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Installing Software under GNOME3. What’s happening next?

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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?

Don’t forget that is the applications that define the success -even the existence-, of an Operating System, no matter how good the Operating System is itself.

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  • Ian Brunelli

    “GSC won’t come in GNOME 3.8 but probably can make it in 3.10”

    I thought the next major release after 3.8 would be 4.0 :x

    • alex285

      There is a GTK 3.10 in roadmap, so I guess it will be a GNOME 3.10. Also I think that GNOME4 will bring something really big, like full support under Wayland, multi-touch gestures.. something like that, that again I guess is that will arrive after 3.10.

      • Ian Brunelli

        Yes, I think it make more sense, as GNOME 4.0 is planning to be released in March 2014, so we may see another major release in the meantime.
        And the biggest think to come with 4.0 release is the GNOME distro, I guess :)

  • Adonis K. (Varemenos)

    IHMO, they shouldn’t focus on gnome apps at all.

    They should focus on making the Gnome Desktop as good as possible.
    There are tons of applications that can easily replace what the gnome apps do.

    Gnome Web? Gnome Music? I bet 90% of the gnome software isn’t even being used by the gnome users while 100% of the gnome users are using Gnome Desktop.

    Maybe after you are done developing Gnome Desktop and gtk, then they can easily prepare some apps for it too…

    • alex285

      I semi-agree, make a nice SDK/Docs and let people do the applications for you. Also give them a way to can easily distribute them. Ubuntu, Fedora, Arch etc etc packaging? That doesn’t work..

      • Adonis K. (Varemenos)

        indeed, they should make an HMTL/JS SDK and support it heavily

    • JJ

      Gnome web is the most innovative web browser in terms of navigation. They have a wonderful design (that is not yet implemented).

      Other applications are not meant to replace the full fledged applications. They are meant to replace files/nautilus. Say instead of searching your document files in nautilus and open it in viewer, open/browse/search the document in Documents and open it in viewer from within the application. Instead of opening the video files through nautilus open it through Videos and so on…..

      • Adonis K. (Varemenos)

        I’m sorry but by that logic it sucks even more.
        Why couldn’t they just make something similar to the Unity Lenses? Why do i need 1 app for each filetype?

        • alex285

          Unity lenses work even worse, because you have to re-open unity panel every time. G-Documents (any G Context App) for example is more practical as an application rather as Unity Lense, because you can have it open all times and work in each documents without open..close…open..close…open..close..Unity. I am not sure what are trying to do with Unity in Ubuntu camp.. Maybe make a Unity OS? ;)

    • User

      I think that’s what they are doing – focusing to make GNOME desktop as good as possible. GNOME applications and desktop are finally designed to be clean, robust and coherent. There’s still lots of work to do but as every new GNOME version and gnome-design github site shows, they are working on it.

      GNOME 2 ended up to be a mess because projects were designed by different people (usually developers) and it really shows.

    • Brandon Watkins

      I kinda like the look of the gnome music app personally, looks wonderfully simple.

  • sramkrishna

    The point of Music and other apps is not to compete with other apps, but to provide a default experience that fits with GNOME 3 design. Consider it almost a reference app. These apps comes with GNOME, and so if you’re listening to something you want an app that you can run. It’s just like Microsoft which includes IE and whatever default video and music player that comes with it. You’re free to download something else and use it. But these apps are all designed as part of a whole. So they tend to have a greater appeal.

    • alex285

      Just to notice that both IE and Media Player failed ;) Basically all Windows Default Apps failed, I can’t remember one that was good.

      • jon_downfromthetrees

        I wouldn’t call them failures. They are used by tens or even hundreds of millions of people every day. Opinions about software quality have little or nothing to do with software use.

        • alex285

          That is correct but that’s happening only because of the monopolistic practices of MS. Whatever software was the default in Windows would have millions of users. But what is the best for the user?

          • jon_downfromthetrees

            Well, the user is best left alone to decide what’s best for him or her. I haven’t been a Windows user for years. But, most people I know use Windows on their personal machines because they like it, not because of Microsoft’s business practices. They know they have options — Mac or Linux — but they don’t like either one. They choose to stay with Windows. They pay for the upgrades, which seems to me evidence that they’re making a choice for Windows. Many of them, for one reason or another, do need to use tools like Office, etc., in their non-work activities. (E.g., someone who voluntrarily handles the finances of his church. It uses Office, so he uses Office.) These are not naive people suckered by advertising. They’ve used Windows, OS X and Linux and they prefer Windows.

            We do Linux a disservice when we lean on the same old tired argument that it is Big Bad Evil Microsoft that’s keeping Linux from achieving success. That just encourages people to think that the Linux status quo is good enough. Many people do *like* Windows and *choose* to use it. We need to make sure that Linux and Gnome are as good as possible, and compete on that basis.

          • alex285

            You get it all wrong I guess. I was just saying that when companies making applications (MS/Apple) for their Desktop environments, the rule is that these App will be of worse quality of the third party (just because for every software there is one better). So for an open source desktop is easier to adopt and distribute existing apps, rather building their own.

          • jon_downfromthetrees

            “… when companies making applications (MS/Apple) for their Desktop environments, the rule is that these App will be of worse quality of the third party…”

            You’re saying that proprietary software companies deliberately set out to make *worse* products?

          • alex285

            Nop, I am trying to say that no matter how much money Apple or MS will spend to make a Music Player (just an example), they will never manage to make the best Music Player. Someone else out there will build a better one (or if you prefer different people like different Music Players, no matter the quality which is objective as you said). This is how software goes. But since MS and Apple care about the profit, they will ship their own Music Player, even if they know that they decrease the user experience.

            A no-profit organization hasn’t such issues, they can deliver what software they feel is best for their users. Which is partly true as some no-profit organizations make commercial deals and partnerships. But not Gnome.

          • jon_downfromthetrees

            “A no-profit organization hasn’t such issues, they can deliver what software they feel is best for their users…”

            Very true. And, yes, the need for profit does impact the products MS and Apple ship. Before people jump ship from one platform to another, though, they need to have a reason. I think all three platforms — Windows, OS X, and Linux — have reached a level of a maturity and capability that means users with working systems really have little or no reason to switch. We see that here in the Linux community. A minority do hop from one distribution to another all the time. Most of us, though, tend to stay with what we have as long as it doesn’t break. (That’s very different than the state of things years ago, when things broke frequently and a new distribution release often delivered wholesale improvements. That’s not really the case today. The Linux baseline is much stronger.)

            Linux and Gnome should just worry about being as good as they can and forget about Microsoft and Apple.

          • Philip Witte

            I think you under-estimate the power of good marketing. You may have friends who are exceptions, but most everyone I know uses Windows/Mac because that’s what is being sold on the shelves at BestBuy.. they continue to like those environments because, after spending years in them, they’re most familiar to that setup.

            I used to use Window all day long, and I think it’s a great OS in many areas. That said, after around 2 years using Linux, Windows feels like somewhat of a foreign environment to me now, and I can’t help but want to get back to my Linux boot as soon as possible.

            The success of Windows and Mac *is* due to good marketing strategies, but that (alone) does not make those companies “evil”… it just makes them good at business and shows that part of the human condition is to lean towards the familiar (like how most people stick to the religion they where raised in). It’s no surprise that it took a multi-billion dollar advertising guru (Google) to really make “Linux” a popular consumer OS.

          • jon_downfromthetrees

            Well, marketing is a reality. Businesses who make software for money are, obviously, going to spend money on marketing. Organizations who do not make software for money aren’t going to have money for marketing.

            Whether the success of Windows or Mac is due to marketing isn’t really relevant. (I don’t think it is.) Even if users don’t know Linux exists, Windows users certainly know Apple exists, and vice versa. They know an alternative is available.

            All I’m saying is that many people using Windows see no reason to consider moving to a different platform. That’s not because they’ve been brainwashed by marketing. They see their computer as a necessary tool, like a refrigerator. They aren’t interested in software as an end in itself. Windows works for them.

          • alex285

            To be honest I don’t know many people to be happy with Windows. Actually I know many with the opposite opinion. Also I don’t think that Windows is a good system for end users -but it is for developers.
            In my case, if had money I would pick a Mac and not Windows. Mac are quite expensive and with limited hardware/options. That is certainly one of the reasons why Apple has low %.

          • jon_downfromthetrees

            I know people who complain about Windows all the time. They don’t switch, though. And they buy upgrades, which I think is a good indicator they lack an incentive to switch.

            I have a toaster that I don’t like. I could easily replace it. But, I can’t be bothered. It’s easier to keep using this toaster than chase down a new one. That’s how I think most Windows users think.

            (I also think many people are frightened by the prospect of setting up an new OS. It’s unknown territory for them. Even something like a Mac, which is dead simple to set up. Ubuntu’s installer is almost as simple if you don’t manually partition.)

            There’s a bit of truth in the notion that Mac’s are expensive. The top of the line stuff certainly is. However, at least here in the U.S., when you match specs and components to similar products from other similar vendors, their prices are often competitive. They just don’t sell cheap stuff. (The hardware thing is very true. But, I doubt most Mac users care much.)

          • alex285

            “I also think many people are frightened by the prospect of setting up an new OS.” I am frightened to change Distro ;)

          • us3r

            what distro do you use?

          • alex285

            Fedora. I also had UGR but I run out of disks now, when I buy a new disk I will re-install it.

  • Énio Fernandes

    With Steam and Desura it doesn’t make much sense for GSC to support commercial apps.

  • Philip Witte

    Their software center design looks good. Very simple and clean. You can picture your mom/grandma using it without any problems, which is the right direction, design-wise.

    My biggest concern with this, and with “Gnome OS” is how software will be packaged/maintained in general. I’m a bit spoiled with Arch Linux always having the latest software almost as soon as it’s release (in some cases, even before it’s released), and I can’t imagine going back to a 6-month release cycle model where I need to A) wait half a year to get Blender updates (or hunt hard to find PPAs), and B) replace my entire system every 6 months (or brave the “auto-updater”).

    All modern, non-Linux OSs today have some kind of “rolling” distribution center for user-downloaded apps (Windows 8 being the last to get a “Software Center”). It seems only popular Linux distros are using a “feature freeze” mentality, which quite frankly, I never understood to begin with (for Personal Computer distros).

    I really hope that Gnome OS does NOT follow in Ubuntu’s footsteps here (granted, there’s been talk of a rolling-release Ubuntu starting around version 14), and instead takes principles from Arch/Debian/Chakra/Manjaro rolling distros.

    If you combined the software access of rolling-release with the convenience of the Gnome desktop, I think you’d have a real winner.

    Anyways… my 2 cents.

    ps. Please, also make it easy to find/install proprietary drivers!

    • foobaro


      Gnome OS is a (developer-)platform, and not a distribution. You are very likely not going to see it in case you are a enduser.

  • Marty

    Focusing on Gnome apps doesn’t match the desktop user experience IMHO. I think they pretty much invest in default apps for mobile devices ie. tablets or phones.

  • psychoticmeow

    There are so many music players available for Linux already, that I can understand frustration at Gnome developing their own. But I absolutely loath almost all of those music players. They all focus around list and lists of lists, all I want is a simple music player that presents my library using as much of the artwork as possible, without overwhelming me with every last titbit of information.

    That is what Gnome Music provides, and that is why I’m excitedly waiting for it to launch.

    BTW, it appears you have music in your build of Gnome Music, is it actually at a point where it can play anything? Or is that a mockup?

    • alex285

      No it isn’t a mockup and also looks nice with many options. Yes you can play some music if you wish, but not all the controls work

      • psychoticmeow

        Yeah, I just figured out how to get it working, needed to install grilo-plugins, pretty exited to see the end result.

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  • Brandon Watkins

    Gnome is long overdue for a good software center, gnome-packagekit is atrocious and buggy.

  • Ade Malsasa Akbar

    In slow internet country like Indonesia, we need more that Package Manaager. We need a manager that download all packages into a folder, and another packages into another folder. So, if our friend wanna install same packages, I can help him by copying the folder and sudoing that. So he doesn’t need to download them again. Enough me. Can GNOME Software Center realize this? We are glad if you can help :)

    • Adonis K. (Varemenos)

      I’m pretty sure the downloaded packages will be cached somewhere…

      • Ade Malsasa Akbar

        Yes, absolutely in /var/cache/apt/archives/. But they are crowded all in one folder, not in folders. So if you ever install Netbeans and Eclipse, all debs and dependencies placed in that folder. You can’t distinct which is the Netbeans only packages. It is easier with separated folders named according to package name installed :) Netbeans downloaded to netbeans folder, Eclipse to eclipse, glade to glade, and so on :D Thanks…

  • Adonis K. (Varemenos)

    Alex, is there a package or source available for g-music, yet?
    Or is it still under early development stage?

  • Bartowski

    The git repository for gnome-software hasn’t changed for 4 months, is it still under development ? Do you think it will be shipped with Gnome 3.10 ?

    • alex285

      I am optimistic they will. The official answer would be “we don’t know yet”. The online demo by jimmac is 2months old.