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Torvalds Re-Kindles GNOME vs. KDE

Dec 13, 2005, 14:00 (43 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Brian Proffitt)

By Brian Proffitt
Managing Editor

In a message thread that innocuously started with a discussion regarding GNOME and its printing dialog box, Linux Torvalds weighed in with strong words regarding the GNOME interface and encouraged others to switch to KDE.

The comments, which appear to come from Torvalds, appear in the "Printing dialog and GNOME" thread of the Desktop_architects list at OSDL (copied in part on GNOME's Usability mailing list), and lambast the design methodology of the GNOME Project:

"This 'users are idiots, and are confused by functionality' mentality of Gnome is a disease. If you think your users are idiots, only idiots will use it. I don't use Gnome, because in striving to be simple, it has long since reached the point where it simply doesn't do what I need it to do," Torvalds wrote.

"Please, just tell people to use KDE," he added.

The comments sparked strong response from members of the GNOME development community, as well as opinions from members of the KDE community.

"We have better things to do than discover what we don't agree on (that's easy, actually; I could stay home by myself and do that)," replied KDE developer Aaron Seigo in a message later in the thread. "If we want a positive challenge let's just recognize that we don't have the same personas in mind when we write software..."

Nat Friedman, one of the original members of the Ximian team currently working as vice president of collaboration and desktop engineering for Novell replied, "Everyone on this list knows the Linux desktop is in a 'pick your poison' state right now. Anyone who's used Linux for a year has experienced this, whatever choices they've made of desktop environment, settings, etc."

GNOME developer and GNOME Foundation Director Jeff Waugh replied directly to Torvalds' original comments.

"That's definitely not a point of view of the GNOME Project--we're focused on making Free Software appropriate for users who are smart (we don't talk about 'dumb users'), but just don't care about computing technology," Waugh wrote.

The thread, which started yesterday afternoon, comes on the heels of the recent OSDL desktop architect summit in Portland, Oregon, where noted open source developers met to discuss and plan ways of improving interface and application development.

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