Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Contending Desktop Environments: The Big Two

There is without a doubt that in terms of users base, KDE and GNOME are the two main desktop environments on the Linux platform. Hot debates arose such from statements made by the kernel creator, Linux Torvalds on December 13, 2005 and a recent ComputerWorld Australia interview. Other good reading materials I found are an untitled essay from Derek Glidden, circa 2002 and KDE vs. GNOME: Is One Better? from Bruce Byfield on April 16, 2007.

Linux distributions often prefer to use a particular DE on their official releases with user options to install another DE. Often, the switch can be seamless but there are times when they're not. And right off a main distribution can come forks offering alternative DEs. Take for example Ubuntu, which is a GNOME-centric distro. Forks such as Kubuntu, Xubuntu, etc are tailored to even make Ubuntu appealing to a wide range of Linux users. Is this a bad thing? Personally, I don't think so.

Similarly, PCLinuxOS is KDE-centered, although one may argue that it uses several GNOME apps under its hood. The PCLinuxOS community hence pushed for several DE projects, PCLinuxOS-GNOME, PCe17OS, TinyMe, among others. In the end, it is the users that ultimately decide which they want to use.

I may not be in the position to be writing about this but I only want to reiterate that I use KDE. I've tried different DE flavors, and they are all very attractive, even the minimal FluxBox and XFCE. So, why do I prefer KDE?

Let me start by enumerating what I don't like about KDE. It is a resource hog. One must have a fairly adequate machine to run it. That's it. I prefer KDE because I simply because I like it more. I am used to using it, I know my way around it, I am familiar with the native KDE applications, and it pleases me more to use it than the others. For other users, these may be as lame as an excuse could be but that is just me. I like the beauty it represents. I enjoy the multitude of contribs, from desktop wallpapers to the downloadable file utilities others users share on the Internet. I like that I am able to do things with it, like for example coding a system monitor widget for SuperKaramba. I like that I learn stuff from it. I don't find it difficult to use, I don't get any problems from it. I take great pride when friends see my desktop and compliment me for having the "latest Windows OS". I take pleasure in using it to advocate the use of Linux.

But for me, whatever DE a Linux user might prefer is not important. The acknowledgment that we know better and collaborate on this wisdom is what's important. We must put our efforts together so whatever KDE users might use could also be used by GNOME uses, vis-a-vis. In the meantime, we just ought to put our differences altogether and enlighten our Windows-user brothers of the road we've taken. Peace.

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