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A royal spat has developed between the GNOME and KDE desktop projects, following a discussion of the relationship between GNOME and Canonical by Dave Neary of the GNOME Foundation.


Neary's blog post on March 7 was apparently aimed at defusing a perception that GNOME was not accepting help from Canonical.

But, when KDE developer Aaron Seigo responded to Neary, with a rather straightforward post on his blog, which only reinforced the perception of GNOME as being stuck in its own routine and being difficult to deal with, the flames started to fly.

There have been two recent instances where Canonical has acted in a way that has displeased GNOME - one was when it decided to use its own interface, Unity, for the next version of Ubuntu, instead of the forthcoming GNOME 3 shell.

Then there was a spat between Canonical and the developers of the Mono-dependent music player Banshee - which is to be the default in Natty Narwhal, the next version of Ubuntu - over the splitting of royalties from music sales. The revenue was going to GNOME before Banshee was included in Ubuntu, but Canonical wanted to take a big slice of the money once it became the default player for Narwhal.

"Through the fall-out (sic) from the Unity decision, and now the fall-out (sic) from the packaging of Banshee on Natty, I have repeatedly read Canonical & Ubuntu people say 'We offered our help to GNOME, and they didn't want it'," Neary wrote.

He then went on to list examples where this might have been the case and called for help to resolve the problem. "I want to know of instances when GNOME has (allegedly) refused contributions or help from Canonical, with links to Bugzilla, mailing lists, even IRC logs or wiki pages. Let's get to the bottom of this & see if we can't solve the problem."

Seigo's response was, by his own admission, "potentially incendiary". He wrote that the issue which Neary had mentioned was "not so much about GNOME and Canonical as it is about GNOME and the rest of the free software desktop ecosystem and the regressive behavior (sic) being demonstrated there.

"The decision by GNOME to not adopt what Canonical calls "appindicators" and what we (and the specification that was brought to freedesktop.org) refers to as "status notifiers" is a perfect demonstration of the problem."

Seigo then examined the issue in detail. He ended by saying that though his post was incendiary , "...it needs to be said and I've waited a long time for someone else to say it. In the end, I'd rather be flamed to death if free software benefits in the process rather than sit quietly in comfort while we pull the roof down upon our own heads."

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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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