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Friday, September 19, 2014

Why we went with GNOME 3

Over the past few days since I made the announcement that we were switching to GNOME 3 as our primary user interface we have been e-mailed, called and publicly spoke against. We made this decision based on 3 very important factors. 1) XFCE development has slowed to a crawl. Its pretty much non-existant and there hasnt been a release since 2012. 2) customers and users kept telling us that they wanted certain features built in.  So we were faced with a dilemna.  Wait for the XFCE team to wake up or fork the XFCE desktop.  Now I dont like forking a project. I will do it as a last resort and when a project has been totally abandoned and when it makes sense. I dont like forking because it leads to resentment, hurt feelings and an all out internet flamewar which I have no desire to participate in. Forking also has a tendency to incorporate incompatibilities between the fork and the mother project when the mother project has not been abandoned. So I dislike forking. 3) We had to make the tough choice of either staying stagnant and falling behind or move forward.

Now we looked at several desktop environments and we had a list of 30 criteria. The top 3 on that list are the most important to us. 1) Stay compatible with the mother project. 2) Build in the features our customers and users wanted. 3) Not break everything when an update was released. The fourth one was also essential to me which was avoid Mir like the plague. Out of all the desktops we tried over the last year, there was only one that matched all 30 criteria. That was GNOME. We changed it, made it better and reduced resource consumption and the most important thing when we bolted on our changes and performed an update nothing broke. We stayed compatible with all extensions that came released for GNOME 3.

I understand as a developer that other developers dont like it when we put a bullet in the head of something you are working on. I get it, I feel your pain. But at this juncture, I had to take the leadership role and being a leader is not knowing when to say yes its knowing when to say no. And when you say no, you piss people off. They then go out and bash you in reviews they make a video or podcast and tell the world you dont know what you are doing, etc. etc. But I roll with the punches, I can take my lumps. I have been taking them for the last 8 years.

So with that said. We will do one XFCE release for the free release, in 64 bit only. The GNOME release will be the default we ship on our hardware unless otherwise notified. Enterprise users who subscribe to custom builds will continue to have XFCE as an option because at that point you pay me and I give you what you want. In education, they will continue to get XFCE as the primary because that is what they want and GNOME will be an option.

Try the Public Beta. Dont bash an idea. Try it out, if it sucks tell me why it sucks and I fix it. You may like it and you may find it needs just a few tweaks and tell me what I need to do to make it more to your liking. Feedback. An endless rant of why you dislike the idea itself doesnt help me do what needs to be done which is ... fix it. To those that dislike GNOME just in principle alone, Im sorry. but I encourage you to download the product and help us make it better. For those of you that like what we are doing and are supporting us. Thank you for the support and we thank you for your feedback.

Moving forward.