Seems to be the topic of the month, heading into GUADEC, so I thought I’d lay down a few words and weigh in.
I really think that “decadence” is not the right word to describe GNOME’s current situation. I think a better word is “stagnation”, or more precisely, the fear of stagnation. There’s pent-up anxiety in our community that’s reaching out for creativity, and our tools and frameworks are getting better and giving us many potential directions to head. But there’s a real lack of a compass, and the community is very splintered on which is the correct direction. GNOME’s focus for the past few years has been “stay the course”, and “do it better.” Now, we’re ready for something new, refreshing and different.
There are a few applications that really show this off, but the most stunning example in GNOME is Cheese. It shows off just how far we’ve come in our tools, and just how easy that kind of app is to put together. And how we can rally around it. It’s fun. It’s refreshing. It’s not earth-shattering, paradigm changing, buzzword compliant or any of that; it’s just plain fun. And that is what GNOME needs.
Many people have this idea of a “GNOME Sandbox”: a place where we can be creative, play, and have fun. I think that would do us a world of good. I think that GNOME has this reputation of being staunch, starched shirts and ironed pants. The “Enterprise” desktop. We should break through that stereotype and look at how we can have some fun and continue growing the software we love. That doesn’t mean replacing what we have with new code (though refreshing bits of our desktop with modernized code is probably a very good idea). It just means looking toward the future and finding new places to go.
Everyone thinks that we have to head towards this mythical “GNOME 3.0″ or ToPaZ, and they fear it for the huge changes that engenders. I think that’s silly. Let’s not think about it like that. Let’s go for Project Topaz, the GNOME Sandbox. We can share tools with GNOME, and we can use GNOME’s libraries. We just need to throw in some new ideas too like Gimmie and Avant Window Manager, playful apps like Cheese and MeMaker, and new infrastructure like Cosimo’s Summer of Code MediaManager, or the amazing fun of Clutter, cairo and Compiz.
We don’t need a revolution. We need evolution. We need to put a part of the population into an isolated area, give it time to build diversity, and then fold the good back into GNOME. Our foundation, the libraries we stand on… the milk. It is incredible. It’s smooth, rich, and wholesome. And we make excellent Cheddar from it. But people get tired of Cheddar day in and day out. So maybe it’s time for us to start thinking about adding some Bleu or Mozzarella to the selection.
In other news…
The “Pieces of Flair” app on Facebook is really neat, I spent half an hour just browsing through the various buttons. Why don’t we have more fun and creative GNOME apps like that? Creating senseless but unique content for websites and such. Like everyone’s fun Hackergotchis, and really cool campaign logos: