Bart Decrem re: Desktop Elegance

Here's my official statement in response to the recent controversy over certain comments that slipped out of my mouth during a LOOOONG interview that also happened to include many positive and not-so-controversial comments about KDE. I have now switched to using KDE on a daily basis and I am really enjoying it. Thanks for the feedback and keep on hacking! :-)


by Navindra Umanee (not verified)

That's downright decent of you!

Have you found a better icon theme to suit your taste? On the positive side, I believe the KDE Artists will be working on making the default application icons more photo-realistic for KDE 3.1. At least your comments will give them more incentive to follow through!


by Navindra Umanee (not verified)

Oh, nevermind, I just saw your screenshot. Cool!

by aThom (not verified)

He must be killing !
His desktop is so ugly.
I'am fed up with this OsX style and panel,please be more creative !
Think of E themes or even slick icons which are more original.
KDE is not and will never be OsX or XP, assume its difference.

by Etriaph (not verified)

Oh, for the love of God. EVERYONE assumes that the little panel centered in the middle of the screen at the bottom is a play on MacOS Xs panel. But those people would be and are ignorant about the fact that the CDE and FVWM (a likeness of CDE) has their panel in the center of the bottom of the screen, nad has for a hell of a lot longer than OS X has been around. Get a clue.

by Fredrik C (not verified)

And thou it looks nice it's seems extremely impractical, 2 apps in the task bar and it's full. CDE came out before the taskbar (back in the Alt-Tab days). How does OSX handle it?

by fler (not verified)

Now THAT'S ugly
The text beneath the sunflower icon on the desktop is unreadable
The W icon on the comment
Gnome terminal icon...
Anti Aliasing turned off

blah :/

by Uno Engborg (not verified)

Hope the icons don't get too photo realistic. Too much detail in icons make them
harder too read. E.g. a trash bin shouldn't to look exactly like a real
life trach bin but rather like our mental concept of a general trash bin.
If they have too great detail they may clash with that mental concept and we
have to spend time analyzing the icon image, before we realize that is a
trash bin.

by kidcat (not verified)

I fully agree with you.. however i think that all the bright (impress-the-geek-chicks) collors in the more photorealistic are kewl too. So i guess its up to the art-gods to find the right balance in this area :) Btw. the Home icon is kewl IMHO :D


by kidcat (not verified)

I fully agree with you.. however i think that all the bright (impress-the-geek-chicks) collors in the more photorealistic are kewl too. So i guess its up to the art-gods to find the right balance in this area :) Btw. the Home icon is kewl IMHO :D


by kidcat (not verified)

Sorry for the 2xBummer(tm).


(Is it hard to intercept a dup page and > /dev/null it? Not that I would ask anyone to spend the time on my behalf when I'm the faulty-clicking one... but others make them as well, when net is laggy/jumpy/slow)

by antialias (not verified)

Validation results:

'Warning: No Character Encoding detected! To assure correct validation, processing, and display, it is important that the character encoding is properly labeled.'

'Sorry, this document does not validate as HTML 4.01 Transitional.'

Is it possible to fix this?



by Chakie (not verified)

I think it was a nice reply, and probably something that wasn't too easy to do. Usually when you get flamed a lot you tend to get defensive and hold on to your opinion. Apparently Bart can admit that little slip and get on with it. :)

by Rajan R. (not verified)

His desktop now looks really butt ugly. The "W" icon is so pixelized. Slap on an QNX theme, and a iKons theme, it would be so much nicer, :-)

by Bart Decrem (not verified)

dude, I AGREE! I've asked our design team to come up with new app launcher icons. Also, I'm trying to download RH7.3 so then I can do a brand new install of KDE3 and play with more themes.


by Pablo Liska (not verified)

you can also install themes from

by Michael (not verified)

Yeah right.

Call me a cynic, but it looks like you said it deliberately to get some
free advertising and it fell flat.

As flat as your attempts to regain face are now.

Looks "Pretty transparent" to me (which ironically is a good instruction for your "team" of designers)

by Bart Decrem (not verified)

Give me a break dude - I'm just saying "I'm sorry".

by Guillaume Laurent (not verified)


Ever gave any thoughts about things like, "growing up", and "getting a life" ?

by Michael (not verified)

More than you did making that reply.

If you going to have a pop, put some decent effort into it.

The age-ist remarks are odd, perhaps you were bullied as a child by other children?

by Carsten (not verified)

geez, someone seems to be too pissed off, to accept a simple apology ...

by Michael (not verified)

Nope, I don't have any axe to grind.

I didn't write kde or its icons and I'm not particulary bothered whether it's ugly or not.

I can see through PR stunts though, if the rest of you can't.

by Rajan R. (not verified)

And betray your company's Hancom Linux?
Wait, you don't have to use RedHat to use KDE 3.0. You could use QNX For KDE, get iKons, change that "W" icons, and practice consitency between icons. You can compile GNX For KDE 3 yourself... (don't tell me, you can't compile!)

by Matthijs Sypken... (not verified)

This is a downright hilarious way to 'apolgise', especially the reflection on his own appearance. I love it! It's the first thing that made me laugh since yesterday sixish.

by antialias (not verified)

If you want to avoid an ugly desktop you have to take care that GTK theme (see your Gimp) matches the rest of KDE desktop. Icons on your Kicker are too muxh mixed: everaldos Crystal theme, Mozilla's redstar which is scaled to 48x48 (missing size), Gnome terminal icon doesn't go well with the rest of icons and that 'W' icon (probably Hancom Word) which is not created in 48x48 size is destroyed by scaling. Advice: no matter which icon theme you use, keep your icons consistent.

And I am curious: you are talking about a new icon theme for KDE and you say it will be beautiful. How come that we've never seen a preview of it on kde-artists mailing list? Or maybe you know something that I don't know.



by Bart Decrem (not verified)

Thanks for all those comments. I've cleaned up some of those things already.

Re: "icon theme" I was referring to Keramik, which I've been told will be the new default look. I haven't been able to compile Keramik but the screenshots I've seen look terrific ( I guess Keramik doesn't come with an icon theme though, but the screenshot at s of a matching background, kicker background, and I guess that's the Conectiva icons, combined with Keramik will be really beautiful, in my opinion.

by kbeaumont (not verified)

Too me the crystall icons really suck, the only ones worse are Mandrake's! How they can produce such nice looking install, boot process and apps and then stick all those ugly icons all over the place is beyond me. I've found that going with an aqua theme in linux is about the only way to have a consistent user interface, because everyone has copied it. Much to apple's chagrin. Eric Yang produced some the most beautiful, flattering, knock offs of aqua I have ever seen. He created an enlightenment theme with a dockbar in the center that looks amazingly like a screenshot of the new imac on apple's site. Add all the various xmms, gkrellm etc. skins, kde aqua theme, and GTk aqua, and you can create one magnificient illusion. Until you fire up mozilla :(

by Lorn (not verified)

Google for "Pinstripe linux".

by Adrian (not verified)

Though even mozilla can now look aqua-like if you use the firebird browser project.

by Timothy R. Butler (not verified)

FWIW, it appears those icons are actually the default Hi-Color icons at really small sizes with alpha-blending enabled.


by sorry (not verified)

but that looks fucking hideous.

But its all personal preference, so why is it being made a big deal about?

by gladiator (not verified)

Hi there. I am a newbie to linux.
I have just installed it and downloaded the aqua theme from kde's site.
But it doesnt look like imac much cause the title bar has been changed to look different from osX. Can someone mail me the theme please.
My email address is -
[email protected]

by julia (not verified)

i am really looking for a ugly desktop,i mean ugly with a head cutt off or a big sign that says "fuck my parents" ,if anyone has or knows a place where i can get them ,thanks in advance ,oh by the way i am really depressed now..

by shailesh lal (not verified)

hi, i'm a newbie to linux as well. if anyone has a real nice aqua theme.. maybe by eric yang?? :-) please do mail t to me at [email protected]

by Federico Damonte (not verified)

Ho can this guy have such a senior position in a leading linux company?
Look at this gem he posted on slashdot (in the thread on his interview):

>there are fashions in product naming, and if you violate those fashions, names >sound kind of odd. There's a reason people make good money worrying about >these issues.
>For instance, during the dot-com phase, everyone put ".com" in their company >name, but by now, everyone's removed that from their company name. Also, a few >years ago, it was very popular to make compound words with capitals in the >middle (HancomLinux) - but now that's not so popular anymore.
>Similarly, single letters go through periods where they are hot and not. So a >few years ago, everyone loved using the letter Q in company names (Quantum >etc.). But that's really old now. When Eazel picked Z that was a decent >marketing decision (in addition to the fact that the domain was not >available). In my personal opinion, the overuse of the letter K in all things >related to the KDE project gets old very quick and is not a huge asset. But >I'm sure KDE users feel the same about Galeon, Gnumeric and all the other G->words that are connected with GNOME. I just think the letter G is overall more >elegant - it sounds smooth and looks round, whereas the letter K is so, well, >square. Also, once I heard that KDE originally stood for Kool Desktop >Environment I could never quite get that thought of my head - and that's kind >of a traumatic thought:) (I fully appreciate that GNU Network MOdel >Environment is quite a mouthful). There - for what that's worth :)

Recapitulating: this guy is paid a hefty amount of money to market a product, and it turns out that his marketing strategy (judging from the above post) is that of follwing the latest stupid fashion, with the result of completely hiding his product in the middle of other, similar-sounding names.
Good. Now, to me all this sounds pretty stupid. It is quite obvious (to me at least) that the reason why Linux was the media darling until recently is precisely because of the funny name, the penguin, the story "finnish student decides to write an OS" etc. Can you imagine all those articles about Linux (and Linus) being written about the usual suit, a la Bart Decrem? "We sell productivity solutions". Really? How exciting! If i would ever need some marketing for any of my projects i would spend my money on ESR's advice instead - the way he imposed the term "opensource" (and himself), in the linux world -- well, THAT is a true marketing masterpiece!

Linux companies need better leadership and better managers.

by John Allsup (not verified)

Don't think 'following the latest fashion'. It's more about -not ignoring- the latest fashion.

You need to look at current fashions to see what will seem like a good product name to most people (that this matters is sad, I know, but unfortunately, for the majority of people, i.e. those unaware of the issues about naming, it will). I believe the point he tries to make is that you must pay attention to what names are common and are perceived by average 'Joe User' to be that of an up-to-date product (i.e. calling a product Wibble/386 1.0 will make it sound rather archaic, calling it Wibble 98, Wibble 2000 or even Wibble 3001 will seem to be the name of a product of yesteryear to your average M$ user).

If you put your knowledge about the issues and how much/little a name/brand really counts, you should be able to look at the impressions that names generate.

For a simple exercise, take a list of current and not-so-current software package names and versions, and replace the indentifying bits of the names with gibberish (e.g. change Windows 2000 to MyWibble 2000, Linux kernel 2.1.27ac34 to FreshMash 2.1.27ac34 etc.) and then look down the list at different names, giving yourself about 1/2 a second to decide how up-to-date the product sounds.

by Joergen Ramskov (not verified)

Pretty funny - thanks for making me laugh :)

by Shamyl Zakariya (not verified)

Well first off, I'd like to say I'm really pleasantly surprised by what a good sport Bart is being about all this. I mean, the fella never said anything bad about KDE except that it didn't fit into his aesthetic taste, and everybody goes batsh*t.

Seriously -- do we use KDE because it's good looking or because it's a solid and well designed environment? I, personally, came over from BeOS a couple years ago and frankly neither GNOME or KDE look or feel anywhere near as good as BeOS did. I chose KDE quickly, after attempting to port my code to gtk; frankly I found the api a bit crude, whereas QT/KDE was much more in the simple OO style of BeOS (for reference, I was able to port my BeOS programs to Qt quite quickly). I feel uncomfortable using a desktop which I can't enjoy writing code for, so the problem resolved itself.

Luckily for me, KDE looks great these days -- in fact, I don't even have the desire to port my GONX style from KDE 2 to 3 since I think light3 is fantastic (though if anybody wants GONX for kde3 I might give it a go. As far as I can tell everybody these days goes banannas over liquid and krystal and keramic, which I find distracting, childlike, and ugly, but hell: that's my opinion, and not a statement of fact). Nonetheless, it's irrelevant. Even if KDE still looked like it did when I started using it and writing code for it back in the 1.x days, I'd still love it, because it's solidly designed, well documented, and in my experience completely stable.

Anyway, I'm glad to see that this preposterous tumult has died down, but I have to say I'm saddened that it took this level of self-deprecation from Bart to make it happen. At least his "press release" is in good humor, and it seems like there are no hard feelings. Kudos to Bart!

But shame, on us.

by John (not verified)

----<< As far as I can tell everybody these days goes banannas over liquid and krystal and keramic, which I find distracting, childlike, and ugly, but hell: that's my opinion >>----

I think its great that people have such diverse tastes. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and KDE can cater for most tastes. I personally think Keramic Accessories ( ) is stunning. Visually, KDE is going from strength to strength.

Where KDE still needs work IMO is with consistency across the desktop. Even with KDE 3.0 I find that things are not always where I logically expect to find them. I repeatedly trip over the absence of RMB cut/copy/paste for Konsole - because I habitually use it in so many other places in KDE, and GNOME, and MS Windows (which I unfortunately have to use too).

Or there are menu options I might use once in a lifetime that get in the way of other options I use frequently, The RMB menu in Konqueror for example is starting to get way too crowded. Applications (like cervisia and pixie) should park themselves under "Open with..." not directly on the first menu where they are in the way of the Properties option.

by Shamyl Zakariya (not verified)

Which makes me wonder -- how do I remove Cervisa from the konq toolbar (not RMB)? I have no doubt it's nice & useful for those who do lots of cvs work, but I don't. In fact, the few times I *have* I did it from the command line because I was too uncertain of the mechanisms to feel comfortable letting it be automated.

So, what do I do to kill/hide it?

You know, I loved your GONX theme, being a former BeOS user. Love to see it for 3.x.

by Rob Kaper (not verified)

This sucks. First I cannot disable those smileys I hate from Kopete, now I have to see them on here as well. Damnit. Can't we just happily use and and keep some respect for the history of the Internet?

It hurts my eyes. Please let me disable it in my user preferences. And kopete-hackers, damnit, grant me my wish and include an option to disable these headache inducers.

See, much nicer.

by Neil Stevens (not verified)

Heh.. good thing I was too lazy to implement them optionally in Kit.

by Charles Samuels (not verified)

Maybe they're just trying to encourage serious talk by threatening you with these damned thing.

I know I'll never use an emoticon in here again!

by ac (not verified)


by Sad Eagle (not verified)

Could thing LOL and ROTFL aren't replaced with illustrations automatically, isn't it?

by Sad Eagle (not verified)

s/could/good. Having the preview button jump over the post button before posting would seem like a good feature, on other hand.

by Sam Halliday (not verified)

what would RTFM be then?

by a.c. (not verified)

If these are being auto-generated from the post, consider useing the original chars as the alt.

by Navindra Umanee (not verified)

No auto-generation -- I was just messing with Rob. :-)

by Rob Kaper (not verified)

I feel so special now!