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KDE and GNOME

Yet another blog post about KDE and Gnome. You've all been waiting for this one. :)

First of all, I use Gnome 2.14 and I have some parts of KDE 3.5.3 installed too. Why? Gnome seems to be better glued together and more professional, feels less bloated and it also feels faster. I say it only feels so, because I haven't done any real tests.

KDE got some real goodies like Quanta Plus which is probably the best web programmers editor I've used. Given it's free ... I'd say it's amazing. I've seen loads of shareware editors that have far less features (for Windows of course).

KDE TV was also my favourite TV application since it's really good for all my TV viewing needs (it does have the deinterlace filter :) ). However, since then I switched to tvtime, because I find it faster and better in some ways (too bad I can't configure it too much, it's very minimalistic).

I was pleasantly surprised by Konqueror (as a web browser). I've never knew it's so powerful. Much better than IE. Too bad it's very little known. I am aware it's not a browser as capable as Opera or Firefox, but it's very good (it can properly render all the CSS layout sites I have).

Nicest surprise to KDE was KTTS. Nice stuff guys. Just one suggestion: add a global shortcut for reading the clipboard.

KolourPaint is my choice for simple image editing (GIMP is too advanced/different for me ... even if I am used to Photoshop).

Kig and Kseg are two educational packages worth the time spent by their respective authors on development. Meaning Kseg is a very cool dynamic geometry software, but it's not as complete as Kig. Kig, IMHO, will become my primary tool for dynamic geometry. It's very, very good and advanced. Yet, I still need to learn some of its capabilities. :)

Amarok is the music player. Much better than Winamp and all others. I've tested Rythmbox, Banshee, juK and other music players. None comes close to Amarok, which is feature packed and nonetheless it's fast enough. Don't expect it to be as fast as XMMS, but it's faster than Banshee and Rythmbox which are the two music players receiving most attention. Amarok has a very good collection, tagging with online database, automatic scoring of songs you listen most, it also picks similar songs recommended by Last.fm. You can automatically search for lyrics, for artist information, similar artists, etc. The context browser is very nice, because it automatically shows songs you are most likely to be interested of (favourites, new additions, songs from the same album, same artist, etc). Other goodies includes are cover management (automatically finds the cover online), Python extensions (web control and more), nice customizable OSD and lots more. Simply put, amarok is the best player. It doesn't crash, it got a very fast collection search and analizer. Rythmbox and Banshee both crashed when scanning my songs, LOL.

The funniest part in KDE is ... guess what? Image viewers. Amusing, huh? Most KDE image viewers suck big time. They are even worse than the worst image viewer I've ever seen on Windows. There you go, I've said it. Shocking statement? I'd say it's a shocking fact on my Ubuntu 6.06 install (and Ubuntu 5.10): just loading an image of lets say 800x600 in Kview (or KuickShow, whatever) and zooming to 400% sends the system to hell :). Memory usage increases a lot and the virtual memory is required, so the HDD activity raises like I'm copying several files on the network at once (it even slows down mouse movements). I suppose it's because the 400% zoomed image is way too big to hold it all in the memory :). Veeery efficient code. If this caused by the Ubuntu distro, then ... this is the worst thing Ubuntu has.

Worth noting is the problem doesn't apply to KolourPaint, which most likely uses a different library.

Here comes the irony: KDE image viewers have better support for image formats. I wasn't able to view some BMP images with any of the Gnome image viewer (GQView, Gthumb and EOG). Also, I wasn't able to see any PSD image, only KDE supports them. :)

So, my default image viewer is Gthumb and besides it I also have Kview. I removed all the other image viewers.

The latest Kopete seems to be a very attractive alternative to Gaim. I simply enjoyed "hacking" into the XSLT files to change the display of the conversation. I also like it has notifications, and more options. What made me not to use Kopete: it's underdeveloped. Anyway, Kopete is still in its infancy.

Both desktop environments are not professional and fast enough. They should also follow stricter guidelines, making them look more professional.

I like the panels, the applets, menus editing, the multiple desktops/workspaces environment, the keyboard configuration (accessibility, layouts and variants). These are things Windows should get too, just like it should get proper permissions per file and symbolic links. Windows is actually a very weak desktop environment compared to KDE and Gnome.

Gnome 2.14 has noticeable speed improvements. As far as I know, it's going to get more speed improvements for version 2.16. I like that. KDE 4 is going to be interesting, but I have a "hunch": it's going to be buggy, since they make big changes.

I like the idea of KDE: having a single keyboard shortcuts editor in all applications, a single toolbar editor, menu editor, etc. I also seem to like the idea of KNotify with it's integration with KTTS.

As for customization, KDE is the clear "winner". I like I can easily customize the themes and everything I want in a single place: KDE Control Center. Yes, I know it's hatable, but it's also good. The themes in KDE seems to be more flexible than the ones in Gnome.

What I dislike when I am in Gnome, if I start KDE applications, I'm seeing KDE, not Gnome. I know it's normal, because they depend upon the KDE packages, but there should be more interoperability. Why not use the Gnome keyboard shortcuts editor when in Gnome? Why not use the Gnome widgets (and more stuff)? Same goes for when I am in KDE: I see Gnome stuff.

It's all about consistency. Is that too much to ask for? :)

Projects like Tango Desktop Project, LSB and Portland are very good because they help with consistency. I'm glad the latest Ubuntu uses the Tango icons.

KDE and Gnome also play the "catch-up with Windows" game Windows functionality, just like OpenOffice seems to do with Microsoft Office. Microsoft will always be one step ahead, because they are currently modifying the rules of the game with Microsoft Office, Windows Vista and more.

Why not be a bit different? Why not bring something new and better?

Thanks to Microsoft, alternative web browsers (Opera, Firefox, Safari, Konqueror) had enough time to go miles ahead of Internet Explorer.

KDE and Gnome had the same amount of time... and the heads of these desktop environments decided upon using the allocated time to catch-up with Windows. They almost did. :)

KDE 4 received some good press, mostly hype currently (IMHO), about bringing new stuff to the table, about innovation (Plasma, whatever). That's nice. I'd be glad if they'll succeed.

Another thing I do not like, specially in regards to KDE: they include a huge amount of packages. Come on, keep the desktop environment only. Gnome is sticking to Epiphany, which is, with all due respect, yet-another Gecko browser. Seriously, why would I switch to Epiphany? Both desktop environments should be bare bones. The other packages should only be optional, just like screen is.

Konqueror, as a file manager this time, is more feature packed than Nautilius. However, I'm in favour for the simplicity offered by Nautilius.

The overall conclusion is both desktop environments are powerful, each having its own strengths and weaknesses. I am very well aware most of the ideas have already been expressed before by others, yet I think the more people voice their opinions the closer we'll get to this happening (consistency, blah, blah). Those in charge of the development of these two great desktop environments will take into consideration what the majority says.

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