I’m running Gnome

As it turns out, I start to dislike the way the KDE project is proceeding, and I don’t refer to the Gentoo KDE project, but to the whole of KDE project.

I dislike the way KDE 4 is being developed, with a focus on eyecandy rather than on features. This is easily shown by the Oxygen style; not only it is taking up a amount of screen real estate for widgets that remind me of Keramik (and if you remember, one thing that made happy a huge amount of users was the switch from Keramik to Plastik as default style in KDE 3.3), but it’s also tremendously slow. And I’m sure of this, it’s not just an impression: as soon as I switch Qt to use Oxygen, it takes five seconds for Quassel to draw the list of buffers; once I use QtCurve, it takes just one second. I don’t know if this is because Enterprise is using XAA and not EXA, but it certainly doesn’t look like something that the default theme should do.

And no, I’m not expected to use a computer that has less than an year, with a hyper-strength gaming videocard to be able to use KDE.

But this is just one of the issues I have with KDE recently. There are some policies I really, really, dislike in KDE. The first is one I already mentioned quite often and it’s the move to CMake. The only “good” reason to move to CMake is to be able to build under Windows using Microsoft’s Visual C++ compiler; yet instead of just saying “we needed cmake because it’s necessary to build for Windows” I see so many devs saying “cmake is just better than everything else out there”. Bullshit.

The other policy that I dislike regards the way KDE is developed and released as a single, huge, monolithic thing. One of the things that made KDE difficult to package in Gentoo (and other source-based distributions) was the fact that by default the source has to be built in those huge amorphous packages. And if the autotools-based build system of KDE sucked so much, it was also because of that.

But even if we leave alone the way the releases are made, it’s just not possible for everything to fall into a single release cycle kind of thing. There are projects that are more mature and projects that are less. Forcing all of them in a single release cycle makes it difficult to provide timely bugfixes for the mature projects, and makes it impossible for the not-so-mature projects to be tested incrementally. The last straw I could bear to see because of this stupid way of releasing, was knowing that Konversation in KDE 4 will probably lose the IRC-over-SSL support because KSSL was removed from the base libraries.

And now KDE 4.1 is on the verge of release, and Kopete still segfaults once you connect to Jabber. Yet when I tried (multiple times) to gather information about the possible cause in #kopete (so I could at least try to debug it myself), I had no feedback at all; maybe it’s because I run Gentoo, although the same happens on (K)Ubuntu. Yeah not the kind of people I like to deal with.

I’m not saying that I think Gnome is perfect for policies and other things. I dislike the fact that it’s always more Linux-/Solaris-centric than cross-platform centric; but I think KDE4 was a set back for that too, for what I read. And their release method does look a lot more sane.

I started using Linux with KDE 2. I moved to Gnome once KDE 3 was being taken care of. I came back to KDE just a bit before 3.3 release. Now I’m going to try Gnome for a while, and if I like it, I’ll think more than twice before going back to KDE. Yeah sure I liked KDE 3 better than I liked Gnome before that, but it’s just not feasible that I have to switch DE every time they want to make a new release.

Besides, since I last used it, Gnome seems much more mature and nicer to deal with.

29 thoughts on “I’m running Gnome

  1. I have to admit to some dissatisfaction myself with the KDE 4 development process, but GNOME is even worse in many ways. As I think Linus Torvalds has pointed out, GNOME is designed to make it difficult for the average user to customize his desktop. There’s a “we know better than you what your desktop should be like” attitude that makes be shudder. Unfortunately, I think KDE 4 reflects some of this attitude, too. Or rather, I think the design of Plasma has this attitude.The rest of KDE 4 has a lot of promise (for instance, I really like where Solid is going). Decibel, Phonon, and Telepathy are going to be really cool technologies. Akonadi and Nepomuk have already added all sorts of great new features to the desktop. It’s just Plasma that frustrates me. Instead of focusing on stablity and performance, the developers just seem to keep adding eye candy.As for Cmake, my impression was that source-based distros would benefit from the fact that it can cache configuration data. I know that with distcc and ccache enabled, running an emerge -e world on my cluster of Athlon-tbirds spends more time running ./configure than it does doing any compilation of the split ebuilds.

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  2. And also GNOME takes less time to compile, though I never built KDE on Gentoo GNU/Linux, but I think that is going to be time consuming and *cpu* intensive, as KDE is written in C++ .

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  3. You may want to try Xfce if you want to cut out the bull of other desktop environments.The downside is that you don’t get quite so many integrated packages installed by default. Gnome and KDE are similar in that they wrap up a lot of packages together. Still, as Xfce is gtk-based, you can still get the gtk/gnome-based apps you need and expect all of ’em to work nicely.Personally, I like that Xfce is more minimal. It gives me a good foundation for building the desktop I want, rather than the package set upstream thinks I want.

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  4. I am fully agree with you about kde4, I think exactly same as you. Kde developers should listen what users think otherwise they will lose a lot of user and this will be not a good thing for open source community.

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  5. Welcome to the modern GNOME world :PRegarding atomopawn’s claims, I’d like to instead claim that GNOME is about perfection, from bottom to top. A feature will be fleshed out throughout the stack, and not bolted on to something. So things can take longer to implement initially, which could be perceived as intentionally missing features – such as that printer configuration farce (now you should have all that done good in GtkPrint – down in the stack where it belongs, and cross-platform too, albeit there is still work ongoing on getting the dialog even better).Personally I don’t miss any configuration possibility – what I need to configure is easily possible to configure. And I can actually find it from the preferences dialogs, which I can’t say about my KDE experiences.Anyhow, KDE and GNOME are all free software, and the developers work together where possible. There’s no flames going on in the developer community; we collaborate, share technologies, share the European user/developer conference (GUADEC/aKademy) location next year, and so on.So people can choose what suits them best – choice has always been possible in many aspects of the free desktop and OS. It seems for Diego GNOME suits better now, to some others KDE has instead started to suit better, etcBut I’m drifting, so I’m done with this comment

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  6. @nightmorph:I’ve heard this argument before, and it is certainly true when you run “stock” Gnome. However, one of the things I love about Gentoo is it makes it easy to get the Gnome desktop I want, by starting from gnome-light and adding those packages which I want.This is NOT to say anything bad about Xfce – I haven’t even tried it.

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  7. I can’t see why everybody and their dog has to use their own build system these days, and I can’t help but think prioritizing windows builds is a bit skewed. Not only is windows (alongside Mac OS) the enemy, it’s also crappy both in the software freedom- and the technical sense. If people want windows builds, fine, cooperate with them, but don’t go out of the way to do their work. If they want their software to run on proprietary, DRM-infested horrors let them do the work to fit it there. And for $DEITY’s sake, why would anybody want to use Visual C++?And Trolltech’s practice of releasing special “open source” editions of Qt is just outright creepy, as is the compile times for Qt on Gentoo.

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  8. You didn’t say much about cmake, only that you dislike it. Could you explain what your problems are with cmake ? which other tools would you use then ?

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  9. I agree with nightmorph. I tried out KDE4 (can’t move widgets on the panel?, resize the panel and get the clock to change with it), and I was have weird problems with Gnome taking a long time for windows to draw initially, never did track that one down. anyways, everything gnome including gnome panel applets work just fine with xfce. You might want to give it a try, it’s shorter to compile than gnome :-P .

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  10. I cannot really comment on the build/CMake aspect since I am a simple end-user of KDE … and have always been. However, some points I would like to make:1. Jabber connects without any issues since KDE 4.0. I am using KDE 4.1 rc1 in my work environment where I have proxies and what not — essentially a Windows-centric environment. Our internal messenger is based on jabber protocol and has no issues.2. Have you compared Oxygen to Clearlooks? Its certainly more professional, cleaner as well as “smaller”. It appears to me you *want* to move to GNOME so no amount of improvements in KDE will convince you otherwise.3. KDE4 has been derided for innovations — and the funny thing is that KDE-naysayers (you seem like one too) complained too much about KDE being Windows-like. Now when it has truly innovated with fresh ideas, you come along with a post like this!Hope you can guess what the app is from the tango icons.

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  11. I’m not a Gentoo user myself (openSUSE user here), but I just made the same switch to GNOME myself.I’ve always been a KDE user, and I’m sad to see the direction KDE 4 is headed – from both an application standpoint as well as the way it seems to be dividing the community.I’ve found many things about GNOME that I like, and many GNOME native apps that I’ve grown to love equally as well (or more than) their KDE counterparts.

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  12. There has been a lot of negative response to KDE4.0 and sadly, the reality is that most of it is undeserved.KDE4.0 was never MEANT to be an end-user ready release ! It was meant to be a release that application developers could build on – this was clearly communicated all along, yet somehow the message got lost.There were also other issues that came into play. More than 80% of the people complaining about speed for example turned out to be using NVidia cards – and there is a number of known issues with NVidia cards and KDE4 – most of them related to drivers reporting features the cards do not actually support – which end up being CPU emulated… yeurch. KDE is working with NVidia on this issue and we hope to have a real solution in time for KDE4.1I myself have an NVidia card and while I cannot YET use KDE4 as my day-to-day desktop I am already spending large amounts of time in it – I’m writing the KDE3to4 settings migration wizard. I can already see the huge speed improvements since 4.0 with the latest RC – it’s getting there for sure. For starters though, I keep the desktop-effects switched off for now.I think KDE4 could have done some things better, somehow our usual path of user communication had not kept up with the changes in the Linux user-base over time – but I myself reported a number of wishlist-items from RC1 just last week, in all 4 cases listed I got a satisfactory answer. In one case: it is already on the TODO list but held back by a QT shortcoming, two are already under development and one turned out to be a distribution packaging issue – which has subsequently been resolved as the distro guys are also on the KDE mailing list.Regarding your idea on the release times: well KDE is meant to be an INTEGRATED environment that means that especially when you have a radically new set of designs you HAVE to have a correlated release cycle, otherwise you will never HAVE true consistency and integration. We had to get the libraries stable first, and lock down the interfaces so that application development and feature development could take place on a solid (no pun intended) platform. That was what 4.0 was all about. That distro’s started shipping it (frequently messing up the packaging because the structures are new) was a big part of the mistake – it should have remained optional until at least 4.1 not become default (yes Fedora I am looking at you).Ultimately KDE4 is a new interface paradigm, full of new ideas and at first, even I found it daunting – but the more I use it, the more I WANT to use it, once you start grasping the ideas… they just make so much sense, once you get what folderview can do you DON’T miss your old Desktop anymore, because this is so much better (and that’s just the start of it).Anyway there remains one major thing: KDE doesn’t owe anybody anything. Nearly everyone who works on it does so as volunteers in our free time. We DO listen to users but we are not being paid for this for the most part, so sometimes we may prioritize things differently and that is exactly the STRENGTH of FOSS – without that, we couldn’t exist – nor could any other major FOSS project.

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  13. from an gentoo-user point of view – i like cmake because it’s just faster. in kde3 installing modular packages is very slow mostly because of configure phase and autotools magic.in cmake the configuration phase is really quick and short (especially for less complex kde4 packages), and it seems to put much less burden on the cpu, so it doesn’t get in the way too much.i’m also not satisfied with kde4. i’m not running svn snapshots, only 4.0.x tagged releases so far.the desktop runs much faster (kde4 apps start really quickly now), but the visual design feels “bloated”.as author said, the widgets take too much screen space, and everything is a bit too much colorful for my taste. what’s missing in kde4 is a toned-down traditional, classic style, for people who are used to kde3.

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  14. Gnome is far from perfect. And while I can appreciate that an incremental bottom-up strategy for development can produce more robust code, I certainly don’t see any of that in Gnome. Instead, I see artificial limitations on configuration, lots of eye candy, and an attempt to imitate Windows to pull over “everyday users” who want their hands held through every configuration dialog rather than having the freedom to choose their own settings (and possibly break stuff).For example, gconf. Gconf is abomination of the highest form — a Windows Registry clone. While I know that under the hood it’s implemented using (very robust) XML, that doesn’t make it any more useful to me. Instead of a nice simple settings dialog where options are presented to me in a way that is easy to navigate or in a well organized flat file format, I have to memorize cryptic “registry” keys to be able to change a setting? I have to know the “magic word” if I want to adjust my desktop?That said, I don’t want to be all negative. I’m very glad that Gnome (and Xfce, and windowmaker, fluxbox, etc.) exists. It is healthy for the community to have a multitude of options to choose from. I just don’t think Gnome suit me. It is targeted too narrowly at windows converts and people who prefer eye candy to control of their system for my taste.I also worry about the implications on software freedom if KDE 4 is a big flop (which I think is a very real danger) and everyone switches to Gnome. In that event, I would probably go back to WindowMaker or try XFCE.

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  15. Diego, are you running an NVIDIA cards by chance? I have one and these suckers are known to have horrendous performance with the latest Xorg technologies (which are used heavily by, e.g., Qt4 and Cairo). It is a well known and recognized issue.For the rest:1) I personally am grateful that CMake exists, and NOT because of the Visual C++ thingie you mention (I could not care less about that). It is fast, sane, intuitive and powerful, and well developed and maintained. Personally I would never go back to autohell.2) If you want to innovate, breakage is a necessary element for change to happen. It is foolish to expect otherwise. It may alienate users for some time, but being able to do that if necessary is one of the things (or advantages, I’d say) that sets apart FLOSS from the commercial software developing model. I am glad that the KDE devs are taking their chances and I think they are doing really well.

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  16. Heh, I could not agree more with you, Diego. Especially when having in mind that KDE probably wouldn’t even run on my 6-year old P4.Kanwar: oh yeah, Clearlooks is soooo *unprofessional*. Oh woe is me, a lame and blind Clearlooks user, who did DTP for 8 years, yet never noticed how unprofessionally his desktop looked.

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  17. I recently switched from KDE to Gnome for another reason: a more integrated desktop experience. Overall I like Gnome more then KDE however I do miss a some kde apps (amarok, digikam, akregator).

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  18. @Aniruddha: Perhaps try exaile (and rhythmbox), f-spot and liferea maybe if you haven’t yet. That doesn’t mean they will be able to replace these KDE apps (I really don’t know what does what), but it’s something to try out.As for the GConf stuff in comment 17 – well, those nice flat text files miss about 10 features of GConf that are really important for any serious average or big deployment in the enterprise desktop area. That said, a replacement is in the works that will address the few GConf shortcomings, none of which are related to not using plain text files or the like for configuration but concern around making the additional features better.

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  19. I recommend giving wmii or xmonad a try. I still use quite a few kde3 apps and bits and pieces, but I don’t miss the rest of the desktop at all.As for kde4 – while I don’t find it usable at the moment, I am prepared to give it time to mature before judging it too harshly. There seem to be plenty of interesting ideas and technologies going into it; it’s just that it might be a little while before we see a solid desktop built on top of it all…P.S. Thanks for the work with gentoo!

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  20. @Mart Raudsepp Thanks for the suggestions. These are exactly the apps I am using now. Unfortunately they pale in comparison with aforementioned KDE programs :(

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  21. @Aniruddha , you can also try Banshee, I use it every day and works ok for me :-)Also bmpx could be interesting, but I haven’t used as much as banshee, then, I am not sure how it works :-/For camera photos my father likes f-spot, but I will try also gthumb if I rememberYou should also check http://gnomefiles.org/Also, maybe when qt4.4 gets unmasked I would try http://labs.trolltech.com/p

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  22. Personally I started using cmake because I could actually understand what’s going on. You want something simple, then you’re done with a few lines of commands (minimum is one line).We went away from autotools for KDE, because A) only a handful of people (at most) understood the autotools files for KDEB) even they didn’t want to have to deal with them anymoreWe went with cmake, becauseA) there was somebody doing the workB) cmake worked, whereas scons didn’tC) cmake is the best solution if you want to build on UNIX + OSX + Windows (usually I don’t say things like that, but it is just true)D) we got VERY good support from the cmake developerscmake make-based builds are faster than autotools builds (libtool contributes a big part to the slowness), they have much more complete dependencies, it’s easy to make the buildsystem modular, out-of-source builds are recommended, it’s well maintained “for the long haul”, it even has a GUI, etc.Alex

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  23. partially @Alex Neundorf:So the autotools setup was a mess in KDE3. Diego already told why.I don’t buy comment 15 that says you have to release them all together because that’s way you can achieve good integration and therefore you need to bind them in the same package with a mess of an autotools in KDE3 case.It works just fine with split up for integration as in GNOME. Distributions will upgrade everything in unison for you and integration works just great and the autotools handling is a breeze. There are GNOME_* m4 macros making common things easier, and most things are just standard and you look on how epiphany does it and be done with it ;pThat said, autotools is easy to understand at this level after reading a good tutorial or the manual once. At this level, I mean sane level, where it is used only for smaller sets at once, instead of some big package that includes 30 different things instead of 1-3.As for “cmake make-based builds are faster than autotools” with libtool contributions, well, there’s a solution for that. You can use dolt. Libtool has a reason to exist. Not using it means you effectively make the library package unusable on many stupid platforms that libtool is designed to workaround, and with dolt it means you aren’t getting the compile time increase on the majority of platforms that do have a sane library handling and ELF binaries.

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  24. autotools and deps build in minutes, cmake and deps takes a lot more.autotools are misunderstood since there were lacking documentation. Now you have way improved documentation, from my experience upstream is helpful.autotools based build systems sucks mostly because of:- Misuse or ignorance about automake targets- Misuse and/or not use of m4 macros- wild copy and paste that makes the above issue creep far and usually get the configure bigger than needed.dolt, the new libtool and the automake replacement should be tried.cmake has an ugly syntax, doesn’t have as many macros and builtins as autotools, works for windows and macosx and that’s why it is winning so many fashion points among people that wants to look cool.

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