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Questioning corporate involvement in GNOME development

Questioning corporate involvement in GNOME development

Posted Jun 2, 2014 14:53 UTC (Mon) by raven667 (subscriber, #5198)
In reply to: Questioning corporate involvement in GNOME development by liam
Parent article: Questioning corporate involvement in GNOME development

> zero knowledge of how things work inside RH.

Well of course people who don't work there don't understand the internal machinations of the company, that's why they have to use their imaginations.

> convert those folks from their macs/windows to rhel/fedora

That's laudable but you probably want some using alternate platforms just to shake out interoperability issues and have team members who are familiar with how other platforms have solved problems. You don't want to end up in an insular, but profitable, backwater where no one really knows what the state of the art is (aside from your locally generated software being "the best") because it's considered treasonous to use alternate platforms.

> not a proven design

While its too late now, it would have smoothed the transition considerably if instead of a forced march to gnome-shell if it was offered as a secondary option and the traditional UI was maintained. Of course that would mean that gnome-shell would have less development resources available so it wouldn't be as polished today as it is but it would allow the end-user to have more agency which would have made them happier, usage could grow organically until the old design is deprecated because no one chooses to use it anymore. You think that we all would have learned from the KDE4 example but I guess not.


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Questioning corporate involvement in GNOME development

Posted Jun 2, 2014 18:14 UTC (Mon) by AdamW (subscriber, #48457) [Link]

"Well of course people who don't work there don't understand the internal machinations of the company, that's why they have to use their imaginations."

Well, there is another option, which is not to invent criticisms out of 'imagination', but stick to the facts. As the LWN article points out, if RH were in fact dictating GNOME development in its own interest, there would presumably be some kind of evidence of this, yet no-one seems to have provided any. The things people don't like about GNOME 3 don't seem to be things that are obviously helpful to Red Hat.

(note: I work for RH (though not as a GNOME dev), I am not at all unbiased on this. I'm still right, though. :>)

I think part of the problem here might just be that people aren't appreciating the history. Red Hat hires major contributors to projects like GNOME so they have a paycheck to work on them full time. This is a pretty established model by now, and other companies do the same thing for various projects (most obviously the kernel, where there's still a healthy ecosystem with dozens of employers involved). In the past, other companies would do the same for GNOME devs: Sun was a major employer of GNOME devs for a time, so was Novell at one time, Ximian when it was independent, and various others have contributed over the years. Since 2008-2009 or so, what's happened is all the *other* corporate sponsors of GNOME have sort of dropped out, leaving RH as the major corporate sponsor by default. In particular Sun more or less disappeared as an employer of GNOME devs when it was bought out by Oracle. RH hasn't been working on some Cunning Plan to become the major employer of GNOME devs. It's hard to see how it would be in anyone's interest for RH to pull out too, leaving very few full-time GNOME devs.

It'd be interesting to draw a graph of corporate vs. volunteer devs over time, with the companies separated. My guess is the *overall* proportion of corporate vs. volunteer contributions would be pretty consistent over time, and favouring corporate contributions - but back in the mid-2000s you'd see multiple corporate sponsors sharing the load, while from 2010 onwards you'd see mainly RH. But I don't think there's ever been a period where the majority of GNOME development was done by unpaid volunteers.

Questioning corporate involvement in GNOME development

Posted Jun 2, 2014 19:47 UTC (Mon) by raven667 (subscriber, #5198) [Link]

> Well, there is another option, which is not to invent criticisms out of 'imagination', but stick to the facts.

Well sure but the point is that there could be internal discussions which are out of the view of external participants who by definition can't have all the facts. When you have a single dominant vendor then the conditions are right for these kinds of criticisms to start popping up like mushrooms, even though they are almost always baseless they still have some power.

Questioning corporate involvement in GNOME development

Posted Jun 2, 2014 22:19 UTC (Mon) by liam (subscriber, #84133) [Link]

>Well of course people who don't work there don't understand the internal machinations of the company, that's why they have to use their imaginations.

Adam addressed this adequately, but I'd like to add one thing: make it clear when you are just completely performing free-associative thought so the rest of us can have context:)

>That's laudable but you probably want some using alternate platforms just to shake out interoperability issues and have team members who are familiar with how other platforms have solved problems. You don't want to end up in an insular, but profitable, backwater where no one really knows what the state of the art is (aside from your locally generated software being "the best") because it's considered treasonous to use alternate platforms.

The goal I had in mind is so far from being the case right now that keeping an eye on other systems won't be problem unless a miracle occurs. If said miracle occurs there would still be people who need to run windows/Mac only software, in addition to "anything else". It's the "anything else" that should be oss if at all possible. That, and the amazing folks in qa should be enough to perform an adequate hybrid-dogfood.
The question of knowing what else is out there isn't a serious problem because that is something that happens now, and SHOULD continue, but this is mostly of concern to designers and analysts. It's a rare situation where you find state of the art solutions conceived/developed whole cloth from any of these platforms (Linux included), but they are still helpful to see trends and, perhaps, gaps in what solutions you provide.

>While its too late now, it would have smoothed the transition considerably if instead of a forced march to gnome-shell if it was offered as a secondary option and the traditional UI was maintained. Of course that would mean that gnome-shell would have less development resources available so it wouldn't be as polished today as it is but it would allow the end-user to have more agency which would have made them happier, usage could grow organically until the old design is deprecated because no one chooses to use it anymore. You think that we all would have learned from the KDE4 example but I guess not.

As you say, there was the issue of manpower, and how it's allocated. The decision was made, by gnome folks, to only offer the classic shell for a short period (i'm not counting the changes made to accommodate rhel7 as those are isolated). That's certainly a decision that could be questioned but I don't think it was the main reason why g3 doesn't seem, to me, to be the success that was hoped for. Again, I won't get into it here.

One further thing about the idea of RH controlling gnome.
Whitehurst gave a talk at some startup event where he mentioned gnome (well, the desktop, but really gnome) as something he wanted to get rid of early in his tenure to save money, but was told that it was important to the community. It was a cost of doing business.

Questioning corporate involvement in GNOME development

Posted Jun 3, 2014 14:38 UTC (Tue) by raven667 (subscriber, #5198) [Link]

> make it clear when you are just completely performing free-associative thought so the rest of us can have context:)

8-) You'll know that is happening when my fingers are typing 8-) Best thing I've read all day.

Questioning corporate involvement in GNOME development

Posted Jun 3, 2014 20:47 UTC (Tue) by liam (subscriber, #84133) [Link]

Well, that's not helpful:(
How do I know when you're typing vs dictating?

BTW, to let you know how pathetic I am, I was genuinely happy to hear you enjoyed that:)


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