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GTK 3.20 breakage in Debian, GDM3, Wayland and Technical Debt.

For about a month and a half now, GTK 3.20 has come in Debian testing. While this is good as GNOME 3.20 was released about couple of months back it broke the themes that are in Debian. A bug has been filed for that .

There has been little in way of documentation about how to fix the themes which reminds me of how Pulseaudio was off-putting when it first came to most people due to incomplete documentation, the breakage and not knowing where to look to fix things or even look up unit-tests, functional tests to understand where the breakage was happening.

It does seem that the GNOME team dropped the ball on this release. A more interesting read of the issue can be seen in this bug thread . I especially like the answer that Michael gave which does tell how much undocumented it really is.

Although if you read Mathias MClasen’s blog post it seems more or less in-line with how regular CSS web-development takes place, so pretty much in-line with GNOME’s stated goals of making GNOME very much a web-development platform so more web-developers could write and support GNOME rather than having to learn C or some other language to write for it. This has been their one of the stated goals from long back, I think circa 2012 or even before.

I updated GDM3 both on my workstation and lappy on testing today. It was interesting to see this :-

gdm3 (3.20.1-1) unstable; urgency=medium

* New upstream release.
* Restore debian/patches/09_default_session.patch as we postponed the switch
to Wayland.
* Upload to unstable.

— Michael Biebl Wed, 20 Apr 2016 00:44:11 +0200

I love Michael as time and again he has shown he cares for users like us. He knows/knew that GNOME 3.20 breakage is bad enough and switching to Wayland which would have its own set of breakages and pain (as it has not been tested wide enough and there is no knowledge of what corner-cases might be.) hence he made the wise decision of postponing it. It is very much possible that in the near future he may put a GDM3 release in experimental for people to test and report what breakage might be with a way to get back in case it doesn’t work, he has done for Pulseaudio in past when the changes could have breakages for users. Also I guess he will have the traditional X.org servers and display infrastructure around for quite sometime till most basic and intermittent corner-cases are fixed and most people upgrade. Let’s see when that happens🙂

Lastly, I was reading http://lwn.net/Articles/686502/ as well as http://blog.ometer.com/2016/05/04/professional-corner-cutting/ . Both of them make for some pretty interesting reading. Thoughts welcome🙂

Update 24/05/2016 – Michael has shared his insight via email but till I don’t get permission from him to put it on post, it’s on hold.

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