Re: Underlying DE for the Fedora Workstation product

Forget to include a citation for the MATE desktop roadmap:

On Mon, 2014-02-03 at 22:22 -0500, Alexander GS wrote:
CC'd over from the Fedora Desktop developers mailing list:

On Mon, 2014-02-03 at 19:04 -0600, Michael Catanzaro wrote:
This is a very contentious topic, and you're promoting a minority view
(I suspect GNOME and KDE are much more popular in Fedora than the 
other desktops), so lots of disagreement is to be expected.

On Mon, 2014-02-03 at 12:22 -0500, Alex GS wrote:
Gnome Shell is a feature/product/package focused on mobile interaction
for hybrids and touch enabled devices including tablets.

GNOME (capitals please, same for MATE) is focused on desktop and laptop
computers, including laptops with touchscreens. GNOME has to support
touchscreens well because Windows has gone that route, and 90% of
laptops ship with Windows.

Tablets are a secondary concern because very, very few people are
running GNOME on tablets. They're basically touchscreen laptops without
keyboards, though, so I don't think they're much of a stretch.

Typically I associate the word mobile with phones, and nobody runs GNOME
on phones. A new startup, Endless Mobile, is trying to. I wish them
well, but I've yet to see reason to believe that will work well. (Which
is fine, since they're new.)

Anyway, it sounds like you're spot-on part of the target audience for
GNOME Classic. I'm sure the developers would be interested in feedback
on why that environment doesn't currently meet your needs, and how it
might be improved to do so.

If you look at MATE's road-map you'll quickly see most objections
against it aren't valid.  They're actively moving closer to core GNOME
infrastructure such as GTK3, systemd and Wayland as well as defaulting
to current GNOME packages in increasing numbers.  Several GNOME packages
from have also been adopted by MATE's developers such as

If you look at below  MATE is a "very active" project with
over 2 million lines of code, 64 contributors and the last commit was
made 4 days ago.  GNOME 2 is alive and thriving and evolving with a
large user-base among the top distributions Arch Linux, Linux Mint,
Debian, Ubuntu 14.04, OpenSUSE and many others including Fedora. Compare
this to GNOME Shell which has only around 81K lines of code, twice as
many contributors at 157 and the last commit was 2 days ago.
This presents a very complex situation for GNOME.  What does does GNOME
do if they have two active thriving desktop products on the market
coexisting in parallel?  Clearly GNOME Classic hasn't addressed the
traditional desktop use-case and isn't seen as a GNOME 2 replacement.

GNOME 2 was released back in 2002 - 12 years ago
GNOME 3 was released back in 2011 - 3 years ago

Then look at Apple with Mac OS X:

Mac OS X was released back in 2001 -  13 years ago

Mac OS X is a contemporary of GNOME 2 and is still in active development
and supported indefinitely by regularly released minor versions 10.xx as
long as Apple is solvent as a company.

If GNOME was like Apple they would have launched GNOME 3 along-side
GNOME 2 and simply updated and supported GNOME 2 in minor versions.
Today we would be on GNOME 2.9 or 2.10. The point is that when you have
an installed user-base that's as large as GNOME 2 the default of most
prominent commercial Linux distributions and even Unix platforms you
don't just drop support and development like that. You have to keep that
massive user-base happy while you continue to develop GNOME 3 and then
eventually when it's ready you slowly transition your GNOME 2 users to

When you abandon active and popular products like that you cause
developers to fork your product and keep it in active development.  Just
like the MATE team is doing today.  In reality MATE is providing the
free support and development that GNOME should really be doing.

That's why I propose the following:

Proposal: GNOME Foundation adopts GNOME 2 (MATE) as an official GNOME
desktop alongside GNOME 3 (GNOME Shell).

"Work towards standardizing and unifying the Linux desktop space"

You have to think of your brand GNOME as a collection of desktops in
what is really a meta-desktop. Effectively GNOME 2 (MATE) is still an
active GNOME product despite not being an official GNOME project it
technically is one. The current thinking at GNOME is that GNOME Shell
represents this flagship product and having alternative environments
somehow represents failure of the GNOME project as a whole.  This is far
from the reality because success of one desktop environment GNOME 2
means success for GNOME 3 and GNOME as a whole, it means people still
love your products and want to support you. 

GNOME 2.xx (workstation desktop) and GNOME 3.xx (mobile-desktop) should
have a healthy symbiotic relationship.

Take the recent strategic move of making CentOS an official part of the
Red Hat family. The reaction in the Linux community was overwhelmingly
positive. It was a sensible business move by Red Hat and will probably
swing the Linux server market in their favor as a result. CentOS
installations will become a powerful way to promote and expand the RHEL
business and standardize the Linux server space.

Well, I think Fedora Workstation is an opportunity to do the same thing
for GNOME based Linux desktops.  MATE much like CentOS represents a
community fork that's become incredibly popular.  Much like CentOS it
also serves a very conservative end-user community.  There would be an
equally and overwhelmingly positive Linux community reaction if MATE was
adopted by the GNOME Foundation and put on equal footing as GNOME 3 in
terms of development and support. A fully modern and up-to-date GNOME 2
could be a powerful vehicle to promote GNOME 3 and Fedora Workstation.  

The user-base for what we know today as GNOME would be huge. There would
be a large scale migration back to GNOME 2 by former users. GNOME would
cease to be a single desktop product and become a meta-desktop.
Competing against GNOME in this form would be extremely difficult.
GNOME could address several different form-factors and user-experiences

This can be achieved by having both GNOME 2 (MATE) and GNOME 3 (GNOME
Shell) be parallel but related branches of the same GNOME desktop

1. Have the GNOME Foundation adopt MATE as a GNOME 2 re-development
project. Provide development and support resources to accelerate MATE's
efforts to transition to GTK3, systemd and Wayland. Make sure that both
GNOME 2 and GNOME 3 are based on the same modern infrastructure. 

2. Modify Mutter so that it can become the official compositor of MATE
and replace the practice of bundling GNOME 2 with Compiz which is now a
legacy Ubuntu product. This would ensure that GNOME 2 and GNOME 3 have
similar bounce, behavior and feel. Another option is to use Compton but
that could be seen as a short-term fix until Mutter was fully integrated
into GNOME 2. 

3. Keep GNOME 3 as is in the present. The GNOME 2 sub-project will not
interfere with the GNOME 3 (GNOME Shell) project or dictate design to
them. GNOME 3 will exist as a sort of "skunk-works" style advanced
project focused on innovation, experimentation and creativity. Their
focus would continue to be on pushing desktop boundaries and exploring
alternative paradigms. If appropriate, innovations developed in the
GNOME Shell would be occasionally fed back into GNOME 2. This will
create a healthy GNOME innovation cycle. 

4. Make GNOME 2 the default desktop for Fedora Workstation with Fedora
branding and themes as well as the current GNOME default applications.
Make sure GNOME default applications integrate seamlessly with GNOME 2.
Also make GNOME 3 and KDE installation extras to be fair.

5. Promote GNOME 3 to GNOME 2 users directly. When the user runs GNOME 2
for the first time have a prompt that says "Would you like to see the
future? Try out GNOME 3". And it would be installed side-by-side with
GNOME 2 users could participate in GNOME 3 testing and surveys.

I'm willing to bring this before the GNOME Foundation board or have
someone more senior to myself advocate on my behalf and am committed to
seeing it realized.  I can also work as Marketing to engage developers
in discussions and elicit interest.  This is an opportunity that's too
valuable for GNOME to let slip by.

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