Are Gnome and KDE giving up the desktop battle?

I just finished reading the interview to Gnome 3 designer Jon McCann. And I’m worried.

I suggest you take your time and read it, but anyway I’m posting here some highlights.

When asked what important stuff they had to leave out for the 3.0 release he answers… touch enablement.

When asked what’s the future role of the file manager, he answers “hopefully a less prominent role”, since stuff will mostly be in the cloud and a file manager is useful only for people that like to organize local files.

When asked if it’s possible to accomodate for the novice to the kernel hacker, he answers “… we can get fairly close. I don’t think we are all that different in the end […] Who doesn’t like to listen to music? Who doesn’t need to check email, who doesn’t need to chat with friends? […]”. Yeah, that’s nice, but, you see, most of us grumpy dinosaurs don’t like to throw a window into a workspace. We were quite ok with the old “go to a virtual desktop, click your favourite app icon, get stuff done”.

About extensions, he says: “there are a couple of cases where extensions are probably not in our best interest. And that doesn’t mean that we will prevent them, just something we need to be aware of. Extensions that turn GNOME3 back into GNOME2 are somewhat counterproductive for a number of reasons”: it’s bad for third party developers and it’s bad for marketing since Gnome 3 would not be… recognizable? I hope I got this straight. So, the problem with Gnome 2 was that we all had different looking Gnome desktops, and people didn’t recognize it as Gnome?

He defends the choice to hide the “Shutdown” option from the menu, since they want to “encourage” suspend. Last time I suspended my Aspire One on Fedora, it corrupted my /home filesystem… why the hell would I want to repeat that stunt?

Then, it comes the big one. Speaking of a possible Gnome OS, he says that in the current ecosystem, Linux is a given. What’s the ecosystem? MeeGo, Android and WebOS.

So, what ecosystem are we talking about? The smartphone/tablet ecosystem? Is this the central point in all this? The Linux desktop is no more? Are Gnome and KDE striving to get in shape for the mobile?

And, if the answer is “yes”, then my question is: why?

I did scan through the interview on my tablet, but then I powered up my notebook (with a proper keyboard) to write down this rant. Producing content is not what mobile devices are good for. This is what desktops are good for. And we will need desktop environments for the years to come.

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