Blog posts about free software,
usage, configuration and my involvement in free software
Posted by Sebastian Humenda at 16.07.2014, 10:45
I am generally no friend of continuing "dead" technology, as GNOME 2 was termed. I payed little attention to the rumors that Mate, a GNOME 2 fork, was under active development. Since in recent Debian Unstable, the GNOME Shell accessibility experience is very poor and GNOME-shell seems to have a lot of bugs, I've tried out Mate and I will present some (quick) notes about what works. This article is of course about accessibility, but also covers some aspects of GNOME-shell and Mate in general.
Currently there is GNOME-shell 3.8 in Debian unstable, but other components are already at 3.12 (just for the Arch users ;)). I had a couple of issues:
Every now and then there were little issues which bothered me while using GNOME 3, but I admit that the shift to GNOME 3 was not easy from an accessibility point of view.
Due to a recent article about Mate I thought I would give Mate a quick try and I went with
apt-get install mate and inserted the following into my
To enable accessibility by hand, one starts the session using
startx and switches back to the console. Then the following command enables accessibility features upon the next mate-session:
DISPLAY=:0 gsettings set org.mate.interface accessibility true
After a restart of X, I got a traditional GNOME-2-alike desktop. As I said, I don't like the idea of another desktop environment which also continues some of the old technology used in GNOME, but recent Mate releases dropped also obsolete packages and renewed their infrastructure. And the result was amazing:
I soon discovered that Firefox and Iceweasel were not accessible, this is due to a bug. There is a temporary hack, namely:
sudo su cd /usr/lib ln -s i386-linux-gnu/gtk-2.0 .
Conclusion: For the fairness it has to be said that a lot of accessibility work done in GNOME will directly benefit Mate without that their developers do much development and I am thankful for the GNOME project having an open ear for such issues. I don't think that I will fully abandon GNOME 3, but for a while I think that Mate will become my stable work environment and I'll see how GNOME 3 develops in the mean time.