Quoting the Gnome website (circa 2007):
The GNOME project provides two things: The GNOME desktop environment, an intuitive and attractive desktop for users, and the GNOME development platform, an extensive framework for building applications that integrate into the rest of the desktop.
Back in 2004, my one and only computer was a desktop machine running, for the most part, NetBSD only. I was interested in desktop environments because of how they’d provide a coherent user experience on Unix systems. At around that time, the Gnome 2.x series debuted and I knew I wanted to try them, but they weren’t available on NetBSD.
I was the primary maintainer of all Gnome packages in NetBSD (thus pkgsrc). I kept these packages up-to-date for various years, doing semi-annually bulk updates of 70-80 packages if I recall correctly.
As part of this maintenance process, I contributed countless portability fixes to the many upstream Gnome components. These ranged from trivial
configure.ac patches to more-advanced fixes in e.g. how glib2 interacted with dynamic libraries.
I strived to make the Gnome pkgsrc binary packages best-in-kind, and I think we reached that goal. In particular, I wanted to ensure that uninstalling Gnome would clean up all installed files correctly, which at the time didn’t even happen on Linux: the packages would leave a lot of garbage behind in
/var. For example, I contributed a rather complex feature to
gconf to support removing unmodified entries from its centralized database. And I think xmlcatmgr was born to support the handling of XML catalogs that was necessary for Gnome installations.