[Rule] Is Gnome/KDE the greatest bloat?

M. Fioretti mfioretti at nexaima.net
Mon Aug 27 20:33:32 EEST 2007

On Sun, Aug 26, 2007 10:33:28 AM +0200, Ingo Lantschner
 ingo.lists at vum.at  wrote:

> Xubuntu... uses XFCE, so you have no Gnome/KDE bloat on your systems.

I think the situation is not so clear cut. Not if you think desktop
for SOHO/students.

When a system is really, terribly limited, then OK to not using
anything KDE or Gnome. Truth is that in those case you simply have to
give up X. In less dramatical cases, another truth is that non-geeks
will need a multi-window graphical interface (also because it is
intrinsically more productive that one single full-screen terminal or
any screen-based solution) if we expect them to use what we do.

Sure, one could live with Emacs, Mutt, w3m and so on.

The problem is that, even if you give up eye candy, there are
_functionalities_ which are necessary today, and not all of them are
usable by non-geeks or, much more seriously, are available in a
text-only environment. One is OpenDocument compatibility (not just
text, for that AbiWord _may_ be enough, also spreadsheets and

What I mean is that we should realize that for end users who badly
need to recycle a 4/5 year old computer for SOHO work or study, a
system made of console-only apps on a bare X will be either
objectively useless or practically way beyond their skills.

In that context, KOffice is maybe the lightest solution available on
Linux. And if one _has_ to install it, one also ends up with a lot of
code which can be reused for PIM, the other crucial area of any
SOHO/educational desktop. Yeah, sure, you can have address books with
MySql, Ldap, and all those other cool things that only we geek
understand, but, as absurd as it may seem, maybe a _complete_,
GUI-based office environment from a... mini-kde:

- could take less disk space than the whole collection of console apps
  and servers needed to do the same thing the hardcore Unix way
- it may not require so much more memory, if properly tweaked
- would surely be much more usable by non-geeks

Remember that we are thinking of machines which will be used by
one/three users top, almost always one at a time, almost all of them
will have an address book of what? 2/300 records? Are we sure that
these people must be saddled with the whole (bunch of clients)-(bunch
of servers) architecture that sysadmins love and need? Or maybe a more
monolythic system could be more efficient in their case? Both on disk
and on Ram?

For the record, these are just the thoughts that made me write
http://www.rule-project.org/?q=node/6 and the LJ article linked from
there a while ago.

I'd appreciate any feedback on this topic.


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