The One Desktop To Rule Them All

“KDE rules!” “No, GNOME does!” “Our desktop is the most customizable!” “Ours is the most ergonomic!”…

Linus Torwalds defends KDE. Other luminaries counter for GNOME. Big names, tied into a childish fight… Who is right, actually? What desktop is the best? What is the one that will rule?

I believed the answer will be obvious to anyone in the FOSS. Seems, however that it is not. So, someone has to give it.

I started with GNOME, then tried KDE – it was much better. More convenient. More productive. Giving me more. WhateverI looked, it was the best one I had ever seen.

For me. And for some of my friends.

Other friends of mine stayed with GNOME – or switched to it, from KDE. For them, it was the more convenient, productive etc. The best one – for them… Yet others compared many desktops, and found that XFCE is their one… Who is the only right here?

Nobody. The primary difference is not in the desktops, but in their users. Someone will be most productive with GNOME, another one – with KDE. People with in-depth knowledge of few programs, but ergonomically challenged, would naturally benefit from GNOME. People with wide, but less deep software knowledge, and good self-ergonomisation, will probably be most productive with KDE. Myriads of other personality traits also contribute to the difference – there is no way to tell what will be the best desktop for you, until you try and find it.

It is in the type of usage, too. A corporate environment may like a supremely ergonomic desktop, allowing to do only what the employee’s job is; a home user will often prefer a myriad of programs and options, even if s/he never uses some of them. Different goals, different desktops.

There are many other reasons for different choices. Which comes to say only one: There is no ultimate desktop. One desktop is the best in some cases, another – in others. But, for the different people to be on the top of their productivity for different tasks, different desktops must exist.

Sure, KDE can be customized to look and behave much like GNOME. (The opposite is true to a big extent, too.) But KDE will never truly replace GNOME, unless it accepts the GNOME philosophy – that is, unless it becomes GNOME, and ceases to be KDE. (Switch “GNOME” and “KDE”, or substitute with any desktops around…)

The differences of the desktops are not our weakness. They are our treasure. Supporting only one desktop will mean leaving millions of people less productive, even by a little, no matter what desktop this will be. And it may be the freedom that we believe in, but the technical superiority is what attracts the people to us – and the productivity is an important part of this superiority. (Many people have surely noticed that the freedom and the technical superiority are the same thing, deep inside – but this is a different topic.)

The divergence of the desktops gives a lot of fresh ideas that otherwise would not be born, ideas that will not fit well into one desktop, but are perfect with another. And the need to hybridise and maintain compatibility across the different desktops creates yet other ideas. Sure, it takes its toll in work and efforts – but creates products that amaze, attract and make the people happy. What is the best we all can ever hope for. Which is what eventually we strive for.

The dream for The One Desktop To Rule Them All is actually a dream for a software monopoly. As long as the people are different – and they will always be – no single software, and no monopoly will be perfect for everybody. What is worthless for some, will be priceless to others. Always.

Please all, great or small, please leave this dream to the big software monopolists. There is where it belongs. Do understand that it is a poison to our mentality and principles – a poison both for the freedom and for the excellence. Always try to make your creation the best, the perfect – but do not degrade or mean harm to the alternatives, do not want their extinction. Support them instead, and help them be themselves. Please, do not dream for a Rullest Ring.

The fact that Linus Torwalds himself supports KDE does not mean that this is The Ultimate Desktop. Linus may be a programming genius, but his preference means only that KDE is the best desktop for him personally. When it comes to personal conveniences and tastes, there are no great and small people. Be free to choose what is best for you personally.

And may the choice be with you.

13 thoughts on “The One Desktop To Rule Them All

  1. lionel fournigault

    I agree with you but the most important is the users choice and 80% prefer KDE.
    Gnome is supported by RedHat, Novell, HP and Sun and this is failed.
    KDE is supported only by his community and is based on better technologies
    which produced the best desktop.

  2. Eric Katz

    Right on!

    From the evolutionary point of view, the two desktops need each other to keep each other moving forward. You need a gazelle to make a cheetah.


  3. Григор Post author

    Lionel: This might be true. But, still, 20% of the users feel more confortably with other desktops – there must be alternatives for them!

    I, personally, am truly glad that Trolltech finally GPLed Qt for all major platforms. It was a long, long way to freedom – but it’s already done. Cheers for them! 🙂 LGPL-ing it would be even better, and once they tune their business model for writing free software, they may be able to do it. Without the excellent Qt structure, KDE would be internally the mess GNOME is now. (And if the GNOME people get better engineered GTK/GTK+, GNOME may soon excel.)

    Corporations, however, will always prefer a poor, but functional desktop, good only for what is the job of this specific employee. So, I will expect their support for GNOME and its philosophy to continue. Which is not bad, since KDE will benefit from this, too. And eventually the benefit will be for us all, no matter which desktop we prefer. 🙂

    Eric: Not only these two. The more desktops we have, the greater the efforts spent on the same thing – but also, the richier the ecosystem created. And the diversity spawns better ideas than a cathedrally engineered monoculture, even if it is very powerful, at a first glance. 🙂

  4. messner

    I don’t like KDE … I tried it many times, but for me Gnome is much more usefull …

    When I work with KDE, I don’t feel any soul in it … it is like a good tool, but this and only this. So I agree with you .. the more desktops we have, bigger we get ;)) I am also slightly disapointed with Linus and his opinion.

  5. Bradley Williams

    Rember Windows comes with a default desktop, but there are others abound. Some just “skins”, some complete replacements. Goes back to what works best for me.

  6. asutosh

    I am using Redhat Linux from Long time.
    Tried both KDE and GNOME, i like GNOME.
    But its heavy take lots of memory, recently i tried XFCE its really small and very fast.

    And I don’t agree with the idea of one common desktop.
    Open Source gave rise to so many ideas, who know soon we may get a desktop which is far more better than all existing ones.
    As it happened in case of Firefox, we had mozilla and its market share was minimal.
    But firefox changed all.

  7. Bob Jones

    I’ve tried both, and Gnome appeals to me estheticaly. Both work. I may try Ice or XFCE next. Choice is good. Too much is not good, it gets in the way. Maybe that’s why I like Gnome right now. Still, if you’re a KDE fan, great! Go for it. Just don’t try to force me too.

    At least I can use KDE apps in Gnome (and vice-versa). Thanks to both sets of developers. Keep up the good work!

  8. Angus

    The answer isn’t one desktop, it’s one set of common standards. So that way, no matter what desktop you use, you can still use your favorite program and it can still integrate with the desktop.

  9. Григор Post author

    Bob Jones: Too much choice indeed gets in the way initially. But in the long run, the richness it promotes makes the things better – especially in the FOSS world. 🙂

    timh: I use (and like) GNOME applications under my KDE, too – and am happy with this. 🙂

    Angus: Exactly!

    Simon: It doesn’t matter – as long as vive la difference! 🙂

  10. gnumber9

    I’d love to use KDE, but it isn’t very stable, actually I’ve found it so unstable it reminds me of alpha software. Perhaps, I don’t click on the buttons correctly. Maybe the mouse events over menus and windows are to fast or to slow, but whatever seems to happen the darn thing just stops working, freezes, KDE/QT programs sometimes refuse to launch or will not work as they are intended to work, usually audio/visual or disk I/O and memory is eaten like potato chips. Well, KDE doesn’t do this constantly, but several times an hour.

    KDE has a plethora of configuration options, yeah, but ney they don’t ever seem to be in the logical places and aren’t very useful anyway.

    So… for now I will remain to use GNOME (On Debian and use to use Slackware, where KDE refused to even launch) for the local desktop and WMaker for the remote desktop. The GNOME/GTK+ applications I use all work and I never log out of my home system, basically it’s always running which to me is productive, Kernel upgrades obviously require a reboot, X and GNOME upgrades obviously require the X server to be restarted.

    But still!!!! KDE has pretty themes and reminds me of hard candy and fruity chewing gum. YUM!

    Have Fun Use Linux!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *