Talk Me Down
Disclaimer: This is a question for the geeks among you. If you’re not a geek, don’t be surprised if this post makes no damn sense whatsoever.
Having gotten that out of the way:
I run Ubuntu on my PC at home for everything except gaming. I’ve generally been very happy with it. Last month they released a new version (Ubuntu 8.10, “Intrepid Ibex”) which promises a ton of new goodies.
However, I don’t really run Ubuntu per se. I run Kubuntu, the KDE version of Ubuntu. I’ve preferred KDE to GNOME for years, so this seemed like a natural thing to do.
However, as I contemplate making the upgrade to 8.10 I find myself thinking of switching to plain old Ubuntu and GNOME rather than staying on board with Kubuntu and KDE. There are two main reasons why:
It feels like Ubuntu and GNOME get most of Canonical’s attention, and Kubuntu is more of an afterthought. There’s fit and finish issues with Kubuntu that I don’t see when I sit in front of an Ubuntu workstation. It just feels… unfinished, somehow.
To expand on point #2: Kubuntu 8.10 is the first release that requires you to switch from KDE 3.x to KDE 4. In previous releases, KDE4 was optional; now it’s not just the default, it’s mandatory.
And the thing is, if I believe what I read, KDE4 is a bit of a train wreck.
The incompleteness, which will likely frustrate some users, gives KDE 4.0 the feel something akin to a technical preview rather than a production-ready release. The developers frame the 4.0 release as a first step towards creating their envisioned “KDE 4” platform. The foundation is now in place and much more, they say, will follow soon.
Supposedly many of the crash bugs and other outright busted parts of KDE4 were fixed in the most recent release, KDE 4.1, which is the version that ships with Intrepid. But it still feels like taking a giant leap into the dark — especially given that once you make the upgrade, there’s no way to roll back to KDE3 if you suffer upgrader’s remorse.
So why not just move to GNOME and be done with it? I still love a lot of things about KDE, that’s why. I love how powerful the Konqueror file manager is (seriously, if all you’ve ever used is Windows Explorer, Konqueror is like getting a love note from the future). I love KIO-slaves. I love Amarok.
But I don’t know how much of that love will still be relevant in the Brave New World of KDE4. Konqueror has been thrown overboard in favor of Dolphin, a file manager that feels like it’s designed for ADD sufferers. Amarok 2 (the KDE4 edition of this outstanding music manager) isn’t ready yet. And do KIO-slaves even still exist in the KDE4 universe? I have no idea.
Of course, none of that stuff is available in GNOME, either (except Amarok). But GNOME is, you know, stable. It works. It’s not trying to push desktop computing through a Great Leap Forward. And it sure feels like it’s getting a hell of a lot more attention from Canonical than KDE is.
So here’s what I want to know — if you use KDE, have you made the Great Leap Forward to KDE4 yet? How did it go for you? Were the gains worth the pain? And how does it stack up to GNOME in your experience?
Inquiring minds want to know…