Day 4: Conferences: KDE vs Gnome

A panel between the two competing linux desktops. How could anyone resist to that? We had the chance to have our own Rick Moen as a moderator and Rick had the good idea to bring is LART (Luser Attitude Rehabilitation Tool).


Nat Friedman spoke for Gnome and Kurt Granroth spoke for KDE.
Nat began with a quick description of Gnome. One of its strong points it corba, which allows for communication between applications, and other things like the Canvas widget, the Glade GUI designer, XML support and the printing architecture.


Gnome had more than 300 developers in 21 countries and people who've translated messages in 17 languages.
Miguel and Nat have formed a company to support Gnome and do contract programming for it.
You can find Nat's slides here for more details on his presentation


Kurt gave a full description of KDE which was quite impressive, and well described in his slides, so I'm not going to paraphrase here, so you may as well look at them here :-)

After both presentations, Rick asked a few questions to both panelists, and took a few questions from the audience.

As closing comments, the speakers agreed that there has been much more communication between the two sides and that there will be more code re-use between the two project, which is of course great news compared to the old situation where it was mostly about flamewars.

What I got out of this panel is that while I've been more more on the Gnome side so far (I'm a theme junkie, and I like Gtk and all its bindings), Kurt made a very impressive demonstration made with the KDE presentation tool, and it seemed obvious from the presentation that KDE is much further ahead.
KDE is missing the very nice themes that Gnome offers, and if you like enlightenment, you're better off with Gnome for now. However, now that KDE 2.0 is going to have themes and offer the option of using external window managers like Enlightenment, Gnome won't have too offer too many things that KDE won't be able to do.

KDE is the default desktop for several distributions, including the very nicely enhanced KDE that's present in the upcoming Corel Linux. Gnome is the default desktop in Red Hat 6.0, and while I understand why they want to push it, considering the amount of work they put into it, I'm not sure how good a move it was considering the bad bugs that were in the version they shipped, and which cause people to say "RH 6.0 is really unstable", when it fact they really mean Gnome, because the rest of RH is quite stable.

Gnome was initially written because KDE was based on Qt and Qt wasn't free in the Debian sense of the term, but now that Troll Tech has put Qt under the QPL license, this isn't an issue anymore.
Today, most likely people wouldn't start writing gnome, but since it's there, and interesting things have come out of that project, it definitely makes sense to keep it around. First of all, competition is good, and both Gnome and KDE can feed of the other group's ideas, but also by agreeing on a set of interfaces, it doesn't become quite as much of a problem to have two competing desktops.

Stay tuned.

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99/08/13 (13:09): Version 1.0