GNOME in Slackware

Posted: September 25, 2008 in Linux
Tags: ,

This is an old or maybe a forgotten topic for Slackware. When the day Pat decided to drop GNOME from Slackware, I did not put much thought into it. This was because, at the time, my primary desktop was Enlightenment, and GNOME is not as easy or fun to use than now.

I came to Linux from an Unix environment. The workstations, during my university school days, were a few flavours of Unix. So, for me to go into Linux was not much of a difficult transition. Even when I am not using Unix, I would be using MS-DOS as my main OS (another CLI base OS. Win95 did come later, but I already had my fun with Slackware, Win95 was not going to change how would be using my PC). So, when I moved into another CLI environment, with more powerful tools and utilities, it really did not hurt that much. In fact, come to think it now, it feels like a logical advancement of my computing experience. So, when GNOME was dropped, I did not think it would be something of any significant for a slacker like me.

However, as time goes by, the development of Enlightenment has stalled and, after tried out a few other desktop environment, I moved into Dropline GNOME as my primary desktop. Now, as development of Dropline stalled, I did something I never thought I would be doing, I moved away from Slackware and embraced another distribution, Ubuntu. All this happened, because I like GNOME.

Dropline turned Slackware into a powerful and fun desktop. Ubuntu make it powerful, fun and simple. Perhaps, is the development of GNOME and Linux that makes Ubuntu so much easy to play with.

Incidentally, I stumble on an link about why Slackware should keep GNOME.

In it, it sated:

“… A desktop environment is unlike any other set of packages in a distribution. You can switch out Xfree86 for X.Org, but that’s essentially transparent to the user. You can even hold off on switching to ELF, or to glibc based on the reasoning that libc5 or glibc aren’t ready for prime time yet – even when every other major distro has already made the switch – and for most users this isn’t a visible issue. A desktop environment, especially one of the two major desktop players in the Linux community, is a big issue for a user. Getting a desktop “just right” is something that many users spend a great deal of time on. Especially in the Linux world, “tricking out” your desktop is a Big Deal™. …

… to drop support for one of the two desktop management systems used by more than 95% of Linux users is an enormous impact to a lot of individuals. GNOME has been under a bit of a cloud lately – it’s star is no longer as ascendant as it once was. The promise of better technology hasn’t so far yielded any real-world benefits and its once-held licensing moral high ground is much less an issue today than it once was. But cloud or not, it was one of the major desktop environment choices in Slackware….

… The inclusion of GNOME was, I assert, more than a technical decision; more than simply including packages. It was an implied commitment to each and every user that would make their desktop choice based on that inclusion that the work they put in to their system wouldn’t be thrown away …

Now, after making the switch, I started to become more incline towards his view. Further, he stated:

… That is, I don’t think Dropline, GWARE, or GSB would be nearly as popular today if GNOME wasn’t in Slackware. It seems like a paradox – if there is no GNOME support in Slackware, then of course there would be more community involvement to make it. Having spent time on Dropline’s forums from almost the beginning of the Dropline GNOME project, it was my observation that the vast majority of Dropline users were not people that switched from KDE. They were people who already used Slackware’s official GNOME and switched to Dropline. If there had been no official GNOME from day one, would there have been nearly the community interest in Slackware GNOME? I suggest there wouldn’t be. What does this matter to now? If the above is true, then as a GNOME user myself it means that in the long term, GNOME usage on Slackware is going to decline because of Slackware dropping official support. It means that the original scenario I suggested is more true – that dropping Slackware support officially is the touch of death to GNOME on Slackware. Not a quick death like it would be if there was no community alternative, but a slow withering one. The speed of the death is irrelevant, however, to me as a GNOME user. Perhaps it is even worse when it is slow, as there is more incentive for people to make the personal decision to try and retain their investment of time and effort into their desktop in light of dwindling community support before finally biting the bullet and switching desktops or switching distributions…

Looking at my current situation, how amazingly true his opinion is…

  1. Hi. I remember being very shocked at the decision. At the time I was just discovering Linux, and Slackware appealed to me more than the ‘please hold my hand’ distros. Still, I like GNOME (even with its problems). I always disliked KDE, so I moved away from Slackware entirely.

    It is perhaps ironic that the most popular disto now uses GNOME exclusively…

  2. lenrek says:

    Well… I am not moving away from Slackware totally. All my servers are still in Slackware.

    By the way, I notice Dropline has some new updates, maybe I will try it out, one day…

  3. slackgnomer says:

    it’s now jan 09 and Gnome 2.24.3 is alive and well on my Slackware 12.2 installation! the new KDE is not what i (or many others) had expected from the new release. when i started using Linux (2003) KDE made it easy to make the transition from windows. Linux, Slackware, and Gnome have come a long way since then, but all in all Gnome is much more stable and advanced then i ever thought possible. (and certainly much more appealing) if you want a really stable Gnome desktop for Slackware i suggest you go to Sourceforge and get the latest release of slackbot (0.9-pluto as of this post) slackbot not only builds Gnome, it builds all flavors of desktops, apps, and software for Slackware. if you know Slackware then you will fit right in with slackbot.

  4. kline says:

    Personally, I prefer KDE since my first use linux is mandrake, which is using KDE for default, so as a newbie, I dont think I have a choice when I first press “enter”.
    Well mandrake is providing GNOME too, but I still prefer KDE.
    And by reading this blog, I think it’s too bad if there is a slackware fans who leave the distro just because there is no GNOME in it.
    Why there is nobody who make slack distro with gnome favored?
    I know dropline and some, but its not a distro, its just a workaround for GNOME users.

  5. […] environment can influence the choice Linux distribution for one to choose from. This happened to me once, now I decided to move to Fedora Core for the same […]

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