Sunday, September 30, 2007

QT and GTK : impact.

Some time ago an newcomer to Linux commented about the apparent vile hatred and rivalry between Gnome and KDE, and the newcomer wondered why couldn't both groups just get along... wasn't Microsoft a better target to aim against?

As is well known, I am not a Gnome person. I'll run IceWM, I'll run a 'Box, I love XFCE, and it's my opinion that KDE is hands down the best userfriendly desktop available. As seen in this blog I have a tendency to take all the potshots at Gnome that I can. Keeping that in mind, I am probably NOT somebody you want to talk to if you want an objective and unbiased view of the rivalry between KDE and Gnome. However, the question needs to be asked... can I actually defend my position as being against Gnome? Am I blinded by past events to the point that I am being unreasonable?

Well, the answer isn't as clear cut as the Intel answer was... which is why the Intel post ran first.

To start with, lets go over some history. Gnome was originally created with GTK. GTK stands for the Gimp Tool Kit. Gnome was originally created in response to TrollTech's QT tool kit.

Thing was, QT originally was not open-licensed software. QT originally was closed software, which made the GNU developers nervous. TrollTech used the KDE desktop to promote QT. If you wanted to know what QT could do, you used KDE.

According to Wikipedia GNU developers started two projects back in 1997, one to create a new desktop using a different tool kit than QT, and one to create an open-licensed set of tools identical to QT called Harmony.

Again, according to Wikipedia, TrollTech re-licensed QT under the QPL in 1998 and established a KDE Foundation to insure that if TrollTech went bankrupt, was bought out, or whatever, that QT would continue. Wikipedia continues on to state that TrollTech re-licensed QT again in 2000 to be GPL software.

That's where the Ubersoft comic came in :

TrollTech had done everything that Richard M. Stallman and other GNU developers had demanded they do. TrollTech had played by Open-Source rules and yet GNU developers still railed against TrollTech and QT.

So... why does this hostility continue today?

Well, think about it.

QT was originally closed-licensed software and came with a cost to use. GTK has been open-licensed software from the start. There was a decided philosophical and business split between Linux and Unix desktop interface developers.

Business owners who were more practical in nature were more likely to spend the money for a QT license.

Hardliners for open-licensed software went with GTK+.

As I see it, Gnome developers have a real large problem with communication. The group has a reputation for being a closed clique. If a non-clique developer submits a patch to clean up code or enable a new feature, Gnome developers are known to reject the patches. Over the recent years it's gotten so bad with the clique nature that Linus T. himself went after Gnome on public mailing lists. Okay, so Linus doesn't know chemistry, biology, or physics, but he DOES know coding.

KDE developers? Well... I haven't found one that hasn't at least responded to an email. I don't SEE reports about new developers having problems submitting patches to KDE projects. I don't SEE reactionary rejections just because a coder wasn't in some "in-clique."

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying the GNU Hardliners were wrong to pursue an alternative desktop... If Gnome had NOT been created, QT probably would have never been open-licensed.


Now, why do I, personally, rail against Gnome so much? Isn't the corporate choice for Novell, RedHat, and Ubuntu?

Well, I'll be the first in line to admit that I Gnome was the first Linux desktop I tried on some ancient version of Red Hat. I couldn't get anything done. When Ubuntu came out after Mepis, I again tried the Gnome desktop... and again found myself unable to get any work accomplished. The user interface seemed to fly in the face of any sense that I could make out.

Now, okay, fine, somebody can easily claim that I just don't know a good Desktop interface. Yeah, okay, lets examine that idea. I offer up systems through that come pre-loaded and pre-configured with XFCE, also GTK based. I've written guides on how to install IceWM. I have installs of AntiX with FluxBox (I think). I have various consoles such as Sega Dreamcast, Playstation 2, Gamecube, Wii, and Playstation 3 all which have various "system" interfaces. I wrote Guides for Cedega that explained it's interface. I have a running Install of Vista RC1, and a running install of Vista Home Premium.
I used to have an install of SymphonyOS, and for a while I had the OLPC LiveCD beta running.

I have no problems switching from one to the other and running through various interfaces.

Yet I have problems with Gnome. That indicates a serious problem when Gnome typically makes less sense to me than Vista.


So... this answer isn't as clear cut. It is mostly opinion, and very subjective. Hey, some people use Gnome and like it. Fine. I don't.

Does this mean that I'll stop saying that Gnome developers have as much business as I do making a Desktop interface? Nope. It would take a lot of "groveling" from Gnome developers before I'd think about revising my opinion. Yeah, so I'm a little harsh. Call it payback for the years of potshots at KDE.

No comments: