Documentation to be part of the user guide.
This is to be at the beginning of the user guide, to serve as an introduction and promote GNOME and free software.
<title>About GNOME</title> GNOME is a community effort to create a free software desktop environment, along with a state of the art platform for programmers. Our efforts actually go beyond this, as we also provide much of the superstructure needed for our work. We strive to create the highest quality software, in accordance with our founding principles of which freedom, usability, stability and accessibility are but a few. GNOME provides you with the tools to be productive with your computer, while avoiding the troubles that any traditional user will be familiar with. GNOME is free software, and is one of the most important aspects of our project, and is what inspired the creation of GNOME. Free software guarantees you some very important basic freedoms, and gives you great advantages over traditional software. Virtually all commercial software today is the unconditional propriety of the software editor, no matter how much it "costs". The editor doesn't sell software, but rather charges for a license that dictates show the client is allowed to use the software. In stark contrast, free software, such as GNOME, grants you the freedom to do whatever you like with it. It also guarantees your right to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software. To understand what GNOME looks like, you can visualise it as what you see on your screen when you start a GNOME session. The panels, their menus and icons, your desktop, file manager any many of your system utilities are all part of the GNOME desktop. GNOME manages windows, provides you with virtual desktops, games, document and image viewers and much more. GNOME is usually acquired as part of a free software distribution, tightly integrated with other free software components for an amazing user experience. GNOME's elegant design makes it intuitive and easy to use for everybody. A great deal of effort goes into the ergonomy of our software. Usability is paramount to us, so we make the most complex tasks easy, without compromising on power. GNOME is ambivalent, suitable for everyone, from the novice to the most demanding professional. Our documentation strives to clearly explain each and every feature ; help on your current task is always just a click away ! To achieve such high quality, many of our developers are very experienced professionals, some are even sponsored by major corporations to work on free software. It is with great pride that we can state that some of our developers are considered the best in the world, and this talent is of course not lost on GNOME, which boasts greatly above average stability, efficiency and power. We translate GNOME into many languages, thanks to it's great support for internationalisation. This not only demolishes the language barrier encountered with much of today's software, but helps alleviate the problems that some populations still have accessing software. One thing that is very important to us is to guarantee that GNOME may be used by all. Thus we provide mechanisms so that people who have the misfortune of not enjoying all the abilities that most of us enjoy are not further penalised by inaccessible software. GNOME is constantly evolving. We release a new version every six months, incrementally adding new features while constantly consolidating our base. Rather than proceeding with major fundamental changes over long periods of time, we mimic nature's evolutionary process, improving things little by little, and adapting to constantly changing technology. Catering to software developers is also important to us. We provide advanced tools, infrastructure, documentation and community support for them, rivalling with today's best platforms. We give them all the advantages they have grown to expect from a modern platform, plus innovative and novel features in a coherent and adaptable platform. Free software gives developers the possibility to inspect and modify the platform itself, letting them adapt the environment to their specific needs - GNOME works for them, rather than them working for the system. The cooperation between GNOME and the developer is unparallelled, we give them them unprecedented access to a process that is usually regretfully opaque to them. <title>History of GNOME</title> Any piece of free software can be a contribution to freedom; but GNOME is special: it was launched specifically with freedom in mind. In 1997 a major free software desktop already existed, but disastrously it was based on a proprietary (non-free?) toolkit. This was a great problem, as the desktop could not be run without proprietary software. When the GNU project was ready for a desktop, it launched two parallel projects : one of them was called Harmony, a project to develop a free software replacement for the proprietary parts of KDE and the other was GNOME, a project headed by Miguel de Icaza and Federico Mena to develop a free software desktop for the GNU operating system. The competition was already established, so to help achieve success it was decided to allow non-free applications to work with GNOME. To achieve this, it was decided to use the LGPL, a free software license that allows for non-free software, for the GNOME core. It still seems that using the LGPL for core GNOME libraries was a very good policy, and we still want to encourage the developers of non-free apps to make them work with GNOME. The company that owned the proprietary parts of KDE released them as free software very soon after and Harmony became unnecessary and was dropped. GNOME however had already become a success, and there were, and still are, many advantages to having two desktops [it keeps the trolls busy so they do little real damage:]. Since KDE became free software, cooperation with KDE developers works very well, common parts of the desktops are developed in unison.