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
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.
- How will KDE and Gnome succeed where NeXTStep has failed?
The speakers said that more people are interested in a desktop for Linux,
and that pretty much the time has come, both on the user side and the developer
side (many developers are interested in working on all this)
- What will the new versions of KDE and Gnome look like?
- Now that QT 2.0 has support for themes, KDE 2.0 will support them, and offer
a look and feel similar to what's currently possible with Gnome and GTK. KDE
also plans to extend themes to GTK apps so that all apps Qt or GTK based
will look almost the same in KDE.
- Gnome's upcoming version will focus on user feedback, fixing bugs and
- Since both desktops use corba, how about interoperability between components
from KDE and Gnome?
Right now it doesn't exactly work yet, for instance because Gnome only accepts
secure Corba connections by default (although that can be disabled), but the
idea is for applications to be able to talk to either desktop.
- How about the language used for writing each desktop?
- KDE is C++ based, and someone wrote C bindings at some point but no one was
really using it
- Gnome is written in C with object like code, but there are many different
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
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