As a shit-storm chaser, it's been fun watching the fecal hurricane that has resulted from the KDE4 devs chucking their shit-pile 4.0 into the proverbial fan that is the internets.
With this theme in mind, today, I'd like to call out the jack-assery of a particular kind of luser: the luser journalist. Typically, these journalists occupy positions of large influence (or they believe they have influence, at least) and they pontificate their opinions that show they don't have any idea how anything works.
Two in particular I'd like to say WTF! to: Mr. Ryan Paul of Ars Technica, and Mr. Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols. Steven is a former Ziff-Davis Editor, who's been publicly ranting against KDE4, and recently even called for a fork. Ryan is a born-again KDE4 apologist. He recently posted this article to counter Steven's ranting.
You know, it's really nice that you guys are having a nice open public shit eating contest like this, but it really pisses me off at the same time, because you are both wrong.
But, I doubt it. I pick up new desktops and interfaces all the time. Switching from one system to another is second-nature to me. KDE 4.1 has taken KDE down a path I don’t want to follow. So, I have a suggestion. Fork KDE.
This is open source. All forking a project really requires is that developers and end-users decide that another path is a better path. So it is that I’m suggesting that if some developers decided that they could build a better KDE by revisiting KDE 3.5’s vision of the desktop, they’d find many users more than willing to give it a try.
Oh really? is that all that a fork requires? Cuz you know, I thought it meant that users and developers not only have to agree on what they want (which is much harder than agreeing on what they don't want), and then they have to write the code, test the code, and maintain the code. Multiply that by the size of the code and distribute it over the fewer number of heads you'll have joining your cause.
And, besides, what are you going to call it, FunKDE4?
Then Ryan responds by saying KDE4 is not so bad. And how he was skeptical at first, but how he believes, blah blah, and ends with:
I encourage users to look beneath the surface and try to understand how the emerging features fit into the long-term roadmap. There is a lot to like in KDE 4.1 if you are willing to approach it with an open mind and not simply dismiss it because it's different.
Ah ok. I'll go ahead and encourage my grandma to understand that there's this QT4 thing, you see? and that there's these things called plasmoids which aren't bursts of hot intenstinal gas, but rather an abstract concept that you have to understand just to get part of your familiar desktop back. And I'll tell her to just wait a few months or years so that she can get all the things she used to use. I'm sure she'll be really happy with that. Seriously, her time on this earth is limited, but she'll spend the rest of it learning about her new desktop that has little boxes that look like cum stains.
Seriously guys, what the fuck. As serious journalists, shouldn't you guys keep in mind what actual users might want?
This is a classic example of open source devs making a mistake. Most existing users of KDE3 (or any desktop for that matter) want incremental improvements. They use KDE3 because they already like it. They don't want a "sexy" new desktop. Changing everything from out and underneath them will not make them happy.
If KDE4 is so radically different, then they should have called it something else. Having the 4 implies that users of 3 will eventually be forced to upgrade, not because they want to, but because 3 will bitrot and devs will only care about 4. That's what the users are reacting to. They don't understand why they should have to learn something new that isn't significantly better than it was before.
Why didn't the KDE devs decide to just start writing parts of KDE in Qt4? Who knows. Cuz it wasn't sexy? Probably. Unfortuantely, most computer users don't care if the devs are sexy, or whether they're working on sexy features. They want to keep what they have, and get more stuff that helps them do more.
Is KDE4 significantly better? Who knows. It might be. It might not be. Was it worth jeapordizing the reputation of a popular project to find out? Probably not. Was it worth making it seem like it was an entire re-write when the same functionality could have probably been brought in incrementally? Definitely not. But you know, the devs aren't ever held responsible for what they do. So don't expect any sanity.
Personally, I don't give a shit. KDE can go dig it's own grave for what I care. It's just a bunch of devs that want to constantly re-invent things because they think they can do it better. Or people who think that because the toolkit rev'ed, they have to re-write the whole stack. At the same time they ignore the fuck-ton of other problems that the Linux desktop still has. The problems that actually prevent non-KDE users from switching to their platform. Earth to KDE devs: we don't need plasmoids! we want boring, old wireless networking to work.
As for what Steven and Ryan were saying: No. Forking is not the answer. You may be able to separate the sane devs from the lunatic ones, but I'm pretty sure what you'll have left won't be enough to support a codebase as large as KDE. And Ryan's "having an open mind, accepting something different, and being patient" is not the answer either. The rest of the world doesn't have the time for that, especially when there is no clear benefit to adopting the new and different. KDE4 is mostly the same old same old, except my task bar is black and I can group icons. Fun.
So what's the answer? I say fuck 'em all. Go invest your time in something else where the devs aren't so full of themselves. Something where they have some incentive to care about actual users. Cuz if you ask me, both their words and their actions tell me that they don't give a shit. Even about lusers.