Comments on GNOME Foundation?

Aaron Gaudio icy_manipulator at
Tue Aug 22 11:02:20 PDT 2000

And lo, the chronicles report that Francis Galiegue spake thusly unto the masses:
> > > So why wouldn't LSB decide that Linux has *two* default graphical
> > > interfaces: Gnome AND KDE?
> > 
> > I think LSB should remain completely environment neutral until one
> > environment overwhelmingly dominates the installed base.
> Uhwell, will this ever be the case? Gnome vs. KDE flames are still very alive
> nowadays and I don't see them extinguish as it goes now, especially since the
> one and the other keep on coming with new features, so that X says "we beat Y"
> and vice versa.

Exactly, this is the case today. Why should the LSB dive into this political
dynamite? By choosing one environment over the other, it would divide its own
potential user base. By including both as standards, it will confuse the user
base. What good is a standard if it gives you two mutually exclusive and for
the most part incompatible options? The LSB is supposed to provide a single
target for application developers, so they don't have to ask questions like
which version of glibc should I program for? By including both Gnome and KDE,
they will still have to ask which desktop environment should I program for? and
thus LSB will not have helped the situation at all. By choosing one, LSB will
involve itself in this flame bait situation, and will not convince people to
use one or the other but merely convince those who use the non-standard one to
disregard the LSB altogether.

As I understand it, the LSB authors are really not trying to impose standards,
because imposing standards arbitrarily strips away the creativity of the free
market. Instead, the LSB should be waiting until there is a clear market 
dominator, and then simply "rubber-stamp" that as the standard. In the case of,
say glibc, it's easy for the LSB to say "glibc2 is the standard", because
glibc2 is very similar to its competitors (glibc1, for example), with some
caveats, therefore they don't risk alienating very many people. However, Gnome
and KDE are still very different, and until there is a level of commonality,
LSB can't really make a decision. Why should the LSB decide one over the other?
Let the users decide. One of them is bound to become dominant, for any number
of factors, and the other one, if it doesn't fade away, will at least strive
towards compatibility. Gnome and KDE have already started talking to each
other, give them some more time and I think they will eventually reach a level
where the LSB can have something concrete to include in the standard.

> IMHO, the LSB must be involved in graphical desktop environments, would it be
> only to say "we will preferably use library foo for application interaction"
> and things like that. OK, I'm no graphical interface programmer at all, so
> maybe I suggest something impossible, but agreeing on standards would make life
> easier for both commercial apps developpers and free software developpers. They
> would be guaranteed that their program would work, whatever the environment.

I agree that the LSB should deal with graphical desktop environments (obviously
as an optional level, since not all binaries require desktop environments or
even graphics), but now is not the time for them to do it. Let the flame wars
cool off (even if this takes a long time), let the environments cooperate, let
the time come when the path is clear for standardization. I'm very afraid of
seeing ideas constrained by contrived standards, like has been done with

> > It's confusing to provide two completely different standards. Hopefully, one
> > day, Gnome and KDE can come together and, if not produce a single
> > environment, can at least cooperate on the lower-level aspects and thus
> > provide a commonality that LSB or another standards project could base their
> > work on. 
> > 
> Well, why not enforce this merge? :)

It's unfeasible. The merge will happen, if it happens, when it is ready to.
We don't want design by committee here, let's let the projects and their
supporters (and no doubt detractors) work it out when the user base demands it.
They'll see it's in their own best interest, eventually.

> > Gtk+ is the dominant widget set, I'd say, and if the LSB gets into the scope
> > of graphical/X11 environments, I would argue that it should include Gtk+ (and
> > its dependancies) as requirements, regardless of desktop environment
> > employed.
> > 
> Maybe I'm gonna say something utterly stupid, but agreeing on a widget set is
> not going to please anyone... Always IMVHO, standardisation should be done at a
> "higher" level than that. Would it be only for DnD, but also for embeddable
> components in applications. I know that DnD can be agreed on, but am very
> unsure (and unknowledgeable for that matter) on embedding. It'd be nice, for
> example, to be able to use Gnumeric to edit a table into a kword document...

Yes, but at the lower levels it's already clear what is ripe for
standardization. Linux has been around since what? 1991? and the LSB is only
a few years old, and not even yet complete. KDE and Gnome are relative babies,
they need some time to develop, compete and cooperate on their own without
the LSB imposing artificial (that is, not market-driven) solutions.


Aaron Gaudio
icy_manipulator @
"The fool finds ignorance all around him. The wise man finds ignorance within."
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