back to article As System76 starts work on its own Linux desktop world, GNOME guy opens blog, engages flame mode

A core member of the GNOME team has accused System76 of being "a case study on how not to collaborate with upstream" following confirmation that the Linux PC vendor is working on a new desktop environment built with Rust. System76 makes PCs, laptops, and servers with Linux pre-installed, using their own distro called Pop!_OS. …

  1. Phones Sheridan Bronze badge

    "it is driving me nuts that old tweets get referenced, new ones are not seen, and context is ignored."

    Context doesn't travel well in posts of 280 characters, maybe use a more suitable broadcasting platform.

    1. sabroni Silver badge
      Coat

      re: Context doesn't travel well in posts of 280 characters

      Not sure what you mean, only 210 characters.

      1. Phones Sheridan Bronze badge
        Happy

        Re: re: Context doesn't travel well in posts of 280 characters

        I count 209 with carriage returns, but I think I got it!!

        1. sabroni Silver badge

          Re: re: Context doesn't travel well in posts of 280 characters

          I'm on windows. I saved the comment to a file and checked how big it was.

          CRLF pairs ftw.

  2. MacroRodent Silver badge

    Desktops must be multiplied beyond necessity

    i totally get why Pop!_OS might not want continue with Gnome, but is creating a new desktop from scratch the answer? Would basing on some of the many alternatives been better?

    1. teknopaul Silver badge

      Re: Desktops must be multiplied beyond necessity

      If you want to write it in a memory safe language, starting afresh might not be a bad thing.

      1. chuBb. Silver badge

        Re: Desktops must be multiplied beyond necessity

        Or a headline grabbing flavor of the month language

        Only a matter of time till a nasty mem manager flaw gets found and exploited and the fix will make it no better than c, that's my prediction for something that will happen in the next 5 years...

        Don't get me wrong I quite like rust but I just don't get the hype train everyone seems to be getting on, seems like c devs are getting all fomo wanting a bandwagon to jump on like RoR or node..

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Desktops must be multiplied beyond necessity

          Rust isn't interpretive. It doesn't depend on garbage collection. It instead works (mostly) at the compiler level enforcing rules about how values are stored in memory to prevent dangling references and other memory loopholes. It requires the programmer to adhere to some additional rules of coding, so it's not automatic; there's a learning curve. It also enforces certain styles of coding that preclude the "shortcuts" that were needed in the past to extract performance or reduce memory footprint; it's kind of the price you pay for memory safety. Anyway, with almost no runtime checking, the chances of a flaw in the memory safety system are greatly reduced.

          1. martinusher Silver badge

            Re: Desktops must be multiplied beyond necessity

            That description of Rust sounds a lot like the goals for ADA. This language has been around for some time -- its a solid, well supported, mature language that eliminates a lot of common programming bugs by making them impossible to code. I haven't heard of a rush to write Linux system components in it, though.

            Reinventing wheels seems to be a universal programming technique.

            1. Geez Money

              Re: Desktops must be multiplied beyond necessity

              Rust and Ada have nothing in common besides that one philosophical notion of making writing bugs harder. "Just use Ada" isn't really solving the problems Rust solves and Ada has many downsides for real world development. It's sort of like saying we don't need Java or C# because Eiffel exists.

            2. jdzions

              Re: Desktops must be multiplied beyond necessity

              Ada on Linux is more complicated than "just use the language"; while there's a POSIX binding for Ada (developed by IEEE TCOS in the mid- to late-90s), it binds language features to OS capabilities, rather than exposing OS APIs to programs in the language. Ada tasks vs pthreads vs the way Linux things about threads are quite difficult to reconcile.

              Beyond that, the Rust approach to enforcing memory ownership (borrow checker etc) is a substantial advance over how Ada handles memory allocation.

              DOD contractors spent quite a bit of time building software in Ada, and it still has some uses. It's not fair to imply that it wasn't tried.

        2. Geez Money

          Re: Desktops must be multiplied beyond necessity

          "Only a matter of time till a nasty mem manager flaw gets found and exploited and the fix will make it no better than c"

          Tell me all you know about Rust is its name without telling me all you know about Rust is its name. Rust is not a managed language and there is no memory manager to exploit.

    2. kernelpickle

      Re: Desktops must be multiplied beyond necessity

      I think it's great that they're coming up with something new instead of creating yet another fork of some ancient software that's been knocking around for decades. Starting from scratch is obviously a lot more work, but at least it doesn't carry any of the baggage that comes with old code, like some massive security flaw that affects a ton of different projects and is a nightmare to fix.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Desktops must be multiplied beyond necessity

        So, are they building this to work on an unfinished Wayland base or an ancient X base? :-)

        1. drankinatty

          Re: Desktops must be multiplied beyond necessity

          "mature" X is a better way of looking at it -- language matters.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Desktops must be multiplied beyond necessity

          Absolutely! But the OP I was replying to stated "I think it's great that they're coming up with something new instead of creating yet another fork of some ancient software", hence my using "ancient" because to build a "new" desktop still includes planting it down onto "ancient" foundation (or unfinished Wayland ones) :-)

          1. Geez Money

            Re: Desktops must be multiplied beyond necessity

            It's really not a great analogy though. Would you fork Xorg if you wanted to build a new display server or would you build it from scratch while potentially retaining API compatibility with X11 to let all existing software run? How you choose a starting codebase and how you choose dependencies may be very different.

    3. eldakka Silver badge

      Re: Desktops must be multiplied beyond necessity

      > Would basing on some of the many alternatives been better?

      Since most of the alternatives have their own problems, whether from historical baggage or recent design decisions whose only basis is small groups or even individual devs thinking it'd be cool to do it that way1, I don't think it's a bad decision. But time will tell, as it most likely will be a '15th standard'-type situation, but maybe it'll go well, or maybe it'll fall in a screaming heap.

      1: that's not a bad thing in opensource projects, I mean, it's the reason many devs devote their own personal non-paid time to a project. Therefore it is perfectly reasonable that they spend their time on things that they want to do. But for core systems that many people depend on, it's not that great a paradigm ...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The developers of Pop!_OS should just call their project Gnome 5.

    Just as much similarity of codebase as between Gnome 2 -> Gnome 3.

  4. Frank Zuiderduin

    GNOME developers are best ignored, just as they ignored their user base with the GNOME 3 abomination.

    1. thatrandomtechie

      Hear, hear!

    2. rjmx

      Yes, GNOME went off the rails years ago. Worse, they took GTK with it.

    3. Chixor

      So one day I get this complaint from someone who was using respin and the guy was like it uninstalled Gnome!!! And I said... Yeah, so what's the problem? You're welcome!!!! :)

  5. Blackjack Silver badge

    I use Mate and Cinnamon and they are my prefered choices, I have stayed away of Gnome for years and I think KDE is really nice but I avoid it because I use old machines.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Try LXqt on old machines. It’s pretty nice!

    2. Gene Cash Silver badge

      I use FVWM. I don't think it's even been updated in a decade.

      1. Chixor

        Pwm was my fav wm. The default twm was just too green for me :)

  6. FrankAlphaXII

    I use KDE or MATE when I'm using something UNIXy, so I don't really have a dog in this fight, so maybe I'm wrong but I will say it sure as hell seems like every time someone has an issue with a desktop environment the common denominator is almost always GNOME or its developers not listening to their users.

    1. Sven Coenye
      Unhappy

      In all fairness, the KDE developers don't listen either. Their fetish is the "semantic desktop". It doesn't matter how much pain that crud inflicts, they keep pushing it. The neverending disaster finally drove me to LXQt.

    2. eldakka Silver badge

      I use WindowMaker.

      KISS.

      1. LionelB Bronze badge

        Long-time Fluxbox user here :-)

  7. herman Silver badge

    Gnome?

    I haven’t used Gnome in more than 10 years. Seems that it was a good move.

  8. Draco
    Linux

    Nothing to see here ...

    ... just routine internecine conflict.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Nothing to see here ...

      The thing that makes it routine is the presence of Gnome. It seems that every generation leads to at least one new project.

  9. _andrew

    Was the GNOME 3 debacle that prompted me to switch to macOS

    or OS-X as it was known at the time. Development was actively hostile to non-Linux hosts.

    I wish the Pop!_OS folk luck, but there are a lot of "other" applications out there that are going to want to keep doing things their own way. There will be a deal of work involved.

  10. Warm Braw Silver badge

    The Linux community...

    The word 'community' does seem to work overtime, given that it frequently seems to mean 'people who hate each other's guts' in addition to its more benign interpretations.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: The Linux community...

      You mean like "work mates" in many businesses?

      1. David 132 Silver badge

        Re: The Linux community...

        And in the political world, "The Right Honourable Gentleman".

  11. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    Would this be the same GNOME team that made the desktop dependant on systemd?

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Made their desktop dependent.

      Yet another reason to avoid them (as if you need any more)

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Jealous Gnome Devs

    Gnome devs are hoity-toity because they won against the patent troll but seem to ignore the fact that their desktop is the most tweaked and altered desktop in the Linux world. Mate does justice to what Gnome should have been even after jumping to GTK3. Cinnamon is now the correct modern implementation for Gnome that actually tries to be user-intuitive. Xfce is not Gnome per say but it's a lightweight cousin. LXDE is similar but dying if not dead. I have never seen Gnome come fresh out of the box unlike how it is with Fedora which tells you what a heaping mess Fedora is in the first place. Canonical—and many other projects like Ubuntu/Pop!OS—tweak Gnome to fit the bill because by default, vanilla Gnome does NOT cater to the user... it caters to an ideal that barely 1% of the user space actually considers sane. Projects like MATE and Cinnamon don't exist because people out there think they can do "better than Gnome", they exist because Gnome devs tossed the Linux community to the wayside for laughs and giggles. They have a complex like no other and it's not surprising it's come to this point. I don't think we actually need a whole new desktop, and perhaps there is some rightful questioning to be answered by System76, but I can also see how Gnome is not the ideal for getting a complete working desktop out of the box—not to mention patch/hack. People literally have to hack and or come up with their own forked desktop to make Gnome usable. That's the state that we live in and it's pathetic that any major distro actually offers Gnome by default. Utter trash.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Jealous Gnome Devs

      Maybe you're being a bit lenient.

    2. JoeCool

      Re: Jealous Gnome Devs

      See, I was just going to remark on the odd juxtaposition of Gnome calling out other developers as un-cooperative.

      But this, this is first class ranting. We do not need a whole new desktop, someone just needs to fix the two fundamental problems with Gnome - it's performance, and it's developers.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Jealous Gnome Devs

        Fixing the former requires fixing the latter. I am afraid only one thing will suffice.

      2. Geez Money

        Re: Jealous Gnome Devs

        I've been around long enough to remember the founding of Gnome and how they were first trying to rally devs and users on various online forums. The project has asshole woven direct into its DNA and will never be another way.

        The whole premise of Gnome was that everyone who didn't want exactly what they wanted (a MacOS UI clone originally) was stupid and wrong because vague UI theory reasons. Ditto all existing windowing libs, drawing libs, etc. Not that they didn't have valid criticisms, but it was always black and white and anyone who wanted other choices to exist just didn't get it, the very idea of dev resources going to KDE used to piss off gnome devs. KDE was wrong and therefore wasteful, plus "who wants to look at windoZe lululul". They have the right answer and you will acknowledge them as far as they're concerned.

        Stuff like dragging a guy in public until he quits his job for the crime of working on a competitor after you made it clear Gnome won't meet his needs is just... So in line with the Gnome mentality that I'm certain not one person in the entire project will ever get the issue people take with that behaviour.

        1. Chixor

          Re: Jealous Gnome Devs

          Well I'm not a fan of system 76 or pop OS...(did they realize that Popos means ass in Greek...), I haven't used gnome recently and I don't it for all of the technical and political reasons... I mean look around at who worked there recently. From where I stand, the same people get passed around through project to organization because of some cronyism. And the product is crap, in my humble opinion.

          I mean some places work for innovative results and some well... They just exist to exist.

  13. DomDF
    Facepalm

    XFCE

    I am reminded of the famous line "I have no idea what XFCE is or does sorry." It's the same attitude at work here (and probably the same **** saying it).

  14. DarkwavePunk

    I almost want to...

    ...go back to CDE/Motif these days. That was an utter shitshow, but at least it was a consistent shower of shite. Maybe even GEM. Don't know, don't care, just work, be cohesive, and leave me the fuck alone.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: I almost want to...

      ...go back to CDE/Motif these days.

      No problem - https://sourceforge.net/projects/cdesktopenv/

    2. PRR

      Re: I almost want to...

      > Maybe even GEM.

      No problem- http://www.deltasoft.com/

  15. JBowler

    Maybe a fork is a fork?

    If I want to fork something I do so because I never expect to return.

  16. James Hughes 1

    In my (2nd hand) experience...

    Gnome and GTK3+ are a PITA. They care nothing for backward compatibility, they care nothing that people use features they then remove, they care nothing that their idea of what is "Correct" is actually "Not correct", but provide no ways of correcting without hacking the code. Sadly we still have to use it.

  17. johncall

    I like Gnome

    I wish Pop!_OS the best, and KDE, and the others! I have used Gnome every day since 2013 and it's been a good/great experience for me.

    1. keithpeter Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: I like Gnome

      I'm glad you are happy.

      I'm typing this on a Mint/Cinnamon laptop that I use for Zoom/MS Teams and associated things for working online.(*)

      I usually use an older laptop with Slackware and xfce4. When Slackware 15.0 finally launches I'll switch over to the default plasma desktop and perhaps get a slightly newer recycled laptop to run it.

      All are fine for the end usery kind of tasks I do each day.

      I think that these er... debates... are about the programming under the surface, and especially the effect that re-writing key libraries such as GTK3 has on other applications that people want to write.

      (*)Typical workflow is 'windows key -> Type fire... -> press return -> log into Microsoft 365(ish) -> delete the pile of auto-generated and irrelevant emails -> access documents I'm working on and click on the next meeting in the calendar -> make sure I've blown my nose and trimmed the nostril hairs

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: I like Gnome

        "click on the next meeting in the calendar -> make sure I've blown my nose and trimmed the nostril hairs"

        Maybe change that sequence a little.

        1. keithpeter Silver badge
          Windows

          Re: I like Gnome

          I tend to be the first in the meeting. There is time.

          See icon

    2. TheFifth

      Re: I like Gnome

      Gotta say, I've also been using Gnome for a few years and once you get used to it, it's perfectly fine. I quite like it (but then again I like absolutely minimal desktop clutter). My tip is learn the shortcut keys.

      I use it pretty much the same way I use MacOS. In Gnome, hit the 'Windows' key and start typing, then hit Enter once the autocomplete shows what you want. In MacOS, hit CMD+Space, start typing, hit Enter when you see what you want. So much quicker than using a mouse. I can see how Gnome may confuse / annoy if you are wedded to using the mouse for everything, but personally I prefer the keyboard approach than clicking through multiple fly-out menus (as in KDE). I'm sure KDE has an equivalent keyboard workflow too, but Gnome works fine for me.

      I initially installed Gnome because I'm using it on an MS Surface device, so needed a touch friendly interface. But I find it perfectly serviceable with the keyboard and trackpad too. I did try out KDE and Mate for a bit, which again were both fine, but too fiddly for when I needed touch input.

  18. tekHedd

    Sour Grapes

    "Davis then said that System76 fixes bugs in its own distro before fixing them upstream in Ubuntu (Pop!_OS is based on Ubuntu)..."

    That just sounds like good business. I fix bugs first in my own branch of projects, instead of waiting to see whether my PRs are accepted and then waiting for a new release of the code and then integrating that into my release.

    The article takes a journalistically neutral tone, something quite rare to see outside of El Reg nowadays, but wow from the quotes it sure does sound like one Gnome dev's hot take is being taken way too seriously. I suppose the Gnome devs must be quite defensive and fragile at this point, but you'd think they'd have grown thicker skins by now. FFS it's Gnome, nobody likes it; we just use it because it's the default.

  19. Esme

    Meh.

    I used to use Gnome, way back. Then Gnome 3 happened, so i tried KDE. Bit fo a resource hog, but it seemed to work well. Then the KDE team decided that the backend had become a bit of a mess apaprently, an they decided to do a release of KDE that was broken.

    Oookay. I've used Xfce before, I'll switch to Xfce. Many happy years later...

    Wah, some bugger's tweaked the scroll bars to be insanely thin with no way to make them wider (I'm old, sight isnt so good these days, and neither is the steadiness of my hands). OK, so iI ecide to make a post on the Min forums, try to register so I can do that and... nada. SIgh. Iwishdistro creators would include a tool suc that one can send a comment to the devs re usability features without having to sign up to forums.

    Never mind, i can always try one of the other lightweight desktops when I'm gaming, or Cinnamon or KDE other times. I wonder if KDE nowadays is as nice as it used to be beffore my bad experience with that one release? Hmm - might take a look-see tomorrow..

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