The gap that has threatened to split the Linux community appears to be closing.
The gap that has threatened to split the Linux community appears to be closing. Though the GNOME (GNU Network Object Model Environment) Foundation and the KDE (K Desktop Environment) League and their respective user interfaces for Linux remain competitors, recent developments put them closer together regarding user support and interoperability.
The new GNOME 1.4 desktop environment offers a number of advances for the average user and includes better support and interoperability with KDE.
For instance, GNOME 1.4 offers different options for beginner, intermediate or advanced users, who would choose an option upon running the new version for the first time, said Maciej Stachowiak, a director on the GNOME board.
"Everything has been kept a lot simpler, and unnecessary details have been kept out of the user interface," Stachowiak said. "Interoperability is a high priority for both projects, and were working on a number of joint initiatives, like a common window manager spec. Were also working on having a common system for file types and program mappings. We want applications to run well on both GNOME and KDE."
In addition, Sun Microsystems Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. have committed to making the next version of GNOMEVersion 2.0the default desktop environment for Solaris and HP/UX, respectively, Stachowiak said.
But not all users are convinced that the distributions are becoming easier to use. Kevin Redden, an IT specialist based in Vanceburg, Ky., who is moving his desktop systems from Windows to Linux, welcomed the changes, as he had previously battled to install both GNOME and its KDE rival.
"If the open-source community wants to drive usage of GNOME and KDE, they had better do something to make it easier to install," Redden said.
While GNOME was "chunky" in a lot of places, it had some compelling features, including a file manager that was vastly superior to KDE, Redden said. Hopefully, some day Linux will find itself on more desktops, "but right now, I wouldnt recommend it to anyone whos totally a Windows user," he said.
Stachowiak said one of the key features of the 1.4 release is the Nautilus file manager, which replaced the older GMC GNOME file manager. Nautilus allows users to manage files, browse the Web and access Web-based services through a customizable interface.
Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.
He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.
He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.
He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.
He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.
He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.
His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.
For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at www.eweek.com.