I don’t know if you’ve heard about the recent little squabble in the open source camps but Linux Torvalds (creator of the Linux kernel) has taken his best shots at the GNOME Desktop environment. Why is this happening?

A while ago, Linus was quoted saying that Linux users should switch from GNOME to KDE. Linus’ view on the GNOME developers was that they had a “users are idiots” mentality. His actual quote:

“I personally just encourage people to switch to 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. Please, just tell people to use KDE.”

Well, the King of Linuxland followed up his words by submitting patches to the GNOME developers. His patches for the GNOME print dialog simply made the dialog behave as he would want it to behave. 

The whole argument spiraled downward from there. Godwins’ law was invoke, the term Nazi was tossed around (in both English and Spanish). It’s rather silly.

Or is it?

Truth be told, Linus is right. 

When GNOME first arrived on the scene it had some bugs but it was a killer Desktop Environment. It had features I always wanted, it was highly configurable. It was clean. Did I mention it was highly configurable?

Now? It’s klunky. It’s heavy. It doesn’t like to be configurable. In a word, it’s nothing more than a different shade of Windows. Even the artwork has become something unworthy of the evolution of the PC experience.

The old KDE vs. GNOME war used to be one that was a real grudge match. Each DE had a feature, look, configuration that made its siren song powerful. Now it’s hard to hear the GNOME call over the Symphony of KDE.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the only time I spend on KDE is playing with beryl. I spend 95% of my time in Enlightenment. Why? Because I can make it look and behave EXACTLY how I want. You know, kinda like GNOME USED to be.

So, my friends, if you’re out there looking for a DE to use, do yourself a favor and just skip over GNOME. It’s lost its way. It’s lost the war.

And the future war? KDE and Beryl? Or maybe e17 will eventually find it’s way to stability and release and all eyes will be opened in a wash of “Yes!”

But realistically KDE is simply going to continue listening to its users and marching far, far ahead of the crowd. And that is true user-friendliness.