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[Discuss] Interesting rant about Gnome 3

John Abreau wrote:
> This blog post sheds some interesting light on some of the issues many of
> us have been having with gnome 3.

To sum up, this lengthly blog posting (by, I believe, a developer of an
application that runs on GNOME) makes the case using numerous quotes
from GNOME developers taken from forums, mailing lists, and bug reports
that they see various forms of desktop customization, such as themes and
extensions, as negatively impacting the GNOME 3 branding.

In one quote a developer expresses concern that someone looking over the
shoulder at a friends customized GNOME 3 desktop wouldn't be able to
immediately recognize it as GNOME 3, which he apparently perceived as a
big problem.

I could see making the case that allowing 3rd-parties to arbitrarily
alter the UI negatively impacts usability, but to say that it is bad for
branding? Any open source application that is more concerned about
branding than its users has got serious problems.

The post also details how the GNOME 3 APIs have been all over the place,
apparently giving little heed to developers outside the core GNOME
community, and necessitating theme designers to rebuild their themes
from scratch for each minor revision of the desktop.

And the issue John Abreau posted about where GNOME 3 developers are
encouraging the removal of functionality from 3rd party applications
when it uses desktop features that GNOME has decided are no longer
needed. Boiling down to an "us vs. them" approach. "You have to decide
if you want to be a GNOME application or not." So much for the open
desktop standard.

I have no doubt that the above blog posting accurately reproduced and
characterized the quotes, but what I wonder is are these the result of a
few members of the GNOME core developer team, or representative of the
whole team? (How big is the core team? The posting seems to repeatedly
quote from just a few developers.)

If their approach to desktop design has so diverged from what is typical
in the broader Linux community, why haven't we heard about all the 2nd
tier (semi-regular contributors) departing the project?

Why hasn't there been a more publicized split within the team, as often
happens when things are taken to an extreme? Is the larger GNOME
community really on board with this, or does the above exaggerate the

There is some evidence of a split: the MATE, Cinnamon, and Unity forks.
But these all have the appearance of outside, down-stream consumers of
the GNOME product finding dissatisfaction and taking their own
corrective action, when they didn't see a desired response to their
feedback to the upstream project.

(Although a sizable portion of the community rejects what Canonical
ended up with, in retrospect, their decision to split from GNOME and
reasons cited seems to have been well founded.)

I would expect to see more strife within the GNOME community itself.
Although maybe it is there, but it just hasn't spilled over into other
venues or gotten picked up by the media. (I don't follow ant GNOME
mailing lists.)

In short, the blog posting leaves me feeling like I'm getting the low
altitude view of what's happening as seen by a specific developer, and
not necessarily the big picture view from 10,000 feet.


Tom Metro
Venture Logic, Newton, MA, USA
"Enterprise solutions through open source."
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