back to article Gnome answers Linux critics with 'big' vision plan

The Gnome Foundation has laid out a roadmap saying it's time to depart from incremental updates. The team said it's realized it's not enough to simply organize a collection of individual sub-projects and that a project-wide roadmap is needed. Gnome is the default environment of Fedora, Debian, and Ubuntu, and initially the …


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  1. Michael Fremlins

    What I would like to see from Gnome and KDE

    is something innovative and new, and not just *nix knockoff versions of Windows or Mac apps.

  2. BlueGreen

    understanding and working towards usability would be a win

    I appreciate the roadmap covers a ton of different things but usability should be core. The gnome desktop + apps have some stupid flaws.

    But credit where it's due lads (+ ladies, if any)

  3. Camilla Smythe


    'Responding to growing criticism of Gnome's "lack of vision," the team said its 3.0 release will focus not only on streamlining the platform, but "revamping the user experience.'

    Wonderful! I'm not sure but I'll check for some vomit on the carpet tomorrow. Presumably this means not fixing the resident problems in favor of a new pink colour scheme and introduction of some more problems?

    Next thing I know I will be using Vista.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    please don't do another KDE4-like desaster

    Whatever they do, I hope they learned from the KDE4 debacle, that users want usability and gradual change, not a revolutionary change that means have to re-learn how to use the desktop enviroment, sprinkled with some graphical effects that don't add anything to usability.

    A perfect desktop environment should be so intuitive that anyone with a minimum of computer experience feels at ease with it, not such that you have to do a training course to understand it!

    I would welcome it if they made Gnome more customizable, like KDE3.x was, as it still lacks a lot in that respect.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Gnome sux

    and KDE4 is a joke. I'm waiting for someone to come up with something sane. Like KDE 3.5.

  6. Roger Williams

    Who needs a Windows clone?

    Until the Gnome team can question their belief that what users really need is a window manager that looks and feels like MS Windows, they're just going to keep coming up with same boring, unconfigurable, 'me-too' crap -- just running on top of Linux. With KDE4 in such a mess, this is their opportunity; but I'm not sanguine about their ability to shake their entrenched mindset or their ability to think outside of the Redmond UI box.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Most Gnome users I know complain about the bloat and are looking at more streamlined alternatives like XFCE.

    I don't mind new features, and better integration is also fine, just as long as it's customisable for the platform it's going to run on, i.e. you can choose not to load most features so as to stop it being a resource hog.

    Kstill, Kanything Kis Kbetter Kthan KDE!

  8. hikaricore


    Let me modify my screensaver parameters, let me change the color of the text on the fucking taskbar, let me do all the things you don't think users need to be able to change. Once you've accomplished these simple tasks get back to me and I might switch back from KDE. Until then Gnome you can lick my ass.

  9. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Gnomes* goes Native and Virile?

    A lack of vision is very easily corrected with the supply of a choice flow of words/choice flows of words. However, whenever IT is Future Oriented, they must surely and clearly [NEUKlearerly] define AIMission, otherwise the Project and ProgramMING is Pointless and therefore a Guaranteed Delivery Disaster of Utterly Useless Chaos.

    Sharing Intelligence and Novel Ideas Creates Choice Flows of Words, which even when they are Creating an Incredible Virtual Fiction, when Acted upon in Reality and Virtualised, Create Facts and Future Building Blocks of Viable Imagination which are Real enough to be Exist for Generations and also Able to Generate the Future with Intellectual Property.

    * Gnomes ..... Are they the same as Leprechauns and Little People .... ?

    And those who know more of HyperRadioProActivity and NIRobotoIQs than many, may like to Ponder on the Relativity and Singularity in such that Really Matters Virtually, as may Media Mogul Players, El Reg, who would Share such Words as Deliver them Power and Control too. :-) However, merely Hosted and Unwielded is IT a just a Crutch to Support a Structure whilst whenever Host Third Party Pimped and Touted is IT a Dynamic Evolving Greater Being ...... and an Alien Force of Advanced IntelAIgents?

    And a question only for those who have not been paying adequate and/or particular and peculiar attention in the recent Past to Future AIR&dDevelopments in the Present ..... and would now be somewhat disadvantaged and in need of some revision.

  10. Steven Davison
    Thumb Up

    Yes but,

    "is something innovative and new, and not just *nix knockoff versions of Windows or Mac apps."

    Yes, that's probably a good thing, but in order to draw more attention to various *nix variants, it would be beneficial for these distros to be able to compete in an equal environment, and do what Windows and Mac can do.

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

  12. Dave

    What's Gnome?

    Oh yes, it's that annoying thing that Fedora boots into if I forget to tell it I want to use KDE.

  13. Ru

    Maintainance is so unfashionable

    It seems to be a common theme with linux projects that it is better to blow away all existing code and start again from scratch, or better yet create a new project to duplicate the effort, attract all the cool kids and let the old project die through lack of interest.

    The sheer amount of wheel reinvention is amazing. In that respect, Gnome should be praised for actually keeping and building upon existing work. Screw paradigm shifts in user experience; making what they have faster, lighter and more reliable would be a far more laudable goal.

    I expect it is too much to hope that any such thing will happen, though.

  14. Robert E A Harvey

    oh well

    It worked so well for KDE 4, didfn't it?

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Needs revamping ,and then some.

    I used both and still have both on the machine , but gave up on Gnome and use KDE

    The article says it all : that's exactly why i left Gnome behind.Lack of a clear forward

    moving team. it's stuck in the past and has one of the worst file managers ( nautilus )

    that should be abandoned , here now ,and move to something else.

    I hope for the best .. but after many years of disappointment im not counting on them

    to make the right moves. Sorry

    Meanwhile .. lets all have a pint : gnome and kde users can get along :)

    Throw in xfce guys too .. ok e17 also .. fvwm alllright everyone's welcomed ; )

  16. Tom Silver badge

    Why is always 'improve the user experience'?

    I'd rather improve the 'company' experience. I dont want it to be easier for employees to write a pretty document about why they cant do something, I want the path of least resistance to be the one that encourages them to actually solve the problem and not pass the buck. Three month long discussions on what colour and font to use dont put shorting options on the table.

    Organise yourselves! Oh! I dont need to organise myself I've got a mobile phone and an office suite - I'll just stop the rest of the office from writing useless documents when I need help.

    I go to work for companies with 100,000,000 times the computing power around when I started off and nowhere does it do anything useful. 20 years ago I could send invoices//orders etc automatically using EDI. That was seriously primitive technology. We no longer have anything as good.

    Douglas Adams had it so right in 'Life, the Universe and Everything'.

  17. De Zeurkous

    ``Gnome Shell''

    This ``Gnome Shell'' seems rather primitive compared to /pkg/bin/zsh.

  18. Toastan Buttar


    Since when did a desktop environment need to be 'sexy' or 'edgy' ? No-one cares so long as it works reasonably intuitively. In fact, the only time 99% of people care is when something DOESN'T work the way you'd expect. Give us a solid, reliable, unsurprising GUI then stop tinkering. Please.

    If you WANT cutting-edge hey-wow eye-candy then use KDE. Leave GNOME to us who just want something that helps to get everyday stuff done with minimum fuss and minimum surprise.

  19. Gerry

    @Michael Fremlins

    Specifically, perhaps you might consider looking at what KDE is doing before posting? What aspect of "Plasma" exists elsewhere?

    Generally, how would you envisage a desktop environment that didn't look even just a little like any of the others?

    I don't use Gnome so I have no view, a widely applicable perspective, which I recommend to you.

  20. Kerberos

    About bloody time!

    Maybe they saw this blog post -

    I am glad they have started taking the idea of moving forwards seriously, but feel it'll just be the same small group of developers creating untested grand plans which they'll foist on the general public with pretty much no usability testing - ala Sugar OS.

    Not that I don't wish them the best of luck, I just don't hold out hope!

  21. John Sanders


    I will never understand why people think that introducing big cosmetic interface changes is necessary at all.

    Most people like their desktops as they are, no one is going to invent a new paradigm so good is worth to implement.

    The new UI changes in Windows Vista/7/KDE are all bullshit, sure you can work with those new GUIs on their respective platform, and you can even get used to them, even like them.

    However what is the point? they do not add anything new, anything its not been done yet, more cute perhaps.

    What Gnome should focus on is on producing a desktop with as few bugs as possible, I for once would like to see Gnome release 2.30, improved this and that, no changes from version 2.2x just lots of bug fixing.

    Anyway I will be content if just they were to announce no more mono on Gnome.

  22. cd

    Dunno about a lack of vision...

    ... but there seems to be a lack of a column-based file browser. Using contextual menus to browse and file would be handy as well, ala Finderpop.

  23. Zucc

    Let's hope they do it right...

    ...Unlike KDE 4.0 which was universally acknowledged to be a bit of a car-crash. It's still not up to the level of stability and usability of KDE 3.5.x, even now.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Great. So basically the developers of Gnome have caved to a bunch of idiots who just want some new toys. Look guys, Gnome is arguably the most-used desktop environment in Linux, and that's because it's GOOD. Don't stuff it up now just to please people who are made happy by a bigger number. You'll break everything and lose users, just as happened with KDE. Incremental updates have been working fine up to now, so why....why.....argh I can't even finish the sentence. Fools!

  25. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    KDE has rewritten the UI from the ground up...

    ...and simultaneously shot themselves in the foot. Upgrade, for example, from Kubuntu 8.04 to 8.10 and it's the same as going to Vista: slow, buggy, and missing vital features. It's usable, but the fancy effects on say a laptop with a standard video chipset are dreadfully slow; there *must* be an option to turn it all off and let users use the display instead of marvelling at the special effects. KDE lets you turn it off, but fails to return the speed it had in Kububtu 8.04. Gnome *has* to do better this.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Bah humbug!

    Gnome is already nice and shiny, much moreso than my XP machine, and as nice to look at as my macs- I'd rather they kept on with the constant incremental improvement that has made it useable even on netbooks- where a few years ago it was a wobbly pile of crud even on desktops.

    It working well is the novel user experince that suckered me into using it on my linux boxes- especially the way compiz keps X moving when an application grinds to a halt (dimming the misbehaving app). It's lovely to use, don't screw it up by ricing it up and making it worse, like KDE or Vista please :(

  27. Julian


    replicate Microsoft's error of introducing changes which just turned off their users, for example Office 2007 and Windows Vista.

    Stick with the concept and improve it in incremental ways, and provide additional relevant and useful features, but not dramatic changes of no particular value.

    By all means improve the appearance and the underlying technology, but Gnome could hardly be any easier to use. The simplicity of the Gnome desktop is, presumably, why so many users prefer Gnome to KDE.

    One thing that I think would help the user experience would be to take away all the hard colours and replace them with something similar to Windows 7, that is something that Microsoft did get right. Sorry!

  28. Pierre

    Well and good but

    Desktop environments are for sissies.

    Mine's the one with "TWM" embossed on the back.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    default apps

    Why should I have to type apt-get remove mono-common every time I install Linux. Tomboy, Fspot and whatever are useless.

  30. Noel Coward

    Gnome not Vista please

    This better not be an exercise in vista like bloatware. I like Gnome's uncluttered simplicity. Please keep it that way.

  31. Anonymous Coward

    @Michael Fremlins

    Innovative and new? There's a difficult line to tread between innovation and keeping the interface sufficiently familiar that established users won't junk it in favour of something that they can use.

    All four of Gnome, KDE, Windows and the Mac do their innovative things. Admittedly, the Mac still tends to lead the field and, to me, Windows always looks and feels rubbish and dated, but all four do advance the general state and all four feed off each other.

  32. Anonymous Coward


    Opening a Cano'worms perhaps?

  33. Tom B
    Thumb Down

    You're kidding me, right?

    First of all, Gnome is fine just the way it is. It doesn't need a redesign.

    Hopefully, by the time the development team decides to make major changes to Gnome (read that as: clone the Vista UI. Arrrgh!), KDE 4.x will finally be feature-complete and stable (around KDE 4.9, just before they rip the whole thing up again. Double Arrrrgh!) so that there's a good alternative to what I expect to be as big a mess with Gnome as happened with KDE 4.0.

    Here's a tip for you, guys: No matter what the voices in your head tell you to do, don't send out a public beta as a "release" version. We're your (hopefully loyal) users, and not your guinea pigs/lab rats. Make it feature-complete, and make it stable. Anything less is ... well ... something less.

    -- Former KDE user.

  34. Beard


    Hmmm. Like BlueGreen, I appreciate that there is more to GNOME than just the user interface, but *I like the fact that the interface doesn't change*.

    Though I am a Linux advocate, I am not shy about how much I like XP, which is a lot. It made small but significant improvements on NT 4, 2000 and 98. Vista on the other hand, made the turbofail of a very large interface change. I'm not talking about the fancy 3doodahs, which I can do with GNOME 2, but basic layouts, the Start Menu and so on.

    I am perfectly happy with GNOME 2. Granted, it could do with pushing its APIs a bit more, to encourage greater levels of interaction with non-GNOME apps, but it works the way I want - no surprises. I used Vista for about a year before switching back to XP and throughout that whole time, I was still being frustrated at every turn. But now, no work is to be done on a version of Windows where I can enforce the XP interface, so I am forced (if I want to continue to use Windows), either to use Windows 7's further messed up interface, or gradually fall further and further behind in consumer hardware support and MS software technologies (Dx11).

    Many people have left KDE because of those reasons (albeit to a lesser extent). If GNOME goes that way and totally abandons the GNOME 2 interface, we could see a radical takeover of another desktop environment. Must go and check out how the new Enlightenment is coming on...

  35. zvonr
    Jobs Halo

    Gnome is the UI in opensolaris too

    in opensolaris you have a neat Time Slider plugin for nautilus that puts the power of ZFS in the "normal" user's hand.

    this one feature is quite inovative and is not present in windows or linux, only mac has something similar called time machine, but it requires a extra harddrive...

  36. foo_bar_baz
    Thumb Up


    My transition from Windows to Gnome has been painless. Email, browsing, development and documentation are a breeze; I don't feel I'm missing anything. OK, Gnome's a bit pedestrian but it's pleasant enough to look at and hasn't hindered my productivity.

    Perhaps I'm not aware of the context here, but against my experience this just sounds like the usual whinging - Gnome is too backward and KDE is too gimmicky. I personally do not want "innovation" standing in the way my work, i.e. I don't want to have to learn a new interface paradigm or to get distracted by useless effects. If this means stagnation to those who've come to expect major GUI upheavals every few years, so be it. Maybe Gnome is not for you.

  37. David Halko

    Gnome is the default environment of...

    Writer says, "Gnome is the default environment of Fedora, Debian, and Ubuntu, and initially the goal was for..."

    The writer forgot to mention SUN's Solaris and OpenSolaris.

    This is important to remember, considering that SUN is the largest contributors of source code into the Linux platforms.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    Given the fact that there are so many egregious problems in Gnome already (which the arrogant Gnome devs routinely ignore) I don't know why they think they'll do any better with Gnome 3.

    A quick check of Gnome's bugs reports will show many glaring problems that were reported 5, 6 or even 7 years ago and yet they still they remain unfixed.

  39. Charles Manning

    @Michael Fremlins

    Why come up with something too innovative and new when the current paradigms work pretty well?

    I don't so much care for something that is new. What I care for is something that is easy to use and gets the job done.

    The only "innovation" in UI I've seen recently is KDE 4.x and that is a horror to use. It is far too complex and is far from intuitive to learn to drive. Lot's of swirling pixels that do nothing for the user, just show off the programmer's skill "Look mom, I can swirl pixels!"

    I am not at all knocking UI reasearch, but I think KDE loses the plot with KDE4 by pushing out their new stuff that is a step back in usability from what they had previously.

    UI design should not be thought of as features, but as accessibility. ie Don't think "add feature X", but "remove barrier Y".

  40. elderlybloke

    Dear Camilla

    I am sure that you will not be missed by us when you to Vista.

    However good luck, from what I have heard about Vista , you will need it.

  41. vincent himpe

    yay !

    more gnome vs kde , vi vs emacs wars and more colour scmee s to choose from.

    just what we need.

  42. paul
    Thumb Down

    Nothing wrong

    I think gnome is great. Nothing wrong with the way it is now. Bugfixes and a few new bits n bobs every now and again seems sensible to me.

    Now we get to look forwards to something new (what is the big question) that will probably not work properly first time.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Proper load/save dialogue box

    I know the thinking behind it, but it is still a horrid pain to use. I wish it used a cut-down Nautilus...

  44. Mark

    Bump the version number

    Is it me, or does it seem like they are just bumping the version number so people think it's a major release rather than an incremental. Surely they need to ADD something....

  45. REMF

    bring on Ubuntu 10.10 - it should be good. :)

    Kongrats to Gnome, it's about time they sorted this out and it looks like they finally have.

    KDE4 has been painful, but by the time KDE 4.3 arrives in summer 09 I think its fair to say that the KDE4 dream will finally have arrived too, 18 months after the initial release.

    Given the inherently evolutionary nature of Gnome I am going to be generous in my prediction and say that it may take only 6 months to fully realise the dream of Gnome3, in which case the Q4 releases of Ubuntu and Fedora in 2010 using Gnome 3.2 will be very interesting products.

    KDE has a huge headstart (and will retain a greater benefit from the greater leap IMO), but Gnome will close the gap (between concept and delivery) quicker with the result that the transition is less painful from the publicity and marketing POV.

    Good luck, I am a confirmed KDE fanboi but i'm all for good competition, and Gnome will need v3 to provide that.

  46. Owen Williams

    Desktop NCAP ratings

    @ Michael Fremlins

    I'm pretty sure that MacOSX's desktop is very close in look and feel to Motif's CDE.

    As safety issues take a stronger hold of car design the more cars tend to look like one another.

    Most people tend to use the desktop in similar ways which in turn drives the direction of the desktop.

    Gnome with Compiz is currently the best desktop going for people who want to get stuff done. (If you ignore Aegis and its Domain X)

    I don't mind if Gnome continue to gently evolve my desktop. I don't want to find my desktop mutated just because I went up a version of Fedora.

    Banana menus...pah!

  47. De Zeurkous

    RE: Well and good but

    Mine has it embossed on the front >:P

    twm(1) is like ed(1), except that it doesn't throw '?' for every error.

    WIMPs suck.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fluff vs Content

    There are so many open bugs in Gnome (many severe, e.g. network browsing) can I suggest soemthing radical. How about fixing those and making the platform stable BEFORE adding bloat? As for features...where's the decent menu editor?

    As for KDE - urgh. Makes me want to vomit. The menu system is SHIT. And I mean SHIT. How many clicks is it to get at an item? It's also even more unstable than Gnome (well, it is for me) and I HATE the way everything is kThis and kThat.

    XFCE is pretty nice, don't really see a lot of difference between it and Gnome.

  49. Jerry Masterson
    Gates Horns

    user experience

    If I hear that term one more time I'm gonna barf.

    I blame Gates for that load of verbal diarrhea. It's a freakin user interface, not an amusement ride. Nice to see the freetards copying M$.

  50. Anonymous Coward

    XFCE - simple, innit

    Tired of the bloat, pointless eye-candy, "it's like windows" world of KDE?

    Bored with the sluggish Gnome?

    Try XFCE.

    Nope, it's not packed to the rafters with eye-candy.

    Nope, it's not full of innovative ideas.

    So what is it?

    A lightweight, fast and efficient *window manager*

    If all you want out of your desktop is the ability to manage windowed applications and actually get some *work* done, rather that piss about making your windows look pretty (or like the dogs proverbials, depending on your angle), it's the WM for you.

    If you want to spend all day picking 3d effects, l33t backgrounds, wobble your windows and gush over "ooh so cool" transparency fx, you need to go to a nightclub instead.

  51. J


    "A lack of vision is very easily corrected with the supply of..."

    I could swear you were about to say that "a lack of vision is very easily corrected with a pair of glasses, or contact lenses if you're so inclined"...

  52. J

    Gnome x KDE

    Well, I don't care much. I use both, nowadays. I used to be a KDE-only guy until recently, since when I last saw it in 2002 or 03 it was quite primitive compared to KDE. But more recently I have seen Gnome again (in Ubuntu 7.04) and it had evolved a lot, to the point of being good to me -- although I still prefer KDE.

    At work, I use Gnome (Ubuntu 8.10). It works perfectly. Yes, it is less customizable, it does not look as cool as KDE, and has its quirks, but I don't care. It's the work computer, and all it has to do is look pleasant enough (it does, IMNSHO) and work (it does too, since all I need is a terminal and a few apps, like Firefox/Thunderbird and OpenOffice).

    At home, where I mess around with the computer for fun, I have KDE 4.1 (Kubuntu 8.10). It has more bugs, and some features are still missing or half-backed. But it is definitely usable. I don't care, since it is my home computer where I experiment and mess with the system to see what it can do, silly effects and all. I might just reinstall everything tomorrow just for the heck of it if I want to try something new. What I DON'T like about KDE 4x is that they seem to be going the Gnome direction of "simplifying" things by removing options from the interface. If I wanted that, I would have gone with Gnome to start with, you know? I hope that, as KDE 4x matures, it gets at least as feature complete as 3.5x is.

    And finally, my mini-laptop (Eee 1000HE) is running Easy Peasy 1.0, which was quite a nice surprise -- it can be used as is (optimized for small screen) or as a traditional Gnome desktop, just have to press a couple of buttons. Works great too, although the "netbook mode" seems to be a bit buggy still and has crashed on me a couple of times. But it is pretty and functional, so I hope it gets better in the stability department soon.

  53. A J Stiles

    KDE for me

    I like KDE. Not just for Konqueror, nor K3B -- which would be good enough reasons in their own roight -- but because it works entirely with SINGLE clicks.

    GNOME with all its double-clicking (and the fact that even if you just want to type in a window, you have to click on it -- only once but still WTF?) just pisses me off.

    Who the FUCK decided that you had to click something TWICE to open it? If I want to type in a window, I'll move the mouse pointer over it. If I want something to work, I will click on it. Once should be enough, for fuck's sake.

  54. Simon V

    Why Linux GUI's are not yet mass adopted

    If you are new to Linux and are presented with something that looks similar to what you're used too, wouldn't you get the automatic response to expect the exact same experience? I think it will never be the same experience, there will always be differences in behavior. It's even worse. By getting something which looks almost identical to what you're used, you set the expectation level that it is the same. Any difference will frustrate the average user. While if you are presented by something fresh and new, you will notice that you are dealing with something different, inherently making you more receptive for a new experience and liking it. Designing the GUI for the mass audience with this in mind, could lead to linux being a real alternative.

    Im not saying that there's no fresh or new things in for example Gnome or KDE at all, but if you look at it from the other perspective. You can't find many ground breaking stuff either. To get more specific, one annoyance of my Windows XP experience are the pop-ups that steal keyboard focus. Some App is running in the background while you're typing a letter. Then Boom, halve way a sentence and the second part of the sentence gets lost in a pop-up (e.g. windows explorer's). Wouldn't it be nicer if the GUI detects that you are busy typing in one App and consequently wait for a moment you stop typing and only then show the pop-up? Nobody types full speed 100% of the time, so there will be a lot of suitable moment's to let the pop-up snag your attention while not being so annoying.

    This is a minor example, but how about some more revolutionary new idea's? Wouldn't that make Linux more enticing to try and use?

  55. Twm Davies

    re: Pierre

    Yes, TWM is a mark of quality.

  56. Not That Andrew

    Another KDE 4 Clusterf*ck?

    From the a look at the GNOME website, this looks like it is seriouly in danger of turning into a KDE 4 stlye clusterf*ck. A great pity, seeing as GNOME had fully recovered from the b*lls-up of 2.12 and was making some interesting progress.

    Looks like I'll be staying with XFCE for the next few years, then, unless they decide to throwing the baby out with the bathwater as well. Maybe ratpoison is the safest bet :)

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