Redefine or improve?

Mainly because of the radical changes that are being made to GNOME in the upcoming version (and are going to be pushed into Fedora on version 15) I’ve decided to try KDE 4.5 (and 4.6 on my laptop). So far the experience has been good, my first impressions of the plasma desktop back to the 4.0, 4.1, 4.2 weren’t so good but on the latest versions they have managed to make plasmoids really useful and a good complement to the traditional desktop interface.

One of the best features that I’ve found quite useful is the folderview plasmoid, not only as a way to see what’s on my desktop folder (which also works for a way to keep the contents of the desktop folder tidy), but as a way to create a menu similar to the old “Places” of GNOME (as pictured in the screenshot, which I always used to reach folders that were direct childs of the /home directory anyway. KDE microblogging plasmoid is quite good too, I’ve never used twitter that much because I never found a client that “gets out of the way” also twitter website is painfully slow, so KDE microblog it’s great to do one or two updates between switching from one task to another.

KDE 4.5 IS kind of slow, but you can get rid of some bloat by disabling nepomuk and indexing search services from the configuration panel, while I bet that can be useful to many people, searching and tagging doesn’t go with my workflow  (maybe I will give Nepomuk a chance someday) as I prefer to keep my folders tidy so I can remember where is what I need (also I don’t think that  indexing 187 PHP projects would be a good idea).

I like the way KDE is today, and while I agree it has an overwhelming set of options and configuration screens it actually does improve the desktop experience, I wanted to emphasize this because the changes on GNOME have made me think one or two things regarding changes. As pointed by some people, “change for the sake of change” can be a bad thing,  if you are going to make a change and then “burn the ships” then it’s very probable that you won’t get far, but if you make a change and then start listening to what your users say you might find the perfect balance between your ideas and your users point of view and actually improve the desktop experience of your users.

Why is that everyone is trying to “redefine the desktop”? There are many things that you cannot like about the actual interfaces, but many of them just work, there are some concepts like desktop icons, resizable/minimizable windows, that work well and even if YOU don’t like it, it’s useless to force those choice to all your users. Many of the changes of the GNOME 3 were made to make it easier for newcomers to understand, applications were changed to “Activities” such things are great except for one thing, users adapt to new technologies, and the concept of applications is now well understood by many people, they know what is an application, they know what is multitasking (even if the don’t call it like that), kids nowadays listen to music on their phones while they send text messages or play Angry Birds, they know that those are “applications” and they manage to use them and no one gets hurt learning. It’s like if they started to teach the kids to write without letting them know the meaning of letters or words and sentences, these are concepts that you HAVE to learn in order to use a technology, assuming that everyone has the knowledge of a caveman it’s pointless.

P/S: This post is posted in a crappy english, if you want to point out the grammar errors feel free to do so.


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