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Gnome’s 10 big goals for 2013/14

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This is not meant to be a supernatural feature list, but is based on the current Gnome development progress and the work outside of Gnome like openGL Foundation and Freedesktop. However what we describe here it might take longer or it might never happen.

We baptized the coming Gnome, GnomeX as we don’t know the version, I guess it will be Gnome4 and will come after Gnome 3.6 or Gnome 3.8 followed by GTK4. Our GnomeX alpha manifesto has to be fully complied with the following goals.

For users GnomeX:

  • should be easily install-able and upgraded with silent updates
  • should ensuring the safety of user’s data even if user lose his Gnome device/box by encryption and Cloud syncing.
  • should be available in a wide range of devices, all devices should communicate seamlessly with each other and offer a consistence experience.
  • should be personalized and extended in a user friendly way, keeping configurations online (ie Chrome) and keeping compatibility with different configurations on different boxes.
  • should be able to run applications that it might be 3 years old (backward compatibility).
  • should be able to communicate with different systems (iOS, Android, Windows)
  • should respect the regional preferences of the user, language, keyboard layouts etc


For developers GnomeX:

  • should be able to use the 100% of the hardware capabilities
  • should be supply a stable API of top-level developing tools. Java, C# and Python should be dropped (in a long time run) for the sake of Vala, JavaScript and maybe Go (C is ofc here!)
  • should supply a set of standard libraries for Sound, Graphics, Plug and Play Devices (ie gamepads) etc
  • should supply a modern IDE for GTK+ Applications
  • should offer to developers a place (Application Market) to upload their work and get payed for it if they wish. Payment system should work similar to Humble Bundle or with a “Donation please” model


For manufacturers GnomeX:

  • should use only open source drivers that manufactures can modify and perfectly customize to their device specifications.
  • should run smoothly into a variety of devices with different screen resolutions, with different CPU/RAM resources, with different interface interaction means (mouses,touch screens, kinect etc) offering the same experience.
  • should only have one “face”. Building different Gnome-Shells for different devices would be wrong. GnomeX should only be modified with Themes & Plugins.
  • should be able to connect to non-open APIs out of box, like Netflix, Twitter, Yahoo, Windows Live etc (this applies for developers also).


While biggest problem in Linux is hardware drivers that is not the case in Tablets as the OEMs can build a device with fully Linux supported hardware.

According to the above manifesto we tried to decompose Gnome’s 10 big goals for 2013/14.

10. Rolling releases / Silent Updates / Backward Compatibility

I placed this at number 10 not because I consider it the most insignificant goal of Gnome, but because I consider it as the most completed one. Porting applications in XDG Folders Specifications and into Gsettings alongside with Safe Updates seems to be almost close to target.

Also Extensions Auto Updates will solve the annoying problem of having broken extensions after updating your Gnome, but I am not sure what is going on with the themes.

9. Games / Commercial Software

While this isn’t a direct Gnome goal, the success of every system comes always through its applications.

Let’s be realistic. Serious Open Source gaming will never come, or more correctly will not come any time soon. So there isn’t other solution than getting commercial games in Gnome. The beginning has been made by Valve’s Steam and more recently with Unity engine. I just hope that commercial games won’t force the open source to abandonment.

Other commercial software like Autodesk isn’t a threat to Gnome’s open source alternatives because this kind of programs cost thousands dollars and they are only for business use. Gimp will never be as good as Photoshop but you can still have your job done.

8. Cloud Accounts / Online services

Last year Cloud support has received huge development. There is already support in GOA (Gnome Online Accounts) for Google, Yahoo, Twitter, Facebook, Windows Live. Also Gnome 3.6 will get a skyDrive support. And there are more features in this area but we’ll fully cover them in another post.

But there is always space for more. While you can use Dropbox or Ubuntu One to sync your data across devices what is missing is a way to sync your Gnome Preferences similar as Chrome/Chromium does.

This is a huge weakness of Gnome and I don’t know if Gnome Team is working to that direction. But I am sure that they are aware of.

7. Gnome API for Developers

This is the biggest problem of Gnome since the very beginning. Do you want to develop an App for Gnome? You just don’t know where to start from and what library to use.
Even if you choose the toolkit that you will use then you will fall on a poor documentation. And even if you manage to develop your application you might see that this library to get deprecated.

The last two years it clearly seems that Gnome Team works on it. Firstly by improving the Gnome Live and secondly by releasing a high level language. Vala might become the official Gnome Development Tool and also seems to getting a nice documentation.

6. Software Center

A modern software center with integrated software updates and software removal is on the way for Gnome and that will give another dynamic to the project.

Issue here is that it won’t include a payment system for commercial software -a donate option might be available- but this is as good as bad. Promoting commercial software isn’t the target of Gnome :)

5. Every detail matters

One of my favorite modules! It tries to solve every little annoying detail in Gnome. It’s all about polish polish polish. Great project and with fast progress! Just check on it!

Also I will add here all these little things that they have to change in Gnome in order to be totally usable in touch devices.

4. 3d / openGL / Open Drivers

Whoever thinks that Closed Drivers can do the job is simply wrong. It is meaningless to analyze the cons of closed drivers (just watch Linus to get mad!). What is more meaningful is to watch the progress of openGL which still lacks in every aspect to Miscrosoft’s Direct 3D.

The biggest goal here for Gnome is to get Open Source drivers with similar performance as closed. Well, It won’t happen. nVidia and ATi won’t release open any time soon.

However Intel with the new awesome Ivy Bridge chips is here! They can’t compete nVidia but they are OK for everyday use (Browsing, HTML5 Games etc) and perfect for tablets.

3. Porting Gnome to Wayland

Wayland is the next generation display manager of Linux that will replace the 20 years old X Server. It promises slick graphics, fast interaction responses, better touch screen support, smooth scrolling and is pretty much the biggest thing that will happen in Linux Desktop world in the last decade.

GTK and Clutter are almost ready to run in Wayland but other toolkits like the one Libre Office uses aren’t and won’t ever ported in Wayland. For that reason Wayland and X Server will run at the same time (X Server will run on the top of the Wayland as plugin) keeping a backward compatibility.

2. Gnome OS

Gnome OS looks like NSA, Not Such Agency. Everyone talks about it, everyone denies it and everyone is trying to build it. Even the so -out of Gnome- Canonical thinks to release an unofficial Gnome spin with the upstream packages.

Gnome Foundation denies its existence but what that is?  Gnome Team has already made plans for a Gnome Installer and while is to early to discuss it my best guess is that it isn’t going to install Windows :)

Gnome OS is underway, sooner or later..

1. A picture is worth a thousand words

That is the obvious big goal of Gnome, get into tablets :)

This was a quick and dirty brainstorming. Can you propose more?

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  • Gnomerlover

    Gnome OS for phones as well as tables/desktop/laptops. This area is going to be huge with more players (android, ios, mozilla’s boot2geko, …). Gnome needs to stay current here.

    • Ryan

      Even Apple aren’t merging the desktop experience with their touch/mobile interfaces. They’re completely different things with completely different strengths and requirements. GNOME will support and embrace touch, but it probably won’t become another Android any time soon, which is fine.

  • Kova

    it won’t be a gnome4, it will be gnome 3.10, gnome 3,12 etc… 

    • tomstra

      Considering that adding Clutter as a dependency to Gtk will require a major version bump and the Gtk+ and Gnome version numbers always stay in sync, it’s very likely that after Gnome 3.8 (or Gnome 3.90 or whatever it’s called) it will jump to 4.0 too.

    • Niyaschirayakuth

       Gnome 3.4 is already released. Then how it can be gnome 3.10 or 3.12? Which is larger?

      • Ryan

        10 is greater than 4. 1.0 would be less.

        • Ryan

          The dots are separators, they don’t indicate a decimal fraction. Trailing zeros are insignificant digits in decimal fractions (3.10 is equivalent to 3.1) but they’re *significant* in version numbers because they’re 2 (or sometimes 3 or 4) *separate* numbers.

          “Three dot ten”, not “three point one zero”.

  • Paul Best

    With the talk of a complete Gnome OS, are there any plans for hardware to run it? There is a distinct lack of cool Linux hardware, and getting a company that can make reference systems onboard would help change that, especially if the goal is tablets.

  • Rgilaard

    What about working on efficient algorithms so we can enjoy GnomeX with a reduced memory footprint? Or have we given up on that by showing oof Moore’s law?

    • Ryn

      Memory is only an issue when you haven’t got enough. It’s not like CPU performance concerns, where every little improvement helps. You’ve either got the memory, or you get OOM issues.

      Also Moore’s Law concerns CPU transistor density (and by extension, speed), not memory. But even phones and tablets have 1GB plus these days. I don’t see it being a lasting issue. Servers have to serves maybe millions of client connections. Desktops only have to run one DE.

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  • will

    Why drop Python?

    • alex285

      Because is not efficient to maintain a project that is written in 2-3 different languages. Original authors are often quit and someone else need to keep on their work. Having one standard language solves maintain and debug problems.

      • Will

        I can agree in part, but I think it’s important to avoid a monoculture too. Python’s a popular language and easy to pick up (I’m a Java dev and it took me half a day to adapt to Python’s differences – a few days in and I’m half way through my first program. You could say the same for Javascript or even possibly Vala yes, but that’s not to discredit Python!).

        If the maintenance burden for supporting Python is greater than the contributions gained from those who feel more comfortable with it then Python should be ditched but from my limited experience so far I hope that won’t be the case! :)

        • Ryan

          Python is too slow, too bloated and too complex (the implementation, not the language). That’s only more of an issue now that mobile devices are everywhere, not less.

          The maintenance nightmare of targeting Python 2 and 3 at the same time is putting a lot of people off. Also, Python 3 isn’t enough of an improvement and yet it’s still a big job to update any large body of code. It’s falling behind other languages (in popularity and performance) because the developers are tasteless and have managed to let the codebase balloon to nearly a million lines.

    • Floic

      python should be heavier and slower than c and vala (something like c# and java)

    • Ryan

      Because it’s about 50 times slower than Vala. Also, CPython is a bloated mess and is approaching a million lines of code. You don’t need a huge, opinionated standard library when you already have GLib and various other core GNOME libraries. For an extension language, there’s Lua, which is only 12,000 lines of code and is much better suited to the task than Python. Or there’s JavaScript, which is crap, but ubiquitous and also doesn’t suffer from an unnecessary and bloated standard library. GLib can be bound and called by any other language. The Python stdlib can’t.

  • gorlok

    NEVER should not have less features than previous version, not like Gnome 3. Never. Network proxy exceptions comes to my mind.

  • Liam Bulkley

    I’m not sure what you have in mind for the gnome installer, but I will bet 100 Internet dollars that unless it only shows up post-installation it won’t be used in any of the major distros (including fedora).
    I really like the development goals of pushing 3 languages, and each of which fills a slightly different need. JS has become amazingly fast (much faster than pyc). Vala is a nice intermediate language for platform development. Go is nice but pretty spotty performance wise.
    Cloud based configuration would be amazing and amazingly difficult.

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  • Matt

    Consider building gnome apps for iOS, Android and Winphone. I would love to be able to have an “Apple TV”-like experience, so a media and document integration app for various phone and tablet OSes would be great.

  • Fitoschido

    I don’t like the approach GNOME is taking.

    • Ryan

      GNOME doesn’t like your insolence.

      • faildora shitty miracle

        insolence? why? just because he doesn’t like the approach?!!

  • Hombre

    Just please, please, please stop being asses. Listen to you defectors and give us our options back without crap extensions. Remember the need to have utility on the desktop first.

  • None

    Add an spell checker?

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  • Benjamin Sutton

    Is tablet compatibility really such an important goal? I don’t think I’ll buy one within the next 5 years, to be honest.. I’d rather developers focus on making the desktop decent again.