JAN
5
2005

OSNews: Gnome Guy Goes KDE

Christian Paratschek is a long term Gnome user who has has not looked at KDE for over two years. He has written about his experiences of testing out SimplyMepis for a week, comparing the two desktop environments and their applications and finding the areas in which KDE can tempt even a dyed-in-the-wool Gnome fan.

Comments

Typical use of "Clear Location Bar" are when I use MMB to copy, like the URL from the post below. Highlight it, press "Clear Location Bar" and click MMB in the location bar.

The 16 icons: up/back/forward/home/reload/stop standard navigating. Then the edit icons cut/copy/paste, usually I don't use them, prefer MMB. Then there are print/print frame and find. Next are increase/decrease font size, which i use frequently. And the last two are security and download manger, which I can agree to should be removed:-) As for the clutter and scanning for icons, this was perhaps a problem although very minor, for the first hour or so using Konqueror.

I think close to the only ting you gain making the default settings cleaner looking are, fewer whiners and people couldn't use it as a lame reason not to use KDE. But they would only find other things to whine about and even lamer reason not to use KDE.


By Morty at Wed, 2005/01/05 - 6:00am

Pressing MMB in the konqueror should auto-paste the current selection in the location bar. Just 1 step needed instead of 3.


By Nadeem Hasan at Wed, 2005/01/05 - 6:00am

And now I have learned something new AND usefull, this is a god day! Thanks:-)


By Morty at Wed, 2005/01/05 - 6:00am

instead of clearing the location and pasting there, you can just click MMB in the konq body to go to a copied location. That's become fairly standard in unix browsers I think.

My clear button is gone, and also my "go" button at the far right. I've never used it, although I suppose some people do.

I've found it useful to keep the kget down-arrow button, only to access the "list all links" item. I haven't found that in the menus, although it's probably there somewhere :-)


By John Kraft at Wed, 2005/01/05 - 6:00am

"instead of clearing the location and pasting there, you can just click MMB in the konq body to go to a copied location. That's become fairly standard in unix browsers I think."

Which is terrible feature in my opinion. I keep missing MMB clicks on links to open in new tab, and ending up in some random url I had highlighted before.


By John Usability Freak at Wed, 2005/01/05 - 6:00am

Have you tried to middle click on a link and see what happens actually?


By Davide Ferrari at Wed, 2005/01/05 - 6:00am

Yes, of course I have, sometimes I don't miss them. In konqueror by default it opens a new window if I recall correctly, in my konqueror I changed it to open in new tab, in firefox it opens in new tab, in mozilla it's new window I think. Why do you ask?


By John Usability Freak at Wed, 2005/01/05 - 6:00am

I think the cut/copy/paste buttons are a waste of time personally. When I want to do these operations, I either use the right-click context menu to bring up the options (which will appear next to the cursor so are quicker to click on in general) or use CTRL+X/V/C. I know people who have used computers for several years who still don't know how to copy and paste so I don't feel the 3 buttons benefit enough people for the amount of space they take up.

Print/Print Frame are pretty pointless too. How often do you print a webpage? I probably print shopping receipts a couple of times a year and that's it, and I imagine most people are the same. Not sure about the font size one either. Did you look at my screenshot? I've got my minimum and medium font size set to 11; all websites look fine and I can always read the text so I never need to use the zooming.

I realise these are just my thoughts, but I think my reasoning is sound. I think KDE is very easy to use, I just wish the defaults toolbars were a little less cluttered because it makes application look very complex. Imagine, for example, a mobile phone with 12 buttons and one with 20 buttons. The first one is obviously going to look more appealing because it looks easier to use (although it might not be) and it will just look neater/cleaner.


By ryukendo000 at Wed, 2005/01/05 - 6:00am

> Print/Print Frame are pretty pointless too.

Pointless as all the complaining people using non-current KDE versions?
"Print Frame" is no more in the toolbar in KDE 3.3.


By Anonymous at Wed, 2005/01/05 - 6:00am

Clear Location Bar is also a keyboard shortcut...

I use Ctrl+L to clear the loc bar and F6 to select it (so F6+Del = Ctrl+L)


By Anonymous at Wed, 2005/01/05 - 6:00am

Actually I didn't know that, but in it does not help very much in my case:-) Using MMB to past to location bar. Since I use my right hand opperating the mouse and the L key are located on the right side of the keyboard, use of this shortcut is not very efficient.


By Morty at Wed, 2005/01/05 - 6:00am

http://www.starstore.com/acatalog/Homer_Car_kit.jpg

The problem of usability... not really.

hmm. I think the only thing needed is style.

So it is important to get the Control Center's themes engine in place and hide all the subfunctions (styles, Wallpaper ecc.)

Themes need artist's dictatorship.

Some persons like to copy WinXP, Mac Os ecc.
I prefer an own unique style.

What apple did with its brushed metal style can also be done with wood.

A warm magohany style.

Also the wording has to be improved.

No third lightweigt xy style but unique, consistent names.


By gerd at Wed, 2005/01/05 - 6:00am

I don't think dramatically changing KDE because GNOME people don't like it is a good enough reason. The reason I hate GNOME is because you end up spending all your time at the command line...can't really get anything done with the GUI except surf the web and basic stuff like that. Things like CVS integrated into Konqueror, GPG in Kmail, rotating images right in the file browser, and ripping CD's straight from the browse are awesome...but they will always be considered bloat to the purists. I do admit there may be one too many toolbars in Konqueror and some other apps and alot of menu options, but it is one thing to polish KDE and another to follow GNOME down the yellow brick road. The only reasonable solution I have heard, is the one that has been proposed for so long: You select Newbie or Advanced, and your desktop will conform to either showing basic options or all the advanced options. Simply saying advanced users can use the command line is not a good solution. While that may be in the spirit of GNOME and I do believe it is, it has never been KDE's solution to say "Well, use the command line or edit the text files, duh!"

Besides, that's the great part of having two desktops on Linux. If they just mirrored each other...why not just have one?

In regards to the KMenu naming, using names like "Music Player" is cute, but not helpful if you know what app you want. KDE's solution of combining that with the app name is workable, just not elegant. Again, polishing that idea is what KDE needs to do, not just follow GNOME.

GNOME's current infatuation with user interface design (to the point of over-designing) does not really make them great user interface designers. Take the new Spacial model (or whatever it's called). It's the most annoying thing since bread crusts, especially with Linux being nested at well over 5 directories...on the lower end. You end up with dozens of subdirectory windows open cluttering your desktop. Ugly...Yes. But unsable too. No one I know has ever figured out to use it quickly and efficiently. I'm sure it sounded all cute in some design paper somebody wrote, but it's terrible on a day-to-day basis.

I say these Gnome attacks light heartedly, so don't get pissed. I appreciate GNOME and know it's perfect for some people...just not me.


By Henry Izurieta at Wed, 2005/01/05 - 6:00am

I pretty much agree with this. While there are things that can be polished in KDE, I don't want to make it like GNOME. I use KDE, because I like it for the most part the way it is. I can't stand using RedHat anymore, because they totally messed up KDE for me. I still just get the sources and install the default so I can use it the way I like it. I also don't use GNOME, because I don't like it as much. If we make KDE like GNOME, I won't like KDE as much either...

And, while the menu can be improved upon, I don't like the idea of changing all the names to things like "CD Player", etc. Which "CD Player"? There are lots of them, and that's what I like. I like to be able to choose the one I like. If KDE were some child's toy with a few integrated apps, then that would be fine. But it's not. It's an open desktop where people can contribute their apps. Let's not oversimplify things in an effort to clean things up.

Like I said, I use KDE because I like it the way it is. I don't use GNOME, because I don't like it the way it is. Let's not try to make them the same.


By Lyle at Wed, 2005/01/05 - 6:00am

I think RedHat which have Gnome'ized KDE is not a good thing to do.

I prefer Knoppix, Mandrake or similar distro.

I don't think that changing names to "CD Player" is a good thing neither,
but it would be easier if the app names where just a little bit more meaningful.

At least having "CD" or "Player" or "Media" in their name.

When you have app names like:

MS Word, KWrite, KPaint, KEdit, EditPlus, NotePad+, CuteFTP, CuteHTML, WordPad,
WinZip, WinRar, WinAce, Equation, FlowChart, ExpressPCB, Easy CD Creator,
Internet Explorer, Netscape, SuperFTP, FTP Expert.

I mean you don't even need a description it's quite straight-forward,
what they meant to do.

Some bad names:

K3B = B like burning? easy to remember tough.
Kate = ???? Is it an acronym?
Quanta Plus = ??? Quantum? Quantum computing plus?
Xine = ???? Is it an acronym?

You see what I mean ;)


By fprog26 at Wed, 2005/01/05 - 6:00am

GoLive!
WinAce
WinRar
ExpressPCB (I don't even have a clue what this is)
RealOne
QuickTime
Neo Quick Starter

If you hadn't ever used windows you would have no clue what any of those were (saying you also weren't rather tech savy). Better naming isn't exactly the answer (though it wouldn't hurt), what would be better is improving the Name (Description) technique.

Like if in the first run configuration wizard the user selects the non expert option, show the KMenu something like this:

Kate (Advanced Text Editor)
Xine (Video Player)
Kaffeine (Media Player)
amaroK (Audio Player)
KDevelop (Integrated Development Environment)
Kommander Editor (Dynamic Dialog Editor)

(NOTE: It would be ordered alphabetically based on first letter in program name, just don't feel like actually doing that)

The description would be all lined up making it easier to read, or an alternate way that could be used, still displaying all the same information:

Advanced Text Editor (Kate)
Video Player (Xine)
Media Player (Kaffeine)
Audio Player (amaroK)
Integrated Development Environment (KDevelop)
Dynamic Dialog Editor (Kommander Editor)

(NOTE: It would be ordered alphabetically based on first letter in program name, just don't feel like actually doing that)

The second may be better for the newest users, while still showing the user the name of the program. It would look nicer cause of the alignment (may have some issues on smaller displays).

If during the first run configuration the user selects the expert or experienced option, it would JUST be the program name (since they would already know what they all are).

Some menus this method may not be appropriate, like for games.

I say KDE right now doesn't need any big changes for experienced users (which know how to configure stuff), though the newbs out there that have trouble understanding the concept of a file may need really dubbed down defaults.


By Corbin at Wed, 2005/01/05 - 6:00am

GoLive! Bad. It's a product from Adobe to do webstuff... the name is clueless.

WinAce Good. Windows application to open ACE format like WinZip. KAce ?
WinRar Good. Windows application to open RAR format like WinZip. KRAR ?
ExpressPCB Good. It's a product to create PCB (Printed Circuit Board) easily.
RealOne Bad. Probably the new version of Real Player... Marketting?
QuickTime Bad. However, people know this because of marketting from Apple.
Neo Quick Starter. Bad. No clue what is it...


By fprog26 at Thu, 2005/01/06 - 6:00am

>I don't think dramatically changing KDE because GNOME people don't like it is a good enough reason. The reason I hate GNOME is because you end up spending all your time at the command line...can't really get anything done with the GUI except surf the web and basic stuff like that.

Fully agree.

>Things like CVS integrated into Konqueror, GPG in Kmail, rotating images right in the file browser, and ripping CD's straight from the browse are awesome...but they will always be considered bloat to the purists.

No that's fine, there's nothing wrong with that at all.
The problem is space organisation and grouping.
The common task should be easy to do and easy to find in 1 or 2 clicks.
Burning a CD is great but should be 2-3 clicks away,
such that newbies can find it easily and hackers can find it easily too.

I'm not saying remove stuff, I say remove stuff from the main menu
and put it downward the submenu hierarchy where it should belong,
add some grouping so it's easy to find and straight-forward.

>I do admit there may be one too many toolbars in Konqueror
and some other apps and alot of menu options,
but it is one thing to polish KDE and another to follow GNOME
down the yellow brick road.

No that would be plain dumb.
The goal is to "clean up" and regroup, not to remove useful feature.
Also, some very exotic "rarely used" feature might belong to another app
or to another place where it should belong or to an advanced tab.

>The only reasonable solution I have heard, is the one that has been proposed for so long: You select Newbie or Advanced, and your desktop will conform to either showing basic options or all the advanced options.

Nah, nobody wants that since the desktop should be usable to everybody.
This is an old 1990's concepts, I found in PC Tools back then "advanced vs newbie" and it doesn't work. Since even Expert want to do newbie stuff easily,
but just don't want the clutter.

I'm sure that spending a good amount of time, regrouping stuff in a usable way
could please both people: advance and newbies. It's just a matter of trial and error and use of some usability statistics.

>Simply saying advanced users can use the command line is not a good solution.

That would be PLAIN DUMB!

>While that may be in the spirit of GNOME and I do believe it is, it has never been KDE's solution to say:
"Well, use the command line or edit the text files, duh!"

Please someone shoot the guy who ever said that! =P

>Besides, that's the great part of having two desktops on Linux.
If they just mirrored each other...why not just have one?

I don't think that Gnome is perfect, neither Windows or Mac or KDE neither.
They all have their own issues, their advantages and disadvantages.
The goal is to reach a "better, improved and more polished" platform
than the other ones.

>In regards to the KMenu naming, using names like "Music Player" is cute,
but not helpful if you know what app you want.

I fully agree. Like I said the best would be to have meaningful icons
and meaningful app names.

The other problem is that KDE apps, don't have the marketting power
that Windows or Mac have. Of course, some apps are getting well-known
while others are not yet... So, it's a question of finding the best
compromise that would please everyone.

>KDE's solution of combining that with the app name is workable,
just not elegant. Again, polishing that idea is what KDE needs to do,
not just follow GNOME.

Fully agree.

>GNOME's current infatuation with user interface design (to the point of over-designing) does not really make them great user interface designers.

Some ideas are good, some are terribly wrong.

>Take the new Spacial model (or whatever it's called). It's the most annoying thing since bread crusts, especially with Linux being nested at well over 5 directories...on the lower end. You end up with dozens of subdirectory windows open cluttering your desktop. Ugly...Yes. But unsable too. No one I know has ever figured out to use it quickly and efficiently. I'm sure it sounded all cute in some design paper somebody wrote, but it's terrible on a day-to-day basic.

I agree.
That's a stylish designer idea, surely not a usability designer idea. =P

>I say these Gnome attacks light heartedly, so don't get pissed.

It's not a question of getting pissed, it's more a question of comparing
our KDE solution to other people solution and find out what works
and what doesn't, then trying to improve the solution to please more people
along with the hard core KDE fans.

Sincerely yours,
Fred.


By fprog26 at Wed, 2005/01/05 - 6:00am

Likewise. Sometimes I wish someone would take advantage of KDE's infinite customizability and release a distro/version with it customized to be as close as possible to exactly like GNOME -- not because it's necessarily better, just to see how the gnomeish people react ;). (Before anyone suggests, unfortunately it can't be me, as I haven't used GNOME in my life. Fell in love with KDE's architecture at first sight.)

I do think we should 'borrow' some things from GNOME-land; just cleaning up the UI basically (hence 'borrow'; this should be self evident, I think, and not something of GNOME's invention). Not their extreme and backwards minimalism (leave the configuration dialogs alone, for one thing -- make them easier to use if possible, sure, but don't remove things from them and put them into fucking GConf/KConfigEditor instead and pretend that it's a usable thing to do); just clean up the toolbars and menus in general, or even (*gasp*) have one program per task in the base distribution.

The evolution of Opera's UI from the early v7s to the current v8 beta (ftp://ftp.opera.com/pub/opera/linux/800b1/beta/en/i386/) would be good model to follow: they made the default UI a great deal simpler and more usable at no expense in functionality (quite the opposite). (The parallels between KDE and Opera are striking in many other ways besides, which I'm not going to detail here.)

And now for a suggestion which I expect to cause a bit of controversy: button order. Changing the default button order was a bad decision, exchanging marginal if at all improved usability for GNOME for inconsistency and reduced usability for Linux/X11 as a whole. However, now it is a done thing, and it would be wishful thinking to expect it either to be changed back or for GNOME to just fade away and make the issue irrelevant. So perhaps the solution would be to just suck it up, take the high road, and change ours as well. I would rather have a unified Linux/X11 front than mimic Windows in this respect. Besides, in the few GNOME/GTK apps I've tried (the GIMP mainly), I find I actually like it -- feels more natural. (A stark contrast to the dialog I get when I try to close Konsole with multiple sessions open -- my first instinct is always to jab at either 'cancel' or 'close session', and often do, when in fact what I want nearly always is 'quit'. I don't know why this is, but it would seem to suggest that there's some actual substance to this whole button order thing and it's not all just mindless theorizing.)


By Gábor Lehel at Wed, 2005/01/05 - 6:00am

> So perhaps the solution would be to just suck it up, take the high road, and change ours as well.

Are you crazy? Just now when the Gtk+ staff has added an option to switch back the button order and application developers (eg GIMP) start to implement support for it?


By Anonymous at Wed, 2005/01/05 - 6:00am

Hmm, they did that? Didn't think they would. Feel free to ignore my post, then ;).


By Gábor Lehel at Thu, 2005/01/06 - 6:00am

KDE has had an option in a config file since 3.2 or 3.3 that lets you switch the button order in all apps. It's not in any configuration panel, so you have to edit a text file in .kde/ but you can do it. I'll post a link if I can find it.

"my first instinct is always to jab at either 'cancel' or 'close session', and often do, when in fact what I want nearly always is 'quit'. I don't know why this is, but it would seem to suggest that there's some actual substance to this whole button order thing and it's not all just mindless theorizing."

And whenever I'm in a Gnome app (or, Gimp or Firefox, actually), I always end up hitting their cancel button at least once before correctly completing an action that I want to do. It's not any more natural at all. It's just what you happen to be used to (do you use the Gimp a lot, by any chance?).


By Dolio at Thu, 2005/01/06 - 6:00am

In file: ~/.kde/share/config/kdeglobals
Section: [KDE]
Add: ButtonLayout=1

That should change buttons to the Cancel-OK order.

Here's the source. It seems I'm not allowed to post HTML comments:

http://dot.kde.org/1084435433/1084480486/1084497461/1084500121/108453805...


By Dolio at Thu, 2005/01/06 - 6:00am

Thanks for the tip, I'll give that a try, and see how I like it. I very rarely use GTK apps in fact -- I think the GIMP and Firefox are the only ones I have installed, and only use the former when there's some image manipulation I need to do that Kolourpaint can't handle (rare), or when there's a site Opera doesn't render correctly (likewise), respectively. I'm perfectly fine with the button order in most cases, the GTK one just felt a bit nicer; it's just the Konsole 'close session' dialog that seems to be especially incompatible with me for whatever odd reason.


By Gábor Lehel at Thu, 2005/01/06 - 6:00am

I strongly dislike the button order for Gnome. My problem is that it doesn't look natural and doesn't read well. Here's some examples:

Do you want fries with that? Yes or no?
Do you want fries with that? No or yes?

Do you want to save or not save?
Do you want to not save or save?

Do you dislike or like computers?
Do you like or dislike computers?

The second one rarely occurs in natural speech or writing and just looks strange. It also looks strange on the computer screen to me and they should be set up to be read like a piece of paper or a paper form you have to fill in. What if the computer was to read aloud the options to you as well as display them? It would sound very strange to hear the options that way around too. I want the computer screen to look nice, and I think this ordering just looks silly, like it's a mistake.

I honestly don't buy the argument that it's easier to click OK (which you click most often) because it's on the right-hand-side of the screen and that's where most people rest their cursor. I can personally say I notice when a GUI saves me a mouse click or having to move the mouse at all (for example, tabbed browsing saves me several mouse actions which greatly increases my speed), but the difference of moving an inch or two less isn't going to make any change, especially when the vertical positioning of the buttons vary anyway.


By ryukendo000 at Thu, 2005/01/06 - 6:00am

That is exactly what I mean by over-designing or over-engineering. And it is typical of us geeks. We'll support our claim with logic like "the button is closer to where you normally rest your cursor, which means it would be faster to click." However, there is something more important that probably isn't measurable in a conventional way: "Does it feel natural?" "Is the speed gain worth trading for other losses?"

It reminds me of at work, when fellow programmers write ugly terrible code to "optimize" what would otherwise be very simple code. I tell them that their ugly yet optimized code might save 0.1% of CPU time, but that it is going to cost the company many many hours the next time a programmer has to figure out how the code works. My point being that there is more to the code than simply how fast can it run. What about how easy it is to maintain, debug, and verify? You do optimize for speed where it's important, like loops. However, you make bullet-proof, verifiable code where it is mission critical. You write maintainable code when there will be many members working on the same code.

Also, as far as a minimal GUI being easier to use for the masses, I've noticed that many or most non-geeks prefer the cluttered AOL browser over using their own browser on the side (which I do). Why? Because you get lots of features all in the same GUI. This is another example where the GNOME approach fails.

I guess it's the same as the whole single appliance that we've always heard about that is supposed to merge your TV, Computer, Phone, Game Console, and everything else into one. It seems like seperate, dedicated devices are always easier to use, although you can do cool things when they are merged. I think I heard of Bill talking about this recently.


By Henry Izurieta at Sat, 2005/01/08 - 6:00am

I think it got lost in the thread, so I'll repeat here.

Do you think it would be a good idea to add a "usage statistic counter"
to every menu in KDE for every app? Yes or No. Explain.

Mainly, it would be few lines of codes in kdelibs
and when the KDE application quits the "counter"
data would be written to disk in the user home directory.

After a month of usage, users should be able to send "easily" this data
to the website.
For instance, a quick pop up in the menu after one month and 3 months of usage,
asking the user to send some data.

Of course, user would have to "opt in" to get their menu usage monitored,
after the KDE installation is done. First KDE boot?

The frequently used features statistisques would be send
via some HTTP website when connected in XML format
by clicking "Send KDE usability results ? [&Yes] [&No] [Ne&ver]".

That might help developpers to justify why they cut out
the visibility of the kitchen sink,
by having proper statistic to support it.

The result would be displayed on some:
stats.usability.kde.org

You could see this as a huge "poll" for KDE apps.

Sincerely yours,
Fred.


By fprog26 at Thu, 2005/01/06 - 6:00am

please please please do not take away the power of KDE. It's what we love KDE for!

You should polish the menu and the control center, but do not castrate it. You can even add an option for a newbie / advanced / poweruser menu, I agree that that could be helpful. But please do not take away all the nice powerful options. I would even like more of them!

Please also do not rename all apps. Nice names do a lot to give a good feeling when using the apps. Evolution does sound better than "PIM program". I think even in GNOME the name "Evolution" is used, isn't it ;-)

I switched to KDE *because* of the power. It is a competitive advantage. Why throwing it away!

Another thing is to polish it.

As an example lets look at gFTP and kBear. The UI of gFTP is much cleaner. kBears UI is not easy. I even use mini apps such as kasablanca because of the easier UI.

But at the end I always come back to kBear. The KDE power it has is just so much better. It is just so much more userfriendly when I can simply continue working, even if a connection has timed out in the meantime. kBear does the reconnect for me, in the background. *this* is userfriendly, this is power. This is why I use it.

Despite that it needs some UI polishing. But not castrating, please.

Thanks!


By matt at Thu, 2005/01/06 - 6:00am

What people fail to realize is that it is ok to dumb down KDE's _default_ layout. The good thing about KDE is the point to which one can customize it. Having a dumbed down DEFAULT layout doesn't take any power from a power user first. Chances are that they'd customize the damned thing anyway. I doubt most people like the default KDE layout. Oh and to the devs, if you want to make this easy for Windows users, you don't HAVE to make it look like Windows. A good layout is intuitive, which Windows really isn't. Make a good intuitive layout.


By Victorov at Sat, 2005/06/18 - 5:00am

Pages