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The Sky is NOT Falling

  • August 14, 2000
  • By Dennis E. Powell

The reason that the announcement should make everyone involved in Linux happy is that it means that a bunch of big companies are saying that in their opinion Linux is or can be an excellent desktop operating system. This is something that we users have known for years, but now, with the Gnome Foundation announcement, some really heavy hitters are putting their weight behind that view. The old clich´┐Ż that Linux is of use only as a server may now be put to sleep. That alone is cause for great rejoicing.

What the announcement, which will be made formally tomorrow at LinuxWorld, does not justify is panic among other Linux desktop developers, by which I mean KDE. Go out and buy a Linux distribution. It will either have KDE as an option or as the default desktop. (Well, not Debian, but the last time a Debian distribution was released, KDE wasn't very far along, was it, the Debian view of KDE notwithstanding.) If the announcement encourages people to get and install Linux, it's going to be good for everyone, with KDE being the unintended recipient of much of the good will. Why? because people installing, say, Caldera eDesktop will see KDE right off the bat. Half of them will probably think that this is Gnome -- all they'll remember is that it had a kind of weird name, and it doesn't take much looking to find reference to Troll Tech, and Trolls, Gnomes, what's the difference?

The ones that do remember the name Gnome and go looking for this great Microsoft killer will be, uh, puzzled.

And this will all become even more pronounced in the coming weeks, with the release of KDE2. It is highly object-oriented. It has a decent office suite that is getting better all the time. It is very stable. It is an order of magnitude ahead of Gnome in maturity. I do not wish Gnome ill, but facts is facts, as they say.

Here's hoping that the Gnome Foundation funds good work, and that the results are great. But those results are currently vapor. KDE2 isn't. It's not done, but it works and has for months. The big news in the Times today and at LinuxWorld tomorrow is likely to whip up interest in Linux, right now. People will look at Linux as it exists, not as it might exist in a few months, a year, whatever. Fortunately, Linux is up to the scrutiny. It has some problems, which will be considered in this space on Wednesday, but it's certainly a great desktop operating system, right now, today.

And it's getting even better.

So the announcement that a whole herd of big computer companies are throwing support to Gnome is good for Gnome, probably, and certainly good for everyone else in the Linux community. It means that Linux will be taken more seriously than ever before.

For the KDE developers, this is not a setback. It's an opportunity.

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