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Re: Package building

From: Liam Proven
Subject: Re: Package building
Date: Tue, 19 Nov 2019 13:17:45 +0100

On Tue, 19 Nov 2019 at 12:42, David Chisnall <address@hidden> wrote:
> I would add to that: most users will not be using a GNUstep DE.  This
> was one of the biggest mistakes that we made with Etoile: we did not
> have an incremental adoption story.

I am very hesitant to differ here, because I hugely respect your work
and your writing and often cite your ACM "C is not a low-level
language" article.

But I disagree here, and with some subsequent points.

> If you want GNUstep to be attractive to developers, you need to make it
> easy for them to ship apps that integrate with an existing *NIX DE and
> with Windows.


> One of the biggest things that RedHat did for Linux
> desktop usability was teach the GTK+ and Qt theme engines to understand
> a shared format and unify shortcut keys between the two.

Interesting point. I loved the Bluecurve effort, myself, and I was sad
that it didn't catch on. I wanted to slap the many KDE users and devs
I saw complaining about it; in the KDE 3 timeframe, IMHO Bluecurve was
the _only_ theme that ever made KDE look anything less than horrible.
Bluecurve was actually attractive and professional-looking, something
no release of KDE since 1.x has ever been for me.

I confess I had missed the broader significance that you point out:
that KDE/GNOME/Cinnamon/Maté/Xfce/LX?? apps all look and work broadly
similarly enough now that they do not stick out too badly when run
under each others' desktops.

>  After that, it
> didn't matter (much) if you needed a mix of GNOME and KDE apps, your
> desktop still felt (approximately) cohesive.


> At the moment, people with one GNUstep app feel that it sticks out and
> is difficult to use because it doesn't follow the same UI models as the
> rest of their system.  That means that they then don't want a second one.
> Qt on Mac has the same problem: the controls are all subtly different
> and it took them years to even have the same shortcuts for navigation in
> a text field, so everyone who ran a Qt application on Mac hated it and
> never wanted to use another one.  This didn't matter so much for Qt,
> because they did have good Windows and X11 support.
> Currently, GNUstep apps look and feel like native apps on MacOS, when
> you don't use GNUstep.  They look and feel alien everywhere else.

This also is true.

But if I may be so bold:

IMHO one of the problems of Étoilé was that it violated the core FOSS
principle of "release early, release often". GNUstep comes close to
the same.

Sticking some source code on a version control system somewhere is not
releasing something.

Offering a set of binaries users can install is releasing. I want to
see _at a minimum_ a Zip file or tarball I can grab, open and just run
on my distro, whatever that distro is so long as it is mainstream.

(Examples: Rocket.chat, Waterfox, Franz.)

Neither Étoilé nor GNUstep does this minimal effort.

Ideally, I want to see a repo I can add to my distro with a single
command, then I can install $product _and get updates from then on_.
Ubuntu PPA and Fedora COPR repos make this easy; openSUSE hosts the
OBS and software.opensuse.org to offer equivalent functionality.

GNUstep doesn't do this, but it is at least well-enough known that
most major distros include dated versions and I can just cobble
together something that kinda-sorta works, a bit, from my distro's
repos. It is only when I joined this list that I discovered that the
Debian and Ubuntu bundles of GNUstep were very dated and that I needed
to add third-party repos to get something vaguely current.

Periodically there have been all-in-one demo disks of GNUstep (GNUstep
Live, Simply GNUstep, etc.) to show off what it can do. AFAIK Étoilé
never even got this.

If the only way to try something out is to compile it yourself, then I
am probably never going to bother. That's too much work for me, and I
suspect this is true for 90% or more of Linux users.

Liam Proven - Profile: https://about.me/liamproven
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