25 Years of GNOME

25 Years of History


Early days

On August 15, 1997, the development of GNOME was announced with the following: “We want to develop a free and complete set of user-friendly applications and desktop tools, similar to CDE and KDE but based entirely on free software.” by Miguel de Icaza & Federico Mena Quintero.



On March 3, 1999, the first major version of GNOME was released as GNOME 1.0. The GIMP ToolKit (GTK+) was chosen as the base for GNOME and a major effort was devoted to offering a friendly platform for developers, supporting many programming languages. There were 3 subsequent releases over the next two years in the GNOME 1.x series. One of them was 1.4, and you can test it in a Virtual Machine. Download it here. (user: gnome / password: gnomehistory).

GNOME libraries and applications were made available for use in any application under the terms of the GNU Lesser General Public License and the GNU General Public License.

GNOME Desktop with 1.4 version


GUADEC in Paris

The first GUADEC was held in Paris in 2000 as a one-off event and attracted around 70 GNOME contributors. For many, it was the first time they’d met in person. Since then GUADEC has been held annually, organized by Foundation Staff, community contributors, and local volunteers.

Happy GNOME contributors at the first GUADEC


The Foundation

The GNOME Foundation was announced at the Linux World Expo in San Jose, CA in August 2000. The Foundation provides organizational, financial, and legal support to the GNOME project. Partnerships with companies were also announced, including Red Hat, Compaq, Eazel, Helix Code, IBM, Sun Microsystems, and VA Linux Systems. The Foundation was ultimately incorporated as a nonprofit.



On June 26, 2002, GNOME 2.0 was released, the culmination of major efforts with the dual objective of enhancing the user experience and dramatically improving developer productivity. GNOME 2.0 was the first release in the 2.x series, which saw 16 more releases over the next 9 years.

The introduction of the Human Interface Guidelines (HIG), allowed for a more predictable and consistent interface for users. GNOME 2 also had a host of advanced accessibility features for users with disabilities along with a built-in accessibility framework for developers to meet Section 508 requirements.

GNOME Desktop with 2.0 version



GNOME 3.0 was an exciting new desktop designed for today’s users and which is suited to a range of modern computing devices. GNOME’s developer technologies were substantially improved for 3.0. Modernised and streamlined, they enable developers to provide better user experiences with less time and effort.

The most important goal of GNOME 3 was defined as the unification of the user experience. Many flaws were identified in the GNOME 2 desktop related to windows, workspaces and application launching, some of which were labor-intensive and prone to errors. A much more holistic approach was needed to take it to the next level.

GNOME Desktop with 3.0 version



GNOME 3.22 brought comprehensive Flatpak integration for the first time. Flatpak, the next generation application framework for Linux, provides cross-distribution applications that are more secure than traditional Linux apps. GNOME 3.22 made it easy to install Flatpak apps using the Software application.


GNOME Turns 20

In August 2017, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of GNOME. Users and developers flew out from around the world to attend GUADEC in Manchester, UK and celebrate with an early birthday party. Jonathan Blandford gave a notable keynote on the History of GNOME.

Federico Mena-Quintero is getting ready to cut the birthday cake
People at GNOME’s 20th anniversary party


GUADEC Goes Virtual

With the onset of a global pandemic we need to move to a fully-remote version of GUADEC. We introduced our new instance of Indico as an all encompassing event platform capable of handling everything from Call for Participation to registration and scheduling. We utilized a new system - Big Blue Button - for hosting presentations and chat. This new remote GUADEC had over 700 registrations, making the 2020 edition our most attended GUADEC yet.

As part of our transition to remote events we developed the GNOME Shop, an online merchandise store where we can sell event t-shirts, as well as many other GNOME branded items, and ship all over the world.



In March 2021 GNOME 40 was released, bringing with it a new versioning scheme and updated release video style.


GUADEC Expands to North America

On July 20-25, 2022 GUADEC was held in Guadalajara, Mexico. This was our first in-person event after two years of remote conferences and our first time holding GUADEC outside of Europe.

Group photo at GUADEC 2022


GNOME Turns 25

On August 15, 2022, GNOME turned 25! Many of our community joined an early celebration at GUADEC 2022 in Guadalajara, Mexico where we had an extra special cake, amazing mariachi performances, good food, and great company.

Federico Mena-Quintero is getting ready to cut the birthday cake
People at GNOME’s 20th anniversary party
People at GNOME’s 20th anniversary party

Here’s to the next 25 years!

We look forward to many more years of development, with contributors old and new. We continue to be inspired by each other, and encourage you to join us in shaping the future of GNOME.


The GNOME community consists of hundreds of people worldwide, users and contributors alike. We are always excited to welcome new contributors! You can get involved by finding a project you're interested in contributing to and joining us on chat! Learn more here.

Let's take a look back at some highlights from our community over the last 25 years! Stroll down memory lane with us as we relive some of our favorite moments.

Do you have any photos you’d like to share with us? Learn how to submit photos here.

Group photo at GUADEC 2016
Birthday cake at GNOME’s 19th anniversary
Happy GNOME user posing with a GNOME sticker!
Group photo at GUADEC
Speaker at Berlin Core Apps Hakfest
Speaker at GUADEC 2015
GNOME Taiwan group photo
Intern giving a talk at GUADEC 2015
GNOME Asia 2016 photo group
Speaker at GNOME Asia 2016
People at GUADEC 2015
Group photo at GUADEC 2015
Group at GUADEC 2019 pre-registration party
Group at GUADEC 2019
Group at GUADEC 2019 pre-registration party
Group at GUADEC 2019
Robert McQueen with microphone
GNOME Shell team at GUADEC 2019
attendees at GUADEC 2019
group at GUADEC 2022
panel at GUADEC 2022
group at GUADEC 2022
speaker at GUADEC 2022
group at GUADEC 2022
group at GUADEC 2022 women's dinner

Fun Facts

What are three of GNOME’s mascots over the years?
Wanda the fish, Rupert the monkey, and GEGL the mutant Goat.
Other mascots include Orca dolphin, the Nibbles worm, the Ekiga penguin, the Cheese face, the Nautilus seashell, the Frogr frog, the Mallard duck, the Anjuta horse.
Why do we call the annual award presented at GUADEC the Pants Award?
The tradition of the pants award, also known as "the pants of thanks", is said to have originated with Jeff Waugh. Legend has it that when Jeff was the GNOME release manager he got a mysterious package in the mail. In it was a pair of pants and a letter that said "Hi Jeff and thank you for your amazing work on GNOME, here is a pair of pants." The Pants Award has since become a time-honored GNOME tradition.
Who won the Pants Award ten years ago in 2012?
The winner of our 2012 Pants Award was Marina Zhurakhinskaya. Alongside her many contributions to GNOME, Marina was instrumental in the expansion of the GNOME Outreach Program for Women and helped turn it into a groundbreaking program for free software.
In which movies and TV shows has GNOME made a cameo appearance?
Antitrust (2001)
Heroes (2006)
Veronica Mars (2007)
Citizenfour (2014)
Mr. Robot (2015)
Sorry by Justin Bieber (2015)
Silicon Valley (2017)
How many GNOME Foundation members are there as of 2022?
We currently have 291 GNOME Foundation members including both active and emeritus members.
What’s the right way to pronounce GNOME?
There is no "right" way! Some people say Guh-NOME, some keep the “G” silent and others pronounce it “Gee-NOME”. However you pronounce it, so long as you’re talking about freedom for your desktop, you’re doing it right!
Did you know that Outreachy, the internship program for underrepresented groups started with GNOME?
The program has gone on to include over 400 participants across dozens of free and open source software communities.