Open Ballot: Should Gnome become Linux-only?


Here's a thought. The Gnome desktop currently runs on a wide variety of OSes, including Linux, the BSDs and Solaris. One hacker has proposed making Gnome Shell dependent on systemd, a boot and services system that only runs on Linux. This would require that all distros that use Gnome also take up systemd, and limit the desktop to one OS - and as expected, it has generated a huge amount of discussion in the free software world.

As we prepare to record our next podcast, we want your opinions for our Open Ballot: should Gnome become a Linux-only project? Would tighter integration with Linux-only technologies produce a more streamlined, coherent OS? Or would dropping support for more esoteric platforms be against the spirit of freedom and free software?

Let us know in the comments below, but please don't commit a name-fail and call yourself Anonymous Penguin.

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Your comments

ego-centric thinking

I find this new thought very MS like, when all they support is their own systems, without even the smallest thought about some alternatives. Gnome *should not* become Linux-only!


I think that locking GNOME Shell to the systemd is not a good idea. Systemd is surely interesting and it has some valid points, but personally I would prefer something else. It would prevent even some Linux users from using it, not speaking about BSD users. I hate that GNOME already depends on policykit and consolekit and I can't get rid of them. I hate that new Bluez depends on DBus as I don't need DBus on my router (my home router serves internet connection over bluetooth as well). Making these dependencies mandatory makes me use something I don't need and don't want. I think that things should be as simple as possible and have the smallest possible set of mandatory dependencies (I don't mind optional support that will add some feature if I can disable it (compile time is ok))

Losing its way?

this is not forwarding thinking from GNOME's corener. One thing I take pleasure from using linux is the choice and especially from the desktop front. With MS software its all the same with a limited freedom of expression but with linux there is so much more there to be used.

Gnome should not be tied to one OS and one thinks that it maybe forgeting its roots :(

I would hate to think if this idea ever catched on to Open source software

Re: ego-centric thinking

"MS like, when all they support is their own systems, without even the smallest thought about some alternatives"

Microsoft makes Office, the company's second-biggest money generator, for another platform: Mac OS. Your argument makes no sense.


Does it matter, if Gnome ends official support there is nothing stopping another group of developers from picking the project up and porting it themselves (oh the beauty of open source).

Re: ego-centric thinking

this point of view I agree with, I think Kaaposc was coming from the stand point that microsoft is very "secret squirell"

yes they do support office for Mac which I presume that this not by choice but by demand.

I also agree with the point made there "own system". Look at there cloud version of office, it only works well with IE but not with other browsers.

Another system that is not very well supported on other platform is there sharepoint product. However, I must say that this is something that Microsoft has got right and its a fantastic product. However, this only works well with IE and theres in oppurtunity to expand this software to work well with other browsers.

So would it not be fair to say that they support their own system and looks as though they are playing the only card they know and that is closed box thinking - sorry microsoft, I do like some of your products and what you have done but times are achanging


KDE Solid

I think it would be short-sighted of Gnome to rely on systemd. KDE learned from the whole aRts debacle that it's a mistake to have a hard-dependency on any low-level API, and thus Phonon was born, using a plugable backend system to make it easy to switch between gstreamer, xine, vlc, etc... as a sound backend.

Now I think having some systemd integration is a great idea. However, it's important that it not be a hard dependency. A switchable backend would be significantly more sensible, and would reduce coupling, which every Computer Science graduate will remember is a *good thing* :)

What happened to choice

I thought that we (the Linux/FLOSS community) were striving to make choice more accessible not less so!

Also, forcing distros to implement systemd is a bit like the tail wagging the dog - who is in control? Another question is, 'Is systemd ready to be 'forced' onto the users before it is ready in the same way the PulseAudio was?' The reason I say that is because according to it's Wikipedia page had its first 'stable' release 54 days ago.

While progress is good, choice is better.

Who does this benefit?

I really don't understand this, the effect of becoming a Linux only desktop environment alone (i.e through the use of systemd) seems insane, It will have zero effect on me, but I can still see that cutting of all BSD and other *nix operating systems from using GNOME can only be a bad thing. Can anyone explain to me what exactly this systemd will bring? are we talking just a performance increase or do I have it wrong?

GNOME as an operating system makes even less sense, continually there is a complaint that there are too many distros, too much choice, introducing a desktop Linux OS(I presume it will be desktop) with a GNOME upstream desktop isn't going to stun the distro world, and seems an aimless thing which will only further ubuntu's movement away from upstream gnome, and could spell trouble with camps like fedora and all other distros who bundle Gnome as default desktop.

Should Gnome become Linux-only?

Well, does Gnome want a bigger audience for exposure or doesn't it?

Personally, any exposure to other devices and platforms can't be bad. Just as long as the developers do not 'put too many irons in the fire', they should be alright.

systemd Brought To You From The Man Who Brought Use Pulse Audio?

Yes please... I really can't wait till we have a system that boots as well as Linux audio has behaved for the past few years since that abomination raised it's ugly head...

in fairness it's probably not Herr Poettering fault (he's a far greater programmer than I!). The implementation might have been botched but I really think it's a bad idea to bolt it into Gnome as everyone else has said.. it's like Gnome trying to change away from GStreamer now. It's so tied in everywhere it's be a pain to get rid of it.

Although the schadenfreude KDE user in me SHOUTS yes please! ;-)

Gnome should cover multiple Operating Systems

I feel that Gnome should be on multiple operating systems. In the past I've used other *nixes and would have loved the same desktop and applications on them. Plus as has been mentioned before It gives Gnome exposure and would provide an easier transition across different platforms.




Speaking as a user, I would say NO. Anything good should not be restricted, although I appreciate that there will be subtle differences between its usage in one OS and another.

Yes, maybe

Any effort to simplify development and (as a result) the user experience should at least be considered.

I know the "choice" argument is ringing like a cowbell of-course. But it is the abundance of choice (among other things) that is keeping Linux from becoming mainstream.

Basically it depends on the goals of the Gnome project. But reducing a project can help a lot in its advancement.

Better to do one thing really great, than to do a lot of things less than great.


Maybe his question should go on
Does Gnome run on an Amiga?

I saw a Texas Instruments TI-99/4A at a carboot sale on Sunday. I bet Gnome wouldn't run on that.

matter of perspective

Yes, developers of other OSes could step up and port GNOME, but why make life any harder for them? As it is, GNOME on FreeBSD is not completely implemented, even after years of work. According to the FreeBSD GNOME Project site, even NetworkManager hasn't been ported yet. (And this isn't just a GNOME problem -- XFCE 4.8's transition from using HAL to using udev caused some feature loss for BSD users).

I, and I believe most others, value the entire free software ecosystem, not just Linux. Let's do what we can to work together.

It's simple:

Choice is good!

Won't tell you my name as I have an injunction

I think now that what is - for better or worse - the flagship distro (Ubuntu) has chosen to in effect fork Gnome with Unity that the Gnome team will struggle to stay relevant.

Open Solaris is dead and even BSD devs don't tend to use BSD for their desktop.

In an ideal world, supporting every platform would be nice, but in practice is it a good idea?

I am a KDE fan but feel making a half baked port of KDE for Windows or OS X is a waste of effort in my opinion, given the very limited resources that open source projects have. I think focusing on Linux is a good idea in these circumstances... there is a danger of spreading oneself too thin.

Gnome who?

With the mixed response for Gnome3, Gnome-shell, and/or Ubuntu dropping Gnome for Unity, I would think that it would be better to stay on as many screens as possible, but personally, I'll be using Xfce. If Gnome shrivels up and dies over the weekend, I might not even notice.

Will it run?

Excuse my ignorance, but can Gnome 3 actually run on Solaris and BSD? 'Cos as far as I understand it, Gnome 2 isn't going to be around much longer...


The freedom with UNIX-like platforms lies in the user's ability to choose whatever they want. If you limit the (arguably) less popular OSes, you are limiting peoples choices and thus their freedom. If Gnome Shell needs to become dependent upon systemd, it should be branched accordingly.The BSD and Solaris communities shouldn't be pressured by one desktop environment.

NO open means open

why limit our development by making one desktop the preferred access point

If it helps anything

If there are significant resources that could be reassigned easily to supporting these basically hobby os's fair enough.

I doubt there are much resources spent on this though.

Publicity Suicide

The mistake the Gnome developers made was even making the announcement. They are considering the thought for pragmatic reasons: manpower.

As long as they are willing to accept patches from other *nix developers to ensure that Gnome works on their kernels, then defaulting to systemd is a not a problem at all.

Also, people should recognise that this does not mean that GTK apps won't run on other platforms. Gnome is different from GTK.

Losing Freedom

Being able to choose what Desktop Environment is every ones choice when it comes to Open Source OS's and limiting GNOME to just Linux is turning the tables. I only use Linux with GNOME, but I love GNOME and it would be great if others used GNOME as well (non Linux Users).

No. I'm all for systemd, I


I'm all for systemd, I love systemd. I like Gnome also (KDE user!) but I certainly don't think it should alienate any users whatsoever! They just release gnome shell for God's sake, I used it for a couple of months, then switched back to KDE.

Why make it Linux specific, imagine how you'd feel if you were a BSD developer, pretty pissed off. It's a strength of FLOSS software that it can easily be on many OSs, it's not a weakness.

Making Gnome Linux specific wouldn't really increase integration all that much. It already feels pretty integrated. Making it Linux specific would only have a negative effect, it's kind of selfish in a way.

Like any software, having it work on multiple platforms is a blessing.




Please, let us not limit user choice unnecessarily.

I would not want Gnome to go down the KDE route and expend effort on porting their product to Windows, but I would still prefer that Gnome remained available as a desktop option for BSD and other *nix-type FLOSS systems. As much as anything (as one comment above notes ...), can we afford to alienate FLOSS developers who use Solaris and BSD?

Further, how easy would this strategic decision be to un-pick in a year or two's time if it proved to have regrettable consequences?

The article on this subject that I saw from Gnome developer William Jon McCann was spectacularly unclear as to what a 'Linux-only' path for Gnome might mean. I visit other forums and see knowledgeable trying to work out its possible significance. Please, Gnome, get your PR act together! So many Linux users are Gnomers and we can't afford this kind of confusion - indeed, it may be exploited by our enemies.

For morals... no but for the product...yes

Personally, I like the idea and strengths of open source software, and are a firm believer in the model, but I would have liked to see GNU/Linux be somewhere else today than it is.
The amount of effort maintaining multiple different projects so they run on multiple different distributions allows choice, but hampers ongoing development.

If Open sourced software had only 1 package format, three or four desktop environments that needed to be developed for three different distros (Beginner, Power user, Hacker/Developer)and less tool kits then maybe Linux might have come of age for the desktops before the desktop becomes irrelivent to most people.

ANd saying Android is a victory for Linux hardly counts, its a goal driven, small diversity and backed by large companies, and competes in a totally different arena to Desktop Linux


If they give Gnome a certain dependency, which makes it defacto rather than purposely "Linux-only", someone will eventually port whatever needs to be ported, if they are interested enough. So it's really not a big deal.

BSD people strike me more as KDE users anyhow.


Claiming that a desktop maker is forcing distros to implement systemd is not logical. No distro is forced to use Gnome.

Choice is great? Does that not apply to the Gnome hackers too? Are they not free to choose whatever dependencies they wish? Choice isn't just for you, it is for everyone.


As a KDE user, this is a non-event for me.

Deja Vu!!

If one can recall, Windows used to be nothing more than a desktop environment which ran on top of DOS. At least until Windows 95 was released, at which time Microsoft integrated the two technologies. And we should all remember how it blue screened during the initial public demonstration. Oh yeah, that was great.

But now it seems that Gnome may be trying to follow in Microsoft's footsteps, and frankly that scares me. Choice is good. So my answer is 'no'.

Gnome should cover multiple OS's

I agree with Pengythai (not verified) - May 23, 2011 @ 2:33pm:

"I feel that Gnome should be on multiple operating systems. In the past I've used other *nixes and would have loved the same desktop and applications on them. Plus as has been mentioned before It gives Gnome exposure and would provide an easier transition across different platforms".

Yes - if that is what they want to do.

Everybody is so concerned with themselves that they aren't taking into consideration the "freedom" of the GNOME developers to do what they want. Developing for multiple platforms is a lot of work, their resources are limited (whose isn't?), and they are losing a lot of ground to unity. They should have the right, and we should give them the respect to do what they want and what they feel is right. If you want to quit your job and start the BSD/Solaris/whatever branch of GNOME should they make the switch then be my guest, otherwise keep your mouth shut.


I converted from MS to Linux for one simply reason: FREEDOM. When you have a world full of choices you would simply choose the BEST. I'm a Gnome user on Linux Mint. Let Gnome get the best out of it and prove that it is worth being on all OS's. Just don't limit yourself to Linux.

Let Gnome 3 be on any mmachine

Why? Because it shows that the BEST is on Linux - we know it, but the blinkered fools in the Microtrash Camp don't!

Regarding Apple...I thought that was a fruit that you make scrumpy out of or eat with your lunch - I can just imagine this little gnome showing Apple how to really bomb the bass with its Presentation software blowing the Apple desktop away...! :-) ^_^

Bad Idea

Since I use Openbox, it does not really matter to me personally, and at first glance I thought, "Why would Gnome want to alienate itself from the *nix community?"

But on second thought they need to actually look at Gnome usage on other OSes and then decide whether or not to continue down that route.

Typical FOSS infighting

"Solaris and BSD are simply irrelevant to desktop"

Some might say the same of Linux. It's all a matter of perspective. It's interesting that some in an oft-marginalised community seem willing to marginalise other communities. If this is truly a battle for mind share, then perhaps there should only be one desktop environment and only one Linux distribution, no?

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