According to the blog archives, I had been using the i3 window manager on my personal computer since 2013. However, a few days ago I decided to switch to Gnome, for several reasons. The first one is to avoid further confusion in my muscle memory. For the last couple of years, my work laptop has been running Fedora and, when I decided which variant or environment to set up, I went with a vanilla installation of Fedora Workstation, which uses Gnome as its desktop environment.
Installing Fedora Workstation was a simple decision: I was already using Fedora in the rest of my systems and, for my work laptop, I wanted to use something tested, widely deployed and that would get out of my way. The work laptop needs to just work and I tend to avoid fiddling too much with the computers I use to get my job done. If I have a software problem, I’d prefer it to be a common issue experienced by others so I can find a solution quickly and easily.
So, as I said above, that’s what I’ve been running for the last couple of years, using it 7+ hours per day from Monday to Friday. That’s much more than the amount of time I use my personal desktop nowadays. And I had started to experience some muscle memory confusion when working on i3, like trying to switch windows using the Win+Tab keyboard shortcut that I use all the time in Gnome.
The other reason I switched is that my most common windowing setups in i3 are also easily supported under Gnome. After all these years with i3, I found myself using virtual desktops a lot to easily group windows by task and avoid minimizing applications all the time. Inside each desktop, I normally use i3’s tabbed layout to keep most of my applications full-screen. If not using the tabbed layout, it’s rare for me to use more than two windows side by side. And all of that is more or less easily available on Gnome. Virtual desktops are supported and you can easily cycle between them using Win+PageUp and Win+PageDown. And, if you want to put two windows side by side, that’s also relatively easy to do with Win+Left and Win+Right, which sticks the active window to the left or right half of the screen. Win+Shift+Left, Win+Shift+Right, Win+Shift+PageUp and Win+Shift+PageDown also allow you to move windows to the left or right screens, or to the virtual desktop above or below.
So, all in all, I did learn a few things about window management and discovered some personal tastes in all these years using i3, and I’ll be applying that in my Gnome sessions.