So every so often I like to take a look at what our siblings over at GNOME are up to by reading Planet GNOME. I do it manually because I removed that feed from Akregator quite awhile ago, and a couple of the stories there seem to confirm my choice (although it’s at least much better than when I had to finally give up and stop reading it).

Specifically you may find the following entries by Miguel de Icaza relevant:

I guess the iPad support for MonoTouch is OK if you’re into that sort of thing. It’s not as if I’d expect them to forego it given the past track record ;) But it does seem to me that as AMAZING as the iPad might be, that it would be better for consumers to have an open platform that anyone can extend instead of a closed platform that requires being part of a developer program to make your own additions. It would really pain me to think that in the future it might actually be required for people to get the permission of some mega-corp just to install a new program on hardware they’ve purchased.

What’s even funnier (in my opinion) is how Miguel goes on and on about how cool the iPad is because it will force people into one particular input mechanism (multi-touch) and how neat it is to coerce developers into developing for multi-touch. I mean shit, multi-touch is cool, I get it, I like it even, but we’re happy about removing other perfectly good input options?

Look at Nintendo, even when they added motion control to Wii and started hyping it up, they still allowed for other standard input controls (such as in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, which can be controlled using Wii remote, Gamecube controller, or even a Classic Controller). Of course Apple does allow for a physical hardware keyboard with the iPad I guess, not that it changes the crux of Miguel’s point.

However, if you read the article critically a couple of times and apply a couple of blur filters to the hyperbole (“tyranny of the mouse and keyboard”? seriously?) then the rest of his points do make sense. It really is easier to develop for a single platform, and there really is research to be done in this space. (Perhaps ironically, a hacker displayed initial multi-touch support in Eye of Gnome in the article just below Miguel’s squee-fest).

What concerns me is that the kinds of applications that do perform better with a keyboard or mouse might get left by the wayside. I’ve played Bejeweled with a mouse and on the iPhone, and it was much easier with a mouse (and a similar game called Tetris Attack was much easier still with a controller). And that’s just one example. The point should be that the universe is expanding, but it seems to me that Miguel is simply moving wholesale to the next cool “One More Thing…”.

In all fairness it does seem that I’m not the only one interested in the ramifications to Free Software and software freedom (which sounds kind of Three Musketeer-ish in retrospect).

While I’m trolling, it just feels weird to me to have a Windows 7 screenshot as the major feature addition to a new presumably-GNOME-related software release. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t personally think there’s any reason not to port software to Windows platforms (and indeed, there’s a nice KDE platform on Windows now), but it does seem… disconcerting, I guess? I do agree that the idea of Jump Lists is nice though, probably wouldn’t require much more than some additions to the Desktop File Entry spec to make happen in XDG-ish Free desktops either, no?

As my final act of trolling (this post is already 624 words long by now!) I’d like to point out that if you act quickly, you can catch Stormy Peters’s GNOME Foundation goals for 2010 before it scrolls off the Planet GNOME frontpage. The summary seems very manager-speakish to me. I find the “thought leader” term immensely amusing, as it is one of the few MBA kind of terms that have not been co-opted by Naval leadership (I’ve seen a full O-6 Captain refer to sailors as “his customers” and about puked… but that’s a different story). I had in fact not heard of thought leader (except for 1984) until this post.

Beyond that there’s a lot of goals relating to ensuring corporate participation is acceptable, ensuring there is a marketing plan that involves “the community in close cooperation with our partners”, a goal to measure the benefit to the bottom line, ensure the GNOME Foundation is the place where GNOME-related companies collaborate, etc. On the other hand, one of the last sub-goals is to “Promote free software by being a model example of a free software project” (capitalization is hers, not mine).

Now again, at first glance it seems weird to me to see a document on the front page of a major Free Software project’s blog aggregator pasted with so many terms relating to working with companies for this and that. I mean, sure KDE works with companies, but not like this (my humble opinion, not necessarily shared by anyone else in KDE). But if you think about it critically then it’s apparent that at the end Free Software is not going to “save the day” just working from the great untamed wild of the uncorporate. Servers need paid for, the most motivated hackers will still need to eat and pay for Internet/computers, and the vast majority of people buy systems and software (if only the support package), so if Free Software is going to make massive inroads, it will be with the help of quite a few companies.

I’m still not sure I like the specific set of goals (and specifically the awful MBA jargon) but you can’t blame the GNOME Foundation for putting down in words what they’re going to be doing one way or another anyways.

12 thoughts on “Trolling

  1. Pawel Identicon Pawel

    Icaza would even sell his surname if someone would only pay him. About gnome foundation they supported MS OOXML instead of ODF. There are even people who post at lkml and sound like mono trolls:

    How C++ is bad and how mono and python are good…

  2. Anonymous Coward Identicon Anonymous Coward

    Its not just in the blogs, Gnome is constantly dropping perfectly viable options, for example the gnome shell for 3.0 is locked into mutter, if I want to use another wm I lose functionality. On the other hand take kwin, which can be dropped easily for compiz or others…

    thought I would troll with you..

  3. mpyne Identicon mpyne Post author

    dipesh: Any time you mention another major desktop environment with any kind of criticism, positive/negative or otherwise, someone will say you’re trolling. I just skipped the middleman. ;)

  4. gaboo Identicon gaboo

    @Stefan why not call GNOME a competitor ? An alternative ? Enemy is a little bit far-fetched and inappropriate IMHO.

    About the blog post, I share the feeling. I think it’s a shame in some aspects. More stuff that differentiates KDE and GNOME communities. And I don’t think that’s bad, quite the opposite actually.

  5. The Badger Identicon The Badger

    Planet GNOME – now there’s a tree falling in the forest without making a noise, as far as anyone with sensible blog-reading habits is concerned.

    As far as GNOME’s direction is concerned, it would have been a good thing had the agitation that continuously pervades the communications of the Planet GNOME “thought leaders” led to a foot-stamping withdrawal from the GNU project – GNOME’s affiliation with which seeming more anachronistic by the day – and the underpowered vessel that is the GNOME platform – cue lots of strategy documents prepared by the advocacy chiefs of the GNOME Foundation – been left to float on its own diminishing reputation.

    I may not be enthusiastic about KDE 4, but at least the KDE people get on with doing stuff without whining about how they need borderline-encumbered technology and without siphoning off goodwill from other organisations and then undermining those organisations with their very next act.

  6. n00b Identicon n00b

    Planet GNOME – If it isn’t just food, or some whining going on about what someone says, blah blah blah and just basically focus on there stuff they develop. Maybe GNOME would actually be somewhere today. GNOME, I don’t see a competitor to KDE as it still basically looks like Windows 2000.

    More focused on making some so secured that it’s obsolete when it is. Like take Debian. When I came around to testing Debian. KDE-3.5.7 was out. They barely just got to making KDE-3.5.1 stabled. GNOME is basically the same way. It lacks so much innovation that it when they try to create something. It fails so hard like GNOME3 shell.

    They couldn’t even get GNOME3 to depend on GTK+3. So you got a medicore GNOME3 based on Gtk+2 ¬_¬. As far as I see. Icaza is too busy trying to make Mono the next best thing(tm) and sponsoring it and supporting Microsoft like the Evangelist of Microsoft that he is. that GNOME is suffering. If anything they should just basically rewrite GNOME in to using Mono since Icaza is such a Mono fanboi.

  7. Jack Identicon Jack let’s see how it works out…

    Microsoft pays Novell just enough to keep Novell afloat. Novell keeps on using their heavy influence on Gnome to inject lethal doses of Mono into Gnome…. The pusher: de Icaza. The kingpin: Steve Ballmer.

    Brilliant strategy by Microsoft. They don’t care about Novell – they want to kill Ubuntu through Gnome.

    Fair enough; Microsoft will succeed in killing Gnome and Novell (when they are through – otherwise they will buy Novell). But they cannot kill Linux. And they cannot kill KDE and the other DE’s around.

    Novell and Gnome are committing a spectacular suicide though…..

  8. Pawel Identicon Pawel


    “Brilliant strategy by Microsoft. They don’t care about Novell – they want to kill Ubuntu through Gnome.”

    This is what I think. I wonder what’s wrong with Ubuntu guys? They’re blind or something? They could just make KDE default platform for their system and forget all this thing called mono which makes Gnome even more sluggish then Gtk and Python made it. KDE is also far more advanced and exciting, Gnome has no single advantage over it, so it smell like some politics that caused Gnome is chosen over KDE in some of the most important distributions. In my opinion Gnome, Novell and Mono fanboys like Icaza and CO. hurt Linux on desktop very much.

  9. Pawel Identicon Pawel

    Ok, I was unfair. Gnome probably also has advantages over KDE, but I’m writing as a KDE user and this desktop gives me probably everything I need.

  10. paul Identicon paul

    You guys are funny really. Come back to reallity, please. With that arguments you will never win a discussion.

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