Official: GNOME Isn’t l33t

December 13th, 2005  |  Published in old and busted  |  2 Comments

Linux Today – Torvalds Re-Kindles GNOME vs. KDE:

> “This ‘users are idiots, and are confused by functionality’ mentality of Gnome is a disease. If you think your users are idiots, only idiots will use it. I don’t use Gnome, because in striving to be simple, it has long since reached the point where it simply doesn’t do what I need it to do,” Torvalds wrote.

Awesome. I think Brian’s hands were probably shaking as he wrote that piece up.

I mean … O.k. Linus is right. I resent the GNOME project dating from its horrible decision to inflict Metacity on us all. That was the beginning of the end for me. Why would I want to continue to use something that both assumed I was an idiot and worked poorly when I could instead choose to use something that both assumed I was an idiot and worked really well?

Where he’s wrong is, I guess, is in the notion that KDE is the alternative. Blech. For all the whinging about the “choice” GNOME has “deprived” users of, KDE has its own share of totalitarian impulses centered around tyrannizing you with its comprehensiveness and the sheer volume of choices it thinks you should be bothered with.

But I had this extra 80 gig of hard drive space on the Windows machine, so I took Ubuntu for a really brief spin because some minor issues with another of the machines in the house reminded me that it’s always good to have a fallback you can live with.

Some quick notes:

The install was pretty simple. I think there’s an element out there in Linux-land that believes installs aren’t simple unless they’re done with a mouse. Bollocks. It’s the least interesting part of the process, and the most bloviating goes on about it every time someone does a review, even though continual installing and reinstalling of operating systems is something an even smaller segment of the computer population than “Linux desktop users” does. If I could invade these peoples’ dreams and leave them with one message, it would be:

“How well software comports itself in the context of your evangelical agenda should be the least of anyone’s concerns.”

Not that they’d listen. Like that Hoosier cult in the late 19th century, they prefer to lay out in the corn field on their backs waiting for some sort of “movement” to spontaneously form in the software aisles of WalMart.

Lots of luck, suckers. Aunt Tilly rolls her eyes when your back is turned, and laughs behind her hand when she calls you on the phone to get instructions on how to get her wallpaper back to that funny picture of a monkey in a tutu. She wants your revolution like she wants Wilbur the Gimp tattooed on her forehead.

Believe that.

Anyhow, once I had it installed, it behaved well enough. The fileshares I have set up on the eMac popped up in Nautilus easily enough.

The software updater just came online and got me patched up quickly in the background. I kind of wish Apple’s update process was as granular as Ubuntu’s, but I also think the hysterics that go on over “potential exploits” on all platforms are a little overwrought. I’ll think that right up until Apple releases a fix to something two days after the thing that got patched has 0wn3d my eMac and, uh, rooted me hard.

Other than that …

The interface is sort of cartoony and puffy looking. Where Apple goes for photorealistic and sleek, the GNOME people seem to prefer a hand-drawn look. The default fonts are on the largish side. As I said to Ed, it sort of looks like an interface from Fisher-Price. Pleasing but … chunky. And it kind of reflects my overall concept of Linux: It’s “complete” but still sort of crude unless you dig playing around with computers.

One beef:

I accidentally fired up Evolution before I wanted to actually set it up. I got the startup window inviting me to configure it. I killed the window following the prompts the UI offered. A few minutes later, I tried to restart Evolution so I could set it up and it kept hanging at the startup window.

My first thought, because I spent more time fiddling with Linux once upon a time, was that there must be a process hung somewhere, so I popped open a terminal and did a “ps ax|grep evo.” Sure enough … a few dead Evo processes. I killed them then tried to relaunch Evolution. No love, and more dead processes. Then some atavistic reflex kicked in as I was wondering if they still had that old “killev” binary you could use to massacre runaway Evolution instances and I thought “I bet it’s the configuration directory.” A quick “rm -r ~/.evolution” later, and Evo was launching fine.

That kind of crap is no way to run a computer.

Anyhow … I’m done. I wanted to have the latest, simplest Linux set up as a fallback, and I do. It was a fine place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there unless OS X wasn’t an option anymore.

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