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KDE developer Nate Graham, who is known for writing the 'This week in KDE" blog posts keeping us up to speed on all the latest changes has a fresh update about plans for taking over the world, and Graham has some interesting things to say.

There's certainly no shortage of desktop environments on Linux and a number of ways to build software, each with their own goal and way of doing things. It's both a strength for choice and a reported weakness with so much. It's always interesting to read the point of view from developers whose work we rely on so much in the FOSS community. Especially when Graham came from a background in working with Apple, while now a KDE developer.

Here, it wasn't quite what I expected to read. The post goes over talking about the market leaders like Windows and Android, noting neither was the first to come to market but they've successfully captured the biggest slices. Noting that "Neither is picky about what kind of software you run on them or write for them, so they are used on a wide range of devices by lots of different people. Both work with others in adjacent industries, rather than taking a 'my way or the highway' approach. They are flexible."

The flexibility, Graham thinks, is the key to success.

Comparing KDE to Apple, they're clearly very different in how they do things explaining that "we’ve always dreamed of a broad scope and being useful for everyone" on why the Plasma desktop is so flexible and why "the Steam Deck handheld gaming console, PinePhone smartphone, and JingPad A1 tablet are built on top of KDE technology".

Some interesting words aimed at two other big names in the Linux space too, with Graham's post mentioning "So I think ultimately we will become the Windows or Android of the Free Open-Source Software world, with projects like GNOME and ElementaryOS competing to be the Apple of FOSS". You could easily take that as putting them in the firing line but it's more positive than that as Graham continues "I think there will absolutely be room for projects like theirs; in fact I think it’s highly likely that they’ll offer a better user experience than we do for people who fit within the usage paradigms they focus on–just like Apple does".

It's part of why I ended up moving from GNOME to KDE myself, that flexibility of setting it all up how I want it to be, not how designers think it should be. I cannot see myself moving away from Plasma as my own desktop environment on Linux any time soon. Looks good, works well and doesn't get in the way of gaming.

What are your thoughts? Will KDE and Plasma become the biggest players? Going by our own stats from users, Plasma is currently on top but GNOME is not far behind at all.

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Tags: KDE, Misc, Open Source
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Numeric Nov 15, 2021
Plasma's flexibility is what initially attracted me to the desktop. What helped me stay was Plasma's mindshare. Amongst the FOSS desktop environments, many offer the ability to tweak it to your needs; however few offered the strong customization options and is large enough to have a healthy flow of new incoming developers and end-users. In my humble opinion, that position of DE mindshare in the FOSS world is currently reserved by the GNOME and KDE projects. In order for me to feel comfortable in using and recommend a FOSS DE, I need to trust that it will be supported in the long-run and that I can mold it to fit my use cases (from business conference room PCs to MacOS-layout clones for cousins). Plasma is the only DE that ticks both boxes for me.

Nathan Graham has done well for the KDE Project and highlights in his blog a crucial idea for maturing all FOSS desktop environments. We need both a "KDE"-like project and a "GNOME"-like project. What he means is that one project strives to cast a wide net which encompasses as many use cases as possible (like Android and Windows are today). The other project focuses hard on a very refined and narrow vision to create a premium product, one that could only exist if the variables are tightly controlled (iOS and MacOS being the example here). As of Q4 2021, these are KDE and GNOME respectively and this is a good thing. They might not always hold their crowns, but for now it helps to give rapidly developing FOSS world a bit more form. Just my $0.02 USD.

Last edited by Numeric on 15 November 2021 at 2:45 pm UTC
micha Nov 15, 2021
GNOME is Life.

I love the freedom to choose the least customization but most streamlined DE. GNOME has all the defaults I work most efficient with. (I alternate between on 5 Linux machines and prefer to spend my time on other things. I pretty much don't customize anything or therefore don#t need to do any "automatic" synchronization or overhead alike.)

But I can also also see that others prefer to customize their setup to a high detail. I used to enjoy that a lot too. And I'm glad you can with KDE!

Welcome to Linux.
tuubi Nov 15, 2021
Somehow I doubt that it's the flexibility of the UI/UX that made Windows and Android successful. It certainly was never a big selling point for Windows, and while I've never owned an Android phone, I think the reasons it succeeded can be found elsewhere as well.

I'm not saying KDE Plasma is bad or that it will never be popular on smaller devices. I just don't think this guy makes a very good case.

Also, a developer thinks their project's approach is better than that of competing projects? Oh my...
Mohandevir Nov 15, 2021
Personnally, I can't say that I have a preference, but like I wrote in another post, all my in-home streaming issues are solved on KDE, with Kubuntu 20.04.3. That's the main reason why I use it.

Since it's KDE based and Kwin is being maintained by at least one guy contracted by Valve, I expect the same to be true, when SteamOS 3.0 will release (which I will absolutely switch to, on my main gaming rig, at least).

And I really do think that the Steam Deck success will be a side effect driving factor, for KDE. We might see Windows users switch to SteamOS, on their gaming rig, to reflect what they get on their Steam Deck.

Last edited by Mohandevir on 15 November 2021 at 3:00 pm UTC
officernice Nov 15, 2021
'Windows or Android' of the FOSS world sounds like a bad thing.
scaine Nov 15, 2021
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I've a Gnome guy since I started on Linux, albeit dabbling with various other DEs over the years. Nothing outside of Gnome felt like home, however. Until about 3 months ago when I gave KDE another shot and discovered that I could get the exact same experience/workflow, but without the various dumbed-down apps. Gnome will always have a special place in my heart, but I'm a KDE convert now.

I think it was the last round of Nautilus removals that pushed me over the edge. Sure, there was always Nemo if I couldn't handle it any longer, but I have to say Dolphin is an absolute joy to work with.

Gotta love the choice Linux gives you.
Acrophobic Nov 15, 2021
QuoteIt's part of why I ended up moving from GNOME to KDE myself, that flexibility of setting it all up how I want it to be, not how designers think it should be.

It also helps that the designers in KDE know their stuff. The default Breeze theme is really great, and since migrating to KDE several years ago I never bothered to change the theme.
Acrophobic Nov 15, 2021
Quoting: tuubiSomehow I doubt that it's the flexibility of the UI/UX that made Windows and Android successful. It certainly was never a big selling point for Windows.
While it's not their main selling point, I think Windows is quite flexible, at least for ordinary people:

  • User can change the theme and wallpaper.
  • There are no shortage of applications for Windows, and the installation can be done really easy.
  • All hardware are compatible with Windows.
  • Windows has a good backward compatibility, so even app from 30 years ago still usable and perfectly running in Windows 10 (my dad for some reasons hate Excel and still uses Lotus 123).

Quoting: tuubiAlso, a developer thinks their project's approach is better than that of competing projects? Oh my...
Isn't that ... normal?

I mean why would developers make a new competing project if they thought that the old approach are good enough. Thanks to this we have so many competing distros and JS frameworks, which honestly pretty annoying but give us freedom to choose.
TheSHEEEP Nov 15, 2021
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Can't say I disagree with the article.

Went through quite a number of distros before I ended up on Manjaro, which comes with Plasma by default.
GustyGhost Nov 15, 2021
KDE wants to monopolize and bully others out of the space they occupy with underhanded business tactics and leveraging of legal frameworks? If I where Nate, I would have chosen a different analogy.
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