No more gtk? (was - Re: Gtk3 for Xfce 4.12?)

Auke Kok auke at
Thu May 3 08:30:41 CEST 2012

On 05/02/2012 10:54 PM, Stephan Arts wrote:
> On Thu, May 3, 2012 at 7:42 AM, Mark Trompell<mark at>  wrote:
>>> Just picking Webkit as example, because it
>>> is a pretty prominent one, but there are more examples to find.
>> Before someone says (not without evidence) that xfce isn't relying on
>> webkit. We do for example rely on libwnck, which doesn't in its latest
>> releases support gtk2 anymore. So we're either forced to fork (xfce
>> did that for libwnck in the past), to stay with old dependancies or to
>> move on to gtk3. Forking is given the manpower of the project not what
>> we should aim for.
> I think you have just hit the sore-spot. One of our dependencies has
> already stopped supporting gtk-2, this means the troubles have already
> begun.
> I say, "Lets just port xfce to gtk-3"... the API-breakage is not on
> the application-side, so with the exception of themes and the
> theme-engine we can safely start the migration.

There are some predictions one could make for Xfce's future, based on 
decisions we take now:

1) stay on gtk2. Xfce4 doesn't go anywhere, all interesting apps move to 
gtk3 or Qt, or the web. We lose developers, and users, to gnome3+.

2) go to gtk3. We're now even less of a distinctive desktop since we 
build on gtk3. The fight for reduction of footprint in gtk and gnome 
libraries is lost. Xfce4 becomes a "shell" on gnome3. Only disgruntled 
kernel developers use it (pun intended ;)). But seriously, the edge on 
other alternatives that don't build on gtk3 is lost.

3) ... break with Gtk. Choose a non-gtk toolkit and core library set 
that isn't pushed by a group of folks that we disagree with in regard. 
Oh, btw, there is such a toolkit out there. It's mature, does all sorts 
of nice database storage, animations, painting on wayland, X, directfb, 
etc. Even has a video playback framework, is focused on embedded/small 
systems with low memory, and runs fast, very fast.

We'd probably lose a few folks attached to glib/gtk in the process, but, 
there's a large team of people supporting this toolkit that are lacking 
application writers, and this is where the Xfce community has a large 
group of. All seems such a nice combination of two groups with largely 
the same development goals and interests.

I think most folks can figure out which toolkit/framework I'm referring to.

Note: I have no particular preference, but, I really think everyone that 
has a long-term goal of supporting Xfce should consider all the 
alternatives, especially if there's a third one that is actually viable 
(think about how much work it will be to port every app to gtk3).

Cheers, and, happy discussing!


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