Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Gnome or KDE?

I am a Gnome user. Gnome is fine, despite what Linus says. Yes, there isn't much customization allowed and often it tries a bit too hard to act like an bastardized twin of OSX, but who doesn't?

My wish list is short: just replace Nautilus with something usable, there is no point in “fixing” it, just give me something in 2009 at least half as powerful as Norton Commander was in 1991.

But Nautilus is just a minor annoyance - I don't find myself using file manager type of applications on Linux as much as I did on Windows, perhaps due to the fact that I don't wonder around the entire file system anymore: on Linux you quickly learn to live in your home directory and quickly access data directly from applications.

Nevertheless, off to KDE lands I went...

After playing with it for half a day I quickly went back despite the amazing feature in KDE that gives the focus to a control that currently is under the mouse. And oh yes, the beast is customizable in every way imaginable, and the default set of applications blows Gnome's counterparts away. But in the end, it doesn't matter.

I want back because I appreciated Gnome's directness and simplicity and its tendency to stay out of my way. I don't use those basic default programs, I use my own set of tools. I mostly don't even see or “feel” Gnome, even the main menu bar is a lot smaller than KDE's giant log with plethora of little icons and clunky and bold date/time widget. KDE's approach to user interface can be described as “visualizer of data structures”, it simply maps various configuration data to UI elements on screen. “Added a boolean? We better find a spot for a checkbox somewhere for it”. I can understand why programmers appreciate it.

Perhaps I only got lucky and I happened to have pedestrian, simple needs. I can launch my usual 4-5 applications with a single click or keypress, I can see what time it is and how much battery juice I have left, I can switch between windows and desktops. I can logout or fall into a standby mode. If they take away the ability to minimize or maximize windows, I won't even notice.

Gnome doesn't do a lot. Gnome is simple and weak on features. It knows only a handful of tricks but plays them very well.

Sometimes less is more, and with computer interfaces it almost always is.

No comments:

Post a Comment