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A User's Freedom to Choose

Jul 03, 2008, 22:30 (33 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Brian Proffitt)

By Brian Proffitt
Managing Editor

There has been a lot of vitriol lofted towards the KDE 4 development folks lately, with calls for forking and the questioning of the need for users getting lobbed back and forth between the two sides of the argument. Emotions are running high, and there seems to be no way of resolving the issues that have gotten people so upset.

On one hand, there's a slew of users who do not like where KDE 4 is going. The look, the framework, Aaron's Seigo's apparent loathing of the Shift key... you name it, and it's gotten people riled. They've tried KDE 4, and they don't like it. They've tried the development editions of KDE 4.1 and they still don't like it. Nothing, it seems, can appease these folks who hate KDE 4.

It's gotten pretty bad, I suspect. I just noted today that Seigo, who is a strong voice in the general open source community, has apparently closed off general access to his blog. Having been on the receiving end of a community lynch mob, I can hardly blame him.

The irony here is that the same folks who have gone out of their way to decry KDE 4 have often claimed to be proponents of choice. But the option of choice seems to have been forgotten when it comes to using KDE 4.

It comes down to one simple question: who's holding a gun to anyone's head to use KDE 4?

As a user, I have a choice to use KDE 4 or 3.x, or another desktop environment altogether. If I don't like KDE 4 (and for the record, I tried it and found it not ready for my needs yet), here's a radical thought: stay with KDE 3.x. It's not as if you are forced to accept whatever changes a development team makes to your favorite product.

Does this mean that users should meekly accept such changes and not say anything? Of course not. Users in the open source community should always have the option to voice their likes and dislikes about the software they use. But there's a difference between constructive input and destructive lashing that does nothing but anger and hurt everyone involved.

Before you start calling me a KDE sellout, or some such nonsense, I remember having the same opinion when it was GNOME being attacked when they tried something new.

For all the praise of how innovative open source development is, there seems to be a stubborn pocket of conservatism that says "innovation is great, just don't touch my application/environment/driver."

For me, it's a simple thing: I applaud the changes in KDE 4, even if I personally don't want to use them now. At least the developers are trying something new and push the boundaries of the Linux desktop. (And it's not as if this was all a big surprise. Seigo and his team have been very forthcoming about what was getting changed in KDE 4.)

While they are working on it, I will use something else, because while they have the freedom to create, I still have the freedom to choose.