To Gnome or not to Gnome

Bernie Innocenti bernie at
Thu Mar 25 08:33:44 EDT 2010

On Wed, 2010-03-24 at 14:33 -0400, Martin Langhoff wrote:
> All I can suggest is that having a hardlinked tree of the "core"
> Activities can help restore with tiny "du" cost. Core activities are
> tiny.

Good idea. We could create the hard-links in olpc-os-builder and add a
panic menu to /etc/init.d/olpc-configure with various restore options.

If people agree this is something useful, we'll put it in our todo list.

> As for protecting Sugar's datastore and Gnome's configuration... OMG...

More than protecting them, which is very hard or impossible, I'd add an
option to reset them to defaults without the need to reflash.

> The decision of including Gnome in a deployment should not be taken
> lightly. It adds _at least_ some "mess avoidance" and "recovery from
> mess" training; as well as "I made a mess in Gnome" support issues.

Yeah, we're pondering it. People are split on issue, but surely everyone
is using it: kids, teachers and teacher trainers.

Some trainers complained that now some classrooms now have a mix of the
old and the new OS, making things harder for the teacher. They wanted to
downgrade these new laptops to the old version, but the owners didn't
want to.

The problem of homogeneity is real, but we're in the final testing phase
so it should be solved within a couple of weeks. Next time we could
mitigate this by doing whole classrooms rather than individual

> Ah, Sugaristas spent a ton of time designing and implementing a GUI
> that allows for plenty of experimentation without risk of breaking
> your environment. Cheers to you Sugaristas.

By all means, I'm with the Sugar folks too, but we have to find ways to
appeal more to our user base rather than undercutting our "competition".

The training problem that you mention is real, but not as bad as one
might think. People of all ages seem to find Gnome familiar, while they
seem to have trouble to perform basic actions in Sugar such as stopping
activities and copying files from/to USB sticks.

I would agree that, in most cases, GNOME's appeal is due to its
resemblance with Windows rather than superior GUI design. On the other
hand, maturity, performance and feature completeness certainly
contribute to its success.

For example, I've observed a young boy who was deleting files from the
journal to free up enough space for recording a video. We don't display
file sizes and we don't support multiple selection... thus forcing our
users to do a tedious manual operation on each entry. Moreover, there's
no way to undo a delete operation. It's good I couldn't understand any
of the swearing in GuaranĂ­ :-)

   // Bernie Innocenti -
 \X/  Sugar Labs       -

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