With Gnome 3.0 on course to be released later this year developers have begun making the tough decisions on what will be included as part of the desktop – and, perhaps more controversially, what won’t be.

One major component that won’t be making it into the revamped release of the GNOME Desktop is Gnome Activity Journal – The Zeitgeist toting tool that allows users to search their files and user data intelligently using timelines, tags and other ‘meta’ relationships.

This has somewhat taken me aback as, to my mind at least, GAJ was very much in the vein of Gnome 3.0’s etho’s and vision; making the desktop and user data easier to manage, sort and access. The ‘plan’ for GNOME 3.0 states that a core aspect is: –

“Changing the way we access documents (via a journal, like GNOME Zeitgeist): having to deal with a filesystem in their daily work is not what makes users happy — on the contrary, they generally just want to access their documents and not to browse their hard disk. Providing new solutions to this problem (using timelines, tags, bookmarks, etc.) is something that has been of interest in our community for a long time, but we never completely jumped in. We simply should.”

Why was it removed? In the words of GNOME release manager Vincent Untz it needs “…more integration with the rest of the desktop and the overall Gnome design.” . Another meek reason offered up was that “it feels too much like a standalone application.”

GAJ does feel different to other GNOME applications that I’ve tried partly because it is a different breed of application. Perhaps from technical and adherence guidelines there may be some discrepancies with GAJ in GNOME but surely what GAJ has to offer users far outweighs any quibbles on it not blending in enough? I am not a developer and, having aggrieved upstream once already this week, I’ll just sigh loudly at this decision and move on.

On the flip side, showing that wacky decisions are clearly the order of the day in GNOME dev land, the awesome visually-rich Clutter library was also rejected, this time on the grounds that there are still outstanding copyright issues rather than that it isn’t conformist enough. (Sorry, did that sound bitter?). This reason is pretty sound all things granted and the development team are hoping the situation can be resolved.

Most significantly was that Gnome Shell has been approved meaning GNOME 3 will be breaking with the traditional desktop model and introduce the oft-criticised but highly anticipated new method of managing windows and applications.

I’m excited for the direction GNOME 3 is taking, if not slightly annoyed that some salient opportunities to really enhance the desktop experience are being squandered.

Gnome 3.0 is scheduled for release in September this year.

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