Instead of the talk he was planning to give on the first day of
presentations at GUADEC, GNOME release
manager Vincent Untz needed to shift gears to announce the biggest news of
the conference: GNOME 3.0 would be delayed. The reason for the delay is
simple, the code and documentation "weren't quite ready", so
rather than have an "OK-ish" release, the team decided to push
it back. There will still be a release in September, however, as the team
the six-month release schedule, but it will be another in the 2.x series: 2.32.
Untz noted that GNOME 3 has a compelling story: "It's the first time
since I started with GNOME that people are so excited about GNOME".
GNOME 3 was first announced at GUADEC in 2008 with a target of making the
2.30 release (i.e. March 2010) be the first GNOME 3 release. In the
was pushed back to September, and now to March 2011. The team has
"quality as [its] first priority" and, after meeting with
various teams in the first few days of GUADEC, it became clear that more
time would be required for a solid release. "We want people to love
GNOME and we want people to love GNOME 3", he said.
In addition to the 2.32 release, there will also be a GNOME 3 beta release
in September. "We want people to start using it, start playing with
it, application developers to port to GNOME 3". By March, "we
want something that's really good", Untz said.
But that means developers and maintainers of GNOME modules will need to
work on two branches for the next two months: one for 2.32 and one for
3.0. That dual-branch development mode made up most of the concerns expressed by audience members about the
announcement. Some were worried that it would cause too much extra work,
but Untz and the release team—who joined him on the
stage—seemed to think it was manageable.
The release team will be taking steps to ease the transition, starting with
getting GtkApplication backported to GTK+ 2, which will help modules that
switch back from GTK+ 3. There will also be a flag (--enable-gtkN)
available in the configuration process that will allow applications to be
built for either GTK+.
Some maintainers will want to deliver new features
in September and for those, the 2.32 and 3.0beta releases will be the
same. Others may want to focus on 3.0 and will just release an update to
2.30 with bug fixes and the like. Separate from his talk, Untz said in
each maintainer will decide how to handle it and the release team will
assist: "we do not think it will be that much of a burden".
He also noted that GNOME's development model, by design, is focused on
rather than revolution", and that 2.32 would fit that model well:
addition to new features in the existing modules, we'll integrate
gnome-color-manager and rygel. That means that GNOME 2.32 will be our
first release to have integrated color management, as well as support
for DLNA (UPnP AV) for a rich multimedia experience at home, with all
the connected devices that people now have (TV, speakers, phones, video
game consoles, etc.)
Certainly GNOME Shell is the most high-profile module that is still in need
of work, but there are others as well. There are still a lot
of applications that need migrate to GTK+ 3 and GSettings, for example.
Updating the documentation for GNOME 3 still has a ways to go, "the new accessibility stack would get performance improvements that
will make the switch to the new stack much smoother for users",
the GTK+ engine for the art team's new theme is not quite ready, and so
Interestingly, most of those issues, when taken separately are not
blockers per se. But the addition of all of them would have lead to a
quality that is not up to our standards.
There are some other things the release team will be pushing, he said in
his talk, including encouraging the maintainers to "target achievable
goals". In particular, there will be something like a feature
freeze for the GNOME Shell functionality so that they finish what they
started and don't go off "making crazy plans". In addition,
the release team will be trying to get the community to implement the UI
mockups that the design team has created.
There has been some criticism of the GNOME 3 plans because of the lack of
support for "applets", but Untz sees it differently. Most of the applets
in use today are either things that will be incorporated into GNOME Shell
or are some kind of monitoring tool (for system performance or email for
example). There are also a few applets that are "dedicated to a
task", like the Tomboy notes applet or the Hamster time-tracking
applet, he said.
We don't believe that the system we have today with applets is the right
approach: the size of applets is limiting the user interface, and the
current number of existing applets probably show that applets are not
an attractive way for developers to extend the desktop. In addition, a
few applets are actually slowly moving to full applications (tomboy and
hamster are good examples). This is why we won't add support for applets
as we know them today.
There are plans to look at a system to replace applets some time after the
GNOME 3 release, but it is not the team's highest priority at the moment.
There are alternatives, though:
It's also worth mentioning here that the traditional GNOME 2 UI (with
the GNOME Panel and applets) will still be available with GNOME 3, so
people who have a need for a very specific applet will still be able to
use the GNOME 2 UI for some time.
Overall, the announcement was met with general approval from the audience.
The project wants to make a big splash with GNOME 3 and "OK-ish" is not the
way to do that. There seems to be a clear focus on the things that need to
be completed before there can be a solid release, so one gets the sense
that we won't see further delays. For users who can't wait, there are
plans to make the beta more easily available for various distributions,
which should allow more testing and a better final release.
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