Gnome 3 and KDE 4: two different design directions

25 Jun

So this is very likely going to be biased towards KDE and away from Gnome, given my own opinion on the two. In fact, I’ll warn you right now that some pretty extensive KDE propaganda is coming up. However, to start off, I’d like to say that the difference between KDE 3.5 and 4.0 is not comparable to the difference between Gnome 2.30 and Gnome 3.0.

Gnome 3.0 introduces a new panel, new menu system and new window management, but most of the actual applications you will use will remain the same or similar. Applications will be written in the same language using the same API as they were before, and nearly nothing is going to be re-written from scratch. Features will be added, differences may be made, but the vast majority of underlying code will remain the same: they will not, for example, need to re-write how files will be copied and moved or how folders are displayed. Many things, like Epiphany, will likely remain completely unchanged from Gnome 2.30, with no changes to code whatsoever.

KDE 4.0 was a complete re-write and porting process of all applications. To use the above example, copying files and viewing folders had to be ported or re-written for a new set of tools that were incompatible with the old set of tools. Everything, from the UIs to underlying libraries, had to be re-written or edited and ported to new tools.

For this reason, Gnome 3.0 will not have the same kind of bare-bones newness or instability that KDE 4.0 did. I expect that an awful lot of Gnome will be stable and ready to use right out of the gate. Right. Glad to have gotten that out of the way.

Gnome 3.0: More of the Same

Don’t get me wrong: lots of things have been carefully thought about in terms of application and document management as well as organization of tasks, and in this sense Gnome 3 brings many changes with Gnome Shell.

However, it really is more of what we’ve had in the past. Everything you do is thought of as files and applications. The desktop only serves to get you to either of those faster, usually with launcher icons. That’s it’s purpose. It doesn’t branch much further beyond that.

Everything that the Gnome developers have done, every change they’ve made, has been to get to either of these faster than before, whether it’s already opened or not. The new menu system has been designed specifically to show you applications you use often first, and the documents you’ve most recently edited first. The new window management choices have been to better organize and find open applications and documents. It’s all applications and documents, applications and documents.

In this sense, and in my point of view, this isn’t such a huge change, then. There’s some new search functionality and some new 3D effects, but under that it’s generally the same. Want some information, open an application. A desktop with no applications open is useless.

Consider this:


The standard-looking Gnome desktop

Here we have what a Gnome desktop might look like when you first log in. Let me spell it out for you: the screen real-estate is huge and it’s doing absolutely nothing. You have a clock and some networking information as well as a battery monitor for laptops, but other than that, it’s displaying absolutely no information what-so-ever. When you first log in, you probably have a long list of things that you’d like to know – updates on your favourite websites, new E-mails, contacts that are currently available for instant messaging – and the desktop as it looks when you log-in does absolutely nothing to help you get there. This won’t change after Gnome 3 is released in the slightest.

Which leads me quite conveniently onto KDE 4…

KDE 4: What You Actually Use Your Computer For

KDE 3.5 was very similar to the Gnome screenshot above: you could have a huge amount of space, and the most you could do with it was fill it with icons.

Here’s the thing, though: you don’t use your computer for icons. We use our computers to display information that we’re interested in, and to record information that’s important to us. The applications we choose and the software we use, they’re just tools to accomplish one of or both these jobs, and we pick the tools that do that job best. Many of you reading this pick Linux, Ubuntu or otherwise, over Windows because it displays and records information, or at least, information that’s important to us, better: whether that’s faster, cheaper, in greater detail or with better presentation. Inversely, many Windows users (given that they’ve tried Linux and are aware that it does, in fact, exist) choose Windows for exactly the same reason: because the information they want to read or create is read or created better in Windows than in Linux, usually through better presentation, or even just presentation that’s familiar. They like how they can find music in iTunes in Windows more than in Firefox under Linux (though with Ubuntu One Music Store, this may become less relevant); they prefer Microsoft Office over OpenOffice; they prefer Sibelius over NTeD, etc. not because of the application itself but because of the information it allows them to access and create, and the presentation of the information or information creation tools. It’s all about the information.

And information can be anything: contacts; data from websites like Facebook, Twitter, Planet Ubuntu, the BBC, Engadget and nearly any other website; E-mails; videos; music; images; and yes, files and folders. If you’re like me, then there’s a lot of information you want either nearly every time or every time you log in: stuff like your latest Youtube subscription videos, updates to your favourite blog and news websites, E-mails and yes, I know a lot of people say they’re useless, but a lot more people are very interested in their microblogging timelines as well.

The desktop in the above screenshot really doesn’t provide that kind of information. It asks you to open one or multiple full-blown applications if you want to know anything at all. KDE 3.5 didn’t do any of this real justice either.


Another huge screen running plasma-desktop

The most obvious thing in the screenshot above is all those organized news widgets, showing me information from my favourite websites. There’s also an E-mail icon down in the bottom right, which checks my G-mail inbox for me. In the bottom left, next to the menu button, are my Twitter and Identica timelines, automatically updating and displaying the number of new tweets or dents on their corner, as well as the picture of the last person’s tweet or dent. I can click on one of them to bring up my timeline, which includes friends, other people I’m interested in and various news sites, and click again to get rid of it.


My Twitter feed, in one convenient place

But here’s the real selling point: all this stuff is available to me straight away, when I log in – which is what I want. I don’t want to have to open firefox, open 6 or 7 new tabs and then type in several website addresses in order to check my E-mail (and even then, sometimes only to find that I don’t have any new E-mail at all), check my twitter feed and check for updates on these various websites (especially with Engadgets’ loading times!). It’s such an inconvenience, especially when I’m doing it every time I log in.

Sure, I could set all these tabs as my home pages and load up firefox then – but it’s not just how quickly I get the information, it’s the presentation as well. First, I can see all this information at the same time, without having to hunt through tabs and windows and then having to read only one thing at a time to check the various updates. Second, I’m not too interested in navigating my way through various websites to get to the information I’m interested in, such as (in the screenshot above) KDE’s youtube channel.

Thing is, KDE aren’t the only people making GUIs centred around information: Intel are also building one with their Meego effort. Look familiar? Additionally, Android on phones has customizable home-screens with information-displaying widgets on them as its first user-facing feature, with Symbian and Nokia’s Maemo/Meego UI also bringing this focus. Hell, even Windows Vista introduced desktop widgets, though rather hackishly plonked on top of their existing explorer shell, for the very same reason.

This isn’t even just a revolution to how we use our devices, though. That’s how we’ve used our devices for a long while now. Now, we’re just building interfaces around that, rather than giving it a seat round back. In this sense, interfaces like Gnome are starting to feel outdated and behind the curve. Like I’ve already stated, Gnome 3 won’t do very much, if anything, to change it.

Despite all I’ve said, though, and my obvious bias, there’s still evidence I can’t ignore in favour of environments like Gnome’s, that will just become jumping-off platforms for people to quickly access full-blown applications, and that success comes in the form of the iPhone, one of (if not the) most popular smartphone on the market today. What does it provide? When you think about it, all the iPhone consists of is grids of icons: it is (figuratively speaking, of course) a jumping-off point for people to quickly access applications, and yet it’s been wildly successful for being simple, focussed and polished.

So now, to the most pointless conclusion of all time

I think that these two desktop environments will continue to diverge and develop around different design decisions. KDE will favour features, flexibility and power to the user, while Gnome will continue to be focussed, efficient and simple-to-use. Both will be actively used and, while the developers continue to co-operate on issues common to both desktops, the fans of each desktop will continue to argue about which is best. In other words, things will remain the same way they are now.

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18 Responses to “Gnome 3 and KDE 4: two different design directions”

  1. LoneStar June 25, 2010 at 15:59 #

    It’s an interesting analisys and mostly correct, I think.

    Anyway I do use KDE4 but I would never configure my desktop in a way similar to the sample.

    That’s because the main think I like to see on my desktop is …. a gorgeous background.

    It’s surely silly, but I would never clutter the view with so many widgets.

    I prefer them in auto-hiding side panels.

    • the Madman June 25, 2010 at 16:13 #

      Another differentiator I deliberately left out: KDE’s default artwork is worth a damn 😉
      (don’t tell the Gnome guys I said that!)

      But I agree, it’s nice to be able to put stuff in auto-hidden panels and have a nice, clean desktop. Makes stuff readily available and easy to get at.

  2. Warbo June 25, 2010 at 16:18 #

    I mostly agree with what you’ve said, however as it stands I don’t have anything on my KDE desktop and the main reason is because it’s always hidden under an application (I generally use apps full-screen). Even my icons live in a panel on the right.
    I have apps like Kontact (RSS & email) open when I log in, I get all instant messaging through Psi (thanks to Jabber gateways and Twitter forwarding services) and that’s always-on-top & sticky.
    An issue I have with Plasma is micromanagement of the plasmoids, and not wanting two unsynchronised ways to do the same thing. Thankfully the Newspaper interface seems to address these (doing auto-layout of plasmoids and giving a ‘full version’ buttons, eg. RSS opens Akregator).

  3. Dan June 25, 2010 at 16:34 #

    Why on earth would I ever want useful information stuck on my desktop? I never see my desktop!

    Put it in a taskbar app, a notification, or a completely separate app. Otherwise you’re asking me to clear all my work windows just to see a social update?

    What’s KDE thinking?

    • the Madman June 25, 2010 at 16:40 #

      1. You can put plasma widgets into panels, as I have with the microblogging apps;

      2. You can show the dashboard with a shortcut or a panel widget without having to minimize and restore all your applications;

      3. Clicking on the toolbox icon at the top-right has the same effect as the Show Desktop widget, minimizing all windows until you open a new one or click the toolbox icon again.

      Trust me when I say people that are much smarter than either of us have already thought through the work-flow and use case.

  4. the Madman June 25, 2010 at 16:36 #

    Guys, guys, guys: of course people use their KDE desktops in ways other than I have shown and other than I do. What I was outlining was that, with KDE, it’s possible to use it in all these weird and wonderful ways, while in Gnome it isn’t.

  5. Jason "moofang" June 26, 2010 at 08:36 #

    Choice is good 🙂 Gnome and KDE are resolutely chasing their own markedly different ideals, and as much as I am entrenched in the KDE design philosophy, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    @Dan, Warbo : Couldn’t resist. Arguably the main reason the desktop is always covered up is.. usage habits. People are *used to* maximizing their windows and/or covering every inch of their desktop, and the main reason of that is probably because the desktop used to be… useless. Except to quick launch some of said full-screen apps. The question KDE asks though is supposing the desktop actually *becomes useful*, can new – better – workflows be found to replace the traditional way we use desktops?

    In a way this probably highlights the different approaches KDE and Gnome takes to improving the desktop. Gnome notes “Oh, this is the way you use your desktop. Let’s try to make it even easier/faster/better for you to do it” whereas KDE goes “Hey, have you thought about using it in a completely different, but quite possibly better way?”

  6. AnTs June 26, 2010 at 12:56 #

    I sure was one of those who were really mad when KDE 4.0 came out and was very unstable and so different. But now after few releases in the KDE 4 series I can see that this was really necessary in order to make it possible to improve the desktop and apps in a way that it wasn’t possible (or would be extremely hard) with KDE 3 architecture. Nowdays I’m runing KDE 4.4.4 and I can’t even imagineg going back to the old KDE. KDE 4 not only looks awesome, but the new features and workflows are really neat and help in daily work. GNOME will have to bite the bullet and do a similar step, or they will just fall behind even further.

  7. Jacob June 26, 2010 at 23:27 #

    Did you even try GNOME-Shell? Your screenshot seems as if you didn’t. Perhaps you are mistaking the new GNOME 2.30 as 3.0?

    Whatever the case, this article is completely bias (as to be expected). Not only is KDE 4.4.4 totally full of bugs, but the developers also have no plans to fix them (as always), and you automatically assume people *want* pointless CPU hugging “widgets” cluttering their desktop.

    Also there exists GNOME Screenlets, and GNOME Desklets, that can perform many of the tasks KDE’s do. I have got KDE’s “Plasma” “widgets” working on GNOME before as well.

    At this point in time, where all major distributions are using GNOME over KDE, it kind of says something.

    Please try to write more objectively in the future, please.

    • the Madman June 26, 2010 at 23:52 #

      Yes, it is bias. I am a bias person. You can’t change that.

      Regardless: first, don’t complain and say, “Why do people want CPU-hogging widgets”, then in the next breath say, “You can do that in Gnome too”. You’re just defeating the point in your own comment.

      Second, I’ve used Screenlets on Gnome. It was painful. Plasma: click-drag widget where you want it to go. Screenlets: click-drag does nothing. Double-click does nothing. You actually have to go into the description, then click, “Add to desktop” or something stupid like that. Then, there’s no indication of how you (re)move the widgets, it’s impossible to resize them and it’s impossible to add them to the panel.

      Moreover, all the bugs I’ve reported have been fixed or are being worked on. Show me a genuine bug, rather than something that is personal opinion on how something works – show me a bug report that explains unexpected, undesirable behaviour, that the developers have refused to fix, then I’ll consider what you’ve said as valid. Do you really think *any* developer deliberately puts bugs in their application out of spite and malice?

      And no, it’s not, “totally full of bugs”. There are bugs, sure, but by now, they are few and far between. This isn’t 4.0 any more.

      Also, don’t complain at me about bias after a comment like that, hypocrite.

      And to answer your question, yes, I have used gnome-shell: it is literally a new panel, a menu with search and a new zoom-out effect for your virtual desktops. That is all. To me, that does not constitute a huge change in terms of design direction and usage, for the reasons I already explained above.

      • Jacob June 27, 2010 at 04:05 #

        “Yes, it is bias. I am a bias person. You can’t change that.”

        I’m not trying to.

        “Regardless: first, don’t complain and say, “Why do people want CPU-hogging widgets”, then in the next breath say, “You can do that in Gnome too”. You’re just defeating the point in your own comment.”

        First, you misquoted me, I said “you automatically assume people *want* pointless CPU hugging `widgets` cluttering their desktop” That is to say: you think widgets are cool and because GNOME doesn’t have them by default you dislike GNOME. It’s not defeating (you mean contradicting).

        “Second, I’ve used Screenlets on Gnome. It was painful. Plasma: click-drag widget where you want it to go. Screenlets: click-drag does nothing. Double-click does nothing. You actually have to go into the description, then click, “Add to desktop” or something stupid like that.”

        You have to click the icon in the panel (just as in KDE), then add a widget, easy.

        “Then, there’s no indication of how you (re)move the widgets, it’s impossible to resize them and it’s impossible to add them to the panel.”

        To move them you just click anywhere on the widget that isn’t a bottom or some other kind of control (just as in KDE). To remove them, you right click then click “quit” or “quit all”. To zoom, you roll you middle mouse wheel over one or right click then click “zoom” and choose anywhere between 10% to 900%.

        And yes, you can’t add them to the panel, but in my opinion, that’s what launchers are for.

        “Moreover, all the bugs I’ve reported have been fixed or are being worked on. Show me a genuine bug, rather than something that is personal opinion on how something works – show me a bug report that explains unexpected, undesirable behaviour, that the developers have refused to fix, then I’ll consider what you’ve said as valid.”

        I don’t follow KDE bugs (and I don’t only consider ‘bugs’ to only be what has been reported), and I never report nor regard personal design opinions as bugs.

        But the last version I’ve used was KDE SC 4.4.4. And adding the “Browser” widget then scrolling a webpage in it caused all kinds of graphical glitches to occur, and rotating it then scrolling didn’t even work (this was with and without video card drivers and on multiple systems with different hardware.)

        And clicking on the “Start-up” (thingy) caused the area it was going to cover to move slightly upward for a slit second.

        “Do you really think *any* developer deliberately puts bugs in their application out of spite and malice?”

        No. Only bad developers don’t realize a bug as they are causing it. That is what the KDE developers do.

        “And no, it’s not, “totally full of bugs”. There are bugs, sure, but by now, they are few and far between. This isn’t 4.0 any more.”

        In its current stage (compared to GNOME’s stability) KDE SC 4.4.4 should KDE SC 4.0b3pre, maybe.

        “Also, don’t complain at me about bias after a comment like that, hypocrite.”

        Nothing in my post was hypocritical, my post was based on facts, and I never went against my own opinions.

        “And to answer your question, yes, I have used gnome-shell: it is literally a new panel, a menu with search and a new zoom-out effect for your virtual desktops. That is all. To me, that does not constitute a huge change in terms of design direction and usage, for the reasons I already explained above.”

        I wouldn’t consider KDE’s widgets a huge improvement either. Especially since every other operating system desktop environment had them before KDE did.

        • the Madman June 27, 2010 at 10:16 #

          I think widgets are useful – which they are – and that existing implementations aren’t as powerful or easy to use – which they aren’t. When I *went out of my way* to install either Screenlets or Desklets, no, it wasn’t anywhere near as simple as you make out.

          Don’t you defeat your own argument by contradicting yourself? Yes you do. That argument about technicalities of language is completely moot.

          Feedback is nice. Plasma provides feedback to show, “Yes, you can do this stuff”. Screenlets/desklets don’t. Moreover, it’s not actually consistent with the rest of Gnome: to move something in the panel, I right-click and click, “Move”.

          Don’t claim that developers are negligent of bugs and then say, “I don’t follow bugs”. Then, don’t state outright that you’ve found a bug but haven’t reported it. The reason it isn’t fixed is because the developers don’t know about it. That could be because the browser widget hasn’t been touched since 4.2 and something has changed. They’re not going to fix something they don’t know is broken. Simple as. Saying something as broad and damning as, “but the developers also have no plans to fix them (as always)” is a lie at best and just outright insulting at worst. Finally, saying KDE developers are bad *because of a bug they don’t notice* is a whole new insult in itself.

          Yes, the current 2-year-old KDE 4 isn’t as mature as the 8-year-old Gnome 2. Way to state the obvious.

          Yes, your comment WAS full of bias. You state that plasma widgets are CPU hogging when they’re not, you claim KDE is full of bugs which is vague, you infer Gnome with Desklets/Screenlets is better than Plasma when, in terms of design, it simply isn’t and you state that KDE 4’s Plasma isn’t a huge step while completely ignoring the likes of Akonadi (which doesn’t have a Gnome counterpart or implementation), Phonon (which also doesn’t have a gnome counterpart) and Solid (ditto). I might be biased against Gnome, but it’s at least justified: I like KDE’s design more than Gnome’s. I don’t outright lie about their software and insult the developers – that is unjustified, regardless of your bias, and I won’t tolerate personal insults.

          • Jacob June 27, 2010 at 23:52 #

            “I think widgets are useful – which they are”

            That’s opinion, not fact.

            ” – and that existing implementations aren’t as powerful or easy to use – which they aren’t.”

            That’s opinion, not fact.

            “When I *went out of my way* to install either Screenlets or Desklets, no, it wasn’t anywhere near as simple as you make out.”

            There are distributions that come with Screenlets/Desklets installed (just like KDE), and to install them is as easy as opening “Add/Remove Software” and clicking a few times. And it is right now, and has been since 2008 when I first used them.

            “Feedback is nice. Plasma provides feedback to show, “Yes, you can do this stuff”. Screenlets/desklets don’t. Moreover, it’s not actually consistent with the rest of Gnome: to move something in the panel, I right-click and click, “Move”.”

            What? To move something on the GNOME-Panel you can just middle-click and drag. And to move a Screenlet you can also right-click then click “Move.” To move things on the panel in KDE, what, you have to click that little “Widgets” thing at the end of the panel, and then you can move the widgets to only predefined places; you can’t move them wherever you like.

            “Don’t claim that developers are negligent of bugs and then say, `I don’t follow bugs`.”

            Again, you are defining “bug” as only what’s reported.

            “Then, don’t state outright that you’ve found a bug but haven’t reported it.”

            (I think) It’s been reported. And it has existed since 4.2.

            “The reason it isn’t fixed is because the developers don’t know about it. That could be because the browser widget hasn’t been touched since 4.2 and something has changed. They’re not going to fix something they don’t know is broken. Simple as. Saying something as broad and damning as, ‘but the developers also have no plans to fix them (as always)’ is a lie at best and just outright insulting at worst. Finally, saying KDE developers are bad *because of a bug they don’t notice* is a whole new insult in itself.”

            The simple truth is: I’ve seen bugs reported then ignored then released unfixed, I’ve seen similar happen with GNOME the only difference is: reported then ignored then released fixed without even notifying the reporter. Fixing all bugs (even those the developers don’t know about during beta — good developers eventually find bugs themselves) is just *normal* practice that is supposed to be done before every “stable” release.

            “Yes, the current 2-year-old KDE 4 isn’t as mature as the 8-year-old Gnome 2. Way to state the obvious.”

            I started using GNOME at the 2.20 release, since and (of what I’ve seen) before then GNOME has been more stable than KDE.

            “Yes, your comment WAS full of bias. You state that plasma widgets are CPU hogging when they’re not”

            What’s your hardware configuration? CPU speed, video card GPU speed and memory, DDR version and memory amount?

            “you claim KDE is full of bugs which is vague, you infer Gnome with Desklets/Screenlets is better than Plasma when, in terms of design, it simply isn’t”

            I never said GNOME-Screenlets are better then Plasma, I said they are about the same, and that Plasma is in no way better then Screenlets (but I also don’t like widgets), and KDE as a whole is worse then GNOME, in my opinion and statistically. Some KDE targeted applications are of very high quality, such as Kdenlive, Dolphin, Amarok (although, I prefer Cinelerra, Nautilus, and Rhythmbox, respectively.)

            “and you state that KDE 4′s Plasma isn’t a huge step while completely ignoring the likes of Akonadi (which doesn’t have a Gnome counterpart or implementation)”

            I don’t see why I would want my personal information open for other applications to see. Either way, you may use Akonadi with GNOME (or you can use Multisync) and GNOME Zeitgeist is similar to what Akonadi does.

            “Phonon (which also doesn’t have a gnome counterpart) and Solid (ditto).”

            GNOME’s multimedia implementation is much better, and the fact that (as I said before) most distributions don’t use KDE (thus don’t use Phonon neither) and that they are all doing just fine shows that Phonon isn’t necessary. And again Solid isn’t needed either, and you may still use it with GNOME (it’s a dependency of like every KDE application anyway.)

            “I might be biased against Gnome, but it’s at least justified: I like KDE’s design more than Gnome’s.”

            You call that justification? I like GNOME’s design better than KDE’s, but that doesn’t justify my criticism of KDE. (Although I believe criticism doesn’t need justification.)

            “I don’t outright lie about their software and insult the developers – that is unjustified, regardless of your bias, and I won’t tolerate personal insults.”

            I never personally insulted the “developers” (you can’t *personally* insult a group of people scattered across the world.) I am criticizing their (in my opinion only) very poor work and choice in design.

            • the Madman June 29, 2010 at 14:20 #

              Whether something is useful or not isn’t an opinion. Something that doesn’t serve a particular purpose, doesn’t provide users with information or with the ability to create something, is useless. Most widgets do at least one of those things, making them useful. Whether they’re completely and utterly necessary is a different discussion: of course they’re not, but neither is a GUI. That doesn’t mean it’s not nice to have, and it certainly doesn’t mean it’s not useful.

              Find me another widget implementation that provides the power, flexibility and ease-of-use of Plasma, and I’ll submit that Plasma isn’t the best implementation of desktop widgets.

              In that screenshot, I’m using a Dell Mini 10v that came pre-loaded with Ubuntu with no hardware modifications. It’s not a supercomputer. Moreover, I’m actually using software rendering for Plasma, and it’s still using a pathetically small amount of CPU.

              When you started using Gnome (at 2.20), it was already 5 years old, hence still far more mature than KDE 4.4 is today.

              You’ve now stated that gnome with screenlets is about the same as plasma, which, incidentally, is also untrue in so many ways I don’t know where to begin.

              Lets count the ways in which you’re wrong about the bug: First off, yes, it has been reported. Right, that should be -1. From there, though, it goes downhill: it was reported against 4.4.1 (0); a developer HAS given feedback (1); they have also tried fixing it (2) but can’t reproduce it in their version, because; as far as I can tell myself (having just tested against both 4.4 and 4.5 RC), the bug is fixed (3).

              Ignoring that one bug for a moment, consider what the developer’s priorities are: are they going to focus their time on a graphical glitch, that could well be a bug in Qt, or are they going to try fixing a bug that results in a loss of data? First, lets get out of the way that, yes, KDE 4, being a very new piece of software, does have more bugs than Gnome, simple as. Now consider that KDE doesn’t have an infinite number of developers and that they need to make choices about the bugs that they fix and when they fix them. Just because a developer hasn’t fixed your bug when you’ve reported it (which, lets remind everyone, you haven’t), doesn’t mean that they haven’t noticed or even that they’re not fixing other bugs. I mean, really, what do you think the developers are doing during feature freeze? Sipping tea and waiting for trunk to re-open?

              Your comment about Akonadi is laughable, demonstrating your complete lack of understanding of any of the technology being developed. I could only try sounding as daft if I asked, “Why should my web-browser have access to the information of the web-page I’m visiting? It’s not like it NEEDS the HTML or anything.”

              Gnome’s multimedia solution is GStreamer. If you’re going to tell me that’s a nice, easy and powerful solution that’s simple to implement with a straight face, then go ahead and do it. Did I mention that KDE applications can *also* use GStreamer, if you really want them to? You know, because there’s a Phonon plug-in for that. But, you know, just in case you couldn’t figure out whether to install gstreamer-plugins-bad or gstreamer-plugins-awful, you can always just use Xine instead, seeing as that also has a Phonon plug-in. Did I mention there’s going to be a VLC plug-in in 4.5, too? Also note that all KDE applications use the sound-system specified in Phonon, so I don’t have to worry about which applications use what any more. But sure, I can see the appeal in trying to figure out whether you’ve got missing GStreamer plug-ins, whether PulseAudio is misbehaving or whether you’ve got dodgy Alsa configuration. Sure, that sounds so much more superior. Did I forget to mention that Phonon is cross-platform, too, so, say, Amarok works with Windows straight away? Phonon, from a user and developer point of view, is looking better so far…

              And if you really think they’re doing, “just fine” with Gnome, especially on the sound front, I’d hate to point out all those Windows users over there rolling on the floor… and besides, I don’t see any of these for KDE with Phonon.

              Maybe Solid isn’t necessary, as defined above, sure, but it’s nice for applications to be able to figure out whether or not I’m connected to the internet before trying to grab their data and then complaining that they can’t get at it. I know you can’t, I’m not connected to the internet! Stop popping up notifications that you failed to connect! But mostly from a developer’s point of view, there isn’t very much like it in Gnome. Solid: do I have a webcam? I do? Does it have a mic? It does? Are we connected to the internet? We are? Phonon: grab some sound/video information from the webcam and send it through this instant-messenger. We’re getting video and sound information back: display it. Sure, it’s not necessary: I could instead spend ages pissing about with various hardware layers like HAL, udev or V4L, as well as GStreamer, Alsa, PulseAudio, Xine, VLC or whatever else provides audio/video encoding/decoding, but you know what? I don’t want to learn more than 10 ways to do the same thing when I can just write a few lines of code and support all of it.

              Reading comprehension fail: I was justifying my own personal bias towards KDE, not my criticisms of Gnome. When you’re bias against something for reasons that aren’t even valid like, say, most of yours, it’s not really justified. I mean, I would have accepted poor multi-screen support, less-than-complete implementation of the various pillars of KDE, unfavourable integration with popular GTK apps like Firefox or hell, even a single showstopper bug, but you didn’t mention any of that, and instead opted to suggest, “The developers haven’t fixed one bug I noticed, so they obviously don’t fix any, ’cause they suck! I hate them!”. That is unjustified, regardless of how you slice it.

  8. Freelance Website Design July 24, 2010 at 15:51 #

    Great article! Thanks.

  9. rich December 27, 2010 at 08:51 #

    Your points are well taken, as long as one doesn’t have a browser open.. in those cases, all the screen widgets in the world are useless.. but who uses browsers anyway

  10. Zombie February 19, 2011 at 01:03 #

    I really like the Gnome 2 interface menu etc however if Gnome 3 is going to stuff that up than for me KDE may be a better option. I enjoy using KDE 4.

  11. manfrommars November 6, 2011 at 08:47 #

    Well, In my point of view, GNOME SHELL and Unity are both very complicate to use if compare KDE. I used before gnome2 because it was easy to use and nice – But not any more. User can not use system as he want use it – system force user work like he do not want work – this is reason why GNOME SHELL and UNITY both are from hell.

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