The difficulty and frustration of building GNOME from source is a major impediment for many new contributors. Installing the dependencies, getting the tools working, and compiling major components of the desktop environment is a burden that detracts from time that could be spent making patches. In order to resolve this problem, the developers from rPath have created the GNOME Developer Kit, a complete environment for testing and developing GNOME.
The GNOME Developer Kit is based on the Foresight Linux distribution and includes regularly updated packages built from the latest code in GNOME’s version control system. The Developer Kit is made available as a VMware image as well as an installable ISO. The included package management system can be used to keep the system up to date as changes are made to GNOME during the development cycle.
“Once you download it, you will easily be able to update it every day with PackageKit or Conary, so no need to download new versions,” said rPath’s Ken VanDine in a blog entry. “There will be new downloads available regularly, probably daily, so when you download it, it will be ready to go immediately, without waiting for additional updates. The best of both worlds!”
In addition to providing a complete GNOME desktop environment, the GNOME Developer Kit also includes some experimental components that are under active development or being considered for inclusion in GNOME. For instance, Empathy, PulseAudio, PolicyKit, and PackageKit are all included by default. Although I like a lot of the nice things that are included in the GNOME Developer Kit, there are still a few other extras that I’d like to see added. In particular, I think it would be really nice if it included Mono and MonoDevelop from the latest sources.