June 5th, 2005

  • evan

gnome's legacy

In a recent flamewar on the linux kernel list, Alan Cox noted that some changes to the IDE layer removed a lot of functionality: "The default driver handling has been removed and half the options for obscure systems have been marked obsolete in some Gnome like purge of functionality that might scare small children."

"gnome-like purge" -- like that cascade of attention-deficit teenagers jwz quote. Not a very good thing to be known for.

But I'm a bit hopeful from some recent discussion I've seen about Gnome 3.0. See, for example, Nat's email in response to some people discussing how to manage breaking the ABI:

Another way to look at this which I haven't even seen considered is,
"What do we need to do to create a really exciting, useful, and usable
desktop environment that people love to use?"

Certain things come immediately to mind:

        - build a baseline of useful applications that are useful,
        slick, fun, and work well together
        - make it possible and fun for other people to build additional
        applications that work well with our desktop and with our other
        - perform usability testing on what we've already built,
        identify the problems, and fix them
        - create compelling new and original things like what the
        Xgl/Luminocity/Cairo work might enable, like Beagle/Dashboard,
Breaking ABI, changing version numbers, "rethinking everything," etc,
don't float to the top for me.

These sorts of insights are somehow simultaneously so painfully obvious, yet opaque to a large number of people (see above re: attention-deficit teenagers).