Where we are going we don’t need roads

Been reading this last week the decadence in GNOME thread in Planet GNOME, so just wanted to add some thoughts:

  1. First of all, I don’t think GNOME is in decadence at all. The development platform does nothing but improve (GTK/glib, new gio/gvfs, libgnome/bonobo/etc disappearing, good bindings for lots of languages, etc), and applications do the same.
  2. We offer incremental updates on each release, a lot of work is done, but it’s true that for some end users, they might not see changes big enough to consider it a new version. So maybe, apart from the time-based releases (which work pretty well, IMO), we should maybe try to have, apart from the individual modules’ roadmaps, some sort of desktop-wide features to accompany each release. If we set, for instance, a “all apps will use gio and support working with remote files” goal, I think that would make a better release feature that end users will better appreciate. Similar desktop-wide goals could be used for each release, which will change, IMO, the user’s impression of the new releases.
  3. I hear some people considering 3.0 should contain a lot of development platform changes. And well, while changes in the development platform are great (that’s why it’s improving all the time), I don’t think the future of GNOME (the desktop) releases should be so tied to the platform. On the contrary, the platform should adapt to the applications being written. Some years ago we did a lots of improvements to the platform because we were writing big apps (Nautilus and Evolution).
  4. Since I started using GPSs, I ended up visiting forums and mailing lists about the subject, finding that most people use illegal software (cracked programs downloaded from P2P networks) and maps (ditto, got from P2P), so if we could offer a free software-based solution for these people, they would probably move on. This is of course just one example, which is even being already covered by OpenStreetMap, but I’m sure there are lots of similar markets out there that we could try to cover better to bring 1000s of new users to our desktop.
  5. As for innovation, this is probably something we need to improve. There is innovation for sure (Gimmie, Pulseaudio integration, Compiz Fusion (not really a GNOME thing, but it’s got GTK-based tools that nicely integrate into GNOME), Banshee 1.0 (try it, it’s great!), Clutter, etc), but it’s true it’s not easy to make revolutionary changes (like using gimmie instead of our current panel, for instance), since it means convincing a lot of people in endless discussions. I think part of the problem is that people working on similar stuff are not put together to come to decisions (like distros working on similar solutions for the same thing :-) ), so we probably need improvement there, like having the hack meetings that were discussed recently.

16 thoughts on “Where we are going we don’t need roads”

  1. Point 4 is a little bit of my thought. Gnome is now ready for a big mass, now it has to cover little masses like GPS, for example.
    Or developers, think about how many UML tools exist in gnome. How many IDEs, anjuta is in the good way but needs just a bit more. Debuggers for gnome? nemiver also, but needs just a bit more.

  2. I don’t know if I am really in topic with your message, but I want to cite the very bad situation with IM softwares in Gnome.
    While kopete, amsn offer support to webcam, the only software gtk/gnome supporting the webcam is gyache. But gyache works only with yahoo.

    Pidgin is completely stuck.
    IMHO they waste their time adding useless protocols (sometime always in beta stage: I gave a try to sametime protocol and others) and they do not concentrate on what people really wants: voice chat and cam support.

  3. Something that I miss is being able to enable gnome-session sounds (startup sound, logout sound…) without needing to use esd or pulseaudio

    The problem is that I am not a programmer :-(, but I think that it could be interesting :-)

    Thanks a lot for your work

  4. About maps: I think lot of people won’t trust a solution that is not backed up by a commercial company, because they want to be sure that maps are correct and updated. I don’t think openstreetmap can guarantee that.
    With wikipedia if something is wrong I just have a bad information, with a wrong map I can die in a river.

  5. Why don’t we add an ideas site (a la Ubuntu or Dell). So people will be able to post their rants and the others vote about which it’s the best and so should be implemented?

  6. Massimiliano, Ekiga already supports videoconferencing, but not IM, so yeah, I guess pidgin should include Ekiga video conferencing stuff (or viceversa), although all this should change with Telepathy.

    pacho: you already can do that in 2.22 AFAIR

    Marco: commercial maps can make you die in a river also, look here: http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/index.php/Catalog_of_Errors

    And yes, maemo-mapper looks great, although I’m starting to like Viking much more.

  7. Marco, also wanted to add that the most used GPS maps in Spain for GARMIN are ones that a single guy did (getting information from several place), packed them into a nice installer ready to install for Windows. And that’s the most used (AFAIK from my experience) Spain’s maps. And they use those maps mainly because they are much better and accurate than the official Spain maps from GARMIN. So I don’t think people won’t trust maps made by volunteers.

  8. You mentioning GPS actually made me think that pervasive integration of GIS data in GNOME would be very interesting – for example, being able to tag your contacts, appointments etc. with this kind of metadata would allow for very interesting applications. So that every object in my GNOME desktop that has a slight connection to “the real world” could also come with its position in this world…

  9. You may give tangoGPS a try. It is a GNOME app realeased under GPL and naurally supports openstreetmap. Runs on Desktop, Laptop, eeePC and the openmoko phone.

  10. rodrigo: (about session sounds) OK, I am still using 2.20 and didn’t tried on 2.22 yet. Thanks a lot for info :-)

  11. …just that compiz is a giant step backward in terms of software quality. A plugin system allowing zillions of combinations won’t work, since you’ll always just test a few dozens of all possible combinations. Don’t believe me? Well, then watch Firefox falling across more than just a few trivial plugins. Well, or just install compiz and try few of its plugins: Each time i tried the machine became unusable within less then a minute.

  12. Matthias, are you running compiz on supported hardware? it sounds to me you’r not, and that’s why it becomes unusable. I am running compiz and it’s very usable here, of course, on supported hardware / drivers

  13. “As for innovation, this is probably something we need to improve. There is innovation for sure (Gimmie, Pulseaudio integration, Compiz Fusion (not really a GNOME thing, but it’s got GTK-based tools that nicely integrate into GNOME), Banshee 1.0 (try it, it’s great!), Clutter, etc),”

    There is absolutely nothing “innovative” about most of those.

    Pulseaudio = “sound that works”– woohoo, welcome to the 1980’s.
    Clutter = copying stuff that was available for OS X already
    Compiz Fusion = ditto
    Banshee = iTunes with non-proprietary backends

  14. rodrigo: what is “supported hardware”? notebooks with more or less recent intel chipsets should, shouldn’t they? on those, but also on older nvidia hardware with official drivers in my experience its just a matter of few clicks to bring the hardware into knees without no chance for recovery (even after disabling extensions). well, another favorite of mine is the plugin for moving windows. really funny when you deativate it out of couriousity, don’t realize its purpose: few minutes later you think the mouse driver (or whatever) crashed, since you cannot drag windows anymore. yeah! total insanity.

    All compiz lovers i can just suggest to read Havoc Penningtons’s free software UI manifest (http://ometer.com/free-software-ui.html). IMHO it was commitment to manifest, which led GNOME2 to its big success. IMHO compiz violates takes a total opposite approach – which makes it useless for anything other but trade show booths.

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