The DistRogue

Friday, November 10, 2006

Rant: Developers, developers, developers, developers!

I've had it with KDE. I'm not saying it just plain sucks, only that I'm bored with it. The UI, to be specific. It just screams "Look at me! LOOK AT MEEEE!!!oneoneone I'm an ex-Windoze user!" And then, there's the problem with bloatedness. I can't start a single session without adding at least 10 widgets to the Kicker. Good thing it doesn't spawn new tasks for each one... I've decided to go back to XFCE and GNOME. I'll be using GNOME a lot more in the future. I'm not going to be a complete GNOME rebel, using Foresight and all (Foresight just plain creeps me out), but if I need any eye-candy, it'll be more subtle than a ton of blue, glossy icons all over my screen yelling "Look at meeeeee!". Even installing Compiz is less obvious than that!
XFCE looks good, but in a quiet way. It's aesthetically pleasing, but not crazy. It looks... dignified. Better to be quiet in dignity than to yell blasphemies. (And if anyone's used that quote before, sorry, but I've never heard it anywhere. As far as I can tell, it was completely original.) Zenwalk carries all that to another level, but Xubuntu makes XFCE look genuinely GNOME-esque, so it wouldn't be too much of a culture shock for a Xubuntu user to try a GNOME-based distro.
And this brings me to the article's title. Like I said, KDE has some tricks to combat its inheritent bloatedness. Mainly, it reuses 2 key libraries: Qt and KHTML. Several apps use Qt to draw their window borders and such, including Skype for Linux. The Kicker (KDE panel) codes its apps in KHTML, so they take up less memory. Instead of every app loading the subroutines for graphics into memory with it, they all use a library that was loaded at startup. This is pretty ingenious, and it results in better performance than usual.
Fortunately, GNOME also has a few tricks up its sleeve, including GTK, the equivalent of Qt for GNOME. XFCE also uses it in some distros, and the results are great. Xubuntu uses as many GTK apps as possible, leaving a smaller memory footprint, and therefore giving better results. But not that many apps use GTK: the only ones that come to mind are the GIMP and Glade (which can also make GTK apps). There are probably more, but there's another weapon rising behind the scenes, and it is...
Mono is a library that gives Linux .NET support. .NET is another tool that can be used to create reusable apps, and is compatible with existing Windows apps that were written using it. (Yes, .NET is a Microsoft technology, so if I sound like a heretic, feel free to tell me to LART myself. I've got a Clue Bat ready.) Between GTK and Mono, GNOME apps can be optimized to be as zippy as KDE apps- maybe even zippier. So, developers, developers, developers, developers, next time you have time to do a total rewrite of your app, do it in Glade, or use Mono. That way, GNOME will have better integration, and maybe the startup time will be a second or two longer, but the apps will launch obscenely fast, and maybe, someday, we'll be able to look back on this article, a reminder of the days when installing KDE was a change for the better.
My 2 cents,
The DistRogue
(PS: To any KDE users I've offended, keep in mind that your desktop really does have tighter integration- for now.)


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