What Will Happen to GNOME Now?

GNOME

Those who remember a time before Ubuntu will undoubtedly also remember that GNOME, although probably the second most popular desktop manager, didn't hold too much share of the Linux desktop market. KDE was king, and GNOME was a distant second. Then Ubuntu appeared and not only climbed its way to the top of the distribution game, but brought GNOME with it. Polls over the last few years have shown its use increasing to the point that it is oftentimes equalling or out-ranking KDE. But what will happen to GNOME now that Ubuntu 11.04 is going to ship with Unity?

There are two elements which will give us a clue. The first question to ask is, how much did Ubuntu developers contribute to GNOME development? The answer is not a significant amount. While a lot of discussion has been happening at Canonical about contributing upstream more, very little evidence exists that they have actually done it. Matthew Garrett points out that 91% of the code is contributed by Red Hat and they aren't likely to abandon this long standing strategy any time soon. Some Ubuntu developers state that the GNOME project didn't want any of their ideas or code and that very well may be true. Whether not offered or declined, it seems GNOME is being developed largely by Red Hat and the loss of Ubuntu's support and use will not affect development much.

The second aspect is that Ubuntu will still be shipping the underlying framework and applications as well as putting the GNOME Shell in repositories. For those who really want the familiar GNOME interface, it will be but a few clicks away.

Those close to the GNOME project have stated, "While we may have lost a distribution channel for GNOME Shell, Canonical will still be using and building with many GNOME technologies and working with the GNOME Foundation. And we still have all of our substantial technical resources working on GNOME Shell and other GNOME technologies."

So, what will happen to GNOME now that Ubuntu has effectively moved on? Not much seems to be the consensus. They will be forging ahead with business as usual.

______________________

Susan Linton is a Linux writer and the owner of tuxmachines.org.

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apt-get install gnome

Anonymous's picture

apt-get install gnome. nuff said.

Ubuntu 11 and on

Anonymous's picture

Ubuntu is becoming increasingly useless and unreliable. Who cares what they do.

The point is unity will be

Anonymous gianni's picture

The point is unity will be the default! The casual new user will see it and decide; it's marketing, it's packaging.if we old bones want the old lady, just re-login. I don't se the problem, I've installed unity and now use it most of the time.it's refreshing and more consistent with the android interface, that now I use a lot.gnome desktop is very clutter ed at the 4 corners, so scaring any new user.

What Will Happen to GNOME Now?

Anonymous's picture

I started using Linux before KDE was even out. Gnome and Enlightenment were the two biggies.

Being a Windows User mostly until recently, I have always preferred KDE as it is F-A-A-A-A-R more functional when it comes to tweaks and adjustments. Screen Savers rush! to mind. Just a preview... really?! No fun adjustments like in Windows and KDE?

The menu... The Gnome menu is really dated. - At least make it look similar to a Mac. However, in Linux Mint-Debian, they have the first stable version of Lancelot which!, I really like! This is the first really great improvement to Gnome in a long time. I love typing in just a package name and choices just appear providing a 2 click install. That's really! nice!

I like everything displayed at once rather than drilling sideways to get what I want. Editing Lancelot is just as easy as editing the familiar Gnome or KDE menus so Lancelot is a great choice.

I think Gnome overall is more powerful than KDE but, gets a thumbs-down for its overall lack of functionality. Keep the powerful aspect of Gnome, keep Lancelot, and give me the functionality of KDE, and KDE can go jump in lake!

I like that Gnome recognizes my Toshiba's U.S.B. Wi-Fi adapter by Realtek. KNetworkManger does not! No amount bending, twisting, and hoop jumping will get my Toshiba's U.S.B. Wi-Fi up and working. So install "WI-CD" and uninstall the aforementioned KNetworkManager. The only problem is getting KDE to recognize WI-CD as the default Wi-Fi application. I'll suffer with a lack of functionality to have usability. However, I wish I didn't have to suffer Gnome's lack of functionality for usability. - But!, usability dictates!!

I am really liking Mint-Debian and hope this project will continue and they will build-out Gnome with more functionality.

weird

sat's picture

this post is too old and gnome 3 is about to come in 2 months but one thing i don't understand if you are that much old user of Linux so you better have known that driver depends on Linux kernel not desktop environment and the feature mint has given not not in just Debian version but also in ubuntu version if there is any problem in k network manager is would not fix by changing DE download driver and compile it will work on any DE you will find instruction of compiling in read me file.

"I started using Linux before

Anonymous's picture

"I started using Linux before KDE was even out. Gnome and Enlightenment were the two biggies."

I guess that you meant that you started using linux even before Gnome went out: Gnome was created as response to KDE,

Gnome 3

Fred T's picture

The next big hurdle will be the release of Gnome 3 which as I gather is still a ways off.

It's great that Ubuntu are

keekaboo's picture

It's great that Ubuntu are trying to make the Desktop usable for the for Netbook user, but I don't own a Netbook. I've had a look at Unity and I'm not at all keen on the direction it's going, if that's their idea of a 'default' desktop.
Unless Ubuntu changes Unity DRASTICALLY, it probably just means that I'll make the switch to Mint. To me, it's just another Distro. If it works, it works and if not... goodbye old, hello new.

It's ironic that all this

thameera's picture

It's ironic that all this upheaval started because a single distribution began using Unity. It's up to the distro to make changes as it wishes; if you don't like the idea, there are hundreds of other distros to move to.

Gubuntu

Shylo Hana's picture

ubuntu was GNOME-based + some people like KDE = kubuntu

ubuntu will be Unity-based + some people like GNOME = GNObuntu? | Gubuntu? | GNubuntu?

They were of the same popularity

Santosh's picture

Even before ubuntu came into existense I was using GNOME. KDE was popular but not as stable as gnome.

Gnome long before Ubuntu

Anonymous's picture

Sorry but Gnome was around and popular (as much or more than KDE or any other) before Ubuntu. It was one of the desktop options even on Solaris before Ubuntu had a download. Gnome was on RH and being used by the vast majority of RH Desktop users and in the workplace. Ubuntu didnt make Gnome in any way whatsoever what it is today. Ive been in this industry for 20 years and most of it on linux. This claim is total crap. Just more of the typical BS lies I see from the Ubuntu fanboy crowd. Just another head up arse claim. About the only thing canonical has done is shown MS up on propagandistic marketing claims. Ok maybe thats taking it a bit far...

Yeah I don't get where the

abdussamad's picture

Yeah I don't get where the author came up with those stats. Redhat was *the* desktop Linux distro for many years and it always defaulted to GNOME. So I don't see how GNOME's fortunes are dependent on Ubuntu?

Also I think GNOME is more popular than KDE and has been for a long time. Mind you I use KDE myself.

One More Choice - let's keep it civil

Anonymous's picture

I tend to agree with JerryHerry.

The last thing *nix needs is another flame fest like the one when GNOME first came out (because Qt wasn't GPL enough) and when KDE 4 starting appearing in openSUSE and other distributions.

I hated GNOME but have learned to accept it and use it on my Ubuntu systems, mostly because the KDE issues in openSUSE.

I suspect most users won't know why the switch is happening and fewer will flame about it.

Why so mad?

voipster3's picture

I don't see a problem at all with conanical moving with unity. I think when a project or company that has so much energy and ideas they need to move on. Just because gnome or KDE has certain ideas it is correct.

Lightweight is most of the time better

Laxator2's picture

Sticking to the old Gnome-KDE flamewar is no good, there are plenty of good alternatives out there. I used IceWM for longer than I remember, and that on top of Mandrake/Mandriva, the stronghold of KDE. It made the system a lot snappier than KDE.

Also, I recently ditched Ubuntu in favor of PCLinuxOS with LXDE. Highly reccommended for older machines (in my case a perfectly functional 7-years old laptop with a 1.7GHz processor, 512MB of RAM and 40GB HDD.)

All desktops are crap

Moronical's picture

I don't need some bozo's idea of eye candy to amuse me. Why can't we just talk to the damn computer, it is nine years later. "Hal, open the pod bay door."

Oh well, back to installing Fedora 14 (with KDE).

Gnome not threatened; unity is just a shell

Anonymous's picture

It is important to keep in mind that unity is just a shell for gnome. Others are metacity (the default for years), compiz and gnome-shell. Underneath all of them, it's all gnome, all the time.

I think you mean to say that

Bert Geens's picture

I think you mean to say that Unity is just a window manager for Gnome. I have no idea when the term "window manager" got replaced by "shell" (probably due to the confusing gnome-shell name)

If I understand it correctly gnome-shell and probably unity won't be usable standalone and more than likely won't be easily replaceable by $random_wm (not without losing half of Gnome's functionality anyway) due to ever deeper Gnome integration creating an ever deeper split between WMs and DEs (and their respective WMs)

Unity is a shell not a WM

Akshat Jain's picture

Unity and gnome-shell are shells, compiz, mutter and metacity are WMs.

Please do enlighten me on the

Bert Geens's picture

Please do enlighten me on the difference since I don't see any, aside from them being totally tied to their respective DE.

Familiar???

Steve Chow's picture

"The second aspect is that Ubuntu will still be shipping the underlying framework and applications as well as putting the GNOME Shell in repositories. For those who really want the familiar GNOME interface, it will be but a few clicks away."

GNOME Shell is new and not familiar!!!

KDE fell not as much because

JerryHerry's picture

KDE fell not as much because of Ubuntu, but because of KDE4 not being ready to replace KDE3. That fact is probably underestimated in what contributed to the rise of Ubuntu (and the fall of Mandriva).

I would think though, now that KDE4 is ready, that it will only be gaining on Gnome. Regardless if it does or not though, KDE's certainly what I use.

Also looking at Chakara these days.

Yeap!Look at distro like

BlueEyes's picture

Yeap!Look at distro like Chackra,Pardus,PCLinuxOS,and Linux Mint KDE and y'all see that KDE is getting better and better!
I too use KDE and i don't have any kind of problem!
Just give them a fair shot and you'll see!

KDE

Stephen's picture

Thank you for mentioning Linux Mint KDE!
So many people seem to overlook it when comparing KDE distros.

Ruffled feathers should be expected.

helios's picture

I don't think it can be argued...Ubuntu IS the face of Linux. Whether written about or not, I cannot help but think that there might be some in the Gnome Dev community that feel that their unveiling of Gnome 3 might now be a bit anti-climatic.

I mean instead of the new release of Ubuntu displaying Gnome 3 it will display Unity by default. I can see where there would be some great disappointment, but like Susan said before...Canonical is bound to take their own direction. Whether that is good or bad remains to be seen.

We don't seem to have much to say about it.

Ruffled feathers should be expecteed.

helios's picture

I don't think it can be argued...Ubuntu IS the face of Linux. Whether written about or not, I cannot help but think that there might be some in the Gnome Dev community that feel that their unveiling of Gnome 3 might now be a bit anti-climatic.

I mean instead of the new release of Ubuntu displaying Gnome 3 it will display Unity by default. I can see where there would be some great disappointment, but like Susan said before...Canonical is bound to take their own direction. Whether that is good or bad remains to be seen.

We don't seem to have much to say about it.

Ubuntu is trying a new approach.

exploder's picture

Ubuntu is trying to incorporate their own ideas and I commend that. Lets face it, Linux has done well in the server market but has not achieved the same popularity on the desktop with oem's. Succeed or fail, I have to admire Canonical for following threw with such a bold idea. Canonical has made large strides with their last two releases and if Linux is all about freedom, lets see their work before criticizing it.

Too many are judging Unity on it's first release and honestly, we all know there are plans to greatly improve it. Many have gone out on their own and made their own fork of a project and produced some very high quality work and that is exactly what the Ubuntu Developer's are trying to do.

Why complain about creativity? I see an honest effort being made and I respect that.

I think it may be time let

mikesd's picture

I think it may be time let the Linux on the Desktop idea go. It hasn't happened, and it won't happen. And it's mostly on getting developers to develop for Linux. Gnome's not going anywhere just because Ubuntu is switching to their own thing. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see Unity go away quickly if it's not done right and be replaced again by Gnome. I also don't see Unity being picked up by any other distro. I also don't believe Ubuntu has put anything back into Gnome. And even if Gnome didn't accept it, it wouldn't stop Ubuntu from putting their feature into their version of Gnome with their release.

--
That which does not kill me only postpones the inevitable.

You should let it go, not linux

ngativ's picture

The linux desktop worked for me and many others for several years now. If you meant that linux desktop only have a tiny market share, well i really don't care as many others don't care about that . The linux desktop just happens, and for me is the best.

Now, if the linux desktop doesn't works for you then use something else. The linux comunity is a great social and technological phenomena with its own life and momentum. and its user base is growing everyday. There's nothing to be afraid of.

The gnome community took two crucial decisions: staging gnome 2.x and the create that sort of experiment called the gnome shell that has some critical designs flaws.

I support cannonical's decision ,but they must improve on their Unity project.

Sure. Linux on the desktop

mikesd's picture

Sure. Linux on the desktop has worked for you and me and other Linux users. But let's be realistic. It's still a pain to install video drivers. Many commercial apps haven't been ported over. HP and Dell have stopped promoting as much as they used to selling Linux to the home user. It's just not there. It won't be thee until companies start developing for Linux on the desktop.

--
That which does not kill me only postpones the inevitable.

Wrongheaded notions of success

JEDIDIAH's picture

> Sure. Linux on the desktop has worked for you and me and other
> Linux users. But let's be realistic. It's still a pain to
> install video drivers.

No it isn't. You sound like some Usenet troll rather than
an actual Linux user. My NV drivers might not be completely
free but they are the bee's knees and quite well integrated
within Ubuntu.

> Many commercial apps haven't been ported over.

What are you pining for exactly? What really matters is
functionality and not brands. I don't need iPhoto. I need
something that works like iPhoto. Oddly enough, there is
something that runs on Linux that is even better.

> HP and Dell have stopped promoting as much as they used to
> selling Linux to the home user. It's just not there. It won't
> be thee until companies start developing for Linux on the desktop.

Linux has never been about corporate payware.

The only relevant question is "does it work?". In that respect,
I think Ubuntu's direction with Gnome is broken. In general, Ubuntu
seems to make poor choices. While it's OK to replace stuff piecemeal
in terms of apps, doing that for the core desktop will probably be
off-putting to most people (novice or expert).

The flipside of that question is "why would you want to switch?".

>No it isn't. You sound like

mikesd's picture

>No it isn't. You sound like some Usenet troll rather than
>an actual Linux user. My NV drivers might not be completely
>free but they are the bee's knees and quite well integrated
>within Ubuntu.

Maybe on Ubunutu, but not every distro. And they don't always work. There have been issues in Ubuntu as well.

>What are you pining for exactly? What really matters is
>functionality and not brands. I don't need iPhoto. I need
>something that works like iPhoto. Oddly enough, there is
>something that runs on Linux that is even better.

I'm not talking about brands. I'm talking about functionality. A lot of OS programs that are to replace or mimic the proprietary programs are not as functional as the proprietary programs are. Open Office still isn't as full featured as MS Office. And Open Office is just one important example of a desktop application. It's not fully compatible with MS Office, which could be a deal breaker for students that need to submit papers electronically. Flash is still a problem on 64 bit Linux, even with the new beta released by Adobe. That's a killer. Try syncing a non android phone with Linux. Does it "just work"? Rarely to never. Wifi is getting better, but still wifi driver issues. Codecs? Some distros include them by default. Most don't. Will people know to add the non-oss repos to get them? Doubtful. Want to a do a peer to peer network for multiple computers? Is that set up out of the box? Samba's there, but will the average Joe know how to set it up? All this stuff we as Linux users know how to do or fix, so running it on the desktop is not a big deal for us.

>Linux has never been about corporate payware.

Who said it was? But to truly bring Linux to the desktop for everyday users, a corporate name has to be behind it. And the two biggest names that were promoting it have died down. Any one can build someone a computer and put Linux on it. That's not Linux on the desktop. That's Linux on A desktop. And to bring Linux to the desktop, it's going to have to be about the corporate payware a little bit. No backing and promoting from retailers, means it won't be pushed out.

I love Linux. I use Linux as a desktop machine and as a server machine. But that's because I'm familiar with it and know how to use it. I know how to support it if I have to. But Linux will never make it mainstream on the desktop until companies start backing it for everyday use and not just server use. And until you find companies willing to support it. And that won't happen until there's a unified distro or they all do things the same way. I'm not trolling, I'm being realistic. Just because someone is running Linux as a desktop machine does not mean that it's the year of the Linux desktop.

--
That which does not kill me only postpones the inevitable.

I Agree

jaqian's picture

And that won't happen until there's a unified distro or they all do things the same way

As probably the most well known distro in joe publics eye, I would like to see Debian/Ubuntu activly trying to become a face of linux. If you get ppl hooked on one distro they will eventually look at others once comfortable.

I use Mint for the same reason the other person uses PCLinuxOS... it installs propriety drivers and just works. I think Ubuntu is one of the best thought out distros and generally user friendly but it needs to get over stallmans hump of "propriety drivers = evil". Linux is never going to take over the desktop at best it will own 2-3% like Apple does.The public don't care/understand about propriety drivers and look at Apple it is far more locked in than Miscrosoft ever was. they just have better PR.

Also need to have one package manager obviously I'd like to see DEBs used and that package should contain ALL dependencies. There should be no need for ppl to compile from source unless they want to hack some code.

Ubuntu needs to become the face of Linux and activly persue companies to support it, then those drivers will be available for other distros.
I'd love to see hardware come with works with Debian/Ubuntu stickers. If it says works with Linux it means some poor eejit is going to have to compile the source code and for me that is just a FAIL.

DEB or RPM but there needs to be just one package, that is why Linux is not popular its too fragmented.

I disagree.

Anonymous's picture

First off, let me say that it is my firm belief that there might never be a "year of the Linux desktop". That's not because I don't think it will happen, but because the way things are going, it's going to take longer than a year.

Many of your complaints and pints above, while valid, rest heavily on which distribution you choose. Ubuntu has never been a reasonable candidate for the "face of linux" in my opinion, because they don't get certain key facts, such as... it should be easy to use. It should be familiar... it should not require the use of the CLI... and it should have a central control point (control center).

People don't care about the OS, they care about doing what it is they want to do. The codecs must be preinstalled, and the interface should be familiar, and it shouldn't be buggy, or break every time you do an update or upgrade. You should have no need to use the CLI as an end user. Installing, updating, upgrading and removing software should be fast and easy, and should not destabilize the system. It should all just work.

The ONLY distribution I have found that achieves this with regularity is not Ubuntu. It's PCLinuxOS.

Windows, and now Ubuntu, are, in my not-so-humble opinion, both examples of "I use it because it's what I know" and "I use it because it's popular" overriding "I use it because it's the best choice of what to use."

My phone - not android, to be sure - works perfectly with this flavor of Linux. No sweat. Video drivers? I haven't had to fiddle with those in years. They're just there already. And they work perfectly. Wifi has been a no-brainer on every computer I have booted with PCLOS. Networking suff I don't do, so I can't comment on, but really, there are only three reasons left why anyone should have to use Windows.

1. They absolutely have to use some piece of softwre that ONLY runs on Windows (I use VirtualBox and a very old, but legal, copy of XP for that little thorn).
2. The computer is designed to refuse to even boot Linux. I have encountered that several times, and one of my uncles seems a specialist at choosing these computers somehow.
3. Some major game is "necessary".

So I see where you're coming from, on the corporate-payware thing, because of points 1 and 3. I certainly would rather have my games and paid software running on Linux... but if we go that route, only one distro gets the support of having the payware packaged for it. What if it's a distro I can't stand? What if it's a distro backed by a corporation, which exists to make money? Are we on the verge of creating another Microsoft? We have to be very careful here, people.

Life after Ubuntu w/ GNOME

fredbird67's picture

Back before Ubuntu was introduced in October of 2004, KDE really was king in the Linux desktop world, largely due to the success of Mandrake (now Mandriva, of course), which was, in fact, my introduction to Linux. Of course, with Ubuntu having ditched GNOME in favor of their home-grown Unity desktop, it'll be interesting to see how things play out regarding the popularity of Linux desktops.

Personally, I've fallen in love with Xfce myself. I used to be a KDE guy until version 4 came out, and was a GNOME user after that until this past spring when GNOME 3 was announced. After seeing KDE 4 initially be little more than a half-baked release, I did not care to go through that mess again. Also, the attitudes of some people on GNOME-Look played a part in driving me away from GNOME, too. I thought about LXDE, but it's not as feature-rich as Xfce is, at least not yet, so that's why, at least for now, anyways, I'm an Xfce guy.

Maybe it's time for KDE to shine again!

BlueEyes's picture

It's quite possible that a lot of ubuntu folk's not verry happy with the new change will go to Kubuntu.KDE it's getting better every day ,it's stable ,look verry nice,a lot of good software and a lot of new features!Just try the new Kubuntu!Compared to the old and unchanged gnome system panel and look,KDE it's ................well it feel good!Not to say that run verry well on a decent machine without bloating the resources!

That's all i have to say.

KDE <--- CDE

Anonymous's picture

Way back before they put it in public domain (1993+) and renamed HPUX's CDE (Common Desktop Environment) to KDE, it was not all that good a desktop manager system. It still has a lot of the original feel of CDE. We have come a long way since then with respect to look-and-feel of the desktop.
Gnome served us well for many years, and now Unity gets it's chance to survive or fail, based on it's capability and the inventiveness of it's developers.
Ubuntu is betting it's future on this new system. Time will tell if they continue to be the Linux of choice, or whether they are relegated to history as a has-been.
International governments recent mandating that Linux replace Microsoft has made a lot of Linux system run desktops, but for the most part these are not seen by the pollsters who keep insisting that Linux is not a desktop operating system. Face facts....most servers are Linux, and since stuxnet virus, many more desktops are rapidly converting to Linux. Microsoft....well, "The King Is Dead, Long Live The King!".

What does Unity mean for Ubuntu

SteveWardell's picture

I think its likely Unity is going to have more of an adverse impact on Ubuntu than on Gnome http://stevewardell.wordpress.com/2010/11/01/ubuntu-11-04-gnome-and-unity/

Steve

Ubuntu has lead to major

Adnan Hodzic's picture

Ubuntu has lead to major popularization of Gnome, but what I don't agree with is that Gnome was always a long distant second after KDE.

I would rather argue that KDE was second distant after Gnome, even though I too was huge fan and user of KDE, before the release of KDE4.

This too can be measured by using Google trends, without making results too ambiguous let's use words "desktop" along with DE names, it still shows that gnome was more popular then KDE.

http://www.google.com/trends?q=kde+desktop,+gnome+desktop

Before Ubuntu there was Fedora/RedHat that were most popular distros, and they too shipped with Gnome as default DE, so how exactly did you come up with results that Gnome was distant second?

I do agree nothing out-of-ordinary will happen with future Gnome development, but it's user base will drop drastically.

Not reliable

Anonymous's picture

Google trends is not reliable for this comparison because KDE is a Czech word!

Indeed it wasn't quite

BlueEyes's picture

Indeed it wasn't quite far!That's beacause of Red Hat!But why it was kde far much better than Gnome? Well if i'm not wrong i will say that was because of Debian!Red Hat was and is an innovative linux company ,Slackware the same but from all these 3 distro that i mentioned here Debian was the king off all compared by number of users!And if i well remember after kde is verry well supported by Debian as it was back in old time!

Nope

ngativ's picture

Please don't use google trends to measure anything, it doesn't provide reliable statistics
linux:
http://www.google.com/trends?q=kde+linux%2C+gnome+linux&ctab=0&geo=all&d...
apps:
http://www.google.com/trends?q=kde+apps%2C+gnome+apps&ctab=0&geo=all&dat...
look:
http://www.google.com/trends?q=kde+look%2C+gnome+look&ctab=0&geo=all&dat...

The loook trend make sense since gnome is ugly.

Anyway i remember too that that kde was more popular than gnome, some distributions like fedora, and redhat shipped with gnome because a license issue, forcing gnome to become more 'popular'.

Nice finding

Michael K.'s picture

Nice finding mate. But now is 2010, not 2000 :( Your results are kind of obsolete and useless.

If you're talking (early)

Adnan Hodzic's picture

If you're talking (early) 2000 then yes, KDE was a king, after that ... highly debatable topic.

What's more interesting about this whole topic is that Gnome is mainly developed by RedHat and yet Ubuntu has such high impact on it and possibly its future. How, is where debate could start :)

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