back to article KDE 'annoys the hell of' Linus Torvalds

Linus Torvalds has decided, “after a long absense” (that's his spelling), to give Unix desktop environment KDE a go. His assessment of the UI isn't kind, with his opening statement declaring: “It still looks a bit too cartoony, and the default widget/plasmoid behavior with mouse-over pretty much immediately showing the …


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  1. Herby

    Every user interface gets this way!

    It seems that all user interfaces o from "simple to use" to more and more complex as time goes on. It isn't that KDE does this, it seems that all of them want to be fancier and fancier as time goes by. The original Mac interface has gotten more and more complex. They added such things as color and animations then stuck the app dock (yes you can even configure it as well). Windows suffers as well, with its latest incantation (TIFNAM) which is all about being flashy on phones. In the Linux world both Gnome and KDE suffer form this growing complexity/featureism which seems as a way to distinguish from one another (usually failing in the process).

    It happens in other ways as well. Just look at automobiles. Have you tried to order one recently? There are options from A-Z and more after that. The game is to distinguish from one another and as long as there is competing ways, featurism and customization will be the norm.

    Oh, well. One modem for everyone, as we are all different!

    1. Ole Juul

      Re: Every user interface gets this way!

      Because of featurism. It's a great excuse for a developer to not work on what needs to be done or finish what he was doing before.

      1. xj25vm

        Re: Every user interface gets this way!

        "Because of featurism. It's a great excuse for a developer to not work on what needs to be done or finish what he was doing before."

        I agree. Prime example is Mozilla Thunderbird right now. The bugtrack is full of elusive, annoying and intermittent bugs experienced by users in the last 10 years. But these are difficult to work on - why bother. The back-end, including the address book and email storage engines need a serious rework to bring Thunderbird into the 21st century, including Maildir support (locally, not on the server), which would seriously improve performance and reliability - but that's like, well, hard work, and you can't exactly show off at the end - so let's forget about it and just move the icons around the screen for the next version, or hide them altogether so that we can all be hip and up there with the other fashionistas of the software industry. Urgh!

      2. Ru

        Re: Every user interface gets this way!

        "It's a great excuse for a developer to not work on what needs to be done or finish what he was doing before."

        This isn't just about procrastination, and working on easy fun things rather than hard important things.

        There's a more deeply seated issue that pops up in any human organisation, especially ones which are committee based. Groupthink is part of it, but any sufficiently cliquey organisation will end up attracting people that reinforce its views and discouraging dissenters to the point where people who object to the idiosyncrasies of a project are simply ignored. I'd raise PHP as an example of this, but any project with an excess of WONTFIX issues is probably guilty too.

        I've no idea if this is happeneing at KDE mind you; I'm too lazy to find out, and spend more time on XFCE these days.

    2. Shagbag

      Opinions are like...

      If ever there was an example of the cliche, the media's love affair with Linus Torvalds exemplifies it. Here we have yet another quote which is merely the personal view of one man.

      Yes, opinions are like assholes. Yes, everyone has got an asshole.

      Why not quote these facts instead?

      1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson


        wasn't that creature feep?

        Mine is the one with the "dyslexic's dictionary" in the pocket

      2. Avatar of They
        Thumb Down

        Re: Opinions are like...

        In all fairness, Linus is like schmidt of Google, or Mark shuttleworth of Ubuntu, or Gates, or Balmer, or jobs etc.

        They are the leader of their chosen area or run something that affects the world. You might not like Linus or Linux but as the man who created it his opinion is valued by the world over.

        Woud you dimiss the man who invented the mobile phone on his thoughts about Apple and samsung patent spats? Or the man that invented the AK47 not getting royalties for it?

        Is there anyone whose opinion you would actually listen to? Joey Essex from TOWIE, Jordan, Gok Wan?

      3. John H Woods Silver badge

        Re: Opinions are like...

        Some opinions are worth more than others ...

        ... but that's just my opinion.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Mr. Sharwood on a slow day?

        Otherwise why did he go to the trouble of misconstruing every word Torvalds wrote in his post? And why did he misquote him on the byline? Torvalds does not say KDE does "annoys the hell out of me". He says "the default widget/plasmoid behavior with mouse-over pretty much immediately showing the controls for it annoys the hell of me". It's a certain plasmoid feature being set on rather than off as default that "annoys" him.

        And so on for the rest of the "article". I do not care about what Torvalds says (or rather, I respect his opinion whether I agree with it or not). My complain is with the stupid way it is presented here.

        Writing satire is not as easy as it sounds, but I find that Sharwood fails miserably at it because he hasn't even made the effort. Bit like his trying to make an article out of a Twatter post, as I have found elsewhere today.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      ...Nome and NDE? ;-)

    4. Stuart 22 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Every user interface gets this way!

      The function of an OS is silently and transparently make things happen. The prime function of a GUI is to seamlessly get you to the application of choice as easily as possible.

      So some people want to clutter and decorate their desktop. Fine - but we don't design desks to have fiddly bits for everything somebody else might want to do. Maybe people who do need another layer on top of a standard GUI. Just as a GUI should be an optional layer on top of the OS.

      When MS tried to Vistaise me with bloated inefficient eye candy and layers of jobsworthian control I didn't want I went happily to KDE 3.5. Possibly the best Linux alternative to WinXP. Instead of seizing their advantage KDE galloped (and overtook?) MS on bloat and clutter with KDE4. I'm too lazy to change existing installations but new ones get LXDE. That's getting back to basics, its fast, it does the job, everything needed is one or two clicks away without having to spend time configuring it.

      XFCE is probably just as good. Lets hope kids exposure to RPi will convince them that simplicity is nearly always better. If LXDE can make a £25 computer hum then just think what it can do to a real computer ... and with the RPi our kids may realise that before Windows/KDE/Gnome developers do ...

    5. Davidoff

      Windows suffers as well

      Not really. Windows 8 is actually limiting the amount of customization that doesn't require hacks or 3rd party software, and one of the main complaints about WP in general was that it is less customizable than other phones including Windows Mobile ones.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Every user interface gets this way!

      Thank you for your comment Herby, but have you actually use KDE much?

  2. jake Silver badge


    Options are good, Linus.

    That's why I run Slackware ...

    1. P. Lee

      Re: Whatever.

      Options are a result of componentisation and object orientation :)

      More of an issue are things like ugly mail client windows; popping up "Please wait" instead of displaying and then updating later.

      Having said that, suse and kde are my desktop of choice. XFCE if I need low-power or network boot.

    2. JoeF
      Thumb Up

      Re: Whatever.


      Slackware 12.2 with KDE 3.5.10.

      KDE 4 is the somewhat cartooney stuff.

      1. jake Silver badge

        @JoeF (was: Re: Whatever.)

        Slackware 14.0 with KDE 3.5.x for most of my friends & family.

        My personal choice of interface is somewhat more esoteric, but still slack-current, at least for the most part ;-)

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If Linus doesn't like KDE4's "configurability" that much ...

    ... he could certainly take GNOME3 for a spin and see how that goes.

    Oh, wait, he already did that. Which is why he's back to KDE.

    Yes, I use KDE4 daily and I like it a lot. Is it perfect? No. But neither is the Linux kernel.

    Case in point: the Linux VM subsystem. Shall we talk about that?

    People. Glass houses.

    1. tapanit

      Re: If Linus doesn't like KDE4's "configurability" that much ...

      The article is somewhat misleading: Linus explicitly said he likes KDEs configurability:

      "But ah, the ability to configure things". All in all, given Linus' style it's all but high praise to KDE.

    2. Greg J Preece

      Re: If Linus doesn't like KDE4's "configurability" that much ...

      I really don't get why he's complaining. Sure, I can see why locking the widgets by default might be preferable if you're new to things, but being able to configure the shit out of KDE is why I love it!

      Want that web video to run in an overlay while you work? Drop the window border, set it to always on top, and assign it to all desktops. Perfect! Want to group two completely unrelated windows together? Why not! Want to configure everything to the absolute nth degree? Of course you do, you installed KDE!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Funny, Linus' summation of KDE is exactly how I feel about Linux.

    - A *BSD user

  5. Cyfaill

    KDE is good

    When KDE 4 became available I held back about 2 days to see if it would be safe. Then I used it for a week... dropped back to KDE 3.5.10 for a few more months then tried again.

    KDE 4 had become OK - barely, then... good. more changes... It got better and I got use to it... Then I started to like it. Now it seems pretty damn good.

    Now I am using KDE 4.8.4 And when I see a legacy system running KDE 3.5.10 I think to myself... man this thing is pretty primitive... In the end things do get better because if it is not usable... people get irritable and fix it or complain loudly... I still have some quibbles about a few things but overall it is very good once I have it set up as I like it.

    I like Linus... He tells you his truth without reservation. Met him a while back.

    Even so, the world waits for no one... Linux is the future, KDE is very important.

    Use what you like... That is what Linux is all about and it does not break easily.

    michael@Eyland0:~$ infobash -v3

    Host/Kernel/OS "Eyland0" running Linux 3.6-5.slh.3-aptosid-amd64 x86_64 [ aptosid 2011-03 Πόνος - kde-lite - (201112312100) ]

    CPU Info 8x AMD FX-8120 Eight-Core 2048 KB cache flags( sse3 ht nx lm svm ) clocked at [ 1400.000 MHz ]

    Videocard NVIDIA G86 [GeForce 8500 GT] X.Org 1.12.4 [ 1920x1080@60.0hz ]

    Network cards D-Link System Inc DGE-560T PCI Express Gigabit

    Processes 179 | Uptime 34min | Memory 631.8/7973.9MB | HDD ST3500418AS,WDC WD6000HLHX-0 Size 1100GB (12%used) | GLX Renderer Gallium 0.4 on NV86 | GLX Version Yes | Client Shell | Infobash v3.45

    cutting edge SID, Rocks

    1. Jordan Davenport

      Re: KDE is good

      I held out on KDE 4 as well. When Ubuntu finally ditched support for 3.5.x, I briefly switched over to GNOME, but I've since tried later iterations of KDE 4 and have migrated back to it. As many others seem to feel, I concur that KDE 4 was really only starting to feel like a proper replacement for 3.5.x at 4.5. Each version steadily improves, mainly with minor tweaks here and there.

      It seems 4.9 hasn't made it into the Qt/KDE experimental repository for Debian yet, but in my experience using it on Ubuntu 12.04 with an added repository, it continues the steady pace of improvements. I know it may be something small, but my favorite improvement in 4.9 is their overcoming the limitation with the Qt4 libraries in handling mouse navigation buttons in Dolphin. Minor, but it speeds up my navigation of directories. There are many other improvements that aren't readily obvious though.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What I would like to know..

    .. given the need to Get Some Work Done (GSWD-tm - my principal reason for having a computer) is why Linus hasn't switched back to Xfce.

    It is simple and efficient, does the job and, most important of all, still provides the main, basic reason why most hacks love it: you can have LOTS of command lines on one screen :).

    I cannot tell you how much it pisses me off that I have a machine in front of me that has a about a million times more power than the Turbo XT I once started with, and .. I .. still .. have .. to .. wait .. for .. it .. (not to mention the boot time, which hasn't really improved either - why can't we scan ONCE and only repeat that if something doesn't quite work?). If it wasn't impossible to find drivers I'd probably install Windows 3.1 (you know, the version before Worries for Workgroups), of the first version of Slackware (assuming I find a floppy disk drive). Where the hell is all that power going?


    Yes, I feel better now, thank you.

  7. toadwarrior

    It appears he has no real problem with the configuration options. It's that the defaults are stupid in his opinion. But I guess that's news for a a geek gossip rag.

  8. andreas koch

    Linus Torvalds

    doesn't do praise, he only ever disses.

    Which is fair enough, he's the face of the Linux Community and with this attitude will keep it forever a "tinkerer's desktop OS". If he would be like Ballmer or Cook then everything would be beautiful, revolutionary, outstanding and whatnot, and the hoi polloi would go for it, giving it a user base at which it makes sense to spread more malware specially designed for it. Do you want that? No? Linus doesn't either. See?

    1. Steve Williams

      It certainly seems that the things he comments about..

      ... have to be done at high volume and usually with accompanying profanity. And it always gets reported in the tech press.

      SO in this case, he tried something he didn't normally use, didn't like it and vented loudly. Big fscking deal. Thats why we have lots of choices when we use Linux. But because he's Linus maybe something will be changed, since one loud Guru outweighs myriads of normal users.

    2. Lee Dowling Silver badge

      Re: Linus Torvalds

      Because "Random celebrity likes feature X" is not news, it's verging on advertisement.

      And he does praise lots, you just don't hear it on the news - jump on the LKML and such (though he used to be vocal on them a lot more often) and you'll see it. When the BitKeeper debacle was going on, he was quite on the side of BitKeeper and saying how wonderful the software was and had worked well for years and didn't need changing. But the licensing change forced his hand so he went and (all dues to him) made something that is generally regarded as BETTER for kernel management (not necessarily all of BitKeeper's clients) and used by many more kernel hackers than ever used BitKeeper.

      So not only does he praise, he notes the value of functionality over political in-fighting, and he's more than capable of backing up his opinions of what works and what doesn't in the extreme of being good enough to make something that works better than an expensive commercial product outside his normal specialist field.

      I don't think there's anything particularly controversial about Linus, when people want to hail him as a god or decry him as evil. He's damn good at what's become his career. Other than that, he's pretty human and his opinions aren't that important to matter much.

      When he says "X is junk" it makes a headline. But when he says "X has saved me a lot of work and is great", nobody really listens (hell, he's on Google+ which most of us have avoided).

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Linus Torvalds

      "doesn't do praise, he only ever disses."


      "Diss" is something which is based on opinion and usually ignores all the facts, so it might be correct or not, who knows.

      Linus usually backs his criticism with facts. Even in here even if you don't have to reach same conlusions he does from the same facts. That's the opinion part.

      Linus also have an soul of an engineer: Basically everything has room for improvement. That's a fact which can't be circumvented and in the end it's all about choosing the emphasis: Do you want facts or marketing hype which has absolutely no facts and usually no contacts to any know reality at all?

      That's your choice but dissing someone for keeping into facts frankly seems quite desperate to me.

    4. andreas koch

      @ reg readers - Re: Linus Torvalds

      Are 6 lines really TL/DR ?

      @ Reg mods: can we have a bigger joke icon?

  9. LaeMing

    KDE annoys the hell out of me too.

    But every time I try some alternative, I end up coming back, despite the bazaar number of things you /can't/ customise (namely many of the things I actually care about, like colours and ranges for network throughput graphs on the panel). Been with KDE since 2.early. Some things improve, some get worse :-/

    (I also use MacOS and WinXP and Win7 at work and don't much care for them either - Win7 surprisingly has the best UI for my usage out of that lot!)

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Overall positive?

    I read his post as "there are some silly things, but overall it's ok once I've customised it".

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So it annoyed him for 2 minutes....

    So it annoyed him for the 2 minutes it took him to mess around and play with all the features see what was what and tweak the desktop to switch the stuff off he did not want. big deal. Is that not what everybody does when they have the option to personalize desktop (Be it MS, Apple, Gnome, Blackbox...)? Is that not the point of having settings?

    That's ridiculous, just switch off what you do not like. I have my KDE set to turn off all wiz bang effects and mouse over activation zones etc. I just run minimalist, functional desktop, its great. You can even swap the icons if you do not like the default ones.

    Some people like to group their icons in the task bar, others don't. some people like to have their desktop show pictures of their family, some people like it black, some people like Peugeots, some people like Renaults, some prefer Samsung TVs others like Phillips etc etc.....

  12. NomNomNom

    "It still looks a bit too cartoony, and the default widget/plasmoid behavior with mouse-over pretty much immediately showing the controls for it annoys the hell of me"


    1. Lee Dowling Silver badge

      I don't think there's much of a grammar problem there - maybe it's not perfect but it's certainly more than parseable. The problem is the jargon that you need to use to talk about the subject he is talking about:

      If you strip the jargon:

      "It still looks a bit too cartoony (pause) and the default ... behavior ... pretty much immediately showing the controls for (the widget) annoys the hell of me."

      Sure you could throw in a 'which' or a 'that' but the most confusing thing is mouse-over the use of "it" quite late in the sentence so it loses context.

      1. NomNomNom

        it just annoyed the hell of me

        1. Captain TickTock


          ... you could tell how to write it in correct Finnish?

          1. Kristian Walsh

            Re: Maybe...

            ...or Swedish, as Linus hails from Finland's small Swedish-speaking population.

            1. Captain TickTock

              Re: Maybe...

              Then he probably speaks at 2 more languages than most commentards...

              1. Captain TickTock

                Re: Maybe...

                at least. and probably has less finger trouble!

  13. squilookle

    KDE is great, and if you set it up correctly, surprisingly light weight and fast. My only issue with it is that getting things like calendars syncing with Google calendar and printers set up is harder/less automated than it is in Gnome based distributions, based on the small sample I have tried in the last year or so. Obviously this is good for people who want more control over their configuration, but I just didn't want to spend any time on it.

    I'm currently using XFCE 4.10 but I have spent long periods using all the major DE's over the last 8 or 9 years - I try different ones regularly but tend to switch my main one every couple of years when the one I'm using does something I don't like, or another one introduces something I do like. .

  14. Ross K

    A bit too "cartoony"...

    ...says the guy with a penguin for a mascot.

    Linux users. Just as whiny and annoying as Apple users IMHO.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Isn't there a difference:

      Apple users : Buy the stuff, then whine about others not liking it

      Linux users: Build the stuff, then whine about how it's not yet perfect

      Windows users: Dunno, probably fall down stairs

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh for heaven's sake, why doesn't someone just do a really good Win2k skin for XFCE and make everyone happy?

  16. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Now've got SVG icons, what can we do with them? Just re-scaling them's too boring.

    I.e., the technical solution looking for a problem.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bad spin. Only one aspect annoyed the hell out of him

    I'm not a KDE user, I use Windows happily, and Linux Mint, but to be fair this story's title gives the wrong impression.

    The way I read it, he was enjoying playing around with KDE. He ended with "but for now I'm mildly amused by the sheer whimsicality of it all." - hardly a rant!

    1. Forget It

      Re: Bad spin. Only one aspect annoyed the hell out of him

      Linux Mint also has the MATE UI which probably does what Linus wants.

  18. Buzzword

    I don't get it. They're all basically the same, aren't they? KDE, Gnome, Xfce, Windows 95 to 7, Mac OS (every version), heck even the old Amiga's window system.

    1. You have a background "desktop" across which you can choose to spew icons.

    2. You have an application bar along the bottom.

    3. You have a launcher in a corner (Start in Windows, the Applications folder on Mac, the Applications menu in Gnome, the K button in KDE, or right-click on the desktop background in XFCE).

    4. Your application's menu either lives inside the window (Windows, KDE) or at the top of the screen (Mac, Gnome, Amiga OS).

    That's basically it, right? You can add a few extra options such as snapping, multiple desktops, or background widgets, but that's just tinkering around the edges. So why do Linux users have religious wars about these things? (Genuine question, not trolling. And I can see that Win 8 and mobile OSes don't stick to the pattern, but we're talking about desktop windowing systems here.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not quite: Multiple desktops, and whether you spawn another instance of an application if you're on a different desktop or snap back to the already running one. Also, if you have an app that spawns other windows which you place on another desktop, do you still spawn a second instance of that app of you're on the second desktop or snap back to the first one? It's something that Gnome 2 got mostly right and Unity just fudges by assigning keyboard shortcuts to the stuff you regularly want multiple instances of. XFCE gets it totally wrong and LXDE doesn't attempt it at all.

      I found KDE just too buggy to tolerate. I still use Kate, but it's the only gui I regularly use that still inexplicably does odd things or crashes occasionally.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google+ tumbleweeds/.

    "The review, published amidst the tumbleweeds on Google+"

    LOL, another tool that fails to understand the simple concept that if you sit there on G+ it will look like a ghosttown, just like Twitter will do, if you don't follow anyone...

    Add yourself to some circles, and Google+ certainly ISN'T a ghost-town. Far from it infact..... The QUALITY of conversation there vastly exceeds anything Facebook has, and the richness of content exceeds twitter...

    I'm in a large(ish) F1 circle of about 300 people, and it's always busy, and the F1 Race hangouts are superb.

  20. Pete 2 Silver badge

    It's what you expect from free software

    > the default widget/plasmoid behavior

    Generally the defaults for a piece of free software is whatever the author considers will evoke the maximum number of "Oh, cool doood, that's freakin awwwwwwesum" comments within his/her support group online friends. That's what most of them are in it for: the squeals of admiration from fellow geeks, not the silence that comes from well designed software that works intuitively with no fuss and zero learning curve.

    So sure, you CAN change the defaults, if you can find where they are stored, and you can work out from the undocumented source what they do, and they aren't hard-wired into the application - which can only be rebuilt by gathering together dozens of obscure (and inter-dependent) source libraries from the 4 corners of the world - and installing all the languages they are written in AND their own sets of dependencies. But really, who has the time to futz around at that level when there's STUFF NEEDS DOING.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Linus has killed Gnome and now he's moving onto KDE.

    Why doesn't he make his own GUI if he finds them all so rubbish?

    He's a power user and power users always find interfaces a bit frustrating. Constant prompts like "are you sure" and so on.

    I'm amazed he doesn't just work in the command line to be honest.

    1. Ross K

      Re: Why doesn't he make his own GUI if he finds them all so rubbish?

      Don't worry, he's just another Richard Stallman-esque blowhard who likes the sound of his own voice.

      I would have thought a hardcore geek such as Torvalds would do his computing through the command line.

      Surely the medium of a GUI is beneath him?

      1. Forget It

        Re: Why doesn't he make his own GUI if he finds them all so rubbish?

        could call it UI-Git Lost

    2. Lars Silver badge

      I think you overestimate his power quite a lot, killing this and that. Have you ever read any review of anything where the verdict has not been both plus and minus.

      I would suppose Linus has some good things to say about KDE too, but what would be the point of that.

      This command line thing never dies. And still, it is a very simple question, if you know how to use it you use it whenever it gives you an advantage, and if you do not know how to use it you fear it.

      Years ago, when I was working with the shell a colleague of mine asked me why I use this old fashioned way of working. So I told him I use whatever is faster. I then showed him what I was doing, it took a few minutes to achieve. I then made a script of it and showed him how to run it. When I suggested he would show me the modern way to do it faster he just quietly walked away.

  22. Manolo

    Interesting interpretation

    Read about Linus' Google+ post on Slashdot, but their conclusion was that Linus actually mostly liked KDE.

  23. Wil Palen

    strange defaults

    I like and use KDE, but the defaults you get on a fresh desktop are pretty strange. Trippy, for sure.

    I mean, a blue shiny aura around windows, with a dull grey desktop and application look, that's just plain ugly. It's changeable though, once you find out where. Also, some KDE applications have very strange initial sizes, both the application window itself and the internal layout.

    There's only one chance to make a first impression, and currently KDE fails, needlessly.

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