Linked by Eugenia Loli on Mon 10th Mar 2003 21:25 UTC
Original OSNews Interviews This article we host here today is a must read for all Gnome and KDE users. We are happy to feature an exclusive interview with Waldo Bastian and Aaron J. Seigo from the KDE project and Havoc Pennington from the Gnome project. Waldo and Havoc are developers working on many "under the hood" places of their respective DEs, but they are also "sensitive" at UI and usability issues, so we could also call them "usability engineers". Aaron is the head of usability in the KDE project. All three of them were... brave enough to answer twelve hard questions about interoperability, standards, UI etc. between the two leading Unix DEs. Note that this is not a Gnome Vs KDE article, it is in fact exactly the opposite: 'KDE for Gnome' and 'Gnome for KDE'. The begining of a deeper collaboration and sharing that will bring the Unix desktop into a new era.
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by Mario on Mon 10th Mar 2003 06:49 UTC

I have to say this is the best interview I have ever read, well thought out, detailed and long!

No questions about the open/save dialog box
by Alex (The Original) on Mon 10th Mar 2003 07:07 UTC

I think this is very important for a modern desktop environment. I reckon they should have been asked about the Open/Save file selectors, why GNOME's one is so poor and what is GNOME's position about their file selectors.

Did you read the interview? Havoc links to info about the new File Selector for Gnome. It is work in progress, and I think someone said that it will be ready for Gnome 2.4.

certainly puts a lot of things in perspective, but
by offtangent on Mon 10th Mar 2003 07:17 UTC

still leaves Q.11 largely unanswered. The fact that they dont really have any concrete plans to improve consistency between the two DEs is downright weird: Redhat got it half-right with Bluecurve, but only if these guys work together, can we get really consistent interface with things like Open/Save boxes, etc.

re: certainly puts a lot of things in perspective, but
by JonP on Mon 10th Mar 2003 07:22 UTC

In the question No 11, I am very dissapointed by Aaron's reply. Short sighted perspective, at best. The guy doesn't get it, it seems.

RE: RE: No questions about the open/save dialog box
by offtangent on Mon 10th Mar 2003 07:24 UTC

By the time I clicked on 'submit comment,' two other comments made it there first, so I guess mine was redundant, however, even if Gnome is going to get a new Open/Save dialog in version 2.4, it remains to be seen how consistent it will be with the then KDE dialog.

re: certainly puts a lot of things in perspective, but
by JonP on Mon 10th Mar 2003 07:26 UTC

Oh, and that guy you say is the KDE's usability leader? Well he doesn't seem to understand the importance of having a unified unix desktop (between GTK+ and Qt applications)? I think someone should educate him or replace him.

Re: Eugenia
by Alex (The Original) on Mon 10th Mar 2003 07:28 UTC

I must have missed that part.

by stopdabombing on Mon 10th Mar 2003 07:36 UTC

First, fantastic interview - it must have been murder to arrange, so much appreciation for those who put this together - thank you, thank you!

I haven't digested the whole thing yet, I want to read it several times.

First observation off the top of my head - I was extremely disappointed by how little these guys knew of XP - you don't have to love MSFT, but by god, don't you have an obligation to know how the dominant desktop environment looks???? I mean, you are working on that, and you don't know what the most powerful competitor has? One guy played with it for 2 days, and the other two really didn't know it at all! I'm shocked. Frankly, while they are clearly intelligent guys, I am very troubled by their attitudes in this case. Just my opinion. OK, let me digest the rest of the article - fantastic read!

RE: Wow!
by Eugenia on Mon 10th Mar 2003 07:39 UTC

>I was extremely disappointed by how little these guys knew of XP

I will have to FULLY agree. You don't have to like XP and MS to look what they do. People who create products and competitive projects, they HAVE to look what their competition does. It is how the game plays guys, sorry. You got to look at the competition from time to time, and see how you stack up, otherwise you lose the perception of where _really_ your product/project stands. It is how it is, we like it or not.

by Marcus on Mon 10th Mar 2003 07:46 UTC

was extremely disappointed by how little these guys knew of XP
That came as something of a shock to me too... how can you compete with something you have not even used? I'd be curious as to their level of experience with OSX's interface--obviously Havoc has used it some as there are screens of it in the new file selector page ( ) .

Both GNOME and KDE have features similar to windows, yet their developers are not familiar with XP, are they getting their ideas from past experiences with other versions of windows? How do they plan to keep up with new features in Windows XP and future releases? It seems like they care about attracting MS users, but they won't be able to do it if people coming from XP have to give up features they've grown used to.

How can they say that Linux/KDE/GNOME is better than Windows if they've never used it?

RE: Wow!
by offtangent on Mon 10th Mar 2003 07:47 UTC

I think they are just too proud to admit that they have used XP. If they hadnt used it, we wouldnt be seeing so many windows features trickling down into both DEs.

the interview ...
by oGALAXYo on Mon 10th Mar 2003 07:48 UTC

After reading the interview I came to the conclusion that both desktops are far to different in target, in philosophy. Specially when reading the two different replies from the GNOME and then the KDE team. They sometimes write the total opposite of what the other likes and thinks. They both agree that there is some sort of cooperation between implementations needed e.g. thinking one common structure of doing e.g. clipboard, trayicons and so on but the common question of unifying both desktops are far to different. While the one side speaks about hiding the hiearchical filesystem, the other team writes the oposite expressing that doing to weird changes may lead into wrong decisions. Same for the HIG stuff, a lot of things simply won't change which I think is a good thing because if both Desktops would look like GNOME then I would probably have switched back to Microsoft Windows already. I think it's good for KDE staying their own project, their own look, individuality, philosophy and way of think. Cooperation in lowerlevel implementations as such mentioned above is indeed a good thing while still questionable if both sides will integrate everything that is put on the table (example DBus System which is now being discussed on the desktop.development.list on GNOME with some KDE developers). Once again the pro and cons of DCOP vs. CORBA and DBus integration is being discussed. And personally I tend to disagree highly with Havoc Pennington that the user is not required to know which plattform he uses. There are a lot of people who actually DO care what they use because they know why they like the one over the other. I find it highly annoying from such people who should know it better to make such statements in the public. Specially when they have some sort of 'leadership' position on the plattform they work on. How many times (even in real live scenarios) people followed the leaders (of countries or projects) without questionizing this persons opinion and then after some time and years these decisions have showed up to be wrong or lead into collateral damage. I tend to say openly on this forum and in respect to Havoc Pennington as person that he is wrong with his decision and direction which we see reflected like a mirror on how many GNOME users became ex-GNOME users these days and switched to other Desktop Environments such as KDE which is a good sign that the direction that one single person has lead for one big Environment. The personal reason and conclusion for me to not contribute to GNOME (anymore) because of being unhappy with the overal direction it leads now - decided by one person more or less. Another point I like to mention is the 'going for new technology' situation which is a permanent approach in GNOME right now. They like to do it the correct way, they like to do it the right way, they like to do it the most modern way. This is definately a nice and honourable approach but leads into the situation that GNOME stays not really usable or become stable and really integrated because they are playing to much with adopting new technology and features instead 'finally' going for a usable desktop. Same situations happened over and over again and I like to name some examples here. Rhythmbox, once usable the interface got changed again because the UI may be to complext for new people. Actually development halted in CVS, Galeon once the real promising Webbrowser for GNOME, development team splitted up due to disagreement howto handle the HIG and thus lead into a new project named Epiphany (which was not necessary if both teams worked together also HIG issue after all). GNOME Panel it was good imo in 2.0 - 2.2 and cvs HEAD Panel is being rewritten again to adopt a new approach of doing things. This all is indeed good, cool, nice, futureous but leads into the overall Desktop not being really useful. The KDE people are more disciplined and carefully for such things.

This again is my opinion and not necessarily reflect the opinion of others. This said I wish everyone a good day.

by Eugenia on Mon 10th Mar 2003 07:48 UTC

>obviously Havoc has used it some as there are screens of it in the new file selector page.

This is Owen Taylor's page, who is in the Red Hat desktop team, working with Havoc. Owen also works on GTK+ and XFree86.

RE: the interview ...
by Eugenia on Mon 10th Mar 2003 07:55 UTC

> And personally I tend to disagree highly with Havoc Pennington that the user is not required to know which plattform he uses.

Personally, I agree 100% with Havoc on this one. Users on Windows don't know what "GDI" is, why the Unix users need to know what "XFree" is?? This is reduntant information for the user. You don't make it easy for the user if you add additional knowledge needs.

> I find it highly annoying from such people who should know it better to make such statements in the public.

Sorry, but Havoc is thinking out of the "linux box", and I am very glad that the Linux platform has such a person on board. As Miguel deIcaza told me recently: "I wish we had 10 more people like Havoc".

by Nick Slaughter on Mon 10th Mar 2003 08:09 UTC

Great interview with the proper length to brush on most important subjects, kudos on one of the best performed interviews in recent memory Eugenia, hope to see more.

I totally share Havocs point of view on the whole deal of configurability in moderation (everything except for that damn minimize animation in metacity) but it was interesting reading how the KDE people viewed it and I'm almost optimistic about re-trying KDE one day as soon as they implement the view they convey there, cause currently their settings situation is a order of magnitude worse then the crap I had to take when I used XP.

by oGALAXYo on Mon 10th Mar 2003 08:15 UTC

... you see how much differently our opinions are ? I do respect your opinion and I'm indeed sure that many other people share your opinion. Belive it or not I think there are at least the same amount of people (if not more) who agree with my opinion at the final end. As in respect to Miguel de Icaza he is indeed right when writing that GNOME needs 10 more people like Havoc. I too know this sentence written by Miguel but he is more refering to his programmer capabilities than his opinion of making correct decisions. If GNOME had 10 people like him for making decisions then GNOME would have stagnated and left only these 10 people as orphaned victims of that Desktop. Please don't forget that there are also other named and important people working on GNOME who have to take him down to reality sometimes. He may decide what road GNOME takes, and he may be in the position to decide what else GNOME has to become in the future due his visions. But *I* (and other users) decide what they use at the end and not him and it would be sad that GNOME stagnates one day because of no developers and users (which undoubful never will happen but it may happen that KDE is becoming stronger due to new users prefering it over anything else).

by stopdabombing on Mon 10th Mar 2003 08:25 UTC

I hate to have a different point of view from Eugenia (OK, I admit, I'm also scared to differ from her<grin>), but when it comes to unifying KDE and Gnome, I strongly disagree. To me, there really are fundamentally differences between people - the way they work, the way their aesthetic sense functions, what they respond to. Think about politics - if you had to divide people, you'd have to say, that most can be VERY BROADLY divided into "right-wing" and "left-wing". So too with KDE - a sea of options, blizzard of colors, loud and up-front (more like Windows). GNOME, ascetic, subtle, spare, tasteful (more like Apple). OK, these are extremely broad generalizations, but basically, that's the split. Of course, you can tweak KDE to be "more KDE - sort of like extreme-right wing" or more moderate-right-wing", and GNOME also "extreme left wing, and moderate". But that fundamental division remains - because you can *roughly* divide people into these two broad categories (and then the categories can be tweaked into a million shades). It doesn't make sense to try to deny that - and to force people to do it "one way" - I think that is a strength of Linux. Think of this analogy - there is a percentage of people who are right-handed, and some who are left-handed, and you should be able to optimise for both separately. In this case, market-wise, I think Linux can AFFORD to keep the two major environments, as long as all apps can work under both. Just my humble opinion.

RE: unification
by Eugenia on Mon 10th Mar 2003 08:29 UTC

"Unification" in today's context *doesn't* mean the two DE projects need to become one. It just means that they should be compatible and fully interoperated, as defined by

by oGALAXYo on Mon 10th Mar 2003 08:36 UTC

I don't know who made that interview but you can read there:

"Aaron J. Seigo: has already brought KDE and
GNOME closer together in terms of interoperability when it comes to things that really matter like the clipboard, so there is no question about it having already been a benefit. But is not a source of magic solutions."

That is what I was trying to tell you all the time over and over again. I agree with Aaron here that is a nice place to find some sorts of agreement on doing things but it is 'not a source of magic solutions'. Please stop value higher than it is. I tend to see it as a normal mailinglist where people sleazy talk about howto do things for the major Desktops. It is no organisation that stands behind this and do agreement in a commitee. Somehow I still have the feeling that I need to write the same sentence over and over again now in hope that even you one day will understand the status of while everyone else already understood it.

RE: @Eugenia
by Eugenia on Mon 10th Mar 2003 08:41 UTC

> But is not a source of magic solutions. It is no organisation that stands behind this and do agreement in a commitee.

No, it is definately not. However, it is the closest thing to this that XFree's DEs have today.

by Maynard on Mon 10th Mar 2003 08:44 UTC

I think these guys should leave development for a bit and do a month or 2 each just using Windows XP. No coding. They should learn how you do things in XP and why things like KControl are horrible from a newbie standpoint. It seem too easy to make really bad changes to the UI in Linux. The UI is 'too' configurable.

Waldo also seems to be taking a swipe at Redhat. That is not too approiate for an interview. I have to defend Redhat here. On Redhat 8.0, they rollout a system with a DE. They are going to be supporting that DE, so maybe it is good that they do not provide rpms to upgrade th DE. Otherwise after three releases, they could have 20 different combinations of desktops or even more to support. There should continue providing bugfixes and security updates for that version and those who want to take the plunge can do so at their own risk.

I just looked 10 minutes at XP. KDE/GNOME are still not better.
by Anonymous on Mon 10th Mar 2003 09:11 UTC

Looking at XP doesn't make GNOME or KDE any better. How? It could only lead to some Windows clone and there is no need for this. But usability tests help. So instead of looking at MS products time is better spend in usability tests.

Unifying both...
by Mat on Mon 10th Mar 2003 09:13 UTC

will never happen. The design goal of both DE is fundamentally different.

They way I see it, Gnome wants to be a platform. A simple desktop to launch "3rd party" apps. It seems especially geared toward "normal users", with their "simple is better" approach.

KDE, on the other hand, wants to be an environment. A complete solution, where everything is so tightly incorporated toegether it doesnt even care anymore which app youre using (provided this is a KDE app). They seem more geared toward power-user, given them a lot of power to customize the environment (very much in the UNIX spirit...)

So which is best. It all depends what you want... so the unification of both can happen at the core level (the clipboard came as an exemple) but I dont ever think it will go further than that... which may be a good thing, in the end, since there are different kinds of users anyway ;)

RE: Unifying both...
by Eugenia on Mon 10th Mar 2003 09:18 UTC

Duh... See above, no one is talking about truly join the gnome and kde projects.
I now changed the text in the teaser text from "a kind of unification" to a "deeper collaboration and sharing" because that seems to really confuse people.

by oGALAXYo on Mon 10th Mar 2003 09:19 UTC

Well I wish it is that way. KDE has started heavy conversation of adapting many GNOME related things into their Desktop such as GConf, GStreamer, DBUS, ATK and PANGO (and even GLIB which is tied to many of these libraries). Still no agreement yet but you can read more here.

I don't know how much value these KDE developer have but they are subscribed on that list and do conversation with them.

by drunkahol on Mon 10th Mar 2003 09:48 UTC

Man - you could start an argument with yourself in a bloody lift!

Stop pouring petrol on things in the hope you will start a fire.

If you are not a fan of Havoc, or what GNOME is doing, or what ANYBODY is doing then please keep it to yourself.

The only form of criticism that is acceptable is CONSTRUCTIVE. Your comments could not be even vaguely described as constructive.

If you are the only person who is right, then how come the whole world is happy living with the fact that they are wrong?

I am not a developer in either camp, but I have bucketloads of experience of major project development. There will usually be one person who hates the direction being taken to complete the project. This person will always be RIGHT in their own minds and everyone else who cannot see that is obviously wrong. Despite this person being the most vocal in the development team, the project will still be completed and work perfectly well.

You are perhaps not alone in your thoughts, but you ARE alone in trying to fan flames each and every single day.

Please stop.

Gnome is more the Unix way of doing things
by Makkus on Mon 10th Mar 2003 09:57 UTC

As mentioned before in this thread:
[Quote]KDE, on the other hand, wants to be an environment. A complete solution, where everything is so tightly incorporated toegether it doesnt even care anymore which app youre using (provided this is a KDE app)[/Quote]

This is a copied windows (API) approach and I don't like it! Look at Gnome they are more willing to adopt great idea's and by that clearly steering where the *nix desktop is heading. In other words they are developing compenents that are building stones for building a desktop, not only a GNOME Desktop!

Mozilla, OpenOffice, Xfree, Xfce and if you read the message above even KDE are using or talking about using those compenents. This is the strength of Gnome. KDE is more about assimilating ideas. I for me like the Gnome approach, it is more the *nix way of solving things!

by oGALAXYo on Mon 10th Mar 2003 10:05 UTC

I have no intentions to flame or writing things that I just thought out of my butt. All these things recently came up and got discussed. Next time before calling me a flamer go to the links that I have provided and read the context inside yourself.

Question 9
by MxCl on Mon 10th Mar 2003 10:19 UTC

Question 9 regarded KDE or Gnome forcing a packaging system on the distributors so that the usability of Windows' "Add/Remove Programs" could be realised.

As the interviewees said, they couldn't force any system on the distributors, and applications like KPackage are similar to the Add/Remove Control Panel. However, what users really want is a graphical installer. So, could Gnome and KDE be packaged as installers just like Mozilla and Openoffice? Yes, but there are issues.

Moz and OOo can provide vendor neutal installers, but KDE and Gnome can't without a good deal of work, it is easier by far to provide the source code and let the distos handle the integration (I'm not sure exactly why, and I'm aware that there are people here who know better than me ;) I think it's because OOo and Moz package all their dependencies and KDE/Gnome have too many dependencies to make this feasible). When mature, Autopackage will offer a solution. A grapical, one file, vendor-neutral, low-click (less than 10 I expect!) solution.

What I'd like to see is some interest from KDE or Gnome in packaging some or all of their DE with Autopackage (I think Mike Hearn suggested version 0.6 would be mature enough for experimentation here). With some serious interest from a major software project, Autopackage could become a reality quite soon (comparitively).

Maynard: Waldo also seems to be taking a swipe at Redhat.
Waldo: KDE limits itself to providing source code and most of our binary packages are provided as courtesy by the major distributions (with Red Hat being a notable exception), as such I don't think we are in any position to set a standard wrt binary packages. How's this bashing Red Hat? He's just telling it how it is. It would be silly to just gloss over the facts to save Red Hat some embarassment. If I've quoted the wrong section please enlighten me.

Excellent work!
by Mike Hearn on Mon 10th Mar 2003 10:30 UTC

Great interview Eugenia, my thanks to you and the participants ;)

I have to admit I was a bit disappointed with unhealthy.Aarons answers. I noticed Havoc and Waldo tended to be more in agreement, I think these guys seem to "get it", in terms of the real world. The "well this problem is solved if everybody only uses KDE" mentality is one I've unfortunately seen before on the kde mailing lists, and is very unhealthy.

I think he also tended to dodge a few issues - users don't care how modular Konqueror is internally, to them it appears to be one application that morphs between lots of different things, which can be confusing even for advanced users. Also the "KDE is designed so well you can flip button ordering" thing is pretty worthless, who cares if you can do this if it's never used? Also Kate is not a "light IDE", it's a text editor, just like KWrite except with fewer features. KDE does have quite a bit of duplication in it IMO, and this is a good answer.

He also had some cheap digs at Red Hat, and even SuSE (!) over modifying KDE. This guy needs to come back down to earth, those people don't change KDE for kicks, they do it because they think "raw" KDE isn't right. Quite a lot of what he wrote was irrelevant, it was simply boosting KDE for no valid reason.

On the other hand, his answer about OS X was pretty good.

I'm in agreement on the answer on packaging from Havoc - I spent most of Friday trying to get people together at the FSG to work on the problems preventing this kind of tight integration between various packaging systems and the desktop.

He has a good point about multiple packaging systems not making much sense, which is a criticism that's been levelled at autopackage before, but unfortunately I think it's practically unavoidable. Even if the new packaging group gets a lot of good work done, we'll probably end up with a better form of the LSB RPM, which despite the name probably won't bear a huge amount of resemblance to the RPMs that come with your distro (and obviously for debian/gentoo users it won't bear any resemblance at all).

Anyway, this is all very far off, we have lots of problems to solve, some at very low levels, before this packaging problem is sorted out.

by Mike Hearn on Mon 10th Mar 2003 10:38 UTC

WTF happened to my post? I hate this flipping mouse, I think I clicked the button on the side by accident and it rearranged some of my text. Bah.

"I have to admit I was a bit disappointed with unhealthy.Aarons answers. "

should be "I have to admit I was a bit disappointed with Aarons answers. "

"KDE does have quite a bit of duplication in it IMO, and this is a good answer." should be just "KDE does have quite a bit of duplication in it" *giggle*

Oh, and Max, please try not to hype our project too much. Success is not guaranteed, not by any small measure, and depending on how much can be done at the FSG, large parts of our system may end up being dropped or redesigned. So.... you know, we can go around telling people how it'll solve all their problems when it actually does, right? ;)

RE: Aaron J. Seigo
by Berskin on Mon 10th Mar 2003 10:34 UTC

Mike, I'll have to agree about Aaron "not getting it". I think he has to either go or re-evaluate his opinions for the good of both the projects. Both DEs need people who understand the fact that interoperability and compatibility is what can bring the Unix and Linux desktop to compete with Windows and Mac. Gnome has a large number of great applications and driving these out of a Unix or Linux desktop or developing them as such as are a pain to use, just because people like Aaron only care about KDE or only Gnome, is suicide for the platform in general. Broad thinking is required so the traditional "my DE is my DE and I don't care about your DE", should now be declared DEAD.

"Getting it"
by Tim Jansen on Mon 10th Mar 2003 11:08 UTC

You have to see it from a different perspective. The only way to 'win' for the free DEs to innovate and become better than the commercial competition. At their current state neither Gnome nor KDE can really compete with MacOS or Windows (as the interview showed as well).

You can only catch up by having the maximum speed of development. This is what counts, and sooner or later one of them will significantly fall behind. Whether the winning DE offers better or worse compatibility with the losing DE won't be that important anymore in a few years. Much more important will be how it compares to future generations of Windows and MacOS. Having a few standards to make the life easier for users who want to use apps of the other DE are fine, but real integration would slow down the development of both DEs. I prefer to have a single competitive DE rather than two compatible DEs which are years behind the commercial competition.

re: competetion between windows/macOSX and linux
by infwis on Mon 10th Mar 2003 11:18 UTC

great interview Eugenia....

KDE is in an identity crissi nowadays- look how often the KDE guys spoke about KDE and look how often Pennington mentions GNOME. Yet it was wonderful to see how sovereing they were. I noticed little insecurity- rather much confidence and self-assurance.

I was heartened by their general disinterest in all things XP/OSX. Certainly it does not pain them to be aware of other developments beyond their respective communities- but they will never see the code anyway and without the code evalutating how good a UI design is or should be is rather short-sighted at best, if not completely misplaced. Most UI functionality is not per se chosen- its usage is defined in advance by availability, and this availability is determined by underlying API aspects which only secondarily is of significance to the UI. I am not saying that UI developers have no choice but their influence is fundamentally secondary to the core library programmers who provide UI developers with tools with which they can work.

There is no direct competition between these platforms-much less than between windows/macOSX and KDE/GNOME. Apple has provided us with the branded computing solution where computers are first and foremost a multimedia appliance targeted for the consumption of digital media by consumers and then, secondly, digital media producers.

Windows is going more and more in this direction- albeit on in the last couple of iterations- the windows world of 3 years ago was a seemingly colorful combination of applications which were in some respects quite distinct- this is now being subordinated to more "branding" and if Windows continues in this direction it will become more like an appliance-yet there entrenched position as the OS for the office means that they will at best only be corporate appliances and not so much consumer appliances. Linux disdains the "branded" consumerism of both Windows and macOSX.

Linux represents a non-corporate answer to individual needs as well as providing a non-corporate answer on the backend as servers in corporations, and perhaps someday as desktop office computers used in corporations. There could only be direct competition if the the rageted users and enthusiasts were held to want the same thing- then there would be competition about how to best go about providing this. Linux has commercial participation and corporate sponsoring- but the vast majority of linux development is still non-coporate and will remains so- when this changes we will no longer be talking about Linux.

IF one defines narrow sets of task to be performed by OS'S and in the case of linux and macOSX by desktop GUIs - then one can estalish a degree of relative competition relative to those specific tasks. Yet saying that Linux is competing with windows or with macOSX is simply wrong, for it is not even remotely univerally true- there are specific tasks and task environment where there is competition- where all of these OS's are equivalently functional and offer equivalent funtionality. Yet this account for perhpas 10% at most of the most common usage of macOSX,Linux, and windows. Most users are using whichever of these OS's for quite distinct things, with the exception of windows, which is what most people use because they have no choice, because the companies they work for dicctate which softwre they must use. The problem with seeing computers as appliances is that computers then appear to have mulitple personality disorders- there is the digital media appliance, there is the the secretarial appliance, there is the web development appliance, and the web-browsing appliance, and then the gaming appliance and so on and so forth.

Wishing for computers to become appliances means advocating that computers are no longer computers as such- and there is tremendous demand for such, but not from computing enthusiasts and developers but from consumers.Consumers should be given what they want- branded consumer solutions and leave computing for the rest of us whose relationshiop to computers is anything but simple consumption.

what happens when you let engineers design UIs...
by stew on Mon 10th Mar 2003 11:49 UTC

I find it rather sad when UI-related questions are answered with technical reasons. Things like "this is is how Konqueror works internally" or "this is how Unix works" are not a justification for any UI decision. The UI should not follow technical laws but should be taylored to the user and only the user. If users want links not to break when the original file is being moved (simple example), don't tell me ext2 can't handle this - make ext2 handle this. IMO software design should start with UI mockups and use cases from which the technical solution is derived - and not by building a working core which will then get a UI slapped on top of it.

Finally, it showed that you can introduce radical new concepts into an interface that have real benefits (such as dialog sheets)

Do you really call dialog sheets a "radical new concept"? While I don't see anything radical about them, I also think they were a bad idea. They actually encourage developers to use modal dialogs, which are a bad idea in general. For exammple, no web browser needs a modal dialog to tell me that it can't find my address - why do I have to click that annoying dialog before I can enter a correct address? A simple message in the browser window (like in IE nor Net+) would do as well and would be by far less annoying.

Regarding question 9: Why did no one mention Ximian's Red Carpet?

There are things that are outside of the scope of KDE and Gnome. For example if there is a limitation in Unix, there's nothing that can easily be done against it. KDE/Gnome don't write their own kernel. They run on a variety of platforms, and it is simply not possible to change the semantics of the filesystem. If a kernel gets additional capabilities the DEs may use it on platforms that support it, but in general the DEs must adapt to what the kernels offer.

Beside that, there may be technical reasons for 'user-unfriendlyness'. A particular feature may have serious disadvantages in some cases (like bad performance) and simply be so hard to implement that no developer had the time/funding to develop it and instead concentrated on easier targets.

Re:what happens when you let engineers design UIs...
by stew on Mon 10th Mar 2003 12:08 UTC

They run on a variety of platforms, and it is simply not possible to change the semantics of the filesystem.

I thought this is what things like gnome-vfs were for?
Also, file system difference can be worked around, e.g.

KDE cannot win...
by smoerk on Mon 10th Mar 2003 12:22 UTC

...because of the GPL license, which means that every KDE software have to be under the GPL.

Why does Mozilla use GTK and OpenOffice and SWT and wxwindows?

KDE is a nice integrated platform, but bad as the only DE.

stew: That would require that all applications use the layer. Even if a DE (or both) decide to do this, there are still command line tools and legacy applications.
There are also technical problems: right now the symlinked file does not know when it is being linked. So a layer could not solve the problem without looking at every other file when a file moves (->performance). The problem is quite easy to do in the kernel when the link and the target file are on the same filesystem (simple links do what you described), but almost impossible over filesystem boundaries and with removable media.

Re: KDE cannot win...
by Tim Jansen on Mon 10th Mar 2003 12:39 UTC

1. You can write non-GPL'd applications if you buy Qt. kdelibs code is always under LGPL or less restrictive licenses
2. You could re-implement Qt with a LGPL license. It would be a lot of work, but if KDE should 'win' i would assume that someone at least tries it

by oGALAXYo on Mon 10th Mar 2003 12:43 UTC

That's the worst crap I recently read. KDE is far superior over GNOME, has done many things right and feels happy by an wide acceptance of people and is already competable with Windows2000/XP while GNOME didn't made it to the Windows3.11 level. In values, 3-4 times more people use KDE than GNOME. The same 3-4 times more developers and contributors working on KDE which makes it grow rapidely.

You seem to feel offensive now but that is the truth right now. I understand that some people prefer GNOME over KDE because of all the fancy eyecandy but have you looked behind the Desktop itself ? Looked a bit closer to all the trash in your homedir created by GNOME ?

I'm able to start the biggest flamefest ever made just by arguing about what inside GNOME really sucks but I don't jump on that train since it was partially written by many people on various places. Basically GNOME is a major disaster to use *right now* and because of the nature of it, it will stay the same way for the next coming years.

Yes, I do use GNOME (as well as KDE) and I did some minor projects using GNOME components on my own that's the reason why I am in the position to exactly SAY this because of knowing what's behind it. I wish that people wouldn't simply argue the way you did and use their head and knowledge about computers. Many things are simply to obvious.

by oGALAXYo on Mon 10th Mar 2003 12:52 UTC


... i shouldn't have written that... getting upset quickly... anyways it's written now and true anyways...

Re:what happens when you let engineers design UIs...
by stew on Mon 10th Mar 2003 12:54 UTC

I was only taking this as an arbitary example - I did not want to go deeper into technicals.

Fact is that such things work (even with removable media), they're in the Classic MacOS. I have a catalog of all my mp3 CDs in iTunes on MacOS 9 When I select a mp3, iTunes tells me which CD I have to insert.
Also, if you used AmigaOS for a while you might remember the same behavior. On the Amiga, an application could open a file on a floppy disk in drive df0: and would still be able to find and access it when the user removed it and put it in drive df2: in the meantime.

Whenever you use the word "impossible", ask yourself if you are thinking inside or outside the box.

People criticizing Aaron answers have not really understand his point : KDE is a component based Desktop.
Some people think that the Control Center is bloated in KDE but try that from the command line :
kcmshell -caption 'Grandma likes a simple Control Center' LookNFeel/{background,kwindecoration,style,colors,fonts,screensaver}

and you will understand the power of KDE component architecture. It means that the KDE UI team is focusing on giving to each component the best possible UI and that we think it is more important to achieve this goal than discussing endlessly if this feature is needed or not.
It is better to leave to the people the closest to the users (Distributions, System Administrator, IT specialist, Power user) the decision of the components needed for this particular desktop and give them simple ways to package the components how they want.
In this way, KDE is exploring a new paradigm.

stew: I said 'almost impossible'. It is certainly possible if you use IDs (for example serial numbers) to identify CDs or floppies. But you can't describe a file only with the simple file paths that Unix system use today. Or you can mount each media at its own path which somehow encodes the ID of the media. Then they could be describes with a path, but it would look very ugly and possibly not human readable.
But all these solutions have a problem: they break existing Unix metaphors and compatibility to existing applications. And they are not platform-independent as long as not every system adapts them. In other words, they are quite unrealistic. I do indeed think inside the box: I care for what's realistic to implement on the platform that we have today.

Re:what happens when you let engineers design UIs...
by stew on Mon 10th Mar 2003 13:38 UTC

But you can't describe a file only with the simple file paths that Unix system use today

See? That's exactly the point where things should be improved.

It can work without using ugly names. It can work while being POSIX compatible. Just take a look at MacOS X.

And even if we had to break with existing Unix metaphors: What is more important: Backwards compatibility or user experience? I think sacrificing user experience for compatibility is short-sighted. Trying to stay DOS-compatible is what made Windows 9x so horrible. Being compatible to older versions is what broke MacOS 9's neck. MacOS X could only become a good system by sacrificing a certain degree of compatibility, so did Windows 2000/XP. The Amiga could never ever have become the multimedia machine of the late 80s/early 90s if it had been tied to C64 or IBM/PC compatibility.

Sometimes you have to let go of things that are holding you back.

Mike, Aaron's comments were the best of the bunch!
by Adam on Mon 10th Mar 2003 13:47 UTC

[The "well this problem is solved if everybody only uses KDE" mentality is one I've unfortunately seen before on the kde mailing lists, and is very unhealthy.]

Yah, and it exists on the gnome mailing lists also. What Havoc and Waldo don't seem to 'get'?? Users want a consistent and integrated desktop. While coming to agreement on superficial differences via specs on is nice, it will not make gnome apps as integrated as current KDE apps. KDE is leading in this regard and I see no reason why it should slow down just so gnome apps can fit in to the KDE framework. It is better to just improve the great KDE apps we currently have.

[Also Kate is not a "light IDE", it's a text editor, just like KWrite except with fewer features.]

No, it is a light IDE. You either are talking out your ass or you haven't been paying attention. Kate has a MDI interface, syntax highlighting of most languages, code folding, an embedded terminal emulator, project management and a robust plugin system.

[He also had some cheap digs at Red Hat, and even SuSE (!) over modifying KDE. This guy needs to come back down to earth, those people don't change KDE for kicks, they do it because they think "raw" KDE isn't right. Quite a lot of what he wrote was irrelevant, it was simply boosting KDE for no valid reason.]

Quite a lot of what you are writing is irrelevant. You seem to have some cheap digs at Aaron and I think you need to come back down to earth. I think you are knocking Aaron for no valid reason. Insert more empty rhetoric here, blah blah.

About the interview...
by Cesar Cardoso on Mon 10th Mar 2003 13:51 UTC

hm Eugenia, it was great, congrats girl ;)

Anyway... one thing I haven't saw much explored in the interview is the question of KDE/GNOME on *nix other than Linux. Yes, I understand that Linux nowadays gets most attention, but there are the *BSD, Solaris, AIX, HP/UX out there.

(And that makes all the FS stuff more harder)

by Anonymous on Mon 10th Mar 2003 14:45 UTC

Great interview, Eugenia. It is this type of article that keeps me coming back to OSNews.

Anyway, the only thing I have to say is that I really respect Havoc's opinions and I tend to agree with him a lot more than I disagree, espcially on his "less is more" philosophy. As another poster mentioned, I do think he is "thinking outside the Linux box." I am *very* glad he works for Red Hat.

Thanks for the great read, Eugenia.

Kate vs KWrite
by Mike Hearn on Mon 10th Mar 2003 14:56 UTC

That was of course a thinko, I am perfectly aware that Kate has more features than KEdit. That whole post had words inserted in the wrong place, and words reversed etc. What a mess.

@Tim Jansen: I think it's unrealistic to expect one DE to "win". That's not going to happen. KDE and GNOME have been around for years. Also, there's no point "winning" over Windows or MacOS if the end result is not based on open standards, if the code is open but everything else is just as proprietary.

@Adam: It's those kind of answers that are worthless. People talking about how "integrated" KDE feels are missing the point. The world is not made up of only KDE apps. Not even close. In fact, most of the "critical" apps seem to be GTK based. So to talk about how users care about an integrated desktop is missing the point - there's only one way to get such a thing, and that's through standards.

RE: Kate vs KWrite
by Adam on Mon 10th Mar 2003 15:23 UTC

@Mike: I guess we just disagree and we can leave it at that. I prefer KDE apps and I am thrilled with the feature set they deliver. I don't use any 'critical' gtk apps so I don't see the need. One of the reasons why I love the KDE apps so much *is the integration*. In the end I don't see any compelling features in any of the gtk apps that make me think all the pain of this merging are worth it. Besides, it'd be so much easier to just take those features and implement them in KDE apps IMHO.

Windows XP?
by Bob Bob on Mon 10th Mar 2003 15:38 UTC

Why are these developers "not familiar with Windows XP?" Is there nothing to learn about usability from a popular operating system that millions of people, expert or not, know how to operate?

RE: Kate vs KWrite
by Tim Jansen on Mon 10th Mar 2003 15:41 UTC

@Mike Hearn: They will certainly both be around for a long time, but when one DE gets features that are important or critical for large groups of users and the other DE lacks them and does not react fast enough, there will be a Linux/FreeBSD-like situation

Concerning the lack of KDE applications. This is something that I am quite confident in. A lot of important KDE apps making very good progress, from JuK over Kopete to Kontact. If my theory is correct, and KDE is much more productive, the situation will look very different in 1-2 years.

WinXP point
by aRTee on Mon 10th Mar 2003 15:50 UTC

Why should they be familiar with XP?

I know it's what commercial companies would do first, but they actually do something imo better: they listen to their users.

So instead of trying to recreate the UI of the most successful OS (which is possibly merely the most successful ui by lack of choice), and always be behind, the KDE and Gnome devvers just listen to what people want.

Just so you know: I'm a gnome-runaway, very happy with kde after gnome couldn't give me the window behaviour that I like and want. Which is not something I can get in XP at all (I would rank de's in this order of usability: kde, cde, gnome, win)...

Instead of getting people to use linux by making linux behave and look like XP (because that's what they supposedly know, although there are more win98(se) and me users combined, check googles zeitgeist), they could be taught that linux is different, but in many ways more powerful.

No need to copy windows XP when you have OsX to emulate (n/t)!
by Coombs on Mon 10th Mar 2003 16:03 UTC

No need to copy windows XP when you have OsX to emulate (n/t)!

Know thy enemy/ Too much is simply too much
by Mutiny on Mon 10th Mar 2003 16:07 UTC

I find it highly disturbing that they don't use Windows every so often. I mean, come on, Microsoft spends TONS of cash on usability studies and 99% of the world knows Windows.

I don't want an XP clone (although the thought is not that bad) but if you are creating a new UI, XP should be required study. Both for it's good AND bad points.

They should also use OSX, MacOS9, Be, and any other OS worth mentioning on a regular basis. XP is not the be-all-end-all.

Unix is the ONLY OS without a standard GUI.

IMHO, the KDE vs. GNOME battle hurts Linux on the desktop more than it helps. Great, we have choices. But really, if there was a LINUX GUI, not two half-assed UI's, we could be much further along on our way to a really good UI. Red Hat 8.0 is the only distro to "get" this and they were crucified for trying it.

1. The best code from each would have been used and the worst would have been dropped.
2. There would be twice as many developers.
3. Users would not have to choose their problems.
4. Tech support would be possible.
5. Graphical tools could be made for system configuration and packaging if they did not have to support a multitude of OS's.

Too many options is good for a technical individual, too many options is NOT a good thing for a group. If they can't get together, I hope they both fail or lose mindshare. The Linux community would be better off with it's own standard GUI.

It's not the packaging, the number of distro's or X Windows holding Linux back as I hear so often. Its the desktop. The other problems can be solved with a standard GUI.


About Aaron, KControl and other stuff
by Dawnrider on Mon 10th Mar 2003 16:33 UTC

Hi all...

I just wanted to wade in here, because I thought it was worth mentioning. The KDE usability is hard work, but it gets done. Sometimes it is the little things, like whether IM quit buttons should close the window or minimise to the system tray ("Is IM a service, like a phone or an application?"). Sometimes we have more substantial things, such as KControl. We're doing quite a bit on that lately, especially with things like themes, styles, colours, etc. Unifying and making the collection of settings more intuitive to use.

*Good organisation feels the same to a user as reducing options*

wrt Aaron's comments, the man is highly cautious, and that is valuable. When we approach changing a feature, we prejudice it with our own state of knowledge, which jobs we use things for, and our own setup preferences. Trying to get a change by Aaron is a battle, but mainly because his questions are simply "Are you sure?". He also takes Linus' perspective many times... "If there are two different solutions to a problem, there is usually a single better one still waiting to be found".

He is cautious about commiting to things in interviews and holds his own opinions lightly, precisely because he appreciates that his own perspective may not be correct.

Trust me; I may argue with him a lot, but he is very good at what he does. Watch for KDE 3.2 for some more nice usability changes ;)

@Mutiny: 1. The best code from each would have been used and the worst would have been dropped.

It's not like you could combine the components. They are using completely different frameworks. Combining them would result in a API nightmare for everyone..

by Mike Hearn on Mon 10th Mar 2003 16:40 UTC

I can't agree. It's been years. Saying, "it'll only be a year or two now" seems fairly unlikely. GNOME is getting a lot of good apps as well. Do you think they will stand still in this time? People claim that using KDE is far more productive, but in terms of real applications, IMO Abiword 2 is ahead of KWord (i know i'll get flamed for that), Evo > KMail, Ephy > Konq (or will be when it's done, from how it looks to be developing), GStreamer > aRts and so on. Now clearly they are not all gnome apps. But, they are still good, and they are all very active.

by grayrest on Mon 10th Mar 2003 16:57 UTC

Thank you for your post. I don't use either desktop (I'm on win2k and admin linux boxes through ssh), but I was beginning to think that every KDE person was a fanatic. I'm happy to hear Aaron works well on the KDE team, but in the interview he comes off as conceited wrt GUIs.

@Tim: It's not like you could combine the components. They are using completely different frameworks. Combining them would result in a API nightmare for everyone..

You missed the point, I meant that one or the other should have become the standard years ago. Then the best ideas of both could have been integrated while it was still possible.

You are correct, it would take years to graft these two correctly, if even possible.

I'd be happy dropping either one and having the other become a standard from which to build a real GUI right now. I'm not happy with KDE/QT licensing, but that is another issue.


If you really want them to use windows xp, then maybe you should send them a copy of it? Its not exactly cheap you know.

And even if those 3 persons are not overly familiar with windows, then so what, they are a part of a team. Qquite a lot more important than i am ;) , but still they are not alone.

As for those who wish there was only one major DE for unix, well, sure YOU might like that, but the problem would be, what kind of DE would that be? I bet you couldn't make one true DE that everyone would be happy with. Something like windows maybe? What about those who are not happy with windows then? Or do you really think that all linux users are only using linux because it is free?

Just look at how differently Havoc and Aaron looks at things. I this alone proves that there will never be just one major DE as they both have a large group of people who agrees with them.

@Mike Hearn
by oGALAXYo on Mon 10th Mar 2003 17:13 UTC

GNOME will get indeed nice applications and it for sure doesn't stand still but don't expect KDE to stand still either. I agree to Aron here because I myself prefer a fully integrated and consistent Desktop Environment. You named some nice applications such as Evolution > KMail, Ephipany > Konqueror, Gstreamer > Arts. But many of these applications and frameworks are not done yet or they simply aren't integrateable.

Evolution for GNOME 2 is now in process. The CVS version works so far but it still has many issues. Evolution for example follows to much the look and feel of Outlook Professional on Windows therefore it's hard to HIG'ify it in the long run. Needless to argue that there are company interests (Ximian) behind that product. HIG'ifying Evolution means that it doesn't act like an Outlook clone anymore. Even the Treewidget used in Evolution is no native Widget provided by GTK+ or Standard GNOME components. It's derivated from GAL at the end. The Addressbook in Evolution is more a nightmare from datastructure everything is stored in a db3 file and no matter if you delete, add, remove, change a db3 entry the db3 addressbook file increases in size and when viewed with an editor it shows up a lot of double entries because of the way db3 stores the data. I would prefer a vCard solution such as in KDE which imo is far better to store, easier to maintain and sometimes you can easily grab an editor and change stuff to suit your needs. That is having full control over your database. The Evolution addressbook isn't even in Sync with a PocketPC 2002 or Palm addressbook format.

Epiphany is a respective work but depends on Mozilla. Mozilla itself is stuck to XUL and therefore Epiphany inherits XUL in it's own for the rendering window. What you see inside Epiphany is basically Gecko and the buttons shown inside is XUL, the JavaScript window you use is XUL again. Basically Epiphany as much you like is no way integrateable because of Mozilla. GStreamer is a nice project. Exists for a long time now but when will it be usable, when will there be applications that seriously support it ? Totem changed to Xine, Rhythmbox (stagnated in development) switched to both Xine and GStreamer (which on the otherhand never really worked for me. To many crashes due to development etc.).

Well GNOME does indeed offer some cool technology and some applications are indeed cool. But most of them are standalone applications, not integrated the way KDE is integrated by having consistent menushortcuts, consistent toolbars, consistent whatever and nice integration.

Nautilus for example stores it's own thumbnails in a separate own dir, while Gimp stores thumbnails somewhere else and even GThumb stores thumbnails somewhere else the whole Homedir looks like a mess when all applications are in heavy usage. Specially when using Nautilus for all sorts of actions such as URL to ftp, http, smb and so on it stores XML files for these entries in the homedir and over time it may easily exceed many hundrets of such files not knowing why they are there.

Now some simple questions for powerful realuser applications. There is no good UML program for GNOME. DIA is in no way conform to GNOME or HIG, much of the code is a mess and crashes several times when trying to do serious work. KDE on the otherhand has Umbrello or Kivio where I get my work done easily. Where are some 3D cad programs for GNOME specially for mechanics or scientists for doing technical stuff ? KDE has Kpovray Modeller, KDE has MidiSequencer and a lot of productive applications. Many of them are for sure not as mature as professional POS software existing on Windows but they are getting there easily because the underlaying framework of KDE is there. All these apps are there today I can use KDE today to do these business oriented things and looking on you find more professional scientific related applications than for GNOME. Sure many GNOME apps have nice ideas but they are not that far to be usable for productive desktop and why should people wait for GNOME to be ready for desktop and customers when the same people can use a working KDE desktop today ?

I think you know what I like to express here and I'm perfectly aware that you know that I'm not the first and probably not the last one arguing that way. But this is definately a fact. I find myself more productive using KDE than using GNOME. I tend to get work done. I do love GNOME and I always wished that GNOME would be what KDE is today and I still belive that this may become true one day but knowing the code and how things are programmed in many applications are telling me that this dream would never come true.

Well I think you get what I like to say. Integration, consistency, many professional applications today and the fact that KDE is far superior is what people find so pleasing about it. They use a full integrated (maybe not perfect at all) desktop today and not waiting years until GNOME which may look better reaches an equal status.

I have one simple question to you (not necessarily you) but tell me. Let's say you run a company and some customer comes to you and asks you for a desktop solution for professional business with applications that work similar like they are used to know on Windows. The customer wants to do Business stuff with UML, USE CASES, draw Class diagramms, need a cool working IDE to rapid develop applications (including documentations for programming on that plattform), the person also likes to do CAD, doing presentations with an app similar like Powerpoint, some webbrowsing and filemanaging specially from one core application such known as on Windows.

Now tell me what you gonna sell that person. GNOME with all sorts of hacked together applications that feel differently, not integrated, where one window looks differently than others including Mozilla which is not GNOME and not integrated and so on

or KDE which comes most equal to Windows *TODAY* and offers most of these applications, which look consistent, work together etc. ?

People don't want a Desktop that may be finished one day. They want a Desktop and applications that are there TODAY.

If people would seriously spent more time in KDE they find a lot of stuff 'sometimes tiny things hidden somewhere in the applications' that summed up together gives the feeling of a powerful desktop.

I think you know what I'm up to. Even if it's hard for you to agree here but you need to agree because you know I'm obviously right.

by oGALAXYo on Mon 10th Mar 2003 17:28 UTC

GNOME could be really cool. But what GNOME really needs are developers, developers, developers, a road, documentation for developers and an overall agreement with the developers to have the new developers work on these modules. I recall that SUN once offered to hire 50 wipro people to work and clean up GNOME in one go but so far I recall the developers rejected or something. 20 more developers (capable ones), and 20 HIG ui people and GNOME would seriously become pleasing.

You don't get Aaron at all!
by cwoelz on Mon 10th Mar 2003 17:30 UTC

First, you cannot compare Aaron's answers with Havoc’s and Waldo’s answers. They have different roles. They all are concerned about the whole desktop, Havoc and Waldo work for Linux distributions, and developing a consistent product across the distribution.

Aaron is the usability coordinator for KDE. It is natural that he _focus_ on KDE. I bet Seth's focus is also Gnome usability and interface, not global usability and interface. Until now, to speak the truth, it is much easier to make KDE apps behave nice with other environments than GNOME apps. You could change the look, the order of buttons, the icons, etc…

On the other hand, he is pushing the integration on both desktops the right way, developing common usability guidelines, and standards.
How someone in _his_ role could possibly do more? Please, see the official announcement, and the HIG archives.

I think the goal here is not making a single DE in Linux. The goal is the possibility of integrated look and usability standards. Once one meet this target, developing multiple different DE's, with different concepts, as GNOME and KDE have, but with consistent results.

It is indeed what this people are doing. Thanks Aaron, Waldo, Havoc and Seth. Thanks to you free software DEs in *NIX are quickly becoming not only free, but great DEs.

Just Some Observations
by johnfive on Mon 10th Mar 2003 17:32 UTC

First off, I'd like to say this was an amazing interview with great questions and answers. It gave me a lot of insight into how the leaders of these projects think.

If I was a manager and I had to hire someone for the lead on my desktop project, I'd probably hire Havoc. No, not for the fact the he is a good programmer, but for the fact that his thoughts seem a little more fluid than the KDE leaders presented in this interview.

I didn't like the fact that the KDE folks seemed to be taking pot shots at GNOME throughout the interview. In general, Havoc's approach to the issues seemed more mature and open minded. It seems that if someone were to mention a logical idea to Havoc, he would probably consider, and maybe even implement it. I got the sense that doing this with the KDE developers might be a little more difficult.

Also, some of the promotional rhetoric the KDE folks were spouting was kind of laughable considering they have no significant experience with Windows XP. I'm sorry to say but I find it easier to get my day to day work done in Windows than I do in GNOME or KDE for that matter. My suggestion is, forget the fact that you hate Microsoft, and study the things that are good about XP.

About file system abstraction: I think OS X so far has implemented this best with Finder et al. Though installing and uninstalling programs in any Mac OS has always been a mystery to me. I think Windows has nailed the installing/uninstalling issue the best so far.

About desktop standards: KDE folks open your eyes! It is in your best interest to have standard low level compatibility with GNOME for applets and other integration widgets. With Red Hat, Sun, Ximian, and other heavyweights supporting app development for GNOME I only see the ammount of quality, highly integrated apps growing for GNOME. Supposedly the next version of Java Swing is going to be able to inherit the Gtk+ theme in use, sort of like it can in Windows, OS X, and CDE. I didn't hear Sun say that they were supporting something like this for Qt.

Not that being compatible with KDE would be a bad thing for GNOME either. I kind of envy Konquerer as a file manager because I use GNOME and feel kind of unfulfilled using Nautilus.

In summary, drop the egos and rhetoric. Cooperation amongst the two projects can only be good.

mixed feelings
by oGALAXYo on Mon 10th Mar 2003 17:47 UTC

heh, you don't make it easy for new people specially for people like me with mixed feelings on both desktops. i sometimes wish there where only one desktop and we would never had such a nasty conversation at all. seriously ! i think that some people are fooling themselves with facts they started to belive in while they are obviously incorrect.

i think that both projects (will not happen anyways) should merge as soon as even possible, one of them has to scratch their widgetset and merge with the other. this results in another 5 years of no desktop but at the end we have one userbase and everyone agrees and feels happy for one desktop that is cool *THE DESKTOP* right now and with increasing daily users this kind of conversation will reach heavily insulting, verbally really agressive measures one day. i see this comming really.

by cwoelz on Mon 10th Mar 2003 17:50 UTC

Egos? Did you do any research about cooperation? Did you see who post at Did you see all the efforts currently developed by KDE and Gnome? Who is against cooperation? Aaron and Wldo are working on it, while you are only unfairly nitpicking them. (like only blaming them for not knowing much about Windows XP. Havoc said that too...)

I also want to know where are the "pot shots at GNOME" in the interview.

This guys are great. Respect them. Or at least do a little bit of research first, and flame later.

by cwoelz on Mon 10th Mar 2003 17:51 UTC

These (not this) guys are great!!

/. and OSNews article
by stopdabombing on Mon 10th Mar 2003 17:56 UTC

This is kinda OT, but /. carried over this article, and already they have over 170 reader comments compared to about 70 for OSNews which had a several hours advantage in posting time.

Kind of tells you about activity level and reach of both sites, doesn't it? As to the quality of the comments on /. compared to the comments on OSNews, you be the judge.

Egos and Pot Shots
by johnfive on Mon 10th Mar 2003 17:57 UTC

Hmmm ... sorry for reading between the lines, but I saw plenty of ego and pot shots on behalf of the KDE developers. Havoc had the opportunity to do the same, but I just didn't see him do it. Therefore, in this instance Havoc appeared more mature, and thats all I was observing. I don't know these people personally so I'm okay if I'm totally wrong. I'm not saying my word is gospel, so you can relax yourself a little. Just a little observation on how people might perceive these people based on the interview. I don't know how that translated into a flame and disrespect of these folks. Do a little critical thinking and flame later :-)

RE: /. and OSNews article
by Eugenia on Mon 10th Mar 2003 18:04 UTC

>ind of tells you about activity level and reach of both sites, doesn't it?

Sure. Slashdot has about 2 million page views per day and OSNews is at about 90,000 a day. OSNews is still a pretty big site though.
Also, a lot of comments on slashdot is trolling and noise, while here most of the comments are serious, therefore there are less people trying to comment here.

RE: /. and OSNews article
by stopdabombing on Mon 10th Mar 2003 18:19 UTC

yeah, I like OSNews, so I'm a bit biased. Still, thing that scares me is how close /. came to going away even with 2 mil page views... well, just how much more vulnerable OSNews could be - and I'd hate for OSNews to disappear... its a cruel cold world out there.

Btw., I've just got to say this: I hate the format of /. comments section. I prefer OSNews way of doing it by 1000%.

Eugenia and the OSNews guys - great job, may you be with us forever!

RE: /. and OSNews article
by Anonymous on Mon 10th Mar 2003 18:35 UTC

indeed. /. is also ruined by dozens of posts trying to be funny. (and i so wish their engine made it easier to skip replies mod'd as "funny" and "troll").

re: Just some observations
by Terry Glass on Mon 10th Mar 2003 18:39 UTC

>Though installing and uninstalling programs in any Mac OS has always been a mystery to me.

Most Mac OS X applications use the easiest installation system I've seen so far. You simply drag the application bundle to wherever you would like it. Put the app in the trash to uninstall it. The system is almost too simple for new converts. Users of other operating systems have been conditioned for years into thinking that they should have to click on 10 "Ok" buttons to install an application.

a word or two
by Aaron J. SEIGO on Mon 10th Mar 2003 18:48 UTC

hello all..

thanks to everyone who has responded to my thoughts, both negatively and postively. i would like to comment on a few issues:

first, i'm not the "usability coordinator" or even really the head of the KDE usability project. that impunes far too much hierarchy to KDE and far too much personal responsibility to me ;-) i just happen to be one of the more involved people in those aspects. how that occurred is an interesting story in and of itself (well, for me anyways. it would probably bore you to tears ;) . i'm also involved in other aspects of KDE devel, while Waldo is very much involved with usability issues and the usability project as well.

second, in case anyone missed it: i don't "speak for KDE". i speak for myself, as one participant among thousands. there are differing opinions, sure, but that means there will be useful and robust conversation to be had, which will (and does) lead to the exposition of new and/or better ideas.

third, i'm really happy to see how much the various projects (not even just GNOME and KDE) are working together on issues. this doesn't mean that i would like to shape the future Free Software desktop into my own personal vision, yet that is what would happen were we the developers to pick an arbitrary path to be the One True Way. i believe there is a ballance to be struck here. and i don't think we've found it yet. i don't think we've even really formed all the questions yet.

fourth, Windows XP: imitation is not the only method of creation (regardless of what you are creating). and Windows XP isn't the enemy in the sense that what their UI embodies will destroy the KDE or GNOME UIs. Windows XP is "just" one more data point, if a significant one. i do find it interesting to poke around various interfaces, but i don't have the time to use them all in a serious fashion. i don't think (m)any people do. i do read a fair amount of industry literature on the various interfaces, however. i wonder how many Win XP developers at Microsoft are intimately familiar with KDE?

fifth, it was really nerve wracking for me to be honest and state what i was thinking on that given day knowing it would be in front of the world to read. i was vastly surprised at how many people felt compelled to comment on what i said versus havoc or waldo, both of whom i consider to be amazing developers and thinkers. perhaps this was because they have a firm grip on the art of brevity and i don't, so i become a naturally larger target? ;-) imagine that you had your thoughts posted prominently somewhere, and that you really didn't care for the spotlight. i'm much more comfortable when what i do is visible and i'm not.

finally, thanks eugenia for the interview! and yes, i really am that verbose, even in real life. pathetic, i know ;-)

KDE architecture
by Anonymous on Mon 10th Mar 2003 18:53 UTC

Among the many things that sell me on KDE is that I can open and save directly via sftp from any KDE application with no hassles. I could scp it from the command line, but with KDE it's just simple, and it works.

And there are many similar convenient features. This is an example of how KDE's comprehensive modular architecture can help to automatically extend functionallity to any KDE application.

RE Aaron
by Iconoclast on Mon 10th Mar 2003 18:58 UTC

finally, thanks eugenia for the interview! and yes, i really am that verbose, even in real life. pathetic, i know ;-)

Actually, I find your "verbosity" refreshing. It seems that you pick your words carefully and actually require a large number of them in order to fully explain what you are thinking. I don't find it pathetic in any way.

Thanks for your portion of the article. I found the entirety of it both enjoyable and very interesting.

@Aaron J. Seigo
by stopdabombing on Mon 10th Mar 2003 19:03 UTC

First, Aaron, thank you very much for doing the interview - it was EXTREMELY appreciated. Second, don't worry about any "criticism" - if it is wrong, ignore it, if it is USEFUL, use it! I personally in my work (entertainment industry) love getting criticised - it lets me keep perspective on what I do, and is valuable input for me (if a critic is just an uniformed malicious jerk, I find that out soon enough!). Third, you absolutely DO NOT have to appologize for giving longer answers, quite the opposite - as a matter of fact, I am very grateful that you did... please, imagine, if you are reading an article such as this, do you prefer to learn more, or less? OF COURSE I prefer the longer answers.

And finally, just so you don't think I'm only agreeing with you, IMVHO (emphasize humble!), you are wrong wrt. XP. The issue is not to copy or "imitate" XP - it is to understand what people find good in it, and what bad. There is a lot to be learned from the dominant desktop. Sometimes, you see how a feature is implemented, or a problem solved in XP - and that can give you new ideas about how to solve some issue in KDE perhaps DIFFERENTLY from XP... an idea you might not have gotten if you didn't look at the XP way of doing things - in other words, it is stimulating. Lack of time is not an excuse, sorry - that is like saying, "well, I'm going to build a car, but I don't care to see how other cars are built."

Btw., I think you guys are doing a fabulous job at KDE, and I can't wait for another iteration!

I think there's a deeper issue
by Curtis on Mon 10th Mar 2003 19:22 UTC

I like the MAC OSX interface. It can be as dumb or as smart as you'd like it to be, but its paradigm is different. Its document centric.

WindowsXP has a nice glitzy interface and its task centric. The way that it hides things is lame and doesn't really take into account that a user might actually know what s/he is doing.

Gnome and KDE both have their strengths. KDE is faster but I don't like the "Active Desktop" way of doing things. I never liked it on Microsft products either. Gnome relies too much on interpereted languages.

Please note that all of these interfaces are starting to get to where OS/2's Workplace Shell was 7 yeare ago. That's right, look at Warp 4's interface folks. the task bar, the start button, themes, the whole bit. OS/2 went one step better, it had a voice controlled interface. Its SOM (CORBA compliant) object model just got it done and did amazing things. The entire system was object oriented. I never had to start an application to print a document. I simply dropped the document on the printer object and it pringed. If I wanted to do a mail merge, I inserted the appropriate database fields in to a word processing document and closed it. Then I started the PIM. I selected the records that I wanted for the merge and dragged them from the PIM and dropped them on the document object. Then I dragged the document object to the printer. That was it. I was done. That's usability and that was the stupid works package that came with system. And no that wasn't using the document object model either. OS/2 did have support for that.

The file system was a database (we can thank the OS/400 folks for that) and it was a blazingly fast extent based system (albeit 16 bit). The Gnome vfs looks cool because it looks like one might be able to write a shim for it to use anything for the backend. Currently they're system calls, but who's to say they mignt not be MySQL calls for example?

Nobody liked the single input queue in the WPS, but while the gui might have locked up, everything underneath ran merrily along since the gui was in ring 3 (user space) unlike Microsoft which put the GUI in ring 0 (kernel space) due to performance problems. I digress

I think the major underlying issue in any of these usability contests lie in the underpinnings and that its three layers deep by the time you put KDE or GNOME on top of XFree86 and then there's the window manager (Sawfish, etc.) and then KDE or Gnome. XFree is a very old technology and its slower than death. Fix the leaky basement. Then you can fix the house. Its better than it used to be, but XFree needs to be clean and lean. Its neither.


Re: Anonymous (Slashdot complaint)
by Strike on Mon 10th Mar 2003 20:33 UTC

indeed. /. is also ruined by dozens of posts trying to be funny. (and i so wish their engine made it easier to skip replies mod'd as "funny" and "troll").

Sign up, assign extra modifiers to posts modded as funny and troll, and set your viewing threshhold accordingly. There's really quite a good deal of customization you can do.

Sorry for the OT post ;)

by Kenneth on Mon 10th Mar 2003 20:45 UTC

I find it kind of funny that they claim that they don't look at Win Xp, considering how similar KDE / XP is...

XP is the first version from M$ that has "borrowed" KDE/Linux features and I definitely think that Bill's boys are studying KDE/Gnome intensively.


Re: Hmm...
by Troels on Mon 10th Mar 2003 21:07 UTC

I find it kind of funny that they claim that they don't look at Win Xp, considering how similar KDE / XP is...

Maybe some of the other serveral 100 developers did? Duh!

by grayrest on Mon 10th Mar 2003 21:09 UTC

Your post is better written than your responses to the questions in the article. The points people are picking up on are the places you cut too much.

How dumb is "the user", actually?
by uncleremus on Mon 10th Mar 2003 23:11 UTC

"Some systems, such as Mac OS X, hide the directory stucture from users who don't purposefully look for it" ... "In the meantime, users don't want to see /usr, in the general/default case."

Why does the directory structure need to be hidden? Any person familiar with sorting books in a shelf or managing personal documents in drawers should be able to get a grasp of the hierarchical file system pretty quickly. It is simple, logical, and useful. Yes, in "Startrek future" people may be able to find a better way of organizing stuff. Right now folders and files are the best we have.

Reading statements like this makes me think the whole usability debate aims at dumbing down the interface to the lowest imaginable level, assuming users that are not only clueless but also incapable of understanding even the most basic concepts of organizing information.

Personal taste side note: I get sick when I see "My Documents" on a Linux desktop. It's nothing but a brain-dead replacement for the concept of a home directory.

Great interview, from big thinkers on usability
by Alex on Tue 11th Mar 2003 00:11 UTC

This has been one of THE best usability articles I read. Lots of smart in-depth answers.

Furthermore, I agree with Havoc, I think average users would find lots of configuration options confusing. yes, they shouldn't touch them if they dont know what they do, but everybdoy knows curiosity killed the human. As long as all tehf eatures are well implemented, organized, and explained this shouldn't be much of a problem.

Second, I also agree with the views of the KDE developers. IMO, KDE is the toolbox, it is a bunch of components and you take and add whatever you want to make it just as in your vision. Therefore, maybe some distributions will have a Kcontrol center with only 110 options others with 30 etc. KDE provides the blocks, it is up to the people deploying it to choose which oens they really want. I do think, the options need to have a little better usabiltiy and organization too.

IMO, the unification Redhat made with KDE in regard to the theme is great, but everything els I DO NOT LIKE ONE BIT. Check for more info.

In addition i think the KDE and GNOME developers should all spend a week with Windows XP, Konqueror could really LEARN A LOT FROM EXPLORER and vice versa. YOU DO NTO NEED TO COPY XP, just consider some of the best featurs of XP and its applications to add to KDE, it doe snot need to be implemented in teh same way or even at all.

Thanks for the interview, adn thanks to Aaron for speaking in the comments section this rarely hapens =)

BTW: There were 5 or more spelling errors in the interview whichs hould have been corrected before release.

Hiding the Directory Structure
by DCMonkey on Tue 11th Mar 2003 00:20 UTC

Why does the directory structure need to be hidden? Any person familiar with sorting books in a shelf or managing personal documents in drawers should be able to get a grasp of the hierarchical file system pretty quickly. It is simple, logical, and useful.

This is true if you, the user, are the one that created the hierarchy in the first place. When that hierarchy has been patched together by numerous programmers over the course of 30 years ...

What bloat?
by Steve on Tue 11th Mar 2003 00:22 UTC

While I respect you for running your own website and fostering a discussion on
UIs, I think you are totally on the wrong track regarding your
obsession with bloat in the user interface.
Believe me, for a new/not proficient user, there is no bloat whatsoever. I
work with many new linux users, and they never change the defaults, and
are not affected by the variety of options offered by kde. I hope some
day they will experience the richness of kde config options, but I
question whether they will ever climb the learning curve, vs.
bars/boys/girls/cars/whatever. This is the real world.
Regarding single purpose applicationsI think that
is absolutely the wrong way to go. How can I remember what app to use for which
files? I-tunes, I-jpeg,I-other_files, I-caramba! I want one app--more
specifically one app where I can seamlessly call other parts--to deal with a
myriad of file types. And yes, I want integration between say, local files and
ftp directories. While that's a convenience for me, it's a necessity for my
teammates who can't figure out how to use an ftp client.
You know Micro$oft isn't trying to take functionality out of windoze, they're
trying to put functionality into windoze. XP has many more features than 95,
and is considerably more configurable. That hardly sounds like less is more.

RE: What bloat?
by Eugenia on Tue 11th Mar 2003 00:40 UTC

>I think you are totally on the wrong track regarding your
obsession with bloat in the user interface.

I suggest you open the KDE control panel and you expand the tree on the left. We get a HUGE tree of options, which are similar to each other some times, and if that was not enough, there are options there that have 3 to 5 tabs with more sub-windows in them! That is simply crazy, sorry!

>XP has many more features than 95, and is considerably more configurable.

This is because there is more to configure nowdays, more different kind of devices and features. XP's control panel does not have nearly as bloat as KDE has, in fact it is easily distiguished what is where. Same goes for OSX's prefs.

I discussed this a few weeks ago btw.

@KDE control panel
by Nex6 on Tue 11th Mar 2003 01:10 UTC

I am a Gnome runaway,

And i Like the KDE control panel. I hate the SUSE yast thingy it horriable to webpagish.

The KDE control panel is a nice clean proffessional app, that allows to to 'control' many parts of your OS/workspace.

I dont care how many 'trees' are in the control panel , as long as they all work and work well.


re: oGALAXYo
by dwilson on Tue 11th Mar 2003 01:40 UTC

I think you know what I'm up to. Even if it's hard for you to agree here but you need to agree because you know I'm obviously right.

WOW... I have read about half of your posts on this page (that is all I could stomach), and seriously, the only thing I have to say is... wow. Your hubris combined with your 3rd world English and generally poor attitude are a nauseating conversation. Your name in the header of a post alone makes me want to stab myself in the eye with a screwdriver and reading your words is like recieving a molten glass enema.

All you have to do is insult people and talk about how KDE is the best. You back this up with the argument "KDE has a lot of stuff I like! You should too!!!!" Well, I like KDE (I am using it as I type this) however, I like GNOME too. A lot of people like GNOME and that is fine with me. It takes a real asshole to judge somebody based on their choice of DE, but I guess you fit the bill. Hey, someone likes GNOME, they must be a retard. Or as you would probably put it: "If you do might lik GNOME can you maybe not might be a retarded?"

I support all you GNOME users. It is fine DE. Sure, it has a ways to go to catch up to KDE in terms of #'s of applications, but I don't think that is the end all be all of a desktop environment. The main job should be providing a good window manager, file browser, and toolkit, and GNOME about has those covered. Don't listen to small-minded jerks like oGALAXYo who give you a hard time. They are just wastes flesh.

re: Dwlison
by Anonymous on Tue 11th Mar 2003 02:40 UTC

Your hubris combined with your 3rd world English and generally poor attitude are a nauseating conversation. Your name in the header of a post alone makes me want to stab myself in the eye with a screwdriver and reading your words is like recieving a molten glass enema.

Throwing in an immature personal attack always boosts your argument.

dwilson and oGALAXYo
by Johnathan Bailes on Tue 11th Mar 2003 03:04 UTC

I love computers. I am a UI whore.

Yet, I swear to all that is unholy, I cannot believe people get so absolutely passionate and ticked and insulting over opinions expressed about Desktop Environments for goodness sake. Come on people. I live and breath for this shit and I still think insulting someone because their first language is not English or posting eighteen times to every story about Gnome just to say how it sucks is just completely nuts.

I am sorry I work eight hours or more a day only to get on the computer after I put the kids down and sat with my wife for awhile. I enjoy all this talk and post a lot. Still even I see how silly this is getting.

re: Anonymous
by dwilson on Tue 11th Mar 2003 04:10 UTC

Throwing in an immature personal attack always boosts your argument.

I admit, I may have sunk to his level a little bit, but I can only read so much garbage before I have to reply. So sue me.

by oGALAXYo on Tue 11th Mar 2003 06:19 UTC

Look, I'm a german fellow using school english which I have learned and forget mostly years ago trying to express things I am afraid off. Yes even if I need 5 times more than you to express the same thing then this still doesn't give you the right to reply in such a way. Mature people who understands this issue would probably have argued and replied in a different way because they at least 'tried' to understand me and I think it's not that hard and not that bad after all. If you prefer we could continue this conversation in german language, then I only need one time to express what I think and be the same way amused about your bad german writing (in case you are capable to have such a conversation in german at all).

Sad that people who lost the battle of argumentations need to get on such a low narrowminded level for further conversation. Is it so hard for you having a conversation related to pros and cons about both desktops or did you just feel pissed off just because I came up with things that you probably never have thought of because you use your desktop for nothing else than listening MP3s ? Rhe business somehow works differently and GNOME has nothing to offer for business and no one in the business has the time waiting another 5 years until GNOME get's usable for them. So stop arguing in such stupid way about some sorts of kidstoyhackershit.

Hiding the directory structure
by uncleremus on Tue 11th Mar 2003 09:34 UTC

This is true if you, the user, are the one that created the hierarchy in the first place. When that hierarchy has been patched together by numerous programmers over the course of 30 years ...

This hierarchy may have been "patched together", but it is quite logical (much more than A: and C:, btw) and, you may have heard about it, became standardized by the LSB a while ago.

Anyway, are wee talking about

1)hiding the system directories
2) hiding the fact that the file system has a tree structure?

2) would be ridiculous nonsense. 1) would have little effect because the system directories are of little interest to casual users, and if they venture there out of curiosity, they won't have the access rights to spoil anything anyway.

by infwis on Tue 11th Mar 2003 10:06 UTC

When people take a cheap shot at others due to their less than optimal command of the english grammar it only really reflects how ignorant they are. Most of the posters on OSNews are not native english speakers, and I am constantly amazed by how forgiving the english language is, in terms of comprehensibility. I may be mistaken but I believe that Eugenia is also not a native english speaker, yet she writes and posts english language articles almost everyday and I have yet to read anything from her which I could not understand. Could any native-english speaker posting here post such stories in any other language than english ?

The disadvantage in not being a ntative speaker, or not having spent many years living in the land where the language is spoken is that one has a really really hard time expressing finer nuances of meaning. I went through this experience during my first 3 years in Germany, being a native english speaker. I could express myself in German during this initial phase, but I missed so many subtleties, and frequently over-stated and under-stated things because I could not "feel" which adjectives most effectively conveyed my own thoughts and could not understand how many words were inter-related through various levels of connotation.

You and Eugenia are at opposite ends regarding this language stuff- you are extremely verbose, constantly reiterating what you are trying to say over and over again with slight changes in your approach, whereas Eugenia is very, very terse, using half sentences to convey her gut-level feelings and thoughts. My only problem with how Eugenia writes, which in the end remains a challenge for me to learn how to read Eugenia, is that her comments are so terse that I cannot always pick up what she is specifically leaving out in her sentences,ie. sometimes that which is not said says more than that which what was said.

What comes through in your writing over and over again is the imperative "please understand where I am comming from". Wanting to be understood is natural, and to some extent healthy, but it can become obsessive, which can lead one to constantly have the feeling that one is being misunderstood, when in reality one is simply confronting the indifference of others, which in that it has nothing to do with you personally, always appears to be personally directed *against* you.

You obviously have a love-hate relationship with GNOME. Much of your writing looks like the writings of someone who is still deeply in love with his ex-girlfriend, whom he left because he could not stand certain things about her, yet now remorses over what he has lost.

Please don't let your disappointment with the recent developments in GNOME lead you to stop contributing, we need developers and critics.

Gelassenheit ist hier angebracht- laß deine Entaüschung dich nicht Blind machen- und vergesse nie- daß die Wille einander zu verstehen entscheidend bleibt, ob überhaupt Kommunikation staatfinden kann oder wird- wo diese Wille nicht vorhanden ist gibt es gar keine Kommunikation im positiven Sine- wenn genugend Wille da ist kann man trotz sprachliche Scwhierigkeiten einander verstehen....(wie man sehen kann habe ich auch nach 9 Jahren hier in Deutschland noch viele grammatikalischen Schwierigkeiten)

@eugenia - kde control panel
by EcHo2K on Tue 11th Mar 2003 13:47 UTC

Just to say that i don't think it's crazy...i think it's FUNNY!

where the hell goes the fun today? nobody ever do something for fun? things really need to be THAT useful? i think you (not talking directly to eugenia, but to the people) have lost focus on your lifes, work work be productive and so on.

Please stop and have fun for a day, you'll find that Gnome is boring while with KDE you'll always discover something that you ignored ;)

@EcHo2K - about fun
by Julien Olivier on Tue 11th Mar 2003 14:35 UTC


I think fun is important too but the thing is that if you use your computer to actually _work_ with it, fun isn't your priority... it can even distract you and prevent you from working well.

I'm sure you already know that but I just wanted to say that GNOME developers don't lack fun, they just focus a more professional audience maybe.

...still glad not to use either
by Znalg on Tue 11th Mar 2003 14:37 UTC

Reading this interview made me realise how happy I am not to use either of these glitch machines. I use four regularly: XFce, IceWM, WindowMaker, and Blackbox. They all seem to make better use of GTK and Gnome libraries than Gnome.As far as KDE goes, if I wanted a Windoish environment with crashing apps, I'd use Windows.

by Julien Olivier on Tue 11th Mar 2003 15:03 UTC

If you use KDE apps and GNOME apps, then you use KDE and GNOME. I mean that it's the underlying libs that really count, not the panel, the file manager or he window manager. By using IceWM or WindowMaker, you get the defaults of KDE and GNOME libs without the advantages of their interoperability with the KDE/GNOME desktops. But, of course, you're free to do what you want and, in a perfect world, all apps should work perfectly on whatever desktop you are.

It always ends as a holy war...
by uncleremus on Tue 11th Mar 2003 16:24 UTC

between KDE and GNOME believers, no matter how much the original author tried avoid it :-(

by Julien Olivier on Tue 11th Mar 2003 16:36 UTC

You forgot the third category (the 2 first being KDE and GNOME believers):

there are people who believe in interoperability between apps and don't care about KDE or GNOME at all.

The KDE community's opinions
by Anonymous on Tue 11th Mar 2003 17:49 UTC

Read what the KDE users think about this:

I'll quote a few things:

"Waldo and Aaron from KDE are a LOT better looking than Havoc from GNOME! What a nerd that Havoc is!"

"G.N.O.M.E - Gnome Nerds Offer Medieval Environment"

"It seems to me that all this "less is more" attitude in Gnome2 is just a lame excuse for not being able to keep up with KDE."

good read
by j.g. on Tue 11th Mar 2003 19:24 UTC

Just wanted to say I enjoyed this article. Please keep informative articles with developers of this caliber coming in the future! Thank you.

lowest common denominator
by deadmeat on Wed 12th Mar 2003 08:08 UTC

This article and the ensuing discussion have been interesting.

My concern is that integration and reduced configurability tend to lead the lowest common denominator. The lowest common denominator is where while all things should be possible, they generally aren't, or are are not obviously so.

One of the links was to the review of adding a clock to the panel under gnome. This was hilarious to read and it identifies a market of users that do need the lowest common denominator of a kind provided by Apple and Microsoft. But even with these systems where screen objects have weird and wonderful names, I see a remarkable amount of confusion from users who aren't aware what is going on.

I prefer a system which is dumb, not integrated and simple. I loathe operating system defaults which attempt to anticipate what I am trying to do because more often than not they get it wrong. I'm a old fashioned terminal user I love the environment where there are no file associations, no mime types and no half hearted second guessing by the operating system.

I loathe systems that try to do everything from the first versions of mosiac, through netscape, explorer and konquerer. To me this leads to systems which are not simple and easy to understand. To all intense purposes they start off easy, everything just seems to happen. But what happens? and where do I look when it doesn't happen? These systems are like black holes and when you want or need to find out whats going on they are nightmare.

I've found that when it isn't done for you its easier for even dumb users to keep up. I'm not a dumb user and I hate how my computer treats me like one. I know what I'm doing, I know what application I want, I don't want to set it as my default application for that file because I don't want a default application for any file. If I want to use that program with that file again I'll specify it at the time.

No matter how dumb a computer user is, by comparison the computer itself might as well be an abacus. Computers and Desktop evironments should not pretend to be smarter than the user.

In my experience more people feel excluded, disenchanted and disempowered because modern computers are like a cursed genie. They perform miracles which require no effort on your part, and as a result they are often very unpredictable miracles of questionable value.

The only things that get done right, are the things you do yourself.

Re: lowest common denominator
by uncleremus on Wed 12th Mar 2003 08:38 UTC

I agree with a lot of what you say. I tend to fix things on my computer if don't work as I expect. With KDE and GNOME, you can just as well forget about that. The whole system, with it's component architecture, DCOM or whatever you name it, is so complex that I have no chance to understand what's going wrong in an acceptable amount of time. Btw, this complexity is unaffected by the number of available configuration options the DE has.

OTOH, the "consistency" and "interoperability" part of the discussion is more important than ever. These are the really hard parts that need to get fixed. Other important ones are Software installation and System administration capabilities across distributions.

Unfortunately, it is these issues where everybody is blaming someone else and doing nothing. Rather, people argue how many pixels wide the "ok" buttons in th UI should be.

Dodging Question 6
by Uns on Wed 12th Mar 2003 12:07 UTC

Regarding actually answering question 6, where's Waldo?

Regression instead of evolution
by Mi on Wed 12th Mar 2003 14:04 UTC

Reading the interview, it becomes clear to me how the desktop computer concept is all wrong, thanks to 'MS' monopoly over the years on that environment.

Windows users are not happy users. It is not friendly at all for most. People shall see their (windows) approach is wrong, and that what is needed is a cultural change. It is so hard to do beacuse those people were all extremely conditioned by the windows environment, so they need to 'unlearn' all those things they were forced to get used to to get to a higher level.

Linux is not a desktop-only OS, as Be or Apple are. They can be put in the same perspective.

Linux can be used as desktop, but as server and workstation and everything too.

My point is, things like "one DE is the solution" is nonsense. KDE/GNOME are not very nice X environments for programmers that want xemacs and xgdb for instance.

In conclusion:

Each OS has a purpose. If a user wants a less-is-more and obscure system, Windows is the perfect choice for them. Developing a DE or distro that tries to accomplish that is to make the system 'dumber', to 'uninmprove', it is regression to ignorance.

Thanks for your attention and forgive my bad english,


- A happy desktop user, with Blackbox as Window Manager nicely along with all the available Qt/Gtk applications (text and graphic editors, IDEs, multimedia system and all). Running on light, clean, stable.... Linux ;)

RE: Dodging Question 6
by Eugenia on Wed 12th Mar 2003 16:31 UTC

>Regarding actually answering question 6, where's Waldo?

He didn't reply to it.

_My_ two cents
by Brendan Orr on Sat 15th Mar 2003 08:53 UTC

Like my header states the below is my two cents, not "the powerusers that I represent". That said:

It is my personal belief that the singular linux desktop would be a grave mistake. If I didn't like a lot of options, I would simply go with GNOME and be happy. But in my case, I love configuring each individual aspect of my UI because the UI reflects my personality and traits which helps me get things done quicker than if developers were to make assumptions on which is best for the greater good. Heck, if need be I would edit the .kderc file by hand if I had a reference of every concievable option. Though yes, I do wish that some of the features were combined into one place (E.g. fonts for the desktop, file browser, window interfaces, and internet). Still though, I find even with multiple font configurations(and the like) is clear enough for anyone to use. (All visual matters are in the Appearances, Sound-related in sound,etc.)

Secondly, regarding the packaging issue. I am very happy with Slackware and how Slackware packages are merely tar.gz files with installation scripts. I am also happy with the fact that there is no dependency checks. The system trusts that I have the required files to operate the program(s) in question and doesn't bother me because something doesn't appear in it's database of installed packages.

WRT WinXP, I personally hate the thing. I believe it is a step backwards from 2000. While yes, the UI might be a standard to use as guideline (not that the basic features aren't already covered in both DEs), I agree that developers should first and foremost listen to the listeners rather than usability studies.

WRT Redhat, I agree with most "KDE was butchered by RH 8" people including Aaron and Mosfet. I agree with Redhat in that they made an attempt at making the two DEs similar. To the best of my knowledge (at this current moment), Havoc was involved with Redhat and GNOME, but I have a question as to why no one from KDE was helping Redhat to make sure that everything is running like it should before it was released.

The idea about hiding the directory structure, IMHO isn't right. People these days are smart, and like a poster noted, a person would never be able to screw up their system if they don't have permissions to write to/delete a file that they don't own. The exceptions to this would be the people who login as root only.

I appologize if some of my beliefs are ignorant. I'm perpetually agitated at the threat of less options.

by Brendan Orr on Sat 15th Mar 2003 09:01 UTC

I agree that developers should first and foremost listen to the listeners rather than usability studies.

should read:

I agree that developers should first and foremost listen to the users rather than usability studies.

Not insulting your ability to comprehend mistakes, just correcting a mistake