Mix of environment and introduction
For some time already, I’ve been wanting to write about choosing a Linux desktop environment. I’ve been KDE fan for years, however I’ve used Gnome many many years ago. Also I’m familiar with Fluxbox and XFCE and few others which I won’t mention. I don’t want to have you sitting here and reading an essay, so I’ll try to put it as short as I can.
This is often asked question, and is probably the most asked the question to new Linux users, probably after which distribution to use. There was also a poll here on FoolControl very similar to this same topic I’ll talk about today, also just to note that I’ll try to be as objective as I can.
My first contact with Linux was with Caldera 2.0, which was as far as I can remember KDE. Later on the the distribution that had me “glued” to Linux was RedHat, and yes I was happy with Gnome. Later on came Slackware and KDE with it.
If you try to make a pattern of some sort, you’ll notice (and in anyone’s case) it’s mostly the distro’s default desktop environment that makes it your default desktop environment as well, even tho they all pretty much have much more choice and freedom with them, but still.
If we take a look at XFCE, it’s a wonderful DE (desktop environment in this post from now on) lite, fast and stable. If we are talking about mini/pupply and other distro’s that need minimum hardware resources to run, this will probably be the choice of my DE.
Fluxbox, very lite, very cool, very l337, very stable and pretty functional DE. But really, where do I see it being used? By people who “suffer” from a syndrome to have a l337 desktop, I suffered from this syndrome as well at one point, but I got over it. Fluxbox is great and all, but besides that one I really can’t find too much use for it.
I mean it’s lite and all, but it’s not lite enough to be set as a DE on a server you deploy. When it comes to server, my favorite DE is just plain console.
Ah, when I just even think of the age, when every KDE fan, even pretty much everyone in the GNU/Linux world kept talking about KDE4 release, and what would/will happend. If I just remember this same time last year, everyone, but absolutely everyone knew at least something about KDE4, and was just waiting/brainstorming/talking/etc … about KDE4.
We the fans, just lived for the day KDE4 would be released. Without blowing anything up from the proportion, I personally was just waiting to see KDE4 and Firefox 3. What we saw/heard about was just incredible, stability, speed, low memory usage, qt4, brand new interface was the least I can name we were all waiting for.
And then, after delays KDE4 beta’s started coming out. I made my first post about KDE4 early on beginning of this year, after I tried pretty much all the betas. I wasn’t happy. Then the final went down and even most hardcore KDE fans awed by uncertainty. Soon afterwards, things were clarified by KDE devel team, clearing the smoke by announcing that KDE 4.0 was released just for the developers/testers making it clear that it wasn’t for end users.
So I kept trying to switch to KDE4 until the release of KDE 4.0.3. I was aware that KDE4 was one of the biggest open source projects, and I also said that what matters is that “beast/giant” has been released, and that it was a good development model for a project of such magnitude. I said I’ll just go back on 3.5.x and will just wait for 4.1 which was/is due in August.
Now that, 4.1 is going out beta, I’m sure my decision was right, since I see it’s not the DE I want at least for another/few more releases. Talking about KDE4 releases, I even read some talk that some groups want to start developing a fork of KDE4! All in order to bring it close/closer to 3.5.x.
Back on 3.5.x
Development on this same very branch almost stopped completely, both the 3.5.x branch itself and for some of popular KDE apps. as well. You could easily see messages “This is last stable release for KDE 3.5.x branch” on projects such as Ktorrent or Kaffeine.
In meantime I worked on the project codename Peacenow. I put 2 month of my time in a project, where I wanted/tried to make the fastest Debian could perform and my default desktop environment was KDE.
Today when I look at that post, I’m not really happy about the whole thing. In case you ask why, well because right now I’m on that same box with Debian Sid, Gnome 2.20.0, 2.6.25-2 kernel, and to say the least … it boots/acts faster. Half is due to new 2.6.25 kernel (this thing is amazing and other half goes to Gnome.
But … how … what … wtf is up with you?
That’s the most reactions I get when I say I’ve been on Gnome for last few months. Gnome has changed, if you let’s say compare Gnome 2.16 and 2.20 … a lot has changed. Honestly I think so much changed due to release of KDE4, that Gnome developers got some kind of “boost” to start working on new things.
It’s stable, secure, lite/fast. Or it may be that my philosophy changed a bit.
All I want from my desktop is to be stable secure and fast. I don’t want it to have ton of features I’m never going to use, I don’t want it to be identified with Microsoft Windows in any sort of way! And KDE4 can’t help it but completely identify itself with Vista! Maybe I don’t like the fact that Trolltech is being acquired by Nokia, or in that matter by anyone, or that my DE is being (less or more) property of some company.
Maybe I’m fed up with having MySQL server for the only purpose of having my music player running faster. And talking about Amarok, I don’t like where it’s going with the 2.x development.
Also we should talk about applications. One day I actually figured out that all my favorite applications were written in GTK+ And if you want to talk about GTK replacement for you favorite QT apps. In my case it was definetely for Amarok, K3b and KTorrent that was hardest to get “rid off.
Amarok, well so far Rhythmbox is doing extraordinary job replacing Amarok, mostly due to its speed. Maybe it’s missing few advance features, and it may not be an easy job to move to after Amarok … but it’s all good.
K3b, I thought this was the gap in your heart that would never be filled, until I meat Brasero. Same with KTorrent when I discovered Deluge.
You can discuss this topic over and over, but in the end, I want to sit on my machine, do my work. I don’t want to sit on it and stare at my desktop. Again it’s completely up to personal preference, but with so many wars in the world, I’m glad I ended one.
Even though this was one was just regarding Linux desktop environment.
In 2005 Torvalds said “Use KDE”, now (out of curiousity) I’d really like to hear his opinion on the same thing 3 years later. Especially after the fact that Fedora (his default distro) is one of the first “mainstream” distros that set KDE 4.0 for default when it comes to choosing KDE as your default DE.