Torvalds Dumps GNOME for Xfce

by Susan Linton - Aug. 03, 2011Comments (18)

linuxLinux users seem to be interested in what our de facto leader uses on his desktop. In 2005 KDE users reveled when Linus said, "just ... use KDE." Later on in 2009 GNOME users returned the nose rubbing when he said, "I switched to GNOME." Well, both groups can now sulk together because Linus has switched again and this time he's "using Xfce."


Yes, once upon a time KDE was king and even Linus Torvalds, the original Linux programmer, was using it. He said, " I personally just encourage people to switch to KDE." The gripe at the time was that GNOME dumbed down their interface and folks who liked more control usually chose KDE. As Linus put it, "This "users are idiots, and are confused by functionality" mentality of Gnome is a disease. If you think your users are idiots, only idiots will use it. I don't use Gnome, because in striving to be simple, it has long since reached the point where it simply doesn't do what I need it to do. Please, just tell people to use KDE." Perhaps this is when the thread at KDE snapped. Because it would be only a few years before KDE 4 appeared and ran off Linus with a lot of regular users.


As Linus said, " I used to be a KDE user. I thought KDE 4.0 was such a disaster, I switched to GNOME. I hate the fact that my right button doesn't do what I want it to do. But the whole "break everything" model is painful for users, and they can choose to use something else. I realize the reason for the 4.0 release, but I think they did it badly. They did so many changes, it was a half-baked release." And that about sums it right up. Although as Linus thought, KDE 4 did improve since its initial release, but to many users it still feels like work in process.


Ah, then GNOME developers followed KDE with their own mess. GNOME 3 was released a few months ago to very mixed reviews. Most of the complaints revolve around a muddled work flow and difficulty getting anything done when using it. This is sort of what Linus just said. "I have yet to meet anybody who likes the unholy mess that is gnome-3."

He later continued, "it's that the user experience of Gnome3 even without rendering problems is unacceptable. Why can't I have shortcuts on my desktop? Why can't I have the expose functionality? Wobbly windows? Why does anybody sane think that it's a good idea to have that "go to the crazy 'activities'" menu mode?"

Linus elaborated, "Here's an example of "the crazy": you want a new terminal window. So you go to "activities" and press the "terminal" thing that you've made part of your normal desktop thing (but why can't I just have it on the desktop, instead of in that insane "activities" mode?). What happens? Nothing. It brings your existing terminal to the forefront. That's just crazy crap."

 Our fearless leader finally reveals, " I'm using Xfce. I think it's a step down from gnome2, but it's a huge step up from gnome3. Really."

But I think he sums it up best for all of us using KDE, GNOME, and Unity these last few years: "I want my sane interfaces back."

Shailesh Patel uses OStatic to support Open Source, ask and answer questions and stay informed. What about you?


Man...Linus busting out the "I want my sane interfaces back"...that was super funny. All those idealogues....whether they be win mac linux fanatics...or gnome vs kde etc...just use the proper tool for the job!

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I think Linux is right, except that KDE 4 has really become quite a nice desktop, really. I also want a sane desktop. All this compositing goofiness has really sapped life out of my desktop. I like the true transparencies, but everything else is just gadgetry.

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I agree, fork Gnome 2 and keep it alive and well.

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I use Mint, and so also enjoy the known Gnome 2.X environment. I have to say I enjoyed my foray in Gnome3 in a trial basis, but only after discovering the keyboard shortcuts. Then, and only then, could I see the productive speed of the system.

But I agree with Linux. I still want my Compiz wiz-bang look, which to me helps me in my productivity, and causes looks of wonder from those who use those "other" OS's.

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That's oh so true. While experimenting on new interfaces may be nice, I just don't understand why the old UI should be so bad that is MUST be overthrown. I just now have found some recourse in GNOME2 as KDE4 is so constantly on the move and has maybe yet 4.7 reached a status where all (for me) improtant things may work properly (akonadi mess, networkmanager implementation) ... It's a pity that the next Distro-upgrade I'll have to decide: GNOME 3 madness, Unity madness, or the ever rolling train of KDE ... Enlightenment maybe? LXDE feels just too Win98 ... XFCE ... ?

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I switched to Xubuntu years ago when Compiz came out. There was no way to completely turn off Compiz, so I switched. I'm a programmer. When I need to switch apps, I want it done now; not wait for some fancy animation. I just wonder why it took Linus so long to change.

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Totally agree with Linus...

However the GNOME 3 and KDE devs won't listen as usual.

La La La La... Hands on ears... we know what's best for you... Rubbish.

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> ostatica: All those idealogues ...

You're turning things upside-down. Linus has just pointed out the obvious. The ideologues are a handful of hyper-inflated egos who do the "designing" at Gnome with little or no regard for what's wanted and what's needed. Shame, such impostors still manage to recruit whole armies of idealistic, talented and unpaid (!) volunteers to do their dirty work.

I agree with Linus that there should be a well-organized fork which picks up the pieces of the abandoned Gnome 2.32 series. Ideally, such a project would be funded and supported by Red Hat ... or are they seriously considering to force Gnome3 on their corporate clients?

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You delete my comment ... and I delete the bookmark of your censorious website. Fair's fair. One IT page less to visit daily. I'm sure your outfit will go downhill and ultimately seize to exist if you don't change your attitude towards sane but critical comments you disagree with.

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I hope that Xfce don't change their own philosophy.

It is not bloated and still have a lot of functionality

" KISS - Keep It Keep it simple, Stupid! " definitively is not what

gnome and kde are. I really enjoy the IceWM project. I think it is one, fluxbox too, of the best WM for KISS.

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Who cares what Linus thinks about Gnome3 or any other DE? His area of expertise is the kernel, NOT the desktop ui. What was the last desktop gui Linus developed?

The truth is, his opinion is just that - an 'opinion', and everyone has one. And his is no better than anyone else's when it comes to the desktop user experience. Let him have his opinion. I choose to have my own. So should everyone.


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Dang, I have felt just like Mr. Torvalds for such a long time. I was wondering if I was all alone in wanting my sane interfaces back.

I use Slackware, which is big on KDE. Since Slackware started using KDE 4.x, I decided to start using Slackware without KDE, meaning I had to start using XFCE. Anybody who uses Slackware knows that XFCE is pretty much a dead stick, unless you have KDE (or Gnome) programs to add to it's functionality. Since I refuse to do KDE or Gnome, I had to go on a journey finding a Slackware based distro that was comfortable enough to me. Settled on Salix. Now I run Slackware peppered with Salix packages, but.... I have seemed to slip down the slippery slope of trying different interfaces.

From Desktop Environments to Window Managers (stacked with other individual apps to make up the difference), my journey to find the right GUI continues. I have mostly settled on IceWM, for one reason: it can be made to run like a stripped down KDE 3 (or at least the way I made KDE 3.x run). I ran KDE 3.x with sub-categories from the KDE button stretched out into their own buttons along the panel. I would have a button for Terminals, a button for network apps, a button for multimedia apps, a button for games, etc. Ever since KDE 4, I have lost this function. XFCE has this ability, but it's tedious to implement because you have to set up each button (and add each app to each button) manually. IceWM is also tedious because to setup my toolbar this way, It's all done with text configuring. Well that was until I found IceWM's Control Center (and menumaker). Unfortunately IceWM's Control Center is stuck on QT3, and menumaker is getting a little aged too. So my search for Sane Interfaces continues...

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Well Linus if XFCE doesn't do it for you try Enlightenment, when you run out of Linux windows managers there is always MS Windows to make you appreciate what you have got.

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I think it's good to have several desktop environments. I have used and liked in some ways KDE, Gnome and XFCE. But we still have LXDE, Enlightment, Trinity and the smaller-lighter windows managers (IceWM, OpenBox, Fluxbox, etc., etc.).

Enjoy what you want.

Long live the LIGH ones, nevertheless ;-)

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quote from wikipedia

"He encourages users to switch to KDE. However, Torvalds thought KDE 4.0 was a "disaster" because of its lack of maturity, so he switched to GNOME. Always dissatisfied with loss of productivity, he switched to XFCE after the GNOME3 release, with another harsh post against GNOME."

Seeing how old-fashioned he is, I would not be surprised if in future he shifted to KDE 3

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just like Korn said "follow the leader ... "

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Oops ... I take everything back and apologize for the bitchy 2nd comment. My OStatic bookmark has been restored and of course I will continue to read your pages :-) But my 1st comment had disappeared for a while ... how did that happen?

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Linus (and every truly linux people) will use awesome wm in the future ! :-) Is the best WM

Why does Linus need an Desktop ?

I would like to know what features did he use from gnome2 which not are in xfce, and what kind of things he do with XFCE tools ...


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