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Gnome sets sights on 2010 for 3.0 release

By   |  April 3, 2009

With Gnome 2.26 safely out the door the Gnome development team is now planning for Gnome 3.0, a release it expects to make in March next year. Responding to growing criticism that the Gnome project lacks vision the team says that the 3.0 milestone release will have to have “big user-visible changes”.

“If you look closely at our community, it’d be wrong to say that people are lacking a vision; but the project as a whole does indeed have this issue,” the team said in its public posting. With this in mind the team is looking at a release that will both streamline the desktop as well as revamp the overall user experience by giving users new ways of interacting with their desktop and managing files.

Central to these changes are Gnome Shell, which manages the way users open applications and manage them, and Zeitgeist, which aims to change, and make simpler, the way users find and manage files.

Gnome Shell and Zeitgeist
The team says of Gnome Shell that the idea is “not just about changing the panel and the window manager. It’s about changing the way you start an activity and how you switch between two different activities. Or more generally, how you manage your different activities on the desktop.” Gnome Shell screenshots and mockups show a substantially changed desktop appearance with desktops and menus overlaying the screen.

Likewise, Zeitgeist is an attempt to completely re-write the way that users interact with files. “Having to deal with a filesystem in their daily work is not what makes users happy – on the contrary, they generally just want to access their documents and not to browse their hard disk,” the Gnome team says. Part of the solution to the challenge, the Gnome team is hoping, is to use a combination of timelines, tags and bookmarks to create multiple ways of accessing files. This video (6.9MB) demonstrates some of the early Zeitgeist capabilities.

With more than six years of development behind it since its 2.0 launch, Gnome carries with it the legacy of years of evolving development. “New APIs have landed and some other APIs have been deprecated. There are even some platform libraries that are now nearly unused. This just creates some confusion and does not make the life of developers easy,” the team says. With a fresh new start in 3.0, the Gnome team suggests moving all of the deprecated libraries out of the platform and creating a staging area for libraries intended to be in the platform so developers are clear on intension.

In its posting the Gnome team says it is hoping that the 3.0 release will be ready by the time 2.30 is expected to be released. New releases of Gnome are made every six months and with 2.26 now out and 2.28 planned for September, a 2.30 release should be expected in at the end of March 2010. “Making GNOME 2.30 a 3.0 version is of course still an ambitious goal, but we can achieve it thanks to what we learnt in the past,” the team says.

The team has left the door a little bit open, however, saying “of course, we should be prepared to consider the fact that GNOME 2.30 might not be good enough for us to call it 3.0. All of our time-based releases are also quality-based releases: if the QA Team feels a release should be delayed, then it will be delayed … we should not be afraid of keeping GNOME 2.30 as 2.30 and waiting for Gnome 2.32 for the 3.0 release, for example. That being said, we want the community to try as hard as possible to make ‘Gnome 2.30 = Gnome 3.0’ a success.”

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5 Responses to “Gnome sets sights on 2010 for 3.0 release”

  1. silentcoder
    April 3rd, 2009 @ 1:20 pm

    When KDE did a massive redesign of the core desktop components for KDE4, they got a massive backlash from two fronts, the first was users expecting a much more complete and stable desktop (despite the repeated message that 4.0 would not be an end-user ready release), the second and much larger from a huge part of the userbase who were resistant to change and simply could hated the new designs and interaction methods. Not because they were wrong or even bad – but because substantially different meant learning new things.
    Even KDE old-hands like me had to relearn a lot of things, and unlearn some old habits and assumptions.

    The reason I think this is relevant as a comment is because Gnome now appears to be going in the same
    exact direction. A radically altered approach to managing activities, a radically altered approach to finding files and information. Like KDE – gnome is seeing the need to look ahead, to a very large part
    (as read-between-the-lines-of-the-quotes) due to the criticism coming from users now shifting toward the new KDE changes
    So that brings up the question – how can Gnome get the benefit of redesigns without the backlash that KDE had gotten ?
    I see some suggestions right of the bat. Firstly, Gnome has the advantage that GTK3 will not break binary compatibility to nearly the same extent as QT4 did, if the gnome-libs can be backward compatible and share-back as many features as possible with binaries built on Gnome 2.x then this
    alone will make a big difference, unlike KDE which had to port every app, Gnome has the option of shipping 3.0 with their full application suite (something made even easier by the simple fact that their application suite is an order of magnitude smaller – that’s a lot less third-party code to get ported). I definitely would suggest that Gnome try for this one, KDE couldn’t avoid the problem – Gnome can – so please do.
    The other one is to not call it 3.0 unless it’s stable and end-user ready, the above means that the reasons for KDE having a developer-aimed 4.0 does not apply to Gnome.
    I will always be a KDE fan because the fundamental philosophy of KDE is one of respecting the user’s wishes (and I hate being dictated to – especially by my computer) – but Gnome is very popular and deservedly so with a huge userbase. What’s good for Gnome is good for Free Software, what is bad for Gnome is bad for Free Software (and in the end – that’s a much more important battle).

    So I really hope Gnome 3.0 does have some radical new ideas (true innovation will do more to push free software growth on the desktop than anything else can) while at the same time learning from KDE’s experiences and avoiding the same pitfalls.

  2. Ozbolt
    April 3rd, 2009 @ 4:47 pm

    SilentCoder, I just so much agree. If this release of Gnome really “takes the way of managing with your files to new level” than this probably is the thing that would give Linux comunity a lot new members. But do we want them? Because then here comes viruses, exploits ad so on. Well, then I’ll probably just go to HaikuOS os something 😀

  3. Will
    April 4th, 2009 @ 5:27 am

    Yes, we do want the new members. Because the more satisfied Linux users there are, the more weight Linux has with any hardware companies, OEMs, consumer electronics companies, or proprietary software companies (Adobe and others like them) that still treat Linux as a second class citizen.

  4. Ozbolt
    April 4th, 2009 @ 1:14 pm

    I am afraid that they will only support something like Ubuntu or Android when Gentoo or Arch will not be able to use those drivers/programs. And we will again be locked into one distribution. I really don’t believe that they will go for Free OS because they are evil!

  5. IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: April 6th, 2009 | Boycott Novell
    April 7th, 2009 @ 8:51 am

    […] Nice screenshots here: […]

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