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KDE GUI GNOME

Attempting To Reframe "KDE Vs. GNOME" 455

Posted by kdawson
from the evolution-revolution dept.
jammag writes "Setting aside the now tired debate about whether KDE or GNOME is the 'better' Linux desktop, Bruce Byfield compares their disparate development approaches and asks, not which desktop is subjectively better, but which developmental approach is likely to be most successful in the next few years. 'In the short term, GNOME's gradualism seems sensible. But, in the long-term, it could very well mean continuing to be dragged down by support for legacy sub-systems. It means being reduced to an imitator rather than innovator.' In contrast, 'you could say that KDE has done what's necessary and ripped the bandage off the scab. In the short term, the result has been a lot of screaming, but, in the long term, it has done what was necessary to thrive.'"
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Attempting To Reframe "KDE Vs. GNOME"

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  • 2nd Paragraph. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tpgp (48001) * on Monday March 30, 2009 @04:02AM (#27385619) Homepage

    In the second paragraph, the blogger says:

    The claim sounds like one of those overly dramatic statements that some journalists make in the hopes of creating controversy and increasing page hits.

    s/journalists/bloggers/ and you've got this story.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by the_womble (580291)

      It is not an either/or choice - you can use any desktop environment with any apps (which means you have components of other environments runnins).

      I use XFCE, with Gnome several applets in the panels as well as XFCE ones. I use some Gnome apps (Gedit, Epiphany), some plain Gtk ones (Firefox, Deluge, various configuration GUIs, Thunar) and some KDE ones (Akregator, Amarok, Konqueror, Kwrite, Kmail).

      I am thinking of switching from Kmail to Claws, and I am not altogether happy with any file manager and would l

      • Re:2nd Paragraph. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by the_womble (580291) on Monday March 30, 2009 @04:44AM (#27385833) Homepage Journal

        Yes, I know the article is on development methods, but it still suffers from this. There is no reason why both are not fitted to survive: both approaches have produced good software so far.

        Incidentally, the fact that Windows is the most widely used OS, suggests that backward compatibility matters.

        • Re:2nd Paragraph. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by someone1234 (830754) on Monday March 30, 2009 @05:12AM (#27385943)

          >Incidentally, the fact that Windows is the most widely used OS, suggests that backward compatibility matters.

          No, lock-in, monopoly and inertia what matters.
          If you have those, you can force anything on your customers.

          • Re:2nd Paragraph. (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Haeleth (414428) on Monday March 30, 2009 @05:32AM (#27386005) Journal

            And what exactly do you think "lock-in" is, if not a dependency on backwards-compatibility?

            • Re:2nd Paragraph. (Score:5, Insightful)

              by noundi (1044080) on Monday March 30, 2009 @06:09AM (#27386185)
              What? That makes absolutely no sense. Lock-in means that you bundle two normally separated products to exclusively function with eachother. It can be the .doc format and MS Office Word, or Apple Itunes and the iPod, or even Half Life and Steam. The dependency can be a past, current or future product and whichever it is is irrelevant.
              • Re:2nd Paragraph. (Score:5, Insightful)

                by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Monday March 30, 2009 @10:17AM (#27388671)

                What? That makes absolutely no sense. Lock-in means that you bundle two normally separated products to exclusively function with eachother.

                Actually lock-in is any method which prevents users from moving to competitors by making such a move difficult or painful. It doesn't have to involve "separated products". I think you're getting lock-in confused with antitrust abuse.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by spitzak (4019)

              You have it somewhat backwards. Lock-in causes backwards compatibility, not the other way around.

              The weird thing is that Microsoft is as much trapped by it's own monopoly as anybody else. They cannot be incompatible, people will just continue using the stuff they already bought, or perhaps they would lose to some competitor using Wine or something and thus being more compatible. The very thing that traps everybody else into being unable to compete with Microsoft also traps themselves into being unable to co

          • Re:2nd Paragraph. (Score:4, Insightful)

            by socrplayr813 (1372733) on Monday March 30, 2009 @07:56AM (#27386891)

            Don't underestimate backwards compatibility. In a business environment, it's going to be one of the top things on the list. A business (especially a large one) can't simply switch because something else comes along. The cost to change and the (temporary) loss of productivity are too great.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by LWATCDR (28044)

            Hummm. No not really.
            You may want to use the term inertia but it really is backward compatibility that gave Windows it's advantage.
            When Windows 3.11 started making big gains it was because you could run your dos applications in it. And you could run more than one. There was almost zero windows software that really mattered. Probably the first Windows only program that a large number of people was probably office and Netscape+Trumpet Winsock.

            What is the major complaint with Vista really? It is that a lot of

        • by aliquis (678370)

          Incidentally, the fact that Windows is the most widely used OS, suggests that backward compatibility matters.

          Which could also be said for the lame attempts to save Amiga.

          Workbench 3.0 came 1991 or 1992, Commodore filed for bankruptcy 1994.

          And here we are and people still try to release systems with the same old or make a compatible environment instead of something fresh and modern but with the same "feel."

          Though, there are so much good software on the Amiga which one would want to run.

          I guess the same could be said about Haiku, but I have no idea how much may be new and fresh in it, and BeOS was more modern than A

  • by walshy007 (906710) on Monday March 30, 2009 @04:06AM (#27385631)

    Gnome and kde are designed for different types of people, in gnome everything is typically simple and straight forward, but lacks the ability to be configured the exact way you like and is less powerfl.

    KDE on the other hand, gives a lot more flexibility and power over the way you have things, but the trade off is complexity.

    Both will continue to be relevant to their different markets for the foreseeable future. Even if development halted right now.(not that it would)

    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      by X0563511 (793323)

      Insightful, but completely unrelated to the topic.

      The story is about development methods used. The summary itself says so!

    • by Tubal-Cain (1289912) on Monday March 30, 2009 @04:27AM (#27385727) Journal

      This isn't your typical Simple Gnome vs Flexible KDE debate.

      For lack of a better analogy, this is like comparing Apple's transition to OSX with Windows' NT-2K-XP-Vista transitions.
      Windows has been mostly successful at maintaining backwards compatibility, but it is starting to resemble a millstone hung from the neck. It's holding them back and getting in the way.
      Meanwhile, Apple broke backwards compatibility and now are not encumbered by obsolete paradigms.

      • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Monday March 30, 2009 @07:18AM (#27386575) Homepage Journal

        Apple broke backwards compatibility and now are not encumbered by obsolete paradigms.

        Except for their pricing model.

    • by donaldm (919619) on Monday March 30, 2009 @04:31AM (#27385759)
      I think you have summed this up quite nicely.

      From my personal experience I have always preferred KDE over Gnome but with my own laptop I have always allowed a choice for my wife and kids. For many years KDE was preferred although my youngest son liked Gnome.

      When I installed Fedora 10 it came with KDE 4.0 and that was a shock. For my wife the change was too radical and I quickly switched her to Gnome. I knew KDE would improve over time however what forced me to change to Gnome was the fact that switching users was impossible at the time. For a while Gnome worked quite well but I wasn't that happy with it since it always felt "old school" but usuable, however KDE at the time was painful to use.

      When KDE 4.2 came out to it was much more stable and had the features I was happy with so I quickly switched back and have been happy with it since. To me the new KDE 4,2 while different to KDE 3.5 is IMHO much more interesting and fun to work with than Gnome, however my wife is yet to make the switch back since she is much more conservative. My youngest son is still quite happy with Gnome.

      From the article the following quote is very relevent.

      You can see the differences in the current states of the two desktops from the reviews. Reviews about KDE are not always positive, but they are about large issues and shifts in the desktop paradigm. Reading them, you cannot help but come away with the impression that KDE developers are headed in a definite direction, even if you disagree with some or all of the details.

      At least we have the choice.

      • You could try what my wife does. She does like "new and shiney" but does not nessasarily trust it on day to day work, so she has two user accounts, one for "normal" and the other "Experimental". And she trials out the new stuff, then asks me to help switch the "normal" one if she likes the new stuff.

        She found she preferred KDE even though the change was quite drastic.

      • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Monday March 30, 2009 @07:22AM (#27386599) Homepage Journal

        I have always allowed a choice for my wife

        You're a hell of a guy. Next you'll be letting her go outside without a burqa.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by WaywardGeek (1480513)

        The choice of Gnome vs KDE for our house is more about support from the distro than differences in the desktops. Kbuntu is simply less stable and polished than Ubuntu.

        I think the article should have talked about the recent open-sourcing of QT, which I think is critical in the KDE vs Gnome debate. Last time around, I steered application development towards GTK, rather than QT, and I had all the developers work in Gnome. This time around, because of the decision to LGPL QT, I'm steering the app to QT 4, an

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Azaril (1046456)

      I realise that this is /., and you're discouraged from RTFA, but I think failing to read the first line of the summary is impressive even for here:

      "Setting aside the now tired debate about whether KDE or GNOME is the 'better' Linux desktop, Bruce Byfield compares their disparate development approaches and asks, not which desktop is subjectively better, but which developmental approach is likely to be most successful in the next few years."

      The point of the article is to discuss whether the design approach o

  • by HvitRavn (813950) on Monday March 30, 2009 @04:11AM (#27385653)

    Instead of planning for a 3.0 release, GNOME is opting for a gradual, piece by piece updating that will culminate in a 2.30 release. The change in version numbers is significant: It indicates that, unlike with the KDE 4 series, there will be no major break with past releases. This philosophy was obvious long before it became official last summer, and has the obvious advantage of not alienating users.

    In my opinion, despite Gnome's incremental approach, they are still highly successive in alienating their users.

    • by BrokenHalo (565198) on Monday March 30, 2009 @04:40AM (#27385815)
      In my opinion, despite Gnome's incremental approach, they are still highly successive in alienating their users.

      That, sadly, is true. I've been a big fan of Gnome since ~version 1.0, but have lost count of instances where the developers have arbitrarily decided that the way I like to get something done is no longer cool or trendy, so they break it.

      Having said that, I do try occasionally to give KDE a fair go. But I have never managed to last more than a couple of weeks. I just find the interface unnecessarily cluttered, and it makes me cranky. Or crankier than normal, anyway.

      At least neither of them are bad enough to drive me into the arms of Microsoft...
      • by cp.tar (871488)

        After Gnome 1.4, i.e. ever since the 2.0 switch, they've done the most they could to piss me off.
        Nowadays I flutter from Gnome to KDE to Enlightenment, depending on the machine, and each has its good and bad sides. But Gnome I like the least.

        Anyway, back on topic... it's the evolution vs. revolution debate, for the most part, and even though I am a big fan of the evolutionary approach, it is sometimes too slow to be of much use. I prefer KDE's approach in this matter: there are new technologies, new needs,

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by jw3 (99683)

          Well, in my case, the reverse is true. I started as a KDE fan (back in 1997 or 8), and the more and more I have seen and --- later -- experienced with GNOME, the more I liked GNOME. Every GNOME release seems -- for me -- to bring me closer to my personal optimum. As it is now, it is for me already fantastically simple and friendly, and the moments when I need to focus at all on the Desktop environment are really rare.

          Instead of annyoing me with whatever they change from release to release, the GNOME devel

    • I think it is not because of an incremental approach of GNOME, but rather because of their decremental approach.

      Things like replacing GDM with a rewrite that still does not match the original GDM feature-wise (it even could not do XDMCP for a long time and it cannot do auto-login for single-user systems even now), replacing Sawfish with Metacity, replacing Galeon with Epiphany, which - even with epiphany-extensions package - still cannot match Galeon (despite the fact the development of Galeon has been dorm

  • by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Monday March 30, 2009 @04:12AM (#27385659)
    "Ripping the bandage off of the scab" is a pretty accurate description of KDE 4.
    • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Monday March 30, 2009 @04:31AM (#27385751)

      You could say it is an Open Sores project. So to speak...

    • by Swizec (978239)
      I rather enjoyed that move. Never cared much for backwards compatibility when it comes to a DE as long as everything I need works and guess what, it does. So despite not having lost anything I, the user, have gained a lot of OOO SHINY SPARKLY AWESOME effect. And I like that. As a user that's exactly what I want my desktop to do.

      Just, you know, don't ever use KDE's built-in effects library or whatever, Compiz all the way. KDE is great for them desktop widgets, which are far far better than having icons all
  • by G3ckoG33k (647276) on Monday March 30, 2009 @04:41AM (#27385819)

    From the article you get the impression that KDE use radical changes whereas Gnome strive in little steps...

    How in accurate. Both evolve in little steps and both occasionally make radical changes.

    Gnome had a major remake for 2.0 which reduced the older clotted layout.

    KDE had a major remake for 4.0 which vectorized most of the gui.

    Otherwise, changes are small. For both.

    .

  • It'd be: which team leaves the less behind? The KDE team seems very interested in new things and leaves a lot of old feature behind. The GNOME is more conservative but slower in advances. Try XFCE in the doubltd.
  • KDE 4.2 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ardor (673957) on Monday March 30, 2009 @04:59AM (#27385891)

    Since 4.2, KDE4 has become quite usable. I already prefer it over KDE 3.5.

    The real edge of KDE over Gnome has always been the tech, though. kioslaves vs. gnomevfs is one example, KParts another. Add Qt 4.5 to this, and it becomes obvious that KDE is vastly superior under the hood. But, this is not what users are interested in. I do think that KDE4 learned a lesson or two from Gnome about this. I just hope they don't start removing all options because they think the "user may be confused" (just like with the infamous printing dialog Linus Torvalds was so frustrated about).

    • Re:KDE 4.2 (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Aladrin (926209) on Monday March 30, 2009 @06:12AM (#27386197)

      I have to say, 4.1 wasn't -that- bad. 4.0 was horrid, though.

      4.2 is indeed more stable and prettier, though. And finally firefox looks right again... A lot of the radio buttons and checkboxes wouldn't show up right on 4.1.

      At 4.0, I seriously considered a switch to Gnome. I even installed it to try it for a while. But 4.2 has totally relieved that feeling.

  • What? (Score:4, Funny)

    by DraconPern (521756) <draconpern@hotmai l . com> on Monday March 30, 2009 @05:06AM (#27385921) Homepage

    ripped the bandage off the scab

    Eh.. that is usually a bad thing to do.

    • ripped the bandage off the scab

      Eh.. that is usually a bad thing to do.

      Unless you're a masochist, and promptly pour some Tobasco on the open sore.
      Or you could be the victim of a sadist - KDE 4.0 actually made me scream.

  • Losing interest (Score:5, Interesting)

    by a09bdb811a (1453409) on Monday March 30, 2009 @05:06AM (#27385923)

    I just tried out the Ubuntu and Kubuntu 9.04 betas earlier today, and I think my interest in both GNOME and KDE is just about worn out.

    Both are really quite bloated. I've been on Debian and KDE 3 for years, but I think I'll be switching to a stand-alone window manager like fluxbox, or maybe Xfce, the next time I have to upgrade.

    GNOME on Ubuntu felt as sluggish and amateurish as ever. No amount of new themes and rehashed icons can improve GNOME. As a KDE user I was looking forward to KDE 4.2 but christ, it's so damn cluttered. I think they've actually added more clutter since 3.5, not taken it away. Every damn UI element flickers and flashes with a mouseover effect as you move around; some kind of indexing service is hitting the disk in the background; there's a plethora of desktop views or applets or whatever they're called, none of which I'm interested in; there's a new K menu that looks like it was a reject from Windows XP, and which takes several clicks to hunt around for what you're looking for; the default widget theme has super thick borders, even the pull down menus have thick borders around the menu items. The whole thing is just over-cooked. I couldn't make sense of it, frankly.

    Sure, I could turn off or tweak most of that junk. But I think what I saw today is what happens when you try to copy Windows and Mac too closely. You end up copying the bad as well as the good. You inherit the same limitations and the same performance standards. It's a poor form of competition, and I despair at how much programmer effort must have gone into creating all this bloated mimicry.

    Having said that, I only just scratched the surface. I know how good Qt 4 is, and I'm sure developing apps with the KDE4 framework is much nicer than KDE3. It's just that the result on the desktop (both of them) is a bit of a let down.

  • by sskang (567081) on Monday March 30, 2009 @05:32AM (#27386011)

    One of the major effects KDE 4 has had on the free desktop has been to light a fire under the metaphorical asses of Xorg and driver development. There has been tons of work going on in Xorg since the split, but until KDE 4 came along and proved that stuff like Composite could have a real effect on user experience (Compiz came first, yes, but that was more or less just bling until apps started using composite), there was not as much pressure and expectation from free desktop users.

    Turn on desktop effects on any system using KDE 4 and if you have Xorg with good drivers, the difference in experience is startling.

    The rate at which Xorg and some of the drivers are getting better is exciting, as is Qt and KDE itself, and this is in part due to the expectations that KDE 4 has set in the minds of free desktop users. Kudos to the Xorg and FOSS driver devs for stepping up. The next couple of years are going to be fun.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Turn on desktop effects on any system using KDE 4 and if you have Xorg with good drivers, the difference in experience is startling.

      Yeah, I especially was startled by the part where my textures randomly get corrupted. Really innovative.

      • by Narishma (822073)
        You must have missed the "good drivers" part from that sentence you quoted.
      • by dkleinsc (563838)

        Yeah, I especially was startled by the part where my textures randomly get corrupted. Really innovative.

        That is innovative. Would you have thought to randomly corrupt the users' textures for them?

    • Indeed. I really liked the part where the KDE devs seem to exclusively use nVidia cards with closed-source drivers. :3

  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Monday March 30, 2009 @06:03AM (#27386161)
    These desktops are so bloated with useless features that the choice is for the least-bad, not the best.

    To give an example, Gnome's file browser takes 5 seconds on my home PC (Athlon, 2GHz, 3GB) to list a 161 entry directory. A virtualised W2K instance on the same box takes less than 1 second to list the same directory - even though it's running in a VM and has to go through SAMBA on the host to access the directory. When doing this, I took precautions to ensure no entries were cached on either instance.

    Whether that's due to a mis-configuration on my part (tho' the Ubuntu installation is simply "out of the box", no tweaks) or because the browser is badly written and poorly designed, I don't know.

    What I do know is that this effect is not limited to the file broswer and is a severe demotivator for using Linux - or recommending it to others.

    Lose the bloat, remove 50% of the features, optimise the code, THEN talk about which desktop is best.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Aladrin (926209)

      Is Gnome providing more stastics, previews, etc? That would make a huge difference in the time it takes to show a directory.

      Also, have you tried KDE instead, to see how it stacks up?

      • by petes_PoV (912422)

        Is Gnome providing more stastics, previews, etc?

        previews and thumbnails are turned off - I was wrong when I said "out of the box" installation, as I turned these features off right after installation as it was far too slow. It does list the number of files in sub-directories, which is not configurable through the preferences dialog (or if it is, I've missed it).

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Neil Jansen (955182)

      Try disabling Assistive Technologies and reboot. Seems to be enabled by default for some Ubuntu versions. It will defintely kill the Nautilus experience, as one guy put it.

      See this page [launchpad.net].

  • by bhunachchicken (834243) on Monday March 30, 2009 @06:14AM (#27386217) Homepage

    As someone who has been using KDE 2001 (around KDE 2), I have to say that I think the latest version of KDE is fucking shit. It's a MAJOR step backward from KDE 3. I feel like the developers have taken everything that was good about KDE, thrown it in the bin, and made every effort to drive me to another DE altogether.

    Things that have so far fucked me off:

    • Removal of icons on the desktop - Seriously, WTF?!! (as far as I know) EVERY OTHER FUCKING DE ALLOWS THIS!!! (I believe it might be back in now, but in the form of a hack..?)
    • Panel Configuration - Before, I could right click on the panel, select Configure Panel, and get a nice window containing a bunch of things to be tweak. Now I just get this messy stack of... of... well I don't know what the hell that is.
    • Mounting devices - It was easy before, but now we have this strange menu that doesn't provide all the functionality that the previous 3.5 implementation did.
    • Some of the new DE is JUST PLAIN UGLY! The calendar, for one, doesn't look as neat and tidy as the one in KDE 3.5
    • ... probably some other things that I cannot call to mind.

    I upgraded to KDE 4.2 a while back after everyone raved about it, but ended up reverting back down to KDE 3.5. I'm still not sure what the KDE team are attempting to achieve, but I would rather have seen a KDE 3.6 with all the fancy effects than what we have now.

    I'm going to look very carefully at KDE 4.3 when that comes out, but I have little hope that it will reach the 3.5 standard, if I'm totally honest. Rant over. Sorry, had to get this off my chest. Am I the only one that feels this way? I'm sure when 4.2 came out Slashdot commentators were proclaiming it to be THE KDE 4 we'd been waiting for. Not me.

    • by petes_PoV (912422)
      >quote>everything that was good about KDE, thrown it in the bin,

      Well it is a hobby for the open source authors, not a job. So you can't really blame them for goofing around and doing the things they get satisfaction from, rather than taking a professional approach of requirements, design, debugging, support, documentation and optimisations.

    • by lbbros (900904) on Monday March 30, 2009 @06:56AM (#27386423) Homepage

      Removal of icons on the desktop - Seriously, WTF?!! (as far as I know) EVERY OTHER FUCKING DE ALLOWS THIS!!! (I believe it might be back in now, but in the form of a hack..?)

      Appearance Settings > Desktop Activity Type > "Folder View" (4.2 or later) Very hackish... so hackish there's even an option to do so.

  • FTA:

    "About the same time, GNOME developers started complaining about the limitations of the GTK+ toolkit with which the desktop is built, and looking for ways around those limitations."

    Theres one very simple way around them - get off your lazy backside and go and learn Xlib and extension programming. What do these whingers, sorry "GNOME developers" think is lying underneath all these toolkits FFS?

  • ripped the apps too (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rastos1 (601318) on Monday March 30, 2009 @07:07AM (#27386489) Homepage

    KDE has done what's necessary and ripped the bandage off the scab.

    Slackware moved KDE4 from testing into -current only a few weeks ago. So I was expecting that it is considered ready for general use. I was disappointed to find out, that the major applications such as KDevelop, Quanta and K3B are missing. And they will not come out soon either. KDE 4.2.2 will be released in a few days and still it will not contain KDevelop/Quanta/K3B. There are no dates given beyond KDE 4.2.2. KDE 4.0 was released in January 2008 (with alfa and beta releases published months before that). A year later the major apps are not ported. The change is too drastic if the major applications can't catch up in reasonable timeframe.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by lbbros (900904)
      No, simply K3b, Quanta, and KDevelop suffer from a lack of (human) resources. K3b was essentially maintained by one person (Sebastian Trueg) who then worked mostly on Nepomuk (now Mandriva is helping him porting k3b). Quanta depends on KDevPlatform, which is a component of KDevelop not yet released (again, because workforce is low).
  • There are two observations I would like to make regarding "development" of these two major DE for Linux:

    1. Duplication is a shortcut to madness.
    I regret the NIH mentality that still seems to be everywhere. There are many good choices of applications for both DEs, but instead of working to make a nice application component more robust and flexible and to work to integrate that with the other DE. People insist in this NIE mentality and write a copy of it.

    While choice is good, it is not a good thing to have

  • Attacking Microsoft on its own ground is rarely a good strategy, otherwise we'd all be using fvwm95.

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