Saturday, September 10, 2011

GNOME OS

There was a very good interview with Jon McCann recently about GNOME 3 and GNOME OS.  Reading public comments on this interview showed a lot of negativity which I think missed the good points.

GNOME OS is unfortunately very loosely defined, but from what I can gather it's essentially controlling the entire stack that GNOME is to make a better experience and make it easier to work on the project.

What I like about this strategy:
  • It's focuses on the users that GNOME is targeted at.  We've had a strong direction since GNOME 2 days and the focus on features that these users need through design is the right way of getting there.
  • It's dropping old desktop metaphors and moving to new ones.  There are other desktops like XFCE which will continue the Windows 95 desktop metaphor and be successful with it; it's right for GNOME to move on and be more cutting edge.
What I don't like about it:
  • It downplays the value of GNOME as a "box of bits".  The drum I'm banging at the moment is about sharing infrastructure.  This is something GNOME has been very successful with in the past and discouraging this cuts off a lot of places where GNOME can get investment from other projects.
  • It puts very strong requirements on distributors which they don't want to / can't meet.  GNOME is not like Apple, it can't control the entire stack from hardware to sales.  It needs to work with distributors or have a distribution strategy.  Building a perfect desktop is not enough.
The impression I get is GNOME OS is now effectively the strategy of GNOME and it's generally a good direction.  We need to make sure to flesh it out and ensure that we can have sustained development in GNOME and get wide distribution.

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