A few days ago I wrote an article titled “How Important is KDE 4?” This article picked up a lot of attention, including and off-site rebuttal. I am no stranger to criticism. I have written on this blog for almost three years now (including the time before my switch to WP from blogger) and through these years I have learned that if you cannot take the heat from the radicals of the community you will never survive. It would be impossible for me to be objective if I do not develop a strong opinion. I have critiqued projects and ideologies before, and every time I have been attacked on all sides, although typically I find myself on the side of the majority. But not always….
I am subject to being hilariously wrong. I have made the wrong analysis, predictions, and observations about Linux many times before. My arguments are also not perfect. Many people have different opinions, but I will tell you that the person I respect the most is the one who can disagree respectively. In my article, I was rather harsh to the KDE project. I drew such a hard line because I care, and I want the project to do well. It would be ludicrous for me to wish a part of the Linux community to fail. What good would that do? Instead, I want the KDE project to make things work right. My observations are from the reports I have heard first-hand from average users who have tried KDE 4.
Nonetheless, I could have been more clear on several points in my argument. I edited one part (in italics, starting with “Edit”) surrounding the issue of KDE’s development slowing down. When I said this, I should have said “KDE’s release schedule is slowing down.” That would have been more clear and not such a sticking point for the observant commenters. Also, I could have been more clear on the applications and usage of KDE. The problem with opinion, especially around Linux and open source, is that there are really no hard numbers we can use to look at in order to develop a definite position. My opinions are from what I have observed in my work as a Linux advocate. I get to communicate with real and potential users, and from that gather quite a bit of information surrounding what people want.
I have had a fair deal of trouble with KDE 4, especially with brand new users. Many are amazed, including myself, of all that it can do. I wish that it could do all as promised without something going wrong. I imagine that in time, KDE 4 will stabilize. The only question in my mind is whether or not it will be too complicated for new users.
I don’t like to take the position that KDE deserves more criticism than the GNOME project just because at the moment KDE is a bit harder to pass on to new users. KDE has always been for power users, which is one of the reasons I used KDE 3 almost exclusively for most of 2007 and 2008. GNOME 3 will be arriving in another six to seven months, and with it will come major changes that could either be good or bad, and I will be sure to review the situation then as well.
I also want to mention that I expect criticism and welcome it, as long as it is decent and respectful of all involved. If it is indecent and does not contribute to the conversation, I will moderate it. Like I mentioned earlier, I respect those who can disagree respectfully. KDE 4.4 will be released in February, and I will be sure to review it then. Who knows, maybe it will be stable after the KDE project has been working on it for seven months. Since I have a life to live, I am done discussing my previous article. I have decided to leave comments open if people want to blow off some steam. I wish the KDE project the best of luck, and I thank everyone for the lively discussion!