GNOME alone: FOSS desktop folk to start counting in whole numbers again

What strange magic is this? 41st release and sequel to version 3.38 will be called version 40

43 Reg comments Got Tips?

Popular open source desktop-and-more outfit GNOME has taught itself a new way to count.

A post by Emmanuele Bassi, a GTK Core Developer at GNOME Foundation, explains that the project has reached version 3.38 and that “After nearly 10 years of 3.x releases, the minor version number is getting unwieldy.”

“It is also exceedingly clear that we’re not going to bump the major version because of technological changes in the core platform, like we did for GNOME 2 and 3, and then piling on a major UX change on top of that. Radical technological and design changes are too disruptive for maintainers, users, and developers; we have become pretty good at iterating design and technologies, to the point that the current GNOME platform, UI, and UX are fairly different from what was released with GNOME 3.0, while still following the same design tenets.”

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So for the sake of simplicity, now and into the future, the next version of GNOME will be version 40.0.

Why jump from 3.38 to 40.0?

Because, Bassi explained, “… the next version would be 3.40, and it’s a nice, round number.”

“The 3.38 release was the 40th release of GNOME, but this discussion came too late in the cycle to effectively switch, so we can say that, if you start counting at zero, the next cycle would be the 40th release of GNOME. By using 40 as the base, we acknowledge what came before, and we don’t introduce a large discontinuity in the number progression, which is somewhat the point of this change.”

So why not go with version 4.0? After all, Linus Torvalds has decide that Linux kernel editions can reach x.19 before tipping over to a full x.0 release.

Calling the next version of GNOME ‘4.0’ would have unfortunate/unintended implications about the platform

Bassi worries that a full .0 release sends the wrong message.

“With GTK 4.0 being released during the next development cycle, calling the next version of GNOME ‘4.0’ would have unfortunate/unintended implications about the platform, especially from an engagement and marketing perspective,” he said.

“We want to decouple GNOME from deep changes in the application development platform, so that GTK can be released more often, and provide “long term support” major versions, instead of delaying development cycles that inevitably end up into “rewrite the world” events. GNOME is not just a technological platform, but also a set of design guidelines and an ethos, and bumping the major version along with GTK does not reflect that.”

Full numbers it is from now on, then, starting with GNOME 40 in March 2021. The project will issue and Alpha, Beta and release candidate before issuing a new edition, rinsing, repeating and moving on to version 41.0. And beyond. ®

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