19 Sep 2002 raph   » (Master)

Null desktop

Red Hat's new desktop attempts to create a coherent interface, abstracting the differences between KDE and Gnome in particular. This move seems to have gotten some criticism from the Slashdot crowd, but I think it's great.

Red Hat is trying to solve a real problem. There are a lot of geeks who are into fiddling with every detail of their systems, but for the rest of us, dealing with two different desktops is one big usability problem.

Ok, so it's a problem, but is Red Hat going about it in the right way? Absolutely. They're rolling up their sleeves, doing the work, and releasing code. The Gnome and KDE camps haven't made all that much progress by themselves, and if they tried to build some consortium or something, it would more likely than not take forever and go nowhere. The Red Hatters, I think, understand the true free software Way.

Owen's apology is a model for honesty and forthrightness. When's the last time you saw something like that from a proprietary software company?

Maybe Red Hat isn't doing this the best way. If so, feel free to do a better job. There are already way too many distributions. Maybe it's best to give people the option between Gnome and KDE, and only have things work smoothly if users choose applications written for that desktop. Maybe it's better for distros to just pick one, and abandon all the useful apps from the other camp. I like the Null approach, though, because it preserves real choice in developing apps.

Even more, I think that the popularity of the unified desktop will have a strong positive influence on both the Gnome and KDE camps, to put more thought and effort into making things run more smoothly in an integrated enviroment. A lot of people are going to be using Null.

Some people seem to be upset that Red Hat is creating their own brand for this desktop. As long as credit is given where due, I have no problem with it. In fact, if it helps them make money, so much the better.

I'll make sure there's a good Fitz widget for both KDE and Gnome. I've felt this way a long time. I'm happy that, for example, Abiword and ksvg are both using libart for their SVG stuff.

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