Linked by Allen Boyles on Mon 7th Nov 2011 09:46 UTC
Graphics, User Interfaces In the commercial software world, user interfaces are generally designed by one group. Like Microsoft for Windows or Apple for Mac OS. Those desktop environments were designed by one company who did things like user testing and statistical analysis to try and make the desktop they thought would work best. Linux is different. Large groups definitely DO perform user testing and statistical analysis, but one group can also say "Here's what we want" and, if they have the ability to code it, their idea comes into being. It's pretty amazing, when you think about it. Linux lets people create what they want. If you don't like what's out there, fork it! Or start from scratch! You're in control!
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KDE does it right IMHO
by DeadFishMan on Mon 7th Nov 2011 19:45 UTC
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The more I read the arguments - pros and cons - of the direction that GNOME (with its GNOME Shell) and Unity both have taken, trying to shove a tablet/smartphone UI on to desktop users, the more I think that Aaron Seigo and friends were right when designing Plasma and that ultimately KDE shall reap the benefits further down the road.

Unlike GS and Unity, Plasma was designed from the ground up to be flexible and it shows; it can be easily tailored for different use cases: Desktop (Workspace type Desktop), Netbook (Workspace type Netbook) and Tablet/Smartphone (Plasma Active) all sharing the same codebase and hence the same extensions (plasmoids such as weather applets, twitter/ utilities, etc.) can be used on all cases. KDE not only does not try to shove an alien metaphor on to desktop users but from all the major DEs is the only one that still allows one to remain on his/her comfort zone, with taskbars, applets, etc. if that is what floats his/her boat.

Want a desktop panel on the left? Done. Want a global menu bar on top that works somewhat like OSX's? Done (in fact, this has been an option since the late versions of the KDE 2.X series, if memory serves me right). Do not want a panel at all and just a right-click on the desktop to bring the application launcher? Done. Focus follow mouse? Done and done.

Ironically, KDE is also ahead of the pack with the ongoing work to adapt most of its mainstream applications to be "touch-friendly" to be used on a tablet while both GS and Unity, as touch-friendly as the DEs themselves might turn out to be, expect the user to cope with what is basically a WIMP interface (with menus and what not) which kind of defeats the point of having a touch-friendly DE in the first place.

It also strikes me that both GS and Unity take an aggressive stance towards multitasking, making it so hard to multitask that it actually frustrates the hell out of intermediate to power users. Don't want to take my word for it? Carla Schroder and several other high profile Linux writers have gone on record reporting pretty much the same complaint.

Of course such flexibility comes with some complexity but as correctly pointed out by a previous poster, it does not automatically means that the user *has* to fiddle with obscure settings as long as the default settings are sane. I have yet to set up different activities on my desktop for instance but I am glad that the option is there for those that want it and even for myself in case a see the need for it in the future.

As a matter of a fact, changing the desktop to Desktop View and setting up a rotating wallpaper every hour or so is about the extent of the changes that I made to make it comfortable for me and it took about 10 minutes to set up.

And the fact that the entire DE is flexible allows distros to customize it enough to fit their userbase needs: MEPIS presents by default a somewhat conservative desktop whereas OpenSUSE's offering is highly polished and corporative-y and Mandriva's looks all shiny and gorgeous.

I'll concede that KDE can be somewhat confusing at times and that some design decisions still do not make sense EVEN to die-hard fans like me (such as the separate UIs for Plasma and desktop themes, the very small buttons, etc) and that both Plasma and KWin are in a dire need of fixes for some glitches and optimizations here and there but I'd still argue that it is highly usable as it is (have two young kids on the house to prove it) and that all this flexibility, despite its price, is better for the end user.

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