Gnome and gnome-shell

Since some time I try to follow gnome 3.0 development and gnome-shell in particular. However I started to be growingly sceptical about 3.0 release (well – possibly again) and fear repeat of KDE 4.0. I hope I am wrong and I have hevily biased view.

I don’t use the recommended by developers method of building for two reasons. First of all I have rather limited amount of disk space, especially on ‘/home’, and the duplication of many libraries and include files (I use Gentoo) seems to not be an option for me. Secondly installing in Jhbuild sandbox prevents from seeing overall impact of changes in Gnome on system (like some packages, including Firefox, failing to build some time ago with new gtk+ 2).

As a result it more often does not work then do. Excluding some ‘obvious’ reasons like crashes it now requires new gnome-settings-daemon which requires libnotify 0.7, which changes abi and api breaking everything that uses libnotify on my system (mostly from Gnome so hopefully most are fixed but not only). Libnotify is not parallel installable so I can either move to JHbuild or resign from using gnome-shell.

For gnome-shell language, JavaScript, was chosen as easily embeddable and widely known. In addition it doesn’t pull in another complicated platform (and it allows to avoid “duplication” with glibraries). The problem pointed by others. I guess that most JavaScript use are through libraries like JQuery. Anyway the problem isn’t the language itself – when I tried to write simple plugin some time ago I found very little resources to get a hello-world example working. While mokey patching may provide certain benefits crashing shell when one tries to find out how to add something to GUI is not preferable. Additionally it seems that there are problems with embedding javascript anyway.

Release late, release never. The gnome-shell seems to have some features present on screenshots and videos (including ones from GUADEC) that I could never found in one I get from git/tarballs – like multiple views in overview mode. On the other hand it constantly relies on git including sometimes releases of gnome-shell depending on gjs from git. Finding working configuration seems to be hard – while possibly it is made easier by JHbuild I don’t want to use it for reasons above.

Last point is ongoing discussion about the gnome-shell hardware requirements. Contrary to gnome-panel and metacity gnome-shell requires 3D acceleration and while I’m “lucky” (I have new integrated intel card – not great for gaming but works on Linux) some reported issue on NVidia. Even on intel card sometimes it seems that the system slows down during heavy loads (although it improved in 2.6.36 kernel).

Finally I’d like to remaind that the post is written from my own perspective and I may have biased view (including different method of installing and not being involved into design process). In some parts I exagareted (“Release late, release never”) for only reason of joking – and I hope noone will feel offended because of it. However I have my concerns about Gnome-Shell and Gnome 3.0 which, I hope, are invalid.

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