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KDE Open Source News

Are Open-Source Desktops Losing Competitiveness? 663

An anonymous reader writes "Peter Penz has been a user of KDE since version 1.2, and he led the development of the Dolphin file manager for the past six years. Now, he's quitting KDE development and handing off Dolphin. His reasons for quitting KDE development are described in a blog post. Penz speaks of KDE losing competitiveness to Apple and Microsoft due to increased complexity and other reasons. 'Working on the non-user-interface parts of applications can be challenging, and this is not something that most freetime-contributors are striving for. But if there are not enough contributors for the complex stuff behind the scenes and if no company is willing to invest fulltime-developers to work on this... well then we are losing ground.' Are open-source desktops losing?"
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Are Open-Source Desktops Losing Competitiveness?

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  • No problem here (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vlm ( 69642 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @03:51PM (#40456945)

    My productivity has never been higher using "awesome" at home and work
    http://awesome.naquadah.org/ [naquadah.org]
    Installation was quite painless, apt-get install awesome and its all done, pretty much. It is... awesome

    Oh wait, were they talking about those gigantic slow clunky things that include a kitchen sink and everything? Yeah, those can just go away... please.

    I kind of liked xfce4 also but thats getting a bit too desktoppy. Too much extra junk I'll never use. I want my apps not the desktop environment's selection.

  • by Yeechang Lee ( 3429 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @04:01PM (#40457103) Homepage

    I figured this out on the day in 2003 when I first tried out OS X. I've been using LInux since 1995 and had tried every available desktop: CDE, KDE, Gnome, Enlightenment (The horror .. the horror ...), Window Maker/AfterStep, fvwm, and even older ones like Motif and twm. I'd used Mac OS 7 and 8 in college and hated it, but OS X was a revelation.

    I still use Linux as a server, but for a Unixlike desktop that actually works and runs a lot of applications, OS X is it. Period.

  • by h4rr4r ( 612664 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @04:04PM (#40457155)

    You like the OSX desktop?
    I hate it. It is like it was designed for children and gets in the way too often. I want focus follows mouse, I want to get rid of the idiot dock bar thing, I want menus on every screen not just the main monitor.

    On top of it, SHIP WITH THE FUCKING GNUTOOLS YOU MORONS. The half baked commercial versions of these tools lack way to many features.

  • by ArcherB ( 796902 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @04:17PM (#40457347) Journal

    I used a linux desktop for 7 years. I dutifully updated when any improvement was made.

    Linux desktops were in my experience never competitive because they require too much technical knowledge. That is an obstacle easily overcome by technical types, but *not* the majority of the user population. It just isn't sustainable to say "Here, tinker, it's cool" to everybody - or more accurately ANYbody outside of technical folks who enjoy the work necessary to update one application or another. It's why many have grown tired of Windows. It's why OSX, with its draw backs, is becoming more popular - the user population at large want an experience that doesn't require at lot of work to keep working. imho.

    My KDE desktop worked great "out of the box". No tinkering required. However, tinkering is an option if you want to take that road. Gnome2 was the same way.

    I wont comment on Unity or Gnome3 because I think they suck and won't use them.

  • Re:Not a chance (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bky1701 ( 979071 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @04:24PM (#40457449) Homepage
    I still toy with the idea of going back to KDE 3 every once in a while. I probably would if I thought I could pull it off without breaking everything. 4 still seems slow, buggy, and lacking anything worthwhile other than gloss (that doesn't work right, and seems to cause just as many problems when disabled). That's not even to say it took several minor versions over several months to re-enable major functionality not shipped with 4.

    Blah blah video drivers, KDE3 never had issues with them, and yet 4 does, regardless of if composting is enabled or not. Why does Linux have to play follow the leader while breaking core functionality? People aren't going to start using Linux because it can do the Apple desktop cube spin, it's as simple as that.
  • C++ Puts Me Off (Score:4, Interesting)

    by turgid ( 580780 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @04:24PM (#40457457) Journal

    Given that KDE and its applications are written in and married to C++ (and QT) I'm not surprised that few people want to contribute.

    I know that C++ is the Big Thing and Right Thing in mainstream industry, but it is extremely complex with an enormous learning curve [yosefk.com] and huge demands on development resources, and developer time.

    I, for one, certainly wouldn't contribute to a C++ project for fun. I only do it when I'm paid, and only if I can't avoid it.

  • Re:Yes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RabidReindeer ( 2625839 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @04:39PM (#40457759)

    I never thought twice about the desktop until I upgraded recently. It "just worked".

    Gnome3 is an insult. It's almost totally useless. Half of the basic functions I require to do my daily work aren't even available at gunpoint.

    Cinnamon was better, but the whole screen freezes except for the mouse pointer and the only cure is to kill the desktop and all apps running in it.

    XFCE was closer to Gnome 2 and the screen doesn't lock. But it randomly resets the accessibility and power settings so that on the one hand, hibernation doesn't work and on the other, the keyboard effectively quits working right in the middle of typing things.

    I haven't even tried KDE. I didn't like KDE all that much before everyone hated it.

    HOW can we have so many desktop choices and all of them be BAD???

  • by chrishillman ( 852550 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @04:51PM (#40458021) Homepage Journal
    I actually came back to Linux under this Gnome 3 controversy and really don't mind it. The reactions to this post are as predictable as the post itself, a developer gets sick of providing something for nothing and has a public rage-quit, the self-hating Linux users cry out "why do people hate Linux".

    None of it is true!

    I formatted my Windows 7 laptop and joyfully have Ubuntu 12.04 on it. My son's Window 7 netbook was running slow and as an experiment I put Ubuntu 12.04 on that , he loves it. He has less problems than he did under Windows 7. Everyone is accustomed to an "app store" in their phones and Linux is the only OS out there that really has the same type of resource.
    There has never been a better time for Linux on the desktop! With Windows 8 about to mess everyone up and a leaderless Apple (let's face it)... Ubuntu, Mint and a dozen other distros are fantastic! Ausus' latest EeePc netbook is currently shipping with Ubuntu because of Windows 8 being a mess.
    Linux on the desktop is the best option right now.
  • by causality ( 777677 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @05:09PM (#40458275)

    Linux is not for the lazy....plain and simple. It's for people that when they have a problem, they can use their brain cells, observe the problem and try to solve it, if it doesn't work, they ask for help...nicely since the linux community (like me) are not paid to do so ...were happy to help that's all

    I very much respect and appreciate the concept that the more I am willing to put into something, the more I will get out of it. That's about as fair and equitable as it gets. In fact I wish more things in life worked that way.

    You're right about laziness. This topic just provides an illustration, a focal point for a more general and unfortunate trend. In the USA there is definitely an anti-intellectual, passive, back-seat way of life that's become popular. It's somehow cool to be ignorant, helpless, and intellectually lazy. Lots of people will validate it. The guy who says you could expect better of yourself is somehow an asshole, I guess for telling you that you're more capable than you know, for not supporting the culture of self-limitation.

    The message that you can not only understand, but also master, anything you put your mind to is more unwelcome now than it ever has been. I suppose because people love having excuses for why they can't do something, and this message threatens (to them) to take those excuses away. If you were younger and worked a service-type job where you had to deal with the general public, you know precisely how helpless adult people choose to be. They will ask you where something is when they're standing right in front of it, because crying for help is easy while observing what's in plain view is harder (for them). I could name countless examples like that.

    I could say I make at least a small effort to help myself and only when that fails do I look for help from others because I don't secretly my time is more precious to me than someone else's time is to them, like the childish self-centered people do. But that's only the surface of it. Look at bit deeper and what you will see are people who are their own worst enemies, who limit themselves needlessly, and think you're launching a personal attack when you suggest however politely that they don't have to. They're very sensitive about it because they know it won't withstand examination. Somehow that's not reason enough to change it, for them.

    This amounts to large numbers of passive, helpless people who are forever denied the discovery of their own personal genius. It's a nuisance but more than that, it's quite a tragedy.

    Computing just brings it into the foreground because it's a machine. It won't humor or coddle someone. It won't work just to make someone feel better. It only works when it's used correctly. That's precisely where the anti-intellectualism runs into problems.

    So before you said idiot things like that (like always) remember that windows, mac and all other operating systems are not perfect and they do have their fair share of problems.

    They certainly do. There are lots of Windows problems and Windows forums. Windows isn't the automatic slam-dunk of usability that some might claim. You still have to learn how to use it. With Windows there is at least some expectation that you should get some support because you have purchased it, but average home users probably aren't getting this from Microsoft. They are probably going to the OEM, or paying a local computer shop.

  • by MasaMuneCyrus ( 779918 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @07:24PM (#40460109)

    Things I very much do not like about OSX.

    • - There is no address bar in Finder, so I can't type where I want to go.
    • - No move command in Finder (at least up to Snow Leopard, which is what my research institute uses because Apple basically said "we don't care about long-term support" when it moved to Lion). I have to copy files, move deep into some other directory, paste, and then go all the way back to where I came from (which I can't use the "back" button for because I've gone up and down in directory trees) and delete the files from their old folder. Or I have to open up yet another window and drag the files over. The fact that I can't type a path into an address bar makes this even worse.
    • - You can't navigate via dragging. Sometimes I just want to move files up a directory. Sometimes I want to drag files into a second Finder window, but I forgot that the other Finder window is minimized. I can't just hover my mouse over the Finder icon and then over the minimized window.. I have to let go of all of my files, unminimize the second Finder window, and then select them all again and drag them over. (I heard that a long time ago some OS had a shelf where you could temporarily drag files to and from. That sounds like a good idea.)
    • - If you drag a folder into another folder with an equal name, it doesn't merge, it just deletes the old folder and totally replaces it with the new one. OK, it's a fairly logical behavior, but that means that I can't merge directory trees without the commandline. Worse, if I accidentally screw up and replace a folder I didn't want to, it permanently deletes it. And Command-Z or Undo doesn't work in this case. It should at least ask you twice or mention "WARNING: This will replace the previous folder and remove all files permanently."
    • - As others have said, the single menu bar behavior is stupid. If you like it on a single window, that's your opinion, but the whole concept goes to hell when you have multiple monitors. There should be a way to either duplicate the menu onto all monitors or make the menu appear on whichever monitor currently has an active program.
  • Re:Not a chance (Score:5, Interesting)

    by swillden ( 191260 ) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @10:54PM (#40462397) Homepage Journal
    I suggest you try going back to KDE4 now that it's matured a bit.
  • by lister king of smeg ( 2481612 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2012 @11:40PM (#40462879)

    4. KDE vs Gnome. I've never bought the "choice is good" mantra. Linux is too small to support 2 different environments. Any enthusiasm I had for developing for Linux was squashed by the continual doubt in my mind about which environment I should develop for, or which one would survive. I'm surprised one or the other hasn't died by now. Having an overlord to make tough decisions in this area would be good IMHO.

    well they both can run the others programs just fine so just flip a coin or choose which ever is easies for you to program in or has best libraries for what you want to do. there is a good reason that there are two major desktops it is the same reason that the US has two major parties because not everyone agrees. what would be best ideally is if people realized that it is not a all or nothing deal. i can have gnome desktop and kde apps. that the way my computer is i have a mate desktop with a kde terminal emulator, a gnome text editor and apps from half a dozen other projects. the linux desktop has a problem of not knowing where to go right now. but that is true of computers in general right now look at windows, they cant decide what the hell they are. consumer compututainment has just met a new potentially disruptive technology and no one other than apple seems to have an idea of what the hell to do about it.

    so let me summarize what i think computing need to figure out.
    1. the family of libraries and desktop environment don't matter. what matters is license and how well it works for your purposes.
    2. different form factor require different interface paradigms and environment libraries can stay the same just change who you use them. this is where kde is excelling right now multiple environment one for touch one for desktop.
    3. just because an idea is old does not mean it is bad or needs replaced. the desktop paradigm didn't change for so long not because it was we all worship windows 95 but because the windows 95 gui engineers finally figured out the best type of interface for the form factor. they tried other styles that hadn't worked see bob or windows 3.11, but wimp (windows icons menu pointer) was best. and still is for the desktop.
    4. desktops make data and consume it, tablets only consume it don't try to change the nature of the beast you will fail.
    5. experimentation is good and can improve anything do it slowly or every one will hate you when you f*** up and you will, and make it fixable see gnome three unity windows 8. not fixable not really the fixes are awkward and halfa**ed.

  • by micheas ( 231635 ) on Wednesday June 27, 2012 @02:15AM (#40463989) Homepage Journal

    Warning:This is a rant from someone that has spent a lot of time at the command line for work for far too many years. If seeing 'sed -i' doesn't make you ask "BSD or GNU?" you probably won't find much here that you agree with.

    Well if you want the nostalgia ancient versions of the gnu utilities, OSX is great.

    If you want the set time function to be the easiest way to check the time in another city it is great.

    If you want window resize to only happen if you grab the lower right corner OSX is great

    If you want applications to stay running despite all the windows being closed it is great. (I understand why one would want that behavior, but from experience most mac users don't get that closing the windows doesn't close the app and reboot in order to free up the memory from all the open applications.)

    You get the joy of a weird user land that is a mixture of old GNU utilities and BSD utilities so you get to keep typing COMMAND -v to remember what you are using. Also most server scripts assume that RHEL and Debian stable are the oldest GPL things that they have to support so you get the joy of either porting the scripts or installing a new userland that uses current software.

    You will get the joy of having your drop down menus on the other monitor if you have a two monitor setup.

    You get to pay top dollar for low cost Chinese goods. (There is high quality Chinese manufacturing, but Apple sure isn't going to pay for it, when they can get an iPhone built for $20 plus materials.)

    On the upside you will be able to run Adobe Creative Suite

    On the serious upside, you can pay $100 a year to become an iOS developer download xcode and install any software you want on your iOS devices without rooting them or otherwise trashing the iOS security (really, from a *N*X persons perspective it's the only reason I can think of to put up with all the other stuff)

  • by next_ghost ( 1868792 ) on Wednesday June 27, 2012 @04:09AM (#40464571)
    Steam for Linux is coming this fall. Enjoy your migration.

"What the scientists have in their briefcases is terrifying." -- Nikita Khrushchev