Just incase you’ve been living under a rock on Mars there is a certain feature request in openFate. Both Michael and Zonker have posted on the matter but as they are both Internal (as in they get paid by the Big N) I thought I’d throw my external views (these views are not solicited by anyone other than me, yadayadayada) into the pot. Now I know I was asked to put my thoughts down and send them into the mailing list, but to be honest the whole discussion has turned into a childish “My dad’s got bigger knuckles than your dad” style flamewar and there are multiple threads on the one topic. Personally I have now switched off of the discussion on the lists as it’s hard to follow and frankly going nowhere.
Firstly I’d like to think that Frank had no malice in filing the feature and only had the best intentions for KDE and openSUSE at heart. The problem is there doesn’t seem to have been enough background checks and verification of facts prior to unleashing this handgrenade of annoying pointlessness. If you default on a loan/mortgage/credit card you are in jeopardy of loosing assets. The same can be carried over to this discussion.
openSUSE did indeed start out as a very KDE centric distro, I don’t actually recall seeing GNOME available in 6.2 but it was that long ago (I can just about remember yesterday). Prior to Novell buying SUSE they bought Ximian who were big players in the GNOME sphere and had a lot of expertise, so sure enough GNOME starts to make an appearance. Then we had the first iteration of this silly and pointless dingdong GNOME gets made the default DE much to many people’s anger. Novell did actually listen and came up with a reasonable solution – no default and list the environments alphabetically. Now some folk think the alphabet is rigged but then again they probably reckon electrons are unfairly viewed as negative – deal with it! Ubuntu was created solely as a GNOME distibution and is the only real commercially supported varient by Canonical, that’s why they have derivatives like Kubuntu and Xubuntu – Canonical are slowly employing more and more people for other DEs to ensure they can keep abreast of what;s going on in the wider world. Fedora/RedHat were always a GNOME focused distro but offered KDE as an option, if my memory serves me right it was very much a stock upstream version with almost no enhancements (I believe that is changing in the right direction). Now I’m not trying to give a histroy lesson or educate people on what the competition is doing, just trying to provide more information.
So the aim of the feature is to make KDE the default DE for openSUSE, why? Frank lists the following and I put my response to them underneath:
– It is confusing for new Linux users if they have to decide between KDE and GNOME during the installation. New users don´t know either of them. So it is easier for beginners if there is a default. openSUSE has more KDE users than GNOME users so it is logical to make KDE the default.
Nope. It’s easier for beginners if they are educated and informed. Having a default will only give them a first impression, nothing more. Yes you are quite correct openSUSE does have more KDE users than GNOME users which is a vestige from the good old S.u.S.E. days and before, but how does that make it logical? I challenge this point’s validity.
– Unique Selling Point. It is important for openSUSE to provide something that Ubuntu and Fedora don´t provide. It would be beneficial for openSUSE to be the only big KDE distribution.
openSUSE has several USPs. The major one is that openSUSE has one the largest pools of upstream developers for both GNOME and KDE. It is a distribution that gives equal weight to both DEs with a large amount of cross DE work. We already provide something that no other distro does – open, supported and enhanced choice. Another USP is that openSUSE is already renowned for it’s KDE implementation regardless of which event I go to and the whole distro discussion comes up people acknowledge and that openSUSE has one of the best KDE builds going. I challenge this point’s validity.
– This could attract more developers because KDE developers need a nice distribution to develop on.
Now this I think is just ill advised. Having KDE as the default DE will only mean that the KDE zealots will be more likely to use openSUSE and to be honest we don’t want or need any zealots. What we want and need is responsible contributions. Having a good implementation of what ever DE and the correct tools is the way to get more developers NOT a default. I challenge this points validity.
– This would increase the popularity of openSUSE in the KDE user community. The negative impact on the GNOME community is not that bad because Ubuntu is the most popular GNOME distribution.
Again it would only really be popular amongst the KDE fanboys/girls, if you don’t agree just look at some of the comments in the feature and on the threads . Sensible developers/users would actually take the time to see what KDE related artifacts are on offer – Beineri’s roll outs of the latest KDE releases is a good example, as is Cornelius’ KDE SDK appliance. It is innovations like this that will make openSUSE popular not having a default desktop. Now for the second part of this comment. Really, do you really honestly think that the impact on the openSUSE GNOME community would be “not that bad”? As Marco once advised us – ZONK! This is probably the worst thoughtout aspect to your idea. Any negative impact to any of our community would be bad. If Ubuntu is “the most popular GNOME distibution” don’t you think it would be better if we tried to address that and make openSUSE the best all round distribution? I challenge this point’s validity.
Frank, you asked for people’s thoughts here’s mine. I would have thought the best way to approach this idea would be to first put forward the question at one of the Project meetings on IRC and then follow it up on the -project mailinglist. Filing the feature and then advertising it solely on your KDE syndicated blog wasn’t the most intelligent course. It affects openSUSE and KDE so giving a bit of notice to the openSUSE project would have been at the very least curtious. Oh and to put the record straight – I class myslef as desktop agnostic and use GNOME, KDE, XFCE and Moblin if anything I use Moblin more than the others at the moment 😉
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