Re: Need Leadership

On Mon, Jun 23, 2008 at 11:54 PM, Brian Cameron <Brian Cameron sun com> wrote:


We need to tap in to the wave of energy generated by the The Thread on
Planet Gnome. Already, it's apparent that the fervor that surrounded it has
started to dwindle. A ton of interesting ideas were thrown out and lot of
belly-aching about no one taking responsibility for making it happen was

That is not quite true.  There is a lot going on to make the GNOME
Developer Platform more rich and stable, making GNOME a richer
development platform for third-party ISV's.  As GNOME slowly develops
more and more interest from third-party ISV's (such as Adobe and Real)
the platform becomes more usable to a wider audience.

Some examples currently underway include gail merging into GTK+,
accessibility moving away from ORBit2 and towards D-Bus, gvfs replacing
gnome-vfs, and so on.  This is in relation to Project Ridley [1].

So, there is a lot of digging in the trenches to prepare GNOME for
taking things to the next level, I think.

It's clear from The Thread that we need to "Get Our House In Order". There's
nearly universal agreement that Gnome lacks leadership in the sense that
there's someone that sets release goals.

In my opinion, whatever "The Next-Gen Gnome" is, it isn't going to happen
until we really, really have a deep maintenance cycle going on here. That
means fixing a Handful of Giant Warts on our maintenance process:

In addition to having a richer developer platform, it is probably
necessary for GNOME to get some sort of a face-lift in order to warrant
next generation attention.  This probably would require some addition of
needed functionality, and some theming/visual elements.  Compiz,
Clutter, and/or pigment could be a part of this.  Work seems to be
fairly active in these areas.

1. DVCS needs to happen; now. It's time. The number of people using a DVCS
frontend to circumvent the insanity of SVN continues to grow. In that vein,
we need to a) debate the One True DVCS for Gnome, b) delinate the work that
needs to be done to get there and set a timeframe, and c) find the man power
to do it.

This would have little impact on end-users, I think.

2. The Giant Rift in the Gnome community over Mono has to end. I hate Mono
as much as the next guy but it's quite apparent now that some really cool
stuff with financial backing from Big Linux Distributor is not going away:
Gnome Main Menu, Banshee, F-Spot, Beagle, Tomboy, etc. We have to get rid of
the rift and bring the two diverging communities back together. Whatever
damage that might incur in the minds of the Slashdot crowd has already been
done--Gnome is perceived (rightly or wrongly) to be largley 'infested with
Mono' in the minds of our critics. We cannot capitulate on this to appease a
vocal minority of users that detest Mono. It's obvious it's not going away
and, with a trivial amount of work, we can mend the rift by including the
afore-mentioned mondules in our official releases. Let's just do it and move
on with our lives.

Solaris doesn't distribute with Mono, but I wouldn't say anybody at Sun
detests Mono.  Mono is great!  Aside from causing some distros to have
slightly different applications (e.g. Beagle versus MetaTracker), I
do not think whether Mono is used on a given distro causes end-users
much grief.

In some ways, I think the fact that distros differentiate themselves a
bit is probably a good thing.  It gives people some choices to consider
when they pick a distro.

3. Marketing to developers must get ramped up; we agree that we need a new
generation of awesome developers to bring new ideas and blood in to our
process. A number of our Gnome modules are in "barely maintained" mode. With
new blood, we can reinvigorate 2.x while looking to the future. And I've
volunteer for this one in the form of 15 minute screen casts. However, it
needs web hosting space. And that needs Gnome resources. What do we have to
do to make this hosting happen? What else can we do to get more developers?

The GNOME project has a marketing-list, and you are right that there does not seem to be enough volunteers or energy to do a lot of exciting
things.  If you, or anybody has an interest, I'd get involved. 
This problem isn't really specific to GNOME. Unlike Apple's ADC and Microsoft's MSDN, there's no "one stop" location that developers can visit to start getting involved with Linux development. The necessary information _is_ out there, but it's spread across the wikis of a hundred distributions, computer languages, frameworks, and other projects. In addition to centralizing that knowledge into a distro and toolkit independent location (yes, the latter is probably not happening because it would mean "getting along"), the following steps would also help attract developers:

1. Host an annual developer awards contest. Apple does it, and there's really no reason why we shouldn't as well. The system would have to be adapted a bit, but it _is_ doable. Like it or not, shiny prizes and recognition help attract developers.

2. Embrace new and exciting projects. Developers who do make the jump shouldn't have to fight to publicize their projects.

3. Create a distro-independant software tracker in order to focus all of the buzz around shiny new software into one location. I personally feel that all of the *-look.orgs have damaged the software ecosystem. In place of them, I'd like to see an "Open Downloads" website that tracks all new software with nice descriptions and screenshots. It would need to also function as a mapping between different package names in different distributions, in order to allow users to quickly download the packages from their distributions official repositories. To install newly updated software, the website should allow the user to quickly enable the distribution's backport _without having any technical knowledge_.

I think its good to discuss what sort of features we should consider in
taking GNOME to the next generation, so I appreciate your suggestions.



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