Re: Greatest Common Factor [Was: GNOME Nirvana]

<quote who="Luis Villa">

> Really, though, this is side-tracking; I'd like people to focus on the
> more concrete proposal than what exactly Greatest Common Factor means. If
> we can define things more concretely in terms of groups of programs that
> there is great agreement we need, how the desktop defines itself becomes
> much less relevant.

So, the danger there is never having a conceptual model to work towards. I
don't think GCF is really that hard to understand, if you actually want to.

A very concrete proposal is "the set of software shipped with Win98 by
default", but that stifles innovation, continued user satisfaction and

You said earlier, "basic desktop + communications + media". That's not a
very concrete proposal because "what is a basic desktop?" and "what limits
are there to media and communications?" ... It's not like we're going to
ship a video editor with our desktop, right? Probably not.

It comes down to having a kind of mission statement, or conceptual model to
throw your questions at. It's the same idea as personas, because it's really
hard to have accurate concrete information, and you can't answer it in the
abstract, so you figure out a model.

In this case, I found an old thread about where we were aiming GNOME in
terms of usability. Someone came in with the old "lowest common denominator"
catchcry, to which Maciej answered "greatest common factor". It seemed like
a good way of summarising the abstract and practical arguments we were
having about the desktop release.

So, GCF means that we ask, "will this be immediately and commonly useful to
a majority of our user population?" That's all. There is nothing complicated
about it. It's just an extension of "good defaults and sensible options".

I think we could be a lot tougher about it than we are; there are still a
lot of applets that I think we could pull out (if an applet is not shown on
the default desktop, there ought to be a really good GCF rationale to keep
it in, IMHO). But we're doing really well for GCFness atm.

If you're baulking at trite summaries, I totally understand. But it doesn't
take a huge leap to grok GCF. In fact, since 2.0, it basically describes
what we've been working towards across the entire project. We just have to
apply what we've learned to the entire "product".

- Jeff

Get Informed: SCO vs. IBM                  
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   in a carnivorous way I like them, they are my favourite meats. When I
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