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GNOME To Become A Linux Only Project?

By Ricky on May 19th, 2011 

Something very interesting and potentially controversial is going on in the GNOME project. In an email to the GNOME mailing list, Jon McCann said that GNOME should focus on supporting on only support for Linux and drop the support for the other operating systems such as BSD, Solaris and Unix.

McCann is a very well known GNOME developer and an engineer at Red Hat. He is also the lead designer of the GNOME Shell. In a discussion about having systemd as a dependency in the GNOME desktop, McCann suggested that they drop support for other operating systems.

systemd and GNOME

According to Wikipedia:

systemd is an init replacement daemon for GNU/Linux. It is intended to provide a better framework for expressing services' dependencies, allow more work to be done in parallel at system startup, and to reduce shell overhead.

systemd creator Lennart Poettering suggested having systemd as an external dependency for GNOME 3.2.

In the future I expect more interfacing with GNOME however, and I'd thus like to see the discussion regarding acceptance as blessed dependency started early.

systemd is Linux only. So, Poettering suggest writing replacements for the non-Linux replacements.

systemd is Linux-only. That means if we still care for those non-Linux platforms replacements have to be written.

To this suggestion, Josselin Mouette replied that having the Linux only dependency is definitely a no-no.

I don’t have anything against requiring systemd, since it is definitely the best init system out there currently, but the Linux dependency is an absolute no-no for us. Having optional Linux-only functionalities is OK; requiring Linux is not.

The future of GNOME is a Linux based OS

Replying to Mouette, McCann wrote that the future of GNOME is a Linux based operating system. He suggest polishing GNOME for Linux and taking GNOME towards being a full fledged Linux-based operating system.

The future of GNOME is as a Linux based OS. It is harmful to pretend that you are writing the OS core to work on any number of different kernels, user space subsystem combinations, and core libraries.

Kernels just aren't that interesting. Linux isn't an OS. Now it is our job to try to build one - finally. Let's do it.

McCann also suggested that GNOME should no longer care about the non-Linux operating systems. According to him, GNOME is a free software and they should port GNOME to their platforms themselves if they want to.

It is free software and people are free to port GNOME to any other architecture or try to exchange kernels or whatever. But that is silly for us to worry about.

A big kick in the face for long-term partners

Of course, not everyone is happy with McCann's suggestion. Another influential GNOME developer Dave Neary said that making GNOME Linux-only will be "a big kick in the face for long-term partners".

This would be a major departure for the project, a big kick in the face for long-term partners like Oracle/Sun, and also for other free operating systems like BSD.

Just a suggestion for now

This is not a confirmation that GNOME will become Linux-only. Right now it is just a suggestion, albeit from a very important and influential developer.

As of now, not even all the Linux distributions use systemd - one of the largest Linux distribution, Debian, still does not use systemd. Ubuntu, the most popular, Linux distribution for the desktop have no plan to use systemd anytime soon either.

So, having systemd as a requirement for GNOME could not only raise oppositions from the non-Linux operating system, but from many Linux distributions as well.


1. systemd as external dependency (Lennart Poettering)

2. RE: systemd as external dependency (Josselin Mouette)

3. RE: systemd as external dependency (William Jon McCann)

4. RE: systemd as external dependency (Dave Neary)

5. systemd (Wikipedia)

6. GNOME preparing to give non-Linux OS's the boot (Reddit)



GNOME To Become A Linux Only Project? was originally published on on May 19, 2011 - 12:56 am (Indian Standard Time)