Sunday, March 20, 2011

Holding on to KDE 3.5.x and Gnome 2.x in 2011

Something I have brought up on a number of occasions when talking about software is that people are very much resistant to change. This is true of both people that use closed source software and open source software.

There are many different kinds of desktop environments Linux users have to choose from, but there is no doubting that currently the two most popular of all of these are the KDE and Gnome desktops. Just over three years ago (wow, where has the time gone?) KDE released the fourth major revision of their desktop. The team behind Gnome is on the verge of releasing their third major revision.

Personally I think the release of Gnome 3.0 will be very similar to the release of KDE 4.0 Both of these versions bring with them drastic changes to their respective desktops. Are the changes they bring necessary? I am not one to make that decision - one thing that is clear however is that they changes they bring (brought) with them (will) upset a good deal of people.

Next, enter one of the many beauties of FOSS - the ability for fork a project. The previous stable versions of both KDE and Gnome will live on in two new projects.

Trinity Desktop:
The Trinity Desktop is a project dedicated to keeping the sleek, fast, power of the KDE 3.5.x desktop alive. From their about page:

"This project aims to keep the KDE3.5 computing style alive, as well as polish off any rough edges that were present as of KDE 3.5.10. Along the way, new useful features will be added to keep the environment up-to-date."

Their current stable release is 3.5.12 and as you can see it looks very much like the classic KDE 3.5.x desktop:

Personally I am glad to see someone is keeping the old KDE 3.5.x desktop alive. It was the last time I seriously ran KDE as my main desktop. KDE 4.x just feels to bloated and clunky for my liking.

EXDE Project:
Not currently an "official" project at this point as Gnome 3.0 has not made it's stable debut as of yet. The EXDE project will aim to do essentially the same thing for Gnome 2.x that Trinity has done for KDE 3.5.x While there still has yet to be anything of substance in terms of code from the newly announced EXDE project they do have a nicely laid out road map, a clearly stated project vision, and a very informative FAQ.

As with most things only time will tell what will come of the EXDE (pronounced "X-D" by the way) desktop, but hopefully it will keep the Gnome 2.x desktop alive for those that plan to continue using it.

Do you use the Gnome or KDE desktops? If you use the KDE desktop, was it rough to change over when version 4.0 released? Do you still find yourself wanting 3.5.x back and might give Trinity a try? If you use Gnome, do you plan to start using Gnome shell when it releases or will you seek out something else?

~Jeff Hoogland


  1. I've used both KDE 3.5 (both as KDE 3.5 and as Trinity) and 4.X, and I do appreciate the amazing speed and customization potential of KDE 3.5, but honestly, it's starting to show its age now; it was designed to emulate Microsoft Windows XP, and it certainly feels like that. Plus, I've had great experiences with the latest versions (4.5, 4.6) of KDE; they no longer feel clunky or bloated, they're quite fast now (though still not quite as fleet-footed as KDE 3.5), and they're equally customizable. Plus, they are more modern, and this matters in terms of the applications included (e.g. Konqueror, Dolphin, GwenView, et cetera).
    I'm currently using Linux Mint 9 LTS "Isadora" GNOME which uses GNOME 2.30, and I like it very much. I've tried GNOME 3.0 Shell (before the minimize and maximize buttons were removed), and I can't say I agree with many of the UI changes, and it seems a lot less customizable. That said, the Linux Mint developers have declared their intentions to ship GNOME 3 but transform it back into a classic Linux Mint GNOME desktop and retain all the easy customization possibilities from GNOME 2.X missing in GNOME 3, so I'll probably stick with Linux Mint even as it changes over to GNOME 3.
    (Sorry, I don't mean to sound like a shill for Linux Mint here. It's just that this distribution is the one with which I have by far the most experience.)
    a Linux Mint user since 2009 May 1

  2. apropos kde3x, pardus kurumsal, a turkish distro, ships with it, has a current kernel & updated packages. it is very stable and comes with long term support. a worthy option for those of you who like kde3.5 to consider. cs

  3. I use Debian Sid/Experimental with Gnome 2.30 on my laptop (only because it is so old and low powered) and Gnome 3 on my desktop (a 2002-3 Pentium 4 3.20 GhZ Dell). Gnome 3, in Debian at least I don't know about other distros, still supports Panels so I have not migrated to Shell yet. I will give Shell a go if or when I get another GPU that will support it and allow it to function as it should.

  4. For me KD4 is the same thing as it was at the beginnin -- it solves imaginary problems of imaginary people. And I am real.

    So, I still use KDE 3.5.10, but since now I upgrade to openSUSE 11.4 I am migrating to Gnome2 (because KMail/KDE3 lacks too many features now, and Thunderbird looks odd in KDE).

    If Gnome3 will be the same distaster as KDE4 I will also consider migrating to Windows. For me Linux/Windows is just a operating system, nothing else, a tool. Not a religion.

  5. @macias I didn't know I was imaginary?

  6. I've been using GNOME 3 builds for the past 2 months and loving it!

  7. I'm all about Openbox.

  8. We unanimously voted to stick to GNOME 2.x for at least the next 6 months in Fuduntu as we don't feel that GNOME 3 is ready for prime time yet.

  9. I'm sticking with Vector Linux KDE-Classic (3.5.10) for a while longer.

  10. This screenshot og Pardus Linux Corporate 2 with KDE 3.5 made it seem appealing still.


  12. Gnome must DIE! It has alway been a disaster, and that seems very likely to change. Gnome has always tried to limit choices, and dictate to users how the must do things. Only if the Gnome developers start listening to what users want, and give users what they want will it ever become usable at all.

  13. with xfce 4.8 having network browsing native in the new thunar file manager I see it as the ultimate way to go for a die hard gnome2 user......luckily it looks like 4.8 will be in most repos about the time gnome 3 is forced on us. I am running it (compiled from source) on my ubuntu 10.10 laptop and it works VERY WELL.

    I seriously suggest it for us gnome 2 guys

  14. I too went the Xfce route at about this time last year. When I ditched Windows from my hard drive in January of 2005, my first desktop environment was KDE 3.x (whatever sub-version KDE was on at the time). But when KDE 4 came out, I tried it and HATED it so much that I moved to Gnome. I liked it, but last year I learned about Gnome 3 and didn't wanna go through that again. Also, there were some very hateful people on Gnome-Look that I got to where I had it up to HERE with, and so I ditched Gnome for Xfce and haven't looked back since.

  15. Before I start, just one thing first:
    Nope, KDE isn't bloated. It has the functions I need to do what I want with my machine. I start to doubt most people actually know what the word bloated means and apply it to everything that doesn't follow Gnomes idiotic philosophy of taking away all the functions you need to work with your Desktop(namly what's the problem with having fricking options without having to search through Documentation to find out where they hid the settings). Don't get me wrong, I don't hate Gnome, I've used it(and am still using it on my Laptop) for 3 years and am interested in what will come, even though some Design-Decisions seem questionable for me though. KDE made a big step forward and KDE 4.0 and 4.1 weren't really usable, but after that it got really good. Perhaps Gnome will also need one or two versions to get a usable Desktop again(and perhaps they'll rethink some of their Decisions... I really like my minimize and maximize buttons ;) )But we'll see about that.

    I don't want KDE 3.5 back, it's a piece of history and imo it should stay exactly that, sometimes it's just neccessary to make a big step forward. And should the Gnome-People(and I fully expect them to) put the same efford into Gnome as the KDE-People put in KDE, Gnome 3 should become really good(even though it will never be nearly as good as KDE though :P)

  16. @Tarnus KDE 4.x is bloated. Sure it has lots of features, but it uses way to many resources to provide said features. KDE 4.x is actually still LESS configurable than the Enlightenment desktop and uses at least three times the resources.

  17. I use KDE 4.6 in my archlinux laptop, and I don't feel it any slower or more bloated than GNOME 2.30.
    Actually, I moved away from GNOME because it was getting slow on simple things such as launching the menu (it would take about 2 seconds).

    It obviously depends on the hardware, but KDE 4.x isn't that bad in terms of speed or performance.
    It just has more features enabled by default, and you can always disable them.

  18. GNOME3 is not the massive departure from GNOME2 that Unlike KDE4 is from KDE3.x.

    GNOME Shell the much talked about, and heavily marketed Desktop environment for Small screen and tablet devices, is ONLY A SMALL PART of GNOME3. GNOME3 can be configured to provide the standard desktop that we are all familiar with, and which works much better on large screen and multi monitor devices.

    Indeed, because GNOME3 IS SO MUCH MORE than just GNOME Shell Linux Mint 11 will be released with GNOME 3 as it's default desktop..... BUT NOT with GNOME SHELL. Instead Linux Mint 11 will have the same desktop experience as Linux Mint 10 and Linux Mint 9, using GNOME 3 instead of GNOME 2.

    There no need for the concern over GNOME3 being the same departure from common sense that KDE4 was and is, that bloggers and indeed the GNOME developers have been instrumental in causing by concentrating all the marketing and infomercial writing on what is in reality a small screen/Touch/tablet DE.... GNOME Shell.

  19. @Jeff91: I don't see how you can call KDE 4.x bloated.
    On Arch Linux, a clean KDE session uses a total of 500MB ram.
    The biggest memory hog in an individual process there is Xorg, with over 100 mb of memory usage.

    According to distrowatch, Bodhi Linux uses around 180 mb of RAM, which is a bit more than one third of my memory usage.
    Yet, I am not sure if it even has one third of the features of my KDE desktop.

    All the stuff running in a KDE session and provided by the loaded kdelibs, like knotify, kded, kio, etc. are there for a reason.
    And while those features are not always directly visible to the users, they are just as important.

    Just my point of view.

  20. @Znurre Distro watch has less and less quality with everything the write. Check the comments thread (well the ones they haven't deleted anyways because Landor is a jerk), Bodhi normal uses just under 100megs of RAM on a default install at startup and if you tweak things a small bit this number can be dropped to the 50-60meg range.

    So yes, something that uses 5-10times as much ram by default is bloated. On my netbook 500megs is HALF the system memory.

  21. @Jeff91: I guess it all depends on your point of view :)
    Let's take two games as an example.
    One of the games requires 500MB VRAM, and the other one requires 256MB VRAM.
    In this imaginary scenario, this is due to the fact that the first game has higher texture resolution.

    Since the first game uses more VRAM, would you call it bloated although it does provide better texture quality?

    Imo, as long as something is not using more resources than what is proportional to what you get, it cannot be called bloated.
    I could agree with you that KDE is heavy, but you don't pay for more than what you get in terms of resource usage.
    That is why I think calling KDE 'bloated' is not very accurate.

  22. 1) DEs and Games are very different.

    2) Enlightenment provides just as much if not more than KDE and looks just as good.

    So if you had two games and they both looked the same, but one used less memory - thats the one you would use right? The one using more memory must have bloat in it causing the resource usage.

  23. I cannot agree with the fact that Enlightenment provides just as much as KDE, but that is just our personal views.

    As for memory usage, plasma-desktop and kwin together, which is what I would compare to Enlightenment, uses a total of 130mb RAM for me, and that is including shared libraries.

    This also includes 20 mb allocated by the NVidia driver.
    Using nouveau, I am sure the memory usage could be decreased further.

    Once again, I would not call this bloated at all.

  24. I like how your RAM usage just magically jumped from 500 down to 130, in my experience KDE is always 2-3 times that amount at boot.

    E is always light.

  25. Well, I do have other processes started as well.
    Plasma-desktop + KWin is what takes 130mb in total. Then there are other things like XOrg (actually didn't use only 100mb as said before, but rather closer to 300 mb), kded, knotify, kuiserver, etc.
    But including those, and then comparing it to Enlightenment would be like comparing apples and pears.

  26. Oh, well if we are hacking the desktop down the bare bones E can striped down to:

    "The suggested minimum RAM required for a full Linux system + EFL application is 16MB"

    Still almost 1/10th of what you have going on it KDE+QT land.

  27. Okay, I'll give you right about that one, since I cannot really prove you wrong.
    One day however, I will do a thorough review of resource usage vs features between Enlightenment and KDE and get to the bottom with this :)

  28. Looks like EXDE disappeared rather quickly:

  29. Latest version of KDE4 on top of Debian comes in at 190 MB of RAM on my P4 rig. That's with everything (Desktop effects, Nepomuk, you name it) enabled.

    It is a bit heavy, but to call it bloated is a bit unfair. I find it very responsive - comparable to GNOME - sometimes even faster.

    For me, it provides a nice integrated environment with several useful utilities that I happen to like. If you don't like the utilities it provides by default, I could see how it could be seen as bloated however.

    The great thing about Linux is the choice we have of several great DEs. I have used LXDE, XFCE, GNOME and KDE at different times and they all were great - for different situations and machines.