The "Windows"-fication of Gnome

USB drive context menu in Nautilus

For a while I have been puzzled why Nautilus doesn’t allow me to simply unmount an USB pen drive from the context menu. The only options I could see for USB pen drives was - eject and safely remove drive, which was puzzling on its own as them meant the same to me.

Selecting “eject” or “safely remove” drive does the same thing for USB drives - it unmounts the drive and powers it down. To mount it again, you will have to physically detach it from the USB socket and attach it again.

This trips up several things - it doesn’t allow me to remain in GUI land for any use case involving simply unmounting the volume but not detaching it. Applications like gparted, unetbootin, palimsest which I use frequently cannot access the device after it has been “safely removed”.

The only GUI way to simply unmount but not detach the USB device seems to be either using gparted or palimsest itself. While I can do that, it seems silly why I would need to open a different application to do something so basic in an Unix system - unmount filesystems, something which we have always been able to do from the earliest of desktop environments.

After ignoring the issue for months(probably years), I decided to find out why the UI was the way it is. And I found this Gnome bug and this one which gave me all the answers.

Here is the gist of the bug:

We could also nuke the “Unmount” option and just tell people to use a terminal instead for doing that (or Palimpsest). I don’t know if that’s screwing over existing users too much though (I’m personally fine with it).

I think what the developers are missing is this - using the GUI is not just for dumb/less technical users. It is also a productivity enhancement for power users! Opening a terminal, finding out the mount point and unmounting volumes can always be done from the terminal, but why should a historically common operation be removed from the GUI which lets us power users get our work done in two clicks? In this particular case, there is already a dead simple way for non-technical users - there is an eject button right next to the device icon!

I am really worried that soon the desktop UI will get so dumbed down that it will be quite unusable for power users on it.

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