The GNOME project at 15
Posted Aug 16, 2012 16:23 UTC (Thu) by hp
In reply to: The GNOME project at 15
Parent article: The GNOME project at 15
I don't think this is the right framing, honestly.
I would put three layers in the onion:
- Old-time super-die-hard Linux users (for example learned Unix pre-GNOME/KDE)
- More casual Linux users who tend to keep the defaults and also use other OS's pretty often
- Mainstream (not using Linux now) (this category conflates all kinds of very distinct people)
First assertion: Many people in the first category would say that "most" Linux users are in that category. My belief, however, is that this is wrong. By numbers, most Linux users are in the second category. It's important to also realize that most Linux users don't join Linux forums or read/comment on LWN or on mailing lists.
It's a mistake to go by "people we know" because we tend to know people like ourselves. For example, even within "people who use Linux," "people who hack on the Linux kernel" or "people who learned their workflow on fvwm" are pretty atypical in habits and worldview.
Second assertion: GNOME 2 and 3 are both aimed foremost at the second category (current Linux users primarily), with substantial concessions/consideration for the first category. They may dream of and talk about the third category, but very little actual action (rather than words) has ever made progress there.
Contrary to corbet's original article, I think most of the flames around the desktop are between the first two categories, and most of the rationale for controversial desktop changes arises when thinking about the second category. The third category is mostly hypothetical, and even when people talk about it, they tend to assume those users are much more like the second category than they truly are.
So that's my opinion (I think based on decent experience, but you can choose to believe it or not).
Obviously I'm oversimplifying the categories a little bit and you could get arbitrarily precise. But I just disagree with the framing of "existing users" vs. "mainstream" because I think the fight between the first two categories of existing user has always dominated, and in fact that fight has actively blocked efforts to do anything toward the mainstream. The middle category is portrayed as some kind of crazy dumbing-down radicalism already, so going so far as to make the desktop _actually_ usable to _regular_ people would be NUTS. ;-)
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