OfB.biz: Geramik Reduces KDE/GNOME Style Differences

Craig Drummond has released a new theme and "engine" for GTK programs that provides something many people have been looking for: a common look and feel for KDE and GNOME applications. While Red Hat's Blue Curve attempts to do something similar, Mr. Drummond's Geramik is the first theme implementation to provide smooth integration between environments. Read the full story at OfB.biz.

[Ed: What about usability issues? If KDE and GTK+ apps don't act the same or provide the same set of functionality in practice, should they really look the same? Wouldn't that mislead the user?]

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by ac (not verified)

I agree wholeheartedly. "The perfect should not be the enemy of the good" and so on. This is a first step. I think I'm safe in assuming the process won't stop here.

And, on top of all that, the reason people use Gnome apps in KDE is because *they like them!* If I wanted total UI consistency, I'd use Konqueror instead of Mozilla (not really a Gnome app but it's getting a GTK native theme) I'd use [...umm, I don't actually know...] instead of the Gimp, and I'd use Konqui instead of gFTP for huge ISO downloads where resumable downloads are a necessity.

But, I like Mozilla so much better than Konqui that I can deal with the interface seams. Gimp and gFTP have never let me down. And now, *some* of the seams between the applications have been removed. This is a good thing.

Now if only I can get GTK apps and Wine apps to use kprinter instead of their own native print dialogs! (I currently get two printer dialogs for all non-KDE apps so that I can use all of the kprinter goodness, but this bugs the hell out of my wife)

by AC (not verified)

Kinda offtopic, but...

Are you saying you don't use Konqui for FTP because you need resumable downloads? Konqi has supported resuming downloads for a long time... Just ignore me, if that's not what you meant. :-)

by ac (not verified)

No, I'm saying I started using gFTP back when Konqui DIDN'T support resumable downloads. But frankly, having grown used to it, I like gFTP and see no reason to switch. (after all, I really don't have a toolkit bias)

by Marcel Schreier (not verified)

That's a great idea!

I was just working on a GTK style which looks like KDE because I have to install a very user-friendly linux with many programs and KDE as desktop at school. (That's the same school, where I'm learning english...sorry about my english mistakes. Maybe my english looks a little bit like german...i'm still learning! :P)

The default look of GTK is very irritating for users who never worked with linux before.

I think this is a little but important step to make linux more user-friendly!

by static (not verified)

the default look of gtk is very irritating.

by knome (not verified)

gnome is drab like soviet era apartment block.

I have tried to like it, and I probably use more
gnome apps than kde but I am sorry but I just can't.

Liquid and Keramik are both very pleasing to the
eye albeit sometimes a little busy.

by Junior (not verified)

Is it included? Is it planned?

by Cliff (not verified)

Any volunteers to port Light v3 theme in same fashion as well? :)

by @l3X (not verified)

What if people stop WASTING time on 2 different desktops ?
If we're talking about a merged user experience (both look and feel) about linux desktop - and we are, aren't we ? - what is the need for 2 different systems ?
I mean, it's a good thing to have common themes, but is this really what will lead to a wider use of linux on the desktop ? Well I don't think so. I respect the work done on both, and I actually can't decide the one I prefer, but as soon as they offer the same set of features, they should (in a perfect world) MERGE. More talented programmers could then interact with a common goal, and better performance. Besides, mainstream users wouldn't be so confused.

by Ed Moyse (not verified)

This is suggested the whole time, but is never, ever going to happens. For a start GTK and Qt are completely incompatible so what would have to happen is one desktop would die. Can you honestly see either camp allowing that to happen?

by Chris Spencer (not verified)

With that kind of "uniform" thinking, I'm suprised you haven't joined a cult yet. Picking a desktop environment couldn't be that damn hard, so why bitch about them not being unified. And even if it was that hard to choose, you should be thankful that you actually HAVE 2 excellent desktops (unlike Windows) instead of pissing and moaning about the burden of having 2 great environments to choose from - yeah man I really pity you. They are 2 different styles and cater to 2 different groups of people that's why. That same kind of small minded thinking you're doing is what keeps people from using Linux in the first place. By your logic, one could say "Why bother with more than one OS ?" or "Why make more than one distrobution of Linux" or "Why even bother with Linux in the first place and just stick with one version of Unix ?" The same reason I just stated: The are different compaines with different objectives who meet the likes and needs of different groups of people, that's why...

by @l3X (not verified)

It's not about uniform thinking... I personally enjoy having the choice, if you bother to care. It was deliberately extreme, and no I'm not in any kind of cult, neither windowish nor OSSish. This comment was only about the USER side experience. And you really could have avoided the end of your comment, because it is SO far from reality... So step back and watch the big picture, instead of reacting before thinking.
I already know that a merge won't happen anytime soon. I know that code should have to be thrown, and I would rather not be the one to tell one of the team to trash their wonderful work.

OK, now that things are clear about my opinion, let's look at facts from the user side, because this side will decide the future of linux on the desktop. What is the need of 2 diffrent implementation if the user experience is the same ?
Why would GM build 2 cars with opposite inside designs but that people could not differenciate at all ? Nobody wins. The user doesn't have a choice, and GM has spent a lot of money in 2 designs and 2 production lines.
If it's about 2 styles and 2 groups of people, so be it. But it has a huge cost for the linux community.
I would rather have ONE desktop with all the features of BOTH, than TWO different desktops to choose from.

by Eric Laffoon (not verified)

> If we're talking about a merged user experience (both look and feel) about linux desktop - and we are, aren't we ? - what is the need for 2 different systems ?

It is not your need or your itch being scratched. I say this without malice or intent to offend, but this is a very ignorant proposition. It should be forever dropped. Quick and simple...
1) Underlying differences - architecture, language, programming philosophies...
2) Volunteers - who is going to be the ass to order people who don't take orders?
3) Resolutions - how do you resolve the many, many, many underlying differences and in whose favor? Which toolkit, which apps, which architcture?
4) Freedom - You can't tell me what to do!!! Quanta will *NOT* undergo the years of arguing, compromises and programmer defections this would cause. We would ally ourselves with whatever defectors would continue with QT/KDE libraries and apps under whatever banner.

Think this through! A "single desktop" would mean massive portions of existing code thrown away, one or both toolkits abandoned and replaced, a majority of programmers defecting and the biggest debacle to hit open source in it's entire history. Why? So those people with narrow minds could more closely emulate the worst blight to ever hit software... Microsoft! We would also end up with at least three desktops where there were two and the new one would be the worst and fartherest behind.

We enjoy selecting from different brands for everything we consume. Do you truly believe that people are too vapid to be able to comprehend two different brands of desktops or want to have a choice? If so you must believe that M$ being a monopoly is a result of natural market conditions and not illegal and amoral practices. I would dearly love to have a KDE version of gimp or a replacement that uses a rational interface... but I can't see destroying both desktops and creating an OSS gestapo to take away my freedom. How can people knowingly suggest we emulate all that we despise? If you must become like your rival then what banner do you fight under? We're fascists like them, only we don't charge you to tell you what to do?

OSS is about freedom. Don't like it? There is a clear alternative to freedom headquartered in Redmond Washington for those who dislike choice. It ought to be a lesson for all of us as to how choice is destroyed and why it is important!

Tattoo this on your forehead so you don't forget...

by steve (not verified)

Just ignore one of them. Run only KDE apps,
and guess what? Everything just works!

by Rayiner Hashem (not verified)

IMHO, this was a bigger problem back when neither KDE nor GNOME were full featured enough for one to use totally independently. These days, I run a 100% KDE desktop, and I don't really miss apps. KDE has enough apps that it's perfectly usable, and it's just fine that GNOME and KDE are seperate. Besides, KDE is going one way, GNOME another. I respect the GNOME project, but I really hate the GNOME look (any theme!) and I hate the direction GNOME 2.0 is going. So it's good that there is two different projects to fit two different niches.

by ThanatosNL (not verified)

Seriosly guys, both camps are developing new applications at such a high rate that merging the look and feel of the two desktops is becoming ludicrous. Distributions can pick'n'choose one desktop, develop and hack at that untial it looks and feels "polished," and not waste time pleasing other camps. The other desktop can be manually added on by a knowledgeable user. As for the newbie, it's not going to matter.

Consider RedHat's problem. They prefer Gnome, and have done a great job making Gnome look really nice. A lot of people have problems with what they've done to KDE. Why not only support Gnome?

KDE is getting ready to hold it's own (moreso than Gnome; which would require a few non-gnome apps, such as Mozilla and OpenOffice), with koffice and konqueror maturing rapidly. Another distro could do a better job of shipping a great KDE if they ditched Gnome. Consider the Windows clones (Lindows, Lycoris). Though they're still at KDE2, I believe this is the right direction to go. Develop on one platform, tweak and tailor that desktop to look and feel great, and watch as the criticisms of applications misbehaving, gui inconsistency, and bad interpolation wither away.

by Erik Hensema (not verified)

Seriosly guys, both camps are developing new applications at such a high rate that merging the look and feel of the two desktops is becoming ludicrous. Distributions can pick'n'choose one desktop, develop and hack at that untial it looks and feels "polished," and not waste time pleasing other camps. The other desktop can be manually added on by a knowledgeable user. As for the newbie, it's not going to matter.

It matters to me. I run KDE, but I also use gtk+ apps. With Geramik, I've got a single look (but not feel) in most of the apps I use.

by Marcel Schreier (not verified)

And don't forget Gimp!

by antiphon (not verified)

Actually, Lindows uses KDE 3.01 w/Keramik

by Julien Olivier (not verified)


I've just installed freecurve from pclinuxonline.com and I must admit that it's great. KDE apps and GNOME look the same and, what's more important to me, neither KDE apps nor GNOME apps look like toys.

I mean that Keramik / Geramik are nice but look too much like fisher price toys (using any color scheme by the way) to be the default style. I really think that freecurve should be the default for both KDE and GNOME. Then, Liquid and Keramik should be styles for those who like 'art'.

Now, I know what you'll say: freecurve==redhat==evil. That's not the good way to see the problem: Any style that look nice in both KDE and GNOME and don't have any patent (the only restriction for Bluecurve is to change its name -> freecurve)should be included in (at least) kdeartwork, even if they are done by Microsoft or RedHat. What will you do if RedHat creates a great MSWorld import/export filter for kword ? You won't include it because THEY did it ? That would be stupid.

So please include freecurve in CVS and, if people like it, make it default for KDE. Same thing for GNOME developers.

I hope you'll be smarter than RedHat.

by Julien Olivier (not verified)

By the way, freecurve also has a great KDE/GNOME window decoration. You should include it too in CVS.

by James Richard Tyrer (not verified)

Yes, we should include free(blue)curve in future releases. Should we call it "redcurve" and have the default color scheme match RedHat's web site.

BUT PLEASE, restore the "Stickey" button. Only the @#@#!!s at RedHat would consider its removal a 'feature'.

by Timothy R. Butler (not verified)

Personally, I didn't think FreeCurve looked that nice. It also is missing something big that Geramik has - both desktops have matching colors. If I use KDE and have GTK apps using Geramik, all my apps will always match. Not true with FreeCurve.

Personally, I like GTK2's default style much better than BlueCurve/FreeCurve...

by Julien Olivier (not verified)

About the problem of colors not matching, I believe that could be done as it was done for keramik/geramik... but I don't know how.

When you say that KDE2's default look is nicer than freecurve, it's a matter of taste but, anyway, there is no matching style for gtk. Else, I would agree to have it the default for both KDE and GNOME. Highcolor is (was) a great style but too different from GNOME flat styles IMO.

by James Richard Tyrer (not verified)

Install Geramik's pieces for GTK, but use the bluecurve style pixmaps.

I'll work on this and come up with detailed instrctions.

Note that my instructions for installing BlueCurve on KDE installed from source were posted on the KDE list.

I would like to see the KDE2 style for GNOME. I haven't installed Geramik yet, it is in my in box. When I get it installed, I will look into this further.


by James Richard Tyrer (not verified)


It appears that the two GNOME apps that regularly use are GTK2.

So, I guess that I will have to wait till Geramik is GT2. :-\


by Timothy R. Butler (not verified)

Actually, I meant GTK2 not KDE2. KDE2's theme was fine though, and there is a GTK style that I saw awhile ago...

by Gunter Ohrner (not verified)

> Highcolor is (was) a great style but too different
> from GNOME flat styles IMO.

Mh, Eazel's old GTK+ engine (Crux) comes pretty close to KDE's Highcolor style. That's the engine I'm personally using for the few GTK apps I need (xchat, GIMP, gkrellm, etc.) and it looks quite ok.


Gunter Ohrner

by Rayiner Hashem (not verified)

I think you might be in the minority. Judging from kdelook.org, people prefer Liquid/Keramik, and that seems to be the reason it's the default.

by Robert (not verified)

Maybe that's because people who like the (still) default hicolor style do not go to kdelook.org to download Liquid/Keramik? Not everyone is a theming freak.

by Vajsravana (not verified)

Well said!

by Roby (not verified)

I'm looking for Freecurve, i've searched on pclinuxonline.com but i haven't found it. Can you help me?

by Julien Olivier (not verified)

it's here:


You can access it whether in http:// or ftp://.

by Julien Olivier (not verified)

Judging from the size of the files, I'm pretty certain they are exactly the same.

by Norman (not verified)

I would pesonally love to strip out all this cheezy gtk rubbish off my system, KDE is simply better in every way. GTK is very basic, very little customisabillity and still looks like motif (yuck) Its like running two operating systems on a desktop. Geramik will help, but i really want the 'kimp' and for mandrake to stop using that stupid GTK for their drak and drake tools. Even their curses version is better.

by nnn (not verified)

i have no kde on this machine (my harddisk is full). but this theme really looks great on my gnome desktop. see the screenshot!

my only question: can i change the colors without having kde running? and i'd love to have this keramik window manager decorations. :-)

many thanks


by Anonymous (not verified)

See http://art.gnome.org/theme_list.php?category=metacity for not less than three 3 Keramik window decoration clones (but I doubt any of these has the bubble overlapping the window border for the active window).

by nnn (not verified)

thanks very much!

metacity won't work with my old gnome...
but i have found some other very nice themes cause you gave me the link


by Anton Velev (not verified)

the answer is just switch to kde, in other words move gnome to recycle bin (trash, /dev/null), i mean that if you liked the kde look - that means that kde is for you not gnome, why to lie yourself with kdeish gnome when you can get a real native kde.

p.s. i guess that you can oppose me and say that you have too mutch lovely gnome apps, but ... research kde ones and you will be impressed from their speed, stability (probably gnome has too), but most of it - compatibility, integration and unified accessible userfriendly look - a features that gnome lacks... examples are common toolbars (incl toolbar setup), common options panes, common file and print dialogs, integrated reusable components (textedit, browser, other kparts)... and everything is in the same way made and as well very intuitive, many time and money are spent by volunteers and sponsors to make this big step.. so enjoy.

by nnn (not verified)

i have tried kde a lot of times. i'm sure it is more advanced from a technical point of view. what was allways annoying is the slow startup of programs (linking)... but who cares. my most important apps run on both environments (jedit, phoenix, eclipse, openoffice ...) - so why should i switch...
it would be great to have a common component system (uno?) for both environments.
the main reason why i'm more interested in gtk/gnome is the license thing. it is LGPL and not GPL like QT. for instance eclipse-swt (cross platform java toolkit) is linked to gtk because it is LGPL (and there are many other toolkits and language-bindings linked to gtk and not to qt for the reason of license compatibility ...)


by Anton Velev (not verified)

well, well, well, you are rigth, GPL sux, yes!

however KDE-LIBS are LGPL (and some of them with other licenses, like BSD) and everyone is free link with them even commercial software, anyway i am annoyed of the fact that many of KDE apps are GPLd, even konqueror and kate, it's terrific - what i am not fully sure are the underlaying reusable components fully free of shits (opps sorry i wanted to say free of GPL ;)).
However there is light and hope because kool apps like noatun are BSD licensed, some other kool apps are with Artistic license, also there are terrific examples like kword that are fully gpl which means that it's impossible non-gpl app to embed kde's richtext reusable component.

The good news is that step-by-step slowly opensource world starts resistance against gpl and soon or later every author (i am sure that they would have this right) will choose another license for his oos app.

Thank you for your statement!

But be sure kde is still the better DE and BSD/LGPL licensed the core libs, only some of base apps are GPL infested.

by Julien Olivier (not verified)

I don't see why GPL is so bad. I mean that it's totally fair for developers to want their code to be used only by free applications. LGPL looks more like slavery to me: you create a free lib and anybody can use it to make proprietary software. I know some people don't care about their apps are free or proprietary but I really do and I'm glad to know that nobody will use KDE code in proprietary software.

If you want to make proprietary software, whether use GTK/GNOME or pay developers to build your own toolkit/library set.

by Anton Velev (not verified)

I am not talking about direct use of the code of kde for properitary software i am talking about integration of commercial software with kde (and i don't exclude the posibility that the creators of the commercial app decide to make it available to oss world).

Assume that software making company (which in order to exist and pay it's developers have to sell it of course), wants to make a cool linux app. What it can do?
1) pay for a commercial toolkit - like commercial version of qt
2) use LGPL or other non-GPL toolkit in order to integrate with properitary code
and there is no option to make it GPL because it will be no-longer possible to sell it.

Choosing a first option will make the software not well integrated with KDE (well of course KDE is QT based and they have common support of themes, components, widgets but on the QT's OO level), but it's not the same with state-of-art kde technologies like kparts, kioslaves, dcop, etc. as well as some common reusable kde components like toolbars, dialogs, panels, and other kde-specific features that are natural and intuitive for the end user already. And this is more true when we are talking about some other toolkits like motif.

Choosing the second option will give the opportunity of sharing the experience with opensource world and in the same time keep some best-selling features properitary. But in this case there is no GPL code that can be used at all. Which would mean that all the used toolkits must not be GPL, at this point GTK is toolkit that provides fully this opportunity, but it lacks many of the features that KDE and QT have.

The conclusion we make here is that making it possible to create a commercial software integrated with kde will be possible only when kde is BSD/LGPL or other non GPL license. As far as i know current situation at the kde codebase is not fully clear what is exactly the license. Dont take me wrong i am not claiming the whole KDE as GPL but just there is for me undefined the policy of kde for licensing. There is a statement that says that most of the code kde libraries are LGPL/BSD and the policy is not to GPL, i am not exactly sure how legal is it because kde is based on GPLd QT version which should make it automatically gpl, but if it's not a problem making opensource program for kde will make in all cases to use at least one QT object (which is supposed to be GPL), like QPainter for examle. In other words it's possible to have on later stage a serious legap problems.
On other hand many kde apps are GPLd, acutally the official statement is that the libs of KDE are LGPL and apps are GPL. But this makes it absolutely impossible to re-use or integrate your software with any real kde app???
(Note that we are still assuming that you want to make non-gpl app in order to keep some best-seller key features as properitary)
Take for example kate or kword, they are gpl so you can't base or integrate the kdes' richtext component with your app. (May be i am wrong about kate because may be KTextComponent as a part of kdelib is LGPL and kate only is GPL, but for kword part?).

Guys, I like kde, it's my favourite, i also tried to code it's code base is brilliant and it's very easy to write kde/qt apps, but don't GPL it, one operating environment to succeed needs apps and commercial investments, if there are no money around it, it will not have commercial apps, it will not have commercial opensource apps. Some one may oppose me and claim me as M$ troll but beleive me there is no software industry without money made from software. Look why StarOffice, Eclipse, Netscape are GTK based?

Finally let me just give one example:
Assume that company X that makes a program Y - a very cool site grabber for windows, program is for example available as 90 day trial for free download, and decided to expand to linux maket. Well such a cool app needs good auditory and as many as possible potential payable clients, it seems that integration with kde is best option at this stage.. yes it is! But well it would need to be well integrated with kde - the cool kde toolbars, file and print dialogs, kde help system help, embeddable browser component (khtml), support for grabbing via other protocolls - not just http (kioslaves), it needs to dock as a systray icon in kicker, etc, etc.. Well as you would see kde has good infrastructure for integration with it, strong reusability and mutch more - not just a big amount of users. ... but ah, shit, some of this cool features may be are GPLed? UGH! How they will sell if they GPL the program! And for example they are not bad guys they are ready to opensource parts of it in order to share the experience with opensource world and as well for example to expect the community to extend and make some other cool plugins - never mind if they are gpl - the important is that their app is popular, community friendly and it's best seller because of their special feature :(. Well if for example only the kicker is GPL they will lack one very important and intuitive feature to dock in the systray on kde. Then no program, no business, no improvement, no development.

So from this aspect i think that GPL is bad stuff. Think about it.

by Anonymous (not verified)

> Look why StarOffice, ... , Netscape are GTK based?

In your dreams only. Nice troll, now go away please.

by Anton Velev (not verified)

Boot Netscape 6 or later or Mozilla and enjoy the ugly GTK dumps.
about soffice/ooffice sorry that i can't find the proof but be sure it's not kde/qt app what i am sure is that sun is working on integration/refactoring of soffice/ooffice to fully integrate/comply with bonobo component model.

I am not enemy of kde, neither evil, i like it, use it, and even write for own experiments kde apps (as i said i like kde/qt api is very easy and intuitive). What i criticize is GPL, read carefully.

by Julien Olivier (not verified)

I have two solutions to that:

1) Do like QT: sell KDE licenses to those who want to make proprietary software. Is it possible ? Money could go to kde-league and, then, be redistributed to all kde developers.

2) Integrate KDE best functionalities into QT so that you could create a QT app that would look integrated in KDE. In fact I think the best solution would be to "merge" KDE and QT so that KDE becomes cross-platform and QT apps get integrated into KDE. KDE CVS should only have applications (koffice, konqueror, kmail etc...) and use this modified QT instead of kdelibs.

But the two points above are useful only in the case where you can't buy a license for QT and use kdelibsfreely with it. I assume that must be possible as kdelibs are LGPL.

Could anyone light my lamp please ?

by standsolid (not verified)

where in the GPL does it say "YOU MUST DISTRIBUTE YOUR SOFTWARE FOR FREE". gpl is free-as-in-speech, not free-as-in-beer IIRC

by xScoDe (not verified)

Seems like we have a slave here with us, with no sense of the meaning of freedom. If you think GPL is shit, don't use any GPLed software, instead buy and waste your hardearned money on something else and don't ever say anything without using your underdeveloped mind! GPL means freedom and you are a slave!

by asf (not verified)

>my only question: can i change the colors without having kde running?

sure.. edit config files by hand in ~/.qt and ~/.kde

which ones, I don't know, i'm at work in win2k :)