This year marks the 20th anniversary of the GNOME project and I had the opportunity to attend GUADEC for the first time which gave some great insight into both the past and the future of GNOME.

The Past

The first talk by Allan Day “The GNOME Way” was a perfect openining for the conference as it established the core principles that make GNOME the project it is today. It reminds us that there are reasons behind what we do and ideals we should keep striving for. The mentioned Havoc blog post about preferences was also a good read for those who believe adding settings is a solution to problems.

Jonathan Blandford’s talk “The History of GNOME” established more of the why behind the principles of the project and put it in to context what events lead to GNOME being what it is today and some of the key players in that.

The Future


Firstly Flatpak continues to improve greatly (sadly Alex’s video was lost) and Flathub has now officially launched which I’ve been helping with. There was a BoF where we discussed a varity of issues that still need solving but everything seems on track to be the official way users will get GNOME software in the future.


Last year at LAS I met Jussi and learned a lot about Meson and since then I have been actively contributing to it so I was extremely pleased how in such a short time the GNOME community has really championed it as their build system of choice with dozens of projects ported.

I also had the chance to fix a few small bugs users had and get some lingering PRs merged. One thing I sadly didn’t get closure on was finishing automatic post-install steps. I made a work in progress branch but there were some edge-cases it doesn’t handle (see FIXME comments).


Tristian spoke about BuildStream which finally seems to be picking up some steam as a potential replacement for JHBuild and possibly usable by Continuous and Flatpak. Considering how broad its usage is I really need to get a chance to try it out with some real projects. I did add Meson support to it though!


A major problem that GNOME has is that there is a lack of developers and it is difficult for new developers to get into developing for the platform. Carlos Soriano and Bastian Ilsø spoke about their progress on the Newcomer initiative. I’ve been following this for a while from within the Builder project and am very exciting to see where it goes.

I recently just landed new project templates in Builder which are using Meson and now have JavaScript as a language option. My hope is that with GJS’ recent improvements which Philip spoke about including the recent documentation which I helped get hosted that we can get a a easy path for newcomers to start writing new software. I hope to help out with a guide or tutorial for this in the near future.

The Conclusion

This GUADEC turned out well and I had the chance to meet tons of great people from the project and I am even more excited to see where the project goes from here with the Flatpak and Newcomer initiatives as well as Ubuntu support having the potential to greatly increase the number of contributors.

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