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Another GNOME issue that has caused some comment in recent times is the term GNOME O-S. Untz says the term was never precisely defined and that this has caused problems.

"For me the ideal O-S would be to provide users with a great experience and we should be involved at all levels of the software stack to provide this experience," he says. "That may include changes in design, changes in applications, changes even in the kernel."

He says the name GNOME-OS was probably a poor choice (it was first used at GUADEC in 2010). "Some thought we are going to start our own (Linux) distribution, some thought it meant that we would support only one distribution.

"We should explain more clearly what we mean and some are trying to articulate it more clearly. There are at least two aspects; one is to make it easy to test the system - building an easy test system for developers and contributors. The second part is building applications or changing them to fulfill the concept of the user experience which we want. But only the design team can define that user experience - I cannot."

Asked about the recent desktop controversy which was kicked off by GNOME co-founder Miguel de Icaza blaming Linux creator Linus Torvalds for the lack of progress of the Linux desktop, Untz laughed a bit wearily.

"In the minds of people, Miguel may be seen as still being active in GNOME but the fact is that he has made no technical contribution for about a decade," he said. "He has not been involved for at least the last seven years. He is not speaking for GNOME and this is something he acknowledges himself."

No interview with a GNOME developer of Untz's seniority is complete without a question about Ubuntu; Untz says he is sad that Canonical decided to create Unity as its user interface but adds that this does not mean that it is not using GNOME at all.

"We care about freedom; we should be able to do what we want, I have no issue with that. It's sad, but then that's their right," he adds.

"There is lots of GNOME's DNA in Ubuntu. I would have preferred it if Canonical had gone with GNOME 3.0 instead of Unity. True, there is some duplication but part of Ubuntu is still GNOME.

"I do not know why they decided to take this route but perhaps they have a specific vision which they cannot achieve by using GNOME."

The writer is attending SUSECON as a guest of SUSE

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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