Hath Hell Frozen Over?

For anyone keeping up with the desktop war between KDE and Gnome, you will know that KDE has recently moved its next version into beta mode. Unfortunately for the anxious, the KDE team means beta in the true sense of the word. I would argue that its pre-alpha, but whatever.

What I find most interesting is the direction that KDE has taken. As some of the bigger pieces fall into place, there is a pattern in the UI – simplicity. For those that aren’t in the know, many of the KDE developers pride themselves in not treating its users like dummies. Many of the Gnome developers have sought sanctity from KDE and its 747-cockpit-esque design choices. KDE represents total control, choices, and categorically, a higher learning curve. Gnome represents simplicity, smart assumptions, and less of a learning curve.

My case in point is the new file manager named Dolphin that will usurp Konqueror’s place. For a trip down memory lane, check out the screen shots of Konqueror in action:


I ranted sometime ago about how horribly cluttered the interface is. Because it tries to do everything, it does everything with mediocrity. What is worse is not only is it jammed packed with features, but simple things are wrong, like the tree view not following the main pane.

I was excited to hear about the development of Dolphin, as an alternative file manager for KDE for two reasons. Firstly, it doesn’t claim to be the swiss-knife of the desktop – it just manages files. Secondly, because they dropped the annoying convention of prefixing the name of the application with a “K”. Development has moved on for Dolphin since I last visited it months ago. Take a look at the current version below, and you will see where this post is going:


For a desktop that prides itself with having a high degree of customization and configuration, the file manager is a breath of fresh, simple air. This altered paradigm can be seen in other application being ported to KDE 4 as well. Dolphin is quite comparable to Gnome’s Nautilus file manager now:


The significance of all this is a strong indication that both competing desktops are starting to travel down the same road. The chasm between KDE and Gnome is shrinking. Computer software is maturing, and now with years of forming best practices, and real feedback the end results are similar.


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