Ramblings and questions regarding Fedora, but stemming from gnome-software and desktop environments

Michael Catanzaro mcatanzaro at gnome.org
Sun Dec 28 02:15:48 UTC 2014

On Sat, Dec 27, 2014 at 6:23 PM, Alexander Ploumistos 
<alex.ploumistos at gmail.com> wrote:
> I don't mind if gnome-software favors GNOME apps, or if Apper does 
> the same. I have no interest in promoting any DE over another, I am 
> only partial to echo $SHELL returning bash and while I kept my 
> distance at the time of the fork, I am well aware of the harsh words 
> that had been going back and forth. I am not expecting either side to 
> forgive and forget, but I would like everyone to take the hostility 
> down one notch (or even two, if possible), at least on this neutral 
> ground. Such animosity is saddening. In retrospect, perhaps it was a 
> mistake on my part to drag you into a conversation with a developer 
> from the other side and I would like to apologize to you both for 
> that. Should the need occur in the future, I will just convey the 
> gist to and fro and filter out any jabs or innuendos.

I think the use of the term "hostile fork" was more of a technical note 
-- the MATE project disagrees with the direction of the GNOME project 
and has forked it into something very different, with no intention of 
future unification of the two projects -- than a comment on the tone of 
either project. I've never seen any mudslinging from a MATE developer 
directed at a GNOME, or vice versa. Things have been more or less 
amicable between developers from the two communities.

> With that out of the way, the AppStream specification has certainly 
> made it possible for every DE to have an aesthetically satisfying 
> software center. But what about the rest of the distribution and how 
> is a terminal-averse or terminal-ignorant, new Fedora user supposed 
> to install something like let's say p7zip, which has no GUI? I don't 
> know if Archive Manager pulls it in as a dependency, but I think you 
> can understand where I'm going with this example. Should Fedora build 
> another program as a package manager (or have yumex installed by 
> default) or do we say to our users that they should not touch Fedora 
> if they are not willing to type a few commands every now and then - 
> hence my other question about our targeted user base. I'm comfortable 
> with either option, I would just like to know which one it is.

This has been discussed at length on this list in the past, but not to 
a satisfactory resolution for those who feel that typical users will 
need to install packages.

* GNOME Software is not a package manager, and it is unlikely to become 
a package manager. It's just for installing applications. In GNOME 3, 
command line tools are not applications.
* The current operating theory is that "normal users" will never need 
to install a package, and that exposing them to the package management 
layer by including a graphical package manager would be unnecessarily 
confusing. (Please accept my definition of "normal user" to be someone 
who doesn't use the terminal. Yes, that's a massive oversimplification, 
maybe not correct at all, and probably not representative of most 
Fedora users. Yes, Workstation targets developers, but not exclusively, 
and also developers who use fancy IDEs and who don't work with the 
terminal. I just don't want this thread to degenerate into a discussion 
of this lousy definition, since it's not important. What's important is 
that we want Workstation to be excellent for users who never touch the 
* p7zip, being a command-line tool, is something "normal users" should 
never need. If Archive Manager needs it as a plugin, it can install it 
with PackageKit if it's not detected, or it should be a dependency in 
the RPM if Archive Manager doesn't support that. Hunting down a magic 
package name to install is not an acceptable user experience, and not 
something we should encourage or optimize for. Alternatively, it could 
include an appdata file so that it's listed as an Archive Manager 
plugin in GNOME Software, but I think that would be non-ideal in this 
case, since users should never have to worry about having the right 
packages installed to unzip an archive.
* But if we're wrong, and normal users really do need to install 
packages, then we should probably include a graphical package manager 
so that users can actually find packages. I submit that improving GNOME 
Packages (aka gpk-application, the thing we installed by default until 
F20), something that's already used by other distros (notably Debian), 
would be a better use of our time than working on a Fedora-specific 
solution like yumex. Especially considering that yum is not going to be 
installed by default in F21.
* I have to install packages all the time, and I'd much rather use a 
graphical package manager to find packages than to use yum or dnf. But 
I'm a (relatively) experienced user and I know how to navigate a 
graphical package manager. I expect that if a novice user were to open 
a graphical packager manager, he would become very confused very 
quickly, and we don't want any confusing software to be installed by 

The question is: is it more confusing for novice users to include a 
graphical package manager by default, or to not include it? We're only 
talking about novice users here: an experienced user can always take 20 
seconds to install his preferred graphical package manager with GNOME 
Software, so we don't care about what the experienced user wants for 

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