Discontinuation of GNOME Clipboard Manager

Dear all,

Yesterday I decided to stop any future development of the GNOME
Clipboard Manager and I will not recommend anybody picking it up.

The Clipboard of X has historically been broken and people expected
GNOME Clipboard Manager to fix problems in the Clipboard of X.

It's not the responsibility of a GNOME application to try doing this and
to be honest is GCM (a.k.a. GNOME Clipboard Manager) not very good at
this at all. 

To have a history of your Clipboard, one has to steal every Clipboard
ever set from the applications setting Clipboards. To do this the
Clipboard Managing application needs to know when the owner of the
Clipboard has changed. Because a application can only know when it loses
the ownership, the only way to do this is by being clipboard owner at
all times. Stealing ownership from the applications right after they
stole the ownership from the clipboard managing application.

This makes managing the PRIMARY selection impossible (the PRIMARY
selection is the clipboard of your mouse. The "select-middle mouse
buttonclick"-method). When you select something the clipboard manager
would immediately make that selection unselected and steal it. A ugly
polling mechanism would be necessary for this. The CLIPBOARD selection,
which is the CTRL+C/CTRL+V Clipboard, actually will let a clipboard
manager manage it this way. But still it's a ugly solution which also I,
the maintainer of GNOME Clipboard Manager, hated to implement.

Other than that are most GNOME applications not fully Clipboard-wise
programmed o.k. The current implementation has support for multiple
formats (TARGETS), but almost none GNOME application (nor KDE
applications) support this feature. Only since the latest versions do
some of the larger applications (OpenOffice.org, Mozilla and Evolution)
support multiple formats and will exchange them between each other.
Mozilla, however, still has the super-bug of refusing to copy more than
4000 bytes to clipboard-requesting applications. This bug has not yet
been fixed yet (a proposal is ready but breaks ports to some Operating
Systems). The bug is months old, making me think that nobody cares about
a broken clipboard anyway!

It makes me think: The Clipboard is absolutely broken on the Linux/Unix
desktop. Large amounts of people need to start fixing it. A standard
should be born, a GOOD standard. And lots of people will need to rewrite
huge amounts of Clipboard-related code. A.S.A.P!!

It was stupid of me to think that I had the power to fix the Clipboard
by creating one application. I don't have that power.

Since some time now I do think some organisation indeed has that power.
The organisation is called freedesktop.org and I urge everybody to look
up to that organisation. I urge them to create a standard for the
Clipboard and to ask people, the people who create the huge desktop
applications of the Unix/Linux desktop future, to implement their

If we want our desktop to succeed, something has to happen very quick.
Both the Drag-And-Drop as the Clipboard problems are not only problems
between the KDE and GNOME world but also between individual
applications. We are soon going to have lots of incompatible
applications if we don't start doing something about this problem.

Because I feel that the solution is not to create a Clipboard Managing
application, but to fix the problem deep into the system itself, both me
and Andrew Lau, the maintainer of the Debian package, have decided to
remove GNOME Clipboard Manager from the list of Debian packages.

Philip Van Hoof, Software Developer @ Cronos
home: me at freax dot org
work: Philip dot VanHoof at cronos dot be
http://www.freax.be, http://www.freax.eu.org

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