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Monday, August 31, 2009

Next for Sainthood...? KDE Developers

I'm not quite sure this group fits into the "Linux Luminary" pages, but they might not be far off.

KDE Devs...bless your over-worked. under-appreciated hearts. And I mean that with all my being.

See, I AM a KDE user, albeit a fickle one. When KDE 4.0 came out, I ran, not walked to Distrowatch to find a distro that would have the new KDE as it's backbone.

There were several. I thought it sucked.

There were also several million unified howls of anger, confusion and include mine.

Dante's Inferno seemed like a Kindergarten field trip in comparison.

So I did what any busy user would do...I switched to Gnome....kicking an screaming mind you....but switched none the same and became fairly comfortable in those confines. With caveat of course...Nautilus could, ahem...use some work.

Nautilus I know Konqueror,

Konqueror is a friend of mine...

and Nautilus, you are most certainly no Konqueror.

So, A close colleague and I have had a running discussion on this for months. Mark Van Kinsley is a business owner and Geek Extrordinaire out of Sidney New York. I also count him as one of my closest friends and confidants.

His advice? "It ain't going away Ken... You are gonna need to learn it eventually."

He's right.

Whether he or I likes it or not..."not" is often an option, given my insecent requests for help as I am convalescing. He made the trip thousands of miles on his own dime to take part and actually assumed a leadership roll in Lynn Bender's amazing Linux Against Poverty...a project that netted us over 100 usable and fairly up-to-date computers to give away to disadvantaged kids. He and Victor manned the pxe/distro install lab...assuring the whole thing ran smoothly.

Our rare but unified consensus?

KDE 4X isn't going away. If you are going to advocate, teach and mentor Linux Users, it's best to be comfortable and knowledgeable in all Desktop Environments. Van Kinsley is right.

Foolish me...diving in before sounding the depth of the waters.

While I found the initial attempts at "rebuilding" KDE4x to be inadequate as a solid DE, I turned to Gnome as my prime mover. See...the OS is important but only as efficient as the DE that interfaces with it.

There is no other way to look at it. Your desktop environment dictates the mood, speed, appearance and dexterity of your desktop.

Never underestimate my ability to overstate the obvious.

KDE 4X had plenty of the "inter" just lacked an easily-recognizable "face". So at least metaphorically, we have (or had) an incomplete DE.

That being as well as other places and loudly by some, more measured and reasonable by others...

Consensus seems to be that KDE4X is fastly reducing it's measurement on the "This-sucks-O-Meter". The Turning Point?

KDE 4.3

Even after my illness I still find it almost impossible to sleep for 4 hours... given moderate strength pharmaceuticals for insomnia. I don't bother to toss and turn anymore, chasing the sleep I will never capture. It frustrates me.

I just get up and start my day....most days beteween 3 and 4 AM. Just the way it is.

Given that extra time my life is not being wasted in unconsciousness, I read a lot. I read exclusively about matters and decisions within the Linux Community. From the Kernel IRC channels to and Carla Schroder's

And from time to time, stumble into jewels like this. Don't gloss this over...within you will find some of the most honest, and heartfelt, if not angry responses by the KDE Dev group to their detractors...and it all makes sense.

I'm not particularly fond of immersing myself into various factions and politics...I have my own mission and I need to concentrate on that. Which of course, leaves little time to do much else.

Unless you are up at 3 AM and the info-mercials have gotten on your very last jangled nerve. That usually draws me to my computer and I begin looking for things I believe to be important.

I have found a new belief...or at least a fairly provable theory.

The KDE guys are:

1 - taking immense heat and facing almost unbearable pressure in making eveyone happy.

2 - fairly well slated for sainthood as none to this point has donned automatic weapons and hunted down some less-than-kind remarks and commenters.

You are stronger men than I. And please...I was just kidding about the automatic weapons. It's beyond absurd to think anyone would obtain automatic weapons to do their critics harm.

They are illegal here...semi-auto's would have to suffice.

At the very best, I am a Linux PowerUser. I can ssh/shell into my home box and use either the terminal or Konqueror to access my files. I can use Telnet, I install 99 percent of my software from the command line and I have even mastered google search via terminal. Not geeky, just easier. I can do a bit more than the regular user, but maybe not near as much as you. But what I can do...and often do with abandon.

I change the l0ok of my desktop to make it a showplace for Linux Demonstrations. I have created some nothing-less-than-stunning environments to demonstrate to New Linux Users...and they've all been KDE presentations.

KDE is working hard to make that not only possible again, but even more beautiful as well.

See...they had some problems at first...and please, I was the first to jump down their throats with file-sharpened Golf Cleats. An act I sincerely apologize for. See, these guys are doing good things...they ARE listening to their users...even the loudest critics that have evolved or shown themselves to be complete Arschloch's. Given some of the unreasonable or pointed posts on the above-linked site, they are not only Arschlochs...

They are Archloch's mit ohren.

Yeah, I have my gripes...KIO's didn't work forever but are getting better. I seem to be one of the only people on earth that actually use my mouse gestures in Konqueror. It was a pleasure to see OpenSuse implement these first. I came to depend greatly on them. Hopefully others will follow suit.

But gripes aside...I have nothing but respect, admiration and even a bit of envy toward the KDE developers. If ever given a chance to ask only one question of them, it wouldn't be about coding or api's.

I would simply ask what substance they take to supress homicidal rage.

Might come in handy some day soon.

All-Righty Then


kozmcrae said...

I must have missed something. What kind of "person" installs a burning edge major release of a DE and is surprised to find problems? I have been mortified at the comments towards KDE4.x. Is KDE 3.5.10 so bad that people can't wait to run from it? One thing helping me along in the process of moving from KDE 3.5.x to KDE 4.x is that I resist change until absolutely necessary. If KDE4.x makes me work harder and throws too much visual cruft at me I will stick with KDE3.5.10. If I feel the need to switch it won't be to Gnome. I will use some other DE that doesn't try to push Mono at me.

Kevin (aka Padma) said...

Ken, I've got to agree with kozmcrae. My first thought when I read this post was, "why did you rush out and immediately grab Kde4.0?" I did, but only for a test machine, to see what new direction KDE was going in. I didn't scream. I noted that it was severely "broken", but that it also held great promise.

I stuck with KDE3.5, since it was working fine, and I knew it would still be around for quite a while. (Heck, the KDE devs even released 3.5.10 after they turned 4.x loose.) I also remember the ruckus when KDE3.0 was released, so I expected this to take some time to become truly usable.

I am now running texstar's 4.3 test version on my PCLinuxOS box, and am loving it!

Robert Pogson said...

Familiarity with GNOME/KDE/etc and other distros is our own form of lock-in. Just as M$ annoyed users greatly with the "innovations" of Vista, KDE4 annoyed folks who just wanted to keep using their systems. I think it is unreasonable to expect every user of GNU/Linux to be comfortable with every window manager on the planet and every distro. We have to choose some combination. If the combination we choose changes to something uncomfortable underneath us, we should be expected to grumble/migrate. We should be polite while doing so however. KDE is a freebie. We have no right to dictate stability above performance to developers. They have their own agenda.

I have been using GNOME since the TrollTech libraries problem but if GNOME made changes as radical as KDE did, I can switch to XFCE4 and be happy. Thank developers we have choices because developers can think for themselves.

Developers should keep in mind, too, that not everyone who uses a PC is a techno-geek spending hours daily soaking up new technology. Most of us just want to use a PC.

PV said...

Well, I was first introduced to Linux with a GNOME-based distribution (it starts with a "U" and ends with a "buntu"), so I haven't really gotten acquainted with KDE. I use Linux Mint 7 and I love the look and feel; also, it provides a lot of neat and easy applications that are missing from other GNOME-based distributions and I haven't really had any trouble with Nautilus.
Just my $0.02.
a Linux Mint user since 1 May 2009

Randy Meyers said...

What threw most people off was the numerical designation of the release.


That quietly, despite the Dev's warnings, connotates a degree of finishedness. I understand their logic, however, I think the outrage came from people who mistook a decimal point for release-grade softeare...again, without doing their research. To a point I can understand it but what I cannot stand is the near brutality of some of the comments made toward the KDE team.

Mega Kudos Ken for giving these guys the thumbs up...sometimes users and Developers communicate across a divide that distorts the communication.

Randy Meyers

Sam Hall (aka Capt. Egg) said...

I'm just a Kubuntu user who has been trained that updates are generally for the best, although you're usually best off waiting a few months before applying full distribution updates. I like to customise my desktop, but then distro updates blow all my settings away so I also try to get used to using what ever comes out of the box. Often it's just the path of least resistance.

When I upgraded to Kubuntu 8.10 with KDE4.1 a few months back, it was a shock and a half to say the least. The Kubuntu team made a bad decision that thrust an immature product on to many end users like myself. Really that was the Kubuntu teams wrong doing and not the KDE team. Unfortunately, it's too late for Kubuntu to go back now, so KDE4 becomes the target of frustration since it's the only thing perceived to be malleable. People like me never should have been exposed to it yet. The version I have now is still half baked as far as I'm concerned (4.2).

I've switched to Gnome on my work machine and have been encouraging new Linux users to either stick with KDE3.5 or Gnome now, as I think it's only sane for the time being. I've stuck with KDE on my browse-the-net laptop so I can keep tabs on it's development in case it ever becomes acceptable to me again. And I don't see the problem with using the KDE apps you like under gnome. Nautilus has some funky features that I didn't know existed, so much so that I don't use Dolphin anymore. Dolphin is another immature product forced upon Kubuntu users during an update a while back, why they didn't stick with Konqueror I just don't understand. I agree, Konqueror is a fine filemanager, but I got the impression they are phasing it out so I don't use it for much anymore (mostly just for it's file size view these days).

I really believe the biggest part of the problem with KDE4 is it's inclusion in distribution upgrades too soon. Users didn't understand what they were getting them selves into until it's to late to go back.

If only there was a simple method for performing a total system backup and restore, I wouldn't have cared one iota about the issues with KDE4, I just would have rolled back to Kubuntu 8.04 and forgot about it until the next LTS release was available.

comdotlinux said...

Just tried out KDE 4.2.4 that came with Slackware 13 yesterday, & it works gr8 (No Question looks stunning), also i could not help but notice the Version that it was not 4.3 but still very nice & Defect ID: not notice the "Glitches" that were there in the older releases.I as many people did, switched to Gnome, but like many of us our heart lies at KDE.So the path followed by me was, switching to Gnome, & trying out KDE releases as much as i can.Whenever i found anything not properly working, a quick search would tell me if anyone else also noticed it & reported it.Belive me when i say every one of my problem was either already fixed or reported.Now Dolphin isn't Konqueror, but is certainly getting the work done. Now it's all downhill & easy to make the switch back (though gnome will also be used nonetheless). Everyone should realize that the move made by KDE Dev's was more than courageous & many of us will be happy that they did not "listen" to us in the way we wanted, but in the way we needed.Gr8 work Guy's & we have got to remember it's a worldof choice, If you don't like it see if you can help to fix it or try an find an alternative.

Just my Point of view

Anonymous said...

Sam, there are many ways to backup and restore your system - some of them simple.

I do a simple backup: every day at 2 AM, my machine rsyncs its root filesystem to my backup machine.

I installed KDE 4 almost by accident because I was using Debian Squeeze and when Squeeze got KDE 4.x, so did I.

Unfortunately for me and Squeeze, it didn't work out too well. The "automatic settings conversion" failed at some point. Some settings weren't migrated properly. My X settings changed. Xinerama stopped working. It wasn't a pretty sight.

On the day I upgraded to KDE 4.x I made a tarfile of that morning's image: "tar jcf prekde.tar.gz /mnt/backup/desktop" and a week later I had had enough of KDE 4.x and restored my entire root filesystem back to the pre-KDE versions.

At that point I also changed my sources.list file to point back to lenny and I've stayed with lenny (and its gradual obsolescence, as happens with Debian) ever since.

In fairness to KDE, some of the problems I experienced were due to faulty hardware, but clearly not all of them. I'm happy to wait until Debian releases Squeeze before trying KDE 4.x again.

In the meantime, if I need newer than lenny versions of any Debian packages I can install them on one of various virtual machines which I run. I'm not talking about graphical packages, although X client programs should work too (with some speed impact).

Anonymous said...

Completely rewriting KDE from 3.x to 4 is a bold move that will leapfrog commercial products, but it isn't without some pain, and NECESSARY feedback and participation on the part of the community.

With commercial products (Windows, MacOSX)you don't experience growing pains, but you have no choice and no flexibility with them, and they don't renew, rip or replace old code.

With Linux, you have CHOICE. For unsophisticated users, try one of the simpler window managers available. They will thank you for not having to deal with 40,000 "power user" features.

Meanwhile, enjoy the "evolution" of KDE. I just can't use gnome since the Mono zealots have insinuated so much MS technology into it.

My "first" Linux distro was SuSE on a mac laptop back in 1999 or so. The KDE team did a wonderful job and especially since Qt went fully GPL, they have survived all obstacles.

Let's be part of the solution, not just lame bitchers. Unlike commercial code, this truly is ours to shape if we choose.

Choice is real good, but like six-pack abs, goes away if not exercised.

Anonymous said...

My personal opinion:

> What kind of "person" installs a burning edge major release of a DE and is surprised to find problems?

A very hungry person. I speak for myself: I've always loved KDE 3.x and version 4 brought a lot of innovation to the table.

So you go and eat the muffins while they're still too hot. And you get burned...

There are two lessons here:

1) Learn to wait or you will suffer;
2) Do not tempt children with delicious cakes which will hurt them (iow, hide the cakes!).

OTOH, these people who try things before they're ready also are useful because their complaints are needed by the developers. Of course, after the 1000th complaint about the same stuff, things start to get somewhat boring...

Bob Robertson said...

Sometimes the "slow" release time of Debian is a blessing.

This is one of them.

Lenny is running KDE3.5 just fine for me. Yes, I too tried KDE4 and realized it was not (yet?) for me.

When Squeeze goes stable, I'll switch. By that time, I expect that KDE4 will have been hacked on enough to work. Maybe I'll be able to get the square corners and bland buttons back again, maybe not. I _like_ the KDE Classic look, but as has been said by finer poets than I, All Things Must Pass.

Anonymous said...

Ken, I almost hate to see articles like this. They are always used by a variety of people to post drive-by shootings at KDE4 and the developers: GNOME users who think that bashing KDE4 will, somehow, improve GNOME, KDE3.5 users who do not, still, realize what the KDE dev crew was faced with when Trolltech switched to Qt4, and why Trolltech did it. the MS fanbois and Technical Evangelists who try to fan the flames (no doubt what their motives are), and last but not least the bloggers and online journalist who exploited the situation for page hits.

One must also not confuse numbers with volume. A loud minority doesn't represent the majority. A few, repeatedly posting a complaint in dozens of forums over a period of a year or more, does not represent a "majority" of public opinion.

Many folks, like myself, have had excellent results with KDE4.x. I switched when the distro I ran made it available at 4.1.3. Sure, there was a learning curve. The knowledge I used to manage KDE3.5 didn't work for KDE4. But, I was smart enough to see that Qt3 was old technology and that it was better to start with Qt4 and a clean slate, than to try and bolt new stuff onto old to continue backward compatibility. That's what Microsoft has been doing, and we all know the results of that.

What is in short supply is the knowledge of the Linux community spirit, and the things Linux users must do to support the kernel, GNOME, KDE and other FOSS applications. There are two things FOSS users should do, and whining in the blogs isn't one of them:
1) collect good information about putative bugs one thinks they encounter while using an application (not knowning or learning how to use an app isn't a "bug"), and
2) Make a bug report at the appropriate bugzilla. Most users fail to realize that a FOSS coder usually has a full time job and a family. So, what spare time they have is spent garnering info from the bugzilla, and in coding. They DON'T have time to visit every forum, blog or article posted on the web in order to glean useful information from "[some app] stinks" rants.

Such rants are merely childish temper tantrums thrown in an attempt to force the coder to accede to the ranter's wishes. When journalists do it they are merely following in John Devorak's footsteps.

KDE4.3 is an excellent release, as were the previous releases I used. They've all been easy to manage and make my desktop VERY productive. A lot of the ranters focused on Dolphin, which replaced Konqueror as the default file manager. The accusations and claims were baseless, I find it indispensable for file management, and handling removable devices. IMO, KDE4.3 is the best desktop ever created, regardless of OS or platform.

Imric said...

After reading some of the posts here, I have to disagree with the idea that 4.0 was aimed at developers. The idea that 4.0 was meant as some kind of 'developers release' is false. Read the actual release page; the only testing mentioned is regarding packaging for various distributions.

'Blaming the victim' is one of my pet peeves, and claiming that it was somehow 'meant for testing and development' is just that.

Now - having said that, I agree with Helios - the KDE devs are great. They do (and did) listen to users, and a lot of the bad perception can be laid at the feet of the packagers (though not all). I've been using 4.2 as my primary desktop for a while now, and it's pretty good - I'm looking forward to trying 4.3. I'd like to thank Aaron Siego for talking me down, and pointing out work-arounds to some of my issues... Now THERE'S a man that deserves sainthood!

Unknown said...

I think the biggest problem with KDE 4.x was with how people understood (or, rather, MISunderstood) the logic behind the version numbers.

Normally, with software. each version number signifies a successive version in the same series. But the KDE numbering meant something a little different: when talking about KDE x.y, the "x" isn't actually another chapter in the same book but, rather, a different book altogether. IOW, when speaking of KDE1.x, 2.x, 3.x and 4.x, we aren't looking at increments of a series but 4 completely different series.

When one looks at it this way it suddenly makes sense that KDE 4.0 would have been buggy software; after all, it was the first in a completely new KDE series. In fact, I'm pleasantly surprised that KDE 4.3 has become quite useful this early in the series.

I've always believed that this should have been made clear to potential early adopters who may have been unfamiliar with KDE's versioning. A lot of confusion and bad feelings would have been alleviated.

Unknown said...

@ greygeek77

and whining in the blogs isn't one of them:

I do so hope you are not talking about me...if so, I wish you to show me where I "whined". I spent most of my time giving kudos to those Devs, with a bit of my own foolish expectations thrown in. Whining is when a little girl drops her lollipop in the dirt and shows her displeasure by high-pitched and tearful complaint.

I personally, no matter how much I disagree or dislike a person or poster would never use the word whine. I have stricken it from my vocabulary.

It's only reason for being is to denote the lack of maturity or possibly the masculinity of a male.

No matter how we may agree, and mostly we do...I would honestly think that you did not aim that word at me.


Anonymous said...

As of today, it's 4.3.1. And I've been using it since 4.0 and taking it as is. openSUSE did a good job of including both 3.5 versions and 4.0 versions of apps in the beginning to ease the transitions.

I was happy to endure the growing pains of KDE4 because I so prefer KDE to Gnome.

Abe said...

It takes great decency and courage to say what you wrote in this article, I am not surprised and I applaud you for that. I do believe that GreyGeek was NOT directing his points at you, he was just repeating his thoughts and comments that he said many times on other blogs replying to vicious attacks unfairly directed at the KDE developers. Attacks that the posters either had ulterior motives and/or didn't really have the insight to recognize the talent and excellence of the KDE team.

Having said that, and reading some of the persistent posts here and every where else, I am not the only one who is getting very annoyed by the posters who keep faulting the KDE and Kubuntu teams in the way they handled the development and release of KDE 4.x.

KDE & Kubuntu didn't do anything wrong. As a matter fact, they have made the right decisions and the results prove it. Considering what they had to deal with; A new version of Qt; Code that is too old and hacked long enough to make anyone sick; a DE that had been in stagnation for too long; Other platforms (Mac & Windows) are moving ahead and advancing their DE, which would have made Linux DE look pathetic stone age technology, they had to move quickly and decisively.

The KDE team created now concepts, Plasmoids, Oxygen, and Phonon. These concepts resemble Object Oriented Programming to standard sequential coding and have been facing the same type of rejection and doubt as OOP, but look where OOP brought us to. KDE is doing the same by bringing us to a fascinating wonderful new DE era.

After a while of coding a proof of concept pilot, the KDE team saw the need to get outside feedbacks, comments and ideas. They demonstrated the concept at Google HQ for many to see. They made their own packages but that wasn't enough and did seek the help from distros. OpenSuse & Mandriva helped but wasn't enough, Kubuntu did too and committed to be 100% KDE supportive and poured what little resource they have towards making a complete distro for anyone who is interested in testing and evaluating the new concept technology. Their little resources forced them to even drop their KDE 3.5.x distro. I am sure one would understand that.

Wake up guys and get a clue. KDE 4.3.1 is here and like Ken and friend said, it is here to stay. And like GeryGeek said, it is the best DE on any platform, period. It really is very simple. Go try the latest 4.3.1 release and if it is not your cup of tea, use some thing else. KDE 3.5x is history and KDE 4.x is the future and sure looks like a bright one. Instead of the constant beating on the KDE developers heads, talk about the things to come in the future. Lets leave the past behind and let us look ahead. Gnome developers are doing just that by following similar path by preparing to work on Gnome 3.0. But let us hope they don't base it on Mono though.

Ken, sorry for the lengthy post and excuse my so ineloquent English, but I had to say it. And by the way, just in case, this rant was not directed at you at all, and you knew that, right!


Unknown said...

@ Abe and Greygeek

First off...I apologize to greygeek. Had I spent another few minutes reading what he posted, I would of realized what Abe was saying...was a bit thin-skinned on that and that's my bad. That "word" is a button-pusher for me and I reacted badly...Greygeek has been a friend and ally for a long time and I value both gus input and support.

My bad buddy...chalk it up to just not being back up to speed from my prolonged stay in bed...or the meds...or maybe just not reading what you said carefully.


Rambo Tribble said...

With each iteration of new technology since Gutenberg, it has become easier to "shoot from the hip", without rational reflection. Sadly, this has tended to drag the level of social discourse down.

Emotions have run high on this issue, with KDE users feeling abandoned and imposed upon, while the developers were left feeling unappreciated and insulted. It is well past the time to drop the grudges and get on with it.

Sainthood? Maybe not, but certainly the KDE lot deserve better than they have gotten. On the other hand, perhaps the developers should have been less hasty in imposing their new ideas in one fell swoop.

blackbelt_jones said...

In January 2008, Aaron Seigo published a blogpost where he explained that KDE3 will be maintained as long as it has a userbase, and large conservative deployments already out there "assure that KDE3 will be supported for years. If I had been able to find this information about a year sooner on the KDE website, maybe I wouldn't have freaked out all over the internet.

I support the KDE project. It would be a waste of the developer's talents to confine themselves to bugfixes and security updates for KDE4. Folderview is opening up important new possibilities in the desktop for the future.

But I just don't like using it, even though I try every release and 4.3 is very impressive, and I may not stay with KDE3.5 forever.

I get the feeling that no one anticipated the possibility that everyone wasn't just going to love it from the getgo, and that's where the problem has been. There was a failure of respect, and I think it went both ways. but I also think both sides eventually learned lessons that will help us next time. The KDE developers did everything right in terms of software development, but the public relations was terrible. It did get better, though.

I'm still using KDE3.5, and I intend to keep using it as long as I like. My primary distro these days is a Slax live CD, but I've also been practicing compiling KDE3 on slackware based distros. These are options I had to discover for myself. Next time, I hope someone makes confused and traumatized users aware of their options.

blackbelt_jones said...

Uh, Correction I meant to say:

I support the KDE4 project. It would be a waste of the developer's talents to confine themselves to bugfixes and security updates for KDE3.

aikiwolfie said...

I remember when I was messing around with KDE on openSUSE a while back. I was having issues with the font size in Firefox. No matter what I did it just wasn't readable. Too small and looked a bit blury.

Having had no luck on the openSUSE help pages I turned to KDE. Some of the things a KDE developer had to say about the openSUSE devs were far from kind. It also really turned me off KDE. It's only recently I've been checking it out again.

So KDE devs are taking a lot of heat? What goes around comes around.

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