First we had the KDE 3.5 to KDE 4.0 debacle. A release numbering scheme by the KDE folk that differed from what is considered the norm ended up with alpha level code being pushed out in most major desktop distributions of Linux. Many people were so upset about radical and broken changes to KDE during this period they left KDE, swearing never to return. It does not matter if KDE is “okay” now. Some of these people will probably not return to KDE.
Some of the disenchanted former KDE using folk moved to Gnome and liked what Gnome was at the time. These people got comfortable with Gnome 2.x and enjoyed the features it has. Now we have the strangeness that is Gnome 3. Once again, many people are not happy with the changes in Gnome 3. Especially upsetting to some is the loss of functionality they took for granted and an extreme change in the look and feel of Gnome.
What are these KDE and Gnome desktop FOSS developers thinking? “We want to be more like Microsoft!”? In other words, change the Graphical User Interface (GUI) just for the sake of change? (That is a rhetorical question, I already know the reasons given by these major desktop developers. I just disagree with much of their reasoning for such radical changes in major release versions.)
The change of the Microsoft GUI from Microsoft Windows XP to Microsoft Vista and Microsoft Windows 7 was radical. The Microsoft GUI change was basically just glitz, bells and whistles on top of the same broken OS with the added insult of removing and obfuscating much of what users had come to expect from their Microsoft GUI. There was no real need for such a radical change of the GUI. Sure, the new Microsoft GUI “looks pretty” if one has the hardware to support it. But the changes to add the “glitz, bells and whistles” also made older hardware obsolete faster since the older hardware did not have the “muscle” to run such a resource intensive GUI as was released with Vista and later Windows 7. At least the underlying Linux system is still robust, secure and works like it should. At least on Linux we still have sane window managers and GUI systems we can fall back to when the major desktop GUI developers go off the cliff with radical changes we do not like.
Are these GUI changes in KDE and Gnome “better” than what we had previously? The idea of “better” is completely subjective. What a Geek Code Jockey (developer) thinks is “better” is possibly, even probably, not going to be what an end-user thinks is “better”. Actually, most average PC end-users I know personally would prefer that their GUI not change so radically from one major release to the next. Incremental changes are good, especially if the changes do not break, obfuscate, move or remove something the end-user likes about said GUI. On the other hand radical changes are Bad™, especially if said changes do break, obfuscate, move or remove something the end-user likes about said GUI.
For example, one of the reasons I like and stick with fluxbox is the fact that it does not change. The add-ons and keyboard shortcuts I put in place for my fluxbox “desktop” will still work as I expect when I get the next release of Mandriva Linux installed. That is what *I* want. Not some radical change such as we see with Gnome 3. Another optional GUI I use on some systems is Window Maker. Again, when the Linux distribution on which I am running Window Maker is upgraded to the next release, Window Maker will still work as I expect it to. No radical changes just for the sake of change or to scratch some itches of FOSS GUI developers. In some cases change can be good. Such as, I would really enjoy a change to a higher income bracket. But when it comes to getting my work done on my PC, I would prefer my GUI stay pretty much how it is now. After all, that is why I picked the GUI I use in the first place.
Do you have a GUI you like on your Linux system because the GUI does not change radically? Feel free to post a comment about it.
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