KDE and GNOME: Seven Irritations in Each: Page 3

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  • Increasingly Hands-off Controls: In the effort to improve usability, GNOME sometimes seems too eager to reduce options. An example of this trend is the Brassero CD burner, which is very easy to use, but offers users far fewer choices than KDE's K3B. Other signs of this tendency include the increased use of wizards and applications like Ubuntu's Computer Janitor, which give users no ideas of where they are making changes, informing them only of the general results.

    This tendency exists in KDE and other desktops as well, but is especially strong in GNOME. The problem isn't that I always want a full array of options so much as I appreciate having them available for the times when I need them.

  • Dragging Users Into the Mono Debate: Mono is an implementation of Microsoft's .NET. Although Mono is freely licensed itself, the fear is widespread that Microsoft might use the patents in .NET to sabotage GNU/Linux through Mono. How realistic or unique this possibility might be is unknown, but all the concern and obsession over Mono is makes an assessment of the situation impossible for the average user.

    Yet GNOME continues to add Mono applications like Tomboy, F-Spot, and Banshee. Obviously, no one is going to stop developers from using Mono, but before GNOME starts to use it widely, the project needs to negotiate with Microsoft to end the ambiguity -- and to safeguard users' interests and put their concerns to rest.

  • Other Dislikes, and Yours

    These are not the only dislikes I could have included. However, I excluded KDE's default Kicker menu because it has at least two replacements and the display of one level at a time in KDE's System Settings because an alternate menu and tab view is available. To my mind, these are made like all defaults should be -- with easily available alternatives.

    I have also omitted irritations that both KDE and GNOME include. These include file managers that make viewing anything outside of your home directory structure difficult, pointless applets or widgets such as swimming fish and bouncing balls, the lack of migration tools for those wishing to switch desktops, and the hit and miss efforts to find context menus for items on crowded panels. Such items do not seem to be due to design principles peculiar to either desktop so much as principles common to usability and free software in general.

    Moreover, I'm sure that readers have their own dislikes. Let me know what they are. Meanwhile, I'll be preparing the follow-up to this article, detailing what I like about the two major desktops in free software.

    ALSO SEE: KDE Review: KDE 4.4 Comes in from the Cold

    AND: 50 Open Source Tools: Desktop Downloads

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    Tags: Linux desktop, Linux downloads, Gnome, KDE, KDE 4

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