If you’re reading this post, please also read the one about GNOME 3.26. I’ll leave this post here for historical purposes, but you should disconsider what I say here.
Not until it’s fixed.
Those who follow my work are used to read my “Looking forward ” posts, and they appear to be quite popular. This cycle, however, I’m not looking forward the next GNOME release.
That’s because I’m disappointed.
#1 – GNOME Shell
UPDATE: I was told this is an Arch-specific issue.
UPDATE 2: This is not an Arch-specific issue. This is now fixed in bug 781194, and will be available in the next GNOME stable release.
Let’s start with GNOME Shell, which is the single topmost important piece of software for end users. I was super excited with the new Night Lights mode, because as you may know, I suffer from insomnia (and fixed many bugs when I couldn’t sleep!). When it landed on Arch Linux’s gnome-unstable repos, I’m pretty sure I was one of the first ones to test it. But Shell keeps crashing every ~4 minutes. After 5 or 6 crashes, it logs me out. Needless to say, I lost work multiple times. That’s incredibly annoying. If anyone is experiencing that, please join us in bug 781194 for we’re trying to find out why those crashes are happening. Fortunately, Philip Chimento is super nice and is working day and night to find out what’s going on. But that’s still disappointing.
#2 – WebKit2GTK+
UPDATE: This was a regression in WebKit2GTK+.
I try to use Epiphany. I really try. But no matter how much I try, it fails me every time. Looks like I can’t use keyboard to handle my Google Inbox mails. That’s a show-stopper to me.
#3 – Calendar
UPDATE: Thanks Debarshi for explaining this. He states:
There is a reason why crashes reported by ABRT are marked as ‘private’. Like all backtraces, the ones on those bugs often have passwords and private data in them. I have seen a few over the years. Hence those bugs are only accessible to Fedora contributors by default. Which makes sense, because, as you pointed out, they are Fedora bugs, and users already trust the Fedora community to ship secure software.
Why am I disappointed with my own piece of software? Well, I’m not disappointed with Calendar itself, but with the bugs around it. It all started with bug 778419. As you might know, I’m very urgent when it comes to crashes on Calendar. Sometimes I stop urgent tasks to fix crashers as quick as possible. Recently, I received many complaints that Calendar was crashing, but I couldn’t reproduce any one of them and worse, the debug logs weren’t helpful. Here enters bug 778419. Appearently, there is a issue management thing called FAF in Fedora. Nice. And looks like it catches many bugs. Super nice! But then, why am I disappointed? Well, it starts out with me not being a Fedora user, nor watching Red Hat’s bug tracker. GNOME is agnostic to distros, and should stay that way. That’s why we have GNOME Bugzilla instance running, right? So people can report GNOME bugs, in… well, GNOME bug tracker. But that’s ok – I can eventually see FAF and have some downstream feedback. But here is the catch: appearently, some bugs are private. Isn’t is nice when you can’t see the issues of your own app? Even nicer when appearently downstream doesn’t really care to report those issues upstream. This is clearly stated in the bug. Let me restate this: GNOME is agnostic to distros. I refuse to watch Red Hat’s bug tracker.
#4 – Software
I was super, super excited to try GNOME Software’s Flatpak integration. I never really used Software since it (i) does not behaves super great in Arch, and (ii) isn’t better than Arch’s pacman.
But I thought Flatpak would change this scenario. Flatpak is not great at command line, building a Flatpak repo is still way too hard for humans, and OSTree’s progress reports don’t really report the progress, but throw random numbers for you to figure out what’s going on. But I was hopeful that all we needed was a good UI for it.
Do I have to say how disappointed I was to see Software falling apart when installing and updating Flatpaks?
I won’t waste any paragraph describing how it fails. You just need to have Software, Flatpak and a repository to see the action.
Some of you might think this is a rage post. It is not. I use GNOME every day, and I am fixing GNOME every single day of the past 3 or 4 years. I wouldn’t use it if I didn’t love it. It’s indeed the best desktop environment for Linux to me. And I of course will fix every single issue I described here.
But I think we can do better. Much better. Of course, everyone can come here and say “well, you can fix that by yourself until I don’t”, but is that a good approach to this situation? We’re failing in maintaining and improving the platform, and that’s a serious, collective issue. We have unbelievably good hackers around, it’s not the lack of skilled people, nor resources, that is cracking us.
What can we do to improve?
I’ll leave this question broad and open like that, and I’d like to hear the opinions of the community. Let’s just try to keep the level of the respect acceptable.
By the way: Shell crashed 11 times, and I was kicked out of my session twice, until I could finish this article