13 Dec 2005
For those who haven't heard (i.e. don't read /.) Linus Torvalds has recently blasted Gnome in favor of KDE. While the /. note is overly concise, the actual thread is pretty interesting (Linus' comments: , ; Gnome's responses: , , ). Part of the big rivalry between KDE and Gnome has always been centered around questions of design which invariably are tied to questions of user audience.
KDE says users must be able to configure everything (a side effect of targeting hackers who like to have absolute control no matter what the cost), whereas Gnome says things should just work (with the side effect of removing functionality/configurability). The designer in me says those aren't mutually exclusive ideals, but it does raise a set of interesting questions and some interesting problems for open-source mostly centering around the fact that hackers are rarely good interface designers.
Which, given their history makes sense— if you're writing a program or library to automate some set of tasks (where "you" can be a specific individual or some cadre of individuals), naturally you're going to have it abstract away the things you personally want abstracted away (if you abstract nothing away then what are you doing?), and leave in the widgets you want to play with (if you abstract everything away then how can you adapt to novel situations?).( friends page friendly cut )