The desktop fight you've all been waiting for

Summary:The eternal battle for the Linux desktop: Which GUI reigns supreme, GNOME or KDE?It really pisses me off when a writer comes up with an idea before I do.

The eternal battle for the Linux desktop: Which GUI reigns supreme, GNOME or KDE?

It really pisses me off when a writer comes up with an idea before I do. It pisses me off even more when I know they wrote it better than I possibly could have written it as well.

As part of Linux Magazine's re-launch this month as a completely web-based publication, writer Ken Hess has come up with a humorous, but indeed informative approach on how to do product reviews -- have them fight each other in a "Smackdown", a la MTV Celebrity Deathmatch. Linux Magazine may not have a claymation budget, but that doesn't make the concept any less amusing.

Click on the "Read the rest of this entry" link below for more.

The fight of the century? GNOME vs. KDE , the two titans of the Linux desktop. Sure there are welter and lightweights that shouldn't be ignored, such as XFCE, Enlightenment and GNUStep/WindowMaker, but let's face it, it's the two heavyweights that rule the roost on all of the desktop Linux distributions that are getting the lion's share of attention, that being Ubuntu, Fedora, and openSUSE.

I'm not going to ruin the results of the fight, so you'll have to go over to Linux Magazine and read Ken's piece yourself.  However, as an impartial fight judge, I do have some opinions on who seems to have the advantage.

I used to love KDE, and in many respects, I think that from a pure technology standpoint, it's got just about every desktop for Linux and Unix beat. KDE 3.5.x was a stable, mature desktop, and it ran great. This all changed when KDE switched from a Qt3.x to a Qt4.x-based development tree and the desktop software traded its polish, maturity and familiar look and feel for whiz-bang eye candy and the stability of a keg of nitroglycerin. Every KDE 4.x release to date that has come out of the major distros has been an absolute disaster. Linus himself after trying a recent build essentially gave up on it -- that alone should say something.

Still, I WANT KDE to succeed. I like the fact that it has a modular design and makes extensive use of object oriented technology, in many ways rivaling and exceeding what the Mac can do. As a development environment the Qt widget set is incredibly rich, and by being cross-platform it enables you to write applications in a single code base for Linux, Unix, Windows and Mac simultaneously with almost no code changes when recompiled for each target system -- it's how products like Opera are built.

But the folks at GNOME seem to be doing a much better job of maintaining their codebase and not taking too many risks with incremental releases. Whereas KDE 4.x is the Windows Vista to KDE 3.5.x's Windows XP SP3, GNOME 2.x is akin to Microsoft selling Windows XP for 7 years with Service Packs -- the thing just plain works. However, I have to say that GNOME's design is starting to look a bit worn in the tooth, especially when compared to KDE. Additionally, from a development standpoint, the GNOME envioronment and its resulting library pile needed to support a typical distribution's GNOME application stack is an absolute mess, especially when compared to the modularity of KDELibs.

For now, I'm a GNOME user. But like the first time I saw "Rocky", I hope that KDE isn't down for the count.

Who is winning the battle of the Linux desktop? GNOME or KDE? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

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Topics: Hardware, Linux, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software

About

Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet is a technologist with over two decades of experience with integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer... Full Bio

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