Gnome: Seen it all before

Gnome

Jon says: A little update to the situation mentioned in our open ballot.

Christian Schaller and Emmanuele Bassi have both posted to Planet Gnome saying that while there are some issues with Gnome (sponsors have been lost, as have users, and they are understaffed), things have never really been any different in the Gnome project. A few choice quotes:

Schaller:

"There are some dark clouds in the skies, no doubt about that, but when hasn’t there been in the 15 years of GNOMEs existence? For instance the current tug of war between the GNOME shell and Unity? We have been there before, with Ximian and Eazel pushing competing visions for the GNOME desktop back in the day. Major corporate backers leaving (Nokia) or being in trouble(Novell)? Eazel and Ximian again. GNOME being perceived as being Red Hat only? That was the exact story that was being pushed before Sun and Ximian came on the scene. GNOME 3 turning away users? Hey, I can tell you that the amount of flames we got for GNOME 2 easily beats the GNOME 3 flames ...

But for each of those events in the past we ended up bouncing back stronger afterwards, and I suspect we will come back with a vengance this time too ... First of all the are a lot more shared projects with a healthy amount of resources behind them these days. WebKit is a great example of a project of crucial importance to GNOME, but which we share with a lot of other projects and companies ... thanks to LibreOffice we have the best and most full featured Office suite ever available to our users. And thanks to Firefox and Chrome we have browsers available with world known brands. And thanks to GStreamer, which is on freedesktop, we have a world class multimedia framework available. Instead of having our own sound server like we did with ESD, we now share a top notch sound server with all linux systems in the form of Pulse Audio."

Bassi:

(via Twitter) "...we were always a bunch of friends working on stuff we loved in the face of unsurmountable odds. here’s to 15 more years."

"everyone here at GUADEC is aware that hard times are upon us; we (presumably, though we don’t have any real metric to define that) have lost users. we definitely have lost sponsors. it’s not the first time, and I suspect it won’t be the last. what we haven’t lost are our passion for what we do; our mission, to provide a free environment for users to work with; and our willingness to drain all the swamps we have in the Free Software world."

I hope they don't mind such long extracts being posted, but I thought what they had to say was interesting and a good contribution to the discussion. Do take the time to visit their sites and read the rest of their comments.

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Your comments

Listen to your users!

Yes I am sure they have been in tight spots before and will be again but my problem is that they don't listen to what their users want which is simple things like a power off button.
I think if you give XFCE another couple of releases it will become just that little bit better and exactly like Gnome 2 was and therefore the future of Linux Desktops.

(Sorry to leave such a slashdottish comment)

>There are some dark clouds in the skies

Is that like a black-hat version of buzzword marketing?

> I think if you give XFCE

> I think if you give XFCE another couple of releases it will become just that little
> bit better and exactly like Gnome 2 was and therefore the future of Linux Desktops.

... I'm not so sure about that. XFCE does annual releases in late winter / early spring and I don't think people would like to wait until, let's say, 2015 to get their hands on a clone of Gnome 2 as it was in 2010. The MATE project will take care of the Gnome 2 legacy. As far as I am concerned, XFCE is ok as it is. A native freedesktop-compliant menu editor would be nice, maybe a bit more polishing and of course continuous bug-squashing ... but generally, XFCE is already now a very usable and attractive desktop environment.

> Yes I am sure they have

> Yes I am sure they have been in tight spots before and will be again but my problem is that they don't listen to what their users want which is simple things like a power off button.

You'll be glad to know that it's back next release.

Blind

Well there are none so blind as those who do not wish to see. And that sums up my opinion of the two Gnome quotes; they just don't care about their (ex)users and supporters.

What I think?

Well, I'm not sure. But looks like (I agree) "...they don't listen to what their users want which is simple things..."

However, it's far ease to understand how hard is to join all the users desires on one piece.

pooling resources

We now hear that Gnome are understaffed. It is also clear that KDE is understaffed. Peter Penz, the maintainer of the KDE file manager Dolphin, recently announced he is ceasing KDE development after 6 years. When he announced this, he mentioned the problems in terms of a lack of KDE developers:

"if there are not enough contributors for the complex stuff behind the scenes and if no company is willing to invest fulltime-developers to work on this... - well then we are losing ground."

Surely, under these circumstances, developers should look at pooling resources and producing one great desktop rather than 2 half baked ones. Remember the only reason KDE and Gnome are separate is because KDE had legal issues about 15 years ago (it was not entirely free software). This is no longer the case. Therefore, Gnome no longer needs to exist as a separate entity.

I think if you had the best bits of KDE and the best bits of Gnome it would be terrific. Also, more devs equals more polish. Linux desktops have great ideas but can lack a bit of polish in the implementation. Pooling resources would help in this area.

but does it have to be like this???

"There are some dark clouds in the skies, no doubt about that, but when hasn’t there been in the 15 years of GNOMEs existence?" I see the point - but could some of the particular dark clouds we're experiencing at present have been made less dark by a little more liaison with users? I speak as an ex-user of Gnome 2.

When will we learn from the KDE 4.0 debacle? We must get better at distinguishing experimental software from stuff intended for production, so that ordinary users moving onto the current version of their distro do not suddenly find that mature DEs and apps have been replaced by ones that don't yet work properly or have full functionality.

Gnome Sux. Not a very well

Gnome Sux. Not a very well formed or thought out argument, but my gut reaction nevertheless. And yet little specks of goodness will no doubt come out of the latest gnome experiment. I will however not be looking for those specks of goodnes to emerge in any useful manner from anything labelled Gnome.

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