Ruminations on the Digital Realm

Jan Stedehouder

So what?

Linus Torvalds doesn’t like Gnome! So what? He recommends Linux users to use KDE instead. Fine. He is entitled to his own opinion. He might have used somewhat more polite language, but even in that sense he is no different from many other Linuxists. But since he is Linus Torvalds the rest of the digital realm tends to pay more attention. And it is a nice topic for a blog.

For one, I am not biased to any desktop interface. In fact, I use them interchangeable throughout the day when I switch from my home Ubuntu Gnome desktop, to my Windows Mobile 2003 on PDA 1 and Windows CE3 on PDA 2, and from then on to Windows XP at work, alternating KDE, Xfce and Gnome on my laptop and dabble around under Mac OS X on the old iMac. Using them all in this way doesn’t give me any better insight in which desktop is really the best. When you reach a certain level of experience it doesn’t take a long time time to acquaint yourself with the basic functions and all the stuf you need on a day to day basis. Interoperabilty is way more important for me.

I also like tinkering with my desktops, changing at least the wall paper on a very regular basis, but having no qualms about changing the complete theme of the desktop, making it look completely different. I used to run Flyakite in order to make Windows XP look like Mac OS X. I used a theme package from KDElooks to change my KDE interface into an XP interface. Usually this kind of exercise renders my desktop unusable after a while or making it too dynamic. At that point I revert back to more austere, simple, uncluttered desktops.

With any desktop I know there are tons of options under the hood. One thing I have learned from most computer users is that they don’t give a damn thing about all those options. Not even after using the computer for years their level of expertise ever reaches that point. They are users and content at that. Those are not the types to start thinkering in the Windows registry or start delving in all the desktop options, Gnome, KDE or otherwise. Hence, there is a lot to say for the decisions made by the Gnome developers. Ever since the human interface guidelines were accepted the Gnome desktop has developed into a simple, uncluttered desktop. The KDE desktop has developed along different lines, with a different philosophy in mind. Is one better than the other? Who cares?

Linus tried to prove his point by submitting a patch or two. Great. I don’t have his coding skills (nor any skills in that area I would even want to mention), but what does it prove? Nothing, just that he has coding skills. As far as I understand it he wrote some code that would add KDE like configurations in the Gnome desktop. Well, no doubt the Gnome afficionados would be able to write a patch to simplify the KDE desktop as well. The problem is that this isn’t the point. Linus likes to tinker more with his desktop than maybe the whole new batch of Linux users that appreciate the simplicity and accesibility of Ubuntu Linux. Linus also doesn’t like GPL 3 and doesn’t mind DRM. Isn’t is great to have opinions?

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2 thoughts on “So what?

  1. I couldn’t agree more! Well spoken Jan!

  2. You haven’t seen the other side of the story.

    The Gnome people don’t like criticism and constructive feedback. They won’t improve anything out of their own initiative. They’ll reach a point and do nothing further.

    I think, Linus is worried in that respect, as he doesn’t want Gnome to fall behind. Maybe its tough love? I don’t know. But I do see where he’s going with it.

    He doesn’t want anyone to fall behind. If the project dies because of the people running it, its one less choice for the end user.

    Personally, if Linus isn’t satisfied, he should just fork it and call it L-NOME. šŸ™‚

    I’ve read the drafts to GPL v3, and I’m not sure why Linus doesn’t like it. I wonder if he has read the current draft?

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