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openFATE feature 306967, KDE default

July 31st, 2009 by

There are pretty many pros and cons and even more people with their opinion about the feature. I’d like to summarize what has been said in the discussion in the feature itself and during yesterday’s openSUSE project meeting. Unfortunately the only sure thing is whatever decision is taken – it will be wrong for some. This is why, at this time, we have no default – because openSUSE has strong GNOME and KDE implementations, we offer them side-by-side as equals.  And we made 2 years ago on opensuse-project the decision that we stay with “no default” desktop.

So what do we have so far?

  • a feature request from one of the KDE e.V. board members
  • the feature asks to make KDE default. Reason for that, is to make openSUSE more simple for newbies and to make openSUSE the best KDE distribution around
  • Through the discussion in the feature I’d translate that feature into put the radio button as default to KDE on the desktop selection screen during installation instead of today’s status where everybody needs to make a choice between
  • the highest rated feature in openFATE until today
  • a majority of people supporting this feature (currently approx. 90% pro, 1% neutral, 9% against)

What I clearly see as pro is:

  • listening to our KDE community we may gain more KDE contributors. But don’t forget this feature is also about making openSUSE an outstanding KDE distribution. And for that just voting for a feature is not enough. For becoming an outstanding KDE distribution we need you to contribute
  • we simplify the installation by one click for 2/3 of our users, according to question no. 11 in our  last openSUSE survey made in 11.0 time frame
  • the GNOME users keep status quo and need to set the radio button as before

What I clearly see as con is:

  • our pretty active GNOME community won’t be very happy about it
  • our strength is to support choice and two major desktops
  • with the CD you always get a default desktop

What might stay doubtful?

  • Would changing a radio button really drive lots of users and contributors to us?
  • Would already KDE as a default make us to an outstanding KDE distribution?
  • Does openSUSE need a default desktop?

What I suggest?
Due to upcoming feature freeze for openSUSE 11.2 we have now only the possibility to default the radio button to KDE. But this is IMO more a diplomatic solution which doesn’t help much anybody. We should give the feature one or two more weeks to evolve and need to do the decision for openSUSE 11.2 by mid of August.

Some other observations I have with respect about this feature:

  • inviting people through blogs, web pages, mailing lists or twitter to vote has potential to set the credibility of the voting system at risk as people not involved with openSUSE or not using openSUSE express their thoughts
  • the feature shows the success of opening up the openSUSE project. Few years ago decisions were made by Novell and nowadays decisions are challenged by our community.
  • I’m pretty happy about the way the discussion is handled (impartial, no bashing etc.)

May wisdom be with us – and may we get in openSUSE the best GNOME and the best KDE desktops!

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12 Responses to “openFATE feature 306967, KDE default”

  1. Will Stephenson

    What is this blog for? The result of this week’s opensuse-project meeting about the default desktop question was to put a summary on the opensuse-project mailing list, not blog about it. By blogging your summary, you are undermining your first observation, that blogging a feature decision and involving people outside the project risks the credibility of the features.opensuse.org voting system.

    But since we’re here, I challenge that observation:

    If 215 outsiders voted up 306967 to the most wanted feature in 3 days, isn’t that a strong signal to the project that this feature would sigificantly increase the popularity of openSUSE to outsiders?

  2. Anubisg1

    i really disagree with that.

    suse is already the best kde distro (like ubuntu is the best gnome one).
    gnome saved the butt to suse 11.1
    as you sed: “# our strength is to support choice and two major desktops”

    my answer here is a BIG no, instead, we really have to say a big THANKS to our gnome team, that saved use 11.1, that provides the DEFAULT DE on SLE

  3. Dmitry Serpokryl

    > my answer here is a BIG no

    +1. the power of SUSE is a desktop-neutral system with a stable and polished core base system (kernel, libs, config files, etc). huge thanks to the devs/engineers.

    > instead, we really have to say a big THANKS to our gnome team, that saved use 11.1, that provides the DEFAULT DE on SLE


    i’d be really glad to see the possibility to have/get the DE without garbage. right now (yes, according to the LSB-3.1, the “Qt” should be included into the distro core) i can’t have a “pure” GTK DE by default. at least “sax2” require the Qt for GUI config. and that’s not good at all. it’d definitely be a nice option to keep the DE-neutrality and extend the flexibility of a configuration options.

  4. Chris

    Any suggestion to default to either KDE or GNOME will alienate the other half of our users.

    It speaks of plain ignorance, if not arrogance IMHO. I understand that when one is sooo satisfied with his/her desktop environment of choice one might make such a mistake.

    But PLEASE, just DON’T. It would be a giant mistake. That famous one, single mistake that made the difference to the worse.

  5. Chris

    Really, I read this blog entry again, and wonder how you can be so NAIVE. Do you seriously believe that the 99% of positive comments on this feature request are actually representative of anything? Doesn’t it occur to you that GNOME users simply ignore that feature request as an utter stupidity? What WERE your thinking?

  6. There are two, in my opinion wrong assumptions in all this discussion (let’s repeat them, even though I made them clear on openFate already):

    1) “listening to our KDE community we may gain more KDE contributors”

    Not necessarily true. The right question to ask would be “why does a choice prevent KDE contributors to join openSUSE”, and address that problem. I do not think that a contributor is scared or confused by the need of choosing between two desktop environments, quite clearly described in the installer.

    2) “Reason for that, is to make openSUSE more simple for newbies and to make openSUSE the best KDE distribution around”

    I think it is quite an overstatement to say that the installation will become simpler for users if a default DE is selected. The user has a lot harder decisions to take, if he is new to Linux, than choosing GNOME or KDE. He has to partition, for example, or choose if he wants root’s password to be identical to the user password, or if he wants or not the automatic configuration. Of course there are defaults for these options, but, especially for the most delicate one (partitioning) he probably needs or wants something different and he has to decide anyway. In such a case I think an informed choice, as we recommend already, is the way to go.


  7. Federico Lucifredi

    No default is the only sensible choice. We made the mistake of alienating half of the desktop zealots once already.

    I don’t think it is such a big deal. The problem, is that many people think it is, and whichever desktop is not the chosen one will perceive the “radio button” as a slight.

    openSUSE is already the best KDE distro, and a pretty strong Gnome one as well. I see little gain, and only more politics of the kind I do not like coming out of this.

  8. Lars

    There’s nothing more tiresome, strange and awkward for me as a non-developer and regular user than this crazy fuzz and arguments and sometimes war over what’s the best DE and what DE should be the default in our distribution. Please, let ME do the choice — keep openSUSE free from a default DE! If I want KDE as the only DE, I can choose the KDE-cd at download, if I want Gnome, I choose the Gnome-cd. It’s that simple. Keep that. And thank’s a lot for a great distro I’ve been using on my home computer since 2001, on my work computer since 2002 (pretty ordinary office-kind of work at a university).

  9. Stephen Michael Kellat

    I left a counter-proposal here: https://features.opensuse.org/307065

  10. Federico Lucifredi

    and openFATE is code 500 today, which somehow I am sure the conspiracy theorists will love 🙂

  11. Federico Lucifredi

    hum, still code 500s – is the server being attacked in some way ?

  12. tos

    IMHO, the most important aspects that have been mentioned in the discussion are:
    (1) If Novell invites the community to take responsibility in the development of OpenSUSE, it is extremely important to listen carefully to their arguments and to frustrate their wishes only if essential interests are affected. A default radio button on KDE would hardly have such impact, I guess.
    (2) Desktop choices have a high visibility. Delivering the best KDE experience on Linux and a clear commitment to KDE have a high potential to distinguish OpenSUSE from the rest.
    (3) This would also make sense historically. SuSE has been a KDE-centric distro, and quite some members of the KDE community do still have a special relationship with OpenSUSE. But that will only last if their commitments are reciprocated.
    (4) Of course, OpenSUSE should also do its best to provide the best integration for other desktops as well. And choices should be made as simple as possible (changing a pre-selected radio button doesn’t seem too hard). Providing a default is as such not incompatible with choice — not at all. What about defaults for filesystems, for example? SuSE has always been known for providing choices, sometimes more than other distros. But in many areas, there have been defaults, and with very good reasons.
    (5) It must be acknowledged that the early release of KDE 4.0 and the parallel development of KDE 3.5 and 4 did some harm to the public image of KDE. However, KDE 4.3 is really amazing, and a renewed commitment of OpenSUSE to KDE would also be a clear sign that the current version of KDE is, again, an outstanding desktop.