A while back I wrote about the importance of those of us in the Ubuntu community coming together around Ubuntu’s Unity 8 project. The post was called “Return Home and Unify”. I wrote that in order to promote the idea to contributing to the desktop that would inevitably ship on Ubuntu so that the experience would be a good one for its users. I wanted convergence to be a real thing, so that there would be a more open alternative to iOS (closed-source) and Android (open source but heavily controlled by Google) in the phone and tablet space. But that Unity 8 isn’t happening and, here’s the kicker, I’m just fine with it.
I’m joining the GNOME community with open arms, an open mind, and an open heart. I know they are a great group of people, committed to the same ideals that I have about open source. They want to see open source software succeed everywhere, just as I do. They want everyone to be using the Linux desktop, just as I do. They want to create a great experience for users, just as I do. So I’m here, to promote and contribute to GNOME.
What I’m asking for in return from the GNOME community is to listen to new users and contributors. That doesn’t mean that maintainers have to implement these new ideas or accept every pull request that comes through from the Unity users migrating tho their platform. I’m just asking that these ideas not be dismissed outright, as can happen when new community members flood in. “This isn’t a part of the plan” or “we’ve already discussed this before, so no” will be common responses, I’m sure. But I hope the aforementioned responses are followed up with the willingness to engage with those submitting ideas and see what it is that the contributors are trying to convey. Make them feel like they have a home in the GNOME community, and that their feedback is valued.
This isn’t my first time as a part of the GNOME community, and it is one that I love and that I have continued to use for a long time. Those who have seen my home likely know that my desktop computer has had Ubuntu GNOME installed since the distro started. I’m happy to out myself and say that before Ubuntu GNOME – I tinkered with the desktop environment since Ubuntu started shipping Unity by default. It’s a beautiful desktop, and I love many of the decisions that have been made. I’ve developed GTK apps and the development experience was a really positive one (Vala lover here).
I don’t think convergence is dead either, or at least the spirit of it. I think that Ubuntu tablets with GNOME can be made, and I think that the interface can continue to be improved for those devices (or extensions can be used on them) to make for a great experience. I think that GNOME, as a project, could consider how it can play nice with phones, perhaps utilizing the technology behind KDE Connect. Also, as an idea, perhaps there could be a GNOME Android launcher with some features that allow its desktop users to have a cohesive experience among their devices. Of course, these are just ideas, and I’m sure that the now larger community can sort through the good and the bad ideas. But, as someone who works at a Linux hardware company, I can say that System76 finds the idea of shipping many types of devices an attractive one. As such, we are now looking at the GNOME community to work with us to achieve this.
Finally, I want to break from talking to GNOME to tell the developers that worked on Unity that I appreciate their work. You guys and gals who contributed were working toward a vision that was ambitious and awesome. Hopefully, you will stick around and add your expertise and vision to the GNOME shell and help it grow. As I said at the beginning, we are all united around some core ideals, and this should only strengthen the Linux desktop as a platform. I’m here to give my 110% and I hope that others will join me. Let’s make GNOME the best desktop on the planet!