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Torvalds Says 'Use KDE' 1469

An anonymous reader writes "Without tip-toeing around the matter, Linus Torvalds made his preference in the GNOME vs. KDE matter quite clear on the GNOME-usability list: "I personally just encourage people to switch to KDE. This 'users are idiots, and are confused by functionality' mentality of Gnome is a disease. If you think your users are idiots, only idiots will use it. I don't use Gnome, because in striving to be simple, it has long since reached the point where it simply doesn't do what I need it to do. Please, just tell people to use KDE." Also, "Gnome seems to be developed by interface nazis, where consistently the excuse for not doing something is not 'it's too complicated to do', but 'it would confuse users'.""
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Torvalds Says 'Use KDE'

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  • by TripMaster Monkey ( 862126 ) * on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @10:19AM (#14246014)

    Let me get the ball rolling here...

    All the Gnome users I've ever known fall into one of three distinct classifictions:
    1. They don't know about KDE as an alternative.
    2. They hold up their Gnome use as a macho Linux status symbol (when asked why they don't use KDE, they shrug and say, "Bah....I do all my work from the shell anyway...).
    3. They suffer from a deep-seated need to punish themselvs for some reason.

    • by Geopoliticus ( 126152 ) * on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @10:21AM (#14246041)
      I must be number 3... and I do all of my work from the shell anyway. :)
      • Moi aussi.

        People see me doing that sometimes, and wonder why I'm going through so much trouble. I have a hard time convincing them that once you've learned it, the shell is far more efficient. (Especially since I type fast.)

        I do have a handful of shortcut FVWMButtons on the left side of my screen (virtual screens, clock, xterm, emacs, etc.) for my most-used things, but, yeah, when I have to really do something with the filesystem, give me a shell I know how to use anyway.

        • by drgonzo59 ( 747139 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @02:42PM (#14248604)
          Actually research kind of supports what you say. In an Human Computer Interface (HCI) graduate class I took a couple of years ago we read a paper that compared how people did the same task using a text console and a point-and-click interface (mostly copying, renaming, moving and creating files). It turns out at first people figure out the point and click interface faster but they are more likely to remember how to do all those tasks using a command line. In other words the researchers called those people back a week later and the ones who were using the command line remembered better how to do the tasks.

          As far as the whole KDE vs. GNOME thing, I was using KDE for the longest time because it had all those option and all the flash. But when I installed Ubuntu, started to login more often with GNOME and eventually switched compeletely to GNOME. The problem the way I see it is this. KDE seems to try to look and act like Windows - because it wants to cater to the people who switched over from Windows and doesn't want to confuse them. Windows interface though is broken if you ask most HCI people. GNOME is trying to do the right thing and follow the best HCI practices. These, at first might confuse people, but after a little getting used to they will find themselves being more productive.

          The best UI(Desktop) if you ask me is Mac's OS X. It is the most consistent and the most minimalistic. Apple has invested more than anyone in their interface design and it pays off, also it show what a good interface should be. I think GNOME is closer to Mac OS X than KDE.

          But on the same note I am not a UI religious fanaticl. If KDE 4.0 comes out with an imporoved look and works better and can be made more minimal I would use KDE (or whatever comes along that gets the job done faster).

        • by AndyL ( 89715 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @07:43PM (#14251906)
          I do most everything from terminal windows. However, I usualy keep Gnome Terminal's "translucent" backgrounds on so I can see my desktop wallpaper and pretend I'm actualy getting my money's worth out of my expensive monitors.

          In college I had the following conversation with some guy on the same floor as me :

          Dude: Hey man, what's that game I always see you playing?
          Me: Grand Theft Auto?
          Dude: No man, on the computer.
          Me: Actualy, ... Nevermind. Grand Theft is pretty much all I've been playing recently.
          Dude: No, that other game. Every time I walk past your room you're always playing it.
          Me: ...
          Dude: That game with all the words and shit.

      • My Opinion (Score:5, Funny)

        by Tighe_L ( 642122 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @10:59AM (#14246427) Homepage
        I can sum it up quickly: While KDE has much better applications, and has a nice Kontrol Panel, QT is bloated and slow. Gnome's applications are underdeveloped and lack the features that KDE's applications have, GTK2 is quite fast. Personally I use Gentoo and set my use flags to comple GTK2 support and remove QT support, and for user interface I use fluxbox and aterm. This is quite fast and works well for me. I assume that Linus is refering to newbee's to and kind of _nix. I personally will not be using KDE, I don't care what Linus says, who made him Jesus? I am sure that Jesus would use a command prompt. Hello? 10 Commandments??
    • by Ravalox ( 640829 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @10:25AM (#14246083)
      I respectfully disagree, I like KDE but there is absolutely a need for simplification in the linux world. I think Gnome was chosen for Ubuntu, for example, for very sound reasons. The notion that simplifying your interface being an idiot attractor is true, but that's not a bad thing. Idiots are people too, when we talk about our interfaces and what software we like we have to understand that we are perhaps an exlusive 8 percent of the world population, if that. There are a lot of people out there that haven't had the educational opportunities we enjoy. Giving them free software they can use seems like something we shouldn't sneer at.
      • by Andy Dodd ( 701 ) <atd7&cornell,edu> on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @01:06PM (#14247825) Homepage
        While there should definately be effort put into making something simpler for new users to use, it should NOT ever be used as an excuse to remove functionality beneficial to those who have more experience.

        Three words - Metacity edge flipping (or more appropriately, the lack thereof). Edge flipping is an incredibly popular feature with experienced users, and while I agree that it should be off by default because it can be confusing, that is NOT an excuse to turn the window manager into crippleware by completely removing that feature. (The only other options are to give up some UI consistency with the rest of Gnome by using xfwm4 and possibly introducing significant compatibility issues such as by using sawfish. Another option was brightside, but it was always a hack designed to work around missing functionality in Metacity that should be there.)

        Sadly, my favorite IM client Gaim has also given in to the crippleware mentality... Numerous features are not only hidden or off by default in Gaim 2 (which I could completely understand), but they have been completely removed.

        I still use GNOME for now - I'm still angry with the KDE developers' cavalier attitude towards the GPL (remember, KDE was not legal until TrollTech changed the Qt license - the KDE developers could have acknowledged the problem and fixed it by adding an exception for Qt to their license, which I believe is allowed by the GPL if all contributors consent to it, but instead they chose to ignore the issue for over a year.), plus I think GNOME looks better for now. Unfortunately, I may need to change soon because GNOME has been becoming less and less useful to me as the years have gone by.
      • by Octorian ( 14086 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @03:46PM (#14249342) Homepage
        If you oversimply the GUI interface, then you are limiting yourself to basically two user groups: "grandma" and "the ubergeek who can drop to the shell and do it all there"

        The problem is that for MANY windows users (who actually know how to use Windows), this paradigm is *useless*. They need a useful and configurable GUI that actually exposes all the options, and would be able to FIGURE IT OUT. (while "dropping to the shell and poking at config files" would probably still baffle them)
    • by soren42 ( 700305 ) * <> on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @12:08PM (#14247236) Homepage Journal
      I don't know... for my money, it just doesn't get any better than the flamewar on the mailing list. Nothing like Linus calling Gnomers "interface nazis" and Nat calling KDE'ers "feature sluts (who never saw a checkbox they didn't love)".

      Hilarious... I love these guys - that was a great laugh for the day.
  • by YodaToo ( 776221 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @10:21AM (#14246035)
    ..."Use Windows."
    • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @10:33AM (#14246175) Journal

      ..."Use Windows."

      No, but it's more important what he didn't say then what he did. I for one, can't help but notice how he left out the GNU in "GNU/KDE". Oh wait....


      • by billybob2 ( 755512 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @12:01PM (#14247155)
        Mark Shuttleworth [] and now Linus Torvalds seem realize the value of KDE's superior architecture, on which which many must-have KDE apps. These apps don't have any gnome equivalents that are nearly as useful and feature-rich:

        AmaroK music player [] -- The most feature-rich and polished music player on the Free Software platform.

        K3b [] -- Best CD and DVD authoring program with intuitive wizards, on the fly transcoding between WAV, MP3, FLAC, and Ogg Vorbis, normalization of volume levels, CDDB, DVD Ripping and DivX/XviD encoding, Save/load projects, automatic hardware detection/calibration and much more.

        DigiKam [] -- The most feature-rich application for digital photo management.

        Wireless Assistant [] -- Most user-friendly app for connecting to wireless networks. Managed Networks Support, WEP Encryption Support, Per Network (AP) Configuration Profiles, Automatic (DHCP, both dhcpcd and dhclient) and manual configuration options, Connection status monitoring, etc

        KDE Education [] -- Educational (Science, Literature, Geography, etc) programs for children. Could play a big role in whether school districts decide to use Free Software in their classrooms.

        Konqueror File Manager [] -- Embeded image/PDF/music/video viewing (via KMPlayer []) and a tree-view arrangement of the filesystem familiar to Windows users (Nautilus doesn't come anywhere close)

        KDE Control Center [] -- Centralized location for desktop control. Controls _all_ common aspects of the KDE applications: language, power settings, special effects, icon and window themes, shadows, shortcuts, printers, privacy, etc. This is what makes KDE so well integrated -- all KDE apps respect changes made here, so they all have the same feel. SUSE has even made YAST a module of the KDE control center so users can access distro-specific settings from here. Compare this to the dismembered approach Red Hat (and other gnome distros) have been forced to adopt in the absence of a centralized gnome control center. (ie. a bunch of individial programs named redhat-config-**** that nobody can ever remember)

        Seamless, transparent network file access [] on SMB, FTP, SSH and WebDav networks from _any_ KDE application.

        Kaffeine [] -- The most polished FOSS movie player.

        MythTV [] -- The most advanced analog and digital TV viewer/recorder in the Free Software world (built using QT).

        Baghira [] -- A native QT style that faithfully imitates OS X eyecandy, aimed at new users coming from the Mac world.

        Klik [] -- Gives non-expert access to bleeding edge versions of apps without requiring any compilation or permanent installation.

        KDE and QT also make up a technically superior platform for developers, drastically lowering the learning curve for programmers new to FOSS development. KDE apps can be built from the ground up using the best development tools in the Free Software world (which also happen to be built on QT/KDE):

        Kdevelop [] for syntax highliting, application templates, and project organization.

        QT designer [] for GUI development

        Quanta [] -- Rich web development environment for PHP, CSS, DocBook, HTML, XML, etc with advanced context sensitive autocompletion, internal preview and more.
    • by Midnight Thunder ( 17205 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @10:40AM (#14246222) Homepage Journal
      Well this could be the other argument: "Gnome is for idiots, KDE is too, for that matter any windowing system is designed with idiots in mind. They are just dumbed down. My choice is CLI, there are so many programs written for it and it is not intuitive at all, just like a system interface should be."
      • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @10:46AM (#14246286) Journal

        Well this could be the other argument: "Gnome is for idiots, KDE is too, for that matter any windowing system is designed with idiots in mind. They are just dumbed down. My choice is CLI, there are so many programs written for it and it is not intuitive at all, just like a system interface should be."

        Laugh, but when I built my first Linux system I got by for almost two years with just the CLI because X wasn't stable enough in those days to run on my crappy Compaq hardware.

        ircII epic, a cmdline IM client whose name I can't recall, pine, and MCL. Yeah, I spent most of my time on the internet playing MUDs and chatting on IRC. But I was more then happy with my CLI only Linux box. I didn't even need to boot into Windows to do my banking -- because back in those days my credit union had a dial-in system. They supplied front end software but you could easily access it through minicom if you wanted to.

        In fact, other then Firefox and a Word Processor I could almost get by with a CLI only environment in this day and age.

  • Sod Gnome & KDE (Score:3, Informative)

    by madaxe42 ( 690151 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @10:21AM (#14246043) Homepage
    Get E! []
  • Dude, FVWM (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rknop ( 240417 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @10:22AM (#14246052) Homepage
    I stopped using either a while back, because both of them required too many mouse clicks and interface searching to get them to do what I wanted, and to clone the setup from place to place. Give me an ASCII configuration file that I can just copy any day. No, it's not "user friendly," but it's Geek friendly. I can read the docs.

    I've even started setting up new accounts on my machines using FVWM with a sane default configuration. People tend not to futz with their configurations too much anyway, and the startup time and resource usage is just much less without the overhead of KDE. And, what's more, these are all grad students in Physics, and I *want* them to get facile with Unix. They really ought to know enough Perl to read and write files and manipulate numbers, and know a little programming. Having to figure out text configuration files would be a good exercise, as whiny as it may make them....

    Not for everybody, but certainly for me. As a geek, I much prefer FVWM to the overhead of Gnome or even KDE.

    • by RobotRunAmok ( 595286 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @10:29AM (#14246132)
      They really ought to know enough Perl to read and write files and manipulate numbers, and know a little programming. Having to figure out text configuration files would be a good exercise, as whiny as it may make them....

      Linux on The Desktop: Death by Evangelism.

    • Re:Dude, FVWM (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SCHecklerX ( 229973 ) <> on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @10:48AM (#14246311) Homepage
      The problem, of course, is that many apps these days require the gnome libs to run. Look at firefox as an example. Pretty much any GTK2 app will want gnome-settings-daemon running. I personally use Windowmaker with ROX, but I still have to have the gnome daemons running to ensure that fonts and such are rendering properly. This combined with rox now using a window for its pinboard (this is apparently the new standard way to do things ... KDE does it too) instead of the root window is annoying. Now I can't have a screen saver or movie running on the root while I work, nor can I easily pin up a windowmaker menu, since releasing the button now makes the menu disappear (I know, don't use a pinboard).

      I'd be happy if all of the 'framework' crap just went away and developers would just use standard communication methods between programs. XDnD and XDS are plenty for me, and don't require a friggin' background process.
  • In defense of Gnome (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ultrabot ( 200914 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @10:23AM (#14246059)
    Actually, Gnome works "well enough" these days. It does what I want it to do. This is on Ubuntu. KDE is arguably better, but I don't care much at this point, since Gnome is the better maintained one on Ubuntu.

    I'd love to have Konqueror as a file manager, but also this is in lesser extent than previously. Gnome just doesn't suck anymore :-).
    • by RootsLINUX ( 854452 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {xunilstoor}> on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @10:47AM (#14246306) Homepage
      You can use Konquerer as your file manager while in Gnome. I use it for my Debian machine running fluxbox. The reason why I prefer Gnome over KDE these days is because KDE installs all this useless crap that I don't want on my machine. Seriously, some of their micro-apps are just pointless and a waste of space. Best example: "keyes". Who wants to run a program where two eyeballs are constantly following my mouse around the screen? Seriously...
    • by delete ( 514365 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @10:52AM (#14246366)
      The parent makes an interesting about the importance of how well a desktop is maintained on a given distribution. While one may say that either Gnome or KDE is a better, the end-user experience for many users is largely dependent on the integration and packaging done by a particular distribution. As an extreme example, consider the largely unusable KDE packages that Redhat shipped two years ago. Personally I've found that a "polished" and well-integrated version of a given desktop (e.g. Ubuntu on Gnome, KDE on SuSE) is always superior to a poorly maintained desktop, no matter how HCI-compliant or feature-packed that desktop may be.

      For many people, the choice of whether to use KDE or Gnome will be automatically dictated by the distribution that they happen to choose. After all, most people aren't particularly concerned with pseudo-religious debates concerning Gtk v Qt or C v C++, especially since we seem to have so many zealots in the real world these days.
  • by metlin ( 258108 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @10:23AM (#14246061) Journal
    It depends on what you're using it for.

    Are you a geek, who wants a productive interface? KDE is the way to go - actually, I prefer Windowmaker myself.

    OTOH, are you an end user who wants a simplified UI? Gnome is the way to go.

    Linus, obviously, is a geek and chooses the former. However, that does not make the choice universal.

    That's the best part about Linux and Open Source in general, isn't it? The freedom to choose and use what suits you the best?
    • by IAmTheDave ( 746256 ) <> on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @10:44AM (#14246267) Homepage Journal
      Are you a geek, who wants a productive interface? KDE is the way to go - actually, I prefer Windowmaker myself. OTOH, are you an end user who wants a simplified UI? Gnome is the way to go.

      See, I disagree. As a bit of a power user - or at least not your average end user - most of what I do beyond normal desktop applications, surfing, and word processing involves a terminal window.

      I suffer from mild OCD, and to me simplicity means calm, it means an enhanced ability to concentrate, and it means a better experience overall. KDE, to me, seems so incredibly cluttered and overreaching/overbearing that I shy away from it at every possible moment.

      So again, this goes back to simply a matter of preference. Some like KDE, some like Gnome, some like E, but here's my problem. For Linus to get involved in this is just wrong. He can say he uses KDE, that's fine, but to put down Gnome as detrimental to society is base, ill-informed, and callus. If people don't like Gnome, fine, let them be. But this "disease" of which he speaks affects my mom and grandparents, and yeah, they sure as hell can find their way around a Gnome base installation better and faster than they can around KDE base installation.

      So instead of Linus putting down Gnome, he should have simply stated what he used and left it at that. He practically started the entire "choice" movement, and to not encourage such choice is just not right... IMO of course.

    • by arkanes ( 521690 ) <arkanes@gma i l . c om> on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @10:45AM (#14246279) Homepage
      I'm a geek who likes productivity and I use Gnome. It's nicer looking, and cleaner. Which is not to say that it's lack of customization doesn't piss me off, and I've tried moving to KDE a few times, but KDEs look & feel is just... icky. Lack of consistent artwork, busy interfaces, lots of popuppy balloony things (the animated tooltips on the Kicker drive me insane - I want the tooltips, but I want small simple ones, not enormous ones with special effects). When someone manages to ship Gnome with the power of KDE, or KDE with the consistency and cleanliness of Gnome, please call me. I still use a few KDE applications - Amarok is way better than Rythmbox, and I switch between KDevelop and Anjuta depending on what I'm doing.
  • Havoc's Response (Score:5, Informative)

    by chennes ( 263526 ) * on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @10:23AM (#14246062) Homepage
    Gnome developer Havoc Pennington's response [] points out that "reducing complexity" was not, in fact, the reason the particular dialog in question doesn't have all the options Linux wanted:

    "Just for the record, since I made this decision I can tell you that 'might confuse people' was not the reason. More evidence for my point that 'might confuse people' is the reason made up by others, not the reason given by the decision makers."

    Which is not to say that Linus is wrong (in the e-mail he writes that "If this was a one-off, I'd buy it. But I've heard it too damn many times. And only ever from Gnome.") -- I'm not a big fan of Gnome's lack of features (at least as compared to KDE), but it's not like anyone on Slashdot really conforms to the "average computer user" concept. And Linus surely doesn't either. Maybe Gnome is better for Mom and Grandpa. I'll stick with KDE, myself.
    • by Stalyn ( 662 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @10:47AM (#14246299) Homepage Journal
      In order to turn off the ugly minimizing animation that comes with metacity you actually have edit the code and cut out the relevant part*. People have submitted patches to make this an option but all have been refused. Linus is right. Gnome developers don't care about their users. I still use Gnome cause I like the look and feel but if you want to change certain parts you basically have to either edit the code or use their system registry editor. In a twisted sense, Gnome is for power users.

      *There might be an option to turn this off in the system registry but it also turns off other features. For example a window now turns into a wireframe when you drag it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @10:25AM (#14246085)
    slashdot reports.
  • by amightywind ( 691887 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @10:25AM (#14246087) Journal

    Linus is increasingly 'out there' in his hyperbolic statements. First the BitKeeper fiasco, now the start of a new Gnome/KDE flamewar. Ever read his daily postings on kernel trap? They are obnoxious. I am surprised the kernel effort holds together as well as it does. I personally take his statements on Gnome as anti-advice. He is becoming a most unsafe guardian. Can anyone imagine who would lead the kernel effort if Linus was shoved aside?

    • by webwalker ( 15831 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @10:35AM (#14246189) Homepage
      I've been noting it over a about a three year period. His early humility that many found attractive in a leader has given way to the hubris typical of someone like RMS. (Smarts have nothing to do with it; they will only get you so far.)

      I've used KDE and GNOME and presently use GNOME at home and at work because it meets my modest needs. Perhaps KDE has improved drastically since I used it in the SUSE 8 days; then it was so unstable I could cause it to crash by staring at the screen too hard. GNOME is more bloated than I'd like, and occasionally wonky if you are the type that wants to hole up in a dark closet, under a blanket and "play with yourself", reconfiguring your desktop repeatedly because you don't have any real work to do. If I leave the config alone, it is stable and doesn't give me any grief.

      Perhaps I'll take the plunge and switch to KDE when the next Ubuntu rolls. But it would be a shock for my wife, who I have finally gotten broken in to GNOME. She operates in both the Windows and GNOME desktop environments, and doesn't have to (and doesn't WANT to) drop to the command line in either.
      • by slavemowgli ( 585321 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @11:08AM (#14246551) Homepage
        As far as Linus is concerned (I won't comment on the KDE vs. Gnome thing)... well, I'm not sure which Linus you have looked at, but the idea that "early humility" changed to "hubris" over the course of a "three year period" is pretty bizarre. Linus has always had strong opinions on stuff, and he's never been afraid to voice them (remember his discussion with Tanenbaum about the merits of monolithic kernels in general and Linux in particular? That was in early 1992, almost 14 years ago.

        Really, the only thing that has changed is how people perceive Linus. He used to be just another guy; nowadays, he's a celebrity of sorts, and he's going through all the same phases that all celebrities go through: first, there is a horde of fanboys who religiously follow everything he says, but at a certain point, it becomes en vogue to religiously bash him and everything he says instead. This is the transition you're observing (and, for that matter, that you seem to be part of), but it's important to realise that it has nothing to with Linus or his opinions as such. (I predict that later on, things will slowly return to normal after bashing him is not the "hot new thing" anymore; and then, he will be idolised again, until the whole cycle repeats itself.)

        If you actually read what Linus says - not just on this topic, but in general -, you'll notice one thing: he himself doesn't care. What he *does* care about is technical superiority and the like, but not politics; as such, he never has been afraid to speak his opinion, and he isn't right now, either, and - maybe most important! - he doesn't expect people to take it as anything except for the opinion of one guy.

        You should do the same thing. If Gnome works for you and your wife - fine! More power to you. And if Gnome does not work for Linus - fine! More power to him! It's OK to have a discussion about the technical merits (and if you read what Linus said, you'll find that he actually bases his opinions on technical merit pretty much all the time, and certainly in this issue, too), but the kind of celebrity-bashing you're exhibiting here is just as bad as the celebrity-adoring that you mourn in others. Make up your own mind based on what you need; and discuss technical merits, but leave it at that, and respect the fact that others don't agree with you.
    • by Sketch ( 2817 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @10:49AM (#14246327) Homepage
      Linus is posting exactly the same as he always had: He says what he thinks, and doesn't pull any punches when doing so. If you think this is "new" behaviour for Linus, you haven't been around long enough. You might want to read this little exchange from 1992: pa.html []

    • by jandrese ( 485 ) * <> on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @10:51AM (#14246353) Homepage Journal
      Cripes guys, I must not be reading his statement the same way you are. To me, Linus said "Eh, I don't much like Gnome, they oversimplified it, when people ask I tell them I prefer KDE now", to everyone else it's some sort of prophetic revelation from God or something.
  • by Rotten ( 8785 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @10:26AM (#14246089) Journal
    I do all my stuff in the console anyway....wich shell does linus recommend?
  • by munehiro ( 63206 ) * on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @10:26AM (#14246092) Journal
    I think Torvalds is the prototype of power-user.
    A large part of gimmicks and interface nazism in today interfaces aims at the average or lower-than-average user. As a long time kde user switched to apple, I quickly realized that most of the use-cases I was used to were difficult to obtain with the OSX interface.

    Is that a real problem? Dumb people want dumb interfaces. Smart people want smart interfaces. Give a dumb interface to a smart guy, and you obtain the Torvalds situation. Give a smart interface to a dumb guy and all you'll obtain is whining about its complexity.
    • by igb ( 28052 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @10:44AM (#14246264)
      Dumb people want dumb interfaces. Smart people want smart interfaces.
      Is that true? I've got 20 years of Unix use behind me, and I've used the whole gamut from Suntools through NeWS through a variety of X options (olwm, olvwm, twm, fvwm) and then Gnome (on Linux and Solaris) and KDE (on Linux). I don't think I ever used Motif for more than a day or so, and I never used Nextstep.

      I've recently switched to a Mac, and I find the UI rather fine. Indeed, I've started using, having never found a GUI mailer I liked (I used MH for about fifteen years, then five years of Mutt).

      My seven year old also likes Macs. She's found switching the dock to the left and changing her wallpaper easy, and she's very fond of Dashboard.

      I think it's quite possible to have a GUI that suits all needs.


    • by Karma Farmer ( 595141 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @12:23PM (#14247403)
      You're confused. You assume that dumb interfaces are simple, and smart interfaces are complex. In fact, the opposite is almost always true.
  • by MarkEst1973 ( 769601 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @10:26AM (#14246098)
    Don't Make Me Think! [] by Steve Krug is an awesome book that all software developers should read.

    The goal is simplicity in all things. Someone shouldn't have to think about what is going on, it should be obvious.

    The most interesting thing about that book is that the author applies the same principles he espouses for websites to the book. The book is very easily digestible. So, if it works for the web and it works for the book... what else can it apply to? If you follow this train of thought to its logical conclusion you'll realize it applies to lots and lots of things: your code, desktops, phone VRUs, brochures, etc.

    Linus is a smart guy and I respect him, but the goal is simple.

    • by arkanes ( 521690 ) <arkanes@gma i l . c om> on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @10:54AM (#14246389) Homepage
      Theres a fine line between "make it simple" and "make it stupid". It's a hard line to walk, and I think Torvalds is right that Gnome has moved too far to the stupid region (disclaimer: I'm a Gnome user). Simple interfaces are fine as long as the functionality is simple, or there is no need for customization. Phones are in fact an excellent example - we've come a long way from needing to wind your phone up and whistle to clear the lines, but as we add functionality to phones the interfaces have either become more complex (cell phones) or lagged behind the features (most desktop phones). There is nothing wrong with customization, and I like the power of KDE in that respect. The much-maligned Gnome file dialog is a great example of the problems in Gnome. The old one was really, really, really horribly bad. The new one is simply barely adequate. The interface designers at Gnome really read too much into thier title - they want to change the way you interface with the computer (see spatial browsing for a classic example of the reasoning) instead of assisting you to interface on your own terms.
  • by nlinecomputers ( 602059 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @10:26AM (#14246099)
    I run my own computer business and supporting idiot users is something I must do everyday. I prefer KDE but I think many users can benefit from gnome. I think many can use a Mac easier then Windows. There is merit to having a GUI that is KISS.
  • by Vexler ( 127353 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @10:26AM (#14246101) Journal
    Gnome has always seemed to me to be a UI made to look excessively [fill in the blank]: Cute, shiny, hiding the ugly (but important) functional details underneath a glossy appearance. I started using Gnome initially when I didn't know about KDE. I switched over to KDE when I realized that KDE gives me more flexibility to customize the UI to my heart's desire, whereas Gnome is starting to look more like what Windows would have looked like had Bill Gates ported that UI to run on *nix platforms.
  • From TFA... (Score:5, Funny)

    by The Amazing Fish Boy ( 863897 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @10:27AM (#14246107) Homepage Journal
    "Please, just tell people to use KDE.

    "Use vi, too. And vote Democrat. Oh, and cats are better than dogs. You know what else? Abortion should be legal. So should euthenasia. And as for toast? Butter side up!"
  • From his message:

    it has long since reached the point where it simply doesn't do what I need it to do.

    Everybody is entitled to his or her opinion, but Linux has grown beyond the scope of "just" Linus Torvalds. The freedom of choice that we enjoy as users of the operating system is among its finest attributes.

    Is it possible that Gnome and KDE are simply designed for different audiences? Newbies and other users may enjoy the more straightforward approach that the Gnome developers strive for. Slightly more advanced users such as Linus may prefer a different UI. (I kid, I kid!)
  • He's right, you know (Score:5, Informative)

    by Tom ( 822 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @10:29AM (#14246127) Homepage Journal
    In 1998, I was a very active participant on the Gnome UI mailing list. In fact, the very first Gnome User Interface Guideline was in part based on my proposed one (google for "Rogue GNOME style guide" if you care about the details).

    Two things shocked me back then, and from Linus comments it appears that neither of them have changed.

    One is that Gnome has a ton of great contributors - and just as many who are not as great. Unfortunately, in areas where the matter is more discussion and consensus based and you can't prove your point by just coding it, the vocal trolls crowd out the valuable contributors.

    Two is that within those who contributed the the UI discussion there was a surprising lack not only of experience in the HCI field (ok, I had just started out there myself) but also a strong resistance to pick up the vast literature available or trust in actual end-user studies.

    The last was what caused me to quit. How can you design a user interface without talking to the users? You can't. Anyone working in HCI knows that. Assumptions == Disaster
  • Why I use Gnome (Score:4, Informative)

    by The Bubble ( 827153 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @10:30AM (#14246143) Homepage
    Typically a user of the SuSE distribution, I have had the opportunity to use very good implementations of both KDE and Gnome. I have no qualms with saying that KDE has some nice applications (AmaroK stands out). In fact, at one point, I was using KDE because Nautilus could not interface with a specific BSD SFTP server, while Konqueror could; but when I figured out how to do it, I switched back to Gnome. I like Gnome because it feels _designed_, whereas KDE simply feels like a hacked~together copy of Windows. Granted, there are obvious differences, and even improvements, but, while individual applications in Gnome may be behind the similar applications in KDE, I see in Gnome to be something far greater than what KDE will be. I use Gnome because of the future I see for it: I want to be a part of what gets it there.
  • by grasshoppa ( 657393 ) <skennedy@tpno-co.oLISPrg minus language> on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @10:31AM (#14246152) Homepage
    So stop taking what he says as gospel. Yes, he is incredibly intelligent. And yes, he has a very good grasp about what's going on most of the time.

    However, this is the same guy that got upset at the Samba guy for reversing bitkeeper.

    I'm not arguing with his statement, btw. I've always liked KDE better than gnome. What I am saying is let the poor man have his opinion without starting a flame war.
    • by Loundry ( 4143 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @11:06AM (#14246530) Journal
      So stop taking what he says as gospel. Yes, he is incredibly intelligent. And yes, he has a very good grasp about what's going on most of the time. However, this is the same guy that got upset at the Samba guy for reversing bitkeeper.

      You are bucking against human nature. Linus is an authority figure, and whatever he says will instantly be heavily-laden with the appeal to authority. People are easily influenced by authority. How else should they make their decisions? By relying on their own incomplete experience? By trusting their own faulty judgement? By following their peers who are tainted with the same faults? Obeying some impersonal authority figure seems just as good if not better than any of those other choices, and the fact that authority figures are obeyed proves this.

      I'm not stating that authority figures *should* be obeyed, only that they are by the virtue of the "bugs" in the human mind. Nor am I attempting to make a misanthropic argument. I'm just trying to point out that we are all influenced by authority, and that it's probably more powerful than you realize.
  • by Balinares ( 316703 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @10:36AM (#14246197)
    I was pleasantly surprised to see KDE developpers rally to GNOME's cause [], or at least, advocate the use of GNOME for those for whom it works, regardless of their own opinion. Both DEs are there to stay and the sooner people accept this, the sooner we can build a strong integration layer and move on toward world domination. (Which is why the GNOME people really should get rid of Ximian and its DE fundamentalists if they want to make any progress, by the way -- at least until Ximian gets out of their corporate-love funk and re-learn the OSS virtues of collaboration...)
  • by Andabata ( 778566 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @10:37AM (#14246199) mber/msg00027.html [] Just a sample: We're not aiming for "powerfully extensible". We're aiming for "Just Works". Some people will hate that. Some will love it. Personally, I'd rather have passionate users, lovers and haters, than be than average and ignored, and I think you'll find most GNOME developers feel the same way. Personally, I think Linus ought to know better by now than put out a self-centered post like that. There are more users in the world than just geeks. Most aren't geeks, in fact. For Linux on the Desktop to survive beyond the lifespan of its proponents, it needs to acknowledge that, not fall trap of intestinal power struggles.
    • by 10Ghz ( 453478 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @11:10AM (#14246574)
      Personally, I think Linus ought to know better by now than put out a self-centered post like that. There are more users in the world than just geeks.

      He had an opinion on the subject-matter, and he stated it. You are free to disagree with his opinion, but does that mean that he shouldn't voice his opinion? And I don't really see what the fuzz is about. There are quite a few people around the net who are irritated by the removal of features in Gnome. Apparently Linus is one of them. There are also lots of people who prefer KDE, and apparently Linus is one of them.

      Aside from being an moral-booster for the KDE-guys, I fail to see the drama in this case. Linus doesn't like GNOME. And he told why he doesn't like GNOME, and his reasons are valid. He's not ordering people to use KDE. He simply said that he recommends KDE over GNOME, and he stated his reasons for doing so. Does this mean that the GNOME-guys are going to pack their bags and start using KDE instead? No. GNOME doesn't need Linus's endorsement to survive.

      Like I said, I fail to see the drama here. Is Linus being "self-centered" when he said that "I prefer KDE over GNOME"? That's his personal opinion, and they are all in a way "self-centered", and there's nothing wrong with that. Surely he's entitled to his opinion?
  • by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @10:38AM (#14246209)
    A clean and simple desktop isn't just for "idiots". Personally I like a desktop which puts 95% of the functionality that most users are ever likely to need in front of them and hides the rest. If I as a power user (which I am) absolutely positively need to do something not in the UI I can simply drop to the command line or even write my own power tools for the job.

    KDE is too keen to put every single bloody option whether advanced or not straight in your face, rendering it a pain to find the simple settings. Not only that but the defaults are horrible including the single-click-to-launch paradigm. I spent a good while looking to change that behaviour, foolishly thinking it might set be somewhere desktop prefs which it isn't - it's in the mouse settings. On top of that, you only have to look at Konq or KMail and you'll see six or seven menu items in a row starting with Configure.

    The one thing you can hand to KDE is that it is consistent, but it sorely needs to be streamlined. It's not hard to see why enterprise versions of Linux use GNOME - it's so much simpler and cleaner. I truly expect that supporting 100 KDE users would be significantly more work work than 100 GNOME users.

  • by wild_berry ( 448019 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @10:40AM (#14246231) Journal
    Nat Friedman's follow-up to Linus' post is grown-up and sensible ( ember/msg00025.html []):

    On Mon, 2005-12-12 at 17:46 -0800, Linus Torvalds wrote:
    > I personally just encourage people to switch to KDE.

    Everyone on this list knows the Linux desktop is in a "pick your poison" state right now.

    Anyone who's used Linux for a year has experienced this, whatever choices they've made of desktop environment, settings, etc.

    We can snipe at each other all day long. (Linus, every time I copy large files between devices on my Linux system my mouse pointer skips. It works fine on my Mac). That's not productive.

    Usability is important. Usability encompasses multiple things: functionality, robustness, performance, sensible user interface design. We all need to do a better job of this (insert usability testing/ plug here).

    Yes, some GNOME developers are self-appointed control freak antifeature nazis who've stripped functionality in pursuit of some theoretical "non geek" user who does not exist, thereby crippling their software.

    And probably some KDE developers are feature sluts who never saw a checkbox they didn't love, exposing users to all kinds of broken features.

    Follow either of these ideas to their logical extremes and we won't have a useful desktop for a large user base.

    We need Linux to grow up if we're going to make Linux on the desktop a success. Let's have a grown-up discussion. If I worked for Microsoft I'd be very happy to see you throwing pejoratives around like that on this list.

    So, yes, usability is important and Linus being able to bind his mouse buttons to whatever he wants is important, I guess. But it's probably not what's stopping Linux from dominating the desktop market. What's holding Linux back on the desktop? Applications, device support. Time, also. The printing dialog? I don't know.

    (By the way, on my GNOME machine at home, there is code running that parses the options from the PPD file and makes a GUI out of them. Maybe this ships in SUSE but not in whatever distro Till is using?)

  • by leoboiko ( 462141 ) <(leoboiko) (at) (> on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @10:44AM (#14246269) Homepage
    Do it. There's a lot of interesting answers. Most interestingly, it seems that the problems which Linus (and popular opinion) ascribes to Gnome user interface design decisons are actually considered bugs by Gnome developers. It seems that, when giving the choice of working on sensible defaults or in advanced configuration options, Gnome devels prefer the first, so that sometimes applications misses the advanced configuration; but they're not actually opposed to them (provided that they have a nice UI, separated from the basic options). It's a matter of priorities.

    So Gnome is not about "dumb users", it's about focusing on an usable system out-of-the-box. If you like customizing your WM, you'll probably hate Gnome, because it's not their focus. I hate WM customization, so I like Gnome better than KDE (and ratpoison [] better than Gnome). OTOH, I love customizing my programming environment, so I like Emacs better tham vim or gedit. Differente things for different people, really.
  • by nrc ( 112633 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @10:45AM (#14246276) Homepage
    And lo The Torvalds did say unto his flock,
    Same with the file dialog. Apparently it's too "confusing" to let users just type the filename. So gnome forces you to do the icon selection thing, never mind that it's a million times slower.
    Not really true. If you bring up a Gnome file dialog and just start typing a file name Gnome will open a text box and allow you to enter the file name with tab completion.

    It's a very slick example of what Gnome needs to do more of. Gnome has focused its efforts on simplifing the interface for the masses. They've made good progress but the masses seem unimpressed.

    It's time to think about finding elegant ways to put that power back in while keeping it transparent to the masses.

  • by CyricZ ( 887944 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @10:52AM (#14246368)
    With regards to KDE versus GNOME, the best thing to do is let nature take its course. What I mean by that is let people use which one they prefer. From past experience, those who use KDE end up being more productive. And increased productivity often times leads to increased financial success.

    I recently did some consulting for a firm which allowed their developers and administrative staff to use GNOME or KDE. It was each employee's choice which to use. When review time came around, a study was done into which desktop was used by the most productive users.

    By far the most productive users, both developers and secretaries/financial officers/etc., were those who used KDE and related software, such as KOffice. The developers who used KDE were the ones who wrote the code with the fewest number of bugs, and the secretaries who used KDE were the ones who were able to produce letters and documents with the fewest drafts.

    There was one notable exception, however. One developer who reported using GNOME was amongst the top three (I believe it was) developers. Further investigation revealed that while he was using GNOME, it was only as a program launcher. He was using KDevelop, Konqueror and other KDE software while working.

    Overall, they weren't sure if it was a matter of productive people choosing KDE, or KDE allowing people to be more productive. I instinctively feel it was some of both.

    The best thing to do is let people use what they want. In the end, their choice will either help or hinder their productivity. Those who are no productive will lose their jobs, and slide into irrelevancy, leaving only the productive. From my past experiences, it would appear that GNOME has become the least productive of the two desktops.

  • Hell. He's right. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Slartibartfast ( 3395 ) * <ken&jots,org> on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @10:56AM (#14246408) Homepage Journal
    I like Gnome. A lot. I like not having to be tied into the KDE window manager. I like all sorts of its nifty functionality.

    Except, as noted, when said functionality goes away.

    This has been happening for *years*. With every new incarnation of Gnome, I wonder what feature is either gone, or disabled by default. Now, granted, disabled-by-default isn't a bad thing, per-se. If you're a savvy user, it's expected that you'll be able to figure out how to enable it. But sometimes, it ain't that easy -- especially when the menu options aren't all that intuitive.

    I mean, what the hell's up with their whole funky "system paradigm" in Nautilus? "Intuitive," my ass. How about a simple hierarchy like most every GUI OS sine the Mac, fer Pete's sake?

    Argh. It ain't enough to make me switch to KDE -- I *like* Enlightenment, dammit -- but I certainly see where Linus is coming from, and agree wholeheartedly.

    I'm sorry, Miguel, Havoc, etc., but in your attempt to figure out how to appeal to the lowest common denominator, you're pushing away "real" users -- the ones who started using Gnome in the first place, 'cause it didn't try to wrap them up in KDE-cotton.
  • Keep it simple (Score:4, Interesting)

    by unoengborg ( 209251 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @11:00AM (#14246436) Homepage
    Sure, advanced users like Mr Torvalds probably are better served by a desktop environmnent like KDE. Here they can configure things that "idiot" doesn't care about or even know exists.

    The problem is, that there are more "idiot" users out there in the business world than there are Linus Torvaldses. If we design for the Linus Torvaldses of the world, Linux will get a very small user base and that will make Linux less interesting to companies porting software and drivers for the Linux platform.

    The elite user is also perfectly capable of replacing a simple Gnome deskop with another more advanced one (e.g. KDE). However, the "idiots" will not be able to replace KDE with Gnome. That's why Gnome is better.

    When it comes to GUI design the "it will confuse the user" point of view, is just as valid as the "it is too complex to do" point of view. Not realizing that, is a very common mistake by people with an engineering or computer science background.

  • Gnome wins (Score:4, Insightful)

    by blair1q ( 305137 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @11:12AM (#14246606) Journal
    Linus is making the biggest mistake all geeks make (myself included, but I learn, he might).

    People don't want you to give them lots of features that get in their way.

    They want you to give them something intuitive that does the basic things they need done first.

    I've used Gnome. It's a very satisfactory system. It'll sell, if you let it. Anything that makes the user think, won't. Because it's just the user-interface model. It's not what they want to think about. They want it to disappear, like a steering wheel or an automatic door.
    • Re:Gnome wins (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dominic_Mazzoni ( 125164 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @11:51AM (#14247028) Homepage
      Linus is making the biggest mistake all geeks make (myself included, but I learn, he might).

      People don't want you to give them lots of features that get in their way.

      They want you to give them something intuitive that does the basic things they need done first.

      As a lead developer of Audacity, I have to disagree. Yes, users want a simplified interface that doesn't get in their way. They want the most basic things to be as easy as possible. But once they've done those basic things, they want to do something else. They want more functionality. For any given user, that added functionality is pretty simple - but every user is different. There's not a single feature in Audacity that we could remove that wouldn't upset thousands of users - and not just power users - ordinary users who really just need that one feature!

      Making an interface simple is good. Removing functionality isn't.
  • by grumbel ( 592662 ) <> on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @11:37AM (#14246877) Homepage
    Linus is absolutly right about Gnome being dominated by 'interface nazis', but thats also exactly the reason why I like Gnome. As oposed to most other OpenSource software Gnome isn't build by stacking layers of layers of hacks on top each other, but instead Gnome developers often take a step back and redo stuff the right way, not just the way people got used to. Sure thats always causing a lot of flameswars and discussion, but its also a necessary thing if you want to end up with something that is actually a good interface and not just one which you have getting used to. So, yep, switching from Gnome1.4 to Gnome2, from Sawfish to Metacity, from old filedialog to new and soon from Galeon to Epiphany was quite painfull at times, but at the end of the day, I got almost all features back that I need and a whole lot of useless stuff cleaned up.

    Of course it might be nice if some of the new stuff would be introduces a bit more gently and probally more backward compatible, at least for the time when the new stuff isn't 100% ready for prime time, but the stuff that gets done is almost always worth doing. Oh well, and I would like if they would finally drop Nautilus and use something that isn't just broken-by-design, but maybe that will happen one day anyway...

    Those that want all the bells and whistles and configurability should simply use KDE, which really looks and feels for most part like a standard Windows interface on steroids, for me however all that configurabilty is simply useless most of the time, I prefer something that 'works at default' and doesn't offload the creation of a usable interface to the user.
  • by beforewisdom ( 729725 ) on Tuesday December 13, 2005 @12:05PM (#14247189)
    I hate to say it, but I'm with the Gnomes on this one.

    If it is the Gnome team's goal to have people who are not computer enthusiasts, just computer users, use Gnome then making things simple is the rational way to go.

    A power user like Linus Torvalds can take care of himself.

    Ordinary users who aren't interested in computers, who just want to use them, will be turned off by making things unnecessarily complex.

    When is a desktop unnecessarily complex? When another existing desktop can get the same job done without forcing the user to learn or do more.

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