Gnomes in the abyss

Gnomes in the abyss
Image courtesy of brewbooks

There was recently a post on Benjamin Otte's Gnome blog lamenting the slow downfall of the Gnome desktop in the free software world. It's sad to see the slow decline of a once ubiquitous Linux desktop. While it might still have a chance there are a couple of areas where it needs changes if it expects to regain former glory. It needs to bring back the power users, scale back on the scope of their work and focus, and lastly they need a charismatic leader, a figurehead for the community and world at large to rally around.

Gnome has some good goals, make a simple and easy Linux desktop that anyone can use. However they achieved this at the expense of their power users. Developers removed a lot of configurable options, not just hiding them, but taking them away. Power users want to tweak and twiddle the knobs. They enjoy the time they spend crafting their experience in minutia of detail to fit their specific {whims}. Losing power users on a platform like Linux, which is almost entirely made up of power users, is a pretty big mistake. Gnome need to work to keep the simplicity while allowing power users the options they desire.

Gnome as a project has always included a huge girth of projects that are secondary and even tertiary from the goal of a free and open source desktop environment. The list includes word processor and spreadsheet, two email clients (balsa and Evolution), two web browser (Galeon and Epiphany), personal finance manager, and the list goes on. This lack of focus, this lack of direction, has hurt the core products. I see these ancillary projects that serve only as distractions and prevent Gnome from it's stated goal.

Lastly Gnome lack leadership and outreach. They have leaders I just don't know who they are and haven't seen them reaching out to the community and business to work together to advance the Gnome desktop. They are in a tight spot. Gnome is (was) the desktop environment for many Linux distros, but the laymen probably wasn't aware of who they even were. Instead all they knew was they were using Ubuntu. This is where Gnome needs to grow. They need leadership for project focus and expanding mind share.

Gnome have a long way to go, if they can even get there. They must start with regaining the trust of power users, limiting distractions and focusing on their core values and showing leadership and outreach to the community.

Gnomes in the abyss by  
  linux  desktop  foss 
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