Why do you prefer KDE?
1i5t5.duncan at cox.net
Sun Dec 22 13:49:13 GMT 2013
Bruce Byfield posted on Sat, 21 Dec 2013 18:45:13 -0800 as excerpted:
> As you may have heard, KDE recently topped the Linux Journal's Readers'
> Choice Awards.
> That got me thinking. Why do people prefer KDE? What advantages do you
> think it has over other desktop environments?
> Warning: If I get enough replies, I may use them in a blog entry for
> Linux Pro Magazine.
> My thanks in advance for any replies.
In a sentence: I use kde for exactly the same reason I run gentoo, and
to some extent, exactly the same reason I run Linux: all three respect
the user's right to choose exactly what and how they want things far more
than most alternatives.
I've never seen either a desktop environment or distro I was satisfied
with straight as it came out of the box, and I doubt I ever will. I have
quite particular demands and expectations about my ability to make the
tools I choose to use work /my/ way, and I don't take very well to either
my tools or their creators saying there is only one right way to do
something, it's their way, and if I don't agree, I'm simply wrong, when
it's my box I'm working on and my time I'm spending on it!
So I tend to be a HEAVY customizer, to the point that other users of the
same tools don't even recognize my customized configuration as the same
tools they're running too. Both kde and gentoo tend to support my level
of customization far better than most alternatives, so they're the
choices I've made. And Linux, of course, is built and thrives on that
level of freedom as well. =:^)
It should be obvious from the above that don't always agree with all
choices made, but the great part is that in general, all three projects
respect the user's ability to make their own decisions, and that's what I
As an example, both Doug and Graham mentioned how badly kontact, kmail,
and basically the entire kdepim module has been screwed up during kde4.
I won't argue a bit with that as I had exactly the same sort of issues
with it. One day after kmail had eaten yet another email, I asked myself
why I tolerated that sort of behavior from an app tasked with handling a
set of basic network mail protocols that have been around in some form
longer than the internet itself -- email is NOT rocket science and it
hasn't been rocket science for some time! It's a stable set of protocols
with all sorts of stable choices for handling them, and there's
absolutely no reason people should be expected to tolerate the kind of
mail handling issues kmail/kontact/akonadi brought them!
That day I set about changing things, for me anyway! Within a few weeks
I'd found my chosen alternative (claws-mail, both as a kmail alternative
and with its feed-reader plugin, as an alternative for akregator as well,
since akregator is part of the same kdepim suite and was in line to get
akonadified as well).
But I didn't stop there. With that gone, I decided I didn't need akonadi
or even for that matter, the entire semantic-desktop thing, at all!
And because I run gentoo, I wasn't simply limited to turning off semantic-
desktop at runtime. I switched a few build-and-install-time USE flags
and entirely uninstalled a whole SET of dependencies. Akonadi, nepomuk,
redland, rasqal, virtuoso, soprano, mysql, kdepimlibs, kdepim-common-
libs, libkdepim... all gone along with kmail, akregator, and kaddressbook,
the bits of kdepim I had been using. (Strigi remained a dependency as
part of kde required it to build, but it's a tiny package by itself and
without a data backend installed, it couldn't actually do anything... it
was purely a build-time dep of a few other kde packages including I
And not only did I have them entirely off my system, I was actually
rather astonished at how much FASTER my system ran without all that junk
loading it down, too. Even with nepomuk turned off at runtime, the
system had been rather laggy since I had installed kde4 in the first
place. But removing it was like getting all the viruses cleaned off of
somebody's MS Windows machine (when they don't know/care enough about
security to keep it clean in the first place)... or like I had just added
a couple extra cores to my CPU! It really WAS that dramatic, and it's
something that really surprised me, as I hadn't expected any benefit but
not having those packages around to keep updated any longer!
Since then I've come to the conclusion that at least some of the slowdown
people still often say they have with kde4 in comparison to kde3 is due
to all that semantic-desktop junk. Too bad few distros offer a proper
kde-lite option without that stuff even installed. =:^(
But exposing that sort of choice to the end user is exactly what gentoo
does /by/ /default/ at the distro level, and exactly what kde does /by/
/default/ at the desktop level. It's part of their design philosophy --
part of the point they even /exist/! There are certainly exceptions, but
that's the point, they're the exception, not the rule, and time and
again, it's exactly where those exceptions occur that are some of the
biggest pain points for the users.
Think about it. If kde had provided its usual level of choice with the
whole kdepim/kontact/kmail akonadification fiasco, would it have been a
big deal? No. Users would have decided they thought the default was
stupid and would have gone and changed the config to something that
worked for them. Because that's part of what makes kde kde, the ability
to do just that. And when that ability isn't there...
Well then, people end up doing it anyway, but with non-kde apps if they
have too. Just as I replaced both kmail and akregator with claws-mail,
But it's a pain-point that should have happened, and I argue, would /not/
have happened, had kde followed its usual practice and had exposed that
as a configuration option, either by offering an alternative kde mail
client, or by making the akonadi integration in kmail a customization
And look at kde4 itself. Same thing there. Early kde4 might have worked
the way the developers intended and that's why they said it was ready for
users. But kde's users have OTHER ideas about how they want their
desktop configured and working, and are used to GETTING it that way! And
it was precisely all those unusual user-specific customizations that were
still broken when the kde devs were so insistent that kde4 was ready for
use, while most of their users were unfortunately finding exactly the
opposite, that it was still horribly broken, not because the way the devs
used kde was broken as it clearly worked when people did it their way,
but because all the ways kde users were /used/ to reconfiguring kde to
work their /own/ way were now broken, and that was and remains one of the
biggest reasons people choose kde in the FIRST place!
Fortunately, indications at this very early point in the kde5/frameworks
transition are that in general, kde and its core devs seem to have
learned the lesson, and in fact, modularity and the ability to pick and
choose only the bits that work for you are one of the big selling points
of kde5/frameworks. I can't help but think back to what were kde4's big
selling points at a similar point in its development... all about
semantic-desktop, etc. And I know which one I'd pick given the choice,
both back with kde4 and now. Unfortunately, kde did apparently have to
learn that the hard way, but fortunately, indications are that they
have. Given a bit of time, I guess we'll see. =:^)
(As with Doug, you have my permission to quote from the above, with or
without my name attached, if it fits your article. And I'm looking
forward to reading that article, too! =:^)
Duncan - List replies preferred. No HTML msgs.
"Every nonfree program has a lord, a master --
and if you use the program, he is your master." Richard Stallman
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