I took a look at GNOME’s recent sociological research, which set out to organize information about worldwide GNOME users and to get some ideas about who uses GNOME, what they use it for, and so on.
To start off, I found the relations between countries and languages to be extremely interesting. From a developer’s point a view, this is great for knowing which language localizations should be more of a priority than others, what languages the project development or support team should have a basic hang of, and of the general future of the GNOME-using community. The number of Chinese users is almost the same as the number of American and European users combined.
It’s also easy to see that the GNOME community is being led by students and learners worldwide that want to know more, distribute more information, and have access to more information. The vast majority of users are currently attending a university or college, wish to learn more, and use GNOME not only as a work environment, but also for pleasure. This shows that it’s nice that GNOME is succeeding at reaching out to both sides of the spectrum.
Most of the users are connected to the internet, mostly with high-speed DSL or better. A lot use Windows as well and, by a small margin, tend to prefer desktop computers to laptops for working with GNOME and Linux. Many however, answered they’d like GNOME to follow in some of the steps of OS X: most notably, they want to be able to search for menu items within each program.
The GNOME team itself summarized a few important points, such as (just to name a few): more “professional” applications need to be written for the Linux desktop, GNOME should head for the cloud (integrating internet activities more prominently into the daily use of the desktop), the panels should be redesigned, and finding things (be it files, applications, etc) needs to be easier.
I hope GNOME 3.0 turns out to be an awesome release when it comes by, and that all the information gathered can be put into good use.