2010-10-17

Featured Comments: Week of 2010 October 10

There were two posts from this past week that garnered comments.

GNOME 3, Activities, and KDE 4

The most common complaint about this post was that I should have read Aaron Seigo's post on the matter before writing this; unfortunately, it didn't happen that way. I'll get back to this point later. Let's continue with the comments themselves.
An anonymous reader points out, "You shouldn't worry about Compiz. Mutter will provide the desktop effects. If you really, really want Compiz integration with GNOME 3 you are out of luck. Don't ask me why but GNOME developers designed GNOME Shell to be a Mutter plug-in, so as you can see the former depends heavily on the latter, thus making impossible for Compiz developers to support GNOME Shell."
Another anonymous reader adds to this, "If I recall correctly I believe I once heard Compiz was never supposed to be permanent. It was an example of what the Windows managers (aka GNOME an KDE) could and perhaps should/should not do."
Reader twitter adds, "A lightweight desktop with modern features is E16. It has transparency and excellent 2D desktop management. E16's clear distintion between virtual screens and virtual desktops implemented the concept of "activities" more than a decade ago."
Commenter Eric Mesa adds to the previous anonymous reader's comment, "I was surprised to find out that Compiz still exists. Kwin, Fluxbox, and Metacity have all, to some degree, incorporated this. I know they aren't as flashy as compiz, but I think it's just a matter of time. Compiz was the fire under the butts of developers, showing them what X could do and daring them to match it. [...] I have to say that, in my experience, everyone who saw Compiz thought it was neat, but no one was converted because of compiz. They wanted to know if they could still do the work they did on their windows computers."
Finally, a certain anonymous reader (because I'm fairly sure it's the same reader who wrote all 3 of those comments)  complained about my analysis in 3 comments too long to repost here verbatim. I'll try to analyze it point by point.
First of all, my comparison wasn't especially apt only because I'm comparing my experiences with KDE 4.5 with other reviewers' experiences with both KDE 4.5 and GNOME 3. But let's continue from there.
I specifically state that KDE 4 Activities were unusable until KDE 4.5. Hence, KDE 4.5 Activities are quite usable and stable.
From the reviews I've read, GNOME 3 doesn't crash and is about as stable as GNOME 2.X. When KDE 4.0 was first brought into the pipeline, people were comparing its beta releases to KDE 3.5 and GNOME 2.X; why is it not fair to do the reverse now? Furthermore, GNOME Shell can be used in GNOME 2.X, so I would say that if it's made it into the repositories of distributions that use GNOME 2.X, it's certainly not a "future technology", even though it will see its first official implementation in GNOME 3.
What you (the anonymous commenter who wrote these comments) say about GNOME 3 already knowing what pitfalls to avoid is known as the second-mover advantage. It's the reason why in the battles of the jetliners in the 1940s and 1950s, the Boeing 707, which came after the De Havilland Comet, prevailed: the De Havilland Comet, while very sleek, had flaws that caused a number of fatal and spectacular accidents mostly due to the same issue, so Boeing was able to analyze this and build an airplane that did not suffer these issues. Is that really so bad? (Of course, unlike KDE with its Activities, De Havilland was loath to even admit there was a problem until after the occurrence of about 5 major accidents, after which point it was told to stop manufacturing altogether, without being given a chance to reassess its design and engineering and fix its mistakes.) Really, do you want to fly in the De Havilland Comet? No? So aren't you glad that GNOME 3 learned from KDE 4's mistakes?
Finally, with regard to Aaron Seigo's blog post, I think in his analysis, he's missing a key point: although GNOME 3 and KDE 4's Activities are implemented very differently, in that GNOME 3's Activities are a more formalized and structured implementation of virtual desktops, while KDE 4's Activities are collections of different applications, it's important to remember that if you think about it, both come from essentially the same core idea, and that is a way to group sets of applications in some manner. GNOME 3 requires the user to do it each time, while KDE 4 allows the user to do it once and then select from whatever Activities have been made. Part of the difference also comes from KDE 4's Plasmoids, for which there really isn't any GNOME 3 analogue; also, my comparison stems from the fact that although this certainly isn't the default behavior, many online writers recommend after installing KDE 4 that the user tie each virtual desktop to a different activity. Yes, KDE 4's Activities are a good bit different and a bit more advanced than Activities as implemented in GNOME 3, but it's hard to deny that they both come from the same basic idea.
I hope all this clears up my position on this debate.

Facebook's Worrying Privacy Changes

An anonymous reader writes, "Now you can use Facebook but still keep your messages private. And you don't have to depend on Facebook privacy settings. Just ‘CLOAK’ your messages with your own private keyword using the free CloakGuard browser plugin. This garbles your message and only the people you've shared your keyword with (and not Facebook) can read your messages."

Well, that wraps up the comments for this past week. Again, I hope I've made my position a little more clear. In addition, I will say once again that if you enjoy what I write, please do take a moment to subscribe via RSS or email!

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