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    I think the underlying thing here is that KDE has stuck to a line of reasoning that is increasingly uncommon today: that software design and development decisions are validated by user acceptance, not adherence to design principles.

    An entire generation of designers got the Macintosh lesson backwards, and thought that strict design orthodoxy drives user and customer success, rather than the other way around – that building a coherent structure around design principles that turn out to be successful drives a successful application landscape, which further widens a platforms’ range of capabilities, and eventually drives success.

    In most aspects of engineering, real-life interactions drive validation. A statement of the form “I cannot use the ‘More options…’ button because sometimes the application crashes” is treated as a bug report and resolved through a fix, but a statement of the form “I cannot use the ‘More options…’ button because it’s really not obvious that it’s a button” is considered purely subjective and resolved by just shrugging it off as clean design.

    That’s why we now think “it’s normal and it works” is some arcane piece of engineering wisdom: because an entire generation of product designers and UX experts have treated “works” as secondary to “conforms to our vision”. We’re slowly transitioning away from this terrible mindframe but I think we’re still about a decade away from deliberately designing powerful, functional, useful interfaces again.

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      Yeah; I’m not personally a KDE user much of the time (or Gnome either, to be clear), and I think verbiage like “normal” tends to inflame the discussion, but I’m pretty sympathetic to the notion that boring, normcore desktops of a sort broadly recognizable as “oh look, pretty much a desktop” - the kind that shook out of 90s Macintosh and Windows environments and 2000s Linux-world implementations of the same ideas - have been validated by long familiarity and acceptance, and demonstrate a ton of really pretty ok usability.

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      I was once told “there’s no such thing as intuitive, only familiar”, and it’s really stuck with me.

      I suppose if you grow up using Windows 95, KDE will feel ‘normal’. But if you grew up using macOS, Windows 11, Gnome, or one of the mobile OSes, it’s going to feel pretty alien.

      Honestly - as a long time gnome user - I can’t help but read this as a bit of an attack. Gnome’s design philosophy hasn’t changed meaningfully since gnome 3 was released more than 10 years ago. Instead of building on ideas introduced by Windows 95, it builds on ideas introduced by macOS, but that doesn’t make it less normal.

      Sorry for ranting. The ‘things I like are normal, things I dislike are weird’ argument just frustrates me.

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        IMHO, given Linux’ pretty diverse userbase in terms of technical background, it’s tempting, but also somewhat dangerous (as much as software can be dangerous :P) to lump “people who dislike Gnome’s design decisions” under “people who grew up with Windows 95”. I grew up with Windows 95 and pretty much hated it. Normal, for me, is WindowMaker, and a default Plasma set-up looks nothing like any computer I’ve used in the last fifteen years (except maybe for my macOS stints :-) ). I still prefer to avoid not only Gnome 3/4x, but GTK 3/4 applications in general, not because they don’t tick the “normal” box, but because they don’t tick the “works” box. And I like mobile UIs – on mobile devices.

        Lots of people who liked Gnome 1.x/2.x and moved away from Gnome 3 were using Linux at a time when Windows 95 lookalikes were far less common than today, and desktops that looked entirely unlike Windows 95 were actually very popular (http://www.xwinman.org/ anyone :-) ?). As I recall, late 90s/early 00s Linux people were pretty tolerant to “not being Windows 95-like”.

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        The same can be said about MATE. It’s normal and it works, though I put the panel at the top because that’s my personal preference and because it allows me to.

        I could have two panels at the bottom, three at the top, and one on the left and the right, if I wanted to. I like to have that option even if I don’t use it.

        I also have keyboard shortcuts for switching to any of my six fixed-layout virtual desktops. I use virtual desktops to organize my workspace, not just to create more space for clutter. I don’t always use all six of them.

        I gave KDE a try on Fedora a couple of months ago and it was a total disaster with Wayland. I was surprised because I never had any troubles of that nature with MATE. I’m going to give it another even if just to see if those issues are fixed and how KDE improved. But I always have a DE to go back to that is definitely normal and works.

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          MATE is like old Gnome?

          I have the same feels with Xfce4. It might look a bit quaint at times but it’s legible.

          With its Whiskermenu plugin, and keyboard shortcuts one might want, it Just Works. Works fine enough without any of that.

          Modern Gnome is a dumpster (or trash heap) fire, and reading about Plasma makes me think it is not. My mental image of KDE is “better-looking Xfce4” so trying it out is not a priority, I’m afraid.

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            MATE is like old Gnome?

            Yes; it’s essentially an up-to-date version of Gnome 2.

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            And about XFCE as well. Yes, there is multiple desktop environments. XFCE for me simply has something I feel comfortable with and where the bugs are either not there or not in a spot where they do annoy me.

            I’ve been using LXDE many years ago for the same reason. LXQt so far didn’t work for me, but that was ages ago, so it might work as well.

            However, despite all of that my main machine has been i3 without anything special, and while not a complete desktop it works pretty well too. Nowadays it’s only a habit though. I don’t think I am really productive with it most of the time. This setup is pretty old already and went through many machines, so really mostly a habit.

            On a related note, I think why such FOSS projects work better than others, is because desktop environments tend to be where developers pretty much always eat their own dogfood. In general that seems to be a trend. Software developed for yourself tends to work a lot better than software that is primarily developed because of money, the outcome of a meeting, call, etc. Even when open source. Even when the company creating said software uses it, but the users are different from the developers.

            It seems to me that in such situations the size of a developer team and other such characteristics barely matter. Nice software even when mainly developed by a single person for themselves tends to work pretty well, when being used on a regular basis to actually get stuff done with it. Only thing is that it might not look pretty at all, but KDE, etc. seem to have at least someone knowing design.

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              About working pretty well… I was on Enlightenment for the longest time, and it was great to use, like my favorite feature was separate workspaces for separate monitors.

              But instead of having a solid file manager, with tabs, I’d move files around (which I gotta do occasionally and prefer a visual list and keyboard shortcuts) in disjoint windows and sometimes large files might hang or seem to hang.

              Then the randr thing was always messed with and sometimes refused to work properly.

              Xfce4 ships good stuff out of the box once you install Whiskermenu, except the terminal lacks one good feature. OTOH I can use Terminology for irc, as its killer feature is overlaying images from URLs without hitting the browser.

              Before that it was WindowMaker, which I’d love to return to, but I doubt it got all the things Xfce4 has.

              It’s all about the details.

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              And Cinnamon, which is “MATE ported to GTK3”, more or less. It works quite well for me, and hits a similar sweet spot.

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              As well as very solid defaults, KDE allows a lot of customisability.

              Setting some of my global shortcuts gives me the best of both worlds. A tiling window manager which is also a modern, supported (non-niche) environment. (Nothing against people who prefer niches, but you do a little less yak shaving on the beaten path sometimes).

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                I think KDE is fine. You should use it if you want to. I haven’t used it in a few years, but I’m sure there’s nothing terribly wrong with it.

                That said, I agree with the statement “there’s no such thing as intuitive, only familiar”. I find Gnome 3 and 4 actively pleasant to use, rather than just fine, though. I’m not attached to Windows-isms, even though I develop for and on Windows every day at work. Gnome is pretty, consistent, and keyboard friendly. Both of my children picked it up with no instruction (one of them had used Windows at school, one had not).

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                  I’ve found Gnome 3 taking some getting used to, but it clicked for me and now I’m finding myself throwing the cursor to the top-left painfully often in Windows.

                  That said, there’s some other issues I have with it (and others I didn’t even mention in that), but my complaints tend to be different from the people who don’t like it.

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                  I genuinely don’t know when it happened, but a few years ago when I was using Mac OS (on my laptop), Ubuntu on my desktop, and Windows on the desktop for games, I suddenly realized I used all the three systems without the slightest amount of context switching pain.

                  Sometimes I’d be doing things simultaneously on the Mac and the Linux desktop (latter was far more powerful for some data analysis but our VPN solution worked better on the former) and all the gestures and shortcuts were fairly automatic. I stopped to think and I was quite surprised that these two interfaces not like each other acted so seamlessly.

                  But it makes sense: IntelliJ is the same, the Terminal is roughly the same, the browser is the same. Anyway, I don’t spend too much effort on the DE now.