The Null Device


The eastward expansion of the EU may have hit an obstacle, with an outspoken Euroskeptic winning the Czech presidency. Vaclav Klaus, a neo-Thatcherite and vehement critic of the EU, won the presidency by one vote, and his administration could strain relations with the EU ahead of the EU accession referendum.

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The latest blow in the KDE/GNOME catfight: How GNOME became LAME. In short, GNOME was started with a vague idea of being "like KDE only better" and more ideologically sound, a fetish for being language-independent (to the point of doing object-oriented programming in C, which is invariably ugly and painful to work with) and some highfalutin' promises about a "network object model", which turned out to be just hot air. It was meant to swiftly overtake KDE (which was tainted with the black mark of proprietary software) and consign it to the dustbin of history, ushering in a Brave GNU World. A few years later, KDE has KParts which make everything very modular and doovy indeed, and bindings for lots of non-C++ languages, while GNOME has forgotten all about the "network object model" stuff, swapped window/file managers a few times, acquired a Windows-like registry and is quite possibly about to follow it up by reinventing itself as a Microsoft .NET-esque system. However, there is no component mechanism, so applications which don't want the default widgets invent their own, with jarring results.

Perhaps the KDE/GNOME stoush can be seen as a manifestation of the clash between the European and American cultures? KDE (whose developers are primarily German and Northern European) is a model of Teutonic efficiency and/or European dirigisme, providing a central framework and set of interchangeable components conforming to a strict standard. Meanwhile, GNOME takes more of a laissez-faire libertarian approach, relying on the glory of the free market of ideas and enlightened self-interest (if someone wants a better file dialog, they'll write one; if we end up with a dozen different file dialogs, that's more choice in the marketplace of ideas, and the good ones will get adopted; it's ugly but it works without central planning). Does that make any sort of sense?

(Incidentally, I don't use either system. My desktop is a bunch of xterms launched from a WindowMaker menu, with the odd KDE or GNOME app running by itself. Though KDE does seem to be a lot more coherent these days.)

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