GNOME 3.4 for Debian wheezy is shaping up quite well. A handful of bugs remain to be fixed, but we are now in a polishing phase, as expected given the freeze status.
With upstream introducing heavy changes in new versions, it is time to think of what will happen with GNOME when we introduce version 3.8 in unstable. Namely, there are two categories of changes that have a heavy impact on Debian:
- several components now heavily relying on systemd for components that interact with low-level parts of the system,
- the fallback code (a.k.a “GNOME Classic”) being removed, causing problems for people without 3D support – for x86 this shouldn’t be a problem thanks to llvmpipe, but i386 and amd64 are not the only architectures we want to support.
Upstream is not hostile to people working on making their modules compatible with these setups (non-3D, non-systemd). However, there is a limit to what the Debian GNOME team can do, and people have to make choices.
The consensus in the Debian GNOME team is to focus the extra amount of work we can provide to the fallback code. We are already in touch with other distributions and people who are interested in keeping the differences with upstream GNOME minimal. Our common goal is to be able to provide a GNOME installation for all Linux systems, with or without 3D.
However, none of us is willing to spend time on getting GNOME to work without systemd. We will not work actively against it either, but some components will certainly recommend systemd, and the functionality with other init systems will be degraded. So if people want to keep GNOME fully working on non-Linux systems, now is the time to start hacking on the missing pieces for this to work. For the time being, it does not look infeasible – although we don’t know what jessie will be made of.