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2002/12/17 - Michael Meeks


An interview conducted by Alain Buret
Alain Buret - For those who couldn't attend to FOSDEM last year, please present yourself !

Michael Meeks - I'm Michael Meeks, I have the privilege of working for Ximian, where I'm paid to work on Gnome (and other interesting Desktop related projects), I'm English, 25, 1m tall, hairy all over, and like bananas.

Alain Buret - What did you work on since last year's Fosdem ?

Michael Meeks - Lots of disparate things; auditing ORBit2, fixing nautilus bugs for Gnome 2.0, performance and efficiency improvements all over the place, and more recently playing with (OO.o)

Alain Buret - What is your main job at Ximian ?

Michael Meeks - Research and development of interesting bits of code I suppose. At the moment that means OpenOffice, maintaining the bits of Gnome I'm interested in in parallel, and poking my nose into other people's work on Ximian Desktop 2 (XD2).

Alain Buret - Many applications are already ported to Gnome 2, but do you think that most people already switched to Gnome 2 ?

Michael Meeks - Well - of course, since our platforms are parallel developable, some people are using Gnome 2.0 for it's improved speed, stability and beauty, and hacking on Gnome 1.4 stuff on the same prefix. Then again many of our users are not hackers, but workers, so they went straight to 2.0, with many people from non-Gnome systems. Other people are just testing the water with a toe and waiting for XD2 to make it an even more beautiful, integrated experience before diving in.

Alain Buret - Gnome 2 has been released a few months ago, and Gnome 2.2 will be released soon, what are the major improvements of Gnome 2.2 compared to Gnome 2 ?

Michael Meeks - There are lots - but most people have been concentrating on productising the new Gnome for release, rather than adding new features. Thus to a large extent Gnome 2.2 is a great yardstick for purely time based, 6 monthly releases. Having said that, there are plenty of nice new things in nautilus, and some great underlying infrastructural improvements, and additions to the platform.

Alain Buret - What are the next steps to bring a full desktop to the Unix community ? What do you think is still missing ?

Michael Meeks - Integration, coherency, standardisation, lockdown, management, ... lots of interesting things. Ultimately I think Gnome 2 provides an excellent environment to work in now - we have to focus on ensuring every application integrates with the others intelligently, that we have a coherent look and feel etc. (I applaud the Red Hat initiatives there). As for what is missing - watch this space.

Alain Buret - People often complains that GNU/Linux is not ready yet for the desktop among others due to the lack of support of multimedia applications. Do you think they are wrong?

Michael Meeks - Yes - I'm fairly convinced they're wrong; but then I judge what other people need by my own workflow where Sibelius via xmms is idylic luxury while I type. That coupled with the fact that I think projects like GStreamer are beginning to provide Gnome with a powerful multi-media platform. I'm not convinced Gnome is (or ever will be) ready for the Home / Personal desktop market in terms of the functionality that people expect today.

Alain Buret - OpenOffice has been chosen as the Office suite of the Gnome desktop. Does it mean it will be better integrated to the Gnome desktop in the future releases (GTK integration, nautilus integration, ...) ?

Michael Meeks - Well - of course, if your Gnome distribution is correctly setup, nautilus integrates nicely with OO.o in terms of point and click document editing. OO.o's GUI toolkit has the merit of acute simplicity and ease of portability, it has lots of downsides in layout and RAD terms - I'm not that convinced that people should care what widget toolkit is used under the hood personally. As for future OO.o releases - I'm sure that they will integrate far more closely with Gnome.

Alain Buret - Last year, the room where you made you talk was full ... so what do you expect this year ?

Michael Meeks - A bigger room - there wasn't much space in that broom cupboard last year :-) I'm hoping that lots of hackers, dripping creativity will come and be inspired to hack on Gnome and/or OpenOffice.


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