In 1997 I began using KDE on my Linux desktop, a practice that continued until 2008 with the release of KDE 4.0, which was an absolute disaster—a software release with 20 percent of the functionality but 1000 percent more instability and bugginess whose only claim to fame was that it took every single feature and habit that you liked about KDE and stole them away from you.
At that time in 2008, I switched to GNOME and have actually grown fond of and happy with it. GNOME 2.x is fast, friendly, reasonably powerful, reasonably simple, and super-stable.
Unfortunately, I recently got wind of the fact that GNOME has decided to do the same thing KDE did a couple years ago. That is to say that in less than a year, GNOME plans to completely dismantle everything users like about it in the interest of "innovation" (read: removing 80 percent of the functionality while making the system 1000 percent more labor- and thought-intensive to use for the same purposes).
Meanwhile, over the last two years, KDE has gone from 4.0 to 4.4.x releases and I'd heard that it was now stable and useful and polished.
So, the other day, I decided to get all forward-thinking and to grit my teeth and switch from GNOME back to KDE, in hopes of avoiding the GNOME disaster to come.
Unfortunately, KDE is still an unmitigated disaster. Two years on KDE 4.x remains no more usable than it was on the day it was released:
- It loses settings at random
- There is no single, integrated, professional appearance/theme for it; everything is "eye candy"
- It's catastrophically slow compared to GNOME
- Random crashes of components (plasmoids, plasma, applications, etc.) are common
- Configuration remains extremely bizarre (two dozen options to configure deeply obscure arcana you'll never encounter, zero options to configure the stuff you encounter constantly)
- The user interface is beyond clunky (browse a device, mount a device, eject a device all in opposite areas and tools of the screen, for example)
- The plasmoids don't work as well as GNOME applets (less compatible, fewer features)
But perhaps the biggest anecdotal evidence for the disastrous crappiness that continues to be KDE4 are these facts:
- It took me about 9 hours work across two evenings to switch to KDE4 and get it working well
- In the process I had to erase all the dotfiles (configuration) and start from scratch
- When it was "done" I was never quite satisfied and found myself constantly "tweaking" settings without ever feeling good about them
- I never quite got it stable, and experienced window manager crashes, app crashes, screen corruption, and more
- I submitted the better part of a dozen bug reports in two days of subsequent use
- To which I got replies like "WONTFIX" altogether too often
And the thing that seals the deal is this:
- After I decided to switch back to GNOME tonight, the entire process took an hour
- And the result is integrated, clean, fast, stable, and much more functional that the KDE4 desktop I'm losing once again
I'm absolutely mortified and frustrated by the fact that GNOME has decided to duplicate the total disaster that is KDE4 with the release of GNOME3, which does much the same thing: throws away the entire Linux desktop as it's become known and "innovatively" replaces it with an unconfigurable, unstable mess that doubles the number of clicks and amount of complexity needed to accomplish any task, while pursuing a general program of incompatibility with other Linux/UNIX software under the theory that they're "doing it the Right way, so everyone else be damned" which is coincidentally the same theory that the KDE project adopted somewhere in the mid '00s that led to KDE4.
Soon it will be all about XFCE. The state of the Linux desktop has gone from "We've finally arrived!" to very grim in the space of a year or two.