Fighting the Schism of Free Software

Over a decade ago an event happened which is still influencing our life in free software. Instead of one, two projects emerged to bring a fully free desktop to Linux based systems. Back then we failed to see the advantages of having multiple available desktop environments and we basically created a schism between the KDE and the GNOME world.

The Schism is still in place!

Without noticing it the emerge of multiple desktop environments (and with that I mean not only GNOME and KDE) created something positive: nowadays we have several superb environments the user can choose from. We have what nobody else can provide: choice of the desktop shell and software for the personal needs. The free software world does not provide a one size fits it all solution, but the user can choose between multiple products. This is a great advantage.

In the end it does not matter whether a user is using GNOME Shell, Unity, KDE Plasma, XFCE or any other environment. As well it does not matter whether he uses KMail, Evolution or Thunderbird. What matters is that the user has been liberated from the lock-in systems of our competitors. Our goals are all the same: we want free software to succeed.

If a user switches from GNOME Shell to KDE Plasma, it is not a lost user to GNOME. It is a user won for free software and not lost to the proprietary competition. If a user switches from KDE Plasma to Unity, it’s not a lost user to KDE, but a user won for free software. We have to realize that we are not in competition with each other, we are in competition with the proprietary lock-in systems. United we have something to compete with our real competitors.

I think most developers have already realized that we are not in competition but have to work together. We can see this through events like Desktop Summit. But if I look around, I see that there is still a war between GNOME and KDE – at least among the users. KDE users are happy that GNOME Shell is not yet ready and similar idiocy. This is something we have to fight. If for example somewhere a user is complaining about KDE Plasma it is totally fine to suggest them to give GNOME Shell a try. We have the choice, we have different environments to support different workflows. We do not provide software which is suited to all users. I am sure we have the software component to make each user happy, we all have to help the users to find the right software for their needs.

When Linus turned first from KDE Plasma to GNOME and later from GNOME Shell to XFCE he was exactly demonstrating the advantages of choice. Neither KDE Plasma nor GNOME Shell can suit the needs of a power Kernel superlord but free software in general does offer the possibility to have a desktop shell available for everyone. These two events have not shown a failure of GNOME or KDE as the media seemed to suggest, but the opposite: it highlighted the great advantage of choice in the free software ecosystem.

My hope is that our users would stop to fight each other. While our users fight, they demotivate the developers, they undermine efforts to improve the collaboration. There is no need to fight for KDE. If a KDE user writes bad about GNOME, he is not harming GNOME, he is harming both KDE and GNOME. KDE and GNOME belong together, we are in no competition, we need each other. Only together we have a chance of bringing the merits of free software to all possible users. I also hope that the media would stop to compare the systems: they don’t need to be compared. GNOME Shell has a different workflow than KDE Plasma. What would be the need for GNOME Shell to simulate the behavior of KDE Plasma or vice versa? Comparing the systems is wrong from the start.

I hope that also the two organizations around KDE and GNOME can help to make a united vision come true. Why is there no mention of GNOME on the KDE web site? Why is there no mention of KDE on the GNOME web site? Why are release notes of GNOME not published on the KDE news site, isn’t it a news worthy event if our collaborators have a release? Why is it so strange that a picture of a GNOME developer is in a release note of KDE that it has to be mentioned in a keynote at Desktop Summit? Such collaborations should be normal and nothing which needs to be mentioned.

And we can also do something to make the acceptance for our users better. New users will end up with either GNOME Shell, Unity or KDE Plasma. There is a good chance that they don’t like the system they got by chance. In that case they are lost again to the proprietary competitor. Why don’t we offer a “discover more” mode in our systems? Make it easy to install and try GNOME Shell from inside Plasma and vice versa. We have so many awesome software and nevertheless we are still in our GTK-only and Qt-only world. Why do we not include GTK applications in the default offerings in KDE Plasma? If there is a better alternative, do we really need to ship a maybe unmaintained and half broken Qt application, just because it’s Qt?

We all – users, developers and media – can do much better than we already do to finally end the schism of free software. It’s not KDE vs. GNOME, it is KDE and GNOME. We are one free ecosystem. If we want we could say KDE Plasma is just another desktop shell for GNOME OS, just like GNOME Shell and Unity are shells for GNOME OS. We have to finally be united to bring the merits of free software to all users. Let’s all pull together to make free software more awesome. Let’s stop the so often childish and ridiculous comparisons between GNOME and KDE software. They are alternative options and not competing products.

114 Replies to “Fighting the Schism of Free Software”

  1. Provide alternative choice is one of the reasone why I love KDE most.

    And it’s also understandable that GNOME is introducing more and more hard dependency which will block the user from choice — the reasone is to provide more consistent experience in there environment.

    But at least GNOME makes me quite worry about one of program that I involve in, since this program with similar function might become one of hard dependency of GNOME in the future. )

    What I really confused it that, will open-source actually kill some program life by accident just because of something like “good for user experience”?

    1. I agree. In fact, I welcome comparison AND contrast between all the linux desktops. Let’s help newbies by comparing and contrasting not only KDE and GNOME, but also XFCE, LXDE, and the rest of the full desktops available to them. This would help them to achieve one of the principles of the Free Open Source Software community: choice in which desktop they choose to use. It will also help them know that as they become accustomed to the linux world, they can try different desktops, without having to be ‘corralled’ by one desktop, like they were in the proprietary world. This doesn’t suggest that we not cooperate in the advancement of each and every desktop project, or even apps that run on multiple desktops. I like some of the ‘eye-candy’ of LXDE, some of the effects of KDE, the organization of the GNOME desktop, etc., etc.

      There is nothing wrong with this. When I’m doing a lot of window-switching, I might install and use GNOME; when I’m doing mostly word-processing or other input-intensive, I will install and use a different desktop. That gives me the freedom to use whichever desktop is most comfortable for me for a particular work-flow. I find that to be one of the greatest advantages of FOSS. I sure can’t do that with ANY proprietary desktop delivered by Apple(TM), Microsoft(TM), or any company which sells a ball-and-chain with every copy of their copyrighted or patented OS. Let them toot their own horns. We know where freedom lies!

  2. I wholly agree with this post. KDE and GNOME should always work together towards a common goal: Offering a better user experience than the propietary competition. There should be a much easier flow of code and ideas from one project to another. Example: Mutter seems to work always at 60 fps? Let’s see why and how that can be implemented in Kwin. Other projects should also freely share Kwin’s code to their, (and ours) advantage.
    A good idea is a good idea no matter who came up with it first. Heck sometimes even Apple’s and Microsoft’s implementations are worth considering. It would be really amazing if each project adopted all the good stuff from the other projects, also changing them according to their own flavour. This way we all would win.
    Martin, you are a very influential figure, you should push for your vision of unity (pardon the pun) amongst our free projects. I really hope people will listen, understand and act accordingly.
    All the best

  3. but for real i see much work from the kde guy for the gnome guy but no work from the gnomes. i mean kde gives oxygen-gtk, make Qt/KDE beautiful for gtk -desktops too, tried to give with akonadi an linux-universal information system, and there is for sure more of this

    now the gnome guys dont make a anything about our networkmanager-problem with a bad documentation, have a crappy file dialog that do not even try to make a harmonized picture on a kde desktop, steal the name “systemsettings” and call the kde to change this. make the ‘mutter’ become total diffrent from compiz and your kwin instead work with you guys. dont respect some freedesktop-standard.
    atm gnome is only a virus that suck the power of the kde or is there SOMETHING that they give us? im not here to say that all gnome devs are bad poeple but i say that the gnome project should help around and be open for technologies from other desktop or simply should go and die

    1. This is exactly the nonsense users think when trying to hold KDE in a good light. Most of that is just not true. I won’t comment in it because I definately do not want a flamewar here in my blog. Any further comments to this thread will be moderated away.

  4. I highly agree with the comment about GTK versus Qt applications.

    The toolkit used to produce an application should not matter. There’s a reason why you don’t see a GTK version of Scribus, or a Qt version of Chromium. It’s just not necessary. It is the cross-toolkit integration that needs to be worked on, absolutely not the doubling of required effort for reasons of pride.

  5. Thanks for this article. I totally agree. FOSS desperately needs collaboration and as much commonly agreed and used cross-desktop open standards (and even common infrastructure) as possibly. Cross-desktop cooperation (e.g. within the scope of Desktop Summit and is crucial and really rocks!

  6. I just think this is what we really need!
    And there are just more great UI-toolkits like enlightment, MX and so on. Speacially at the HTML/CSS stuff, code can be available and integrade well for all platforms.

    Some people see a big difference in Linux and Richard, the one being pragmatic, the otherone is called to be a radicalist. But I think we should not overestimate this because there shouldn’t be fight but helping each other.

    I love to use Gnome Shell because I this this is how future should look like. But also I show people how awesome the plasma stuff is. Now I’m forced to use Xfce, because prop. Nvidia drivers are making my Gnome Shell be freezed after login. So I just mix my applications and Minitube is a well integrated Qt app! Also I like to use Leafpad even in KDE.

  7. I’m agree in your post, but I have the overall feeling that Gnome has been hurting and attacking KDE4 more than the other side…. For Example, you said:’Why is there no mention of KDE on the GNOME web site?’.. it’s not tre at all.. do you remember this?
    I saw KDE SC 4.6.2, codename ‘Congrats’, dedicated to GNOME, who release a new major version these days… but I didn’t see (or didn’t remember, it’s possible that I’m wrong in my appreciation) a congrats announcement from Gnome to KDE in any release ever.
    Instead of, in the KDE4 early days, the only thing I read was attacks and jokes about KDE, I don’t see a fair game here. I hope that things change as you say, and everybody can feeling that everyone of us, Gnomers o Kders, are in the same side .. but the change has to come more from gnome, imho.
    Anyway, great post.

      1. I’d say it’s worse than, “does not matter”. It’s actually damaging of the free software desktop projects’ collective goals to focus on past grudges.

  8. Thank you for writing this. You put it quite eloquently. I agree with all of it, though my long-term dream is still “one desktop, two toolkits”. Choice is good, in the abstract, but spreading scarce resources thin and users having no idea *which* to choose are less so. There’s no problem with having alternate desktop shells, but one of them should be the obvious default. Cloning every application written with one toolkit using the other toolkit as well, instead of joining forces is, I think, harmful. (This is arguably a necessary evil at present, as users of both Gnome and KDE (rightfully) want applications which integrate well with their desktop; in a “one desktop, two toolkits” world, it wouldn’t be necessary.)

    1. In my view, this is also a good thing to have different implementations of the same ideas. Gnome and KDE philosophies are different. Gnome tries to make an application easy to use and there is sometime a lack of features and configurability. KDE wants to provide more configurability and sometimes it is harder to use. And some difference in implementation is needed to follow these philosophies. For example, instant apply of changes can be used in Gnome because they have fewer options, but an “Apply” button is used in KDE.

      None of these two philosophy is better than the other, they are just different. If you want to configure your desktop so that it fits your wishes, use KDE. If you think ease of use is the more important than anything else, you should use Gnome. And if you are pragmatic, use the application you think is the best on the environment you think is the best, whatever it shall be KDE, Gnome or something else. That’s the strength of free software.

      1. Some kind of compromise could be forged on these kinds of HIG issues. Everyone would benefit. Collaborating is great, but a unified front would be even better.

        There’d be nothing stopping people from separately developing a simpler and a more configurable application in the same domain. The difference is that you wouldn’t have the situation you do now, where of the two, only one integrates well with your desktop: in a one desktop world, *both* of them would. Everyone benefits. And sometimes, developers would decide there’s no need for two separate applications and would work together instead, and move the single application forward that much faster. Again, everyone benefits. In today’s world, because of the desktop schism, that’s not really possible.

        Anyway, this is just a long-term dream of mine. But getting the two desktop environments to collaborate more and integrate better with each other — &c. — which is the right thing to do no matter what, actually gets us closer to it.

  9. Thumbs up to kde devs for making kde apps load faster in non-kde desktop environments. Previously it used to take ages.

  10. While i agree in principle, in practice it’s not going to work for at least quite some time. Sure, the is slowly making progress (e.g. telepathy, secret service, systemd etc.) but there is a long way to go.

    Primary reason i do *not* want any GTK programs on my system is because they are not integrating well into my KDE desktop, because they are extra libraries taking up my hard drive space, because of the GTK file dialog i absolutely despise and because they generally tend to look and feel a bit dated – kinda like having Windows 98 apps alongside Windows 7 apps. If they looked and felt the same – there would be no objections (can you tell the difference between native Windows apps and Qt apps?). However, now matter how hard the gtk-oxygen guys try (and they do try very hard, it shows) GTK apps still look out of place on my KDE desktop – i still can easily spot a GTK app. While you may or may not agree that this is a major issue, this is a fact, and *for me* it is a major issue.

    I am all for integrated and interoperable desktop, be it GNOME, KDE, xfce or whatever, but for now, it’s not happening.

      1. It’s very possible that gtk apps will always look a bit different (unless there is some mayor work at the toolkit level, and not at the theming level).
        The solution for me would be to have stable shared libraries that each platform can rely on, like telepathy, zeitgeist, nepomuk, gstreamer, etc.
        The best solution would be to have gui agnostic programs that have front-ends, one for each desktop. Because each desktop offers a different and equally good experience, IMHO gnome tries to keep things simple and not confuse the user, kde gives a bit more balance between power and simplicity.

        1. I strongly support this vision of software with multiple front-ends.

          But it is more work (you have to know multiple toolkits) and more rigorous design.

          Many projects have small teams, so it’s hard too ask for that.

    1. The same goes the other way around: Qt apps don’t quite fit into my GTK desktop, KDE libs eat up my hard disk (full-blown sql server for Kmail? zomfg!!!!11eleven), they look like toys (under Windows, too) and should use the cool GTK file open dialog, etc. pp. 😉

      It’s not just the evil gnome guys. 😉

      1. KDE libs eat up my hard disk (full-blown sql server for Kmail? zomfg!!!!11eleven)

        I’m sorry but you just destroyed your own argument by talking about size of KDE libs and than mentioning KMail which is not part of the libs. The oh so big KDE libs take up for example 2.9 MB for libkdecore, 4.5 MB for libkdeui, 3.1 MB for libplasma, so if that are together 100 MB it’s much. So this is about 0.01 € of costs which KDE libs take on your hard disk.

        Concerning KMail and sql server: did you know that Firefox ships an sql server? Did you know that Amarok ships an sql server? Ever checked how many applications statically link to an sql server? Do you think that’s the better approach than using a dedicated sql server?

        they look like toys

        I assume that’s your personal taste and by that I’m sorry doesn’t matter. We can discuss many things but never personal taste.

        and should use the cool GTK file open dialog

        I thought it does. Given that Qt is able to load a different platform dependent file dialog, it should do exactly that. If not patches for that are more than welcome (I think this has to be done by GNOME, like replacing the GTK file dialog has to be done by KDE)

        It’s not just the evil gnome guys

        Nobody said that. And I hope my blog post made it quite clear that I do not longer want to see any childish “but the others” and “they are evil”. If there are things which can be improved they should be improved. Finger pointing like you just did does not help anything. This is exactly the attitude which has to end. KDE and GNOME cannot succeed as long as such childish behavior continues.

        1. I think you should re-adjust your sarcasm detector. I fully agree that this attitude is idiotic, it was meant as a parody. 😉

      2. Well, at least the Qt/KDE side is making efforts to make its own apps fit into GTK DEs (Qt’s GTK theme loader) and also make GTK apps fit into Plasma Desktop (Oxygen-GTK).

        The GTK theme loader from Qt seems to work so well, Mandriva 2011 uses it to power KDE applications.

        All Qt apps (that includes KDE apps) also have the feature to automatically reverse the order of buttons to match GTK’s RTL order instead of KDE’s LTR.

        Qt/KDE apps not integrating perfectly into a GTK DE are usually relics from a time Qt didn’t have the integration features and therefore apps couldn’t have been developed with them in mind. Even later app updates mostly inherited those problems because the GUIs would’ve needed to be rewritten from the ground up to use the newer integration features.
        Considering that full GUI rewrites are slowly coming up for Qt/KDE apps because of QML, testing and polishing for GTK integration by the GTK camp for Qt/KDE QML apps will surely be welcome.
        Let’s see how many will come.

  11. I share entirely your opinion, and I think it is also the case of most of the users. But like for many other problems, a small group of people express its (bad) opinion louder than the majority. In my view, the best way to fight that is to do what you did : make your opinion available to everyone.

    However, the media is also partly responsible for this. They are more likely to report something like “Linus Torvalds leave KDE 4 to Gnome” than “KWin’s main developer calls for fighting the schism of free software”. Sadly, you can’t do much about that. Maybe posting this on and could help reaching a larger audience.

  12. I like the spirit of what you are saying. I agree this is the right idea. All free desktops together have ~1% market share, so when we fight amongst ourselves we are just squabbling over crumbs that fell of the table. OTOH, if we are going to cooperate on technology to make the whole free desktop stronger, then actual cooperation is required.
    I was just looking into getting Qt/KDE bindings for Python working on Python 3 in Debian and it looks like the dbus-python port to Python 3 is also a port to GObject Introspection. That’s not progress.

    1. Bindings are an outdated technology since they require unusual maintenance. I was surprised that introspection is only for gobject-based things, but why is it not progress?

  13. +11111111111111111111111111111111111111

    Bravo Martin, I could not agree more. (In fact, I will blog about this very subject!)

    I think its time that we seriously started evaluating our usage of shared infrastructure like to see how we can collaborate better and be more modular. At the end of the day, everyone has the same vision – we’re not trying to lock them users into “our” GNOME OS or “our” KDE SC or “our” Unity, but we’re trying to get them into the free software ecosystem as a whole. I think that such initiatives have made great progress in really redefining what our software could look like, now that the infrastructure is starting to fall into place for what could be the next 5 or 6 years, its time to start looking at how we can all work together to maximize that.

    A lot of the people I talked to who went to DS this year came away with the feeling that there is still a lot of tension between between newcomers in the area (ubuntu) and very little focus on collaboration, except for low-level stuff that doesn’t really make sense in a DE. I think this is something that needs to be revived, and we could really start by starting the discussion about how we think could be better, what we can share, what is not important etc etc.

    Of course, I understand that a lot of the boundaries to sharing are largely technical (eg, nobody will ever be able to merge Gtk+/Clutter and Qt/Nux or Mutter/Compiz/KWin [well, the last two are closer than most might think]), and some are political (C/A), but I think they can be overcome. A lot of that comes down into breaking as much as you can into chunks that people will be willing to use, looking for exactly duplicated functionality that can be made redundant. The biggest problem I see here is the inevitably in project merges it often ends up being the case that one dies while the other takes over. We need a good way to resolev this.

    1. The collaboration between Compiz and KWin is a great fact sustenting Martin’s opinion. It’s a pity that we, KDE users, don’t use Compiz more, simply because KWin is more than good enough for our needs.

      However, smspillaz, when we want to sell the Linux desktop, Compiz is unbeatable ;).

  14. The “flower power” rhetoric aside, it is quite astonishing to see you advocating KDE (KDE Plasma) as mere shell for the mythical GNOME OS. Is the death of KDE as platform imminent?

  15. I’m happy to see wisdom yet again.

    The System Settings icon debate was really disheartening to read. I don’t see why we don’t support a system settings plugin architecture and allow different mainscreens to whatever-toolkit settings modules.

    At the end of the day, I just want Chrome to use KDE file dialogs in KDE, and GNOME dialogs in GNOME. Is it that hard to do the kind of call like the Qt static filedialog functions?

    LightDM is promising.

    There’s just also a lot of NIH going on a midst some smart people trying to do collaborative things with certain people writing confusing or FUD articles like the Adobe Labs blog on sound.

  16. I would be more inclined, for instance, to use a Qt application in GNOME or XFCE if it didn’t entail bringing the KDE libraries in with it. I really wish there were more programs not dependent on the desktops. As it is, I switch between Awesome and XFCE, and even though I prefer GTK+ to Qt, I decide which apps to use independently of their GUI toolkits. However, I am more inclined, everything else being equal, to choose a program that does not have desktop dependencies over one that does.

    1. KDE libraries != desktop. You don’t need the desktop (that is Plasma, KWin, Systemsettings) to run e.g. Okular. And we are working on making it more easy to just use the required libraries through our KDE Frameworks 5 initiative.

      1. I did not mean to imply that I had to pull the entire desktop. I mean I don’t like the idea of non-essential desktop applications (e.g. programs that are not a window manager, window decorator, compositor, etc.) having desktop-specific dependencies. Why should K3b depend on massive kdelibs? It’s got to do with desktop integration does it not? But what if I don’t want desktop integration, or what if the desktop I’m running is not KDE?

        Anyway, I’m not a dev, so I could be completely wrong on this. I just fail to see why an application should have to depend on desktop libraries instead of the libraries being an optional dependency.

        And of course, this is NOT a KDE problem. I could say the same thing about a number of equally annoying GTK+ apps that have GNOME dependencies. But that’s not the issue.

        1. Why should K3b depend on massive kdelibs? It’s got to do with desktop integration does it not?

          No it’s not. Only very small parts of kdelibs are about desktop integration. That’s one of the reasons why we do KDE Frameworks 5.

        2. “Anyway, I’m not a dev, so I could be completely wrong on this. I just fail to see why an application should have to depend on desktop libraries instead of the libraries being an optional dependency.”

          You are only wrong in the sense that you have a wrong interpretation of the concept kdelibs.
          kdelibs is a set of Qt based libraries for adanced functionalities, giving application developers a Qt style interface to showing status notifications.

          Such libraries exist for various techonlogy stacks, KDE’s one are just another implementation with a nice Qt API.

          Experience over the years has shown that even developers fall into the trap of assuming that kdelibs are somehow desktop specific which is what the KDE Framekworks effort Martin mentioned is trying to address.

          Regarding your example of K3B depending on kdelibs consider that if it would implement all the used functionality itself it would be about the same size but without any chance of it being shared by another program.
          Putting common functionality into libraries allows that, hence almost all applications on modern systems using that approach.

  17. Excellent Idea .. +1 ur blog, Martin ..i hv an idea but it does negate the ease .. every linux distro hav useful libs .. that is in that distro both Gnome and Kde apps can run .. but it may cause distro cd to hv size above 600 MB..

    if it works ..some day a freedesktop distro hv the architecture of the best from both worlds ..:)

  18. Why is there no Gnome news on the KDE website or vice-versa? Because it’s confusing… If I go to KDE’s website I want to see KDE content.. I don’t want to have it cluttered up with content referring to Gnome..

    Same thing in the other direction.. If I go to Gnome’s website, why would I care about KDE’s news / links?..

    I understand the synergy that you’re getting to, but if you want a website that posts news for both Gnome and KDE, then I don’t think that the KDE and Gnome websites are the right place for it..

    If I refer somebody to Gnome’s website because I think it would be a great solution to them, the last thing I’d want them to do is click on a news link on Gnome’s website for a KDE release and then end up on KDE’s website.. Same thing in reverse.. It’s just too darn confusing.. I think the Gnome and KDE websites should stick to their existing KISS (Keep it simple) formats..

    As a Linux user, I don’t care at all when somebody says they’ll go use Gnome instead of KDE or KDE instead of Gnome… I tihnk the real reason people say those things is to piss off and troll the developers. The devs are very passionate about the work that they do, and when some linux user says your work is trash and they’ll switch to the other environment over some silly issue, it’s down right disrespectful… So I think it is the Linux users that tend to be more problematic, not just to the developers but they’re also the ones who often start the huge KDE vs. Gnome poo-throwing contests just for fun..

    I think more than anything, it’s the linux users who need the talking-to, not the developers.. For the most part, the devs are minding their own business and really are too busy to care much at all for KDE vs. Gnome politics..

    1. BAHHH Where is the edit button? I mean to say the users are always the ones who always start the huge KDE vs. Gnome debates.. Not the devs..

      1. Yes, that’s very much my experience too. The actual developers for both projects *mostly* just get on with their work. The angry and abusive debates mostly come from fanatical supporters on both sides – people who contribute nothing to the project, but feel the need to be superior to all the people who use the *other* desktop.

  19. As far as closing the gap between KDE and Gnome.. Isn’t that what is for?

    You can draft “standards” all day long, but how is it going to be enforced?

    Somebody in one of the groups might have a much better idea of how to approach the problem and then go off on his own tangent to come up with a completely different solution.. Which then might end up becoming so great that they decide to follow that instead of what was originally posted on Should that better solution just be thrown out or should the other group be forced to throw out their standard and follow the better idea? Things like this can be complicated..

  20. You said: “Instead of one, two projects emerged to bring a fully free desktop to Linux based systems.” Why do you (KDE and GNOME) guys only care about Linux? Is this freedom for you? Are KDE and GNOME truly free desktops like you say? If KDE and GNOME run only on Linux then they are no different than the proprietary software which, more often than not, runs only on Windows. Sure the source code is publicly available. But can I, for example, run it on say FreeBSD? In fact I can but not because KDE and GNOME developers cared about FreeBSD (or any other non-Linux UNIX-like operating system) as much as they did about Linux.
    Martin, I’d love to hear your comment about this.

    1. KDE software runs on all platforms supported by Qt. The KDE workspace runs on all systems supporting X11. I do not understand your point. Obviously I personally only care about the Linux system as no other X11 based operating system can provide what I need for my software (decent driver support + wayland).

      1. There you go, you said it again: “I personally only care about the Linux system”. That’s my point, do you understand it now? And yes – many if not almost all Qt and freedesktop/X11 people are the same. That’s why people who work on/with non-Linux systems have to do quite a lot for work to get any of the above run. And that’s just for running, there are performance problems very often, porting newer versions is lagging, and other sorts of problems. And the root cause is that most people who work on projects such as KDE and Qt just don’t care about non-Linux systems or in other words portability and standards. I even heard some Linux people strongly recommending things like abandon POSIX and only comply to the Linux (non-standard) APIs. How insane is that?! This kind of attitude is exactly like the monster corporations e.g. Microsoft. I’m not saying Qt people have to care about FreeBSD and certify Qt on FreeBSD and all other non-Linux systems. That would be impossible. Instead, people should strive for standard compliance and unification. Unfortunately people who only care about Linux can’t appreciate that! And because of that they lock users inside Linux. If a user wanted to use say wayland they would be stuck with Linux, period, no other choice. This is EXACTLY the same with Microsoft, isn’t it? So clearly some people don’t understand what freedom is.

        1. sorry I do not understand what you want to tell me. I personally only care about Linux, because the software I develop works only on Linux due to limitations in the driver stack on non-Linux OS. This is not my fault, but only the fault of the systems. If the systems are able to keep up with Linux than I can start caring about non-Linux. As long as such situations do not exist the same applies for me as what applies for Qt.

          Btw. you are not doing a good case to convince me that I should care about non-Linux. You maybe should rethink your strategy on how to make non-Linux attractive instead of insulting the developers. This just increases my feeling that I do not want to support freeBSD just with the difference that now there are also human reasons instead of just technical.

          1. I’m really sorry and very surprised you react like that!
            I just want to make something clear. I do NOT want to insult you or anyone else!! Alright? I personally love both KDE and GNOME and I think you guys do a great job on these and I highly value your job! I don’t speak from the name of the FreeBSD community, I just gave it as an example because I think FreeBSD is probably the second or third most popular free operating system.
            Please don’t take my criticism personally and please don’t think like that: “This just increases my feeling that I do not want to support freeBSD just with the difference that now there are also human reasons instead of just technical.”
            We are grown men after all.

            1. then think about what you write, if you consider that KDE is not free software just not everybody cares about freeBSD then you are on the wrong track. And then you don’t need to wonder that people think they don’t need to support freebsd.

              second or third most popular free operating system.

              I already did a blog post about the costs and uses of supporting FreeBSD. Personally I would drop the support immediately as it’s too expensive to continue supporting FreeBSD without harming the Linux support.

    2. They care about other OSs than Linux… Just about all the Gnome apps that I’ve ever needed to run also work under Windows (GIMP, Unison, Firefox, etc.)..

      KDE had been held back by their framework / licensing for a while, preventing them from releasing apps under Windows, but with QT4, they’re releasing everything under Windows at the same time they’re making releases for Linux, Mac OS X and FreeBSD… It’s really neat to run those apps (especially Amarok because iTunes is so terrible) under Windows..

      There’s nothing Gnome or KDE can do to turn Windows into a fully free Desktop.. So I think the point the article was trying to make was that you can do this Linux, but not with some other OSs like Mac OS X and Windows. So it’s a great thing to be able to do..

    3. If KDE and Gnome don’t work as well on BSD as they do on Linux, well, that’s mostly because too few people care about BSD to get the necessary work done to correct that. Gnome developers (and I assume KDE also) don’t object to people running their software on other platforms – but if there are no BSD users contributing to development, nobody else is going to make sure everything works.

    4. Don’t start discussions like these.I have seen a lot in the past few days
      and i am bored with it..

      Gyus just go back to your initial subject

  21. As far as users choosing the wrong desktop environment right from the beginning..
    I think all the desktop environments need to do a lot better job at advertising the overall capabilities of their desktop and how it differentiates themselves from the other desktops..

    Providing a way for users to install Gnome from inside of KDE easier.. And KDE from inside of Gnome easier.. To me is just a band-aid to the real problem.. First time linux users don’t don’t know what they want until after they see it..

    I think if all the desktop environments made a 1 minute official video that showed off the absolute best features of their major release…. And then put it on their homepage.. It would go a long way. I’ve been thinking about doing this but I’m not that familiar with all the desktop environments… 1 minute video for each of the desktop environments (KDE, Gnome, XFCE, LXDE, Fluxbox, etc.).. Throw the videos together embedded on a webpage and I’d think it would make things a lot easier for first-time users to decide on what they want so they don’t make the mistake of choosing the wrong desktop to begin with..

  22. Hi,

    I approve the sentiment, but it’s not that simple. In order to make running Gnome/gtk applications on a KDE desktop a viable alternative, everything needs to be streamlined a lot more. Programs need to use the same theme, without the need for user interference. Programs need to use the same dialogues (file picker etc.). Programs need to be consistent about button placing (e. g. Qt programs on a KDE desktop have the OK button left and the Abort button right, gtk programs have them the other way around).

    It’s worth noting at this point that Qt does all of the above right and gtk does none of them. And as long as that is so, I’m afraid that appeals like yours are a waste of time.

    I also think that more needs to be done in the “plumbing layer”. Why do Qt and Gobject have different meta object systems? Why can’t I (easily) use a gtk widget in a Qt program, or the other way around? I think a lot more could be done to make Gnome and KDE technologies work together more seamlessly.

  23. One observation; I think you’re going too far to say that Gnome and KDE aren’t in competition – that’s blatantly untrue. The projects might cooperate in the interests of growing the overall share of the free desktops, but they *are* also in competition with each other – a user using KDE is someone not using Gnome, and visa versa.

    And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. They benefit from some cooperation, but they also benefit a great deal from competition – it forces them to constantly improve, and that’s good for both projects. The challenge is to judge where to collaborate, and where to compete – when to share resources and avoid duplication, and when to go your own way and differentiate yourself from your rivals.

    1. “a user using KDE is someone not using Gnome, and visa versa.”

      This is only true of you only count people using the respective desktop shell as a user.

      But both communities have way more products than just their desktop shell, they also have a wide range of applications in their portfolio.

      A person using GNOME Shell might still run e.g. Kontact, K3B or Okular, a person using KDE Plasma workspaces might still run e.g. Evolution, Brasero or Evince.

      And thus end up being a KDE and a GNOME user at the same time

  24. I remember whem I first tried Linux I tried Gnome first. I must say I really hated it after a while. I didn’t like how it looked, didn’t like that back then it didn’t even have a menu editor.
    Then I found KDE which I still love even today. But I can undestand why people like Gnome and they do have some good app ( GTK or Gnome ones) that I like better than anything KDE has.
    My problem is that I still have GTK and Gnome app. Why ? It’s nothing personal but when that file dialogue shows up it’s crap, I want my KDE one. I sometimes hit the wron buttons as they are not in the same position.
    So yes there could be more done and one thing I will do is open a bug for GTK requesting it uses the native KDE file dialogues. If I ask nicely and politely it should be considered, right ? Let’s hope so. For there to be collaboration both sides have to want it and be open minded.

  25. quote:: My hope is that our users would stop to fight each other. While our users fight, they demotivate the developers, they undermine efforts to improve the collaboration. There is no need to fight for KDE. ::quote

    I have never fought for KDE or GNOME or any other Linux desktop Environment.

    What I and countless other users have fought against is the stupidity of the developers abandoning the desktop, we as users are using, and creating a new desktop that lacks all of the functionality we have come to rely on, and expecting us to be grateful that we are faced with the choice of finding another desktop that hopefully allows us to continue with the work flow we have found is the most efficient for our needs, and have to learn and configure a whole new desktop environment.

    What I and countless other users are fighting is the arrogance of developers who abandon their users,or expect their users to become beta testers, while the functionality gets built back in…. hopefully.

    Personally I think you are ignoring the real problem, while systematically dismantling the strawman, that users are fighting each other, you’ve created, because you don’t wish to deal with the real problem.

  26. As long as GNOME focuses on C and KDE focuses on C++, it makes for messy bindings. We should have common API frameworks for Wallets, Get Hot New Stuff, etc.

    GNOME wants stripped down usability, KDE wants customization. You can’t rectify that schism.

  27. I’m just using a WM, but couldn’t agree more.

    While we’re at it, please create more (sane) backends and bindings to put an UI on it. There’s imho no reason, why (f.e.) amarok couldn’t have a GTK+-UI – or curses for that matter. Same for evolution vs. claws vs. kmail vs. thunderbird, mplayer vs. xine vs. vlc vs. gstreamer, etc.

    IMHO, there’s just to many manpower spent because of NIH-syndrome, while OS X and Win32 are (mostly) highly integrated.

    Choice is good, but it’s just not needed anywhere and a single (really good) backend is far better than a dozen half-asses applications.

  28. I know the schism you talk about very well.
    But, at least in my case, it’s not a real schism.
    I’ve been switching between KDE, GNOME and XFCE since years now, more or less once a year.
    It’s not my “desktop religion” swinging here and there. It’s the bug list, the new bugs I mean.
    I use Linux as my productivity and development environment since 2001.
    I’ve been hit by a number of bugs, mostly all in the DE, which prevented me from doing my work from night to day. Forcing me to switch DE.
    And a few times, like in the dropping of KDE v3.5 by Ubuntu, I had to switch to a different distribution.
    From the network manager applet to the optical media burner, from the power management settings to a large number of minor annoyances which made the DE almost unusable for every day use.
    So, in the end, I’ve not been able to stay with a single DE for more than a year. After a while, suddenly, some upgrade breaks the stability, forcing me to spend a lot of time in finding a solution.
    I know I’m paying very little for that, but “unpaid” should not mean “low quality”.
    Infact, while the eye-candy stuff got improving very fast, the real meat doesn’t keep the pace. A lot of resources has been spent to change the “distinctive colour”, introduce new icon sets or making a brand new slash screen.
    At the moment I’m running KDE v4.7.1 from an Ubuntu PPA. The v4.7.0 has at least a non-working network manager applet, despite a few bug reports have been filed a year ago. Mainstream has no fix, while betas do.
    So far so good. But I know I’m running from a PPA, not the mainstream repositories.
    I understand that I cannot blame completely either KDE (or GNOME or XFCE) or my distribution of choice. I can blame both.
    I can actually blame a large slice of the opensource movement.
    I call it “fragmentation”, from which the actual schism arises.
    While “choices” are a good thing, “fragmentation” is not.
    Because of the lack of resources. The more the choices, the less the resources each project can harvest. How many people, valuable people, can spend time on OS projects almost for free? For how long?
    To make a parallel, let’s look at the car industry.
    Up to 20 years ago, there where dozens of brands, each with half a dozen of models. The fragmentation made the tower collapse.
    Today we have half a dozen brands with two or three actually different models.
    You have brand X mounting brand Y engine into a brand Z body and onto a brand W chassis. Add a few differentiating details (mostly in the controlling engine unit made by company U or T) et voi-la, you have a new car.
    They can do this as the car engineering has reached a stable maturity that to switch from an engine to another one has a very limited impact on the whole manufacturing process. Much less than re-engineering large parts of a car.
    In the near future the scenario will likely shrink further. With just a couple of engines, a few different bodies and a couple of chassis.
    But car industries have (or can pretend to have) money, OS projects have much less by far.
    So, finally, the schism/fragmentation is here to stay, until a different approach will arise. Something like car modularity over rock solid and interchangeable components.
    Of course, this is just my opinion.

  29. Bold Words. But you have to proof that you are serious, IMHO. So, why don’t you post some congratulations to the new gnome 3.2 release? None of the KDE guys over here did that so far. So, that would be a nice way to give your words some fundament.

  30. Testimony from a modest Linux user. What you said is noble but can be understood by someone familiar with the Linux world. Believe me I am a fervent supporter of Linux. But let me offer an alternative view of your vision.

    Too many choices may be good or could also be a mess. Would it be better or more productive for the developers to pool their efforts rather than scattering on duplicated projects? If HTML, PDF, Database, Web Server, Programming languages exist in multiple and incompatible variations, would that be a giant mess? Yeah you can say, it’s already the case. Let’s imagine the LAMP stack no longer exists, what is the alternative? There is a power in consistency and sometimes, going wild in all directions is not necessarily for the good of the people. Here is a simple example, American people are happy with the imperial measurement units. They have no idea what they miss without using the metric system. And thanks god, each country doesn’t invent it’s own measurement systems. Otherwise the apparent “freedom” would translate into a giant mess. Yourself, you have the choice to count using base 7 or anything. Why do you use base 10? WHY? Because standard is good.

    I learnt Linux with Gnome, now I am comfortable with Linux but I am just scared of changing the Desktop environment. Having tried Enlightment, LXDE and XFCE, I found no outstanding interest. If they are more lightweight, fine, then it’s just easier for me to upgrade the computer to cope with Gnome than to learn a new GUI. From the end user perspective, believe it or not, the rich choices in Desktop environment is rather negative to my view. This gives me the impression that the Linux developers don’t know where they go. Like a clueless doctor who try to vaccinate the patient with a bunch of medicine until he get something right.

    I wish all these Linux Desktop environments could merge together so that the Schism we are worrying about will disappear by itself.

  31. When KDE and especially Gnome devs put users first, instead of treating us as afterthoughts or even nuisances, then you’ll see more harmony. Paid or unpaid, when you write software you write for your users, and especially major projects like KDE and Gnome that people depend on. It is no small thing to create disruptions in the user experience, and hand-waving away the lost time and productivity in being forced to change to a different desktop shows a lack of understanding.

    Linus himself says “The code itself is unimportant; the project is only as useful as people actually find it…Breaking the user experience in order to ‘fix’ something is a totally broken concept; you cannot do it. If you break the user experience, you may feel that you have ‘fixed’ something in the code, but if you fixed it by breaking the user, you just violated that second point; you thought the code was more important than the user. Which is not true.””

    KDE and Gnome could do a lot to prevent schisms by heeding Linus’ words.

      1. Hum, I have the impression that GNOME at least in their latest iteration did put their developers VISION first, and users only second. But of course, it’s their right to do so and of course this is also why having choice is a good thing …

      2. In what way did KDE dev put their users first when they released KDE4, with none of the functionality that was available in KDE3.5, and cease to support KDE3.5?

        In what way did GNOME put thier users first when they released GNOME3, a DE that seems designed for Tablets, and which loses the functionality users have come to rely on in GNOME2?

        I can tell you I certaily don’t feel that my needs were put first. First with KDE4, when all of the functionality I had come to rely o in KDE3.5 was lost, and more recently I am in the position of having to choose to remain with a DE I’ve come to rely on, but which no longer, in it’s latest iteration supports the functionality I need, or move to another DE and learn how to use and configure so I can continue to be fully productive.

        It’s arrogance on the part of developers to assume that users can just cope, especially when developers, as was demonstrated in the chnage over from versioning tool to another are molly coddled all the way. How about spending a little time considering how these breaking changes affect users current work flow and productivity.

        1. I think you should not assume that developers did not consider all that. And yes just because a release is bad for some users does not mean it doesn’t put the users first. You should also not compare KDE 4(.0) with GNOME 3. KDE 4.0 was just unfinished, while GNOME 3 changed the workflow. It is completely acceptable to have releases which are aimed for developers (like KDE 4.0) and releases adjusting the targeted user audiance (like GNOME 3).

          1. quote::It is completely acceptable to have releases which are aimed for developers (like KDE 4.0) and releases adjusting the targeted user audiance (like GNOME 3).::quote

            Aimed at developers, well what were the users supposed to do when their next upgrade gave them an unusable desktop (By unusable I mean a DE that no longer had the functionality they the user relied on)?

            adjusting the target user, is that new speak for abandoning their users?

            This has happened to me twice now. First with KDE4 and now with GNOME 3 (because I moved to GNOME2, wasted a lot of time learning a new DE and configuring it to provide me with the workflow patterns I find most efficient.

            I daresay I’m not the only user who has been dumped by the developers whims.

            Before you crack on again with self seving justifications, I am a developer in a commercial shop, I would be fired if I did, to my clients, what you blokes (and by you blokes I mean the people who develop KDE and GNOME) have done.

            1. First of all: you should not compare commercial development with floss development. The processes are different and decision making is different.FLOSS follows release early, release often which clashes with what customers expect. So no 4,0 in commercial world. Something like GNOME 3 which targeted a different user base would have been marketed as a completely different product and would have been very successful.

              1. There should never have bee a 4.0 like KDE4, it should have been 3.99 or some such. It should never have been released to the users, it should have been developed in paralell with a fully supported 3.5.10. Instead we the users got KDE4 (a version you say was for dev elopers only) dumped o us.

                GNOME 3 is an example of dumping your user base, which in any development stream is unforgivable, and could only happen in a Free Software development environment… why, because the users don’t actually matter, the attitude is, they can always go elsewhere if they don’t like it.

                Until you (KDE and GNOME) developers remember that your users are the most important thing, not the code, not the Vision, not some future enhancement of the code, you will be faced with enervating complaints and nitpicking everytime you develop a new version or code base.

                It’s interesting none of you, not one, has ever appologised to your users for dumping KDE4 (4.0) on us, or in the case of GNONE for abandoning thier users, who depend on GNOME2. It is total arrogance the way in which you justify leaving us in the lurch when you dumped unfinished, broken and unusable desktops on us.

                Recently at least one FOSS project changed it’s versioning software, the developers were molly coddled, the new software was run in parralell with the old software, untill all the bugs and stumbling blocks were worked out. How do you suppose the devs in question would have reacted if they had been told right from tomorrow you use versioning tool xyz, intead of the one you are curretly using, if you were one of those developers I’m sure you would have been pretty annoyed.

                Well that’s how a large section of your users (I’m including GNOME here) feel right now, and when KDE4 was dumped on us.

                You talk about privilage being able to work so close to the users, and yet you don’t listen to us, even Microsoft listens to it’s users better. Windows 8 will have the Metro interface and the Win7 interface, right now I can have a, so called, classic (Win98) style desktop on Windows instead of the XP/Vista/Win7 desktop styles, right down to the fuctionality. In the FOSS world the desktop I have used for ages, have spent time tweaking to best suit my way of doing things, is simply pulled out from under me, and replaced with something either doesn’t work, or never will in the context of my workflows, and when I complain I’m told, “well this is FOSS, you are free to go elsewhere”.

                While we’re on the subject I work just as close to my clients as you claim you do with FOSS users, the difference is I actually listen to my clients.

                1. Maybe you expect too much from free software.
                  Or maybe that’s not a matter of how much but of what.

                  I, for one, don’t expect the free software that I get from gratis distros to provide the same level of support and follow up as a commercial service would (be it based on proprietary or free software).
                  And I feel sympathy for devs who do it on their spare time. I can have request (and I would ask kindly) but certainly not requirements, as they are no slaves.

                  But I wouldn’t put it in the way of my first sentence, that I would expect “less” from free software then proprietary (if this is what you realy mean by “commercial”).
                  Because I actually expect more, but these expectation are on other fields than support and follow up. I especially expect the fact that I remain in full control of what I produce (files, docs …) with said software and taht they don’t embed spywares. Plus it costs me zero and there’s a community behind it and I can be a part of it (if I want).

                2. You clearly have a wrong expectation of what FLOSS can offer and does offer. You have to rethink your expectations or you will be unhappy with the software. Accept that developers do not and will not implement all the functionality you want. Accept that you are not the only user and that the developers have to compromise. We always try to do what is best for the majority of our users.

                3. “it should have been developed in paralell with a fully supported 3.5.10.”

                  It was.
                  The first KDE 4.x release that was not directly followed by a KDE 3.5 release was 4.2.

          2. You should thank your lucky stars, as, because this is Free Software, you are not answerable to your users, and the worst that can happen to you, is we complain a lot or move to another DE or both.

            1. Where else is the developer answerable to the user? Does a Windows developer has to answer to the users? If at all there is a nice support layer in between. The chance to direct interact with developers is an advantage of FLOSS and a priviledge.

              1. quote::The chance to direct interact with developers is an advantage of FLOSS and a priviledge.::quote

                And yet you never take advantage of it, because you don’t listen.

                1. seriously you should rethink your interaction with developers. Do you really think such a generic statement can be true? If you say something like that, you don’t have to wonder why developers ignore users like you.

                  1. I say it because, in 10 years of using Free Software, and 2 DEs that have not given a toss about their users, users who have come to rely on those DEs, I have noticed that it is true.

                    I say it because clearly you don’t give a damn. My attitude is tempered by your disrespect, and the fact that you don’t listen.

                    In response to Guillaume Ponce. No I don’t mean proprietary. I mean commercial… software my clients pay me to write.

                    1. Seriously your comments are very disrespectful towards developers. This are the comments I meant in my blog post (and also the one before). You seriously damage your standpoint and harm the free software movement. Don’t say general statements like developers are not listening. And even if you think so accept that we are not there to make you happy. We have many users and we have to compromise.

                      That we listen you can see by the fact that I am answering.

                      Just remember: the way you interact with the developers influences how developers will treat you. If you interact like the developers are an idiot bunch of people ignoring you, you will get what you ask for. You should realize that the developers you insult could just walk away leaving the software in a state where it is even more unlikely that your wishes will be heard.

                      Remember that we cannot do what all users want. We have millions. We cannot make all of them happy. Accept that. If the software does not fit your needs, accept it. But don’t assume that we are there to make your wet software dreams come true. If you want that, please come back to reality. Accept that you may not be in the target audience and try to understand that the developers have to focus on specific target audiences and only listen to those users.

                    2. Marti,

                      quote::That we listen you can see by the fact that I am answering.::quote

                      The fact that you are answering is not evidence that you are Listening.

                      Clearly you are not, as the opinion you have returned, is that it is quite acceptable to impose breaking changes on your users.

                      If you were actually Listenig you would not be replying in the manner you are replying. You would be more considerate of how these issues affect your users, you might, if you were actually listening have asked what might be done to improve the situation for your users, or you might have suggested that you could do better next time, and offer up some suggestions.

                      Instead you defended the way in which users are dumped and dumped on.

                      That is not Listening.

                    3. oh sorry, you have a complete different understanding of “Listening” than what I have. I understand that we listen, that is we listen to what the users say and what they want. Whether we do what they want or change our mind is something completely different.

                      As I wrote several times: it is impossible to make all users happy. If I listen to all users I get contradicting opinions. I cannot do what all users want.

                      You would be more considerate of how these issues affect your users, you might, if you were actually listening have asked what might be done to improve the situation for your users, or you might have suggested that you could do better next time, and offer up some suggestions.

                      In case you are addressing all the developers with this statement: how could I answer in that way? I cannot speak for all the free desktop developers. In case you speak to me: where did I ever not listen to the users? Where did I do a decision which does not suit the users? Please note that I became a KDE developer after the 4.0 release.

                      You always write like all developers are the same. We are individual people and we act differently.

  32. Any chance GNOME and KDE can just use FUSE or some other shared VFS so that if i use dolphin to mount an smb share that it could be accessable / visible in GIMP automagically .

  33. Great post there!.

    Your totally right, the problem imho with anything in the opensource community is what seems to be the “infighting” as most the Windows users I talk to say. Rather than see the “choice” we have, they just see the bickering. Rather than see the “different” uses we have for certain things they just see the “competition”.

    Opensource at the base isn’t about competition it is about community and everyone working to make things better. The only “competition” opensource really has to be fair is itself, if it actually worked together on things proprietary software would be dead in the water. I would love to see Gnome-Shell using some of the widget tech from plasma, or kde using the overview and docks from Gnome. Those are just visual obviously, i would love to see some of the great work being done on things like phonon included in Gnome.

    I guess only time will tell if people will actually get out of the bickering for one or the other and just see them for what they are, different tools to achieve the same goal.

  34. I agree with the problem being more on the side of the users than on the side of the devs.
    As they face and have to resolve the same problems (even if sometimes with different solutions), devs end to developp a we-re-in-the-same-boat empathy with each other.

    The schism coming from the users relates, IMHO, to identification psychology.

    Let’s face it, despite what they are whining about this OS or that DE being unusable, any modern UI would do the job if they had no choice.
    Windows lags big times behind both MacOS and major Linux DEs when it comes to ergonomy, yet it is still the most used system on the planet. So it must be good enough for the vast majority of users (technically, ethics apart).

    If anything is technically good enough for anybody, that means that users are, inconsciously, seeking more than just technical stuff when they choose their computer environment.
    They seek something they can identify to. They seek their very own identity.

    That’s the power of brands. That’s why MacOS have quasi-religious fanboys and it’s the kind of mentality that some Gnome or KDE users have developped too.

    Technically they could go for any system, but they choose one to *differentiate themselves* from the others (they seek identity).
    But they are not sure enough that their choice is the good one, so they feel the need to be aggresive on other environments so that they comfort themselves in their choice of identity.
    So they “protect their identity” by rejecting what they feel is not their identity. They feel fear for their identity, although they are not conscious of it (I think these are the same mental processes behind xenophobia).

    It’s a bit sad for someone too seek their very own identity in something as superficial as the software they use, but it’s quite common in western societies.
    If it weren’t the case Adidas or Nike would not be able charge that much for a T-Shirt (or Apple for a phone). That’s the power of brands and consumerism.

    I don’t know if this is avoidable. Fanboyism is everywhere : in software (free or not), video games (Sony sucks, hails Nintendo or vice versa, or Nintendo vs Sega in the 90s, or Amiga vs Atari), sports with hooliganism, politics, clothes and shoes, cars …

  35. Personally I feel that the availability of choice in free distributions and desktops is totally awesome it is the one thing above anything else which gives free software the edge over commercial systems. Currently there are 312 distro’s which depending on your skill level can be loaded with either Gnome, KDE, XFCE, LXDE or Enlightenment making a total of 1560 options I can choose from or I can have Windows or Mac OSX hmmm… 2 or 1560 let me think about that for about .5 of a second….

    The main negative about the amount of choice is it can frighten off users who are used to having no choice, but with every generation of new users that figure gets gradually smaller and smaller.

  36. My friend and i spit at each other desktop, well i use KDE he uses GNOME.
    But by the end of the day we sit together and face the # sign, it’s really not as bad as you guys thinking

  37. “My hope is that our users would stop to fight each other.”

    I think you meant “stop fighting”. “Stop to fight” means “drop what they were doing and start the fight”, surely this is not what you’re advocating 🙂

Comments are closed.