At the urging of a GNUStep project member some weeks ago, and a recent note from them noting its release, I downloaded the liveCD of GNUStep-Debian and gave it a spin on my "other" laptop, the Inspiron 9300 that CMU owns. The awesome development environment is indeed present, and it's to be proud of - it gives about 80% of the coolness of programming for later versions of NeXTStep, which is still better, IMO, than programming for any other language, despite some modern language features simply not being there. Unfortunately, the rest of the system is rather unimpressive, with large parts broken. With a bit more effort, I'm sure they could straighten things out - their file manager is surprisingly close to being "the right thing" -- if it ever gets the polish it needs, I'll likely start to use it. As is, the broken bits are far too annoying to make the system worth using. One particular issue is poor integration with WindowMaker - WindowMaker, as I understand, was originally written for GNUStep, but as the project failed to materialise over the years, it's focused more on being a good general window manager for Unix/X11. It always provided its own widget set that let apps look/feel more like NeXT apps, but by and large that's been underused because, while non-GNUStep apps written in C can use it, few people want to introduce dependencies on a window manager's library (WiNGs) for their app. GNUStep, I think, will always represent the road not taken on X11, just as NeXTStep represents the Unix that should've won but didn't. Even if GNUStep has all its glitches fixed, the boat may have already sailed for it - too much has been invested in GNOME and KDE for people to change now. I only hope that GNOME/KDE don't ever become too central to Unix that other window managers will disappear - one of the strengths of Unix/X11, to me, was that people can choose their Window Manager and environment by their tastes. I worry when I hear about applications that rely on OpenGL to function, because they break X network transparency, which is very important to me. I've heard similar worrying things about complex relationships between window managers and applications - I don't mind having GNOME/KDE/WiNGs libraries on my computer, but if apps ever start needing really complex stuff from window managers that effectively eliminate third party ones, I'll be upset.
On that note, I should play with Afterstep again. It's apparently updated more often than WindowMaker, and I haven't played with it for over three years. One of the nice things I like about Windowmaker is that it's dual-route - most tasks can be done either with mouse or keyboard. Many window managers neglect one or the other, which bugs me.
The current score on the elections is:Senate:
- 48R-46D-1S-1I (S = Socialist, I = Lieberman as Independent Democrat)
- 219D-187R (For the win!)