Last time I used a Linux distro as my main OS was back in ~2005 with Ubuntu 5.10. I recently decided to try it again so I could use the excellent rr debugger,. I somewhat expected it to be a hodgepodge of mismatched icons and cluttered user interfaces, but what a positive surprise it has been!
I hear Gnome got a lot of flak for their choices, but for what it's worth, I think they made an excellent product. Whoever was making the design decisions, they knocked it out of the park. It's a perfect blend of simple, elegant, modern and powerful, surfacing the things I need and hiding away the nonsense. It has just the right amount of white space, so it doesn't feel busy, but it balances it just as well as macOS. There's a big gap between those two and, say, Microsoft.
Did Gnome hire a designer, or did we just get lucky to get an awesome contributor? From Files, to Settings, to Firefox, to Terminal, to System Monitor, to context menus, it is all really cohesive and pleasant to look at. Gnome Overview works basically as well as Mission Control and is miles ahead of Microsoft's laggy timeline/start menu.
And then there are the technical aspects: On Wayland, Gnome 40's multitouch touchpad gestures and workspaces are fantastic, pixel perfect inertial scrolling works well, font rendering is excellent, and overall Linux desktop gave me a reason to use my 2017 Surface Book 2 again: amazingly, Linux sips power now. This old thing gets 10 hours of battery life on Ubuntu whereas my 2018 MacBook Pro is lucky to get 3-4h on macOS.
They really cared and it shows. Kudos!
(but seriously who are the designers?)