Re: Underlying DE for the Fedora Workstation product

On Tue, Feb 4, 2014 at 7:30 PM, Alex GS <alxgrtnstrngl gmail com> wrote:
On Tue, 2014-02-04 at 14:52 +0100, Bastien Nocera wrote:
> On Tue, 2014-02-04 at 13:09 +0000, Allan Day wrote:
> > Hi Alex,
> >
> > Thanks for reaching out with your ideas. I'm afraid that you're
> > catching us at a bad time - we are really close to UI freeze and a lot
> > of us are working flat out on that. I personally don't have much time
> > to spare on mailing lists right now. :)
> >
> > Can you explain what the GNOME 2 sub-project would actually look like?
> > It's hard to respond without knowing details about how it would
> > actually work. I understand that you are proposing to utilise some
> > GNOME 3 modules, but how would it differ? Would it have a 3.x
> > gnome-control-center? Would it have a shell? If not, which pieces
> > would you use instead? Would you expect the GNOME project to make
> > regular GNOME 2 releases alongside GNOME ones? Would we work to ensure
> > we produce quality GNOME 2 releases as well as GNOME 3 releases? How
> > would we market these two experiences? What would we recommend to
> > distributions?
> The main question for me would be, why would we want a "GNOME 2"-like
> sub-project in GNOME when we dropped support for a very similar
> interface, the fallback mode.

To respond that that I'll copy a response I posted to the Fedora
Workstation mailing list, it's modified to address your question
specifically. It provides a context for just how critically important
GNOME 2 is to GNOME as a desktop product.

Let's revisit the original GNOME 3 (GNOME Shell) design document:

Problem Definition:

"The GNOME Project released version 2.0 of the GNOME Desktop in June
2002. It was an important milestone. In the years since then, the
developer community has continually and incrementally improved the
experience while learning a great deal about what worked and what
didn't. The entire personal computing ecosystem has been changing too -
partly due to a number of new and disruptive technologies. While we
won't dwell on the particulars of those changes it is important to note
that there is a growing consensus in the GNOME developer community that
we needed to make a leap forward in order to fix many of the flaws in
our designs and to generally bring a lot more awesome into the user

The key phrases in the entire document:

"The entire personal computing ecosystem has been changing too - partly
due to a number of new and disruptive technologies."

- and -

"we needed to make a leap forward in order to fix many of the flaws in
our designs."

Mac OS X (10.xx) released in 2001.

GNOME 2 released in 2002.

Apple released the iPhone in 2007.

Android released in 2008.

GNOME Shell design document published in 2009.

Apple released the iPad back in 2010.

GNOME 3 was released in 2011.

The "new and disruptive technologies" refers to mobile devices. GNOME
Shell itself was created in the context of Apple's release of the iPhone
and the introduction of mobile form-factors such as the Android mobile
operating system. The "flaws in our designs" refers to the traditional
desktop workstation designs found in GNOME 2 that they no longer felt
could address the new touch oriented mobile form-factors that were just

It's obvious that GNOME 3 (GNOME Shell) wasn't just created for
traditional workstations but was an early attempt at a convergence
concept to meld mobile and desktop interfaces together. When you look at
GNOME Shell (GNOME 3) today it's a near clone of Apple's iPad interface
with clear references to the Apple iOS style language. This convergence
concept is still highly experimental.  See Ubuntu's Unity 7/8 and
Microsoft's Windows 8.

GNOME 3 is a highly innovative and very fascinating project but one that
has yet to realize it's full potential. Due to it's potential and
long-term outlook I actually intend on contributing to in terms of
design, development and support. However, GNOME 3 is still hasn't
matured to the point where it provides a coherent product and doesn't
have a sense of what it's trying to define or where it wants to go.
Looking at Android 4.4 on a Google Nexus 10 I realized it has a very
long way to go, several years, if it wants to achieve a that kind of
product ready state.  It's still very much a BETA and not a RC.

Mac OS X (10.xx) was released in 2001 and has been in a continually
state of development and refinement for over 13 years. Apple
demonstrated the value of continuous, incremental and methodical
refinement of the same traditional Mac OS desktop metaphor. As a result
developers, companies and users have come to rely on and they trust Mac
OS X as a stable and mature desktop platform in which they can invest
critical resources and time for the future.

The sudden and abrupt abandonment of GNOME 2 was premature and damaged
GNOME as a brand and project. It made GNOME a risky platform for
developers & companies who felt that it was not a platform they could
trust for the future. This also left users with a sense of loss that
turned them against GNOME causing grief and fragmentation in the Linux
desktop space.

GNOME 2 remains GNOME's only fully realized core product one that has

Things you can still do with GNOME 2:

You can unify a divided and fragmented non-KDE Linux desktop community.

You can spread freedom to hundreds of millions of users stuck with
proprietary operating systems.

You can attract a large user-base and make GNOME a popular workstation
platform for high-performance users such as developers, designers,
artists, scientists, engineers and the default at their companies and

You can have had core workstation products on RHEL and Fedora such as a
native Linux/GNOME optimized version of Adobe Creative Suite and/or the
various CAD programs only found on Windows and Mac.

You can market GNOME 2 as a stable Unix-like platform that hardware
manufacturers and OEM's can take seriously and make bold bets on as a
way of competing against Apple's Mac platform.

You can make GNOME a viable alternative to Windows XP and Windows 7 in
the corporate and education markets.

Sadly without GNOME 2 you don't have a core product that's able to do
any of these things.

I can replace, "GNOME 2" in many of your statements with, "GNOME Classic Session" and see things in a similar manner as what you've described. When MATE was formed, fallback mode wasn't receiving very much attention, and wasn't a realistic replacement for users who wanted an experience like they had with GNOME 2. If you wanted an experience like GNOME 2, fallback mode didn't provide it, so it made sense to fork GNOME 2 into a new project.

The Classic Session in GNOME now provides an experience that is a lot closer to what you'd get from GNOME 2, though. Is it up to the same standards? No, I don't think so - not right now. It is good, but doesn't offer quite the same experience as some users would expect if moving from GNOME 2. I understand that.

But if the MATE developers directed their attention to making the GNOME Classic Session all that they want it to be rather than supporting an aging, legacy codebase, I think both parties would be better off.

I don't think it's likely in the short-term, but I think it provides a way forward for the long run.



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