Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Gnome vs. KDE Round ?

Here we go again. Another round. But this time seems lacking a certain je ne sais quoi. Where are the ad hominem attacks? No one questioning the other's sanity, morality, manhood or coding ability? Is this what it has come to; whining about column inches?

Maybe a realization is sinking in. There are and will be two major free desktops. Wishing KDE/Gnome would go away isn't going to make it happen. Choosing favorites is fine as a developer or user, but anyone who depends on developers and users can't afford to piss off half the developer/user base. We have two healthy development communities actively improving their software. The userbase for both desktops are growing. Both are maturing into useful and full featured desktops. They both represent different visions, development styles, organisational and infrastructure styles. Both attract different sponsors and users. And both communities churn out amazing quantities of good quality code. And both are providing employment opportunities for developers.

This is good.

We are seeing another instance where accepted wisdom is being turned on it's head. Everyone knows that we need one desktop API. Everyone knows that it is a dead end to choose the loser. Software is a natural monopoly, so we have to choose the winner. Otherwise we have confusion and orphaned software. Microsoft has astutely placed itself to benefit from this wisdom. They defined the api, defined the software suites that would be everywhere. And the result has been bliss, peace and layoffs of admin people everywhere.

Wrong. The monopoly on the desktop has meant stagnation and an insecure mess.

What we see with the free desktop would never even be contemplated. Anyone suggesting or planning such an outcome would be certified as nuts. Take note. If I run KDE, I can run Gnome applications quite well. Not only that, but if I run KDE on 'BSD, Solaris or Linux, I can run Gnome applications. If I run Gnome on any of these platforms, I can run KDE applications. It isn't perfect, but it works. It can get complicated, but when it doesn't work it is a bug, not a feature.

The free desktop has become larger than any one person or even organisation. Linus still defines the kernel, but who defines the desktop? Novell? Redhat? Trolltech? Sun? How about all of the above. No one person can speak for everyone. This is a reflection of its strength. Too many developers, users, sponsors, distributions, consultants are benefitting in too many different ways for one person or vision to fit. The combined strengths are greater than any individual, encouraging collaboration when necessary, and only when necessary.

This is all for the good and bodes well for the future. I guess we'll all have to find something else to fight about.


Comments:
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