Archive for July 17th, 2006

Gnome. Again.

I was reading today at the d-d-l mailing list about all the blah-blah regarding adding Mono and some of its apps on Gnome or not. At the very end, not only they have not reached a conclusion, but the discussion turned into “what is Gnome and what’s its real purpose”. This is a lot like thinking the pros and cons of buying a new car and at the end becoming depressed and dysfunctional after thinking too hard about why do humans need a car, why do we need to work in the first place, what is our purpose in the universe and if God exists. It’s all very laughable (or sad, depending how you see it).

This whole discussion is a perfect example how most big OSS projects are leaderless, unfocused and with forked opinions towards most things. I have said it in the past, and I will say it again: Gnome needs a leader (or an elected Board) that can take such decisions after some discussion has taken place in the public mailing lists and most opinions have been expressed. The current Gnome Board doesn’t take technical decisions. I am not exactly sure why it exists.

In the actual topic of Mono becoming part of Gnome, I have to say the following: Gnome people again argue about the wrong thing. Instead of discussing which language must become the new standard development language in Gnome, they are arguing if we want to have yet another binding in the platform, or if Mono is better or worse than the already accepted Python. All besides the point, a point that was correctly pointed out by Havoc, Miguel and others 3 years ago already: Gnome needs a new, modern language. GTK+’s plain C doesn’t cut it anymore (even if GTK+ C will continue to be distributed with Gnome, of course). Just like 10 years ago there were few people who could program in x86 assembly anymore, today fewer and fewer graduates learn C. The only question that should have been discussed is which that language must be? Is it Python, is it C++, is it Java or C#? Again, the lack of a real leader in Gnome has failed to take that decision in the last 3 years and has failed to bring Gnome to the 21st Century development-wise.

And so here I am, reading the d-d-l and laughing my ass off with their amateurish ways of running this major software project. Yes, Gnome is a community project (with strong backing from 3 major software companies), but so is PostgreSQL and Apache. There is something to learn from these two projects, about how they operate and take decisions.

Update: I made three posts in the ddl, here, here and here.