At LinuxWorld Expo in Boston, I got the chance to catch up with gnome.org’s Luis Villa. Luis is the former Ximian guy who lead the main engineering team for Novell Linux Desktop 9 under Nat Friedman, and is a really cool guy. After delivering on Novell Linux Desktop 9, he decided to part ways with Novell, but he remains active with gnome.org.
Luis pitched to me his views on the differences between KDE and GNOME. What I like most about Luis comes out in his approach to talking about things like this: instead of building a massive case for why KDE sucks and why GNOME is the best thing since canned beer, he delineated the philosophical differences between KDE (absolute fine-tuned, granular control of the whole interface) and GNOME (ease of use through a very clean, simple, no-nonsense interface). Luis’s contention is that in order for desktop Linux to make it out of the geek-enthusiast space into broader and more general use, we need to concentrate on simplification rather than deeper control of tweaks and options.
Luis’s biggest point though was that the great KDE-GNOME debate, a fence which Novell has chosen to straddle, is hindering ISV support of Linux because the ISV’s do not have a single, clear development path to get behind. Said Luis, Novell has a unique opportunity to stand side by side on stage with Sun and Red Hat and make a clear statement to resolve this once and for all for the greater good of desktop Linux. An interesting observation, whether you agree or not.
[Aside: I am paraphrasing what Luis said to me, so flame replies to this blog entry really won’t be necessary. Level-headed counterpoints are very much welcome. I continue to withhold my opinion from this blog, as I am still learning about this whole area.]
Luis posts frequently to his own blog, where he chronicles a lot of the things he is working on in open source. If you would like to peak into the head of one of the interesting and articulate hackers in open source, Luis’s work is fun to follow.