Originally Published: Thursday, 31 August 2000 Author: Master Sibn
Published to: featured_articles/Featured Articles Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

KDE: Konspiracy, Kalumny, Konsternation?

Over the last week, I've seen some interesting responses to the recent birth of the GNOME Foundation, led by such technology giants as IBM and Hewlett-Packard. Some of the replies were very tame, but looking at a recent Linux.com article by Monty Manley titled The Gnome Ascendant, and reading the comments, was an eye-opener.

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I generally try to avoid jumping on the newest newsboat topic, but here I see something that actually is doing damage. It comes as a great comfort to me that the most fierce Linux criticisms come directly from inside the community; of all the people in the world, those who have the worst things to say about Linux are those who are most experienced with it, and who don't use other operating systems.

But once in a while, a pressure cooker can explode if it's not handled carefully enough. I think it's in our best interests to cool it down before it gets too hot.

Over the last week, I've seen some interesting responses to the recent birth of the GNOME Foundation, led by such technology giants as IBM and Hewlett-Packard. Some of the replies were very tame, but looking at a recent Linux.com article by Monty Manley titled The Gnome Ascendant, and reading the comments, was an eye-opener.

One of the respondents indicated that the portrayal of KDE in that light could encourage those on shaky ground to abandon the Linux project. His comment garnered a comment of such a person, who remained anonymous. The second respondent revealed that he was such a Linux user, who is on the verge of switching back to Windows; at least he has the standard interface there.

This can't be taken lightly; it's easy to say "If you don't like it, leave." But if we do that, we will never take over the world. I tend to be that way myself sometimes and let complacency get the better of me. Rather than find out what's wrong, I will ignore the problem.

A few important things the KDE team and its advocates should realize, however, is that although GNOME is now considered by many to be "the default desktop," that really doesn't mean anything. Consider that we still have the ultimate choice in what software powers our desktop.

There is no anti-KDE conspiracy brewing; at least none with actual conspiracy coordination. I don't like KDE, and never have. It's not because I dislike the language or licensing (although the more I think about it, the less sense it makes), it's because I don't like the feel of the environment. If that's a result of the Qt widget set as I'll wager it is, then in order to fully win me over as a KDE user, Qt must be evolved out of the environment.

Some conspiracy theorists have speculated (not altogether quietly) that the favoritism being shown the GNOME Foundation is mostly as a result of the fact that KDE is primarily maintained by Europeans, while GNOME is born in the USA. As an impartial journalist, let me tell you that I had no idea that KDE was from Europe until reading it there. I didn't know it then, and I don't care about it now. I will use whatever software allows me to work comfortably and in a productive manner.

Right now, that means GNOME.

Perhaps soon, I will stop using GNOME, and just try my luck with XFree86 and Window Maker. But given all the controversy and negative light being awarded KDE, I must confess that no publicity is bad publicity; I'm going to use KDE for a while when I get my computer back.

I will learn to use it efficiently, if not comfortably. I will be at least semi-proficient by the time I stop using it. And when KDE 2 comes out, I will take it for a test drive, just as I gave GNOME the benefit of the doubt when version 1.2 rolled around.

The fact is, many KDE users are discouraged because their desktop is not the "popular" one. This is not really a bad thing, per se; after all, we all use Netscape, Opera, Lynx, or some other "not-Microsoft" browser when we all know perfectly well that Internet Explorer accounts for the majority of page views online. Linux itself is still in a minority.

Although I can't thank the KDE team for meeting my personal expectations, I can (and will) commend them for a job admirably well done. They have met (and continue to meet) their design goals in providing a familiar and easy-to-use interface. I am eagerly awaiting KDE 2, as I've heard it really is "all that & a bag of chips."

As for the rest of you KDE fans, don't despair; there's always room for more Open Source software. As long as there are people who like KDE, it will continue to grow and improve, regardless of whether or not it is the popular choice for desktop environments. If you really need applicable proof, just look at how far GNOME has come because of its until-now-limited favor with the world.

-msibn would really like it if we could all settle down and realize that freedom is a good thing. He also desperately wants to finish moving into his new house so he can have his Linux computer back...





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