I don't mean to be picking on you but seriously what do you like so much about Unity or Gnome Shell? What is so much better about not having a taskbar and not being able to switch between windows in one click? For so many years we could do that now we can't. How is this better than Gnome 2? Please answer me as I am seriously trying to understand what is going on here and how can people actually like these new inventions!
Why do I need a taskbar, or the ability to switch windows with it? The way I work, I always have at least one hand on the keyboard, so in most cases, Alt-Tab is easier. Failing that, I can click on the window I want, if it's visible. Both of those are, of course, the same as every other desktop, so the use case you're looking for is to switch to an application that's running, but not currently visible - right?
So in that case, you move the mouse to the top/bottom of the screen, select your app from the taskbar, and return the mouse to where you wanted it. Keep that in mind - it's not just switching windows with one click, it's with one click and a bunch of mouse movement, quite a lot if you have a large monitor, or a laptop with a crappy touchpad. Under Shell, I hit the Start/Windows key to momentarily show those hidden windows, and click on the one I want. Yes, it's an extra key press - but a negligible one given one hand is already near the key, and it's usually a lot less mouse movement to pick the window I want. And so in practice, I actually find it a lot easier than a taskbar.
And a related benefit - the window previews in that view are live, not just screenshots. Which means that if I have some background task running in a terminal window somewhere, I can simple check on it by popping up that overview mode with a single keypress, see that text is still scrolling down the terminal, then return to what I was doing by hitting the same key again. It's actually really useful for doing one thing while periodically checking on background tasks (e.g a database backup, a software build, a file copy, etc).
If you don't like them, don't use them. They are brilliant and keep your fingers away from them.
Agreed. Virtual desktops are the single greatest aspect of the collective X desktops - a killer feature when I started with Linux fifteen years ago, and a vital part of every desktop I've used since. Their absence is one of the things I hate most when I occasionally have to use Windows machines - it's not a stock feature, and none of the addons I've tried have been particularly good. That's not a negotiable feature as far as I'm concerned - any desktop which doesn't have them is one I won't even consider using.
Sure you can change the background. I prefer naming the groups, as Panorama does, but some people may prefer the more visual differentiation that backgrounds provide (since I basically never see my desktop it doesn't matter to me but, as you say, some people do care and the amount of code added shouldn't be a great deal).
I don't know what this "Panorama" thing you refer to is, but it sounds clunky and inflexible. I don't want to define task groups - that sounds like something that requires me to think about it. Shuffling stuff around virtual desktops is something I can do pretty much reflexively...
Originally Posted by liam
For the most part I would imagine you would only need a few task groups and those would almost never change (say, Research, Coding, Fun Time, for example). So, once you set these up, and setting them up is as easy as launching the windows in Overview, lassoing/drag-n-drop/alt-click/whatever the windows you want to group, name the group..
No. *You* might only need a few task groups that rarely change - *I* tend to create and re-purpose virtual desktops all the time. I might have one for email and web, a few more for the two or three things I'm working on in parallel, and then when someone comes past with a question, I need a new desktop for any windows I need to open as part of answering that question - a couple of terminals, text editors, maybe bringing up a full-fledged IDE if it's something really complex. So if Gnome were to drop virtual desktops in favour of your task groups I'm forced to deal with a bunch of overhead for managing those groups. No thanks.