But why the rant?

Thom, you don’t need to rant to contribute your thoughts to the FLOSS process. You did warn that you wouldn’t ‘sugarcoat’ your comments, but why did you feel the need to dip them in venom? Remember that asking FLOSS developers to do something is kind of like asking if you can borrow their car — don’t tell someone their ride is a hunk of junk while asking for the keys!

I’ve answered your points, though, to provide a bit of information about where they’re at, and tips for where to look or how to get something done about them.

  1. Linux boots too slowly: This is true, but I’m happy to report that much work has been going on between the distributions and a number of upstream projects to address this. There is a lot of boot performance analysis going on, and even development of data collection and visualisation tools such as Bootchart.

    Thanks to tools like Bootchart, and developers fixing the issues it highlights, the latest Ubuntu release is significantly faster to boot than 5.10. I’m sure Scott James Remnant will be working on this again for Edgy Eft, cackling with glee as he carves bloody chunks out of our boot process. It’s always a lot of fun to watch.

  2. GNOME needs a better default layout for its panels: It’s good to see Novell experimenting with this, particularly for the purpose of end-user familiarity. As far as I know, they haven’t attempted to integrate this work — either design or code — with the GNOME community’s goals so far, but it will be interesting to see if it makes an impact.

    There is a fair amount of interesting work being done on future panel infrastructure and interfaces, so expect to see some movement on this in upcoming releases. However, keep in mind that a lot of homework — design and code — needs to be done before executing a change like this!

  3. Speaking of panels, please […] fix [the] ‘taskbar’: I’ve removed the wholly unnecessary rantage. Thom linked to a thread in which Vincent Untz (a GNOME developer) pointed out the relevant bug reference. He chose to link to his post on the mailing list instead of linking the bug number, has not commented on the bug, and is not in the Cc list.

    It is certainly asking a lot of a user to participate in GNOME bugzilla discussions, but I don’t think it’s a lot to ask of Thom, who has participated on the mailing list (within a thread that links to the bug number), and ranted about this very particular issue in his online publication.

    Thom, I’ve found that writing really good bug reports in the appropriate venues, and making personal (and kind) contact with developers has been vastly more effective at getting software problems fixed than making a public mockery of the developers. Mostly, ‘obvious’ bugs aren’t fixed because a developer is busy, or hasn’t designed an appropriate solution, or worst of all, has so much to do that he or she is having a hard time prioritising what really matters to users.

    We should totally fix this bug, though!

  4. GNOME has serious [widget drawing performance] issues: Yeah, it’s not great, but the ongoing work with the rendering subsystems (Cairo, X and GL acceleration of both) is looking really good, and will seriously improve the user experience — in more than just pure performance!

  5. Evolution needs some serious love: Yes, indeedy, and you only covered the user interface! I hope that Evolution (and possibly even some alternatives) will be a popular topic of discussion at GUADEC.

  6. GNOME needs better support for Palm PDAs: Yes, it’s been a long time since gnome-pilot has received sustained attention. Interested hackers should probably be looking at OpenSync.

  7. GNOME has too many ‘Preferences’ panels: Weeds have grown over time, and it’s time to cut them out! Unfortunately, this is mass organic growth that we have to get under control, and the only really effective way of doing that now is a top-down redesign of the preference dialogues, taking both gnome-control-center and gnome-system-tools into account. It has languished to a certain extent because it requires buy-in and integration from various parties and projects, not all of whom are running in the same direction. This is another thing that we need to talk about at GUADEC.

  8. Mounting is still a mess in Linux: I think you just found a bug. 🙂 While there is certainly work left to do here, I don’t think it’s as bad as you suggest.

  9. Ubuntu still does not pass my ZipDisk test: Ah, pet bugs! Have you filed this? That would certainly help, as would ensuring that a good hacker has access to the hardware. ZipDisks are not wildly popular anymore, so it’s not surprising that more work has been done on the infrastructure support and user experience with CDs and DVDs. Sometimes, you have to get things done yourself — if you can’t hack, you can probably buy pizza!

I’m a little bit surprised at the points you chose — there are so many other, probably more critical things you could have raised… But then, I’m also surprised you chose to rant — there are so many other, probably more solution-oriented things you could have done… 🙂

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