Yes, GNOME is limiting!

There’s been a lot of fallout from Linus’ latest criticism of the GNOME desktop, with which I complete agree. I feel as if I need to comment on some of the responses.

Carthik Sharma writes in Of Apples and Oranges, GNOME and KDE:

I dread having to find something, since it most definitely will be placed in some non-intuitive sub-menu.

KDE has no control over where applications decide to place themselves.

I like the way GNOME display fonts on the screen. I don’t want to have to change every little variable to get the perfect system.

GNOME pioneered use of fontconfig; in fact, lately, GNOME has been pioneering the use of many next-gen APIs and technologies (e.g. AIGLX, Beryl, etc). But Qt/KDE have also been using fontconfig for several years now—what’s different?

Interesting enough, there has been criticism about how GNOME handles fonts. Taking points from that article, GNOME’s font configuration is a mess:

  • What’s a “Terminal” font (it should be called “Monospace,” as it is in KDE, because this is how it’s also used throughout GNOME)?
  • What does “size” mean (apparently, it’s not what you think)?
  • Why do I care about the subpixel ordering of my fonts’ antialiasing?
  • Why would I need to set fonts at all (see my weblog entry The GNOME font dialog, why?)?

KDE is no different than GNOME in trying to provide “sensible” defaults, defaults that its developers have decided are intrinsic to a “perfect desktop.” But, what the developers have decided is the perfect desktop may not be your perfect desktop—and here lies the essence of Linus’ argument, and the difference with KDE and GNOME. With KDE, you may have an option to make a setup “perfect”; with GNOME, quite often the option won’t exist and you are limited to what the powers that be decided was perfect for them, not you. This is Linus’ argument: GNOME is limiting.


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