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What the GNOME Desktop Gets Right and KDE Gets Wrong 267

An anonymous reader writes: Eric Griffith at Phoronix has provided a fresh perspective on the KDE vs. GNOME desktop debate after exclusively using GNOME for the past week while being a longtime KDE user. He concluded his five-page editorial (which raises some valid points throughout) by saying, "Gnome feels like a product. It feels like a singular experience. When you use it, it feels like it is complete and that everything you need is at your fingertips. It feels like the Linux desktop. ... In KDE, it's just some random-looking window popup that any application could have created. ... KDE doesn't feel like cohesive experience. KDE doesn't feel like it has a direction its moving in, it doesn't feel like a full experience. KDE feels like its a bunch of pieces that are moving in a bunch of different directions, that just happen to have a shared toolkit beneath them." However, with the week over and despite his criticism, he's back to using KDE.
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What the GNOME Desktop Gets Right and KDE Gets Wrong

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  • Yes I'm old.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 13, 2015 @12:37PM (#50099521)

    I know that a "cohesive user experience" is what the masses want, and what Linux really needs to become a truly viable mainstram desktop OS, and that doing so is probably a good thing.

    But from a personal preference standpoint, I much prefer the "bunch of random bits" approach. It annoys me that both gnome and to a lesser extend KDE are heading in the "one big giant thing" direction where everything is interdependent and it's hard to just run the bits and pieces you want.

    I use openbox plus bits of xfce, but I like dolphin as a file browser and gnome-terminal is pretty decent and there's a few other bits and pieces from both that I like. For awhile this was no problem, but now trying to get dolphin to run properly without a full KDE install and a gazillion services running in the background is a huge pain, and I've completely given up on anything gnome (partly due to systemd as I'm trying to hold onto openrc for as long as I can.. but even before that it was pretty coupled to itself).

    And again, I acknowledge that this is probably the directions things should be heading in for the good of humanity and all that, everyone using more open software is a good thing, it's just not the Linux I started with (over a decade ago) and grew to love.

    • Re:Yes I'm old.. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 13, 2015 @01:09PM (#50099853)

      No, almost all of the masses want Windows, and a very small portion want OS X.

      They don't want what GNOME offers. They don't want what KDE offers. That's why the following year has been "The Year of Linux on the Desktop" since 1996, for crying out loud!

      The GNOME developers have really fucked things up. They're targeting users who do not exist, and who never will exist. By doing this, they've absolutely ruined the quality of their software, and driven away their most valuable users.

      Just look at what GNOME has done to gedit [wikipedia.org]. It's hard to believe it, but gedit is a text editor! You wouldn't know it based on its now-fucked-up UI, though. It wasn't always like that. Gedit used to have a very good UI [wikipedia.org], before it was ruined. That's the level of unmitigated stupidity we're talking about from the GNOME project. Yes, they've managed to absolutely fuck up the UI and usability of a goddamn text editor!

      KDE hasn't fucked up as badly as GNOME, but they haven't made any real improvements, either. KDE's performance still isn't great, it's still memory-hungry, and some of the awful GNOME UI trends have made their way into KDE. It's only a 60% disaster, instead of a 130% disaster like GNOME has become.

      Your experience matches what every other intelligent and experienced Linux user has gone through. You've correctly observed that GNOME and KDE are, for lack of a better term, total shit. So you are forced into doing something you shouldn't have to do, which is try to piece together a working desktop environment using pieces from here and there. That's obviously what GNOME and KDE should be doing for you, were they not screwing up so goddamn badly!

      • Re:Yes I'm old.. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by bondsbw ( 888959 ) on Monday July 13, 2015 @02:47PM (#50100809)

        Just look at what GNOME has done to gedit [wikipedia.org]. It's hard to believe it, but gedit is a text editor! You wouldn't know it based on its now-fucked-up UI, though. It wasn't always like that. Gedit used to have a very good UI [wikipedia.org], before it was ruined.

        That's not even the latest stable version of gedit.

        The text editing (the point of the application) looks pretty close to identical in old and new. The only big difference is the menu and toolbar area, which reduces--in version 3.16--the size of the area above the text editor by 67% in exchange for putting the lesser used functions behind a menu.

        It might not fit your fancy, and that's perfectly fine. But others prefer that the UI get out of the way instead of always being in your face... evidently they won, this time.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          And what if I'm one of those users who needs that "lesser used" button every day, and multiple times an hour?

          I'm supposed to reduce my productivity because non-power users are afraid of buttons? You say they increased the screen area, but how much of that area actually exists when it's fullscreened on a 1080p screen? 3% improvement? In exchange for even more context-switching and modal dialogs?
          • by bondsbw ( 888959 )

            And what if I'm one of those users who needs that "lesser used" button every day, and multiple times an hour?

            Welcome to the world of keyboard shortcuts.

            I'm supposed to reduce my productivity because non-power users are afraid of buttons?

            It's not about being "afraid" of buttons. It's about maximizing your focused task and getting everything else out of the way.

            The thing I'm most afraid of is actually this opposite extreme, this [techwhirl.com].

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Burz ( 138833 )

              Huh? Gnome borrowed the design language of tablet touchscreens with the expectation that users would resort to using the keyboard more?

          • Migrate to Geany.

            It's a GTK+ text editor that works on both Linux and Windows and has a configurable toolbar.

      • It's a conspiracy to make you learn Textadept. ;-)
      • by rseuhs ( 322520 )
        Unfortunately fully true.

        I still miss KDE 3, it was stable, it was reliable and it was practically bug-free. KDE 4 never reached it in these regards even after many years of development.

        KDE is like the one-eyed among the blind.

        I truely hope that KDE 5 will be better than KDE 4, but I have my doubts.

      • Many KDE users were lost and feel displaced to this day. I am among them. I used KDE from version 1.x through 3.5 but... all the criticisms of 4+ are valid. I've met many others who feel the same--that the loss of KDE with the advent of version 4 was the biggest technological tragedy ever. It was fast, intuitive, and comprehensively functional. It was very practical and a joy to use... not perfect but very near to perfect. And it was the most preferred desktop for Linux, even if not adopted as the de

      • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

        To be fair, gedit has been broken ever since some hipster decided it should refuse to load a file if it can't figure out what the character set is. Get one non-plain-ASCII character in your file, and odds are gedit won't load the fscking thing.

      • by walterbyrd ( 182728 ) on Monday July 13, 2015 @11:27PM (#50104449)

        It is just a matter of vendor lock-in, and network effect.

        Office desktops are like office copying machines. Nobody is really passionate about them.

        Windows is just a standard issue office tool. It would be more trouble than it's worth to try to move away from Windows, so we stay with it.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Hipsters, their attitude, and their philosophy are what ruined GNOME. Just like with web design, Firefox and even Windows, these things were just fine until hipsters got involved. Then it all went to hell, because their ideas are incompatible with good software. They always put appearance over utility, which makes their user interfaces unintuitive, inefficient, and hard to use. They also always think they know better than the user, especially when they actually don't, which prevents their broken user interf

    • Re: Yes I'm old.. (Score:5, Informative)

      by morgauxo ( 974071 ) on Monday July 13, 2015 @01:36PM (#50100167)

      Forget file browsing. Try finding a decent cdburner GUI frontend that doesn't pull in a bucketload of either KDE or GNOME dependencies!

      I was a long-time KDE user and about a year ago decidedent to experiment with banning both Gnome and KDE from being installed and relying on lightweight window managers. It was only mean to be an experiment, I didn't really expect to go more than a week. Today I am using StumpWM combined with the pager (and only the pager) from Lxde. The only thing I really miss is K3b. Seriously, why does a program that is just a front end to cdrecord, which is more than capable of finding my burner rely on some integral part of KDE. If I install it without KDE it tells me I have no burners! Gnomes equivalent program did the same thing.

      I guess I shouldn't complain too loud though. Maybe someday I will take the initiative and write my own burner front-end and not require a bloated desktop to run it. You can write the file manager!

      • by Anrego ( 830717 ) *

        Indeed, k3b used to be elegantly simple.. then they added the bloat.

        And CD burning is one of those things that is a huge hassle to do from the command line because it involves multiple steps with intermediary files and long chains of options. It's one of the few things where I just want some basic GUI where I can add a bunch of files and click a "burn these to a CD please" button and let it sort it all out.

        • It's one of the few things where I just want some basic GUI where I can add a bunch of files and click a "burn these to a CD please" button and let it sort it all out.

          Windows handles this pretty well.

          You chuck in an empty CD-R, it gives you a new Explorer window, you drag files into it, and click "Burn" from the toolbar.

          Then you can just sip coffee and relax.

          • Re: Yes I'm old.. (Score:4, Insightful)

            by morgauxo ( 974071 ) on Monday July 13, 2015 @02:14PM (#50100529)

            Sure, for a basic data disc. It's not much harder with good ol' Xcdroast.

            What does Windows explorer do if you drag music files onto it. Do you get an audio CD? (honestly I'm asking cause I don't know) If so, what formats, does it handle ogg?

            Now lets see you drag a bunch of video files into explorer(it's family stuff you recorded with your cellphone right? surely i'm not talking about piracy here) Do you get something that you can pop into your DVD player and have a reasonable expectation that it will actually play?

            Mixed mode discs? Finalized or un-finalized RWs?

            My point is that there is a lot more to a decent burner program than just dragging some files onto a disc.

            • The feature set is sufficient for such simple burning tool. One can use a dedicated burning software for the additional features that you mentioned.
            • Sure, for a basic data disc. It's not much harder with good ol' Xcdroast.

              What does Windows explorer do if you drag music files onto it. Do you get an audio CD? (honestly I'm asking cause I don't know) If so, what formats, does it handle ogg?

              Now lets see you drag a bunch of video files into explorer(it's family stuff you recorded with your cellphone right? surely i'm not talking about piracy here) Do you get something that you can pop into your DVD player and have a reasonable expectation that it will actually play?

              Mixed mode discs? Finalized or un-finalized RWs?

              My point is that there is a lot more to a decent burner program than just dragging some files onto a disc.

              Dragging files to your burner in explorer will give you a data disk. I haven't tried this in 8/8.1/10, but I assume it'd behave the same way. What you *can* do, however, is add those music files to a playlist in WMP -- it will allow you to burn a normal audio disc.

        • by short ( 66530 )
          Optical discs are dead for about 10 years, since cheap flashdisks.
          • Would you archive stuff on a cheap flashdisk?
            • by short ( 66530 )
              Still more reliable than an optical disc. The real backup is on RAID6 with automatic weekly cross-check on at least two sites, this way I do it (although only with RAID5 myself, that is not great).
      • Forget file browsing. Try finding a decent cdburner GUI frontend that doesn't pull in a bucketload of either KDE or GNOME dependencies!

        I was a long-time KDE user and about a year ago decidedent to experiment with banning both Gnome and KDE from being installed and relying on lightweight window managers. It was only mean to be an experiment, I didn't really expect to go more than a week. Today I am using StumpWM combined with the pager (and only the pager) from Lxde. The only thing I really miss is K3b. Seriously, why does a program that is just a front end to cdrecord, which is more than capable of finding my burner rely on some integral part of KDE. If I install it without KDE it tells me I have no burners! Gnomes equivalent program did the same thing.

        I guess I shouldn't complain too loud though. Maybe someday I will take the initiative and write my own burner front-end and not require a bloated desktop to run it. You can write the file manager!

        Hello! I've considered looking at StumpWM, but I'm rather attached to my current setup with i3. If I may ask, why is it that you chose StumpWM over other window managers? What features does it have that you couldn't live without, in comparison to before? I haven't met many StumpWM users, so I haven't gotten the opportunity to ask this question...

      • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

        > Try finding a decent cdburner GUI frontend that doesn't pull in a bucketload of either KDE or GNOME dependencies!

        So what?

        The package manager handles any of that. Even on a smallish system, the overhead is nothing to be concerned about. Those dependencies are about the most stupid minutia possible to be worried about.

        They're invisible to most people (even geeks).

        • by Anrego ( 830717 ) *

          As a geek who uses Gentoo, I find extra dependencies means extra stuff to break down the road. Anything relating to media or desktop environments is still very much in flux, and I've found when something goes wrong on an update, it's almost always some gnome or kde library that some random package pulled in for the print dialog or some media lib (I wish ffmpeg and libav would kiss and make up..).

          These days I avoid gnome completely (systemd caused a lot of headaches, and most of them tied back to gnome someh

      • by paulatz ( 744216 )

        Try finding a decent cdburner GUI frontend

        I tried, but I bough a USB key instead

    • Re:Yes I'm old.. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by dumfrac ( 595394 ) on Monday July 13, 2015 @03:37PM (#50101209)
      I'm too lazy to change, so when Debian Wheezy shipped with GNOME 3 as default, I just used it. Now I am very comfortable with GNOME 3, and my productivity hasn't suffered. Hooray for laziness! (Oh, and I'm old too.)
  • by VAXcat ( 674775 ) on Monday July 13, 2015 @12:39PM (#50099549)
    " KDE doesn't feel like it has a direction its moving in, it doesn't feel like a full experience. KDE feels like its a bunch of pieces that are moving in a bunch of different directions, that just happen to have a shared toolkit beneath them"....so, it's just like every other part of UNIX, then....
    • I prefer to try to draw parallels between these reviews and audiophile nonsense phrases.

      " KDE doesn't feel like it has a direction its moving in, it doesn't feel like a full experience. KDE feels like its a bunch of pieces that are moving in a bunch of different directions

      And here's some audiophile blather I yanked out of the internet's anus:

      Pulling harmonics together from a jumbled auditory stream to form a coherent harmonic envelope.

      That said, it's really only the summary that is bad, the article actu

    • by fisted ( 2295862 )

      so, it's just like every other part of GNU, then

      FTFY. Unix tools are not a "bunch of pieces that are moving in a bunch of different directions".

  • There's no debate (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Errol backfiring ( 1280012 ) on Monday July 13, 2015 @12:41PM (#50099565) Journal
    Why should there be a debate? If you like one of them, use it. Otherwise, try XFCE, LXDE, Enlightenment, Ratpoison or whatever suits you.
    • by tepples ( 727027 ) <tepples@NoSpAm.gmail.com> on Monday July 13, 2015 @01:23PM (#50100015) Homepage Journal

      Perhaps the debate is which desktop environment to recommend to first-time users of X11/Linux so that they don't get a bad impression and misblame it on Linux.

      • I always thought Gnome looked a little more polished, and KDE a little bit "Fisher Price", but I'll still take KDE, far more configurable. My son started to mess with linux a little, I tried to impress on him that linux is the kernel, and the GUI is something that is interchangeable, but that's a lot more important on a desktop than a server, my linux boxes are servers.
    • by Merk42 ( 1906718 ) on Monday July 13, 2015 @01:24PM (#50100031)

      Why should there be a debate?

      Because my preferences are fact, and anyone who feels differently is stupid.

    • Well... for example, try finding a decent CD burner frontend that doesn't pull in either KDE or Gnome.
      Or try getting decent support for fast user switching or laptop features like hibernation without getting a big chunk of one of them.

      It seems like a lot of development that once would have been done as independant projects that run equally well despite desktop/window manager choice now get implemented as plugins to one of the big two desktops (usually Gnome). It's not that we can't still choose other things

    • Personally I find articles like TFA useful, and it's hard to see them being written outside of the context of that "debate".

      Right now I'm running a Frankengnome at home, and Unity at work. It sounds like GNOME though may be getting much closer to being that ideal system I'd like. I didn't see enough to convince me here, but I'll follow it a little more closely from here on.

    • I agree, though sadly I'm not happy with either KDE or Gnome (or even XFCE) recently. Hence why I'm typing this post on Mac OS X Yosemite. I've been using Linux for almost two decades now (I'm running OS X on one laptop, Mint on the other), and while the desktop situation has improved, the Linux desktop as a whole has always felt stuck in a two steps forward, one step back routine.
  • Geek war. (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 13, 2015 @12:42PM (#50099587)

    Can we discuss systemd vs init next?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    All power to you if you like GNOME Shell and KDE. Personally, I find them both to be bloated and buggy. KDE comes with a lot of crapware (my apologies if you actually do use Calligra Suite, but everyone everywhere I know of uses LibreOffice or MSOffice), and its colors & icons are very gaudy and dated. GNOME Shell is even worse--it's like if Windows 8's unintuitiveness had a drunken affair with Unity, and their bastard offspring refused to dress in anything but dark, depressing colors laden with stupid,

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 13, 2015 @12:57PM (#50099741)

    What I found interesting about the quote in the summary is I have the opposite impression of the desktops being discussed. To me, GNOME feels like a collection of thrown-together tools that sort of work together. There does not appear to have any consistency or cooperation between the applications and utilities. KDE, by contrast, seems to work well as a "product" to me. All the components work together, the desktop all ties into the KDE System Settings, widgets "recongize" similar widgets, allowing them to be swapped out for widgets with similar functions.

    On the whole, one of the reasons I tend to prefer KDE over GNOME is the way the pieces of KDE fit together to make a great whole out of the parts. GNOME feels to me to be too bare, to chaotic.

    I'm not saying the author is wrong or that I'm right. I'm just pointing out the observations we've made are subjective feelings, not objective facts that should be used to promote one desktop or the other.

    • by TyFoN ( 12980 )

      I agree with this sentiment.

      I will also add that the select widget of gtk and the file selection "widget" are the biggest turnoff of any software I have ever used.

      That said, whenever friends or family want me to install linux, they get gnome 3.
      Less things to screw up.

    • I think GNOME has evolved on this point into a more-cohesive experience than KDE once had. GNOME 3 is where they said they were going to do that, but I moved far away from all that around that time. So, now, I suspect the article is probably right: GNOME project undertook a major philosophy shift, and now we're seeing the benefits of it. KDE kept doing what they were doing, and now they're here.

  • by UnknownSoldier ( 67820 ) on Monday July 13, 2015 @12:57PM (#50099747)

    From TFA:

    > "THE Linux desktop in the same way that Windows or OS X have THE desktop experience"

    Disagree about Windows. Every version past WinXP feels like lets-slap-this-shit-together-and-ship-it. Proof: Why the fuck does Window's Control Panel constantly need to have different entries for every version of Windows when OSX's System Panel has more or less remained mostly the same throughout?

    Never thought we'd still be having flame wars over which is better, Gnome, or KDE, in 2015 ...

  • If what you want is a bloated resource hog, Gnome 3 does that best of all. KDE is also bloated, but not quite as badly. If you actually want to use your computer for something more than running the DE, use Xfce, FVWM, Openbox or one of the many Linux DEs that isn't devoted to taking up as much of your system resources as possible.
  • I wish more people would do the 'imaginary ideal language' thought experiment, amongst other things. Suppose I want a window with no UI controls, and all events sent to a simple handler, for the purpose of displaying an image or drawing, all one needs to write informally to make a program which does this is (as an illustration, using a python-style syntax with a few Ruby-isms thrown in):

    UI.App:
    w = Window().title("Image").handle(key=self.keyHandler,mouse=self.mouseHandler,midi=self.midiHandler) # see
  • by Megaweapon ( 25185 ) on Monday July 13, 2015 @01:12PM (#50099881) Homepage

    Some shitty Phoronix post about KDE vs GNOME? Is Dice running low on clicks lately?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I admittedly just skimmed the article, however as one who is running the KDE flavour of Mint I would point out that the login screen looks nothing like the one he complains about (it is actually more elegant than either the gnome or kde screens on fedora) and I can look at printers without entering my password.

    Basically he is comparing Fedora's version of KDE to Fedora's version of Gnome.

    Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

    • Exactly. Fedora probably has the very worst implementation of KDE out there, so it's no surprise he's found a bunch of things to complain about. I also use KDE on Mint and these things are not a problem there.

      I'd like to see him write another article comparing the Mint version of KDE instead. And this time, he needs to get an editor, so he doesn't make dumb grammatical mistakes like "on their marry way", and constantly using apostrophes in plural words.

  • Both projects have lost their way horribly. GNOME used to be the closest to quality and sanity, though. I'd be more interested in a analysis of what XFCE gets right and GNOME gets wrong.... but it'd probably be a novel at this point.

  • uuuuuuuuuughh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GoJays ( 1793832 ) on Monday July 13, 2015 @01:29PM (#50100089)

    ugh, who cares?

    It's all a matter of personal preference. That's the beauty of Linux, you can use whatever GUI you want to use. If you don't like it, don't use it and use one of the many other options available. I don't understand this debate. It's even better that at the end of the summary, the guy goes back to KDE even after saying Gnome is better. lol

  • by cecom ( 698048 ) on Monday July 13, 2015 @01:53PM (#50100347) Homepage Journal

    I stopped reading when I reached the point of him complaining that the additional buttons in the login and lock screens are "distracting". That must be some kind of a joke - if your computer is locked or you haven't logged on, then you are not currently using it! How can you be complaining of it being distracting? Are you just staring at the lock screen? The problem with all these moronic reviews is that the reviewers don't actually use computers for a purpose other than reviewing. It creates an absurd situation where the reviews are not only useless, but laughable.

  • by nickweller ( 4108905 ) on Monday July 13, 2015 @02:23PM (#50100613)
    "Lubuntu is a fast and lightweight operating system. The core of the system is based on Linux and Ubuntu. Lubuntu uses the minimal desktop LXDE, and a selection of light applications." ref [lubuntu.net]
  • tech writer spends a week using a desktop and solves decades-long imaginary desktop dilemma with conclusive analysis: 'it feels like ...'

    aaaand /. is raising the bar again!

  • When you use it, it feels like it is complete and that everything you need is at your fingertips

    No it doesn't.

    Which is why I switched to Cinammon.

    To get back the stuff that Gnome3 thought wasn't worth carrying over from Gnome2 but just happened to be critical daily functions to me.

  • This article is not worth the time. The author outlines in 5 pages his personal feelings about a Gnome and KDE. No technical insights or logical arguments. Just 5 pages of feelings. I surmise the author needed to get paid writing a fluff piece of complete waste of time article.
  • It is too much about telling me what I want to do, and not enough about letting me do what I want.

    .
    Every time I see one of these GNOME fanboi articles on /. I try installing GNOME and using it for a couple of weeks. And every time I wind up removing GNOME because it just does not do what I need. GNOME is limiting.

  • "Not cohesive"? Does the author realize what KDE is??? It's an entire collection of software, and it's very cohesive. TOO cohesive, actually. KDE 3 was nice, but rather inflexible, and that's the same issue with 4.x. I like the idea behind KDE, consistancy, but I dislike how tied together everything is. I currently use a custom setup based around the i3 window manager, and while not perfect, it's pretty damn close to what I envision the perfect desktop to be. It's not what most people like, and tiling wind

  • by nyet ( 19118 ) on Monday July 13, 2015 @03:47PM (#50101309) Homepage

    NetworkManager.

    STOP OVERWRITING MY /etc/resolv.conf

    And forget about aptitude purge or hold.

  • i have to disagree

    as a VERY LONG time gnome user
    gnome1 and 2
    gnome3 sucks and DROVE me to KDE

    now to be fair
    i was using a ton of QT based GUI programs on gnome2
    even using KDM to log into Gnome

    The current KDE4 on OpenSUSE is very usable
    -- a few too many configuration tools and options but that is better than too FEW

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