Last Tango in fdo (was Re: Tango, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Desktop)

Havoc Pennington hp at
Thu Nov 10 22:33:53 PST 2005


On Thu, 2005-11-10 at 22:20 +0000, Richard Moore wrote:
> Ok then, perhaps f.d.o should simply put out a statement saying
> that what the people creating Tango are saying isn't the f.d.o.
> position, then continue to host it.
> As I said earlier in this thread, currently people's perception of
> what f.d.o does is currently contradicted by the fdo web site. If this
> isn't fixed then fdo is acting against its own aims.

There's a bit of a catch-22 here; if we could have an official position then we would have a board or something, and a
way to Decide Stuff.

But the main statement people seem to want is to clarify that we have no
way to Decide Stuff or body that can declare things. It's tough to
declare that we are unable to declare ;-) Who is going to write the
statement? Who is going to approve it? Who are they speaking for?

I can (and have) blogged about what is, and said it 1000
times on the list, and edited the text on the site as best I could back
in the day; that's my personal attempt to clarify. If someone else wants
to also say what they think should be, then please do
(many have). If a group wants to make a collective statement then great.
If there are specific people you want to hear from, then ask them. If
there's something you want me to say then (assuming it's accurate) I can
say it, though I warn you nobody listens to me anymore.

When I made the web site many years ago, I wrote down what I wanted it
to be, and I invited *those who were interested in the stated goals* to
get involved, and it has roughly followed the original intent (as
interpreted by the volunteers who've in fact been doing the work in
recent memory - i.e. not me). There is all kinds of random crap on the
site, much of which I haven't even heard of or appears to be pure crazy.
There are also some really good projects on there.

If we start editing it beyond some uncontroversial "is it desktop
related"/"is it blatantly offensive" kind of tests then suddenly we have
to be able to Decide Stuff - which specs and projects should be thrown

I have disagreed with what some of the people doing the work have done
in fact, when they tried to be too editorial about what's hosted. I
think we have to allow virtually everything, OR we have to have some
group of people empowered to make decisions. The latter isn't really the
point of the site IMO, and in practice falls to Linux distributions,
GNOME, KDE, XFCE, OSDL, LSB,, and many others who enjoy that kind
of thing. afaict remains a project hosting site for
desktop-related stuff that doesn't fall into one of the other desktop
projects, which is pretty much the original intention.

Misinformed Slashdot kids have existed for all the many years I've been
involved in free software, always will. But the other thing that's never
changed is that the people doing the work make the de facto decisions.

I suggest we just ignore the random web forum posters, or flame them
when they get especially annoying.

If you want people to know that you don't support a particular project,
or that a group of people doesn't, then just say that you don't (or have
your group post that they don't), and list the reasons. Right? I've done
that myself, I'm reluctant to list the specific projects I said were bad
since I felt bad enough about trashing them at the time, but I have
definitely trashed projects including some hosted on

I think there will always be people who think any project that's
attempting to "standardize" is automatically a good project, but I'm not
one of them, for the record. I don't see the point in spending all one's
time making one's project exactly like everyone else's project. To me
the reason is interesting is that when two projects both
need the same basics (like font configuration, or whatever) there's not
much point reinventing the wheel, it's better to focus on the unique
aspects of your project. But if I'm working on a project and think I can
make something better for users by ignoring even an IETF/W3C/ECMA/etc.
Official Standard, then I personally feel free to do it. And I can't
*stand* standards meetings of any kind, they bore me out of my mind.

I still think, as I've said before, that it would be good to put
together some kind of list of de facto agreed on stuff (if only Xlib). I
don't know if that helps with the concern here or not. But it does go a
bit further toward having "official" projects and by implication makes
some projects explicitly "proposed" or "unofficial." So if people want
that to happen I encourage them to make it happen.

Disclaimer, I have no involvement with or knowledge of Tango beyond
browsing their web site. I don't even know what the relationship to is, since I haven't done anything useful in quite some


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