If you look at desktop market share numbers the vast majority of desktop
users are using traditional desktops. Just look a the Valve Hardware &
Software survey. This is a useful tool for gauging the #1 Student/Gamer
If we add up the numbers:
Windows 7 + Windows XP/Vista + Mac OS = 78% --- traditional desktops
Windows 8 = 20% --- "mobile oriented" desktops
Linuix = 2% --- mixed
The same is true if we look at Wikipedia's "Usage share of operating
systems" page using Net Application's statistics:
Windows 7 + Windows XP/Vista + Mac OS = 87.7% --- traditional desktops
Windows 8 = 10.58% --- "mobile oriented" desktops
Linux = 1.6% --- mixed desktops
Abandoning Gnome 2 was a fatal error on the part of several high profile
distributions such as Ubuntu and Fedora. They abandoned Gnome 2 to chase
mobile oriented ambitions when in reality the vast majority of Windows and
Mac users were still using traditional desktops. This limited the growth
of the Linux desktop as a platform and caused unnecessary confusion and
chaos in the Linux community. Current Linux desktops that are achieving
success such as Google's Chrome OS are still using traditional desktop
So that leads to certain questions for the Fedora Workstation WG as to what
the scope of their project is. Does the Fedora Workstation WG intend on
expanding their user-base beyond:
1. Fedora/Gnome developers and current Fedora users?
2. Linux developers and/or users?
3. Mac and Windows developers and mainstream users?
If the answer is:
#1 "We only intend on targeting Gnome and Fedora developers" then make the
default Gnome Shell and ignore Fedora.next and continue the methods and
policies of Fedora Desktop and the spins as if nothing has changed.
#2 "We would like to consolidate the Linux desktop space" make the default
MATE with Gnome Shell and KDE as optional extras at the installation screen.
#3 "We would like to market Fedora Workstation outside of the Linux
community to Mac and Windows developers" make the default MATE with Gnome
Shell and KDE as optional extras at the installation screen.
What would it take to get MATE up to current standards to be acceptable as
a default for Fedora Workstation?
+ Have the Gnome project developers provide support resources to the MATE
developers to accelerate their transition to GTK3 as well as act as
+ Perhaps even offer to make MATE part of the Gnome foundation as a legacy
Gnome 2 fork and provide additional support resources?
+ Configure a MATE desktop that is Fedora branded that uses default Gnome
applications currently used in Gnome Shell such as Files and make sure it
integrates with MATE.
+ Bundle MATE with a lightweight compositor such as Compton or integrate
Mutter as a MATE compositing window manager.
+ Replace the default menu in MATE with 'mintmenu' a plugin that replicates
the Windows 7 start menu functionality and add additional plugins where
You see it's not that much work at all and well within the scope of
something achievable by a distribution with sufficient resources like
Fedora and/or provided by Red Hat. It all depends on whether the WG is
serious about consolidating the Linux desktop, expanding to Mac/Windows
developers and achieving the goals set out in the PRD.
I'm beginning to take a cynical view of the whole Fedora Workstation WG
process, I don't anything will change and Fedora Desktop will continue to
decline in relevance, but please prove me wrong.
Intel actually has a website where it compares Desktop -vs- Workstation.
So beyond the marketing and semantics there's actually a real difference
between the two. Intel's marketing materials state:
"...workload-optimized innovation platform designed to deliver the
> processing, graphics and bandwidth capacities artist, animators, analysts,
> engineers, scientists and other professional demand in order to accelerate
> their innovation."
> "Still not everyone needs a workstation. A typical office worker running
> standard office applications such as word processing, e-mail, and
> presentation software will get all the performance needed from a standard
> business PC."
"The Workstation Advantage: workstation's are purpose-built to deliver the
> performance, reliability and stability demanded by designers, engineers,
> financial analysts, and researchers running large complex applications"
Fedora Workstation does NOT need the latest mobile oriented experimental
desktop environment like Gnome Shell or Ubuntu's Unity. Just like a
Windows workstation needs Windows 7 and NOT Windows 8. In fact due to the
"reliability and stability" purpose of a workstation you should actually go
with something older, stable and mature like Gnome 2.0, which would entail
making Mate the default using Mutter or Compton as the compositor. My
current default setup happens to be Mate (Gnome 2.0) and the Compton
Most traditional Linux workstation users were exposed to Mate already
because it's basis Gnome 2.0 was the default on RHEL for quite a while.
Mate is also the "safe" choice for adoption of the Fedora Workstation for
the Linux community in the political dimension. The Mate desktop was forked
from Gnome 2.0 by an Arch Linux developer and is used on all major
distributions including Linux Mint and recently Ubuntu 14.04. That means
it's respected, independent and has a large following among Linux
developers and engineers.
"The MATE Desktop Project is dedicated to keeping alive the traditional
> GNOME 2 desktop metaphor. Many users liked this desktop, and found it
> simple, configurable, and comfortable to use. Our goal is to continue the
> development of this desktop environment, adding new features, fixing bugs,
> and improving the software as support libraries and other dependent
> software improves and changes."
It would be unfair to the Gnome team to have to hold back their own mobile
inspired innovation and creativity because the Workstation product demands
a traditional desktop metaphor. We're beginning to see spectacular
cutting-edge UI/UX innovations come out of the Gnome project. Perhaps the
answer is to maintain a Fedora branded Mate desktop with official Gnome
applications and theming. That way the Fedora Workstation team could
facilitate the flow of these innovations back into Mate and make sure they
find their way upstream to the Mate developers.
Compton is based on xcompmgr-dana which is also the basis for Valve's
compositor used in SteamOS which speaks volumes about it's performance and
reliability. The basis xcompmgr was originally written by Keith Packard.
This setup is a mature, reliable and workflow neutral setup that's perfect
for a workstation use case.
"In digging through the steamos-compositor code, it's a modified version of
"Compton is a lightweight, standalone composite manager, suitable for use
> with window managers that do not natively provide compositing
> functionality. Compton itself is a fork of xcompmgr-dana, which in turn is
> a fork of xcompmgr. See the compton github page for further information."
This difference in purpose Desktop -vs- Workstation cannot be lost because
the end product cannot just be another version of Fedora Desktop with more
up to date Gnome Shell components, it should be a TRUE workstation-class
product. There's a huge risk that the Desktop use case will creep into the
Workstation product. To ensure further separation there should be two
different parallel tracks based on which desktop environment is in use:
Fedora Desktop = Core + Gnome Shell (Gnome 3)
Purpose: "Deliver a cutting-edge mobile inspired and integrated desktop
experience for hip tech-savvy consumers and forward thinking modern
Fedora Workstation = Core + Mate (Gnome 2 + Compton and/or Mutter)
Purpose: "Deliver the performance, reliability and stability demanded by
designers, engineers, financial analysts, and researchers running large
This way both use-cases can evolve to their full potential without any
compromises or limitations.
Thank you for reading...
Improving touch screen support is a goal for both GNOME and Fedora, simply
because laptops are heading that way and if we offer something
that doesn't even try to use the touchscreen where it makes sense, users
will go elsewhere.
Linux based solutions oriented towards tablets, hybrids and
touch-screen-laptops already exist: Chrome OS and Android. Realistically
nobody in the Linux community has the resources that Google does or the
mainstream market-share. Everyone knows the obvious, Google will dominate
that space. In the technology press everyone is saying the "Year of the
Linux Desktop" will be because of Google and Chrome OS as well as Android.
Please, don't waste your time and resources, leave this use-case alone.
Red Hat and Fedora as well as similar platforms thrive in the more
traditional desktop space and specifically workstations. If you walk into
Pixar, NASA or CERN you'll find Fedora/RHEL on workstations and servers.
Look at Ubuntu at Google or Facebook. If I call up any major OEM I can
get workstations with two different operating systems: Windows 7 and RHEL.
Not surprisingly the product is called Fedora Workstation.
There's a theme at play here that if you focus 100% on traditional
workstations you can having a winning product that will even compete on
equal footing against Mac OS and Windows.
Linux distributions and desktop projects have been chasing the hybrid and
tablet and it's had the effect of throwing their workstation users off of
the bus. When Ubuntu and Fedora abandoned Gnome 2 and focused on Unity and
Gnome 3 this caused major disruption and chaos. Around the same time many
developers and engineers ended up going with Mac OS because Apple provided
a conservative traditional desktop experience that was highly polished and
Last night I was looking at Gnome Shell extensions and I realized that most
of them had the effect of turning Gnome 3 back into Gnome 2. The fact is
that the community and specifically the workstation use-case is desperately
seeking a Gnome 2 replacement that's why we have XFCE, LXDE and Cinnamon.
This is why MATE exists and is rising in popularity. The Linux community
still loves Gnome 2 and wants it back.
This is why I propose a compromise that will work for both Gnome and Fedora
Have both Gnome 2 (MATE) and Gnome 3 (Gnome Shell) be parallel but related
branches of the same Gnome product.
1. Have the Gnome Foundation adopt MATE as a Gnome 2 legacy project.
Provide development and support resources to accelerate MATE's efforts to
transition to GTK3, systemd and Wayland. Make sure that both Gnome 2 and
Gnome 3 are based on the same modern infrastructure.
2. Modify Mutter so that it can become the official compositor of MATE and
replace the practice of bundling Gnome 2 with Compiz which is now an Ubuntu
product. This would ensure that Gnome 2 and Gnome 3 have similar look,
behavior and feel. Another option is to use Compton but that could be seen
as a short-term fix until Mutter was fully integrated into Gnome 2.
3. Keep Gnome 3 as is in the present and don't interfere with that project
or dictate design to them. Gnome 3 will exist as a development project
focused on innovation, experimentation and creativity. Their focus would
continue to be on pushing desktop boundaries and exploring alternative
paradigms. If appropriate, innovations developed in the Gnome Shell would
be occasionally fed back into Gnome 2. This will create a healthy Gnome
4. Make Gnome 2 the default desktop for Fedora Workstation with Fedora
branding and themes as well as the current Gnome default applications.
Have Gnome 3 be an optional extra at installation. Also offer KDE as well
5. Promote Gnome 3 to Gnome 2 users. When the user runs Gnome 2 for the
first time have a prompt that says "Would you like to see the future? Try
out Gnome 3". And it would be installed side-by-side with Gnome 2.
That way the traditional desktop can be addressed by Gnome 2 (MATE) and
Fedora Workstation doesn't have to interfere and disrupt the activities
happening over at Gnome with Gnome 3 (Gnome Shell). Both projects can
happily cooperate and coexist. This sort of collaboration is what Linux is
famous for and Fedora Workstation should epitomize.
...I am well aware of this, I meet or call with a lot of these customers on
basis. And I also spend time working with them to prepare their transition
GNOME 3 as part of their RHEL 7 transition.
...I am generally negative to any such solutions as they tend to suck
resources away from advancing something over to trying to keep multiple
options sorta working together...
As a long time former Mac user I can tell you that Apple has had retained
the same desktop design from it's early days and has continued to develop
and refine it over decades. In fact Apple has launched a new MacPro
specifically for workstation users to use on their traditional desktop Mac
OS showing they're committed to the traditional desktop metaphor and see a
bright future ahead. Just because Apple launched iOS on the iPhone and iPad
didn't mean it totally abandoned Mac OS and decided to force it's MacBook,
iMac and MacPro customers to use iOS. They keep both interfaces separated
as two different products in parallel. Both have the same core and
regularly share innovations in a very healthy innovation cycle.
Why can't Gnome, Fedora and Red Hat do the same?
Unfortunately what Ubuntu, Fedora and others have done defies commercial
logic. They think that "being like Apple" means pursuing innovation no
matter the cost even to the point of being reckless. As a result
abandoning Gnome 2 was single biggest business mistake the commercial Linux
distributions made and has cost them the equivalent of billions of dollars
in growth and market-share.
The point is Gnome 2 can sync in parallel with Gnome 3 and the restrictions
and policies in place are purely artificial and it hurts the business.
Apple kept it's traditional desktop product and is actually expanding it's
Unix workstation user-base by catering to the traditional desktop
Mac OS is what the Linux desktops should have been, a stable traditional
desktop metaphor that's supported and maintained for decades.
Microsoft is suffering because it made this decision. They attempted to
force their workstation users to adopt a mobile oriented interface in
Windows 8, the hated Metro interface. Now third parties are selling Start
Menu replacements. In a major updated planned for post-Windows-8.1
Microsoft will enable "boot to desktop" mode so users can go directly to
the desktop and bypass the Metro interface.
It's very simple, Gnome as a single product with two different interfaces
Gnome 2 (Mate) and Gnome 3 (Gnome Shell) relying on the same modern core
infrastructure as well as a collection of default applications and
toolkits. The combined communities of MATE and Gnome Shell would be a force
in the open source world. They could easily unify the Linux desktop space
and provide a single coherent product.
In the end you have to drive Red Hat subscription revenues. You are
accountable to Red Hat shareholders. To that end you have to follow the
leaders in the high-end workstation space Apple and Microsoft and match
their traditional desktop products, avoid their mistakes and exceed
Please don't take this reply personally, but I found these emails
brought up some really important points to respond to.
I'm not here to say that the workstation should or shouldn't be Gnome
because I'd be wasting my time. I'm just going to bring up some points
that I think are important to think about and should be thought about.
On 01/30/2014 11:16 PM, Kalev Lember wrote:
>I personally feel that a single default offering is a must, if Fedora is
>to be successful in the desktop market. We have been losing market share
>to Ubuntu that has one single default desktop product, and I think this
>is a lesson to learn from.
With all due respect can we stop and just think about this for a second?
Exactly what lessons have we learned?
Has anyone actually thought about exactly why Fedora has lost a
massive amount of market share to Ubuntu? Or forget Ubuntu, any other
distribution for that matter?
What do people look for when choosing a desktop or a distribution for
that matter? Why do people currently choose Fedora? Maybe we should
think about these things first before moving forward.
In general, for a desktop, people want something that "just works" and
is "easy, simple and intuitive" to use.
Overall, can we say that about the current "workstation" offering?
Does anyone really think that taking Fedora, slicing it up in to 3
products called "Workstation", "Cloud", and "Server" is really going
to make any difference in adoption of Fedora itself? In my opinion
it's going to be a case of "the more things change the more they stay
>When I joined the Workstation WG, I did that to help build a successful
>product. To build a base system system that user can rely on; a base
>system that 3rd party vendors can reliably target with their software.
>Most other WG members I've talked to are also here to help build a
Building a reliable product goes FAR deeper than just a working
desktop. I know that you do spend time in #Fedora on the front lines
as I have seen you there before. I hope that you would agree with me
that there is still a lot to be desired from the current "workstation
offering" (which is DE independent).
For example, disaster recovery needs a lot of work. How can we say
Fedora is reliable when it is extremely difficult for a novice user to
recover a broken system?
At this exact moment I am trying to help someone with this. It's a lot
easier just to tell the person (who doesn't even understand how to
boot into single user mode) to reinstall. We don't even have an
updated rescue mode document. The last time it was updated was Fedora
>I do not want to downplay the value of Spins and alternative offerings,
>but I personally do not want to spend my time developing them, and I'd
>rather see if they were developed elsewhere and the Workstation WG was
>limited to putting together one product.
Who says you have to? There are people out there that are doing so already.
On 01/31/2014 8:50 PM, Adam Williamson wrote:
>If I look at it this way, things start looking kind of awesome. For
>instance, it *is* an interesting idea to say "if you meet the rules of
>"running Fedora Workstation", you can expect that third party software
>that complies with (these standards) will work". Looked at as an *extra*
>expectation that we provide via this "Product" space, that starts
>looking like a cool new thing.
I now get the thinking behind your blog which was referenced on the
Phoronix forums after reading this email.
3rd parties develop software for things that are popular.
Unfortunately, it has been quite proven that Fedora/Gnome is not one
I for one really don't think that third parties are going to now jump
at the opportunity to create software because we took Gnome and put a
sticker that says "workstation" on it. I'm sorry but I really just
don't see it happening.