Linux,  openSUSE

OpenSUSE: doing it wrong again!

A very long discussion on making KDE the default desktop in openSUSE is taking place, digging out a problem that probably many of us considered resolved, but clearly was not. Many KDE users and developers feel KDE should be the default desktop for openSUSE, because the majority of openSUSE users, according to a survey conducted last year, choose KDE (GNOME has a user share slightly higher than 27%).

The proposal, after a long discussion is to

  • Pre-select the button of KDE, keeping the alphabetical order of the desktop environments, so that a user who clicks “Next” during the installation process automatically selects KDE
  • Make a formal statement that GNOME is not a second class citizen, and nothing will change with respect to support to GNOME.

KDE developers claim this will lead to a significant increase in contributions and users, because it will show openSUSE is focused on KDE, and they say it won’t hurt the GNOME community, but it would actually be motivating for them. Among the other statements, someone suggested that openSUSE lost users because of the lack of a default. All the details are in the endless thread on the mailing list.

I personally find this discussion quite useless, simply because I think the actual problems of openSUSE are elsewhere, and are more serious than having a pre-selected radio button or a re-ordered list of desktop environments. Discussing about this, is, in my opinion, moving the attention away from the most serious and compelling problems, like the degrading quality of the distribution, the lack of a real plan, the divisions in the community, and the slow processes when it comes to take decisions, commit fixes and make changes where needed.

I would add a simple consideration, as a GNOME user, and formed KDE user (for the chronicles, I switched to GNOME as soon as openSUSE had a usable implementation of it, in SuSE 9.3/openSUSE 10.0).  I still remember when users could not ask questions about GNOME on the #suse IRC channel without starting a flamewar, and I still remember the rough replies GNOME users used to receive at those times, because “GNOME should not be used, just switch to KDE”. Things have significantly changed, GNOME has now an important role in openSUSE, thanks to the hard work of the GNOME team and of very active community members, who were able to bring openSUSE from a KDE-only distribution to a distribution with one of the best implementations of both GNOME and KDE.

OpenSUSE is now formally neutral about what desktop should be the default, not pre-selecting anything and using alphabetical order to list the desktop environments during the installation. Changing this means, in my opinion, a step back and a lack of recognition for the efforts made by GNOME developers and community members. Some time ago I was hoping in improvements for the next release, but this is giving to me a wrong signal.