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Coding The Future Linux Desktop [updated]

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the they'll-use-keyboards dept.


the.jedi writes "With the release of GTK+ 2.4, and Gnome 2.6 due out some time next week, it seems of some the Gnome developers are looking at how they'll be coding Gnome and the rest of the Linux desktop. Havoc Pennington of Planet Gnome has written a short blog pondering and analyzing the available options as coders move towards high-level languages like java and C#. He gives a good overview and assessment of technologies like mono, OO.org's UNO framework, as well as other ways of tying new languages to the existing code base. An extremely interesting read for desktop linux hackers everywhere." Update: 03/17 14:44 GMT by T : Speaking of the future of Gnome, aeneas writes with a list of Gnome 2.6 release parties around the world (linked from gnome.org/start/2.5).

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havoc pennington. (-1, Offtopic)

torpor (458) | more than 10 years ago | (#8587851)

Now there's someone who sounds like they ought to have a Tardis ... and know how to use it (mostly) ...

Blog? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8587862)

How is that article a blog?

Simple (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8587905)

the story submitter is an asshole.

GNAA Euopean Branch? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8587863)

Would the GNAA happen to have a European Branch?

Re:GNAA Euopean Branch? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8588086)

lol ur-a-peein'

Scottie Pippen 'en ME (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8587871)

he put the scottie pippin in me!

Here we go, fe fi fo, giant sized negro!

How come? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8587872)

Why do software suck more the less the hardware suck? High level langauges? C#, OO, Java. It used to be called "molasses".

Next week I will be coding the Linux desktop: (5, Funny)

Realistic_Dragon (655151) | more than 10 years ago | (#8587878)

[] in C
[] in scheme
[] in mono
[] in asm
[X] in a penguin suit
[] whilst eating a banana
[] upside down
[] badly
[] perfectly
[] in an easy to use fashion
[] as a placeholder for my terminal windows
[] to look just like Windows

Re:Next week I will be coding the Linux desktop: (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8587890)

[X] in a penguin suit

And the week after that Scott McNealy will do the same.


Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8587927)

Re:Next week I will be coding the Linux desktop: (4, Funny)

robbyjo (315601) | more than 10 years ago | (#8588103)

For Slashdot tradition completeness sake:

[] with Cowboyneal


[] I don't code in Linux, you insensitive clod!

How about still using C (5, Interesting)

Xargle (165143) | more than 10 years ago | (#8587882)

We'd actually get a performance gain without a 4 way Xeon and gigs of memory, and apps would even downscale acceptably to mobile devices?

And now, the rest of the story (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8587924)

Your point is well taken, but it is rather surprising that you seem to have forgotten invention also drives economies. "They" want this waste/consumption of resources to force people to buy the Next Big Thing.

This isn't American and it isn't even Capitalist; it's Human, and probably vexed Pharoah as much as it vexes you or the lower income individual on the upgrade treadmill (MS/Software/_or_ Hardware.)


A. C.

Re:How about still using C (5, Insightful)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 10 years ago | (#8587938)

You've clearly never spent hours tracking malloc arena corruption, insidious thread safety bugs, or enjoyed the benefits of a clean OO syntax.

No. C has its place for sure, but for writing desktop apps it's the wrong tool for the job.

Still, I have to admit, this is something that could go so many ways. Right now Mono has the mindshare in terms of Gnome/GTK# apps, people are playing with it, liking it, there are actually unique interesting apps (like Muine [gooeylinux.org] ) written in it etc. Where are the interesting GTK/Java apps?

On the other hand, the GNU java toolchain is nicer than Monos. GCJ is a really nice, easy to use compiler that's pretty fast and it creates ELF binaries. It fits in with the existing infrastructure, reuses our investment in ELF and the resultant apps don't have strange EXE and DLL extensions.

Java-GTK is apparently also quite a mature set of bindings, though I haven't used them so I can't say for sure.

I'm not convinced the patents thing is really valid. If Microsoft have patents on their class libs I think it massively unlikely Sun don't have patents on theirs. Worse, I suspect that even if there was a completely open source, newly designed framework that was similar to Java/.NET it would fall under those same patents.

We probably just have to ride them out.

I think Havoc is off base with the XAML comments. XAML will only be usable with the arrival of Longhorn which is in, what, 2008 now? It looks a lot like XUL, and yet where are all the XUL apps? Firebird is still the flagship XUL app, even after all this time. I certainly cannot see XAML taking over HTML anytime this century, there's simply too much investment in HTML and XAML isn't compelling enough from what I've seen to offset that.

Re:How about still using C (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8588042)

Yeah, GCJ is great, a simple "hello world" take 6mbs. Java its for servers, not for desktops.

Re:How about still using C (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8588043)

Yes, C/C++ has it's issues, but how about it's performance advantages over bytecode languages like C# and Java? It could be a way do distinguish Linux desktops from the Microsoft world, by running natively compiled applications. Look at either OpenOffice or Mozilla. They are consistently two of the slowest to launch apps on my Linux system

Re:How about still using C (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8588074)

And both OOo and Moz are native-compiled. I don't get where you're going with that.

Re:How about still using C (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8588105)

You've got to remember that Havoc Pennington is an amazing coder. He's managed to make a window manager with fewer features than, say, IceWM, WMaker etc., and yet it's bigger and takes up more memory! That's quite an achievement. It's like writing an editor less featureful than Pico, and yet it uses more RAM than Emacs!

A lot of these modern coders on their 3 GHz boxes don't appreciate elegance of design, nor do they think highly of efficiency. It's a shame, but c'est la vie. They're only hurting Linux's desktop uptake in 3rd world countries and businesses with millions of old machines. You think a P500 with 64M, of which there are millions, can run GNOME + OpenOffice.org + Mozilla? Linux is going to be royally screwed unless we start paying attention to efficient design and coding.

And that includes you, Havoc.

Re:How about still using C (1)

zxqart (749238) | more than 10 years ago | (#8587946)

I agree. I don't see why using hardware inefficiently is a good thing.

Re:How about still using C (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8587956)

Short and simple answer? Because higher level languages generally abstract the programmer from making low-level routines that can seriously affect how much time the programmer puts into the look and feel of an app. For me as a user, I often get annoyed at programs that do their functionality well, but have horrible UI and horrible design.

For me as a programmer, I use REALbasic [realsoftware.com] (not mentioned in the article). The IDE isn't on Linux, yet, but the remote debugging works well for me. It's compiled down to native machine code, allows for expandability through C/C++ plugins, and helps me effortlessly lay out my UI. It looks like a pretty solid product

Re:How about still using C (5, Insightful)

RailGunner (554645) | more than 10 years ago | (#8588128)

I don't think it's a question of time invested as far as poor UI design goes, I think it's more of a problem that most engineers don't really know how to put together a User Friendly UI, because let's face it - we think the CLI is pretty user friendly.

UI's could get much easier to use if developers would just select the right widget for the job. For example: Have a two state switch? Whether some feature is enabled or disabled? Please, just use a check box. The goofy group box with the two radio buttons (one labeled "Enable" and the other "Disable") is just clutter.

Another tip? Ask a graphic designer to layout your UI, then go and implement it. Graphic Designers study the best way to graphically communicate an idea, so (speaking from experience, my wife is a graphic designer) they can be a terrific resource in laying out a UI.

Finally, if you're using any kind of graphical UI editor like MSVC, Glade, Qt Designer, etc.. it just takes a second, but line up your widgets for crying out loud. Nothing screams amateur loser like controls that don't line up correctly.

And remember - your average customer doesn't see the elegant code you wrote under the hood - they see your UI. Especially remember this when writing Linux UI's - one thing MS is fairly good at is putting together a consistent UI. Might be ugly as sin like WinXP's default, but it's consistent.

Re:How about still using C (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8587995)

I don't think C has much to do with it. I can boot my computer from Grub to the login dialog in six seconds. This includes loading device drivers, the C library and lots of other stuff, initalising the graphics card and loading the GUI libraries.

Six seconds.

It isn't Linux and it isn't Windows. It's booting on a bog-standard PIII 450, 8Gb ATA100 hard disk, no caching tricks or anything like that.

Six seconds.

I'm certain I can get that down to five or even four seconds with some more work.

Re:How about still using C (5, Insightful)

NonSequor (230139) | more than 10 years ago | (#8587998)

Here's my philosophy: the computer is here to do my work not the other way around. When I write a program I want to expend my effort only on explaining how it should work and not worrying about things like memory allocation.

What's worse is that C forces you into a certain way of thinking. Other languages make it easier to work in other styles so you can actually implement the algorithm in the way that you come up with it.

I've got a nice computer and I want to take advantage of it. I don't write much software, but anything that could make it easier would be welcomed.

Reply: How about still using C (1)

Adhemar (679794) | more than 10 years ago | (#8588070)

It's about using the right tool for the right job. Havoc isn't proposing the usage of C in the Linux kernel or even in the X Window System.

Java and C#/.NET are great tools for coding high-level applications. Development is a lot easier, since you don't have to spend hours looking for those small memory leaks. It's a few times faster, hence RAD: Rapid Application Development. (Mikael Hallendal described [hallendal.net] how his RSS/RDF-reader BLAM! was ready in 1 week.) Arguably, it's better maintainable.

Indeed, there's a performance price to pay.

There are already a few small GNOME-based applications written in C#: RSS/RDF reader BLAM!, WoodPusher chess game, Muine music player, ... At some point, GNOME will have to decide if such applications can be part of GNOME, and I agree that GNOME should choose a high-level language and environment as their default high-level language and environment. That doesn't mean GNOME should drop C.

File selector (1)

dr.Flake (601029) | more than 10 years ago | (#8587887)

This is not about the frigg.... file selector. It is OK now, so lets move along to the actual topic:

The future technologies behind the desktop.

Re:File selector (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8588018)

Why are you pluralizing the word "sig" with an apostrophe? Also, it's not "more witty" but "wittier."

"Planet Niggers" (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8587889)

Gnome is shit anyway. Use WinXP.

GNOME sucks ass (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8587898)

Why even mention it here. KDE all the way, 133t dooodz!

Does the new release improve the X performance? (2, Interesting)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 10 years ago | (#8587903)

Gnome/gtk kind of sucks for X performance, even compared to the Motif libraries, which are no speed demons. It makes WAN/dialup/dsl use of X even more painful than it need be.

Re:Does the new release improve the X performance? (1)

Cthefuture (665326) | more than 10 years ago | (#8587933)

Yep, especially compared to Terminal Services on Windows. That works at the widget level though.

Maybe we need a high performance network enabled version of Gtk.

Re:Does the new release improve the X performance? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8588141)

Maybe we need a high performance network enabled version of Gtk.

The problem is not on Gtk. Gtk makes use of a double buffer to avoid flickering. That's not bad, but it brings an X Window design decission to the surface.

When using X over a network, it always transfers ALL the screen to the clients, even the static parts.

The addition of the XDamage [freedesktop.org] extension to X servers allows the X protocol to transfer _only_ the screen changes over the network. Less transferred data, less network use, more speed.

I can't wait for the Freedesktop [freedesktop.org] X server to be production quality.

Eeek... (2, Insightful)

Jacek Poplawski (223457) | more than 10 years ago | (#8587909)

Very high level languages, Java, C#/Mono, frameworks, newest GNOME, newest KDE, how many buzzwords can we use at once?

Seriously, guys. Use what you know. Write in C++, write in Python. For GUI use GTK or QT or wxWindows, or just GNOME/KDE libs. If you write game use SDL or plib or ClanLib or anything else you will find. Do not check what is "trendy", just code.

I am asking same question again - why Linux world need to copy everything from Windows world? Do not integrate, do not unify, be free.

Re:Eeek... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8588000)

Yeah. Why should we ever do research into something new when we could just use the good old comfortable stand by. Nothing new can possibly be better. That's why I still use punch cards.

Re:Eeek... (2, Insightful)

Boing (111813) | more than 10 years ago | (#8588068)

Seriously, guys. Use what you know.

So when I write code for my company in Prolog, using some obscure graphics library that was written in Sumerian by thirteenth-century monks, I'm sure that there will be no conflicts in someone else extending my work. If I leave my company, I'm sure they won't have any trouble finding someone of comparable skill with experience with those technologies.

There's value to "use what you know", but if we can slowly get everyone familiar one or two core APIs/languages/frameworks, we'll have a lot less wasted brain real estate. Not saying they can't also know their own pet libraries, but I don't want to have to learn something new every time I have to read someone else's code.

Why Linux will never beat Microsoft or Apple (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8588071)

Ok, first of all this is not a troll.

>"Do not integrate, do not unify, be free."

If I have Windows, I download a Windows binary and USE it (ok, I might have to choose the Windows version, but that's all).

If I have a Mac, I download a Mac binary and USE it (ok, I might have to choose the MacOS version, but that's all).

If I have a Linux or BSD distro, what do I need to do? Why are the end-users asked to know what their OS is? What the hell is a dependency? Why should I have to know how to compile (or even know what "compile" is)? Why can't something for Mandrake/GTK work on Slackware/Gnome?

While I agree that choices are good, this is what is slowing down Linux development (too many options to support) and is also what confuses the normal end-user (can't even *choose* what to download, I won't even get into installing the damn things).

Stop thinking as programmers and stop saying immature things like "the user should understand his PC, know about KDE/Gnome, X, insert_random_lib_name_and_version_here", because last time I checked, 99.9999% of car drivers out there only know how to fill their gas and windshield cleaner tanks. But they all still own and use their cars.

We have people who can barely use Windows or MacOSX, they would have no chance in hell with Linux.

If you take this as a flame or a troll, then you're indeed the proof that you don't have the slightess clue about what end-users want/need/understand.

Microsoft and Apple understand this YEARS ago (even if Microsoft still don't know how to make decent software at decent prices).

That's great if you ignore interoperability (4, Insightful)

yoz (3735) | more than 10 years ago | (#8588077)

The whole discussion is not actually about programming languages. It's about how you get people to agree on a coding platform that allows component A to talk to component B when the components are in different products.

Do not integrate, do not unify, be free.

Be free to have to specify each individual UI preference for every new app I use, you mean?

Be free to have to spend hours trying to get my new word processor to talk to my printer?

You're kind of missing the point re: integration, I think.

Re:Eeek... (4, Insightful)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | more than 10 years ago | (#8588089)

Seriously, guys. Use what you know. Write in C++, write in Python. For GUI use GTK or QT or wxWindows, or just GNOME/KDE libs. If you write game use SDL or plib or ClanLib or anything else you will find. Do not check what is "trendy", just code.

I doubt they are using Java and Mono because they are "trendy". If anyone strays more from "trendy" things, it'll be developers. We use what is best for the job, be it C or C#.

If you have ever coded in one of these languages you would know it increases productivity beyond anything possible in C or C++. They are easier to code, easier to debug, easier to manage. Processors are getting fast enough to handle the small speed decrease of using a JIT. Languages like these are the future- C/C++ will easily be phased out as much as ASM was, as soon as the JITed languages become fast enough.

I am asking same question again - why Linux world need to copy everything from Windows world? Do not integrate, do not unify, be free.

Being so loosely integrated is one of the major limiting factors on linux advancing anywhere in the desktop world. Sure- having a ton of choices is great for development and customization, but for Joe User it is hell to have to learn so much crap to get things working. And if he asks his friend for help, chances are the friend will be using something entirely different and not be able to give much if any.

While Windows has it's faults, it is king of integration. It is also the driving force for a lot of new technologies. It sucks, but unless Linux apps want to be left behind, they have got to be more like Windows apps. Copying from them is OK in my book, so long as they don't copy MS's security practices :)

Re:Eeek... Joe User (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8588155)

>Sure- having a ton of choices is great for development and customization, but for Joe User it is hell to have to learn so much crap to get things working.

I do agree with that, but I will even go further and say that since there's so much crap to learn in the first place, Joe User won't even *TRY* to get into Linux because of that.

Community standards... (4, Insightful)

Chalybeous (728116) | more than 10 years ago | (#8587910)

From the article:
The question then is: many strong proprietary companies such as Microsoft are moving full speed ahead on high-level managed language platforms. Can open source compete, or is it too unable to make hard decisions? Rephrased: is there some way we can find to move away from C/C++, without causing massive alienation and forking?

It's time to start the discussion. Rather than fooling around in the background, companies should get involved in a broad community process where we work out a common direction for the open source desktop codebase.
[emphasis mine]

I'm not a coder, or technical in any form, but I can see how this makes sense. I'd love to adopt Linux but am still trying to mount /dev/clue ;-)
It's my guess that more people would want to adopt Linux distros, regardless of their flavour, if the open source OS community worked out those kind of specs as a group, so that different desktop versions of Linux were broadly the same.

(Yes, I know about the kernel, but matters that the article addresses seem to be important. IMHO, it could harm Linux in the future if different distros become too divergent, leading to a loss of interoperability or the requirement of, say, 14 different varieties of OpenOffice.org depending on your distro.)

I have to say it: (3, Insightful)

vasqzr (619165) | more than 10 years ago | (#8587914)

Windows XP's Fisher Price interface is much faster than KDE/GNOME.

Flame me, call me a troll, but it is.

This is why I stick with one of the 'minimalist' window managers. Sure, I'm missing out on a lot of things, and Joe user probably needs KDE/GNOME and all their associated parts, but I don't.

On the extreme side there are still people who only use a terminal.

Re:I have to say it: (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8587940)

It may be faster, I can't say for sure, but at least KDE/Gnome don't lock up on a daily basis like XP does.

One would think that dual Xeons and 4GB memory would be enough for XP, but I guess not. :(

Re:I have to say it: (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8587962)

If you are locking up your hardware in XP, especially that regularly, I suggest you look at your hardware... namely whether that $20 power supply is sufficient.

Re:I have to say it: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8588047)

It may be faster, I can't say for sure, but at least KDE/Gnome don't lock up on a daily basis like XP does

Why can't you say for sure? Is it because you've never used XP? That would fit with your ridiculous assertion that XP locks up on a daily basis.

Re:I have to say it: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8588102)

On my modern PC, both KDE and XP seem to run at the same speed, even if one is less efficient than the other, because the CPU is so damn fast anyway, I can't tell either way. Now, I know some windows people who try linux for the first time fail to install good graphics drivers, but if you were to run windows in it's "fallback" mode without card drivers, again, you find that it's as slow as Linux + X-Window in "VGA framebuffer" mode i.e. without the correct drivers.

Please not .net.. (3, Insightful)

D-Cypell (446534) | more than 10 years ago | (#8587915)

As a Java programmer, maybe im bias but i really hope that .net doesnt become the de-facto language on the linux client.

Feels like 10 years building a viable alternative to Microsoft and just as the goal is in sight... handing it over :o\

Re:Please not .net.. (1)

flakac (307921) | more than 10 years ago | (#8588029)

As a Java programmer, maybe im bias but i really hope that .net doesnt become the de-facto language on the linux client.

.NET is not a languague, but a platform. This would be the same is me saying, "As a C# programmer, maybe im bias but i really hope that J2EE doesnt become the de-facto language on the windows client." Sounds silly, doesn't it?

Re:Please not .net.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8588116)

You are forgetting the fact that with IKVM, you can still code with Java on the .NET platform.

Benchmarks would be interesting though :)

Visual development environment (5, Interesting)

nycsubway (79012) | more than 10 years ago | (#8587916)

Having development environments like KDevelop and Glade are very important to the linux desktop. If these programs had more point-and-click UI design features, it would allow anyone with basic programming experience to put together a program. It's both good and bad to have this in linux though; it allows almost anyone to point and click an application together, and this will help corporations utilize a linux desktop. It also allows for the same problems that windows development has: lack of granularity in visual basic and really bad, unoriginal programs.

I think improving the visual part of KDevelop and Glade is very important. I also think leaving C/C++ and possibly Java as the languages in which the applications are written is preferable. C# is simply Java by Microsoft.

It would also be nice to have a development environment that allowed any language to drive the UI.

High level languages (3, Interesting)

lofoforabr (751004) | more than 10 years ago | (#8587926)

...as coders move towards high-level languages like java and C#... ... and soon Linux will not run anymore on low end systems, either requiring a super machine (like Windows) or running painfully slow.
I mean, we all like java, but have you ever seen a normal user application (with a GUI) written in java that is even a bit fast?

Re:High level languages (5, Insightful)

iapetus (24050) | more than 10 years ago | (#8587936)

That's largely down to the platform-independent UI code, though. Replace it with native widgets tied to Gnome and performance should be perfectly respectable.

Re:High level languages (1)

Decameron81 (628548) | more than 10 years ago | (#8588127)

"That's largely down to the platform-independent UI code, though. Replace it with native widgets tied to Gnome and performance should be perfectly respectable."

It mostly depends on what respectable means to you. I seriously don't want to end up buying a computer 10 years in the future from now that runs programs as fast as the PC I am using right now. I think there is a certain degree of speed loss you can accept in exchange of a better development environment, which depends highly on the kind of application you are coding. But I refuse to accept the main principle of Java, which is to make computers compatible by running all code with an emulator (of a virtual computer). Especially when the compatibility it claims to have is not respected by all systems.

Don't get me wrong, I don't want to get Java lovers angry here. I realize that my opinion is no more than that, an opinion. But think about it: wouldn't you prefer libraries that allow easy transitions from a Windows C code to the equivalent Mac C code? or to Linux C code?

I know many people finds java to be great because they don't need to compile their code and test it for several systems. But if they could do the same thing with lower-level languages like C... wouldn't they find that much better?

Diego Rey

Re:High level languages (1)

lofoforabr (751004) | more than 10 years ago | (#8588008)

Am I really being a troll just because I said something true? Try to run java based things on a i486 to see how painful it is.
Java and C#, though it has all its wonders, are not the way to go. They are portable, but so is C/C++ to an extent. It just isn't the way to go.

Re:High level languages (2, Interesting)

sig97 (651312) | more than 10 years ago | (#8588039)

It's possible to obtain a *fast* java program by compiling directly to native machine code: http://gcc.gnu.org/java/ [gnu.org]

In addition to that, you could use a native GUI - like GTK - instead of Swing, which should speed things up considerably.

Re:High level languages (1)

mydigitalself (472203) | more than 10 years ago | (#8588140)

i'm sorry but i don't buy this performance thing as much as you (and others) sell it.

i've got two old boxen at home. one is a 500-odd MHZ Celeron which runs Linux and serves as my router/firewall/mail/apache (the usual basically). i know the kits old, but the performance i get out of it isn't that impressive.

but wait... i'll actually COMPARE something now!

i've also got an oldish 700 odd MHZ Pentium III (i think). this is my desktop box. i've always been a linux on server, winblows on desktop purely because of historical work purposes (Photoshop, VS.Net etc...). so that box used to run 2k, and then XP for a while. then i discovered both VMWare and CrossOver which allow me to run anything I want to. so i trashed my windows parition completely and installed RH 9 on it...

believe me, there is hardly any noticable performance difference between the two - and i'm not talking about running Photoshop in CrossOver or VS.NET in VMware - those are bound to be slower. i'm just talking normal X stuff. moving windows around the screen, finding files, launching small apps etc... there is no obviously noticeable performance differences between the two.

and with regards to your JAVA comments, yes I actually have. SWING/AWT USED to be pretty slow. since 1.3 and especially in 1.4 the "snappyness" of the UI interfaces have improved dramatically. go get a 1.4 JRE/JDK and run IntelliJ (http://www.jetbrains.com/idea/) and you will discover that it runs just as quickly as any native linux IDE - and by IDE i'm not talking frikking vi here...

All anyone needs... (2, Insightful)

nickos (91443) | more than 10 years ago | (#8587929)

...is a nice C++ GUI framework. Once you have one of these, be it gtkmm, qt or wxWidgets you're set.

People need to avoid the language hype - C# and Java are not the way to go. There's quite enough bloatware out there already, and running code inside virtual machines does not help.

Re:All anyone needs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8588012)

If people are avoiding language, it'd be best to avoid C++ too. Common Lisp, baby, yeah.

Re:All anyone needs... (2, Interesting)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 10 years ago | (#8588082)

I guess I better strip Perl out of my Debian machine, then. Er...that'd kill it.

Seriously, code inside VMs has advantages, such as security and portability.

Re:All anyone needs... (1)

djeaux (620938) | more than 10 years ago | (#8588100)

..is a nice C++ GUI framework. Once you have one of these, be it gtkmm, qt or wxWidgets you're set.

IANAC++P (I am not a C++ programmer), so I'll take you word on that. But I do agree with the virtual machines complaint. The GUI should not be something run on a VM.

I've seen plenty of Java apps that either refused to run at all or caused lock-ups when the installed version of Java was older or newer than the app required. Perhaps they were poorly written apps, I dunno.

Somebody else here posted the observation that the WinXP desktop is faster than Gnome or KDE. How much slower would KDE run under Java or some other VM-based scheme? "Overhead" has a lot to do with speed & VM is overhead.

Go ahead & mod me down for not toeing the party line about Java... <sigh>

Re:All anyone needs... (1)

turgid (580780) | more than 10 years ago | (#8588132)

...is a nice C++ GUI framework. Once you have one of these, be it gtkmm, qt or wxWidgets you're set.

That's all very good if all you want to code in is C++. You see, C++ has a complicated ABI, so it is difficult to interface it to other languages. It is even very difficult to use C++ classes compiled with one compiler with code from another. This is because each vendor implements their own, proprietary C++ ABI. The gcc folks have tried to solve this problem by defining a Multi-Vendor C++ ABI. Unfortunately, gcc is the only C++ compiler that implements it just now. Some of the other vendors have pledged to implement it sometime manyana, but in the mean time, if you want to ensure that code and libraries communicate with each other, you have to stick to the good old unix C ABI.

Re:All anyone needs... (1)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | more than 10 years ago | (#8588143)

Except that aside from being OO, C++ has most of the pitfalls that make C a bad language for desktop programming. And I like C/C++. That said, I also like Java, and think it's pretty nice for this kind of work. Any speed issues have improved hugely with SWT, and as most folks seem to ignore, it's actually very popular in embedded and small devices. If it's used sensibly, it doesn't have to be big and slow. In fact, it has the potential to be faster with a smart JVM that can optimize effectively.


Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8587931)

There never was a problem with the file selector. The file selector is good. Lies were told about it by ungood MS and the hated Billgates
Linux already is the best desktop. Anyone who lies about that spreads MS FUD and is guilty of thoughtcrime
Linux could not be improved, as linux is doubleplus plusgood already
Disliking Linux is a sign of ungood crimethink

Signed, the /. collective hivemind

Whoever modded this down is ungood (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8587949)

Hated thoughtcrime traitor

blah blah blah (-1, Troll)

Chauncy (739502) | more than 10 years ago | (#8587934)

I'd be much more impressed with Linux if they'd get PCI to PCI DMA working.

More eye candy isn't going to make Linux less of a toy OS.

coding the Linux desktop... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8587937)

Is usually done in C++ with Qt and KDE. There is this "GNOME" thing which is hell-bent on recreating the worst windows mistakes on Linux (including the sodding registry...gconf...gasp...argh...) but most sane people use KDE.

Havoc, the guy who fucked GNOME (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8587945)

Isn't Havoc Pennington complaining about huge fragmentation because SUN writes an own Evolution clone in JAVA ?

The right person to complain about fragmentation while he and his minions are working on GNOME. Not just working on it, they even blew it totally up. And while we talk about fragmentation, why did he initiated the huge fragmentation mess that he want's KDE to adopt now ?

E.g. we need a common this and that, we need a common that and this. We need you (KDE) to follow freedesktop fragmentation while KDE which was there first had all the nice stuff years ago, he now forces them to fragment KDE to adopt the shit he and his minions wrote.

Re:Havoc, the guy who fucked GNOME (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8587955)

Working on GNOME was the biggest fragmentation he ever did. GNOME itself is the fragmentation here. If they worked on KDE we by now would have a far better Desktop and not caugh ourselves into stupid flamewars and bullshit.

Re:Havoc, the guy who fucked GNOME (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8588049)

If they worked on KDE we by now would have a far better Desktop..

Would we? It seems to me that a lot of effort on KDE is wasted by continually reinventing the wheel, or just wasted with downright complete rubbish which shouldn't be there in the first place.

Exhibit A: KPaint. What the hell were the KDE release team even thinking? It doesn't work. What is doing in KDE?

Exhibit B: Kview & Kuickshow. KDE2 had KView, which worked, had a nice interface and was very useful. Now we have Kuickshow which is klunky, over engineered and less useful than KView. It takes a lot longer to load, too. Why?

Exhibit C: KBiff. KBiff was damn useful when I was running KDE1 all those years ago. Where is it now? Oh, it died a long time ago with the change to Qt 2.x Droping features like that is just bad.

Maybe if the KDE guys would spend some more time and actually invest themselves in less duplication and wasted effort instead of worrying about whatever GNOME are doing, wKDE would be a far better Desktop?

Start a project leave it half, then start a new. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8587966)

that's how GNOME suppose to do their project.

Don't listen to HAVOC he destroyed GNOME (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8588017)

And he will continue making GNOME become a technobabbel Desktop rather than a usable Desktop for the endusers.

GNOME as is right now is the best example of how to NOT write a Desktop

time to move on (1)

pumpumpum (757946) | more than 10 years ago | (#8587953)

These guys realize that they have to move on, failing to provide a decent desktop. Good luck for the "new, improved" project.

Linux did not revive Unix (0)

sczimme (603413) | more than 10 years ago | (#8587960)

The large open source projects could drive Java deep into Linux, and bring it new life, just as Linux revived UNIX as a whole. (my emphasis)

I disagree with this statement. Unix was doing quite well in the server and workstation market in the mid-1990s when Linux began to make its presence known. (Yes, Linux existed before then; no, it had not made significant inroads as of ~1995. Sorry, fanboys.) Yes, Linux made the Unix-oriented evnvironment available to more people, but piggybacking on a current and widely-used platform != revival.

Commercial Linux Apps (5, Interesting)

commander salamander (256114) | more than 10 years ago | (#8587961)

The battle for the Linux desktop has really been heating up lately, and with the planned release of several big commercial apps (Macromedia), it's getting even hotter.

As a bit of a GNOME fanboy, I hope GTK+ and friends can lure ISVs to use G-technologies when porting their programs. GNOME currently seems to have a large base of commercial support, although I've heard QT is being used in commercial development more. The integration of commercial apps with a desktop platform could be a make-or-break for said platform, especially as Linux market share grows and more Aunt Tillies and suits move off of Windows.

I've got a bone to pick with the FA though; it states that FOSS needs a new high level language and toolkit pronto if it's going to lure new developers. I haven't heard of the Adobes, Macromedias, or Intuits of the world scrambling to rewrite their apps in .NET; what makes HP think that GTKmm or QT isn't good enough? Don't believe the hype dude; the MS marketing machine has been blowing a lot of smoke up a lot of asses.

One word... Smalltalk... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8587963)

Have you seen squeak? Imagine if it had just a bit more modern eye-candy!

-- ac at work

These languages are all outdated! (5, Funny)

seguso (760241) | more than 10 years ago | (#8587977)

How sad: the only alternatives taken into account by Havoc are C#, Java and C++. If only the open source movement decided to embrace Mercury (logical paradigm) or Haskell/Clean (functional paradigm), and build .NET-like infrastructures for them, their productivity would be so increased that that they would surpass Microsoft before longhorn comes out. Instead, you go check and find out that the Mercury and Haskell projects are sponsored by Microsoft. Also ML and Prolog are being ported to .NET. Well, I suppose we (the OS movement) will get what we deserve for our lack of foresight.

hmmm (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8587978)

I was a gnome diehard for a long time. But now they are opening it up to legal issues with this .net copying.

Further, WTF is with object oriented nautilus in 2.6? Can someone explain how having hundreds of windows exploding onto my desktop as I browse is beneficial? And if it's for "ease of use" then can someone tell me how abandoning what the other 2 Major OSs are doing is "easy of use"?

Methinks there is some UseInterface Jihad warriors who could be kept under control. This is ONE thing where you do need an easy to use control panel to change between options.

Gnome is going in the wrong direction IMO.

I opened up KDE 3.2 to find konqueror quite nice actually, their tabbing is comparable to moz/fox now and the interface is cleaner. Sure KDE had "lots of options behind the scenes" but they are still behind the scenes, only one or two more "on the surface" extras to gnome.

There might well be a migration to KDE from Gnome to avoid legal issues if too many apps get developed in mono.

Wait until GNOME 2.6 comes out, more move to KDE. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8588004)

That is what will happen once GNOME comes out. GNOME is in a real bad state right now. Loosing more people and what remains are just the paid developers that continue working on it in their own little NAZI world (full of dictators and jackasses).

KDE is so much more friendly, the people are cool, warmhearted, open minded and don't have that tunnelview that most GNOME people have.

Poor guys that live in their own world believing that they already caught up with KDE. What a nonsense. Technically KDE is so far ahead that GNOME isn't even in the position to sniff the condense line of KDE.

Re:hmmm (1)

Enahs (1606) | more than 10 years ago | (#8588166)

Cute. Someone makes what I see as a valid point about the future of GNOME's interface, and someone mods it as "Flamebait."

I agree wholeheartedly about the new Nautilus system. I'm told it's possible to switch, but a cursory look at the preferences didn't reveal it. This is probably one of those "power user" features that you have to muck around in GConf to change, or something. Or did I just miss something blindingly obvious?

This takes something that I thought was one of the worst things about the old MacOS (double-clicking on a folder in Finder opens a new window) and runs with it. Back before OS X, I used to sit with one hand on the mouse, and one finger on the (forgive me if I say the wrong key, as I use the key without thinking aobut it) Option key so that opening a new folder would close the previous one. Only rarely did I want default behavior.

The new Nautilus default behavior is a major step backward, IMHO. Then again, so are many of the usability changes. Is it really better to relegate extra features to GConf hell?

Havoc? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8587985)

Why is he called Havoc ??

Language Evolution (4, Interesting)

nonmaskable (452595) | more than 10 years ago | (#8587987)

I've been professionally developing using C/C++ since 1985 on everything from device drivers to GUIs on every platform imaginable and I love C++.

BUT I've also been doing Java and C# the last three years, and they are a *huge* win in developer efficiency. Watching people working on my projects, I can see marginal developers immediately become much more productive (2x in some cases) - and I've been measuring this using several objective metrics (modules/week, LOC, PR #, time/PR).

I would rather see Java "win", but unless Sun blinks on the free/open issue _very_ quickly, I think C# will win by default.

Re:Language Evolution (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8588031)

I think it's really sad that people think Java/C# are good... based on them being better than C++. Better than C++ is NOT GOOD, it's just slightly less sucky. Use Common Lisp, as another poster suggested. Use Python. Use Erlang. Use ML. But for pity's sake, realise that Java/C# only look good COMPARED TO C++. Compared to real languages, they are ABYSMAL.

C++ rules and will continue to do so (3, Interesting)

NicenessHimself (619194) | more than 10 years ago | (#8587989)

Something I posted to osnews:

Nice article Havoc!

One very key thing is that many many developers who aren't open-source fanatics still use OSS when it suites them - development tools mostly, especially mingw etc.

Now from my empirical sampling of programming buddies, I'd say these developers outnumber the OSS crowd 10 to 1. There just are so many of them, and they're going to be writing software primarily for Windows for years to come.

The key thing is supporting windows in order that we can get those developers to start writing portable code accidently rather than by design. I've already managed to get many of them to use wxwidgets but obviously C++, as Havoc pointed out, isn't best for every project.

Any OS framework has to be aimed primarily at infecting the windows world and building accidental dependance there these portable tools, so that windows apps can magically run on our alternative OSS desktop.

An OSS desktop gains momentum through supported apps making it easy for normal (windows) users to use, not through advocacy.

Never in Mono (4, Insightful)

UltimaGuy (745333) | more than 10 years ago | (#8587996)

My personal opinion is that Mono must never come into the code base. It is a project doomed from the start, and I don't want it polluting the code base.
Java is good, but I don't know if any actual advantage in speed or performance will be gained by using Java over C/C++
But this is a wake up call for the community to direct the course of the all important desktop environment, which if corectly done, will make Linux usable to the average Joe.

I didn't read all of it but... (4, Insightful)

Cthefuture (665326) | more than 10 years ago | (#8587999)

I find it interesting that C++ is not a consideration. He mentions "moving away from C/C++" but probably 99% of GNOME is C, not C++. I wouldn't be so quick to group C and C++ together like that. A lot of pain in Gtk/GNOME development is due to the pure C interfaces. I don't see many KDE developers complaining that they need "higher level" languages. They already use one: C++.

C++ offers everything Java and C# do but it also can do so much more. I mean Java and C# have only recently gotten generics. In C++ it is beyond simple to old your old C API's (although C# is pretty simple also).

Some people complain that C++ is too complex, but as Java and C# mature they are becoming just as complex. Why not make it easy get the best performance out of your hardware? Why not use a language that already has tons of power and flexibility?

As for cross platform compatibility... Both C and C++ are extremely portable. It's the API's that are not always so easy. However, this is no different than Java or C#. At some level you're using a C or C++ subsystem that needs to be ported to each platform. Why not just use it in the first place?

XUL (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8588003)

I'm not favoring XUL, but if I read ok, the article mention sthat XUL only has bindings to javascript. These are maybe the best implmented, but ti has also bindings (or being worked on) for perl, python and ruby.


Open Source sucks monkey nuts (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8588005)


Well.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8588023)

I hate to say it, but I feel it needs
to be said:


kylix (1)

Cynikal (513328) | more than 10 years ago | (#8588036)

what? why is no one suggesting Kylix? then i could recompile with delphi and have Gnome running on my windows boxes too :)

Re:kylix (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8588160)

what? why is no one suggesting Kylix?

Cause kylix isn't free as in freedom.

A GNOME Developer speaks. Cut&Paste from OSNew (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8588046)

That's quite an facile editorial but you can't expect better from normal users. My screenshot looks better than yours. Evolution is better than KMail, GNOME looks more polished than KDE and so on. I do use XChat, Abiword, Rhythmbox.... ...usually you get stuff like these from normal users. And this is ok since you can't blame them for stuff they simply don't know about or don't have a slighest knowledge about.

Such editorials are hard to take serious since they are build up on basicly NO deeper knowledge of the matter. Most people I met so far are full of prejudices and seek for excuses or explaination why they prefer the one over the other while in reality they have no slightest clue on what parameters they compare the things.

If people do like the gance ICONS over the functionality then it's quite ok but that's absolutely NO framework to do such comparisons.

I do come from the GNOME architecture and spent the last 5 years on it. I also spent a lot of time (nearly 1 year now if I sum everything up) on KDE 3.x architecture including the latest KDE 3.2 (please note I still do use GNOME and I am up to CVS 2.6 release myself).

Although calling myself a GNOME vetaran I am also not shy to criticise GNOME and I do this in the public as well. Ok I got told from a couple of people if I don't like GNOME that I simply should switch and so on. But these are usually people who have a tunnelview and do not want to see or understand the problems around GNOME.

Speaking as a developer with nearly 23years of programming skills on my back I can tell you that GNOME may look polished on the first view but on the second view it isn't.

Technically GNOME is quite a messy architecture with a lot of unfinished, half polished and half working stuff inside. Given here are examples like broken gnome-vfs, half implementations of things (GStreamer still half implemented into GNOME (if you can call it an implementation at all)) rapid changes of things that make it hard for developers to catch up and a never ending bughunting. While it is questionable if some stuff can simply be fixed with patches while it's more required to publicly talk about the Framework itself.

Sure GNOME will become better but the time developers spent fixing all the stuff is the time that speaks for KDE to really improve it with needed features. We here on GNOME are only walking in the circle but don't have a real progress in true usability (not that farce people talk to one person and then to the next). Real usability here is using the features provided by the architecture that is when I as scientists want to do UML stuff that I seriously find an application written for that framework that can do it. When I eye over to the KDE architecture then as strange it sounds I do find more of these needed tools than I can find on GNOME. This can be continued in many areas where I find more scientific Software to do my work and Software that works reliable and not crash or misbehave or behave unexpected.

Comparing Nautilus with Konqueror is pure nonsense, comparing GNOME with KDE is even bigger nonsense. If we get a team of developers on a Table and discuss all the crap we find between KDE and GNOME then I can tell from own experience that the answer is clearly that GNOME will fail horrible here.

We still have many issues on GNOME which are Framework related. We now got the new Fileselector but yet they still act differently in each app. Some still have the old Fileselector, some the new Fileselector, some appearance of new Fileselectors are differently than in other apps that use the new Fileselector code and so on. When people talk about polish and consistency, then I like to ask what kind of consistency and polish is this ? We still have a couple of different ways to open Window in GNOME.

- GTK-Application-Window,
- BonoboUI Window,
- GnomeUI Window,

Then a lot of stuff inside GNOME are hardcoded UI's, some are using *.glade files (not to mention that GLADE the interface builder is still not aware of the new Widgets in GTK and even not aware of the deprecated ones), then we have *.xml files for BonoboUI windows etc. As you can see it's a pain to maintain all this junk. These are just a little spot on the entire Mountain. I can countless bring up more stuff. Sure these things are being worked on. No doubt but as I said they WORK on it this means that there is NO real progress for the future since people write new apps for GNOME and probably use old API and then they need to change huge parts of their code only to adopt the new API rather than working on the application itself to bring it forward with better features the user needs.

Why do I say these things in public and still use GNOME. Well when I started, I was developing stuff using the Motif widgetset and during that time around 1999 KDE and GNOME were looking quite similar from features and stuff. So I decided to work on and for GNOME although I am not quite happy with many so called 'solutions' inside GNOME and I think that we need to discuss them (on whatever place it is) to make people who like to contribute to GNOME know where the problems are and how we can solve them (if possible).

From my person experience KDE is far far superior of the inferior GNOME when it comes to technical aspects. Even if there are a few Menu entries to much or the Toolbar is overblown in Konqueror these are all cosmetical things that can be changed if needed (and if the developers think it's a good thing) but looking at the amount of KDE users and applications that got stomped out of nothing I do believe that there are a lot of people simply happy how KDE is as it is now.

If they change the Fileselector in KDE then it's inherited by other applications. So the author doesn't need to change huge leaps of code since they simply inherit it. If someone changes the Addressbook object then it's being inherit in other applications, same for Clock, Bookmarks etc. The Fileselector looks similar in all apps, the Toolbars and Menu look similar in all apps etc. They have quite nifty features that I am missing in GNOME. Even nowadays I ask myself if the developers working on GNOME are still on track of what the user really wants or if they are not caught in a tunnelview here by doing something no-one can really use.

When I hear people talking about all these cool usability studies SUN made then I need to smile here since this thing is laying back a few years now. And SUN already started working on their GLASS Desktop based on JAVA (no it's not GNOME based). The reason why SUN still works on GNOME is as far as I was told is that they had a 5 years contract with GNOME to do so. Anyways you can't depend on old usability tests. To warranty true usability these tests needs to be re-done every now and then so you can guarantee some sort of quality assurance that the stuff is still on track and truly usable for people.

Usable not as in which button to press, usable as in 'can I find the apps I need to do my business work'. or 'can I copy files and subdirs from FTP and have the stuff arrive correctly on my Desktop' (gnome-vfs still horrbly fails here).

Well I think people should really do an article based on these things since they are elementary for a Desktop. Neverthless I do believe that both sides KDE and GNOME do work hard on their Desktop but truly I believe that KDE makes better steps forward and imo in the right direction too. Even alternative stuff such as MorphOS or XFCE are far more useroriented and friendlier to use than what GNOME offers today.

> Perhaps GNOME is a bloody mess inside and KDE is a
> masterpiece, but does that really matter to the user?

Yes it does matter. We today place the stones for the road tomorrow. And we should decide wisely which stones we lay on that road. Should be go for an inferior Desktop which stagnates because developers are messing around in the Framework or should we go for a technical supperior Desktop ? Yes USERS do care a lot and it matters a lot of them as well. Since these users want to use polished applications, applications that are tightly integrated, that share one database for their Addressbooks, one database for their Bookmarks, they simply want to put all their Addresses in one database and be sure they can use these things in their Word like application (serial letters) in their Cellphone syncing app, in their Palm or PowerPC syncing app, in their Email client and so on. It matters a lot for the user if he can reliable use a FTP client or Filemanager to copy a bunch of files from A to B without worrying whether the stuff appeared correctly or not. And yes it matters a lot for the user whether he can be sure that new applications can rapidely be developed (even by himself) in a short time due to taking objects. And yes it also matters for us all whether a nice Desktop is being used which works reliable in all areas and guarantees new applications since we wanted to demonstrate outside world (non Linux people) how far Linux and the Desktop really are. How can we demonstrate the world outside that KDE is in many areas even far supperior over WindowsXP (in Desktop functionality) if we show people how nice icons GNOME has and as soon they start using it figure out that it's a mess ?

And yes, there is nothing wrong for KDE being similar to Windows. I want Windows for Linux. At least it offers me a cool Desktop with similar functionality and cool stuff. Hell I don't even come from Windows I used to be an AmigaOS person before that.

Better a Windows look and behave like rather than a Desktop that fit's nowhere where people and industry needs to spend hours and probably millions of Dollars into teaching their people how to do simpliest things. Now tell your customers who pay for your service how to use gconftool-2 for example. They will chop your testi**es off and put them in a glass with alcoholics.

> the difference is that Gconfig it is aimed for advanced
> users and Kpanel for general use.

And here is the problem. GNOME these days aims for the unexperienced users. Quite a contradictorily to the aims of GNOME don't you think. Most important settings are simply hidden behind GConf (and not Gconfig better you get off and learn some basics before teaching knowledged people what the differences are).

> I don't want I windows on Linux, the reason I use Linux is
> to get off MS, and what about Mac users who don't like
> Windows and want something else?.

Honestly, KDE is closer to both of them than GNOME. KDE offers the MacOSX way of Menu system (Top Menu), KDE has a cool Liquid Theme, KDE can look quite close to anything you like. It can even look like MorphOS.

But back to a normal conversation. You should look back in the mid 80's and compare the things today. Most Desktop solutions are all the same.

- Window
- Window can be moved,
- Icon on Desktop,
- Icon on Desktop can be moved,
- Filemanager,
- Filemanager can do things,
- Panel, Toolbar, Top Menu

So saying that Mac Users won't like KDE is plain stupid, the same stupid way saying Windows users don't like KDE etc. There can also be people who do like GNOME, there is no problem. But we should clearly look for the superior Desktop solution and it should be even clear to you that KDE is technically FAR superior. It's so much superior that comparing KDE and GNOME is plain wrong. It's like comparing a Ferrari with an Austin Mini.

> I do feel that Gnome is more likely to be successful on
> the corporate workstation than KDE

I don't believe so. Even corporate people have eyes in their head and a brain they can use. When they spent some time into Linux and know more about the technical stuff and probably the two desktops they then will decide wisely. I recently had a conversation with someone who wanted to change his entire company (1200 Desktops) to GNOME but then they decided to use KDE after they figured out how messy GNOME really is.

> because there are less option to fiddle around with and it
> seems simplier to get things done

What things do you think they get done that simple ? I would know a couple of examples of the things you can do simplier on GNOME than e.g. KDE ? But ok be it like that, this still doesn't change the broken Framework issue which is basicly the all and everything for a Desktop. No matter how less options you have, no matter how clean you assume the desktop to be, no matter how polished or nice you find it yourself. It still won't change the broken junk inside it. As many people already explained (since they elaborated correctly) GNOME will take years (IF EVER) to reach quality of KDE.

Forget the ugly icons, forget the bazillion of Menu entries and forget all the tons of Options. These are all things you can change easily and quickly. Unfortunately you can't easily change the broken stuff in GNOME that quickly. I wish it would be possible but as sad and realistic it sounds, it won't happen.

> sure stock Gnome isn't as polished as KDE, but Ximian
> Gnome is. Gnome 2.6 looks like it might just Gnome that
> extra bit of polish that it needs as well.

Yeah but thre rest remains GNOME, the same incomplete and unfinished Framework. Ximian GNOME may be a name in the public, but new apps need to be developed as well and that's still the same problematic issue than using stock GNOME. You still deal with the problems I have described above.

We need a stable desktop, a desktop with good framework, nice applications and where we can be sure that rapid application development is possible. A Ximian GNOME won't change anything here.

> Computer users usually don't know much about computers, I
> can't imagine a customer trying to find and specific option
> here.

Excuse me, but why do these people want to use Linux then ? If they have no clue what they are doing they better head off using Windows. Every farmer can give help with Windows, every neighbour can and even every WalMart store can help these people in Windows related questions. Why do they want to bother with Linux then ?

New people unfamilar to computers make their first touch with Windows. They learn to use it, they using it fine and they strangely get their stuff done the way they like and Windows is overblown with configuration options.

Even my sister is far better in Microsoft Word than I ever was or ever will be (not to mention that I am not interested either). But you see that people as unexperienced they are are usually willing to learn and do it. They learn by mistakes and don't make them again the next time.

Every now and then my sister comes up to me and tells me that her printer doesn't work. Hell it's even easier for me as Administrator and even as long years of Linux user to fix her 1 second problem with the printer on Windows rather than on Linux. Windows is dead simple but yet full of configuration stuff. People not interested in config stuff won't fiddle with the things either.

Even cars, videorecorders, cellphones, pda's, dvd burners, mp3 players are getting more features and things. And when I see people talking about technical stuff they usually go for the things with many options because they think it's correct with their price.

Anyways you should clearly read my comments. All the options, icons and much menu entries you can IGNORE since these are things you can easily CHANGE. Changing all the stuff in KDE is far easier than fixing the broken Framework in GNOME.

> Yes people are willing to learn, but they are more worried
> aboyt getting their work done as fast as posible, less
> clicks, less options, just do what they need.

Ok and what WORK do these people get done with GNOME they can not get done with KDE ?

For my knowledge they can get the same work done with KDE as they would get done with GNOME. So far we hopefully agree.

Now let's get a look beyond the tunnel (having a tunnelview is kinda pointless here).

Say that person wants to get REAL work done. Say he or she want's to do some astrological stuff. Where will he get the software to get the work done ? GNOME doesn't offer such a software so he or she can't even start to work.

Say people come in #gnome every day complaining there is no CD burning application like K3b now how can they get their work done if the application is missing ?

Say people want to do presentation stuff like PowerPoint, where is the application on GNOME so these people can get the work done ?.

Say people want to do 3D stuff for their mechanical course, where do they get the application for GNOME ?

Say people want to do UML for their university course, where do they get that program for GNOME ? DIA ? Hell I am a practical example here that DIA is unusable to do a shite.

Now where is the software on GNOME to get exactly that work done ?. Looking over to KDE the software is existing already.

Ok I am not blaming GNOME for not having all this. NO. But I wanted to make you understand that a good Framework is required to guarantee rapid application development. Rapid application development means that the users do not need to wait 2 years until they get the work done, since they already have the software today to get the work done. And this software is in a way to be improved. They have no problems changing huge parts of their Code to fit the fixed Framework since the Framework on KDE is already in a very good condition. The developers concentrate on the fun stuff improving and echancing their applications rather than fixing stuff or get their app understanding the new changed API.

You know, a good Framework means that you can quickly develop programs. Programs that people can use to get serious work done.

I always wished GNOME would have such a great development Framework like KDE has but it sadly hasn't and this is what I like people to understand. There is no point blaming one desktop and favoriting another one just for the Icons of for the Themes (as this editorial shows) it matters more that we have a good framework for the future and guarantee that apps are being written in masses.

This is all I wanted to say, nothing more, nothing less. If you are not willing to understand this (or not able to understand either due to limited knowledge) then this is your problem not mine. I took quite a lot of time to explain these things to you. By now everyone else reading this should have understood the points.

Let me give you a view examples of what I think of being a broken framework:

a) When I implment new features but do it just half. Adding GStreamer to GNOME for example which is indeed a nice thing but adding it only to half of the apps and skipping the others is a bug.

b) Fixing half of the stuff in apps. Say you committ a patch that fixes 2 dialogs in Nautilus but leaves the others as they were 2 years before is imo a bug. Makes using the app become, well ugly.

c) Offering multiple ways to open a Window in GNOME is a bug. GTK+, GnomeUI, BonoboUI. This leads to inconsistency and total clutter.

d) Writing a new Fileselector but have the default apps use a mixture of old and New Fileselectors is imo a bug. By the way why should a developer waste time fixing all old and new Filedialogs ? If the stuff is properly written then you simply inherit the new Fileselector without noticing it. It's simply there. Here is a proof that not everything in GNOME 2.0 is re-written. Much of the stuff is simply ported from 1.x.

e) When copying files via Nautilus (say ftp.gnome.org) and you copy a subdir which includes MORE directories and files from that FTP to your Desktop and you get stuff like

(copying file 98 of 23)

Or get 0byte files copied from that FTP to your Desktop then this is a bug.

f) Gnomifying OpenOffice is an even bigger bug. The entire OpenOffice framework is based on the Staroffice Foundation Class (Their own Widgetset). Gnomifying all this is simply an idiotic task and leads to fragmentation in the code. Again they will do this work only hal. Only what you see will be changed not the rest. So the result is a mixture of old code and new changed User Experience.

g) Hardcoded UI is a bug (at least under GNOME), it leads no space for UI designers to fix all the stuff without code skills. Where should they start ? In the Hardcoded stuff ? In the *.glade stuff ? In the .xml stuff ?

h) Having all apps do their own bookmarks system is a bug, There is no central bookmarks solution. Same for Addressbooks etc.

i) When I call out for a bounty and have people called up to 'tweak and fiddle' Evolution support into the Panel Callendar then this is a bug and not a feature. A feature would be if I changed the Callendar Object so when I inherit it into other applications that all these apps will benefit from the Evolution support and not just one.

And yes what you write is indeed also a big problem (at least your text is partially right). A lot of undocumented API changes. A lot of undocumented changes itself.

E.g. I wrote a little Application which uses a GtkCombo I was in the assumption to use a good API from GTK and then one day they changed the Widget and marked this one DEPRECATED and this in a new App that I wrote.

The changes are quite huge and I feel quite frustrated having this one changed to adopt the new Widgets. It's not just trivial changes these changes I have to do are quite huge and will take me a couple of days. The days I usually have to stay motivated to do the work. Now instead of improving my application I need to fiddle around to remove the old stuff, go through 10 source files and remove the stuff. Not to mention that I also need to re-write huge chunks of code only to fix the stuff.

While the old GtkCombo allowed me to simply attach a GList to it (my 'History' function is based on a GList which contains 5 Listentries which have Data applied) I now need to create an entire TreeModell again and populate that Tree with these values.

What I do here is changing a well thought interface (which I spent hours to figure out before) into a new interface and what I do is tweak and fiddle the stuff in a way to make it fit there. Which then leaves other parts of my code get slightly unoptimal as I used to have in mind before.

Why so frustrated and why attacking my person ? Do you fear that I could be right and you not ? Your reply is far to ridiculous and only a try to publicly destroy my creditibility rather than a sign of willing to accept the critics as I write them (since they are right) and start discussion with the community and have these problems solved. People like you are more up to attack those who bring up constructive criticism and feedback rather than true willing to change the true things.

> What are you actually trying to say. Does every
> application need to add GStreamer? Why don't you specify
> precisely what features are not implemented and state
> where GNOME has stated officially or unofficially not to
> implement it.

Not every application needs to embedd GStreamer that's pure rubbish. But the audio stuff should and should do that correctly. Right now in GNOME we deal with direct Xine calls and GStreamer calls. Developer have been chosing Xine in many tools (Totem and Rhythmbox) due to stability reasons because GStreamer still is unfinished, no stable API and no general stability. They do still offer the posibility to include the GStreamer stuff but what benefits does it give when it locks up during playback or simply doesn't play back at all. Go and get a look in the code yourself id you don't trust my words. Let's continue with the new GMixer, it was hyped that it now supports the GStreamer stuff but yet it doesn't. When I select 'alsasink' in GConf-Editor then I would like to be able to Mix the alsa stuff and not get a dialog that the sound devices an not be found. The reason why it can not be found is it still expects the OSS emulation in Alsa to be active so it just mixes the OSS part of alsa but not the native part. I thought it uses GStreamer here, so I do assume it to use the right sinks and right devices to Mix. Just one example.

> Still short on specifics. If you are such a great software
> developer and you claim to have been working for GNOME but
> yet you have not been able to solve even one of the
> problems you whine about years on end.

The problem here is you can't simply sent in bugfixes or patches when your innerst tells you that this is plain wrong and needs to be re-done correctly. See it like a house where you continue glueing stuff into it. A bit here, a bit there a bit in another place and you see how the stuff you are doing makes no sense but yet you continue because you can't convince the other owners that it would be better to trash the entire house and start from scratch.

> Where are all the bug reports you have filed? Where are
> all the patches you are submitted that the GNOME 'people'
> have refused to commit. Please give us more facts, and
> soon.

They are either on bugzilla.gnome.org or made their way in the Applications in case they got accepted. I know you are trying to pick here but you won't be successful. For further information you can look into ChangeLogs. But this isn't your point at all, you will reply and tell me that you wasn't able to find a shit (many others have tried this before). I think you should get out of your tunnelview and your evangelism here and start looking into the real problems. Guess why there aren't any changes in GNOME because people and developers fear to do these changes or raise constructive criticism because it ends in things like this. Ignorance, Elitism, Tunnelview and even worse Namecalling.

> How about you give an example of the clutter that this
> causes. Are you complaining that GTK+ has only one way to
> open a window, or that GnomeUI has only one way to open a
> window or that GTK, GnomeUI and BonoboUI altogether have
> three ways to open a window?

The problem here is interoperability with the rest of GNOME. Try opening a couple of applications on your GNOME desktop. Say one program written using GnomeUI, one written in GTK+ one written in BonoboUI. Now go to:

Desktop-Preferences -> Menus&Toolbars

And fiddle around with the values there. You will see that some programs imidiately change the Toolbar and Menu behaviour, some not, some change their appearance after they got opened and closed and some even do not react on these settings at all. Just one example only to satisfy your questions here.

Technically they are a pain to maintain too. Specially for UI people, those who go from app to app fixing all the paddings, Layout of buttons and widgets etc. There is a big difference if you use one GUI designer or one system to change all this or need to learn 3-4 different but common used ways to change all this.

It is problematic having hardcoded UI in the code (which requires that an UI expert needs to learn to programm to solve these things) or if you use GLADE (which can create *.glade files or simply embeddable code) or if you use BonoboUI with it's *.xml files. They are all totally differently, different attributes, different behaviour etc. And yet I do see people using all these things in their own apps over and over again. Sure core developers may use the correct way for their upcoming products but not the new developers who start working on their apps. They use GLADE to build the interface but forget or don't know that GLADE isn't aware of all the new DEPRECATED widgets or new widgets that have been introduced lately. Go and look yourself.

> just tells me that you don't know or understand sh*t about
> things in GNOME as you claim all the time. It also brings
> doubt your claimed knowledge about software development
> because I don't need to remind you of what happens during
> API changes such as the one going on in the FileSelector.

No I was more demonstrating how good the KDE framework for these kind of things are. They change the Object Fileselector one time (regardless what changes they do) and it's automatically inherit into other apps. While in GNOME they now offer 2 Fileselectors the old and the new one. Different API is a problem here but this is a sign that the stuff is simply an artifact from GTK 1 and GNOME 1 times. If it was a total rewrite as you want to make me believe then this would have been introduced far earlier.

What I also speak about is the consistent look of these Fileselectors. The new Fileselector now offers this stupid 'expander' widget where you first get a locationbar (at least some apps show this) and then need to press the expander to get the rest of the files shown. To much magic and to much 'usability experts' have made a huge mess once again for a simply shitty fileselector. Jesus we use Fileselectors of 20 years and longer they do what the name says showing files and directories where we can simply dive in and do the task. No magic techno stuff that yet requires 3 mouseclicks to actually do what I want.

> This one and all the rest of your 'examples' are just too
> funny. You have just gone to 'bugzilla' and copied things
> over.

No I didn't copied them but it's ok for me that you confirm these problems to exist. Now we have GNOME 2.6 in a couple of days and these problems are still there since GNOME 2.0 or even earlier who actually knows. You seriously want to go enterprise with these problems ? And when will they get fixed ? Is it even possible to fix these issues ?

> Unless you can show an official or unofficial policy
> from GNOME not to fix these issues, they are moot. Just
> because they are not fixed when you want does not make the
> framework broken.

As long these things are not fixed and even unknown whether they can be fixed at all - yes I do have the tendency to say that these things are broken. People who write a FTP client for GNOME use an alternative library to do these things since they can not reliably use the ones offered in the GNOME framework due to these errors. People writing a Webbrowser for example can't use the HTTP backend of gnome-vfs due it not to work reliable not doing redirections for URL's etc. Sure there are always bugs in such projects. I am the last person admitting that there aren't bugs. Every bigger project has a lot of them and this is natural and just the way it is.

But here are the fundamental problems I do see in GNOME. They spent to much time rewriting stuff over and over again and want to do everything the right way (excuse me, there isn't something as the right way, there is just one way and another way but the right way doesn't exist). You need to finish a project and then head over to the other one and make sure that with increasing version of GNOME that the stuff you offer to the people is less painful and usable.

Nautilus used to show signals of becoming a well not as crappy Filemanager as it used to be and now it has been changed into a Spatial Filemanager. This is a drastical change for the Users. While they have done such drastical changes in the behavior of Nautilus they forget to fix the other things due to lack of resources. Imo it would have been better fixing gnome-vfs and all the other tiny bits and bytes rather than re-writing stuff that has been written before and has shown signal that they work. This is going over and over in GNOME and still no sign or signal where we as users can see (look here the evolution of the software is finished, we can have it stay that way and lets continue working on other bits). No they are busy throwing over concepts and re-write them over and over again. And all the developers outside who work on their own software need to play catchup to have their app following the new changes. Instead doing the funstuff to continue improving their app they stick into all these messy changes.

And hey, this is just my very own opinion. That's why I do fullheartly welcome the Quality and Assurance team in KDE. They will clearly signal the developers 'hey what are you doing now ?'.

> I'm sure I'm not the only one tired of seeing all these
> verbose spillage of fud from you every time a GNOME
> article shows up.

Whatever you think. There are people outside who agree with me there are people outside who agree with you. That's life but I do see a reason here to make people understand these things before writing editorials like these. A good solid framework and nice applications are important.

If people come over and over again with their counted Applications they like to use and others come over with the same old junk over and over. The same way I come over with the same stuff to make people understand the problems here.

GNOME has copied a lot of stuff from MacOSX and Windows in the past months and years. Sadly the wrong bits were copied.

A last thing to add from my side that people do not think about. KDE already offers all these things already. Two years ago when I used KDE 3.x I already noticed a lot of stuff in KDE that were missing and still are missing in GNOME.

I do know that one day someone will fix the broken gnome-vfs. But when ? As long as these things are not working properly people use other libraries to solve the solutions they need to solve. GNOME may (or may not) get all these things one day. Say in 2 years by now. But KDE had exactly all these things 2 years ago already. There is a development difference of 4 years between both Desktop solutions. While GNOME is catching up to what KDE offered 2 years ago KDE continues to quickly expand in all areas and the applications it offers are growing as well and new applications can easily be developed in a short timeframe.

These things you should take into account to when doing such editorials. Not just looking at fancy icons and compare two screenshots. I would say the same things about GNOME if GNOME were in the position to be much enchanced over KDE. Although even KDE is lacking a bunch of things that I would see more improved.

- Split out applications in own Modules like in GNOME rather than having all put into kdelibs, kdebase, kdeutils etc.
- More clean layout of includes in the includes directory like GNOME does (by default and not per distro excuse during install).
- Make sure the .po files come with the module rather than a separate huge translated tarball.

I here again do like the way GNOME does it. As you see neither of both are perfect.

Too bad GNOME's architecture sucks... (-1, Flamebait)

borgheron (172546) | more than 10 years ago | (#8588069)

From what I've heard, the architechture of GNOME truly sucks. I guess it's just as well that we should have a desktop whos API is as bad as windows while ignoring other viable options.


What happened... (3, Insightful)

Bluesman (104513) | more than 10 years ago | (#8588075)

...to gnome being a project that you could code for in any language?

I think this is going to bite them in the ass. Instead of putting all of their eggs in one basket, I think a better focus would be to improve all of the bindings to higher level languages. I'd REALLY like to be able to code for gnome in Lisp, but the bindings just aren't there.

Mono and KDE seem to have the right idea. They're making what looks like a first class development platform. With the limited time I have to code, if the development platform is working against me, I'm going to drop it. Gnome's development tools are awful. Kdevelop is much better, and Mono looks promising.

And wasn't this the whole point of basing Gnome on Corba in the first place, so that you could later incorporate objects from other languages? It seems to me like they haven't thought this through at all. Use of Corba seems to be extremely limited...probably because it's a pain in the ass to use and the project has done little to make it easier for developers.

If I could suggest a direction, I'd say concentrate on Gnome the development platform, instead of Gnome the Environment that Launches Mozilla and OpenOffice. The developers they'd attract will then take care of the rest. Solve the language interoperability problem, make sure bindings are up to date, and the apps will follow.

Dump X11 (-1, Redundant)

mrnick (108356) | more than 10 years ago | (#8588093)

Step 1 Dump X11
Step 2 Focus on 1 distribution of Linux
Step 3 ???
Step 4 Profit

Truly, the reason that ALL Linux window managers stink is just that, they are not GUIs they are a window manager stuck on top of a GUI that most intelligent people would have to agree stinks! The next problem is that there are a ton of competing window managers and a ton of competing Linux distributions. How the heck is anyone supposed to make commercial products for an operating system that is really 20 different operating systems with 20 different GUIs? Some people will say forget about commercial apps but if people want Linux to ever be more than a hobby OS, at least on the desktop, then this has got to change. Yes OO.o is nearly as good as MS Word but heck I would shell out the $$ for MS Word for Linux if it existed and never look back. I am the first to say that Microsoft as a company is bad and their operating system stinks but I will also stand up and say that Microsoft office (Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint) is the best office suite in existence. Notice I did not include Outlook as I believe it to be a virus distribution program.

It's not impossible to code quality desktops for a *NIX based system. If you want proof of that look at Mac OS X. Thank god they did not try and build it on top of X11. Instead they let you run X11 on top of their GUI. Wow, what a concept.

All these competing distributions just splinter the Linux market into smaller segments. And the smaller market share you distribution has the more likely you are to be left out in the cold when it comes to commercial products. And for ANY freeware program that runs on Linux I can name a better closed source product. For word processing you have MS Word and believe it or not it's better than OO.o. For graphics you have Photoshop and we all know that it is better than GIMP.

Well, I'll step off of my soap box now and let you flame away but at least think about what I am saying BEFORE you become irrational.

Nick Powers

YES (4, Insightful)

Hard_Code (49548) | more than 10 years ago | (#8588099)

A million times YES.

Unix and C put a zillion little hammers into open source developers hands. This tool was FAST and UBIQUITOUS. Of course that was in the 60s and 70s where unarguably the software and computing landscape was wildly different. Now we have legions of happy go lucky open source developers running around solving every problem with their cute little hammer. They are painting (GUIs) with their hammer. They are reading and writing (XML) with their hammer. They are describing high level concepts with their hammer (ok, the analogy sort of breaks here). "The Hammer" has been a damn fine tool. It still is a damn fine tool for /certain problem and solution domains/. However it is not the best tool for everything (nothing is). One of the things it is probably NOT the best tool for is the vast wilderness of user-level applications, where the "value" is not in unrolling a loop with duff's device to gain 5% performance, but instead, /integrating/ components together to create something seamless for the end user. Sure you /can/ do this with C. But there is tremendous productivity gains in a high level language (and platform) for which you don't have to resolve all the same damn problems that we have been solving for decades: memory allocation, which libraries to use, consistent user interface, abstracted IO, etc. Of course my saying this doesn't make it so. But there is a big fucking wave of high level component-oriented platform coming - Java came over but for various reasons the crowd with their little hammers didn't like it (mostly because it was a rather large and foamy alternative). The CLR (.NET) alternative however is much more attractive because it can integrate so well with existing C and C++ code. And that allows you to stay 31337 and "keep it real". Good for you. Anyway, this wave is absolutely going to crush you if you don't get on it fast. It will no longer be funny when Microsoft and other proprietary vendors start reaping productivity rewards /despite/ their supposed inferior design methodology.

So don't listen to the din of hammer bearing legions. Open Source needs a damn consistent platform to compete. Pick something. Java, Mono, Parrot... There are several alternatives. (I'm a Java developer, but CLR presents obvious benefits for integration). I think Miguel has his head on right here.

Re:YES (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8588176)

They are modding down insightful comments with their hammers. WAKE UP MODS!

Python and large desktop apps (1)

Synn (6288) | more than 10 years ago | (#8588101)

I'd be curious to know why the auther thinks Python isn't a good language for writting large desktop apps.

Seems he's pretty quick to rule out every language except for Java and .NET.

So the goal really is to follow Windows? (4, Insightful)

Junks Jerzey (54586) | more than 10 years ago | (#8588106)

This is all so bizarre. Now, several years after Microsoft started promoting C#/.net as the way to write new Windows applications, Linux desktop developers are getting into a debate about whether to switch to C#. Why? What's the real win here? C# is a good language, but it is a far cry from Python, for example. Little, me-too babysteps is not the way to approach this. You need to be bold. Choose something with big wins and big advantages.

Note #1: I am not a Python zealot. I have some criticisms of that language, but I'll still admit that it's a huge win over C#. Huge. Period. For starters, just being able to interactively test can double your productivity.

Note #2: There will be the usual claims about performance and how you really should write everything in raw machine code, blah, blah, blah. The first rule of engineering is make it work. The second rule is make it reliable. Then you worry about making it fast. There are many options for speeding up Python, the simplest of which is simply profiling and restructuring the code. After that you have specializing compilers like Psyco, and as a distant third you have C extensions.

Java, still around eh? (3, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 10 years ago | (#8588161)

Ever since I started to work in computers years back java been around as the great solution. First it would change the web. Remember all those applets? Gone. Then it would change web pages on the server. Well that is still hanging around but I see more perl/asp/php then java.

It was supposed to be cross platform. Well I use the azureus bittorrent client and it is indeed cross platform. It is also a bit of a resource hog.

And that really is my problem. While intrestting in many ways java has always left me with the impression that its insides are a mess or the people who code for it are on 2gig memory machines.

Lean and efficient are words I look for in my desktop. Java would not be the first language I would think off.

For years people been predicting the death of C and it hasn't happened yet. Could this be a clue? That perhaps all the pretenders are just that? Pretenders without any hope of ever coming close to the true king of programming languages?

If this guy really wants a mono or java desktop then let him fork gnome and code it his way. Prove that java/mono is the better way.

Surely that is the opensource way? He got an itch, let him scratch it.

As an aside, anyone know how much of suns java desktop is actually written in java?

Maybe we should Lobby SUN (1)

barcodez (580516) | more than 10 years ago | (#8588178)

If Sun were to release the Java (spec.) on an Open Source compatible license then we would be laughing. We wouldn't even need an implementation as there is one: blackdown [blackdown.org] .
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