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March 3, 1999

LINUX USER INTERFACE GNOME 1.0 A WIN FOR FREE SOFTWARE

By CBR Staff Writer

By Rachel Chalmers

Wednesday March 3 saw the unleashing of version 1.0 of the GNU Network Object Model Environment (GNOME) on an unsuspecting Linux World Expo. GNOME is an integrated desktop environment designed for Unix-like operating systems, including Linux, BSD variants, Solaris, HP-UX and Digital Unix. Linux distributors Red Hat, Debian and SuSE have promised to include GNOME in future releases, and Red Hat has supported the project through its Red Hat Advanced Development (RHAD) Labs. Project coordinator Miguel de Icaza says GNOME’s graphical user interface (GUI) combines ease of use with the reliability of GNU/Linux. GNOME’s desktop can be configured for personal tastes, supports 17 languages and makes use of Corba and drag-and-drop. This release is the culmination of two years’ work on the part of 250 developers, the vast majority of whom are volunteers. The world of Linux desktop environments is an intensely political one. Unlike rival Linux GUI the K Desktop Environment (KDE), GNOME has never used any proprietary code. KDE used a toolkit from Troll Tech AS, which was not released as open source until December 1998. This was an anathema to adherents of the Free Software Foundation (FSF), the registered charity which predates the open source movement and under whose General Public License (GPL) most open source software is released. KDE, in other words, was pragmatic and early to market, but GNOME was more ambitious and more pure. The release of GNOME 1.0 reflects a growing desire on the part of a number of open source developers to get back to their Free Software roots. On a similar note, Debian founder Bruce Perens left the Open Source Initiative to rejoin the FSF in February. The Free Software movement is a very dynamic one, explained Icaza in a statement, GNOME is not only providing a desktop for end-users, it is laying down a foundation for standardizing a number of issues that have been ignored for a long time by the Unix community. Richard Stallman, founder and president of the FSF, added: GNOME is a giant step towards achieving the Free Software Foundation’s goals.

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