Tux and the anti-Gnome sentiment

[Print This] By mjhammel ~ October 12th, 2005. Filed under: General, Writing.

I’ve resigned from writing for Tux Magazine. I only wrote for them for the first 5 issues, but the anti-GNOME sentiment really started to bug me. While I have nothing against KDE, I just don’t use it much. I mean, after all, I was there when GTK+ was born – GIMP was a lowly Motif application way back when Spencer and Peter migrated to their first version of GTK+ and I added the first version of the Sparkle plugin (with John Beale’s assistance, of course). GIMP begot GTK+, which begot GNOME, which begot – well, close to 1/2 of the current Linux desktop environment. So being a GNOME user is part of my family tree. I think GNOME has a lot of warts, but so do a lot of tools (KDE included). But being anti-GNOME – and blatantly so – just hit me as wrong.

It isn’t that I think you shouldn’t choose a favorite. Or that you shouldn’t emphasize one over the other. Tux editors claim that the majority of desktop users are running KDE. Assuming that’s true then emphasizing KDE in a magazine isn’t really a problem – you’re trying to sell magazines so you need to hit the largest target audience possible. So I can’t argue with a targeted emphasis on KDE.

And I certainly don’t think KDE is a bad desktop environment. I’ve used it to some extent at work because a number of shared systems in the lab run with KDE as the default desktop. From an end user perspective it seems to provide all the bells and whistles needed to manage your system. I don’t think it’s true, however, that it’s any easier to use than GNOME. I’m familiar with GNOME and not with KDE and find it easier to figure out how to do things under GNOME. That doesn’t make KDE bad. It just means I’m unfamiliar with it. That’s the same problem Windows users have when migrating to Linux. It isn’t that Linux is bad. They’re just not familiar with the environment. Like it or not, they aren’t educated in that environment (just like I’m not educated in KDE).

So I’m not saying that anti-GNOME sentiment should be countered by anti-KDE sentiment. I’m saying that there is no reason for either. What I can’t abide is the blatant disrespect Tux seems to have for an open source endeavour as important as GNOME. First, such disrespect is not how the Linux community treats one of its own. We welcome change, varied opinions and radical ideas. That is, after all, how open source was born. Trash talking one tool for the sake of another is just plain – well, its a Microsoft tactic. And we just don’t sink that low.

I also think that no matter how often they spew their numbers, the issue isn’t that GNOME is harder to use than KDE. The issue is that people are less educated about GNOME. Trash talking the environment won’t help. Is Tux a magazine that educates its readers or simply entertains in the same manner that the National Enquirer entertains its mindless masses?

As with every great endeavour, the more people involved the more likely you are to come across those who just don’t get it. Tux is a well written, well edited and (in my humble opinion) well formatted magazine. But it’s a magazine whose editors just don’t get the open source world.

For what it’s worth, I’m still writing my monthly column for Linux Format. That magazine seems to get it. At least they’ve always been upbeat and positive about the open source world. That just seems to be how it ought to be.

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