At linux.com, I just read an article about the new GNOME 2.18 release (although 2.18.1 was just released). the line that caught my attention is the following:
“[..] I’m underwhelmed at the changes between 2.16 and 2.18. It’s a solid release, but it doesn’t move the ball forward very far in terms of improvements, new applications, or new features.“
I’ll be hated for saying this, and am partially responsible for this (I’m spending only limited time at gnome-media at this time) myself. But I felt something similar when I saw the GNOME 2.18 release announcement. There’s simple things that make me feel this way. Compare, for example, the 2.18 and the very detailed and excellent 2.14 release notes. Of course, all honour to those who do the actual work, but somehow the 2.14 notes look very professional and like they were done with a lot of love. Compared to that, the 2.18 release notes look like they were pulled together at the last minute. Not very impressive, not very impressed.
But there’s more, it’s not just this. Compare the still very sketchy developer pages for GNOME (I know, I know, people are working to migrate to a new web service system, but the thing is: it’s not there yet) and compare that to KDE’s plasma, phonon, decibel or solid pages (and for fun, compare those to some comparable GNOME technologies: GStreamer, Telepathy or HAL). There’s a multitude of differences. The KDE pages are targetted at both developers and users. The GNOME (basically FDO) pages are only targetted at developers. They lack information for the user on what it is. More importantly, they don’t associate directly with GNOME. Unfortunately, GNOME doesn’t associate with those projects either, even though all of them have large backing by GNOME developers and community.
Lastly, apart from the obvious pimping of those very cool technologies, those technologies should be embraced also. If GStreamer is the one true love, then make it work for Totem (and ditch Xine). The Firefox plug-in, for example, should work with playlists, which is what every internet site will stream. While I’m at it, please know that GStreamer can still not play DVD menus, shame on you, go fix it instead of make up excuses (or just rip it from Xine and release it under the GPL in a separate module). GConf, Evolution and the panel should use DBUS (work is being done on GConf [see Jeff earlier today] and Evolution, but none of this is upstream yet…). Let’s integrate Telepathy, add Gossip (even if it only does Jabber and GPhone). There’s some very obvious stuff out there which basically already exists (and it’s far more than the examples I’ve mentioned up here, e.g. Novell’s new start menu, GnomeScan, etc.), it only has to be brought back upstream. GNOME as a whole would profit greatly, those projects would attract more developers making them (hopefully) develop quicker (
releaseintegrate early & often) and reviewers would be a whole lot more happy.
In addition to all of the above, I’d love to see exciting new experimental projects such as Gimmie enhance my experience (and I’m as excited when Mirco puts new screencasts online), but some of that is probably further away than “the next release”.