I think I have cracked it, so to speak: The key to enjoy Gnome 40 is to actually realize it is far more optimized for mouse usage than 3.x. Seriously, it clicked (no pun intended today). Yes, I still have to remap SUPER, but apart from using it for a shortcut to get to Activities…when you are there (in activities) everything is very easily accessed by mouse. The Favorites dock now actually mean something, and the new view with the entire desktop accesable on the side means you can easily click on it with minimal hand movements…
I’ve been playing around with Fedora 34 / Gnome 40 on an old laptop for a few days and I… like it even less than the old interface.
First of all it’s funny because one of the main criticisms from non Gnome users towards the DE that has always been rebuked as “wrong” or even “lies” is that “Gnome is designed for touch screens” and then a big selling point for Gnome 40 is gestures and stuff. So… make up your mind, devs?
Second, and this is stupid, I know… The fact that windows change position in overview compared to the actual desktop bugs the hell out of me. Especially in combination with the laggy, stuttering animations on Wayland with Intel drivers.
I guess it was the same in the old Overview, but it is more jarring here to me because the minimal zoom out that happens make me expect just a zoom out of the desktop as such and not a rearranging of the windows.
Third, font rendering on Gnome still sucks, period. Xfce, Cinnamon and Mate all have much better font rendering.
Fourth, the fact that it starts in “Activities” overview almost makes me feel claustrophobic. I don’t know why, but the fact that it starts zoomed out from the desktop makes me feel as if my desktop is really small and cramped. Silly, I know, but it genuinely makes me feel a little stressed.
Fifth, I am left handed and remapping SUPER to a workable position for me requires Tweaks to be installed. Also, and I don’t know if that’s because Swedish keyboards are non-compatible with Gnome somehow, but Right SUPER cannot be activated. I have to go into Tweaks and BOTH activate Right Super AND tell it to remap WIN to MENU.
That makes the MENU button work as SUPER, while Right SUPER doesn’t work, still (but if i don’t also enable Right SUPER in Tweaks MENU won’t work either as SUPER. So…). This has been the same on all versions of Gnome 3 for me. (This is actually a somewhat serious issue; the fact that they have designed the whole Gnome 3 desktop from the ground up with much less usability for left-handed people than right-handed out of the box is… weird. Unless you install Tweaks and figure out how to remap in there you have to use Gnome with your mouse).
Sixth, I definitely agree with those that say the workspace view is WAY too small. It should be as big as in the app grid view (also, the idea that you need three buttons pressed at the same time to switch workspaces via keyboard is weird. Or that the Terminal doesn’t have a quick command at all, as far as I can tell unless you set it yourself).
The sad part is that there is nothing new that stands out with the possible exception of the beautiful wallpaper; what I liked about Gnome 3 is the same in Gnome 4; sleekness; everything works out of the box, all native apps look very coherent and nothing looks out of place, it finds my printer (on Fedora) automatically.
What I dislike is also still the same. Plus more stuff (see above). Adawaita is still an ugly theme, especially the icons. Most of the native apps are either bloated, unnecessary or inferior to other GTK apps (The native browser is still horribad, Gnome Photos is bloated and lacks all sorting options that are meaningful to me, Gnome Movies is a bloated pointless worthless piece of crap. The terminal is functional, and now has transparency again, but is still lacking in functionality compared to say Xfce4-terminal while using more resources). Oh and yeah, you still can’t set a third party app as default terminal because reasons.
I even asked a dev about that and he didn’t know why, but also didn’t believe me when I explained you can do that on all DEs except Gnome.
So, for people who TL;DR:
Bad - Sluggish animations, Activities makes me feel locked in a small room, too small preview windows, native apps still usually worse than other apps with same purpose.
Good - it works.