Torvalds Dumps GNOME for Xfce

by Ostatic Staff - Aug. 03, 2011

Linux users seem to be interested in what our de facto leader uses on his desktop. In 2005 KDE users reveled when Linus said, "just ... use KDE." Later on in 2009 GNOME users returned the nose rubbing when he said, "I switched to GNOME." Well, both groups can now sulk together because Linus has switched again and this time he's "using Xfce."


Yes, once upon a time KDE was king and even Linus Torvalds, the original Linux programmer, was using it. He said, " I personally just encourage people to switch to KDE." The gripe at the time was that GNOME dumbed down their interface and folks who liked more control usually chose KDE. As Linus put it, "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." Perhaps this is when the thread at KDE snapped. Because it would be only a few years before KDE 4 appeared and ran off Linus with a lot of regular users.


As Linus said, " I used to be a KDE user. I thought KDE 4.0 was such a disaster, I switched to GNOME. I hate the fact that my right button doesn't do what I want it to do. But the whole "break everything" model is painful for users, and they can choose to use something else. I realize the reason for the 4.0 release, but I think they did it badly. They did so many changes, it was a half-baked release." And that about sums it right up. Although as Linus thought, KDE 4 did improve since its initial release, but to many users it still feels like work in process.


Ah, then GNOME developers followed KDE with their own mess. GNOME 3 was released a few months ago to very mixed reviews. Most of the complaints revolve around a muddled work flow and difficulty getting anything done when using it. This is sort of what Linus just said. "I have yet to meet anybody who likes the unholy mess that is gnome-3."

He later continued, "it's that the user experience of Gnome3 even without rendering problems is unacceptable. Why can't I have shortcuts on my desktop? Why can't I have the expose functionality? Wobbly windows? Why does anybody sane think that it's a good idea to have that "go to the crazy 'activities'" menu mode?"

Linus elaborated, "Here's an example of "the crazy": you want a new terminal window. So you go to "activities" and press the "terminal" thing that you've made part of your normal desktop thing (but why can't I just have it on the desktop, instead of in that insane "activities" mode?). What happens? Nothing. It brings your existing terminal to the forefront. That's just crazy crap."

 Our fearless leader finally reveals, " I'm using Xfce. I think it's a step down from gnome2, but it's a huge step up from gnome3. Really."

But I think he sums it up best for all of us using KDE, GNOME, and Unity these last few years: "I want my sane interfaces back."