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30 July 2012, 12:32

GNOME developers set ambitious goals at GUADEC

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GUADEC presentation slide

In a talk given at the annual GUADEC developer conference, GNOME developers Xan López and Juan José Sánchez have set ambitious goals for the open source desktop project proposing the release of GNOME 3.12 as GNOME 4.0 in March 2014 and the creation touch enabled versions of GNOME for mobile devices.

In their talk, López and Sánchez, both employees of Igalia, suggest that GNOME 4 would not be radically different from the current version of the desktop but would incorporate a new way of delivering the desktop to end users, something that the GNOME developers have talked about as a goal for a while, tentatively dubbed "GNOME OS". The GNOME OS plan calls for the desktop to be incorporated in the project's own Linux distribution, including a standalone installer and update mechanism. The first steps in this direction have already been taken by adding offline update capabilities to the desktop. This goes along with a plan to have GNOME OS distributed on specific hardware, a road that could lead to an additional revenue stream aside from the GNOME Foundation's donation income, according to López and Sánchez.

The developers say that the GNOME project needs to shed its focus on the traditional desktop and should broaden its reach to the mobile market. To facilitate this, GNOME 4 would include a fully touch-enabled user experience for both tablets and phones. As GUADEC continues, López and Sánchez have organised a Birds-of-a-Feather (BoF) session for the assembled developers to start working on fleshing out their plans and putting together a concrete roadmap for GNOME OS. They have made the slides for their talk available online.

Not all GNOME developers are responding enthusiastically, though. GStreamer lead developer Benjamin Otte, who calls GUADEC a "self-congratulating echo chamber", has sharply criticised the project for a lack of vision and actual goals. He believes that GNOME is mostly being run by Red Hat employees who designed many of the changes in GNOME 3 that, he says, effectively drove many developers and users from the project. In his opinion, GNOME is rapidly losing market share to other desktops like Unity and Cinnamon, instead of gaining it.

Correction: An earlier version of this story referred to a 20/20 goal being set by the GNOME developers. This, we have been informed, was an inside joke by the presenters.


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