Take this one with a pinch of hearty pinch of salt for now, but, in a post to the GNOME Developer Mailing List, Jon McCann – a tour de force in the GNOME world and pioneer of GNOME Shell itself – has urged that GNOME not only become an OS, but forgo keeping support for other non-Linux operating systems such as BSD, Solaris and Unix in the process.
What’s the beef? First let’s get up-to-speed on the issue courtesy of Redditor deebeeoh: -
“[GNOME] are proposing systemd as a dependency for GNOME Shell to function. systemd has made it quite clear that no port to other OS’s would be supported (or even easy due to technical details).
In short, by depending on systemd, they force the OS to pick a particular init system which is only supported in Linux. This is all proposed for GNOME 3.2, so very soon.”
‘The future of GNOME is an OS”
Today, in reply to Debian’s Josselin Mouette on the issue of whether adopting the Linux-only init replacement daemon ‘Systemd’ was an agreeable step to take, McCann wrote: -
“The future of GNOME is as a Linux based OS. It is harmful to pretend that you are writing the OS core to work on any number of different kernels, user space subsystem combinations, and core libraries. That said, there may be value in defining an application development platform or SDK that exposes higher level, more consistent, and coherent API. But that is a separate issue from how we write core GNOME components like the System Settings.
It is free software and people are free to port GNOME to any other architecture or try to exchange kernels or whatever. But that is silly for us to worry about.
Kernels just aren’t that interesting. Linux isn’t an OS. Now it is our job to try to build one – finally. Let’s do it.
I think the time has come for GNOME to embrace Linux a bit more boldly.”
This bold, rather rousing, read is completely understandable in the context of GNOME becoming the best that it can. Microsoft ended up with a patchy, pithy OS due to having support multitudes of hardware, one feels that GNOME shouldn’t end up the same way because of an obligation to support every minority kernel or fork.
The good news is that the ‘systemd saga’ is on-going and many further discussion are to be had before any commitment either way is made.