Wednesday, February 11, 2009 18:03 - GNOME

Disclaimer: this is my personal opinion, but I would say things differently if I was not that involved; also my day job has nothing to do with GNOME.

A few years ago I switched my focus from Debian to GNOME and one important difference is how there is a major involvment of companies in the GNOME project. I like to tell how there have been big errors in the past, things like Novell dumping code into GNOME once developed (the gnome-main-menu for example), but I always say things improved, as many made a policy of contributing upstream and minimizing distribution patches.

We achieved sharing code, but what about sharing a vision ?

We are not quite there, unfortunately. Fedora contributed much, primarily within its particular status as a technology/technologist playground, and it seems they have a grand vision of the GNOME desktop (but it has not been (well) communicated). Actually they may even be the only ones with a crystal clear idea about a GNOME future, and the means to achieve it; as other vendors, and individual contributors, do have ideas, of course, but not always such an all-encompassing vision, and certainly not the same manpower.

However it is very important to get back to a community vision, where comments and criticisms are not taken as stop energy; it is not good for GNOME, and not good for the Fedora GNOME hackers, to be separated.

I don't like Red Hat hackers being isolated (and it looks worse from day to day); I want a GNOME community, open to everyone; I want the Fedora vision to be more public, and I want it as a starting point of an open conversation within the community, I want a common GNOME vision, actually we need a common vision.

To get back to an old /topic, I'd say #fedora-desktop should not be the new #gnome-hackers.

Eloquently put, and in good spirit. Thank you.

Comment by Andy Wingo on February 11, 2009 21:39

But how does the Fedora Desktop Team not include upstream? They do everything in their respective upstream communities. I can tell you the Fedora Desktop Team gets flack from other Fedora developers for not breaking from upstream on things like spacial nautilus. It is the release team that defines what goes into GNOME and they are hardly dominated by Fedora folk. The new Shell development, while being lead by Fedora folk, is a collaborative effort. There is huge momentum in Fedora and Red Hat which brings in some of the top GNOME hackers. Do we ask them to go against their own experience? It would be much the same wherever they are (look at Havoc - he's not part of Red Hat/Fedora development anymore yet he still sets large portions of the GNOME agenda).

So what is the fix? Is there a fix? Should Fedora people stop strongly voicing their opinions because they happen to have a large amount of smart people working on GNOME? How do they become more upstream when in my view they go out of their way to be part of upstream. I currently don't work on the Desktop but I still feel a stronger allegiance to GNOME than I do Fedora. Is all of this just a perception issue where those doing a large portion of the work, have more code in GNOME and therefore are seen as having more influence? Do we give smaller groups a pass on their upstream habits but harangue the larger groups for occasional slip ups? All the incentives are backwards in the scenario and lead to less upstream development and a constant cycle of mediocrity instead of the meritocracy that makes us better.

I think the main problem I have with the post is you are not specific and offer no solution, only saying there is some perception of Fedora folk leading the charge and not listening to the community. Specifically what is at issue and where is the line between gathering input and bike shedding while designing by committee?

Comment by John (J5) Palmieri on February 11, 2009 22:39

I caught the thread you linked to and wished, if you were going to single out a particular group, you would have been more specific instead of painting Fedora as a bunch of people trying to impose their will on GNOME. Jon jumped the gun there and fixed up the issue. From what I understand GNOME is moving to git very soon and that was a decision reflecting the community's majority opinion as sampled by the VCS questionnaire.

Comment by John (J5) Palmieri on February 11, 2009 22:52

Agreed that #fedora-desktop should not be the new #gnome-hackers, but I think the problem there is that #gnome-hackers is not about GNOME hacking 90% of the time.

Comment by Dan Winship on February 11, 2009 23:04

Thanks Andy.

Thanks John for your comments; the linked message was more of a pun on myself than anything else, to point out a time where I let it out more than I wished.

This post is not specific on purpose, as I think being specific would have led to answers to particular points, not the general issue. The fact is I often share the Fedora vision (at least what I imagine of it) and agree with the things that are pushed (be it PulseAudio, or git, for two recent examples); but the *way* they are pushed, it feels forced.

What is the fix, is there a fix? I don't know, I certainly hope things can get better just by discussing openly, and yes I hold Fedora to higher standards that, say, Ubuntu, but be sure I also want the "Ubuntu blueprints" and their consequences, discussed with upstream GNOME.

Dan, we may need a new channel, or eliminate the noise somehow, but the new channel name should appear a little more neutral than #fedora-desktop :)

Comment by Frédéric Péters on February 11, 2009 23:28

Hi Frederic!

I already discuss this topic with another gnome people and yes we have the same point as you. This is another thing that prevents from us to archive GNOME 3.0. We need to take some risks yes, but the community should drive us (along with the enterprises) to somewhere. I'm waiting from news from Andre pos-fosdem about this ;)

Comment by Luis Medinas on February 12, 2009 7:22

Luis, there's currently nothing to add to what Frédéric has written here and that I agree completely with him. :-)

Comment by andre on February 12, 2009 14:52

Regarding #gnome-hackers, I think it's rescuable.

Step 1: Remove Rupert (yes, I'm serious) Step 2: Integrate buildbot status with reporting IRC bot Step 3: Summarized periodic svn/git checkin reports (not one irc message per commit, and probably not for all modules, but only modules in the GNOME moduleset or likely future ones)

These last two would bring some technical content back and hopefully stimulate discussion around whatever the latest checkins to evolution, gjs, clutter etc. are.

Comment by Colin Walters on February 12, 2009 16:34

no, please — #gnome-hackers is the social venue for gnome developers. a development-oriented channel would be #gnome-devel or #gnome-development.

seriously: #gnome-hacker is the star wars cantina (a place where Rupert shoots first); let's not turn it into a sterile, Planet KDE look-alike.

Comment by Emmanuele Bassi on February 13, 2009 22:44

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