Open Source Desktop Technology Road Map

Jim Gettys Jim.Gettys at
Fri Nov 21 22:56:14 EET 2003

In reaction to Havoc and I being beaten into a pulp by Dirk Hohndel at
the Linux desktop conference last week, along with similar feedback
given the Gnome project by its advisory committee, I put together a
roadmap, as I understand the current state of most of the important
desktop related middleware.   While similar documents exist for some of
the major projects, others lack them. I decided that while I could fix
one, I couldn't fix the other (directly, though some progress is
underway in the Gnome project).

You are welcome to fold, spindle, and mutilate it at:

Comments are welcome.

Navigating the myriad of technologies that comprise the desktop (and
palmtop) on open source systems is daunting to say the least for
newcomers of all sorts, open source developers, developers in companies
using the technologies internally, and commercial ISV's, and difficult
to navigate for those not immersed in this development on a day to day

This document attempts to give a sketch of the names and relationships
of these technologies and projects, and a glimpse into their status and
development. Some technologies have never proved themselves, and/or have
been rendered obsolete by later development and are available primarily
for legacy code. This document attempts to clarify much of this natural
evolution and market selection. Ultimately, some technologies become so
rare as to enable their interment into the strata of software history,
and it can be important to know which technologies are in such a fossil
state, or stuck in the Labrea Tar Pits and doomed to extinction, if not
yet dead.

Some indication of the licensing terms is made.  See the Open Source
Initiative for an explanation of these licenses. Where known,
approximate dates of expected completion are included, but there is no
guarantees made. If you would like to ensure the timely completion of
technologies under development, you should work with the community to
determine if further resources are needed, and if so, to contribute the
talent, resources and funding to do so.


This document is the work primarily of its author, and the opinions here
are my own; blame me for any errors.  Please let me know of any
inaccuracies, and in particular, pointers to road maps of projects
mentioned here. I would much prefers to have good pointers to similar
project road maps than my current (mis) understanding of their time
lines and development state, which is, of course, in a constant state of
flux. Similarly, if you believe I have overlooked some key piece of open
source desktop middleware technology (as opposed to end user
applications which are too numerous to list), please let me know.

My thanks to Keith Packard, Jamey Sharp, Kevin Whitwell, Waldo Bastian,
and Eric Raymond for early feedback.

Jim Gettys <Jim.Gettys at>
HP Labs, Cambridge Research Laboratory

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