What’s next in GNOME’s future?

The thoughts and ideas in this post are mine and not necessarily representative of what the GNOME Foundation thinks or plans to do.

Canonical will be shipping Unity as the default desktop for Ubuntu 11.04. It’ll still be GNOME technologies underneath, GNOME applications will run on it and it’s still optimized for GNOME, but it won’t be the GNOME shell. Not the traditional GNOME shell that we all know and love nor the new GNOME Shell coming out in GNOME 3.0.

Disappointing News

Many developers were really disappointed to hear that Unity will be the default shell on Ubuntu. Some are disappointed because they don’t like Unity. Others are disappointed because they feel like Canonical is doing its own thing instead of working with the greater GNOME community to reach a compromise that works for all.

I understand. We’ve put a lot of work into GNOME Shell, our next big thing, and Canonical is saying that it’s not the best thing for their users. It’s disappointing because we are excited about our new plans and expect lots of users to enjoy them. And we rely on our distribution partners to get GNOME into the hands of users, so we were expecting Canonical to help us in that. We also expected Canonical to push for any different user interfaces they wanted within our community, not to design them and announce them independently. In a sense it feels like a child who’s decided to move out of the house. We thought they were going to stay with us forever and listen to our wisdom and instead they’ve told us they’ve learned from us, they like some of what we are doing and they have grand plans for the future. They plan to use some of what we work on (like kids come home for some holidays) but they plan to do their own thing too. Perhaps they’ll make mistakes that have been made before or perhaps they’ll do something grand.

Trying New Alternatives

The beauty of open source software is that they can decide to try something new, without convincing all of us to do it too. And they aren’t forking the project. They’ll still be using a lot of GNOME technologies – the same ones we are using – with just a different shell on top.

In a way, it’s not all that different from what Moblin and Maemo did. They used GNOME technologies with a different shell. We were ok with that because they were expanding into new markets – netbooks and tablets – and because it didn’t seem like a step away from GNOME but a step forward with GNOME. Canonical’s move with Unity is similar. Except that they aren’t starting from scratch, they are moving from a traditional GNOME desktop to Unity. So we feel the change more.

Changing Open Source Ecosystem

I’d also say we are seeing a change in the open source ecosystem here.

On one hand, we are getting more companies joining us that know very little about open source or who have interacted very little with open source communities – device manufacturers for example. We have been actively working on how best to get them involved in the our community in order to improve our project and in order to ensure that they have a good experience with open source software. We want to be sure that they use it in a way that doesn’t require them to do lots of rework every time we update our product.

On the other hand, we have companies that have been using open source for a long time and are developing their own ideas for what works. We aren’t always going to agree with them. For example, Canonical believes copyright assignments will benefit open source software. The GNOME community feels copyright assignments are potentially detrimental to free software projects. But while we don’t agree, we need to find a way to best work together.

What’s next?

Canonical has a lot of work to do, but I assume they know that and I won’t presume to tell them how to do it other than to encourage them to continue to work with us on the GNOME technologies they use. I do wish them the best of luck. As one of GNOME’s partners and as a company that gets open source software into the hands of users, I hope they succeed.

In GNOME’s case, I think we need to understand what companies are looking for from us and how we want to position and brand ourselves.

What do we call projects that use GNOME technologies but aren’t a GNOME desktop? What if it’s a device that has no screen? Or a small device like a smartphone? Or a full desktop distribution? Do we want them to be GNOME branded? If so, how do we want them to be GNOME branded?

What do we want to focus on? Awesome technologies that can be used and pieced together independently? Or an awesome desktop that solves a particular problem? Or a set of user interfaces that solves a set of problems? Right now I think we are working on one awesome desktop that we hope solves lots of problems. But it’s unlikely that one desktop is going to work for a huge set of diverse people. For example you might have a developer with two 24″ screens or a student with an 8″ netbook or a mom with her smartphone. Either GNOME needs to develop solutions for all of those or they need to enable others to do so. And we need to figure out what that means for the project and how we want to brand ourselves.

We also need to continue to work on better integration between the desktop and the web. While both GNOME Shell and Unity say they are addressing the way people work today with the web, there’s still a huge gap between the applications I run on the web and the ones I run on my desktop. They don’t seemlessly integrate. Email is the best example of how things could work. Most web email services and most desktop email clients integrate very well these days. But calendars, contacts, banking systems, recipe management systems, etc. all have a ways to go.

We are doing the groundwork to enable that integration between the desktop and the web in projects like GNOME Shell and WebKitGTK+ and many other projects. There’s still work to be done to maximize the entire user flow including the 7 applications they have open on their desktop and the 15 tabs the currently have open in their browser. Fortunately we have many smart people working on it.

Over 106 companies have contributed to GNOME and over 3500 individuals have made contributions. While we may have lost a distribution channel for GNOME Shell, Canonical will still be using and building with many GNOME technologies and working with the GNOME Foundation. And we still have all of our substantial technical resources working on GNOME Shell and other GNOME technologies.

Time, and our strategy, will determine what the free and open source software user interfaces of the future look like.

56 Replies to “What’s next in GNOME’s future?”

  1. What Canonical is doing is mostly a necessity.
    Sure, they could have opted contributing to Gnome Shell, but since there are certain design decisions that aren’t very negotiable, like bloating as much as 3/4 of smaller screens with useless stuff, there ain’t that much of an alternative.
    I mean, this single design “feature” is so disastrous from a human interaction and usability perspective that it boggles the mind.

    1. You obviously have not tried gnome-shell ever. It uses much less screen space and is quite faster than unity.
      Besides the fact that they would have to change unity quite a bit to get it’s functionality compatible with a more sophisticated way one works with a normal desktop computer.
      If it will ship with 11.04 I bet a lot of money it will be in a very bad shape in every way possible (as is the quality one gets with Ubuntu’s self developments).

      1. Well, I obviously have tried gnome-shell. The design “feature” I’m talking about is the way app switching works. Up to this day, two great ways to do this were invented on the desktop: a task-bar or dock, and exposé or similar. Well, gnome-shell lacks the first. And the second is imho badly implemented. When you have multiple apps and windows, the last thing you want when displaying them for you to choose one, is stealing valuable screen real estate. Without even going into netbooks, the screen area stolen from a typical 13″ laptop screen degrades the app switching and thus multi-tasking experience to a chaos.

        1. Try ALT-tab. It does the same thing in less screenspace.

          Or maybe go into the CSS and just change the parameters such that it uses less space? It’s still being developed, so to ask it to be excellent on everything is a bit too much. Or best yet, push a bug report. Then it may actually be fixed.

        2. Well, no one wants to alt-tab. It’s less intuitive and ergonomic than exposé or a dock/task bar.

          And regarding the area for window arrangement, it is a design decision to display the top bar and the activities bar along with the windows, and there have been requests that do get barred given it is after all a design decision.
          So the high order issue here is that I personally find the entire user interaction model of gnome-shell to be sub-par.

  2. Nice…, everything is connected on Open Source, no mater what,
    we need to collaborate and integrate solutions,
    I.E. Gnome uses KDE technologies too (Webkit is a forked KDE’s KHtml)

  3. Hi Stormy,

    this was a very thoughtful post, unlike others I have seen on this topic, thank you.

    One comment about the branding: I guess there will never be a broad recognition of GNOME as a brand (broad as in ~50% of the people know what it means). But among software developers it already is recognized even without specific branding.

    Given the technologies I use on my system, and following other brand suggestions, it should be called:
    GNU Linux Debian Ubuntu Gnome Emacs OpenOffice Firefox
    This is simply too much, although I have to admit that all these groups have contributed a large part of what I use. So most of the time I call it Linux or Ubuntu and still most people don’t know what I’m talking about.

  4. an Jokela says:
    “Sure, they could have opted contributing to Gnome Shell, but since there are certain design decisions that aren’t very negotiable, ”

    I am sorry but you don’t know that and neither does Canonical. There isn’t a single bug report or design discussion from them about GNOME Shell in public. They want to control their desktop and switch to Unity where they demand copyright assignment. They have every right to do that but the weaselling out with poor excuses is completely unacceptable.

      1. Don’t forget Notify OSD.
        I’m still wondering why Gnome didn’t adopt and build on that codebase rather than starting from scratch for Gnome Shell.

  5. I’d love to see GNOME providing UX for desktop, netbook and mobile. Right now it’s a technological base, only that the desktop has been here the first and therefore has a full story.

  6. This is a vastly more reasonable response than just about any I’ve seen. In particular, the histrionics that have gone on over this on indenti.ca are nothing short of shameful.

    Thanks for making some sense.

  7. One possible outcome of this split is that many users will choose “none of the above”: Ubuntu is in effect casting a vote of no confidence in Gnome Shell, but Unity is also an unproven concept. Meanwhile, the existing users are productive with the Gnome panel and Nautilus, and it’s easy for Windows users to pick up. Distros other than Ubuntu are going to continue to support the gnome_panel approach, and attempts by Gnome to deprecate it will meet with resistance up to and including code forks.

    The result may well be three-way fragmentation, hopefully based on common infrastructure (gtk+ 3) so that there’s shared code and applications run for anyone. As we gain more experience it might be possible to re-unify, but copyright assignment requirements may stand in the way. Red Hat and Novell are willing to assign copyright to a nonprofit like the FSF (for code that the FSF owns like glibc and the gcc toolchain), but to a for-profit competitor? It’s not going to happen.

    1. ^^Commenter Joe Buck’s analysis above seems like the most spot-on one so far to me. I appreciate the amicable tone in this post from Stormy though.

    2. You missed one of the key differences between assigning copyright to the FSF, and doing it to Canonical. The FSF has promised (presumably in a legally binding fashion?) not to relicense under a caged license. Canonical is refusing to make such a promise. From my, admittedly somewhat harsh, point of view this means that Canonical intends to relicense under a caged license. If they’d at least be open about it fair enough, but no, they run around screaming community everywhere, but expect special treatment. Of course RH, Novell etc. won’t donate code to potentially caged programs owned by a competitor. Canonical is trying to have its cake (marketing as a decent community member) and eat it (have the option of relicensing as caged software), too – that’s just insincere. I don’t know about everyone else, but for me, that’s enough to seriously dislike them.

  8. Excellent post, it’s certainly an interesting situation for all involved.

    I personally would love to see a dedicated Gnome distribution come out of this atop a Debian base. I’d also love to see a focus on working with the Wayland team to get a fully integrated desktop that was Gnome throughout.

    I’d suggest a different name/branding for it. Gnome OS just wouldn’t suffice IMO.

  9. My 2 cents on this: I don’t like the current unity for a desktop UI, but I think everyone is forgetting: they did say they will adjust it to suit the desktop.

    That said, I would have much preferred if GNOME had gone the direction of improving the current design (somewhat like KDE did with 4.x) instead of completely ignoring users (we for the most part said NO to the shell) and forging ahead with something that honestly, isn’t proving itself.

    I for one much prefer the current setup as we have it, and while new features would be amazing/awesome… no one wanted for this (‘split’) and most people didn’t want the shell, nor want to leave GNOME… and now we have developers (mostly it seems from redhat) attacking canonical with childish (let’s be honest they are being childish) posts and silly arguments.

    If FOSS is to succeed, then we need to fix a fundamental problem: listen to users and work WITH them + work WITH other developers across projects toward a COMMON goal.

  10. Hi,

    I don’t think this is disappointing what so ever, gnome has almost never finished the job of bringing a great desktop to linux. IMO Ubuntu has added the polish needed to bring the desktop toward mainstream usable.

    Now I don’t care much for Unity, but I detest Gnome Shell, it feels hideous. Over the years as I try to introduce people to linux, Ubuntu has been the success story…after people use it they realize how cohesive the experience is in Ubuntu.

    I know gnome is what made the ground work happen, but I wish people gave Canonical the credit they deserve too. Simply saying, they don’t agree with the steaming pile that is gnome shell and I wont blame them for that; Any sane person wouldn’t

  11. Unfortunately, Gnome-shell is not very good from a usability perspective in its current state. The design (at least the big picture) has not exactly changed that much since it was introduced, and while A LOT of those who have tested it have given negative feedback, Gnome has chosen to stick with its design.

    Its sad that Ubuntu felt they had to make their own shell, however, its even more sad that Gnome-shell have not listened to the critique of the current state of affairs.

    If I personally have to choose between Gnome-shell (as it is now) and Unity, I will go with Unity. I am sorry, but the current way of switching between tasks are just not acceptable in Gnome-shell.

  12. “What do we call projects that use GNOME technologies but aren’t a GNOME desktop?”

    Xfce 😉

    I think this is actually a good move because for one Canonical does something on its own rather than only consuming, and the GNOME Shell team can happily evaluate how Unity works out, and learn from Unity’s success and mistakes.

  13. Stormy,

    Why does GNOME feel it need distribution partners at all as a project? GNOME has ceded a lot of control to distributors to define what GNOME is and is not, regardless of their level of contribution to GNOME as a project. If GNOME as an integrated OS is going to gain traction, then GNOME as a project needs to back control of the conversation of what GNOME is and is not instead of letting externals define it relative to their differentiated products.

    And what does GNOME currently demand of distribution partners? Are there specific technical compatibility requirements that must be met to ship a “GNOME Desktop” or can pretty much anyone do any adaptation and still call the result “GNOME?” Right now I think that’s all up to individual interpretation as GNOME as a project hasn’t set any compatibility criteria on which to weight anyone’s statements on the matter. What does it mean to be GNOME versus GNOME compatible versus built using GNOME technologies? And where is the line exactly? Everyone patches, you aren’t going to prevent that..nor perhaps should you. I simply can’t imagine GNOME going so far as requiring the patch approval extent that Mozilla has done with firefox. Mozilla only really gets away with that because the firefox brand is so strong. GNOME’s brand is not that sort of brand. But a compatibility test suite? Maybe I can see that.


    1. The alternative to GNOME having distribution partners is being a full distribution. I doubt GNOME has the capacity that would entail (especially once the staff paid by distributors goes elsewhere) or the desire for such a diversion.


      “And what does GNOME currently demand of distribution partners?”

      is a very strange question. GNOME is free software, anyone is entitled to distribute in accordance with the Licences on GNOME software.

      Perhaps GNOME could do some trademark stuff similar to Firefox but in reality it would only diminish GNOME’s visibility. Mozilla could do it with Firefox because there was mainstream awareness of the brand (largely because it is available for Windows).

      If GNOME is going to become as well known as Mozilla it needs Linux distributors who’ll take it to the people.

      1. Brand is very much the issue here. What does it mean to be “base on” GNOME and what does it mean to be “compatible with” and what does it mean to “be a GNOME desktop.” GNOME as a project really hasn’t provided any guidance in this regard.

        Contrast this with Meego who crafting very specific requirements for distributors to meet to be able to call the resulting interface a “Meego” interface. I wouldn’t call the Meego brand particularly strong either..but because Meego is attempting to be an integrated user experience they feel its important to tie the brand to that experience.

        If GNOME is serious about adopting an integrated experience strategy..a specific deliverable..and not just a set of components..they may need to provide stronger guidance associated with the GNOME brand so multiple distributors don’t unnecessary confuse users by calling vastly different experiences “GNOME.”


  14. Thank you for your thoughtful, considered and very cogent thoughts on the matter. Personally I think variation, although at times damned inconvenient and unsettling, is vital in the flourishing of any system. At times like these it is vital for the wider benefit of the community to criticise ideas, not people. I hope that this value ripples throughout all the projects that find themselves at the axis of more change than was planned.

  15. Thank you Stormy for this very smart column.

    I have been an Ubuntu user for a long time, and feel very uncertain about the future.

    Unity would need years of work to become usable as a desktop environment, and I really hope that the new GNOME shell won’t end up like KDE4, self-destroying its user base by releasing a non-usable environment.

    There should be a huge amount of usability testing… which, as it seems to me, has been neglected since the beginning of the shell.

    All the best for the future of GNOME and thank you again for this post.

  16. @Johannes Eva, I don’t think that KDE SC self-detroy its user base, KDE developers made a big step to achieve things that they could not achieve with the old kde3. People doesn’t like changes but time is showing that they made the right step. Gnome has to do its own way too.

    A happy kde sc user.

  17. Thats why I think that Fedora 14 does not include the new systemd boot daemon. They want to make sure that Fedora 14 is very solid because people might be hesitant to use Fedora 15 since it is a Dot-O release.

  18. I love GNOME. I’ve been using Linux with GNOME for the last 7 years. There almost isn’t a distribution on DitroWatch that I haven’t tried. I’ve used those distros with KDE, Xfce etc. but I always knew what’s my desktop. GNOME was stable. It’s nice. It isn’t perfect, but we could have work on that.

    Now? I don’t know. I could say so many things, but lately this was on my mind – How could such a great things like open source, free software, Linux, GNU, all the distributions, all the projects, all the good people behind it and so on, have so many problems? After 7 years, I can answer to that question with only one word – RESPECT! We all should respect each other, because from respect comes understanding, from understanding comes cooperation and when people cooperate things like Linux, GNOME, KDE, communities and better world do happen! And when I say all, I mean that Mark Shuttleworth should respect that 12 year old kid in front of a computer screen using Ubuntu and any KDE fan should damn right respect Stormy Peters.

    Anyone heard of Mageia? Don’t let it happen again.

    We are people. We are different. We have different ideas and visions but it is the goal that brings us closer to each other. So we, Linux, GNOME, open source and all the other free communities should not forget the goal – which in essence could be summarized into these words: HUMANITY TOWARDS OTHERS!

    And don’t forget, “I am what I am because of who we all are.”

  19. First of all, Thank you for GNOME.

    Secondly, NO THANK, GNOME Shell…

    After years of Using Computers, One thing I have to say is, There really nothing change in Graphic User Interface. The team Desktop to me is a bit dated. GNOME, one of the best “Desktop” up to 2.28, is pretty much what I am looking for Sense the Beginning. But that I mean everything is my wishing list is in GNOME, when I switch to Linux from Windows. I am so glad that there are people who thinking through so well. I think the reason, why the GUI haven’t change for that many years, is because the way software is design, so unless software change the way it is designed, GUI will pretty much remind this way.

    Yes, there are a lot of Graphical improvement, and some people actually start to question on the layout of where things located. However, One thing I much said, Most of the Programmer can’t design, in term of graphically, information delivery, and human interaction. They might think they are very smart, but guess what, you are not. Programmer, ask yourself, how much study have you done, in Graphic, user, and interface? How much thesis, you have developed? I personally don’t know, but what I do know, is what I have see, they show as produce.

    GNOME SHELL, is the worst GUI I have ever see. And so far, GNOME 3 is the worst Linux Desktop I have ever seen. First of all, it doesn’t work with almost another window manager. User is now force to use the one it come with it. And to me, it is a super graphical annoying interface. Almost everything you want to do, it shift the entire desktop, every single windows, every elements, showing you everything, even stuff, that you don’t really need. Yes, very graphical excited, maybe for the first two time that is. Start an App shift everything, open a file shift everything, doing whatever, shift everything. Maybe, the Designer of the interface can tell me, what is their intention? In term of customization, It is totally a dead end. User cannot really change the layout, in fact, if they change it the Interface wouldn’t even work right. If you don’t know what I am talking about, Go watch ten GNOME SHELL video, for the whole time, all it is is Desktop shifting. Seriously, if you can’t watch 5 of them in a roll, There are a good chance that GNOME SHELL wouldn’t work for you because the time you will be dealing with GNOME SHELL is like 10 times as long. And I haven’t even mention about all the Detail issues on GNOME 3.

    To be Fair, not all the stuff it come with GNOME 3 is useless, But most of them are just Amateurs Kids Showing OFF, In many way, the reason why it looks so new, and creative is not that People can’t think of these, but true Professional interface designer, know it is a super design at the very beginning. And the worst part is, the Developing Term Never listen to anyone, NO ONE. They think people don’t understand their “Genius”. This is not that people is affair to change, but why I want to get a dish washer, if I can wash all my dish in 5 mins, and the time for me to put all the dish in the washer is also 5 mins? Have the Developer time GNOME 3 and other interface? Have many click it take me to get to what I want? What many second do I need before I can do my stuff. Is it necessary to show everything while you just want to open one app? What is the Default, and how many variation there could be. Did having as many desktop as I want in real time, that big of a deal. How often do I really need add a desktop.

    GNOME 2.x, great on it’s time.
    GNOME 3(so far) Show Off, Boring, annoying.

    Let’s face it, Doesn’t matter how good a designer you are, You can’t make something everyone would love. But if you give up your title as a designer, and Let people have want they want to have. whatever is in their hand, is the best design. In order word, a good Desktop should have a good default to people who not yet know what exactly they want, and yet can be custom by people who know what exactly they wanted.

    I support GNOME should I use Linux, for a reason, but by faith, so if it doesn’t have the reason that I love. So Long.

    I many want, I don’t agree with ubuntu, However, I can understand what they are wondering, and seeing. Moving to Unity might not be the best idea. But as far as GNOME 3 is, Moving away from it, is very reasonable.

  20. I’m sorry to hear Ubuntu is going (Des)Unity.

    Netbooks are not desktops and desktops ARE NOT netbooks. If you CANNOT afford to develop two distros (preseeds actually), then take your money and philantrophy and go somewhere else.

    Here are some tips for you Mark:

    – drop pulseaudio
    – drop unity
    – drop apparmor. it SUCKS
    – make selinux default
    – stop trying stupid ideas every 6 months
    – make ldap/kerberos default auth mechanism
    – make desktop able to join windows domain on install
    – make desktop able to use remote ldap/kerberos auth on install (look at fedora. their install app rocks)
    – make acl, xattr, and quota defaults
    – drop ext*. use xfs. btrfs when it’s ready
    – fix grub2 or go back to grub1
    – drop ec2 and other stupid vm solutions; go kvm
    – collaborate with samba4. give them money. machines. whaterver they need to go gold in 18 months.
    – develop firefox addons compatible qt based browser
    – develop qt based virt-manager
    – make kde default de
    – take over the world

    1. You sound like you know what Mark should do better than he does. Negating opinions like yours are the reasons free software exists, No one can force another to do anything, if you disagree with a certain distro’s choices, vote with your feet – use another distro that follows your ethos.

      The millions who use Ubuntu seem to think he’s doing a pretty good job, though. And the millions who use other distros think they too are doing a great job. Don’t you think that things can be different without necessarily being better?

  21. I can understand how disappointing this can be for the gnome project and how it might seem like Ubuntu/Canonical is shutting gnome out. However, I was disappointed to also learn that Compiz will not work on Gnome 3.0 / Gnome/Shell. This seems like Gnome is shutting out Compiz when Compiz is the WM running most Gnome desktop installations. Likewise, I was disappointed to learn that Zeitgeist will not be utilized in Gnome/Shell. Ubuntu/Canonical/Unity is embracing both of these technologies / development teams when Gnome is shutting them out. Although, this development is disappointing for the Gnome Project, it also seems like a bit of a taste of their own medicine. Actually, I am a Gnome user and I quite like using the current stable Gnome release.

    Best Wishes for continued success and I really hope that Gnome and Canonical can learn to work better together in the future.

  22. Well the problem with GNOME is that it grew bloated and got slow without eye candy which lots of ppl seem to like.

    If you want a kind of minimalistic look without any extra’s there are better choices like Fluxbox, XFCE etc.

  23. I still feel disappointed with Canonical attitude of not comming home for Thanksgiving Day and for not inviting mom and dad to his wedding 🙂

  24. Gnome Shell is a very radical overhaul of the traditional desktop most Linux users are used to. I found Gnome-shell to be very clumsy and wasteful on desktop space – I only have a 15.4″ LCD running at 1200 x 800.

    KDE 4.5.1 rules the waves for me!

  25. “I personally would love to see a dedicated Gnome distribution come out of this atop a Debian base.”

    Gubuntu ;-P

  26. I think Unity will be a good thing in the long run – As it is now it’s following Mac (and now Windows 7) example of icons taking over the UI (with text only where needed).

    However one critisism I have of unity are the popups (menus). They are very square looking and could do with some design love, particularly in non-compiz mode.

  27. how is this different of what GNOME did with development of mutter instead of re-using/improving compiz or working with compiz developers. Unity will use compiz and i’m very happy for that.

  28. I can understand Canonical’s decision. For Ubuntu be be really successful for the client it needs to establish its own unique brand and the desktop is part of that. They need a point of difference that is remarkable.

    That being said, I tried Unity for a couple of day on my Ubuntu 10.10 and feel it has a long way to go before it is ready for prime time. File management is a pain at the moment, and yes I agree a new approach to file management is a positive thing but you need to also be sure a user does not loose their files (cannot get to them). Unity is quite snappy on my box however.

    I am also a gnome-shell user and have grown to like it also, so it is good to hear that all “gnome” options will remain available in Ubuntu. The shell also has a long way to go before it is polished and progress seems very slow here at the moment.

    All a part of evolutions. In the end, we the users will decide what wins out.

  29. GNOME is not a product. It doesn’t need branding, nor a distribution channel.

    I believe in a few years GNOME 3 will be irrelevant, like Epiphany is today. Who seriously thinks Gnome Shell will revolutionize the user experience ? That’s the arrogance of GNOME, trying to make mono an integral part of GNOME, assessing users are idiots and only focusing on what developers want.

  30. I’d rather see two alternatives (unity, shell) instead of just one (shell).

    I’ve never liked what shell does nor has anyone posted an explanation of what the goal of shell is. It looks like programmers turned GUI artists instead of Usability engineers defining a user interface. We (linux) will never catch up to the usability of Apple software if we don’t employ usability engineers to do our interface work instead of programmers and artists.

  31. Dammit Stormy! Your logical and well reasoned argument has no place here!!!!!

    Nice commentary. Too calm for my blood.

  32. How I feel: I don’t like the fact Ubuntu has made what seems to be a very UN open source decision on its own. At the very least they should have given the Ubuntu users the option to use either or when they release this mistake. 10.04 most likely will be my last from Ubuntu and i was with them from the beginning of there releases. Fedora i will be looking at now, I can’t believe I’m saying this! Ubuntu will never be the same now, don’t kid yourselves, there will be a shift of users and all because the community was not given a choice between the unity or gnome. Sad, so sad.

    1. Actually Ubuntu users WILL be given a choice. By default it will use Unity, if your hardware supports it. If your hardware doesn’t support it, or you CHOOSE GNOME Panel (or whatever it will be called) at GDM then you’ll use the more traditional GNOME interface
      I’m not sure if GNOME Shell will be included in 11.04 or a separate package, understandable if it weren’t included given 11.04’s release date is right when GNOME Shell is supposed to be released and it may not make it in time.

  33. Stormy,

    Awesome post. I was wondering when the official Gnome word on this split was going to come out. Personally, I love the idea of different shells for Gnome tech – horses for courses as they say in England. I think one of the things I’ve loved in the 7 years I’ve been in the Linux world is the fact that there are so many potential desktop environments and Window Managers. When I had an underpowered desktop I used fluxbox and WindowMaker. When I wanted ultimate customization I used KDE. When I tired of Gnome I used Xfce.

    I think the only way this could harm Ubuntu is if they don’t take care in packaging vanilla Gnome for those who want it. And, they have Kubuntu and Fluxbuntu and Lubuntu – perhaps they could have GnomeBuntu as well.

    Anyway, the libre software blog world often finds itself mired in petty name-calling. It’s great to see a reasoned response from you.

  34. I think one of the problems with Gnome Shell is that it is inflexible.

    I have no doubt that in the long run it will develop into something decent, but right now…..

    It started out with the look of something that was designed more for a netbook than a ‘desktop’, but doesn’t really scale well to that form factor.

    There shouldn’t be any reason why a shell/desktop environment can’t dynamically adjust what it displays base on screen size.

    On the application side ability to scale should be available as well so dialog boxes, file choosers, toolbars, etc… can include more if the screen real estate exists, but don’t end up with areas you need to click being displayed off screen, text that doesn’t fit on the screen and can’t be scrolled, etc….

    And what about different inputs? You have mouse, keyboard, camera (motion/edge detection, etc…), touch, motion/position sensitive remotes, hopefully voice one day?

    If you are Apple and design your OS for specific hardware which you also design, then you can design for specific use cases that the hardware is capable of.

    If you are not Apple you have to be able to adapt to a variety of things based on hardware that is available as well as what may be available in the not so distant future.

    As for the web. I want the ‘personal’ to remain in personal computing. I want to be able to share data with services I use on the web, but I don’t want to do everything in the cloud.

    Later, Seeker

  35. Note to moderator (this note can be removed from the post), this reply was intended for the “What’s next in GNOME’s future” thread, NOT the “What’s Your Vision of GNOME” thread; I did not notice I was on the wrong page when submitting 🙂 Please just discard the duplicate post.


    I would like for the Global Menu to work with Firefox. Here is an associated bug report:

    This is a key statement, seemingly from someone at Mozilla, from the above bug report:
    “This is WONTFIX until such time as GNOME adopts this functionality officially.”

    So basically, I wish GNOME would adopt the global menu functionality officially, presumably in the context of the GNOME 2.x panel construct.

    Perhaps GNOME should maintain two separate project tracks, a 2.x-ish track for people who like GNOME that way and have no desire for GNOME Shell, and a track for the GNOME developers to explore whatever else they are actually interested in that the end users are not interested in (e.g., GNOME Shell).

    If even with GNOME 3.x I can maintain my CURRENT desktop, which is modified with the Mac4Lin package to have an Aqua-ish interface, then I personally don’t mind whatever changes come. But if the GNOME changes break my ability to emulate Aqua, then I won’t be upgrading my GNOME (nor will I be adopting Unity).

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