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By Juan José Sánchez Penas and Xan López.
GNOME has been a successful free software desktop for more than a decade now, delivering quality software while maintaining intact its internal, genuinely open dynamics.
However, despite the plans and efforts of many, the Linux Desktop has not been able to reach mainstream usage, and at the same time we are living in times when the traditional desktop itself is becoming irrelevant due to the predominance of new form factors (tablets, phones, set top boxes, and many other mobile&embedded devices).
It is true that various GNOME technologies and components have been used successfully by different mobile platforms during the past 6-7 years, but the GNOME project as a whole (basic UX + applications) lacks still some features and the focus needed to become relevant in the 'mobile' space.
At the same time, it is not a secret that not everybody is happy with Apple's iOS and Google's Android, so there is room for a truly open, standard, Linux-based, upstream 'mobile' platform. Some consortiums and projects have tried to occupy that space, starting from scratch (Maemo, Moblin, MeeGo, Tizen, Limo), but the creation of a healthy and productive open source ecosystem is a very complex and slow process.
We think that GNOME can naturally evolve into being that truly open alternative in this new context, keeping the current project essence but acquiring a renovated focus towards new form factors and more independence.
In order to do this, there are three main lines of work, which in one way or another way have already started to be pushed forward by the GNOME community:
1) Continue the good work on GNOME 3.x, including things like shell improvements, new core apps, web integration or a good developer story.
2) Adapt GNOME to new form factors, including touch/multitouch, different screen resolutions, different input methods, or specialized hardware.
3) Create an OS infrastructure for GNOME (installers/updaters, Q&A infrastructure), eliminating the complexity of current packaging systems and the dependency on classical distributions, giving the control back to the GNOME community.
In this talk we will review the current direction of GNOME, will discuss which of those things that are needed in order to make it relevant in the new context are happening, and we will do specific proposals on how the things that are missing could be contributed. We will also show demos and examples of the work we and others have been doing during the past months on this direction.
With all those lines of work evolving with energy and focus, we think that there is momentum for GNOME to consolidate itself as an attractive, modern platform, with relevance beyond the traditional desktop, and would be in control of the UX delivered to its users over different form factors.