In GNOME 3.8 many improvements already have arrived, and by watching all the previous releases, Gnomers this time will surprise us with a magnificent desktop. Gnome 3.8 focuses on Settings and Allan Day wrote once again a superb article of all changes.
Is everything looking cool? Nope, there are many things that aren’t ready yet and this time we will look the case of GNOME Software Center (GSC).
What GNOME should do, what shouldn’t
First off, I am personally looking at GNOME as an complete Operating System (OS) and not as a Desktop. Just check all the software that GNOME is working on, and you will understand that isn’t just about the Desktop. Of course there is the opposite opinion (which is also correct) that GNOME is nothing more than a Desktop, and all distros (OSs) can ship it.
I won’t go into definition what OS means, but for those people (who see GNOME as Desktop) I will use the Fedora+GNOME combination as a single thing. Besides, GNOME+Fedora communities maintain strong relationships and sharing the same Goals.
So, what users are expecting from GNOME (as an Operating System)? An easy to use User Interface, a complete Localization, various Notifications, a Task Management and Switcher and access to some Settings. On this part GNOME 3.8 is looking pretty good.
The other part is some tools, like System Monitors, Hard Drive Management (GNOME Disks 3.8 are awesome -really great work from David Zeuthen) etc. Again on this part GNOME 3.8 is looking pretty good.
Things get a bit nasty when we are moving to some core Applications. Should an OS provide Applications? If yes Gnome lacks a lot. In my opinion making Applications isn’t a job of the OS, but since GNOME does some work on them let’s have a look.
On the left is Tomahawk and on the right is the upcoming GNOME-Music. G-Music will never become as good as Tomahawk and even if it does, another music application will popup that will be better. That is the nature of software. Tomahawk uses Qt/QtWebKit, so what? It is an open source software, and probably is the best Music Player in all platforms (Mac, Win, Linux). Even Apple with iTunes can’t compete with that, at least is what some Apple users say.
What’s my point? G-Music (and other G-Apps) is great to exist, but GNOME shouldn’t go for them as first priority. In my opinion, once again, I vote for Web/Epiphany and WebKit. This is where Gnomers should focus. The other part is obviously the Software Center, and GNOME is the *ONLY* OS/Desktop that hasn’t yet a descent Software Store ..or it has?
GNOME Software Center
Software Center is considered a Core Tool and not an Application, therefore GNOME should have one to allow people to install/remove/update Applications and upgrade their system. So far GNOME has PackageKit GUI <gpk-application> for this purpose.
That doesn’t look good and it isn’t good. This is by the way the latest GPK-Application from GIT and not many things are different from the previous releases. Fortunately Ubuntu Gnome Remix users can enjoy the Ubuntu Software Center, but unfortunately other distros users can’t, although some efforts to port USC in Fedora have been made.
Ok, you all know how USC looks like.. but in any case it’s kinda like that..
I used Web-Interface for two reasons. Firstly because I haven’t an Ubuntu installation right now to take a screenshot and secondly to go in GNOME’s Web View of how a Software Center should look like ;)
This is a dummy HTML demonstration by Jimmac (Jakub Steiner). Both USC and GSC look nice, but a small difference is that USC asctually works when GSC doesn’t. And yes this is just a small detail, because the biggest difference is hidden into other things.
What’s happening next?
Having a not working GNOME Software Center is the less of the issue, as GNOME Developers can make it work anyway. This is how it looks now.
GSC won’t come in GNOME 3.8 but probably can make it in 3.10. You can check more on:
No matter how cool the GNOME Software Application will look, I really doubt if it will support commercial software and that is the significant difference from USC. In a best case scenario a Paypal mechanism will exist here acting as donation to open source software. I am not against to proprietary software in any way, and I would like to see a Software Center that you can buy commercial software. Not all close source software is evil, and in some cases like Games, that creating animations costs millions and years of work (and is just entertainer software), it seems OK for apps to be shipped as proprietary software as this is the only way to deliver some quality.
If that won’t happen (supporting commercial apps), there is a danger that people/companies won’t write any applications for GNOME as there won’t be a good way to distribute them and make profit. On the other hand I love the idea of a platform that only ships Open Source. So my question is simple, what’s happening next?