GNOME 3.0 Determines Boston Summit

Oct 16, 2009

While the European Linux scene has been busy with KDE and Qt, a relatively unnoticed but important gathering occurred in the U.S. to determine the future of the GNOME desktop: the GNOME Boston Summit 2009.

The Boston Summit has been an annual gathering of GNOME hackers since 2004. It usually meets over the Columbus Day long weekend in October and consists of a combination of loose hacker sessions and discussion groups.

Ruby expert and IT consultant Jason D. Clinton submitted an excellent overview of the Boston Summit in his blog. In a telegraphic style, it covers just about all the presentations and sessions. He describes how developers are planning, among other things, to change the GTK 3.0 API, on the one hand to add new features such as XInput2, on the other to discourage hacking at the existing theme engines that break from release to release. GTK 3.0 should be getting a theme structure much like Chrome currently has with its colored tabs.

As a complement to GTK, developers are considering the Clutter toolkit based on OpenGL. However, a pent-up demand exists for differentiating GTK from Clutter for users and programmers, to define the boundaries between the two and determine which solution is best for an application.

The idea for a GNOME Shell emerged at last year's Boston Summit. This year Jon McCann showed how things stand with the graphical interface as one of the main elements of GNOME 3.0. The Shell has already progressed to support CSS, but much is still missing. Its status should be sharply improved over the next months as Red Hat fills a full-time position to work on it. Meanwhile, a few good tips for working on the GNOME Shell are included on the live.gnome.org cheat sheet.

Additional topics at the GNOME Boston Summit 2009 included usability, geolocation, telepathy, Splinter and DBUS access within Glib. Marina Zhurakhinskaya from Red Hat also presented the GNOME Women Outreach Program and spoke briefly about the Free Software Foundation's Women's Caucus that took place mid-September. The second part of Zhurakhinskaya's session covered GNOME marketing.

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