Team Murder No Brain No Headache.

11Oct/04Off

Keep Slack Simple Stupid

I've been watching the Gnome and Slackware shitstorm building momentum over the weekend and causing an incredible amount of speculation about the future of both most of it ridiculous, childish, or desktop partisan. Unfortunately the barbarous hordes from both Slashdot and OS News have killed the Dropline Gnome forum where the announcement was made so I can't link to it directly unless you really want to see an account suspended page.

I too have built Gnome from the ground up more for the experience of the process than anything else and I'll be the first to say that it sucks. Even under a distribution like Gentoo where compiling is a whole lot less painful than other binary-based distributions it sucks building Gnome. I'm guessing that the aforementioned suckiness is what makes projects like Dropline so important for folks that want to use Gnome under Slackware. Patrick said on his post to the Dropline list that 30% of the bugs reported for Slackware are Gnome related. Jesus. He said nothing about ridding the distribution of Gtk+ applications that aren't a part of the Gnome packaging. Yeesh. I think if he did sacrifice that much time building a desktop environment that continually moves further away from configurability and choice (allegedly for the sake of "user experience") and towards a developer echo chamber Patrick would qualify for sainthood.

At some point I imagine that Gnome is going to have to become a distribution given the increasing loss of configurability (I'm talking about user configurability here through normal interfaces) and difficulty playing nice with other applications. More than a few distributions have settled on Gnome for the default DE which is fine because that means they'll have the time to dedicate to picking up dog poop, keeping the windows clean, and making sure that things don't break. Right now things break.

I should probably state that I a user of neither Gnome nor Slackware but I admire both for separate reasons and get exasperated with both of them. This is a difference in philosophy that should define the impetus for distributions and users of those distributions. Slackware has never really been a meta-distribution like Debian or Gentoo and has a very dedicated set of users who like the constancy and stability of Slack. There are very few surprises there and I think, and this is speaking as someone who hasn't actively used Slack for at least five years, that ultimately the choice to drop Gnome from the base install is a wise and prudent one selected more out of necessity than spitefulness. I wish the users, regardless of their particular desktop religion, could try to see it that way for a second but I guess claiming the superiority of KDE or the imminent death of Slackware or Gnome makes for better shouting on the forums.

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