Novell will (continue to) support KDE after all

Ian Zimmerman nobrowser-Re5JQEeQqe8AvxtiuMwx3w at
Wed Nov 16 05:30:06 UTC 2005

Evan> The 99.99% of the public that neither knows nor cares about the
Evan> difference between C, C++, C# and whatever else is relevant, has a
Evan> legitimate beef. To the non-technical end user, it's a legitimate
Evan> wonder of how much effort has needlessly gone into duplicating
Evan> effort.

Evan> How much better might the open source desktop be if all the
Evan> programming, human design and documentation skills of the
Evan> community been funnelled into one program rather than split
Evan> between two (or more) desktop systems?

Evan> This is not like the diversity of Linux distributions, because the
Evan> differences in them is usually more than internal design or
Evan> personal taste. Many distros serve different and specialized
Evan> purposes. OTOH, KDE and GNOME serve very much the identical
Evan> purpose.

Evan> This long ago stopped being a contest of innovation, since neither
Evan> GNOME nor KDE really is doing anything groundbreaking (from the
Evan> users' perspective). Elegance of internal design is a fine issue
Evan> for insiders, but there are many people who can't tell Riesling
Evan> from Shiraz and there are many who can't (and don't want to be
Evan> bothered to) pick a winner between KDE and GNOME.

I beg to differ.

First, part (I won't hazard a guess how large) of free software
developers is in it for fun.  They don't get any material compensation
for that work, and at least some (including yours truly) aren't
altruistic enough to derive their compensation simply from knowing the
end product is used to good purpose.  The work itself is all the reward,
and when/if it stops being fun, they won't do it at all.  And shitty
tools or processes certainly can ruin the fun, so which ones are used
does matter.

Second, tools and processes used in prominent free projects also influence
the larger picture of software engineering.  How many years is it since
Djikstra, Knuth and that crowd noticed how completely broken the discipline
was and pointed the way to solutions.  And today at work we _still_ use
essentially the same broken tools, just because PHBs find anything else
too radical and risky.  Someone has to lead the way and for lack of
anyone else the role seems to have fallen to free software projects.

A true pessimist won't be discouraged by a little success.
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