Skip to content

Gnome approaches majority (legal age to vote and drink!)

Alan Day ponders The Gnome Way and that gains a special interest as Canonical is folding up Unity and its dreams of integration of the user interface across all platforms. Day notes that the Gnome project has been able to maintain its core identity, expressed in fundamental principles, for 20 years.

When I first got involved in GNOME, one of the things that struck me was how principled it was. The members of the project had a strong set of values, both about what they were doing and why they were doing it. It was inspiring to see this and it’s one of the things that really made me want to get more involved.
The principles that the members of the GNOME project hold in common play an important practical role. They make problem-solving more efficient, by providing a basis on which decisions can be made. They also help to coordinate activities across the project.


However, GNOME’s principles also have a far more important role: they define the project. They are what makes GNOME GNOME.
Another reason that I want to talk about GNOME’s principles is that the project is going to be 20 years old this year. That’s a long time in the software world! GNOME’s longevity is a great success and something to be hugely proud of. It also comes with an inherent risk: as the contributor base renews itself over time, the project’s collective memory could get eroded. As a result, GNOME could forget its principles and the lessons of the past. It is therefore important to find ways of communicating the project’s principles and values, so that they continue to inform successive generations of contributors.

This illustrates the importance of a coherent identity for an organization. Day describes the principles he considers important. The fact that Gnome has survived and continues a vital existence indicates just how important knowing who you are as an organization can be.