Novell will (continue to) support KDE after all

Christopher Browne cbbrowne-Re5JQEeQqe8AvxtiuMwx3w at
Wed Nov 16 21:03:00 UTC 2005

On 11/15/05, Evan Leibovitch <evan-ieNeDk6JonTYtjvyW6yDsg at> wrote:
> Christopher Browne wrote:
> >>I love it if they tried to bring the two together.
> >>
> >>
> >
> >I hate to say this, but that's the classic clueless response.
> Maybe clueless (in some contexts), but nonetheless valid.

It may be valid in some "psychological sense," but in a certain
practical sense, it's useless.

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

To the 100% of the developers, who are the ones that donate their time
or their employers' time to production of GNOME/KDE components, what
design approaches are taken and what APIs are used are vital.

And since 100% of the development is done by this set of people, the
fact that they may represent only 0.01% of the population is totally
irrelevant; "we wrote the code" completely trumps anyone else's

If someone is trying to influence the direction of an OSS project,
they can either:
a) Become one of the developers, making them one of the 0.01% that
dictate what happens, or
b) Work on your motivational skills, on the off chance that you can
convince one or another of the "dictators" to do what you say, or
c) Wish uselessly.

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

I seriously doubt that it things would be any better, and it is
entirely possible that things would be worse, because there would be
bigger fights inside the (singular) project as to what design
directions to take.

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

I remember when both of them began, and it seems to me that BOTH have
fallen off the tracks completely in terms of some of the important
functionality that was intended.

Those that remember the ability to write AREXX scripts to control
Amiga applications may remember that there was an intent for GNOME and
KDE to provide ways to allow scripting of control of their

The big RMS-versus-Tcl "war"
<> was another 'language
war,' the crux of it being that RMS thought that a Lisp variant should
be used for the purpose (from whence came Guile Scheme), and that Tcl
was a terrible idea.  Unfortunately, people got over the "language
war" by deciding to become so language agnostic that they never got
around to having *any* scriptability.  GNOME wanted to use CORBA to
describe interfaces to control their apps, and encouraged KDE to do
the same; the suckage of MICO led to another "flame war" after which
they all pretty much forgot about the original point.

Which was that on AmigaOS and MVS and some other such places, you
could write scripts that would interact with applications while they
are running to do useful things.

In about the last year, some efforts in this regard have re-emerged,
but it has been 11 years since Commodore stopped selling Amigas, and
we still can't expect to be able to write scripts to meaningfully
control applications like Gnumeric,, and such, so one
of the major original "selling features" of the desktop environments
still remains unachieved.

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

Until the apps are scriptable, I have to weigh in with a "They're all
losers" vote...

> >They are implemented in different languages, with very different
> >designs, and even attempting to "fold them together" is certain to be
> >fruitless.
> >
> >
> Moreover, most of the ideas that one does first get re-implemented in
> the other.
> Korganizer, Evolution
> Kopete, Gaim
> etc. etc. Almost every KDE function has a GNOME equivalent and vice
> versa, and in many cases neither is fully cooked or anywhere as easy to
> use as either the Mac or Windows counterparts. We're playing catch-up,
> while having our progress seriously impeded by religious arguments over
> languages and other issues that in the grand scheme of things are just
> geek minutiae. This isn't so much technical Darwinism as it is (in this
> case) a needless fragmentation.

Ah, but much of the reinvention comes as exercises that are
necessarily to be thrown away.  Before you can write a sophisticated
GNOME/KDE application that does radical new stuff, you have to figure
out how to do the mundane.  Throwing them all onto one development
'platform' would mean that we'd have twice as many crappy KDE xterm
clones or twice as many crappy GNOME xterm clones.  I don't think we'd
forcibly have more *good* applications.

> I interpret (and support) Ted's plea as wanting the FOSS desktop to be a
> collaboration of diverse input rather than a bunch of gratuitous and
> generally redundant wheel re-inventions.
> FOSS proponents dismiss such POVs at their risk.

Free Software developers determine, by the fiat that they are the ones
that write the code, what software will become available.

The further people are from writing code, the less influence they can
have on what code gets written.

The whole point of the GNU Manifesto was to allow people to have, see,
and modify the code; that's the crux of why the FSF "free software"
project was started.

We have recently seen a change where people are getting interested in
it from a business perspective where they expressly don't want there
to be changes; that is certainly a recent digression from the original
"The true  measure of a  man is how he treats  someone who can  do him
absolutely no good." -- Samuel Johnson, lexicographer (1709-1784)
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