I just wanted to mention that the GNOME developers have also been working on such a thing and I first became aware of it back in March when I watched the video What are we breaking now? by Lennart Poettering, Kay Sievers and Harald Hoyer. The talk about App packaging starts around 38:20.
In a Google + comment (not sure how to link to it), KDE's Aaron Seigo mentioned that KDE had pioneered a similar concept but I'm not sure what he was referring to. Maybe it was for the tablet-flavor of KDE he has been working hard on?
There is a lot of scepticism about the need for a new packaging format but everyone working on it seems to be pretty smart so I'm guessing they have good reasons. Just to clarify, no one is talking about trying to replace the underlying distro packaging system.
I created some fairly short screencasts showing off GNOME, XFCE and KDE on Fedora 18. This was primarily to show students in a class I'm doing the basics of each desktop and some of the common customizations I prefer to make but I thought I'd share them more widely. The were done using a SPICE connection to a remote KVM virtual machine and recorded on my local system with qt-recordMyDesktop. Then I used ffmpeg to convert them from ogv to webm.
Please note that microphone I used sucks and has a lot of background hiss. I have a better microphone coming for future videos but if anyone wants to do some Audacity filtering magic on them to clean them up, be my guest. They are 1280x800 in size and in webm format. I've embedded the GNOME one and provide links to the others below. Enjoy!
I may do a few more... for MATE, Cinnamon, and LXDE but I haven't done them yet.
It seems there is some strife in the Fedora community over the upcoming GNOME 3 / GNOME Shell in Fedora 15. Some people see it as a dumbing down of the user interface and others don't. I wrote a fairly long response recently that I thought I'd share here.
This is the "a lot of KDE 3 users really hate KDE 4" being applied to GNOME. I've been a KDE user since 0.x and remember happily compiling KDE 1.0 from source.
The GNOME developers have decided to go a direction you aren't happy with... and you certainly aren't the only one. Fedora dropped KDE 3.x when 4.0.0 came out... and a significant portion of Fedora KDE users weren't happy. The main problem there though, at least for me was that KDE 4.0.0 was too darn buggy and bordering on unusable for every day work. As a result I switched to GNOME. I wasn't really happy with GNOME but at least it worked. :) Then I watched each release of KDE 4.0.x come out and I tried them. I could tell they were making progress. Then 4.1.0 came out and I found that to be good enough to switch back. Ever since then the KDE developers have been making rapid progress with each release getting better. Now we are at 4.5.5 and 4.6.0 will be in Fedora 15. How many releases? I'm not sure... but I think they came out with 5 or 6 third number releases for each second number release... ie 4.5.0, 4.5.1, 4.5.2, 4.5.3, 4.5.4, and now 4.5.5. One thing I love about Fedora is that they have followed KDE's development and upgraded it several times each Fedora release lifecycle.
So, GNOME 3 is a huge change from GNOME 2. Let's consider how much of a change it is... in contrast to KDE. KDE 4 was different than KDE 3 but it still had many of the same elements... so I'll give it an arbitrary grade of a 5 on the 1-10 change scale. GNOME 2 to GNOME 3 (aka GNOME Shell) is probably a 9.something. While there are still some things that are the same, the number of things that are different is great.
To me, as a result of the vast change... GNOME 3 / GNOME Shell, no matter how good and stable it is (unlike KDE 4.0.0)... has a big chasm of disruption that I think a significant number of users will have trouble crossing over. There are going to be a lot of unhappy people. I'm sure there will also be a lot of happy people as well. Those are the folks who have probably already tried GNOME Shell some in its pre-release state and liked it... those who are better at accepting disruption. And of course completely new users might prefer GNOME 3 over GNOME 2 if they don't have any previous experience with either... or vice versa.
Should Fedora face the challenge and ship GNOME 3? I think so. Fedora is the distro where it is more important to make change happen than it is to keep everyone happy. That's just the way it is and Red Hat Linux was that way before Fedora was even born. After all Fedora dropped KDE 3.x and shipped KDE 4.0.0 as default one release (Fedora 9?) and the world didn't end for Fedora KDE users. Many of us probably switched away until updated releases made us feel comfortable enough to switch back... but switch back I did. I'm sure there are still those who were KDE 3.x users who have refused to go to KDE 4.x even after it became pleasurable to use... but that is to be expected.
There isn't much you can do about GNOME 3. The developers get to decide. If a significant chunk of the GNOME community abandons them because they can't take the vast change... then either they'll have to swing it back some to make those folks happy... or they'll have to just continue on and hope for a new crop of users. We'll just have to see what happens. But it is their decision to make... and we won't really know how it pans out until AFTER. :)
Keep your chin up.
Of course I do want to point out that this is in stark contrast to your belief that Fedora is wanting to pander to newbies and be another Ubuntu... unless of course that is what you think GNOME 3 is?!? I've played with the Gnome Shell pre-releases some and it seems more aimed at advanced users to me.
I found this video fascinating (although the editing is a bit erratic) so I decided to share it. I personally do not see the personal desktop (hardware nor software) dying any time soon.
There is a lot of passion in the discussion and as a result some passionate words are used that some might find offensive... so be prepared.
What do you think?
Short and sweet. Just discovered this trick. In KDE (currently using 3.5.4 FC5) if you move your mouse over the kpanel with more than one application running and over the apps or desktop area... you can use the scrolly mouse wheel to cycle through your apps. from all your desktops. An alternate keyboard method is with Alt+Tab/Ctrl+Tab but those will only alternate between apps. in the current desktop.