The path to GNOME 3.0
by Alexandra Kleijn
GNOME release manager Vincent Untz talks to heise open about the project's future plans for the popular desktop manager
GNOME – the FOSS desktop for Linux and Unix – is currently at version 2.26. The next release will be 2.28, leading towards the next major release, version 3.0, which if everything goes well should be released in the spring of 2010. Our associates in Germany, heise open, recently had the opportunity to interview GNOME release manager Vincent Untz about the project. Untz reveals the projects future plans for the GNOME desktop and talks about the User Interface, the new window manager Mutter, the GNOME Shell, Zeitgeist and GNOME Mobile.
heise open: Could you tell us what your role in the GNOME project is?
Vincent Untz: I've been involved in various aspects of the project since I joined. Bug triage and code were the first two big steps I took; this lead me to maintain various modules of the GNOME Desktop (not always actively, unfortunately, since it takes a lot of time). At the moment, I'm chairing the release team as release manager and I'm the president of the GNOME Foundation (which actually mainly means chairing the GNOME Foundation Board, but "president" sounds better than "chairman" ;-)).
The release team is the group of people who makes sure that technical things go smoothly, and get released in time and with the quality people expect. The Foundation is the non-profit organisation that sits behind the project.
ho: With Version 3.0 GNOME is getting a major overhaul which some will say is long overdue. The user experience is one of the main aspects that the team will be working on. The current GNOME UI has a, shall we say, quite traditional look and feel. What would you aspire for it to be like?
VU: I wouldn't say that the changes were long overdue: while it's obviously not perfect, GNOME in its current form is really working well for our users, and it has constantly progressed over years. Just compare a GNOME 2.0 desktop with a GNOME 2.26 or 2.28 desktop: the differences are huge, with new technologies appearing to match our needs. Remember the world before hal/DeviceKit?
That being said, it's true that our user experience has kept its foundations during the whole 2.x cycle: the panels, the way we start applications, the way we manage windows, etc. Our community loves what we've achieved, but we've also gained quite some experience since 2.0 and we believe we can propose something even better than that: our desktop can help more users do what they want to do. And users don't want to 'use' a desktop! They want to browse the web, read mails, chat with friends, listen to music, write letters, create content, etc.
This is our goal! We want GNOME to be less intrusive, more intuitive, more consistent so that it makes the life of the user better and easier. This might sound like a stupid "we will do more, better, faster!", but we're actually quite confident that the changes we have with, for example, GNOME Shell, offer many improvements.
Oh, and on top of that, we definitely want to make the desktop even more aesthetically pleasing ;-)