August at LinuxWorld, the GNOME project announced five major initiatives
aimed at delivering an industry-wide open user environment. These initiatives
- To establish
the GNOME user environment as the unifying desktop for the Linux and
of OpenOffice.org technologies for integration into GNOME.
of the Mozilla browser technology into GNOME.
leaders to work together to improve the quality, reliability and accessibility
of the GNOME user environment around the world.
of the GNOME framework as the standard for next generation Internet
receiving a tremendous boost in terms of support, backing and commitment
for contribution and improvements," said Miguel de Icaza, founder of the
GNOME project. "GNOME is now well positioned to be the next generation
user environment, uniting the existing Linux and UNIX communities. We
are building an alternative environment based on free software and open
principles. By leveraging other open technologies we are able to maintain
our focus on making the most attractive development environment."
achieved significant acceptance from the Linux and Unix communities. Sun
Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard are announcing their adoption of GNOME
as the future default user environment for Solaris and HP-UX, respectively.
The GNOME user environment is the default for RedHat, TurboLinux and several
other leading Linux distributions and is available for all major Linux
distributions. As a result, this initiative will unify many variations
of Unix under a single user environment. It creates a cost-effective framework
based on open standards and open source that will enable developers to
write solutions for many different platforms, while competing on implementations.
StarOffice, an alternative competitive office productivity suite available
on multiple platforms and the leading productivity suite for Linux, OpenOffice.org
is the industry initiative to deliver open office productivity applications
and its technologies are being adopted by the GNOME project for integration
into the system. OpenOffice.org will leverage the Bonobo component model
to create a number of object components, allowing these components to
be used by a wide range of applications.
project is an industry initiative to deliver an open Internet browser.
Mozilla browser technology, together with IBM's SashXB technology, will
be integrated into GNOME to deliver an integrated browsing experience
into its next generation user environment. GNOME has also integrated Mozilla
with the Bonobo component system.
provide Nautilus, an innovative file manager which serves as the starting
point for Eazel's web-based system management services. Nautilus will
provide a state-of-the art file manager for GNOME, with a fully-integrated
Mozilla web-browser and a number of innovative new features. The Nautilus
software will be integrated with web-based services that provide assistance
with file management and system administration.
provide graphing and financial data handling infrastructure. Helix Code
will provide Evolution, the integrated calendar, mail and contacts system,
as well as its Bonobo component architecture which enables applications
to be built out of reusable software components. In addition, Helix Code
will deliver a new set of configuration and administration tools targeted
to end users, including configuration snapshotting, rollback and cluster
If GNOME is successful, this will be the first of two (or maybe the second
of three) key steps to make Linux a viable desktop market competitor to
Windows. If a software desktop image is standardized, and is easy to use,
that will go a long way toward negating an issue traditionally raised
by Microsoft, i.e., the Windows desktop is essentially the same, and it's
simpler to use than any Linux desktop. Whether we agree with that contention
is immaterial, the market believes it to be true.
other key to Linux desktop success is, as we've said before, getting enough
useful desktop applications ported to Linux. In this case, we continue
to believe that the key application (at least for business users) is MS
Office. Sun's StarOffice, with more than 3 Million downloads to date,
is a good starting point, but MS Office is the big dog in the desktop
other possible step, hinted at above, is installation ease. Windows is
currently perceived by some as being easier to install than Linux, the
implication being that the typical, i.e., non-expert, computer user will
find Linux somewhat more difficult to install than Windows.]
the backing of Compaq, HP, and IBM, GNOME stands a decent chance of being
more than just a pipe dream. If the Gnome Foundation can also secure the
support of Dell, Gateway and eMachines (less likely, but still possible),
this will mean they have the support of all the top PC manufacturers in
the US market, which will lead to increased market share - not enough
to topple Windows, but enough to turn Linux into a legitimate desktop
have deliberately omitted discussion of KDE, the other main Linux desktop
environment. More Linux developers presently use KDE than use GNOME (although
many use both), so KDE is a strong player. The difference is the (current)
lack of commitment by big hardware players.
As with most "new" technologies, we suggest potential users exercise caution.
However, once the bugs have been wrung out, we expect GNOME to present
a reasonable desktop alternative for those users wishing to go with Linux.
Helix GNOME presentation, although a tad rough, has a look and feel very
similar to Windows. (We also like the KDE presentation, by the way.) This
will help Windows users make the transition. In addition to the desktop
GUI, users have a number of applications (spreadsheet, word processing
e-mail/calendar) downloadable directly from the Helix Code website. A
number of these applications are compatible with Windows apps (e.g., MS
Word, Excel), helping to overcome cross-platform issues slightly.
short, this environment, although relatively early in the game (for GNOME,
that is), should build up a fully integrated set of applications within
suggest current (or potential) Linux users give Helix GNOME a try, to
see if hype matches reality.