When KDE released its last major version, the result was almost a user revolt. Could the same thing happen with GNOME 3.0? Untz doesn't think so.
"Of course, we're always afraid that might happen," Untz says. "But the issue with KDE 4 was that it was not stable. There was also the fact that the interface was different, but stability was the real issue. We don't expect a stability issue for GNOME 3.0. We've been doing the six month [release] cycle for eight years, so we know how to blend stability and features, and we will always make stability the first choice.
"What could be an issue is that GNOME Shell and the user experience in GNOME 3 is different from what we have in GNOME 2, and some people might get confused by that. My take is that actually behind GNOME Shell there is nothing really new -- it's just the way that we are organizing all that. If you start using GNOME Shell, you quickly get used to it and start to enjoy it. I think most people will be okay with that.
"That being said, there will always be people who prefer the old look and feel, and, for people like that, we will still provide the old GNOME look and feel with GNOME panel and Metacity [the default window manager in the GNOME 2 series]. We don't know what the exact name will be, but it will be something like GNOME 3 Legacy, or something like that, a name to make clear that it's the old look and feel. From a technical point of view, they will be using all the GNOME 3 stuff except GNOME Shell, so they will still benefit from all the other changes."
Understandably, the GNOME project is currently focused largely on GNOME 3.0. However, project leaders like Untz are already starting to think about the directions in the next releases in the GNOME 3 series. He expects that two directions are likely to be geolocation and integration with social applications.
"Then there's the question of when we will do GNOME 4," Untz says. "But I probably wouldn't ant to wait another eight years to do GNOME 4. One of the reasons that we've been doing GNOME 3 is that after four or five years, the six month development cycle is ice, but you start to forget how to innovate. You still have new features, but it's all going in the same direction, and sometimes you need to change."
Looking back at the GNOME 2 series, Untz concludes, "Eight years was really long. We were waiting too long, and, personally, I wouldn't want to wait that long again."
Oh, and one more: 75 Open Source Tools to Replace Apps You Use Every Day