Let's work on concepts and writing. The starting points are the GNOME Foundation charter, what currently wgo says, some work done by Claus last year and some emailstorming with Dave, Murray, Luis and Havoc.

What is GNOME

We want to update/evolve the definitions of http://www.gnome.org/about/ and http://foundation.gnome.org/ to reflect better what is currently GNOME.


  • The definition could be more about lifestyle and empowerment than a simple description
  • Community
  • Platform, Infrastructure
  • Project, not product (the path is more important than the result)
  • Creating
  • User interface
  • User environment
  • Universal access
  • Openness
  • Freedom
  • Software (in particular free software)
  • Love, friendship
  • Good for all
  • Worldwide
  • "GNOME is people" (I'm starting to hate that meme)


Comment and improve.

Latest proposal

GNOME is a broad community working on free software for everybody, making computers friendly, useful and fun. We provide a desktop easy to use, a cool set of integrated programs and tools to develop and contribute software. GNOME is available in dozens of languages and is compatible with multiple operating systems. You can find it across the World in homes, schools, offices... and also embedded in industrial or mobile devices. The coordination of the project relies in the GNOME Foundation, an open organization formed by volunteers, professionals and companies.

If you try GNOME you will love it. If you love GNOME come and join us.


  • is the goal a description of status quo or an achievable ideal?
    • The text is probably meant to be used on the web pages. It's a promotional text. Thus, it's basically a description of what-is with about 20% of what-should-be mixed in. --ClausSchwarm

  • is the goal a mission for GNOME contributors or a description of benefits for potential users? should these two be split apart?
  • if it's a broad community making computers friendly/useful/fun, why mention a desktop specifically?
  • "for everybody" is neither true today (not even close) nor a desirable design goal... target audience!
  • exercise: what competing, similar, or related projects/organizations would a proposed definition _not_ describe... an ideal definition of GNOME would apply only to GNOME, and not to most other communities, thus giving GNOME a unique and standout mission to contribute to the world.
  • if GNOME is a broad community making computers friendly for everybody, desktop and embedded, is it also so specific that someone can "try GNOME"? is it a single downloadable codebase or not?
  • if someone tries it will they "love it" or will they realize some specific benefit that can be described, such as freedom or ability to do _ ?

  • what does using GNOME say about me as a user? Kathy Sierra said in her blog it says that I'm a smart technologist. Is that accurate / desirable? If so, why not put it in here? If not, why not put something better in here?
  • In general, I believe the underlying assumption of the question is wrong: Is assumes, there's a single answer to the 'What is GNOME?' question. We need different answers. For example, we need one for visitors who accidentally hit our web pages. This might be: "GNOME offers an easy to understand desktop for your Linux or UNIX computer". It's not a accurate description but it's simple because it uses simple words: Most people will understand 'Computer' even if they don't understand 'Linux' or 'Desktop'; thus, they will be able to tell that this is no page to look for garden gnomes. However, we also need an explanation for the enthusiasts. And one for professionals. And one for the press. And maybe for others. We may even need one for ourselves because there seems to be some confusion about the meaning of the word 'desktop'. We may differentiate according to media: We can't say who will use our web page but we can guess who will look at our flyer's. It will be enthusiasts and professionals that we meet at conferences. We may also need different explanations for business people and for tech people. For one group, we may emphasize our desktop product, and for the other we may emphasize our development platform, and for the third we may emphasize our community. This brings us back to our web page because we may use slightly different variants on the page for developers, on the page for an interested public and one the front page. This is also what Kathy Sierra states in her books IIRC: There's no single explanation for everyone, thus she tries to present different explanations at the same time. We also don't need to over-estimated the relevance or importance of the definition like the above comments seem to assume: People won't remember these, anyway, if they are reading them once. To remember them, they will need to read and hear and see the explanation very, very often, and is is unlikely that most people have the attention to read a complete paragraph, anyway. We can hardly do something wrong if one "definition" is not perfectly accurate. --ClausSchwarm

Why use GNOME

Move here Claus' text (the Why GNOME HTML at the bottom)

General reasons

For hobbyists

For public sector

For independent software developers

Why join GNOME

GnomeWeb/WhatIsGnome (last edited 2008-02-03 14:45:57 by localhost)