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Gnome answers Linux critics with 'big' vision plan

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The Gnome Foundation has laid out a roadmap saying it's time to depart from incremental updates.

The team said it's realized it's not enough to simply organize a collection of individual sub-projects and that a project-wide roadmap is needed. Gnome is the default environment of Fedora, Debian, and Ubuntu, and initially the goal was for a version 2.30.0 - that will now become 3.0 due next March.

Responding to growing criticism of Gnome's "lack of vision," the team said its 3.0 release will focus not only on streamlining the platform, but "revamping the user experience."

"One concern that came more than was that it would be an error to do Gnome 3.0 without any big user-visibility change," the Gnome Foundation posted on its website.

"While some of us didn't necessarily agree with this concern, it was still a fairly valid one. But it turns out that if you tell the community that there's something after 2.x, then the community will stop vaguely thinking about future ideas and start working on concrete plans."

While Gnome's nearest competitor in the field of free desktop environments, KDE, was willing to scrap its established code base of KDE 3.x and start a new with KDE 4.0, Gnome has stuck to simply improving on 2.x's innards.

Central ideas the development team thinks will have a tangible positive impact on the user experience are Gnome Shell, which manages how users open applications, and Zeitgest, which controls the way documents are accessed using tags, bookmarks, timelines and other ways to make the desktop work less like a traditional filesystem.

"Making Gnome 2.30 a 3.0 version is of course still an ambitious goal, but we can achieve it thanks to what we learnt in the past," the team said.

They added the team is prepared to consider the fact that Gnome 2.30 won't be good enough to call it 3.0 and waiting for version 2.3.2 for the 3.0 release.

"That being said we want the community to try as hard as possible to make 'Gnome 2.30 = Gnome 3.0' a success," the team said.

Meanwhile KDE has released version 4.2.2 (dubbed "Cano") less than a month after 4.2.1 rolled out. The new version, which rolled out yesterday, includes numerous bug fixes, performance improvements and updated translations, according to the KDE developer team. ®

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