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Re: Abysmal state of GTK build

From: Tim Cross
Subject: Re: Abysmal state of GTK build
Date: Wed, 24 Aug 2022 09:25:07 +1000
User-agent: mu4e 1.8.9; emacs 29.0.50

Óscar Fuentes <ofv@wanadoo.es> writes:

> Po Lu <luangruo@yahoo.com> writes:
>> I guess you misunderstood what I said.  I just said alternatives to X
>> shouldn't be made the default, since almost everyone will be using X for
>> the forseeable future.
> The 90% X Firefox user share you mentioned several times was a statistic
> of dubious relevance when it came out 6 months ago and is pretty much
> irrelevant now. The Mozilla Telemetry guys said at the time that it is
> not truly representative, for several reasons. And, more importantly,
> Wayland adoption is gaining momentum, with major distros (such as
> Ubuntu) defaulting to it and KDE joining Gnome as a stable Wayland-based
> desktop environment.

I agree. We have to take any analysis based on firefox usage with
caution as despite the importance of firefox wrt free software. it only
Firefox represents a small percentage of users - something which may have even
gotten worse since the move to snap based packaging in Ubuntu which
makes loading firefox excessively slow i.e. 25 - 30 seconds (seems quite
a few people have switched to chromium, brave, qutebrowser etc.) 

The momentum for moving towards Wayland has also greatly benefited from
the resolving of the nvidia issue. Lack of nvidia support in Wayland was
a fairly big impediment for distros switching to Wayland. However,
Fedora 36 comes with nvidia support for wayland. I also suspect the
nvidia announcement about releasing their linux drivers under a dual
GPL/MIT license might also have some impact on nvidia wayland support
(though nvidia doesn't have a good track record here and has gone back
on such announcements in the past IIRC).

> I'll say that by 2025 Wayland will be more popular than X by a wide
> margin, and then X will have a hard time with basic maintenance by lack
> of manpower (some insiders say that it already suffers from that.)

There certainly does seem to be some real momentum towards wayland. Not
sure if Wayland will be the more popular by 2025 though. Suspect it may
be the majority of new installations, but existing installs will likely
still be using X and still be the majority. As I tend to see GNU Linux
installs last a lot longer, it could be closer to 2030 before we see
Wayland with a majority of GNU Linux systems, especially as most distros
are unlikely to switch to Wayland as part of a distro update, only
defaulting to Wayland on fresh installs.

There is also a reasonably large user base for non-mainstream window
managers who will stick with X because they want to stick with the WM
they are familiar with - for example the many tiling WMs like awesome,
qtile, xmonad, dwm, stumpwm etc.

> This doesn't mean much for Emacs on the short and medium term. Emacs
> works on XWayland, and XWayland is improving so applications running on
> it doesn't suffer from a degraded user experience compared to native
> Wayland ones, apart from the constraints related to being based on X.
> Another claim you made several times is that distros will stop providing
> GTK2 packages soon. This is hard to believe, since other major
> applications (such as GIMP, as you said) also use GTK2 and distros still
> provide packages for libraries way more ancient and obscure than GTK2.

Given that some fairly popular DE are still based on GTK2, I'm not
confident it will be removed any time soon. A lot of people have not
been happy with Gnome for some time now, which has resulted in other
desktop environments like mate, cinnamon etc. IIRC a number of these are
still based on GTK2. There are also a couple of reasonably popular
packages still based on GTK2 who are also unhappy with the direction GTK
took from v3 onwards and who have not updated to v3 support. Likely
distros will need to continue GTK2 support for longer than they or the
developers would prefer. 

> Finally, it seems to me that your experience with some GTK developers is
> influencing your technical discussion on this thread.

There does seem to be growing dissatisfaction with X in various
developer communities, especially Gnome and GTK. Some of the criticisms
do seem valid, some less so. I also get a sense from posts in the x.org
community of concerns regarding on-going maintenance, code complexity
and some legacy limitations which are becoming increasingly more
difficult to work around as hardware, environments and user expectations
evolve. However, we also often see how inaccurate predictions about
change can be. I'll bet the Perl community didn't expect Raku (Perl 6)
to take so long to see the light of day or that the move from Python 2
to 3 would be so long and complicated or how challenging nailing the lid
on the IE coffin would be or the fact we still have GNU Linux systems
which only have partial systemd support and lets not mention
IPv6. Personally, I'm quite surprised how far Wayland has got - I
expected much slower progress. The only thing I'm really confident about
is that our predictions are likely more wrong than right and why we must
not bet everything on one winner. 

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