GNOME Mobile: where are we?


Gnome at home, by Else10The Forest is the Best Place (Calder), by dalbera

I’m introducing the GNOME Mobile initiative next Tuesday in the OpenMind conference (open source / open content \ open innovation – Tampere FI). The program is interesting, so interesting that it is clear that I can’t just go with the basics under the arm.

I’m gathering some ideas to open minds. Throw yours for inclusion if you wish.

Doing this session as GNOME Foundation member, one of the ideas I want to rise is how the mobile activity has been useful to put in words (or more exactly in actions) what was floating around for a long time: GNOME is not only about one graphical desktop environment. The project in fact digs deeper until the boundaries with the kernel, and might flourish in a multitude of different interfaces, being the PC/laptop desktop just one of them.

Another idea: computers are going mobile as much as mobiles (the phones) are going computing. In this sense Ubuntu’s famous bug # 1 could become OBSOLETE since desktop/laptop PCs would not be the only computer category to have as reference. The mobile space (with sales much higher than the PC sector) has different references: as for today Microsoft has not a majority of market share and Linux is not an automatic flag of freedom.

Another idea: the online desktop thingy is in fact quite crucial. Who buys a mobile device to have it isolated or even just occasionally connected. Nowadays you carry a mobile computer precisely to stay connected, always on.

To me all this shows an opportunity for the GNOME project that goes beyond free licenses and open source code: the key is open&free collaboration between different people, organizations and paradigms. We have already seen some interesting moves around the GNOME Mobile initiative and this should be only the beginning.

Said all this, at the same time I’m having some mixed feelings. There is ‘GNOME Mobile’ related stuff in my professional work almost constantly and I was happy seeing the interest and participation on the GMAE related sessions in GUADEC but… the mailing lists are quite silent and I don’t know really where are we now, nor where are we supposed to be heading.

Maybe it’s just me, but the feeling is that companies are collaborating on an enhanced P2P basis but the GNOME-centric agenda is missing, or at least is not visible (even to insiders). This is a problem, but on the other hand a much worse problem would be to have a clear agenda but no activity/interest from the mobile software developers and hardware manufacturers.

Optimism wins.


6 Responses to “GNOME Mobile: where are we?”

  1. Hi Quim,
    Look very carefully at all the cool work going into sugar and OLPC with mesh networking and collaboration built right into the platform.

    Plugging our own efforts look at AbiCollab ,

    and instant connectivity. This stuff really works and allows a whole new level of collaboration.

  2. 2 Joseph

    I dunno about others, but I suspect that most independent GNOME-ites lack a mobile platform to work with.

    Maybe a VMWare Player image is called for?

  3. 3 Per Thuĺin

    One thing I’ve been thinking of is if there shouldn’t be a more general mobile/embedded Linux stack — maybe hosted on freedesktop — which GNOME Mobile could rely on.

    There’s a lot of infrastructure components in GNOME Mobile that are very general, and could just as well be the foundation of other mobile Linux stacks as well. I’m thinking of GStreamer, PulseAudio, Telepathy/Empathy, etc.

    Then GNOME Mobile could use that as a foundation and focus 100 % on the UI and applications instead, which, from my view, is what defines a desktop (or mobile) environment.

  4. As you know, I’ve told the board what needs to be fixed so that GNOME mobile can move forward. They should act.

  1. 1 links for 2007-10-02 at
  2. 2 GNOME Mobile: here it goes « flors

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