Direction 2.x is heading

I installed Slackware 9 beta a few weeks ago and by purest mischance got a
copy from a mirror that hadn't been updated in four months.  Thus, my copy had
Gnome 1.4 on it.  The differences between 1.2 (which is on my old workstation)
and 1.4 seemed generally minor and welcome.  I like Nautilus instead of gmc. 
When I realized my copy was four months out of date, I decided to upgrade my
packages to the latest and thus was introduced to Gnome 2.2.

I must say I wish I had been monitoring this list last October when the issues
of issuing a release with less features than a previous release came up in
this mailing list.  I spent allmost all of yesterday reading archives and
searching around for answers to my problems.

First of all, I'm completely shocked at the window manager decision.  One
writer posted, and I wholeheartedly agree, that Gnome has drifted far from its
roots indeed to cease to encourage choice in window managers.  In effect, all
the other window managers have been turned from partners into competitors. 
Another company did that not too long ago.  3dfx used to manufacture chipsets
for video boards and had a great number of partner companies who manufactured
the boards.  Then they switched to only manufacturing the actual video cards. 
Check out to see where they sit today.

Yes, I understand that one can set the WINDOW_MANAGER environment variable. 
That fact turned up in one post on this list and nowhere else I could find. 
The change that has been made is not so much a change in functionality, but a
change in emphasis and focus.  The "dumb it down" type changes that I'm seeing
in Gnome is particularly dissappointing in a Linux package.

So, when neither Afterstep nor Windowmaker would work with Gnome 2.2 (the
session manager started the window manager, but froze there and would not
start anything else when I set the WINDOW_MANGER var), I decided to redo my
docked applets with Gnome panels and give the new window manager a try.  Of
course, you see where I'm going with this.  After searching around for the
'swallow app' function for a while, I grepped around the net for that too and
found a friendly little entry dated March 28, 2002 in Gnome Panel: "kill all
traces of swallowed apps".  Oh lovely.  Swallowed apps are absolutely vital to
my desktop.  And you know, while your "surveys" may tell you that "hardly
anyone uses them", I challenge the maintainers to get a random sampling of 100
linux desktop screenshots available on the web and see what percentage doesn't
have a swallowed app.

I grabbed the March 28th and March 29th 2002 Gnome Panel versions and diffed
them to get the changes for the app swallowing, but patching that back in to a
years worth of changes in panel is daunting.  Maybe I'll "vote with my code"
as someone suggested and write an applet.  Maybe I'll "vote with my feet" as
this change in emphasis from flexibility and choice make me feel like doing. 
I honestly haven't decided yet.  Luckily I did a full backup before I updated
to the latest Slackware Beta, so I'm back to Gnome 1.4.  With the direction
Gnome is going, though, what the heck makes it any different from KDE any
more?  I've found myself considering going there, a consideration I haven't
made in years.

I urge the developers and those steering Gnome to bring it back to its
roots.  Embrace the other window managers and treat them as the valued
partners they were at one time.  Take the top 10 or 15 and email the
maintainers.  Tell them that window manager selection is going to be an
integral part of 2.4, and offer them documentation on how to update to support
Gnome 2.x.  The excellent window managers out there are in part responsible
for the success of GTK and Gnome.  Casting them off now in a fit of ease of
use is irresonsible.

Thank-you for your time.

        Kurt Fitzner

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