about half a year ago i was looking around me and seeing stagnation in the gnome community. i was concerned that gnome had lost its momentum and that we were just making boring incremental releases that added very little new functionality.
i think i was very wrong.
i’d like to take this time to list some things that are happening right now in the gnome community that have me very excited. these are the projects that are actively improving the future of the gnome desktop.
many of these things are infrastructure items. i really see this as a fantastic time for the improvement of the inner workings of our desktop. a lot of the things listed below are going to come together with each other very nicely.
it also seems that there is a renewed focus on efficiency and doing things the right way. the past few years have seen a lot of cries of “save memory”, “perform io more intelligently”, “don’t abuse timers”, etc. many of the projects listed below seem to be taking these ideas well into account. many of the projects are replacements for larger and more complicated things.
this is just a list i thought up in a few minutes. i have probably forgotten a thing or two, so please don’t be offended if your project is not listed here.
dconf – hopefully the future of configuration in the gnome desktop.
epiphany+webkit – this is an exciting hack. i look forward to the day where this is stable enough for general consumption. i’d love to see gnome using webkit as its stock ’embed some html’ widget.
gbus – the future glib/gobject bindings for dbus. currently in the very early stages, these bindings will integrate with gobject introspection and make it hilariously easy to put your application on the bus. we currently have a summer of code student laying some of the initial groundwork required to make this a reality.
gdm rework – jon mccann is currently rewriting gdm to better support multiple users. his efforts include consolekit integration and a more flexible greeter system. it was cool to be able to spend a night hacking alongside him at guadec — it looks like some exciting things are on the way.
gtk+/glib awesome – every new release brings exciting new features and moves us closer to removing our dependency on those crufty old libraries that nobody seems to care to have around anymore.
gvfs – by all estimations, a fantastic piece of work. this is currently being hacked on by the one person who would know better than anyone else what is wrong with gnome-vfs. i’ll be very happy when this work appears in next summer’s glib release.pimlico applications – these very attractive-looking applications are designed for use on mobile devices but are very usable in a normal desktop environment. they make me dream of an evolution-free future.
policykit – will allow us to move away from running our administrative applications with gksudo (or equivalent) and toward using protected methods on bus-activated system services while at the same time providing a sane centralised location for system administrators and distributors to control what users are allowed to do.
telepathy – a project that needs no introduction. this is just a fantastic idea and it will make gnome kick ass in ways that we probably haven’t even realised yet. tubes!!
tracker – and the fact that it is now enabled by default in ubuntu. i hope jamie can handle all the feedback that he’ll surely be getting. :)
vala – i’m not currently hacking on a project for which it would be appropriate, but this looks like it is becoming a fantastic language. when hacking gobject in c you always have this dilemma between doing everything “the proper way” and not giving yourself carpal tunnel syndrome. vala lets you do it the proper way without the stress injuries and without the overhead that accompanies other high level languages.
xorg – may not technically be part of gnome, but definitely shaping the future of our desktop. it was fantastic to be able to talk to the xorg hackers at guadec about features that gnome wants implemented and to hear them say “ok. we’ll try to do that.”. it’s very nice to have a transparent and open team of people working on such an important piece of software.
there’s lots of talk of “gnome 3.0”. “3.0” is just a name. if you look around in the next few releases i suspect you’ll see that gnome has added much more functionality since “2.0” than goes into new “major releases” of almost anything else.