The Free Software Foundation has started shipping the Gnome desktop environment for Linux, which it claims will enhance the open source operating system?s (OS) appeal to consumers.
Gnome, which was introduced at the Linux World show in San Jose this week, provides developers with an advanced toolkit to build graphical user interfaces (GUI), which are customisable and can be made to look like Windows 95 and 98 or the Macintosh. It will also become the standard GUI for Red Hat Linux, the most popular Linux implementation.
Some 250 programmers have been working on the project for the last 18 months, most of them in their free time, but it has also been supported by a number of full time developers on Red Hat Software?s payroll.
According to Miguel De Icaza, the 26 year old leader of the Gnome initiative, it will help Linux to break out of its traditional techie circle and appeal to consumers, while also assisting developers in writing applications faster.
Unlike Windows or the Mac OS, Linux does not have a standard GUI of its own, but provides a range of GUI libraries for developers to use. This means that many applications ported from Unix environments come with a Motif interface, although the most popular Linux GUI to date is the K Desktop Environment (KDE).
But De Icaza said: ?KDE has technical deficiencies,? and not only uses up too much memory, but also does not include many features that developers want.
The Linux community is divided over Gnome?s merits, however.
Ransom Love, president and chief executive of Caldera, another leading Linux vendor, said: ?We don?t see a pressing business need for it. There?s a lot of momentum behind KDE.?
But he added that Caldera may decide to support Gnome as an option on top of its existing KDE interface, depending on customer demand.p> Cliff Miller, the firm?s chief executive, said he hoped software developers would decide to group behind one standard desktop such as Gnome, however, because ?it would make life a lot easier?.
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