We’ve got a couple of feet in our sights

KDE does some excellent things, like producing great technology in a great community of great individuals. But at the same time we’ve got a singularly sure aim at our own feet.

With 3.0, we managed to turn away nearly all people who switched to Linux at that time because we made the ugliest widget style in history, Keramik, the default. And because that was at pretty much the hey-day of switching to Linux, we lost out big-time. Anecdotally: all my colleagues at Tryllian who were KDE users in the 2.0 days or switched to Linux in the early 3.0 days switched to Gnome because they thought KDE incredibly ugly.

And now, with KDE 4.0, we’re on track to build the flickeriest desktop ever released since Windows 2.0 made its debut on monitors with a 60hz refresh rate. Applications change all their widget and window colors on focus change. (Except for the window title bar, it seems, that will stay the same color no matter what, or so I am told.) Imagine this: a 20″ wide screen monitor with a sovereign application, like KWord open. Press alt-f2. Everything but the window decoration and your document will change color. Press escape. Everything will change color, again. My whole monitor will flicker.

It’s a bad idea, but that’s not all. Because Qt4 still is, sorry to have to say this, slow as frozen treacle when it comes down to painting on my Ati X600 card (no matter which driver), in all probability, I will have pressed escape before Qt has finished redecorating KWord to the inactive state. So, the app gets focus again, finishes painting itself as if it hasn’t got focus, then starts repainting itself so it looks like it’s got focus.

Foot, meet gun.