KDE vs. Gnome

Great post originally from http://www.illusionary.com/GNOMEvKDE.html but as the site is no longer up I am re-posting it with full credit to its original author.  This “summary” was a surprisingly accurate feel for the overall development process of the two major Linux  Desktop interfaces.   Specifically this was the overall feeling during the KDE 2.x – 3.5 & Gnome 0.0 – wheneverubuntueffectivelytookovertheproject.x time frame.  While these generalizations no longer hold true, they sure make for some entertaining reading to those of us who remember the those days.


A big room somewhere in Europe with lots of chrome and glass and a great big whiteboard in the front with lots of tiny, neat writing on it. There are about 50 desks, each with headphones and pristine workstations, also with a lot of chrome and glass. The faint sound of classical music permeates the room, accompanying the clicky-click of 50 programmers typing or quietly talking in one of the appropriately assigned meeting areas. (Which of course consist of elegant contemporary white pine coffee tables surrounded by contemporary white pine and fine leather meeting chairs.) Coffee, tea, mineral water and fruit juices are available in the break area.

At the end of the day, *everyone* checks in their code and the project leader does a “make” just to make sure it all compiles cleanly, but it’s mostly only done from tradition anymore since it always compiles cleanly and works flawlessly. When all milestones have been met, and everything has been QA’d, (usually within a day or two of the roadmap that was written up 18 months previous) a new KDE release is packaged up and released to the mirror sites with the appropriate 24-hour delay for distribution before being announced.

KDE developers are generally between the ages of 16 and 25, like art made of lines and squares and the colors white and black. When/if they finally stop taking government subsidies and get around to getting “real jobs,” most of their salary will be taken in taxes so the socialist government can subsidize the care and feeding of the next generation of KDE developers, just like it did for them. A high percentage of KDE developers, during their mandatory 5 years of government military service, crack from their years of cultural dullness and flee Europe to become terrorists for the sheer joy to be found in killing random strangers for no discernible reason.


An abandoned warehouse in San Francisco, kitted up as for a rave, electronica playing at 15db louder than “my ears are bleeding and I’m developing an aneurism” volumes and the windows all painted over black so that the strobe and spotlights and lasers can be seen better. Computers, mainly made of whatever stuff has been exchanged for crack or scavenged from dumpsters behind dot-bombs, are scattered around on whatever furniture is available, which also consists of whatever stuff has been exchanged for crack or scavenged from dumpsters behind dot-bombs. There’s no break area, but you may be able to bum a beer (or more likely something harder) off of one of the developers hanging around, and they will probably be too jacked up on X, coke, acid, heroin, ether or all of the above to notice that you’ve taken anything.

Development strategies are generally determined by whatever light show happens to be going on at the moment, when one of the developers will leap up and scream “I WANT IT TO LOOK JUST LIKE THAT” and then straight-arm his laptop against the wall in an hallucinogenic frenzy before vomiting copiously, passing out and falling face-down in the middle of the dance floor. There’s no whiteboard, so developers diagram things out in the puddles of spilt beer, urine and vomit on the floor.

At the end of the day – whenever that is since an equal number of programmers will be passed out at any given time – or really whenever someone happens to think of it (which is rarely), someone might type “make” on some machine somewhere, with mixed results. Generally nothing happens, so he/she shrugs his/her shoulders and wanders off to look for someone who might have more pink/black-striped pills. Once in a great while, generally in the unpleasant time between the come-down from the last thing they took and before whatever it was they took just now comes on fully, someone will tar up a bunch of random files and post it on a website someplace it as the next GNOME release, usually with a reference to some kind of monkey.

GNOME developers rarely live past 25 and prefer “alternative” art – generally stuff made of feces that’s “too edgy” for most people to “understand” or “like.” Core GNOME developers are heavy Ketamine users. The bodies of GNOME developers can often be found in dumpsters or floating face-down in any sufficiently large body of water.

Copyright 2002, Derek Glidden.