What is wrong with KDE 3.x? What is wrong with GNOME 2.8+? These seem to be the two questions arising from the recent revival of Linus vs. GNOME spat. We all know the history; Linus called the GNOME guys ‘interface nazis’ and advised Linux users to use KDE, which resulted in the longest comment thread on OSNews ever. That kind of fizzled out, only to be brought to light again by Linus submitting a few patches to make GNOME behave more like he wants it to behave.Which is a good thing. This is what open source is about, right?
Anyway, this of course led to yet another major discussion around the whole GNOME vs. KDE debate, one of the computing world’s most favourite flamewars. Every time this subject is discussed, the complaints about KDE and GNOME seem to centre around the same basic complaints.
KDE is seen as a cluttered mess, completely void of any form of restraint on what widgets are placed where. There appears to be no logic in how buttons are arranged; which of them get text labels, which of them are placed on the toolbar and which on a sidebar. KDE is also said to have way too many options for configuring every pixel on the screen, and of course all these options are presented directly at the user, instead of hiding less used options. And of course some uninformed soul will say KDE caters to only ‘ex-Windows users’.
GNOME, on the other hand, is regarded as rigid, inflexible, pre-defined, and boring. There are too few ways of manipulating how your desktop and windows look. “Usability” appears to have been upgraded from a guidewire to a Holy Book of Conduct, allowing for no deviations from the norm. It is also often said that GNOME lacks basic functionality, and most of the time people will say this missing functionality has been hidden just to not confuse users. And of course, some uninformed soul will say GNOME has a registry, ‘just like Windows’.
Apart from all these negative points, each desktop environment’s users also propagate positive points– which are always the same as well. KDE allows for great flexibility, meaning that if you do not like how it looks by default, you can make it look just like you want to. They will also say that while KDE might seem incoherent, consistency is in fact quite high among KDE applications, especially when you look at behaviour. Other than that, because of the flexible nature of KDE, it can be made to look just stunning.
Contrary to this, GNOME has a high graphical consistency, and its no-nonsense looks are pleasing to the eyes. The lack of options to manipulate every pixel on the screen also means you spend less time fiddling, and more time working. GNOME works towards having sane defaults, which enable the user to start working immediately.
I could go on with each of these four lists for days on end, but this is not the point I am trying to make. What I want to explain to you is this: look at the lists. Notice anything? Exactly. There are a lot of opposites in there.
And that is a good thing.
For god’s (lower-case ‘g’) sake, people, nobody is forcing you to use one or the other. Just choose which ever of the two you like, and be happy with it. And if you cannot choose, like me, just use them both! Yes! That is the great thing about using Linux! You can actually choose what environment you want to use! Is that not amazing? But wait! That’s not all! It gets even better!
You can – I kid you not – even choose something else, besides KDE and GNOME! You can use Xfce, or if you prefer something more exotic, you can install things like E16, E17, ROX, or whatever other desktop environment.
And be happy.