The slow death of Gnomefiles

I wrote Gnomefiles.org back in 2004. It still is the only GTK-only software repository out there that’s still maintained. It works pretty well, and it’s full-featured-enough to get it going. Originally, Gnomefiles would do an average of 25,000 pageviews per day. Then, sometime in 2006 things got slowed down and today it doesn’t average more than 12,000 pageviews per day (June stats). It’s on the track for a slow death.

Sure, you could blame the fact that package managers work better these days, or that Ubuntu is the clear winner, or that GTK+ app development is pretty sterile these days, or that the site hasn’t changed visually or whatever. But honestly, none of these reasons is strong enough to bring the site to its knees rather than flourish it through the years.

The real problem is with the GNOME project not embracing Gnomefiles. Their web team promised me back in 2006 that if I do some changes to Gnomefiles they will add the feed to most pages of Gnome.org (a special feed that I made just for them that doesn’t contain non-Free apps). I did all the changes they asked that were logical to implement without spending months of redesigning and breaking stuff, but after 2+ years, no cake. Quim Gill has emailed me since then to say that he doesn’t know anymore what’s going on with that new version of Gnome.org site and why Gnomefiles is still not better promoted. The only link Gnomefiles gets from Gnome.org is hidden away. We are lucky if we get 20 referrals from there daily. Not only that, but the blurb when they link to us wrongly says for 3 years now that “we do not clearly identify free and non-free apps”, which is wrong, because that’s one of the things I changed when asked to by the Gnome guys in that mailing list 2 years go (e.g. in this example, it is well-described that’s not Free).

The GTK+ community is small, and if the big guy doesn’t embrace you, you’re eventually dead. This is not a community that’s as big as Apple’s, neither we are VersionTracker. Gnomefiles is grass roots, it’s small, but it works and it needs the support of Gnome.org. There is nothing more I can do to make Gnomefiles more popular with the users (no Mr developer, there won’t be any DOAP support but that’s hardly the problem here because the problem is more regular users, not necessarily more developers).

I have put a feed at OSNews, I maintain over 260 apps all by myself (out of 2010 apps listed there), but all this is not enough without the main project site also helping out with more prominent links to the site. And no, I don’t collect money from the ads, Gnomefiles belongs to David Adams’ OSNews LLC which pays for the server costs, I always did Gnomefiles for the love of it.

I believe that Gnomefiles offers a unique service to the Gnome/GTK+ community, but I need support from Gnome.org too. I am not willing to see the site die a slow death; that’s not why I wrote it. I prefer to completely pull the plug, or at least never update it ever again and become irrelevant even faster, rather than to see it towards such a fate.

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