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GNOME Developers Lay Out Plans for GNOME OS 208

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the everyone's-doing-it dept.
From the H: "Allan Day has written a blog post on the concrete plans for 'GNOME OS' and provided background on the ideas that have motivated those plans ... Day starts by emphasizing that GNOME OS is not an attempt to replace existing distributions. Although the creation of a standalone GNOME OS is part of the plans, the idea is to make that a testing and development platform, and any improvements that come from GNOME OS should 'directly improve what the GNOME project is able to offer distributions.' Many of the drivers for GNOME OS are, Day says, old ideas to improve the development experience, such as automated testing and sandboxed applications, and while the developers could have separate initiatives for each feature, the idea is to work on them as a 'holistic plan' under the moniker 'GNOME OS.'" A few slides provide more context. In the works are stabilizing the platform APIs, improving deployment of applications, making everything automatically testable, and probably the most controversial: "The increasing popularity of mobile and touch devices represents a challenge to existing desktop solutions. This situation is complicated by the emergence of new hybrid devices that combine keyboards, touchpads and touchscreens. During our discussions last week we talked about how existing types of devices – primarily laptops and desktops – have to remain the primary focus for GNOME ... At the same time, we also want to ensure that GNOME remains compatible with new hardware. ... We have set the goal of having a touch-compatible GNOME 3 within a maximum of 18 months." The drive toward touch may seem obnoxious to desktop users, but spreading Free Software to a hardware ecosystem that is currently locked down and proprietary seems like a good goal to have.
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GNOME Developers Lay Out Plans for GNOME OS

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @09:35AM (#40917321)

    So a whole OS that is dumbed down so even a retard would find it frustrating to use?

  • Erm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @09:36AM (#40917337)

    Yeah, right. We're going to be interested in a Gnome OS, because the Gnome Desktop is *THAT* good.

    Right? Right?

    Hello? Is anyone listening...

  • Good lord NO!!!!! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @09:37AM (#40917345)

    Gnome needs to go quietly into the night. they have consistently ignored user feedback and are now confused as to why people are turning their back.

    • I'm just happy they committed to maintaining the desktop as the primary platform. I fully expected a fully integrated system that would support mobile apps and input methods including touchscreens and whatever garbled buzzwords they wanted to fit in there.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by SpzToid (869795)

      Gnome 3 gets way too much hate on Slashdot. No, they did not photocopy The Mainstream, they re-engineered the GUI and underlying pinnings.

      For me, I had to take a moment to consider what the devs delivered. I tried a lot of stuff, including Unity on my Netbook and Gnome 3 gets my vote for most-efficient window management and task-switching on the tiny netbook screen. From there, I cautiously tested, then upgraded my main Ubuntu workstation to Gnome 3 as well. For folks willing to seriously consider Gnome 3,

      • by diegocg (1680514)

        Wait, people needs training videos just to learn how to handle windows?

        • Re:Good lord NO!!!!! (Score:4, Interesting)

          by SpzToid (869795) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @10:58AM (#40918223)

          Sure, why not? It is not the same. It is different from what you were expecting, perhaps. So the devs have made an effort to document their work.

          Like, previously I had no idea how to easily scale a window to consume exactly half of my display-space. But watching one of those short videos clarified it to me so I can make use of the feature. In fact, I later tried the same technique using Windows 7 and it also worked. I am pleased someone made the effort as easy as possible for me to learn [youtube.com].

      • > Gnome 3 gets way too much hate on Slashdot. No, they did not photocopy
        > The Mainstream, they re-engineered the GUI and underlying pinnings.

        KDE and GNOME suffer from the "Microsoft Windows disease". Every time you learn the menus, etc, they change the GUI, and the way it operates. I expect a learning curve when switching to a new OS. But I should not have to repeat it every year or two.

        I've been using ICEWM for several years, and it works. I have the bar on the bottom, with all apps and the launcher,

        • by TheLink (130905)

          KDE and GNOME suffer from the "Microsoft Windows disease".

          What they should do is just come up with something that works very like Windows XP (ala ReactOS). So that when Microsoft finally kills XP (in 2014?), they suddenly get half the XP market share.

      • by Compaqt (1758360)

        OK, I watched the videos.

        1. Hardware integration: Doesn't show you touchpad options if you're not on a touchpad.

        2. Clicking on icon brings up an instance of an app, regardless of it was launched previously or not. You can launch a new instance by right-clicking.

        3. Faster launch: They claim that typing the app name is faster than selecting it from a menu in Gnome2.

        4. Notifications: They are interactive, unlike Unity's.

        5. Window management: Drag to top to maximize, left or right to half-size.

        My take: Unity ha

    • by KiloByte (825081) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @10:09AM (#40917679)

      It's a real pity Debian wheezy won't have MATE. I currently use XFCE+Compiz 8.4 at home, but XFCE lacks quite a bit of polish one could take for granted in Gnome 2. Gnome 3 needs a number of extensions for even basic usability, and considering the direction the upstream is going, things are going worse rather than better.

      Joey Hess recently made a controversial commit of making XFCE the default desktop environment in the installer. I fully agree with him, and hope people will recognize this commit (if it prevails...) as another warning for Gnome. The reasons stated were lack of place on CD 1 and Gnome3 having a totally different interface based on graphics drivers, but hey, since usability regressions are always debatable, this works too. I guess it's easier to add missing bits to XFCE than trying to stop Gnome from going down.

      • by RDW (41497)

        It's a real pity Debian wheezy won't have MATE.

        Might be worth cutting out the middleman and using the upstream directly. The Mate guys maintain a Wheezy repository:

        http://mate-desktop.org/install/#debian [mate-desktop.org]

        I haven't tried this, but their equivalent Ubuntu repository works very well with 12.04.

        • by KiloByte (825081)

          I did try it, works well. Heck, that's what I'm testing at work, to reduce unnecessary churn.

          Problems I noticed so far: 1. it doesn't migrate Gnome2 settings, 2. remmina from wheezy interacts badly with mate-screensaver while in full-screen mode. On the other hand, they already have fixed quite a few old bugs.

          I feel really uneasy about using some random repository though, for something as big as a whole desktop environment.

      • I currently use XFCE+Compiz 8.4 at home

        How did you set that up? I am a long time user of Compiz, and in fact would prefer to just stay in Compiz-land all the time. I started to set up an XFCE + Compiz environment on a 'new' machine, but got bogged down - I confess not spending a lot of time on the project. Any hints/clues appreciated.

        (Wishes #1: a way for panel widgets from some other desktop environments to live inside Cairo, so I can add them to my Dock, or an additional dock, all within the 3D environment. This might also take some load o

        • by KiloByte (825081)

          Heh, I go the opposite way: I have all eyecandy disabled, and use Compiz for features like:

          * quick arbitrary zoom. Good for adjusting pixel-perfect graphics or debugging antialiasing. And, with nettles starting to pollinate, I find myself with blurry eyes, having to zoom random stuff just to be able to read.

          * partial transparency of windows. I always make primary windows full-screen; a small almost-opaque media player window in the right upper corner allows watching something while coding, and if some un

        • if you want rooms you could always try installing ms bob on wine. :-P

  • Goals (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @09:50AM (#40917463)

    We have set the goal of having a touch-compatible GNOME 3 within a maximum of 18 months.

    Who cares about touch-compatible, what I want to know is when their goal for a non-touch compatible GNOME is? You know, for those of us still using a keyboard and mouse?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by graphius (907855)

      At the risk of looking like a fool in 5 years or so (a la nomad vs ipod) I really don't see tablets taking off from where they are now. I can see them being popular consumption devices, and I can see them working in a very limited way for a few specialized projects, but I do not see the death of the desktop coming anytime soon.

      • I expect you're right. I'm still waiting for the death of the mainframe. So far as I can tell the introduction of new platforms creates new markets for computing devices, but hasn't eliminated any old ones.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by someones (2687911)

          Mainframes will never die. Their name will change, but they will never die.
          "Cloud", im looking at you!

      • by bazorg (911295)

        Guessing the future always has that risk of making people look like idiots 5 years down the line. What I have seen in the recent past is that at Apple stores, there's no shortage of people of all ages poking at Macbook screens after they spent a few minutes experimenting with iPhones and iPads. Give a Kindle to a smartphone user and they poke and pinch the screen.Recent industry exhibitions had hybrid products on show, and Microsoft seems to expect laptops with touchscreens to take off.

        I don't think that d

        • by mattr (78516)

          Seriously. Did you see Curiosity Mission Control (JPL I think)? Several mac laptops were in use. One desk had a tablet in a clamp, a Mac laptop, and the standard two screens with keyboards, plus paper binders.

      • See, the thing is, something like 90% to 95% of all computer users are consumers of information. So that's where the majority of the use cases are. I for one have not figured out a single thing I could use a tablet for - I'm not much of a video watcher, or song player (except in the context of headphones when I'm developing, etc.)

        Actually there is one thing - I could use a tablet to provide a remote tool for looking at marine charts, weather and boat diagnostics when I'm sailing. In fact I plan to make m

      • by Synn (6288)

        Even if they do take off, I already have a Linux tablet interface: Android.

        Which is specifically designed just for the tablet with apps designed for the tablet interface.

  • Honestly (Score:5, Interesting)

    by skipkent (1510) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @09:58AM (#40917549)

    Honestly, I'm in the market for just a plain 1:1 ripoff of win7's interface. It's minimalistic, flows well and allows me to get shit done. That is all.

    • Re:Honestly (Score:5, Funny)

      by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @10:04AM (#40917631)
      Don't worry, Microsoft is planning to fix that soon enough.
    • by kaiser423 (828989)
      Yea. Windows 7 strikes a nice balance between being able to use the keyboard for just about everything, while providing a pretty full featured, but simple interface. I can navigate directories in the explorer GUI by typing just like I would in a shell, whether I click on the nav bar or just have focus, I can launch/search/whatever after pressing the command key, and so on and so forth. It's really just *polished* and I haven't seen anything nearly as good yet.

      Hell, I had KDE4 latest version in a VM th
      • by Tarlus (1000874)

        Well, there's a lot of abstraction and wizardry involved in the capability to simply drag/drop files onto the desktop of a virtualized OS. That the capability is even there at all is pretty remarkable, especially given how all-encompassing the VMWare driver needs to be for a Linux client (lots of different display environments and other variables).

        Don't let that behavior be the thing that deters you from KDE 4, unless it's doing it to you consistently from within the OS itself (and not across a VMWare bridg

    • by Abreu (173023)

      Are you looking for http://zorin-os.com/ [zorin-os.com] maybe?

    • I saw Windows 7 and thought "this wants to be KDE4 when it grows up."

    • by 21mhz (443080)

      Is your saying "I'm in the market" just a way to feel significant about yourself, or are you actually willing to pay some money for that?
      GNOME is, principally, a volunteer effort distributed for free.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Honestly, I'm in the market for just a plain 1:1 ripoff of win7's interface.

      Then just don't install Linux. If you like Windows and it suits your needs, why switch? After all, it's already on the computer!

      Me, I don't like Windows. There is a lot of stuff missing, and even more stuff I consider ass-backwards. If I'd been happy with Windows, I would have never switched.

  • FTA: "...touch-compatible GNOME 3 within a maximum of 18 months...

    WTF? I thought GNOME 3 was pretty much designed as a tablet GUI. It sure as hell wasn't designed with desktop users in mind. Are they suggesting they made those radical changes without thinking of touchscreens?

    More reasons to go with Mate desktop (Gnome 2 fork).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @09:59AM (#40917563)

    Gnome has been providing a their own standardized user experience for some time now. It's good to see that their next step will be to replace the user with their own autonomous testing framework, at the very least that should reduce the public outcry for further changes to come. Next year, they will continue that effort by combining the legacy input devices with touch sense, so that touching the gui elements has the same effect as throwing your mouse against the screen. As a final step, they will sandbox their users to completely isolate them from the GUI, giving the designers full freedom without having to care about real-world usage.

    I'm sure they'll complete their own kernel the year thereafter.

  • by Rambo Tribble (1273454) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @10:06AM (#40917647)

    The mad dash toward the "one interface to rule them all" has given us nothing but a deepening dive into a universally cumbersome user interface. While few people converse with the same tone and measure with which they write, UI designers seem oblivious to the nuances that make a platform what it is.

    Will developing an OS help Gnome get a handle on this problem? Or will the OS become a distraction, like Mono appears to have been?

  • I am going to skip this and hold out for the Instagram OS
  • Good. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by John Hasler (414242)

    Now maybe they will go off on their own and leave Linux alone.

    • by 21mhz (443080)

      I know people are not supposed to RTFA or even RTFSummary on /., neither should the moderators, but your comment is so clueless that I don't know where to begin.

  • Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by glebovitz (202712) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @10:24AM (#40917823) Journal

    There was a time when GNOME was a good idea. It works, it had support of vendors, and it evolved in a consistent fashion. I used it because it came with my distribution. Sometimes I used Ubuntu and other times Fedora, depending on my project. Both distributions supported GNOME and the difference from a user's perspective was small. Note that I was a professional Qt developer, but felt no urge to switch to KDE based on the my alliance with Qt.

    Then came GNOME 3 with Fedora 16. I was baffled. The interface was not intuitive. It wasn't just the deviation from my expectations, but my total inability to do even the simplest task. I wrote to the project manager for Fedora and asked him what I should do, he suggested I try KDE. I am now using KDE as my desktop and find it manageable. There are lots of things I don't like, but it doesn't get it my way of doing work.

    I own an iPad, iPhone, an Android Phone and Tablet, a Windows Phone 7, a Nokia N9, a MacBook and an Ultrabook running various Linux distributions and Windows 7. I am familiar and comfortable with touch screen devices and I think GNOME 3 is unusable. So excuse me if I don't buy the argument from GNOME that change is hard, and the release of GNOME 3 is all about the move from the desktop to touch devices. It is a bad, design that is unintuitive and clumsy and I pity the fools who decide it is a good platform for their product.

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kjella (173770) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @11:18AM (#40918413) Homepage

      Personally I find this whole deal with desktop interfaces to be a pretty big waste of resources, like rearranging toolbars and menus and trays and docks and plasmoids is what'll win people over. Maybe I'm just getting to be an old fart but my Win7 desktop in 2012 is looking pretty much like my Win95 desktop from 17 years ago. A launch icon, a taskbar of running apps and a tray of background services, most apps running in full screen. Maybe it's not new or fancy but it works pretty much like the steering wheel, gas and brake pedal of a car. They're instantly familiar and they do the job well enough.

      Of course the back-ends have been rewritten many times over, to make sure whatever is behind the control panel and system provided tray icons is working but it looks mostly the same. And the apps have certainly improved, but really.... why is Gnome vs Unity vs KDE really still a big fighting issue? I mean seriously the OS is a means to an end to run applications, if you're spending so much time with it then you're doing it wrong. It's a bit like the people that spend more time tuning, styling and cleaning their car than they do driving it - you're kinda missing the point of it being a car. It's supposed to get you places.

  • lrn2modularity, retards!

  • So, Mozilla is planning to make Firefox an OS. Gnome is planning to make Gnome an OS. Kde, well, QT already contains libraries for doing almost everything, so we are not that far.

    Do we have a trend here?
    • And also interesting, all this "OSs" are simply Linux flavours, not really "new" OSs. Wake me up when someone really creates a original OS.
    • by ArsonSmith (13997)

      And all actual OSs are becoming hypervisors. Pretty soon you'll turn on your computer and your hypervisor will start. It'll boot your desktop GnomeOS which will have shortcuts to boot your Browser OS, Office OS, IDE OS, etc...

  • Gnome developers ...

    No thanks.

    • As an employer, the good thing about gnome developers is that their cubicles can be much smaller than those of regular developers and thus many more of them can fit into a given floorspace.

      Plus, you can scale down things like monitors and laptop size. Times are tough, so these things matter.

      On the downside, bathrooms need to be modified to suit.

  • This will be the end of GNOME in most other distros. RH and Deb will probably figure out a way to make it work but others will drop it.

    Why? Because the GNOME devs are going to start tightly coupling the desktop to things like init process and a file system layout. It will break all distro specific tools, and traditions and rather then write a bazillion patches distributors will simple stop packaging it.

    • by 21mhz (443080)

      Why? Because the GNOME devs are going to start tightly coupling the desktop to things like init process and a file system layout.

      As long as they use systemd and the FHS layout, I'm fine with that. No, I don't care about Ubuntu or various sysvinit holdouts. The sooner GNOME and Ubuntu diverge in their user bases, the better.

      • by DarkOx (621550)

        systemd is the biggest POS ever. Its taking something that was not broken and worked well only to replace it with something complex that works badly. Any distro that uses it is not worth running

        • by 21mhz (443080)

          It works fine on my Fedora installation. It replaced something that stood in the way of efficient boot sequences (grep for "sleep" in initscripts if you have them, look at the high PIDs given to your actually useful processes once the myriad little commands and shell scripts had to run on boot), and is designed much better than the event-driven, shell-using Upstart.

  • They aren't ready... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @10:48AM (#40918121) Homepage

    ... I don't know what other fundamental problems exist with GNOME, but one that sticks in my craw is one I discovered where I cannot run GiMP 2.8.0 on older Linux distros which use an older version of GiMP. The problem has to do with the version of GTK in use. Turns out the desktop environment uses a version (which is linked to theming and other UI elements such as IME (input method editors)) which is too old for GiMP 2.8.x and so it won't run. You can compile the newer libraries but you lose desktop integration, theming and other UI elements such as IME. This means I can run GiMP, but I can't enter Japanese characters into my work. Nice right?

    The problem here is they are building an OS/Desktop environment the way people build applications. Sorry, but GTK is for applications...specifically for GiMP. I don't know what the correct or best answer might be, but clearly some sort of software engineering line has been crossed or muddied somewhere and no one on either side of the problem (GiMP or GNOME) want to address it.

    So the result? Windows and Mac users get better support running GiMP than this Linux user. The answer most people suggest is "run a newer distro!" Sorry, but that's not a fix. Newer distros update too frequenly and it doesn't address the underlying problem. And if the "answer" is to run distros which update frequently, then holy crap... do we really need to go into why THAT is a bad idea? I use CentOS (RHEL) because it is stable and doesn't change. I can run the newest versions of all programs I use EXCEPT GiMP. (Sure, I have to compile some of them as packages aren't always available, but that's the way things go... I share the packages I make anyway.)

    So with just knowing this much about the GNOME project, I have to say they just aren't ready. They aren't drawing those lines separating OS+Desktop environment and applications.

    • I believe you are talking gtk2 vs gtk3 here, and you might have a problem with the IM gui. Apps using gtk3 (there's a few more such as audacious) would need the im ui to support gtk3 in addition to gtk2. Remember qt3/4 apps also need it?

      For example there is uim-gtk2.0 and uim-gtk3 along with uim-qt3 and uim-qt packages in debian based distros.

      This happened because you went out of the way installing an unsupported package. Normally when you upgrade your distro using its official repositories or install new f

      • by erroneus (253617)

        The distro is CentOS 6.3. So far, there is no plan for RHEL 6.x to support newer GTK/GNOME and therefore the newest version supportable is the 2.6.x versions. It goes back to software interfaces not remaining compatible or flexible enough.

        I understand the consequences of going outside of the package managers. It's why I had to compile an almost complete set of GTK/GNOME libraries to get GiMP 2.8.0 to run at all. As they were compiled and installed to a completely separate directory (/opt/gimp-2.8 in thi

  • by JDG1980 (2438906) on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @10:48AM (#40918123)

    We have set the goal of having a touch-compatible GNOME 3 within a maximum of 18 months

    Remember when your mom asked you "If your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?"

    Well, apparently the GNOME developers' answer was "Yes."

    • by 21mhz (443080)

      There were enough people modding your post insightful, so I gather that even the intent of adding touch support to the otherwise desktop-oriented environment (as TFA clearly says) is a total disaster. I don't know why, though.

  • but spreading Free Software to a hardware ecosystem that is currently locked down and proprietary seems like a good goal to have.

    Maybe in a vacuum it is. But do you have to kill the existing desktop environment to do it?

  • Unsurprising (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Just Some Guy (3352)

    Translation: "I'm bored with what I'm working on and I want a shiny new project to play with."

    I'd be willing to bet that a few guys got tired of working on Unity, and there wasn't a whole lot going on elsewhere in Gnome, so they're trying to find something fun to do. I don't think that bodes well.

  • 1) re-master ubuntu, call it GnomeOS
    2) tell users to piss off again
    3) implement suck

    WIthout Canonical, Gnome has no user base to drive development. They need each other.

  • by David Gerard (12369) <slashdot@@@davidgerard...co...uk> on Wednesday August 08, 2012 @12:41PM (#40919457) Homepage

    But ... the evidence is that there are literally no GNOME developers who actually have touchscreen hardware [slashdot.org]:

    There is no way Gnome 3 is designed for touch screens. Or at least,
    not for touchscreen-only computers. I use Fedora 17 on a pen-based
    computer (fujitsu stylistic) and I can tell you that if it were not
    for the fingerprint reader on it, Fedora would be *UNUSABLE*. Whenever
    Gnome 3 needs a password to connect to WiFi or to unlock the screen or
    unlock following suspend, THERE IS NO WAY TO ENTER THE PASSWORD! The
    password windows captures all mouse input so it is NOT possible to
    bring up an onscreen keyboard.

    So lets stop pretending Gnome 3 shell is for tablet-type computers. It
    CANNOT BE USED ON A COMPUTER WITHOUT A KEYBOARD.

    Oh, and when one IS able to use the on-screen keyboard, it has is no
    tilda (~) character. Not that you would ever need to type a tilda on a
    unix-like operating system.

    I've filed bugs on all these complaints, but there has been no action.

    Are you listening Gnome team?

    If they have corporate sponsorship, and aren't just building a funhouse in the air, surely their company can spring for a tablet PC.

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