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Red Hat Explains Stance on KDE/Gnome Desktop Changes 570

An anonymous reader writes "A lot of people are angry over the changes RedHat has done to KDE and Gnome in their latest beta, code-named Null. They have basically "nullified" all the default themes and settings with which each desktop attempts to posture for more users. Instead, there is now a beautiful unified look. To explain RedHat's stance, Owen Taylor writes this piece here. I hope that RedHat successfully forces both Gnome and KDE to become compatible with one another which would result in the creation of a single desktop. This would be the greatest gift to the Linux world."
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Red Hat Explains Stance on KDE/Gnome Desktop Changes

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  • Hmmm... (Score:2, Funny)

    by cuvavu ( 111503 )
    Begun the flame-war has!
  • by ishpeck ( 160581 ) on Monday September 16, 2002 @09:39AM (#4265214) Homepage Journal
    I, for one, like the different options we have in terms of desktop environments. I don't want either KDE or GNOME to go away.

    I think the different desktop environments are important the way it's important to have variation in the gene pool.

    We can only attain perfection through variety.
    • by kylus ( 149953 ) on Monday September 16, 2002 @09:51AM (#4265321) Homepage
      I, for one, like the different options we have in terms of desktop environments. I don't want either KDE or GNOME to go away. I think the different desktop environments are important the way it's important to have variation in the gene pool. We can only attain perfection through variety.

      You like the variety. I like the variety, likely most of the Linux users on /. here love the variety. But honestly Joe Windows, who's never touched Linux before in his life, will be scared to death of the variety and totally confused and terrified of trying to set things up or be left wondering which desktop is the 'right' one to use. I don't think Red Hat did this for the Linux veterans; I think it was done to advance Linux as a desktop solution and make it less daunting for new users to make a switch. The variety will always be there for the people that know how to find it and set it up, but this could be a good start towards introducing Linux to more people.
      • by bobaferret ( 513897 ) on Monday September 16, 2002 @11:06AM (#4265856)
        I'm tired of variety! Some days, I come to work, and I just want the damn thing to work. I'd like the perfect background, and themes. All the menu options would be well thought out, and in the right spot etc. I realize that this will never happen, but I get really tired of having everything non-standard and haveing to recreate my desktop whenever a new version comes out. There is sooo much choise out there that it takes forever to become educated in enough different areas to trully be able to function most effectivly. Just let the community reach some sort of consensus on what is the best in an area an include in a distro. I used to follow hardware (workded for a white box computer store) every day. But it just got old. I just want the phreak'n thing to work,have a little eyecandy, and some best of breed apps so that I can get on with my job. Where I have 10 zillion other dicisions to make regarding HW/SW etc.

        • The problem is that some programmers tend to forget that to design is all about making choices. As that is a difficult activity, people tend to just 'make it a config option' and forget about the issue.

          But people, configurability is good, but *putting the burden of 90% of UI design on the shoulders of the poor user* is not.

          Indeed, because everybody effectively creates his own destkop environment because so little attention has been given to the *actual, practical, day-to-day, real-world* usability of the defaults, no effective feedback is provided to UI developers. The few advances in the field that are made are way too fragmented. This is a terrible waste.

          We should strive to be able to build a *good, beautiful* UI. Not to demo the latest alpha blending feature, if it's ugly and confusing as hell. We should lean from Fitt's law, from people like Jeff Raskin, from Windows and MacOS 9, from OS X and X Windows and from people's gripes about all of those.

          And, let's learn from Unix. We should build this UI using /Unix/ technology (that is pipes, sockets, processes, read, write, select, ioctl, mmap), and not with Corba, our COM-like thingy of the day or other funky fat binary interfaces, and not with multithreaded dlls that do not want to choose whether they are a process or a library. Let's not reinvent the OS in a very crappy and un-unixy way merely because we're building a GUI, for chrissakes. I really don't think the requirements of GUIs are so unique that that's needed. A module interface that allows each and every method in each and every every object to call each and every method in each and every other object in the system does not give any modularity, sorry. Think again. That's old-fashioned linking, worse, effectively going back to the days of single address space OSes by linking every application to every other, and that doesn't get you anywhere if you want to make standard, stable, secure component interfaces.

          You don't want to have 'more' to have a funky ad-hoc RPC interface so that it can be called by 'ls', or do you? We may need to extend the pipe concept if it's to limited for GUI app-to-app interfaces, but let's do that then, without resorting to plain, unrestricted RPC all the way. Please.

          Let's keep it simple, and let's make it beautiful.
      • I may be in the minority here, but. . . here goes.

        I don't want Joe Windows on Linux and I don't want Linux development coopted by the desire to make it "easy enough for someone's mom to use". I don't want to use the same computer my mother uses because we use them for very different things. She, like most people, want a glorified typewriter. She, like most people's mothers, calls people she knows (like me) to fix her computer or teach her to use various functions(I'm what makes the computer "easy to use").

        Maybe there should be a seperate "Glorified Typewriter" edition of Linux, so the rest of us don't have to be bothered.

        Here's what it needs: A web browser, open office, an off switch, bookmarks to calendaring and webmail.
        • Maybe there should be a seperate "Glorified Typewriter" edition of Linux, so the rest of us don't have to be bothered.

          As I'm reading through the various posts on this topic I can't help but wonder why more folks such as yourself aren't using FreeBSD or perhaps Gentoo Linux. I've been using FreeBSD as my primary desktop OS for over a year now with KDE. No OS branding to be found anywhere. Every part of it is directly (aside from minor patches) from the KDE source. The same being true for Gnome if that's your preference.

          Having tried previous version of Suse, Mandrake, and a much older version of RedHat (6.1) I've come to the personal conclusion that I can't deal with all the OS branding. Upgrading apps is FAR harder, and updating the actual desktop environment seems to break all kinds of vendor specific configure tools. Well, unless you go and purchase a new CD.

          I'm presently upgrading a friend's laptop to KDE 3.0.3 also running on FreeBSD. No funky vendor specific apps to break, it's about as pure a version of KDE as you can get. It's compiling from source now, and I have no doubts that when it completes everything will be up and running as well as it was under 3.0.1.

          The upgrade process...

          Delete all of KDE
          pkg_delete -rf qt*

          Install it from source
          portinstall kde3

          And that's it! As I understand it, Gentoo has a very similar type of package management.

          The point is, there are plenty of solutions for those not wanting any vendor mucking around with their desktop experience. For the "blinking 12:00 on the VCR" crowd RedHat is trying to tweak things in for them. It's a different market, and one probably closer to where Microsoft's core market sits these days.
      • I still get tempted to use KDE because so many people said KDE was better and I consider myself computer savvy so I thought I should use KDE.

        But I couldn't find the RedHat RPM tools on KDE. I didnt see RedHat network. I used KDE but had to switchdesk to GNome to do any administration.

        Next, can we get rid of the 100 word processors and text editors?? Its confusing as hell to have so many damn tools that do the same thing. Is this an OS or a program war???
        • Here's an experiment....

          go to tucows. www.tucows.com and search for HTML editors for Windows.

          Or ftp clients

          Or pretty much anything...

          Now ask the authors of these programs if we can get rid of the 100 text editors, ftp clients, irc clients, etc....

          It's not a war of any sort, it's called choice, and it exists even in the windows world.

          The difference is that since Linux and Unix Free and Open Source software allow redistribution, that Linux distributions are allowed to bundle anything they consider worthy with their distribution, and this usualy means at least a couple of versions each utility, so as to please the greatest number of people.
    • Your options are unaffected. Neither one of them is going away. The desktop environments remain different. The article basically explains that all of the modifications are largely cosmetic and now the only difference between desktops will be things like speed and stability NOT themes, menus, and config options.
    • by Nailer ( 69468 )
      I, for one, like the different options we have in terms of desktop environments. I don't want either KDE or GNOME to go away.

      People are continually misunderstanding this point. You can change the default look and feel and behaviour if you want t, but Red Hat have made the two desktops consistent. Which is a good thing, as users choose their desktop apps based on usefullness, rather than toolkit.
  • Unified Desktop (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Animgif ( 96529 ) <Benton@Wink.Bus@UTexas@edu> on Monday September 16, 2002 @09:40AM (#4265225) Homepage
    I couldn't agree with RedHat's statement any more. I definately feel that a unified look and feel is something that Linux has always needed. People need to be able to look at a system and recognize it. You can always recognize Windows by the look of it, as it should be for Linux. Users need this to use Linux. If you want people to use Linux for their desktop they must first feel comfortable with it...
    • a few others


      nothing else necessary

    • Re:Unified Desktop (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I can recognise Windows by the fact that it is bland and ugly. I can recognise a GNU/Linux or FreeBSD desktop no matter what window manager is being used; I'd used just about all of 'em. Let Red Hat do what it wants with its distro; if you don't like what they do, then switch to Gentoo [gentoo.org] or FreeBSD [freebsd.org]. Red Hat is not Burger King, and "Have it your way" isn't one of Red Hat's slogans. So if you want Linux made your way, make it yourself.

    • Re:Unified Desktop (Score:4, Insightful)

      by rseuhs ( 322520 ) on Monday September 16, 2002 @10:47AM (#4265706)
      So essentially you say that we all should run one desktop dictated by a single distributor.

      No, this is not what we need. Just like we don't need a "unified" CPU-maker and a "unified" PC-vendor we don't need a "unified" Linux distribution.

      If we would need that, we would all run Macs now.

      DOS/Windows is so entrenched because:

      • People are used to it
      • OEMs have to take great risks by installing anything that is not Windows.
      • All the software is there

      RedHat having their great "unified" desktop won't make Photoshop run on it, it won't void the contracts OEM have with Microsoft and it won't make people forget about Windows.

      However, both KDE and GNOME are usable enough and similar enough so that a Widnows user will have no problem using it (especially if you choose the Windows-config on your first login in KDE.) so that is already solved.

      What we still need is:

      • a WINE that works reliably
      • OEMs preinstalling Linux

      I'm putting big hope in Codeweavers to produce a usable Wine that is easy to install and works with most office-software. - On all distributions, not only on RedHat.

      and not distributors playing monopoly-unification games and reducing inter-distribution interoperability.

      • Re:Unified Desktop (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Animgif ( 96529 ) <Benton@Wink.Bus@UTexas@edu> on Monday September 16, 2002 @10:52AM (#4265750) Homepage
        No, I don't think that we should all use the same distro from the same distributor. What I do think is that if Linux is going to succeed in the consumer market, then there must be a noticable face for the consumer to identify with. This is what Windows has done. Most users couldn't tell you the difference in the versions of Windows, other than the newer on is prettier.

        In contrast to what you say above, I do think that a unified face will allow more software to be ported to Linux. As companies see that the market is maturing, they will be more likely to take the jump to a linux version because there is less risk to there bottom line. You have a chicken and egg fiasco, which will come first, products or customers? I definately feel that this more identifiable "version" of RedHat Linux will go far is helping the cause. Consumers will now be able to focus on making linux work for them, instead of making Linux work.
        • Re:Unified Desktop (Score:5, Interesting)

          by rseuhs ( 322520 ) on Monday September 16, 2002 @11:32AM (#4266056)
          No, I don't think that we should all use the same distro from the same distributor. What I do think is that if Linux is going to succeed in the consumer market, then there must be a noticable face for the consumer to identify with. This is what Windows has done. Most users couldn't tell you the difference in the versions of Windows, other than the newer on is prettier.

          Oh, not another one explaining the success of Microsoft. Face it: Microsoft is successful because IBM gave them the OS-monopoly in 1981. Everybody would have been successful with that, even Microsoft which never really did anything other than following the market. Microsoft has delayed the wide adoption of a GUI (every other major platform had a GUI long before 1990, but Windows 3.1 was the first usable GUI for DOS and came in 1993), they delayed the wide adoption of the Internet (In the early 90's Bill Gates himlelf said that "Internet will never be popular" and "The Internet? We are not interested in it") and PDAs (Go! invented the first PDA, Microsoft killed them with a lot of FUD and PenWindows which came out 2 years afterwards - which was dropped after Go! went bankrupt. Great, eh? PenWindows only use was to kill a company, advancing technology was not really important for MS)

          So please stop telling me Microsoft's great secret of success. In real life, Microsoft is one of the most chaotic and incompetent companies.

          Microsoft's only interest is maintaining the status-quo. The only reason we have Windows now is because everybody else already had a GUI for years and Microsoft had to follow.

          In all new markets like Webservers for example, Linux is doing great - better than Windows. In all old markets where people have tons of programs and documents to lose, Linux doing not so good.

          We need backwards-compatibility or WINE. Everything else is already there.

          In contrast to what you say above, I do think that a unified face will allow more software to be ported to Linux. As companies see that the market is maturing, they will be more likely to take the jump to a linux version because there is less risk to there bottom line. You have a chicken and egg fiasco, which will come first, products or customers?


          I definately feel that this more identifiable "version" of RedHat Linux will go far is helping the cause. Consumers will now be able to focus on making linux work for them, instead of making Linux work.


          Currently Joe installs Linux and either stays with it because he likes it better or drops it because doesn't run.

          How will that change? RedHat's GUI will be as new as stock-KDE for Joe (only uglier), so why should Joe be more likely to keep using it?

          RedHat won't enable Linux on the masses' desktops. Codeweavers will.

        • Re:Unified Desktop (Score:4, Insightful)

          by rseuhs ( 322520 ) on Monday September 16, 2002 @02:27PM (#4267481)
          No, I don't think that we should all use the same distro from the same distributor. What I do think is that if Linux is going to succeed in the consumer market, then there must be a noticable face for the consumer to identify with. This is what Windows has done. Most users couldn't tell you the difference in the versions of Windows, other than the newer on is prettier.

          And I say again, that's nonsense.

          BeOS had a nice desktop. Where is it? It's gone because it doesn't has any apps.

          Windows succeeded because it was backwards-compatible. The PC was plagued by IRQ and DMA conflicts and still took away marketshare from Macs and Amiga.

          Linux needs to become backwards-compatible to Windows and needs to run Win32 applications.

          That's what is holding it back.

          In all areas where the apps are available, Linux is doing fine

          Examples? Webservers - Windows gets marginalized there. Professional 3D-animation: Just after the tools were ported, many movie studios moved right to Linux. Embedded systems: Except for PDA's which are ruled by Palm and WinCE (and now guess why? RIGHT! Because of the APPS!!!) Linux has become the standard.

          Software will be ported to Linux when the users are there. C++ and Delphi apps will be ported to KDE and C-apps will be ported to GNOME. Period. All apps work on all desktops, no problem in sight. End of story.

          People want applications.

          Nobody will give a shit wether an application runs on Qt, GTK or Wine. It doesn't matter as long as the functionality is there.

      • RedHat having their great "unified" desktop won't make Photoshop run on it,

        Think about that for a minute. Part of the reason that software vendors are loath to enter the linux desktop market is because there is so little standardization and they don't want to have to support 50 different ways of launching a program. Standardization makes it easier to guarantee that the software you'd like to distribute will work. The LSB is moving towards making that possible at the developer level, but having the biggest commercial distro standardize on a desktop will help to make the user interface less of a moving target.

    • Re:Unified Desktop (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 4of12 ( 97621 )

      I couldn't agree with RedHat's statement any more. I definately feel that a unified look and feel is something that Linux has always needed.

      Yes, I think so, too.

      For far too long I've watched two extremely talented and desktop teams produce excellent software and haven't seen as much cooperation and collaboration as I would like. Being open source projects, both teams have the advantage of being able to more easily "steal" good ideas from the other team. I think that's great.

      I'm really glad not only that Red Hat, whose market size in Linux matters, is taking the initiative to draw the two desktops closer together, but also that the two desktops are open source and that Red Hat even has the ability to do this kind of unification.

      That is, while they don't perhaps realize or care much about it, I, for one, am happy that both Gnome and KDE are unifiable.

      That's a great thing.

      I wouldn't even care to speculate how much needless user pain there has been between proprietary desktops (win32 and Mac) that absolutely positively would never be merged simply because they're closed source and used as marketing weapons.

  • by MosesJones ( 55544 ) on Monday September 16, 2002 @09:40AM (#4265227) Homepage
    A standard desktop ? Then how will all the prima-donna point out how their desktop is so much better because of this or that bell and whistle.

    What a horrible idea, leveling the playing field and have a standard theme that concentrates on usability and then a pure battle of abilities to determine who underpins it. If there can be no differentation in terms of buttons and icons then how would people judge if not by "see-through windows" v "tear-off tabs" and other such pointless arguments and wars.

    Terrible concept, concetrate a team on a decent standard theme, and then have competition for the best engine behind it....

    Umm wait, isn't this in effect the same as the Video card market where standards have led to the engines (the cards) being bought and swapped purely on the grounds of ability, sure each has "special" instructions, but for 99% of applications no one cares.

    Oh and isn't it the same as the PC market, one instruction set, AMD v Intel.

    Oh I see, thats what they want, what a great idea now I understand.

  • by restive ( 542491 ) on Monday September 16, 2002 @09:41AM (#4265234)
    This is a positive thing, for the reasons RedHat is stating; namely that many users don't want to make a decision between "this one" or "that one". How many times have people whined on /. that Linux will never make it to the desktop because there are too many tweaks things the users need to learn.

    This is RedHat's way of making Linux more appealing to the end user. Good for them.

    If you don't like it, do what I do and run Slackware (or other distro of choice), but bravo for the RedHat folks. This is a positive step.
    • by Mr_Silver ( 213637 ) on Monday September 16, 2002 @09:53AM (#4265338)
      This is RedHat's way of making Linux more appealing to the end user. Good for them

      Indeed, because if the desktop is more appealing then more people will use it and if more people use it then companies will start to consider it a viable market for software (applications and drivers) and when there is greater support for Linux then more people will move to it because it has the applications they want and so on and so on ...

      Microsoft are already doing Linux a favour with their licence changes, but that doesn't mean that we should expect people that are brave enough to change to come to the Linux side (at the moment, I'd say they're more likely to go to Apple, as they have consistency and ease of use down to a tee)

    • I agree! Free software is about freedom, also for commercial vendors. They are free, just like J. Random Hacker to tweak it to suit their needs, and the needs of their customers.

      I'm a KDE user myself, and I think the KDE folks will also come to the conclusion that RH isn't doing anything nasty when they think more about it.

      However, I do not agree that Linux needs a Single Unified Desktop. On the contrary, the competition now is good. It allows more room to experiment, it allows for different developers to have different priorities.

      And it allows vendors to choose the best parts from each project to provide a unified desktop in their product. Or, leave the choice to their customers if customers want choice.

    • by egghat ( 73643 ) on Monday September 16, 2002 @10:33AM (#4265603) Homepage
      ... that Redhat was the major force behind Gnome, which came into existence *after* KDE (because qt wasn't completly free and open). They were the single most important distro to support Gnome instead of KDE, which has been chosen by almost all other distro makers as a default. Remember when Mandrake entered the market and basically was a Redhat with KDE? Mandrake's success told Redhat a big lesson.

      So it's kind of hmmm strange, that nowadays Redhat tries to nullify the difference between KDE and Gnome.

      But let me state it again: I think, we don't need two desktops. So every move to make those beast more similar is welcomed.

      Bye egghat.
  • It's About Time (Score:4, Insightful)

    by syntap ( 242090 ) on Monday September 16, 2002 @09:41AM (#4265244)
    I think Red Har has recognized that look and feel unification is a prerequisite to corporate entry. I understand the usual ./ user's opinion that desktop uniqueness is cool, but when you're a corporate help desk manager with a limited budget you don't need 2500 desktops looking different. It makes training more difficult too. The similarity of desktops is how MS can easily have people upgrade from Win98 to NT to 2000 to XP... the desktops are the same and retraining cost is minimal. Good for Red Hat!
    • similarity of desktops is how MS can easily have people upgrade from Win98 to NT to 2000 to XP
      I agree with most of your post, but the part above is incorrect. XP, by default, has a very different desktop than the other Windows variants, though it can be configured to run with the "Classic" interface which is quite similar. The 2000 interface is also different than the NT / 9x interface, though not radically so. How does this apply to what RedHat has done? I'm not really sure. Perhaps the best way to put it is that Microsoft has evolved and improved the desktop, which is a good thing if you're hooked on their software. Let's hope RedHat and others do the same to KDE and Gnome.
  • A unified desktop to the user doesnt in any way require that the underlying machinery is exactly or even remotly the same beasts. If they decides to display similar things to users in similar places and similar fashion they still can concentrate on there #1 priority. Correct me if im wrong here but i was under the impression that 99% of all effort is in the underlying processes. To my knowledge and impression little or none has really been done in usability and eycandy in the default releases.

    Myself i have tweaked my Gnome2 to do all a full congirated windows dekstop would do and more. The changes i had to make are very small and should be able to make by automatic. Gnome and KDE need a little bit of polish before the distributors let them loose and i think its good if RedHat does it. If anyone feels the changes they make are good just do the same! They arent in any way planning of protecting these changes so they can progress thru the Open Source community if they are good.
  • by veddermatic ( 143964 ) on Monday September 16, 2002 @09:43AM (#4265254) Homepage
    Linux is all about choice, yes... and most here will complain that Red Hat is somehow taking that away from them by having a "unified" desktop.

    But if Linux is *ever* to succeeed in the desktop market, it NEEDS this. IT depts. in a large company will not tolerate one product behaving different ways... imagine Bob leaning over his cubicle wall to ask Sally how to check a new email account... something that happens all the time in the real world, and Sally can't answer, because while she's good with her KDE environment, she can;t help Bob out because he got set up with GNOME.

    The desktop HAS to be standardized if it going to be used in the work place. Period.

    If you don't like Red Hat's "removal of choice", here's a tip: Use a different distribution, or make your own. That sure sounds like choice to me!
    • by Uruk ( 4907 ) on Monday September 16, 2002 @09:49AM (#4265305)
      I've never understood why people were complaining about this in the first place. The software components of both GNOME and KDE are under the GNU GPL. It would be pretty difficult to deny that the GNU GPL allows these types of changes. In fact, that the license allows these types of changes is one of its main features.

      Here we have a situation where an organization takes a free software package and makes modifications to it in order to suit its needs, and then rereleases the modified package also under the GPL. What could be MORE complaint with the spirit of the GPL and free software as a whole???

      • by ajs ( 35943 ) <ajs AT ajs DOT com> on Monday September 16, 2002 @10:08AM (#4265421) Homepage Journal
        The complaints took several forms:
        • Some KDE-folks (probably not core people, I'm not sure) went off half-cocked whining about Red Hat having "removed" functionality from KDE (e.g. not installing Konq). This was untrue, but see below...
        • Other KDE people with more level heads complained that major KDE apps in the default menus had been replaced with generic sounding terms (e.g. Web Browser) that then ran non-KDE apps (e.g. Mozilla instead of Konq). This is good from the unifying-the-desktop perspective, but it makes KDE perform terribly (since apps like evolution and Mozilla require totally different huge shared libraries to be loaded in addition to the huge share libraries of KDE). So, the complaint here is that KDE on Red Hat (null) was a pig because of the new default menu settings. You could still run all of your favorite KDE apps, they just weren't in the default menus.
        • Yet further controversy came from both the Gnome and KDE camps. This was centered around the "hijacking" of the default theme. This, IMHO is ignorable. If you don't like the default Red Hat theme, load another one (by theme here, I mean everything from tagets in menus to look-and-feel). If Gnome wants to release their own "gnome-default-theme" RPM for Red Hat 8.0 when it comes out, more power to them! KDE can do the same. Heck, Ximian already does this, along with a much nicer, more up-to-date Gnome desktop + a recent evolution.
        So, a lot of it is a non-issue, but I think the core item of making KDE less efficient by defaulting to Gnome and/or Gtk apps is worth some discussion. In the end, I think the way Red Hat did it makes sense, but only until KDE has apps that are comparable to Mozilla and evolution for the business dekstop (Konq is nice, but more of a Galeon-like browser, not the all-around contender than Mozilla is).

    • Yes - but there is a difference between having one supported
      email client and how the client works. For that matter, an IT
      department can declare that Gnome or KDE is the supported
      desktop. End of discussion.

      As for masking the differences between Gnome and
      KDE to the end customer - that is the same as doing
      it the MS way or hit the highway. No thanks!

      Well- I've been a Mandrake supporter ever since
      they used the license holy wars to justify not
      shipping KDE. Guess that won't change at all.

      • by bwt ( 68845 ) on Monday September 16, 2002 @10:17AM (#4265474) Homepage
        For that matter, an IT department can declare that Gnome or KDE is the supported desktop.

        So you would rather have the local IT managment make the choice for the user than have Red Hat make changes so that the distinction isn't important? I don't really see how this is "choice".

        As for masking the differences between Gnome and
        KDE to the end customer - that is the same as doing
        it the MS way or hit the highway. No thanks!

        That is absurd to say about any GPL application. If you don't like Red Hat's choices, then you are free to change them at multiple levels including changing the source code on your local machine. Why you think that it's OK for KDE or Gnome to make choices for look and feel, but not OK for RedHat is completely incomprehensible.
      • that is the same as doing it the MS way or hit the highway

        No, it isn't. Not while Slack, SuSE, Mandrake, Debian, and JoeBobsBaitNTackle distributions are all available. The GPL is all about people being able to modify software however they want to, as long as the modifications are released. This is precisely what RedHat is doing. You can still choose not to use RedHat and not lose Linux, hyperbolic comments about RH being the next MS aside.

  • by jonathan_atkinson ( 90571 ) <<jonathana> <at> <cleanstick.org>> on Monday September 16, 2002 @09:44AM (#4265265) Homepage
    ... revealed some screenshots here [kde.org].

  • Ok, some asked for screenshots for here they are.

    They are the ones that say redhat, duh.

    http://www.ibiblio.org/pub/Linux/distributions/con trib/texstar/screenshots/

    ________________________________________________ __ ______
  • Choice is the key (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jbwiv ( 266761 ) on Monday September 16, 2002 @09:45AM (#4265273)
    I think the option of having a unified desktop theme is great...as long as it's truly an *option*. If the RedHat distro allows the user to choose whether they would like to install KDE or Gnome the standard way or with the new nullified look and feel, then I only see this as a good thing. Isn't one of the great benefits of Linux the fact that you have a right to choose?
  • Who exactly (Score:3, Funny)

    by jmu1 ( 183541 ) <<ude.uosag> <ta> <namllumj>> on Monday September 16, 2002 @09:46AM (#4265277) Journal
    is doing all the bitching. Everything I've read has something good to say about a standard desktop.
  • by stienman ( 51024 ) <<adavis> <at> <ubasics.com>> on Monday September 16, 2002 @09:46AM (#4265282) Homepage Journal
    Ok, so here's the analogy - Red Hat is Dell, and they want 'windows' to look different on their systems than what MS will allow.

    MS complains (and forces them to comply, which doesn't apply here).

    So Red Hat wants a unified look (who cares what they want, it's their distribution), but KDE and Gnome want to dictate how their software looks on someone else's machine? I don't think so! If they don't like it then they got into the wrong business.

    I can't wait for someone to say, "But Red Hat isn't giving their customers a choice and linux is about choice...". That comment is ludicrous on multiple levels, given the dozens of other distributions which deliver a plain vanilla KDE/Gnome.

    The linux community is a quirky bunch. Saying, "We want choice." was great until they started tacking on "Unless it's our software your changing, in that case you should choose the way we want you to choose." Desiring a distribution to change based on your opinion is no different or appalling than desiring a user to change based on your opinion. You are still assuming that the user is stupid and can't be trusted to choose their own way in the face of a default installation.

    I can see the flames now...

    • by dgb2n ( 85206 ) <dgb2n@NoSpaM.comcast.net> on Monday September 16, 2002 @10:06AM (#4265415)
      I concur but only to a point.

      If the changes made were only cosmetic and easily overcome through a theme or widget change, then your argument would be complete. Unfortunately, some of the changes go beyond the cosmetic and do force users into a "Redhat flavored KDE" as opposed to the KDE on which the KDE developers have invested so much time and energy.

      Still, the GPL allows for just the kind of modifications Red Hat is executing. You can't have it both ways, either your software is open or it isn't. You may not like the changes someone is making but the license you've chosen gives them the right to do it. Ultimately if the changes Red Hat is making are detrimental to KDE, in the sense that they provide a worse environment, it should cause users to move to a different distribution. Ultimately we all vote with our feet and our wallets.

    • I couldn't agree more. This is much ado about nothing.

      Maybe the KDE people are just pissed because RH employs 3 Gnome developers and no KDE'ers. Really, they ought to be pleased - at least RH is promoting their window manager, which will raise KDE's profile another notch.

      I think when all the dust settles, this will end up being seen as a Good Thing. And besides, if Red Hat takes on more of an active role in providing compatibility between KDE and Gnome, this should benefit the whole community.

  • There is NOTHING stopping the user from installing either one of these packages from source. Sure, you loose some of the laziness factor, but..

    Sure, if Red Hat said "Installing anything but our software voids your support", you might have a case. But in this case?? No...

  • by Telex4 ( 265980 ) on Monday September 16, 2002 @09:49AM (#4265300) Homepage
    What RedHat have done is really pretty insignificant. They've create a new artwork set that is applied by default to both KDE and GNOME so they look similar by default, and they've modified some codee here and there so they behave in a more similar fashion. In effect, they have made the first step towards making the two major desktop environments more compatable.

    Note: they have not taken away any user choices. You can still completely change your KDE/GNOME appearance, perhaps even back to the KDE/GNOME defaults. The only things that might bug users are the changes they've made to the code, but we don't yet know what they are, or how significant they are, so we'll have to wait and see.

    I for one would welcome it. I'd change my themes straight away, because I've spent far too much boredom-time making my KDE3 desktop look exactly how I want it. But I also had to spend quite a while getting GNOME and GTK+ apps to look right so they almost blend in with my KDE3 apps and desktop.

    The final goal here is of course compatability in themes. I.e. you download and install a KDE theme, and you can then make your GTK apps look identical, either with the same theme, or a mirror package. It's something even RMS has proposed, and something that will make life a lot more pleasant for those aesthetic pedants like myself, without taking away any of the choice we have in desktops and looks. Hopefully RedHat will find a constructive way of using these code modifications to help the KDE & GNOME projects achieve this "integration".

  • by Mr_Silver ( 213637 ) on Monday September 16, 2002 @09:49AM (#4265306)
    You can find pictures here [gnomedesktop.org]

    I have to say, it does look very nice and I (being in the "lets have one desktop and do it right for the sake of consistency and adoption" camp) will definately be installing it when it is released.

  • I started out making this a long and winded post, but instead, deleted it and will just say this:

    In my opinion, competing desktops will breed innovation and evolution. We need one unified desktop like I need a hole in the head. A few years ago, if all car makers joined forces to make one type of car, we'd all be driving a Yugo. If there was no Macintosh, we'd all be stuch with Windows 2.0 in the office.

    I loathe people who want to treat everything as if it were a zero sum game. :)
    • RedHat needs to sell to corporate customers, who want a uniformity of look. RedHat is exercising it's freedom, granted by the Free Software licenses to make a product it's cusomters want. If you don't want it, don't be a RedHat customer. Tweak your own desktop, or use some other distribution.

      If you look like Microsoft and Apple, they tie the user experience to the choice of OS. That Linux allows us to choose, is exactly what makes Free Software good. If you don't agree with RedHat, at least learn to respect that their decisions. They have been contributing code, and good software so far. At least LET them exercise their freedom to please their customers.

    • No, we'd be stuck with the Macinotsh 128k with MacWord.

      Mac came first in your analogy.

      And we'd be driving Ford Pinto's
    • The problem with your logic is that much of the innovation is a backlash against/breaking with the standard.

      Apple incorporated a number of additional features over time that were tweaks. The Menubar clock, the Apple-delete command, the Launcher, Spring-loaded folders, Internet Settings, Stickies, PPP support - All of these were available as add-ons before Apple incorporated them. They were made because people wanted something the standard didn't offer.

      Microsoft responded by adding many of these same features to their OS.

      On a side-bit, Apple did this mostly by purchasing the software from the makers, Microsoft wrote their own versions and prevented competitors from being used (e.g. The Windows XP Personal Firewall).

      Without a standard against which to work, innovation is much slower. The people at PARC with made the first GUI did so roughly (brute force rendering, etc) and apple took their standard and crafted something else. Microsoft followed in Suit. And Linux GUIs are based heavily on Windows (Call it what you want, it's a Start Button).
  • Those who don't care, don't care. Pick a default desktop and make it as good as possible. Newbies use what you give them until they get a reason to disagree.

    Those who care, do so for a reason and are not going to appreciate this unification stuff..
  • by d3xt3r ( 527989 ) on Monday September 16, 2002 @09:53AM (#4265332)
    Everyone from Gnome and KDE who are complaining about Red Hat's excellent decision to unify the desktops for end user experiece really just wants to have their cake and eat it too.

    The real reason everyone likes to have multiple desktop environments is for choice. The choice to develop applications with the toolkit of your choice. This is great because, as everyone loves to say around here, "this is what makes Linux great, choice and freedom."

    But as with all choices to diverge, rather than unify, someone suffers. Up unitl now that has been the end user -- the person all this software was written for in the first place, or is it? KDE and Gnome are great, but they offer two different window kits, two different looks and feels, and two different user experiences. This is bad for the end user. If I am KDE die hard and want to use a Gnome application, I can, the only problem is that it's going to look and feel like a Gnome app on my KDE desktop. And if I was a Gnome user the above situation would be reversed, you get the idea.

    The point here is that Red Hat has done a great service to the KDE and Gnome teams. They have taken two incompatible, entirely different desktops, and unified them for the benefit of the end user.

    Let's not forget that Linux is about freedom not only for the developer, but for the end user. Well written applications are designed with the user in mind. If the KDE and Gnome teams want to contribute to the Linux/*nix community in a truly free and open maner, they will see this move for what it is: a change to allow developers to continue to innovate in the way they see fit, using the right tools for the job at hand, all while improving user experience. That's what it's all about. Right?

  • The arguments are presented in an articulare, well reasoned way. They are reasonably persuasive from a business perspective, both for Redhat and for promoters of Linux Desktop adoption, however I'd expect to see a rebutal from each of the KDE and Gnome projects vary soon; each of which will probably say the same thing, that they agree that their two projects should colaborate more to bring the look and feel into alignment, however it is not Redhat's place to undertake this.

    If Redhat is to take this on, then other distributions of Linux will suffer due to their newfound 'inconsistency', and while this may be a reasonable approach for Redhat, it is something to be avoided from the perspective of the Redhat and Gnome projects since their software is provided with virtually all Linux distributions so in order to gain the greatest market penetration they should be acting in support of all distributions. I'm certain these rebutals will be ariving soon and I look forward to reading them.

  • Choice and Red Hat (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kourino ( 206616 ) on Monday September 16, 2002 @09:56AM (#4265353) Homepage

    11 comments, and most of them are people grumbling about how Red Hat is squeezing choice out of the hands of the user. But really, is this true? What RH has done (from what I hear, I don't chase bleeding-edge distros, usually) is just change the way things look. They've provided a different default appearance. How is this worse from the default appearances provided by the GNOME and KDE teams? (RH's arguments for why it's better are in the article, you should read it :3 )

    It's not like Red Hat is releasing modified versions of GNOME and KDE that don't let you customize the appearance; then, only then, would the complaints about choice be founded. The people who really care about the difference between GNOME and KDE probably do so on reasons deeper than 'the default theme looks cool'. (Personally, I don't really like either of the default appearances that much ^^; ) So, when nagora asks "If RH doesn't like this, why don't they drop the one they don't want people to use?" the answer is: they don't care what you use, but they want the defaults to look reasonably similar, because they know that people who really don't *want* their default theme either know how to change it or probably have settings that they'll import anyway.

    Remember who Red Hat's intended market share is: the corporate environment. A lot of people I've talked to recently agree that RH's biggest 'ins' are (or should be) for office workstations. Lots of places implement a baseline standard that they want to look the same, but that people can customize if they want to (as long as they don't spend hours tweaking it). This is the mentality that RH seems to target. Yes, this isn't for everyone, but that's the point ... there are plenty [debian.org] of [gentoo.org] good [suse.de] distributions out there, and many [freebsd.org] more [openbeos.org] choices [apple.com] out there if you really really don't like it. But no-one said you have to use Red Hat. (Although I could understand concerns about RH-isms creeping into LSB, but nobody's brought that up.)

    Remember, RH == vendor for corporate enviroments. Corporate environments like standard desktops, so this move makes sense in Red Hat's perspective.

    • by Epeeist ( 2682 )
      > It's not like Red Hat is releasing modified versions of GNOME and KDE that don't let you customize the appearance;

      I can't speak for GNOME. However, they have modified the code for KDE. This seems to be the main reason that the KDE developers are upset. They are not sure whether they will be responding to bugs in the vanilla version, or the one that RH modified.
      • by (void*) ( 113680 )
        So basically, these guys have no idea about the implications of Open Source? That anyone can release modified versions of code, even if they don't like it?

        It's not like they are morally obliged to fix any and every problem with their code.

  • by kris ( 824 ) <kris-slashdot@koehntopp.de> on Monday September 16, 2002 @09:56AM (#4265357) Homepage
    The idea is: What looks the same behaves the same.

    Which is not the case with current Gnome and KDE. And probably never will be.

    I have different desktop themes and backgrounds at work and at home for a reason. My mind and my fingers automatically switch passwords and procedures, because without conscious effort I recognize the different environment and switch to different trained behaviour. Also, the few Gnome programs I am using look decidedly different than the KDE stuff I am using, and this helps a lot. Looking different, I do not expect the Gnome stuff to operate like the KDE grouping around it, and automatically treat it differently.

  • Two points missed-- (Score:5, Informative)

    by Speare ( 84249 ) on Monday September 16, 2002 @09:56AM (#4265358) Homepage Journal

    There are two points Owen didn't strike home with a sledgehammer, so I'll say them:

    First, those users who already know they PREFER the "old look" of KDE or GNOME can configure their new Red Hat Linux 8.0/Null++ to regain that old look. The Red Hat "Bluecurve" work is almost entirely artwork and menu organization, both of which can be re-themed or re-edited by any user who wants to. This change is to remove a bewildering either-or choice that paralyzes many newcomers.

    Second, Owen didn't mention that a huge area that BOTH desktops need to strive to improve is accessibility. It's vitally important for Linux to make inroads into the highly regulated Government sector. GNOME2 is laying groundwork for major gains in accessibility, thanks to partnering research by folks at Sun and other places. KDE needs to work hard on being accessible too. Features like Sticky Keys are just a start. Supporting limited-vision users and other areas is a must. Both desktops should do what they can, so that the best approaches can be adopted as standards.

    • This change is to remove a bewildering either-or choice that paralyzes many newcomers

      this is a very excellent point, new users will arrive with a Gnome / KDE that look very similar... now, they might like some wm or other, or maybe GTK theme or somesuch that looks sexy, or simple or whatever TO THEM, but they arrive at all the (still existing) GNU/Linux Desktop GUI opportunities all the same..

      when new users are forced to make the choice that seems somewhat arbitrary (at that point (the beginner, newbie)) that it seems confusing.. more capable users will discover Bonobo and DCOP (and other real fundemental KDE/Gnome differences) in due time.. but why force the issue..? and why make a few icons an issue..? dont like something, well, they can change it.

      Further, think of some of the more cluefull (l)users you know with-regards-to their W2K or WXP systems... some of them will take what MS shipped, decide its ugly and change it, with themes, screenies, desktop-backgrounds (whatever [windowblinds.net]) while others will use the standard look-feel.

      less cluefull users will encounter a desktop that is farmiliar -- and because they are LESS CAPABLE and DONT UNDERSTAND their 'puter all that much, this IS A GOOD THING - they will not be needlessly alarmed.
      While other users, who want to trick out their desktop will still do so...

      Another way to think of it is this: a new user chooses "KDE" as the default at installation; will they ever arrive at the Gnome opportunities if they lock themselves and their discovery into the KDE world and vice-versa? What RH is doing is making the 'starting' point as similar as possible - this actually expands the users options in future.

  • That Red Hat pours alot of money in to GNOME, while they give hardly any support to KDE (in fact, they seem to refer KDE as "Crapland" (according to the Red Hat bug-report where they talked about renaming apps and removing the "About" box)). And now they seem to be turning KDE in to GNOME-clone. It's understandable that KDE-developers and users are less than enthusiastic about it.

    FWIW: I'm a KDE-user but I support competition between the desktops. In fact, I'm going to give GNOME2 a shot in the near-future.

  • They're trying to make an OS called RedHat 8 which happens to be based on the Linux kernel and other free tools. I think it's a great decision on their part. It's very similar to what Apple did with OS X.

    No one has a reason to complain; despite anyone's accusations, RedHat is still an open-source operating system. I personally wouldn't have a problem if they stopped giving away the OS for free via FTP. There's certainly no requirement that they do so. They are a company which has a product which they are trying to make money from. If you feel that RedHat is simply making money from other people's work, by packaging together free applications: go get those applications on your own, and make your own distro (or choose a completely free, volunteer distro like Debian). RedHat does an enormous amount of work assembling and testing those applications, and customizing them into a unified OS. They deserve to be paid for that work.
  • RH should include a default KDE and default Gnome desktop for those that want it (those of us that want it can handle the custimization). Call this an advanced set up feature for those that require it. I'm quite used to many of the KDE feature set personally, and use gnome apps in my desktop. If I cannot easily or reasonably setup a default KDE env, then I will go elsewhere for my distribution. I will also make that recomendation to others.

    Consider this RH, I've been using your product since before 4.2, I've been paying for it since 6.2 (I felt you deserved my bucks) If I can't easily install my favorite WM during the install process, you will loose this customer.


    PS: Yes, you have managed to cripple some of the neater features of both desktops or at least hide them, and you have also turned out an ugly compromise.

  • Good and Bad (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Epeeist ( 2682 )
    A unified look and feel is fine, as is a common mechanism to change it regardless of the underlying desktop system.

    Where I think Red Hat have made mistakes (by incompetence, rather than malignly) is by modifying code rather than commissioning the GNOME and KDE teams to do it on their behalf. What they have generated are Red Hat GNOME and KDE desktops. In doing this they have antagonised developers and made both their own and the vanilla desktops more difficult to support.

    They have also made maintenance more difficult, KDE 3.1 is due out shortly. This means that all the changes the RH put in place will have to be repeated. If they had engaged the developers in the first place this would have been much less likely to happen.

    While there are mujahadin on both the KDE and GNOME desktops, the developers seem to have a relationship of friendly rivalry. By taking the lead on this RH could have facilitated better interworking between the two systems.
    • Re:Good and Bad (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jspaleta ( 136955 )
      Where I think Red Hat have made mistakes (by incompetence, rather than malignly) is by modifying code rather than commissioning the GNOME and KDE teams to do it on their behalf. What they have generated are Red Hat GNOME and KDE desktops. In doing this they have antagonised developers and made both their own and the vanilla desktops more difficult to support.

      And what happens if the developers decide to ignore the code change requests Redhat wants? All Redhat can do in this case is make the changes and submit the patches....and wait for the developers to incorporate the changes if they so desire.

      The hacking of the Gnome and KDE codebases is no different than the hacking Redhat does to apply patches to the kernel tree for instance. How many kernel patches that get applied to commercial distro kernels? How long would Redhat have to wait to see a stock kernel with ALL the patches they apply to be bless by linus? Do the kernel developers get mad when Redhat patches a stock kernel on their own?

      For whatever reason whether it be long standing grudges or just the fact the Redhat has a different vision and motivation than the desktop developers...Redhat decided to make some patches. If Redhat submits those patches to the developers on the main branch..Redhat has done all you can really ask of them to do. We don't expect every person who comes up with a kernel patch to talk it over with Linus before they create the patch, do we?

      Sometimes the lines of communication break down and you have to do things yousekf to get what you want. Sometimes its a simple matter of manhours and the people you'd rather work on it don't have the time. Sometimes is a decision to make experimental changes that others disagree with....
      many reasons as to why patches for code get made.

      The underling issue here is about control, who has control of the codebase. The people complaining about the changes Redhat has made, and the politics of the situation around those changes, miss the whole point about the GPL. People don't have to play nice in OSS to innovate. What matters in the end is whether or not Redhat has created a better KDE with their changes. If they haven't..then they wasted some valuable manhours in development time...but if Redhat's changes catch on in the userbase then it doesn't matter how the changes were made now does it? If the original project want to pick up the patches they can...and it would be a shame to see any contributions that provide new features that users like stay out of the main project because of some politics...and in the end that situation only hurts the main project...and not Redhat becuase Redhat will be seen as the innovator.

  • I think that having comon sources for graphics and icons is a great idea. This seems to be the thrust of what Red Hat is doing. I don't know how often I've tried to find an Icon that is hidden inside of .directories for either kde or gnome.

    I'm even thinking of switching back to redhat ;)

    (currently a gentoo/mandrake dual boot user)

  • As unremarkable as it appears on the surface, this may very well be the most significant milestone in Linux's history -- the first step towards a unified desktop appearance.

    Whether you like or not, the rest of the world doesn't want "freedom of choice" when it comes to their desktop appearance. They want freedom from choice. They want familliarity. They want sensibile designs. They want a look and feel that will still apply from one machine to the next. They do NOT want pointless bells and whistles like having sideways titlebars and 18 different ways to unminimize a window. They just want to sit down, do their work and move on.

    We are not the average user.

    All a user should ever need to be concerned with is just that -- getting the job done. In no way whatsoever should they even know about (or even CARE about) the fact that their apps may be provided by two completely different toolkits. Thats our concern, not theirs.

    A lack of continuity in the appearance of the Linux desktop has been one if not THE largest stumbling block in Linux' acceptance on the desktop. It all starts there. Say you're a company trying to offer Linux support for their products --- You cant show snapshots of a Linux desktop in the manual, because they all friggin look different! You cant even explain it in text, because "Go here and do this" can often mean two holly and distinctly different things, depending on if youre using KDE, or GNOME, or God knows what.

    Windows has a distinct face to it. So does the Mac. So does AIX. So did the Amiga. So did the Atari ST. So does even friggin Solaris! But Linux? No. The Linux desktop, up until now, is a schitzophrenic mess of different personalities dictates by the whims of individual users.

    You guys have no idea how important this evolutionary step was. And I, for one, cannot applaud RedHat enough for having the balls and the smarts to take it.

  • Thanks. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by digitect ( 217483 ) <`digitect' `at' `dancingpaper.com'> on Monday September 16, 2002 @10:33AM (#4265609)
    (A re-post of my gnomedesktop.org [gnomedesktop.org] comments.)

    I appreciate Red Hat's concern that the community understand and approve what they are doing in this effort. However I think the community has been far too cynical in its reaction.

    Being a for-profit company I have long been surprised that Red Hat hasn't done this type of thing more often. There's no requirement that everyone be in agreement with one group's efforts--this is Open Source! Our montra is that if you don't like something, you are always free to do it your own way.

    These are the type of freedoms that take away your reasons to complain. Were we in any proprietary system, we would be at the mercy of the implementor. But as it stands here, our only limitation is time and money. These are precisely the same resources Red Hat is trying to steward just to stay in business. (Let alone, turn a profit!) So it appears we are all on the same footing.

    I wish individuals would stop complaining about someone else deciding to exercise their freedom. Life is hard, you can't always get what you want. Be happy that your rights aren't taken away. Sure we might not all like Red Hat's decisions in integrating GNOME and KDE. I'd be certain that not all on Red Hat's own desktop team are 100% happy about some of the individual decisions either.

    Just be thankful that Red Hat has even bothered to inform us of what they are doing. Obviously they are interesting in maintaining community support, but everyone should take note that this is our privilege, not our right. Certainly, Red Hat has a lot to gain by working with the community as opposed to against it or in some dark shroud of secrecy. But there is no requirement that they do this.

    In all, this is a great start on something both sides have long pondered. Frankly, both GNOME and KDE have been slow to make this type of move, although discussed much for a long while. Thank you Red Hat for once again taking the lead on a tough task, and thanks Owen for so kindly explaining how Red Hat is has decided to implement its business strategy.

  • by Graymalkin ( 13732 ) on Monday September 16, 2002 @10:34AM (#4265612)
    That "Linux is about choice" argument is getting a little stale boys. Choice is having options available to you. The ability to use both KDE and GNOME apps on the same system is condusive to having choice. However if you're stuck with two incompatible systems how productive are you REALLY going to be when you use those systems to do more than tinker on them? Red Hat moving in this direction is forward thinking and in my opinion intelligent. Consistancy is important not just for novice computer users but experienced ones as well. Most experienced users of any type of computer commit certain actions to reflexive muscle memory, when two different programs act similarly that is one less set of motions to memorize or confuse when you're in a hurry.

    There's also the important fact that GNOME and KDE are open source. I can fork both projects right now and do what I want with them. Anyone can which is the nature of the GPL. Whining because someone took your code and extended it makes the concept of open source seem a bit retarded doesn't it. People want source code for everything and it all ought to be open and free but as soon as someone changes something all hell and whining breaks loose. Red hat could have tried to contribute their changes back into both respective code trees but why should they wait? Should everyone stick with inferior kernel VM systems until they are officially included in the release tree? Come on.
  • I get the distinct impression that the Red Hat team is trying hard to not push their biases onto their users. It's fairly clear the Red Hat's developers are more adept with Gtk+/Gnome than Qt/KDE, and there's nothing wrong with that - if they were better at Qt, we'd still be having this discussion.

    When you realize you have a bias towards one group, you have two options - defend your bias and try to convince others, or work extra-hard to give the other team a fair chance. I think Red Hat is trying to give KDE a fair chance because the whole idea of Linux is to give users the right to choose.

    Maybe I was just sucked in to Red Hat's PR speech, but I really have to agree with their philosophy of providing a nearly identical UI on both WM's. It prevents novices from choosing one over the other just because of configuration differences such as single- vs. double-clicking icons. It annoys me to no end when a user tells me he/she didn't like product A because of a default setting that happened to be set differently in product B. In doing this, Red Hat may have made KDE "act like" Gnome, but I believe that it is inadvertant, just because the Red Hat team has gotten used to settings more typical to Gnome.

    Having said all that, though, think about this: If you know the difference, you can change it. If some guy who knows nothing about Linux doesn't know the difference, will he care?

  • by tarsi210 ( 70325 ) <nathanNO@SPAMnathanpralle.com> on Monday September 16, 2002 @10:35AM (#4265624) Homepage Journal
    You people!

    The real power of Open Source is NOT:
    • A variety of applications
    • Multiple configurations
    • Configurable kernels
    • Source code available
    • Community of users
    The real power of Open Source is that, despite whatever the default configuration of a system might be, you can customize it any way you want!

    I really don't care if the standard Linux desktop starts to look and act like Windows in default configurations. In fact, I encourage it. It's the only way Linux will go corporate, companies will start making software for it, and support for things like hardware and drivers will finally become what they need to be.

    As long as it retains the ability to be as configurable and adjustable as it is right now, I'm a happy man. So what if your kernel comes configured generically for every piece of hardware in the world? If you have the know-how, configure it yourself. Recompile the software, the applications, the windowing system...write your own drivers, apps, utilities. Colorize your bash prompt. Interface with the toaster.

    Remember: With Linux there is Choice. Microsoft never even bothered to give you one. Keep that philosophy in mind and we'll be all good.
  • by al3x ( 74745 ) on Monday September 16, 2002 @11:13AM (#4265911) Homepage
    I am (was?) a more die-hard Linux user than most on Slashdot. I still love Linux on the server. But the split between GNOME and KDE, and therein between GNOME 1.x and 2.x, prompted me to drop Linux as a desktop platform in favor of Mac OS X. Without focusing on the platform I switched to, let me explain.

    When actually trying to get work done, and not simply tinker around, having essentially three different widget sets and standards is a nightmare. I wasn't even using GNOME or KDE as a desktop; I used fluxbox. But some of my GNOME apps looked one way, the 2.x ones looked another, and the KDE apps yet another. Then comes trying to remember the keyboard shortcut conventions: do I shut this down with ctl-Q, ctl-x, alt-q, alt-x? On top of all this, there's the bloat of carrying around libraries for all three widget sets, and all their dependencies (and I still had a pretty stripped down install; I was running Gentoo).

    Day-to-day, this made for a truly unpleasant, unproductive, and frustrating desktop experience, without even getting into issues of stability. Many will toot the horn of diversity and choice, but in this the GNOME/KDE split is simply a massive hassle for new and experienced users alike. I'm the secretary for my college's Linux User Group, and explaining the differences between all the desktop environments confuses new users into a catatonic state, leaving them so confused they don't know where to go for what.

    I won't say that Linux can never succeed on the desktop. It just needs a shitload of work, and and the demolition of this KDE/GNOME barrier.
    • by pjrc ( 134994 ) <paul@pjrc.com> on Monday September 16, 2002 @12:39PM (#4266525) Homepage Journal
      I am (was?) a more die-hard Linux user than most on Slashdot.

      Ok, die-hard linux user....

      But the split between GNOME and KDE, and therein between GNOME 1.x and 2.x, prompted me to drop Linux as a desktop platform


      This inflamatory message (yes, mod me down, yadda, yadda) is let you know that your seld description is far from "die-hard linux user". Sorry, you're just not. It matters not that you're a secretary of your local LUG.

      Among the many things that come to mind associated with a "die-hard linux user" are:

      • Often installs "bleeding edge" unstable software, if only to know what's coming next and submit timely bug reports to developers
      • Recompiles software and/or kernels for optimum performance
      • Tends to be an developer on at least some project in at least some capacity, perhap minor tweaks or helps with writing or correcting documentation
      • Extensive use of command-line... primarily uses gui to manage multiple shells
      • Writes perl or shell scripts to automate most tasks
      • Values privacy and/or security (disables cross-site cookies, uses ad-blocking proxy, monitors unexpected outgoing traffic with firewall, etc)
      • Values philosophy of free/open-source software (perhaps in general, or perhaps strongly aligned with the GPL or BSD approach)

      Not all of these apply to all die-hard linux users, but there is a general trend here.

      Above all that, anyone who could reasonably be considered a "die-hard linux user" appreciates that the linux desktops and particularly their applications are still in their formative stages. Whereas a consumer-oriented individual looks upon bugs and deficiencies and decides to switch to a mature and polished commercial project, the "die-hard linux user" appreciates the tremendous project and even in the absence of activly contributing (even in small ways like timely bug reports on the unstable bleeding edge), at least feels a sense of "being there" as it happens.

      So the point of this little rant, is that "Lack of Unification" didn't kill your linux desktop. You killed your linux desktop when you deleted it. That's your choice to make... my only gripe involves you calling yourself a "die-hard linux user". It didn't all look the same, nice and pretty, and parts of it didn't work similarly to other parts, so you dropped it and went to the highly polished, but commercial closed-source MacOS-X desktop. How "die-hard" is that??

  • by ChrisWong ( 17493 ) on Monday September 16, 2002 @11:30AM (#4266049) Homepage
    My speculation on why, from the perspective of KDE, this sort of thing is upsetting:

    • KDE credits removed from "about" boxes. The article admits that they do not (yet) have a policy to give KDE or Gnome due credit.
    • Code fork. The article mentions code modifications. This means it will be hard to get comparable updates when new versions of KDE appear. Given Red Hat's abysmal record with providing new KDE RPMs, users will be stuck with an obsolete version of KDE.
    • Gnome favoritism. The article admits that Red Hat does a better job with Gnome than KDE, yet will not let KDE be itself.
    • Application hiding. Menus dinkered to favor non-KDE apps.
    • by Rich ( 9681 ) on Monday September 16, 2002 @01:22PM (#4266873) Homepage
      The Gnome favourism isn't a problem, that's their decision. The main problem which you've missed is that have modified the names of the service types (so you'll find that if you download a 3rd party app as source it may well break). They've also changes the linker options used to load plugins which will caused weird crashes due to symbol name conflicts (eg. I doubt the Flash plugin works in Konqueror now because it has a name-clash with the OpenGL libraries). Needless to say we're less than happy about this, especially when Owen is claiming he want KDE and Gnome to compete on stability.

      Basically it is obvious that the RedHat guys have made these changes without actually understanding what they were doing. Personally, I will be dropping any bugs reported by RH users as I won't be able to test them properly.

  • by erat ( 2665 ) on Monday September 16, 2002 @12:05PM (#4266253)
    Reading some of the posts here you'd think that making a graphic desktop look a certain way cripples power users. Unless the Linux power user community has gone completely wuss, power users should still be able to do whatever they damn well please with whatever software they install on their systems.

    If you don't like what Red Hat's doing, swap out their desktop for the one you want. If you don't like the theme, put in another one. Or simply don't use Red Hat. It seems simple to me.

    All of this makes me think back to when Caldera decided to make KDE its default desktop environment to the point of removing pretty much all the WMs they used to ship. Lots of folks cried "You're dumbing down Linux! How dare you force people to use KDE!". How making KDE the default desktop affected peoples' ability to pull up an xterm, I haven't a clue.

    And to the KDE developers who pissed and moaned over Red Hat changing their precious code, try reading the license under which KDE is distributed. Last time I checked, people were allowed to alter GPL'd code in whatever way they wanted and re-distribute their version provided they made their patches available. I don't recall the GPL saying "you can change the code all you want as long as you don't change anything from the way we distributed it". You chose the license, sunshine. If you don't like what Red Hat did, cry me a river but don't expect me to sympathise with you. I'm not a huge fan of Red Hat (truth be told, I don't like their products at all), but what they're doing is something you and the GNOME folks have been allowed WAY too much time to take care of but did not. Both teams dropped the ball (or at least dragged your asses), so don't whine when someone else steps in and does the right thing. If you want it done your way, stop complaining and do it.

    'Nuff said.
  • by nagora ( 177841 ) on Monday September 16, 2002 @01:18PM (#4266836)
    This sort of thing leads (and is intended to lead) to convergence: all Linux apps/desktops/installs look and act the same. This is the logical end point of the "Aunt Tilly" movement because Aunt Tilly won't understand the concept of "distros". The ordinary user all you "standard desktop" fans keep going on about will come to equate Linux with the system they learnt on (prob RH). Then, in the quest to protect them from ever having to think again, you'll have to make all Linux desktops look and feel like the one most people learn on (ie RH).

    Eventually, as with Windows and MacOS today, overhauling the system will become next to impossible (Apple pulled it off but it was a last gasp effort, like the Mac itself, before the company flatlined). If new ideas in desktop design come along they will be ignored not because they are not good but because they are different.

    That is not a future I'm interested in for Linux and if the cost of avoiding that was that Linux never made it to the big-time on the desktop then that would be a sacrifice I'd be happy to make.

    But, it doesn't even have to mean that. All this crap about KDE/GNOME is missing the truth:


    As many people here have said, the ordinary user just wants to get work done. Think about what that means (better yet, go and look at real users working in their offices). The normal user does not use the desktop. They use the Start menu but even that is because they have to. If they really had what they need it would be a screen with maybe six big buttons on it marked "Word Processor","Spread Sheet", "Email", "Web","Print Queue", and one custom button for whatever other app they use in their work (Quick Books, Photoshop, Quark, whatever).

    These buttons would be for restarting the given app if it crashes; in normal use a window for each app would be started up on boot.

    Give them a handy way to switch between them and that's all 90% of Windows users would ever want or need.

    I know this because I've done it. WindowMaker can set this up very easily and it takes about 3 minutes to turn a Windows User into a Linux User like this, for the simple reason that the desktop is not what people use all day, every day. If you have the apps (and OpenOffice has gone a long way on this) they don't give a toss what the desktop is doing.

    KDE and GNOME are not things normal users need! Power users like systems like KDE/Gnome because they are useful for handling large numbers of apps and file locations. Normal office users don't have lots of apps and keep all their files in "My Documents".

    The only thing convergence does is ossify the system and make life harder for power users who want to be able pick and choose their environments to suit their, minority, needs.

    So: package KDE, Gnome, WindowMaker, ICEbox, and as many other desktops with your distro that you can fit onto the CD, make them all options during install, and make the default choice one the simplest with a handfull of icons already set up to start the "usual" apps and leave Linux to celebrate diversity while Windows fades away as new ideas and innovations pass it by because they are "too radical" for users.


"An organization dries up if you don't challenge it with growth." -- Mark Shepherd, former President and CEO of Texas Instruments