the task management from the desktop by delegating it to the dock/launcher
  • being minimalistic on the desktop

I think they ought to do one more thing to really achieve their aim – become tiling window managers. They do support tiling windows, but not the automatic management of window layouts like the organic tiling window managers. This will make it easy for users to manage different windows in different layouts, handle not minimizing windows much better and make it easy to maximize or rearrange the windows depending on what the applications are. And this will work great on large as well as small screens.

What do you think?

Discussion [Participate or Link]

  1. Sean Reifschneider said:

    Gnome is kind of already there…  I installed Ubuntu 12.04, then did “apt-get install gnome xmonad”, and when I logged out and logged back in I had a session choice that was something like “gnome with tiling” or “xmonad with gnome”.  I have the Gnome icons for wifi, audio, date/time, user switcher, and logout, with xmonad laying out the windows.

    There’s also “bluetile” with is xmonad oriented towards working with Gnome, which I thought was what I was trying when I selected the above, so I haven’t tired it yet.

    I like this setup quite well.


  2. Abhijit Nadgouda said:

    Sean, true we can make tiling window managers run withing Gnome. But Gnome Shell and Unity have been taking lot of efforts to make fullest use of the screen real estate, then why not a first-class tiling window management effort?

  3. RFlood89 said:

    I doubt they’ll make a tiling window manager a first class citizen because truth be told a lot of people prefer to simply work with the mouse and like everything to be simple.

    Having the option there is all we really need and doesn’t scare away newcomers to linux. It keeps the transition from Windows and Mac nice and easy.

  4. Diego Morales said:

    Just came across this post and dropped to say I totally agree with you.

    Tiling does not need to be hard for the user. Bluetile already eases a lot by letting you rearrange windows with the mouse.

    With some careful work on usability, and maybe some special presets for specific applications, I even think tiling could be made “cool” (and effective) for (nearly) everyone.

    It fits the trend. Even newer MacOSX has that new fullscreen-as-a-new-desktop feature that seems to go in this direction.

  5. Tolomea said:

    I want a better window tiling support for my mouse.
    With 2x 24″ screens traditional window controls aren’t cutting it and it’s only going to get worse as screen size and resolution increases, but at the same time I’m solidly a mouse person, so I’m not interested in a keyboard driven solution.

    Win7’s maximize left half and maximize right half hot zones are a good step in that direction, but I’d like to see it go further.
    For example, if you put hotzones around the entire screen border (on a per screen basis), split into corners and sides then you would get easy access to the 4 halves and the 4 quadrants with full maximize still on title double click. (Obviously these hot zones only trigger when dragging a window)

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Abhijit Nadgouda
iface Consulting
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