Kasperian Moving Parts

kinda like Batman, but with a wife and 3 kids

Goodbye, for now at least, Linux Desktop

| 16 Comments

I’ve been an Open Source developer and hacker for a loooooong, long time. It has become far more than a part of what I do. It has become part of who I am.

At first, it was mostly about the freedom to run what I want, where I want, how I want. Desktop Linux has always been exciting to me for that reason.

But then it grew beyond that and enabled me to contribute back. Open Source allowed me to teach myself new programming languages. It allowed me to make friends literally all over the world. It became the thing that I enjoyed doing most, technically, especially since my daytime jobs didn’t let me do the kind of programming and development that I wanted to do.

It helped me to get the best job of my life.

I’ve been working at VMware for more than 4 years now. I only have this job because I’ve taught myself everything I know about programming languages, and most of that has been through my work in the Open Source communities I’ve participated in over the last 15 years.

Most recently, I’ve had a blast as a KPilot/KDE PIM developer. I’ve met more people from all around the world and I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it. But KPilot and Palm Pilots in general have long since lost relevance. And sadly, I was never able to find a new itch to scratch and a new area to start contributing to. It’s been years now since I’ve contributed any sizable amount of code to any Open Source community. I’ve waited, hoping that I’d find more time, or that I’d find a new itch to scratch, or that I’d get the urge to start hacking on Linux Desktop stuff again. But it hasn’t happened, and I have no reason to think it’s going to anytime soon.

Over the past several years, I’ve become increasingly irritated and frustrated by the ever-changing-and-not-always-in-good-ways Linux Desktop. I’ve blogged before about this and got quite a bit of feedback about it. That was two years ago, almost exactly. What has changed since then? In my mind, absolutely nothing. Now we have Ubuntu turning the desktop on its head again with Ubuntu Unity and destabilizing applications that have worked perfectly well for years and years. I know this because I’ve been working on VMware’s Workstation and Player products for the Linux Desktop for the last 4 years and I can’t tell you how much time and frustration and energy I’ve had to put into last minute bug fixes to work around new and broken in “exciting ways” behavior in Linux Desktop Environments. That’s the kind of thing that really sucks the life and soul out of you, especially when it’s something that you’ve cared so deeply about for so very long.

You have to understand… I have been one of the most outspoken and zealous of Linux Desktop proponents you’d ever want to meet. And I do believe that the Linux Desktop is awesome and a worthwhile thing to use, if only to keep down on the amount of ongoing upkeep you have to do to your PC thanks to viruses, malware, etc. But I have decided to move away from caring about Desktop Linux and I don’t know if I’ll be back, personally.

I’ve always looked at jwz’s “final straw” rant and thought that I could never get there. I’ve invested too much time and energy in Desktop Linux and cared too much about it to give up on it, right? Well, I was wrong, I guess. =:)

So, this isn’t meant to be a slam on Linux or a slam on KDE or a slam on Open Source or anything else. Just chalk it up to an old, cranky dude who became disillusioned with the Linux Desktop if you want. Or chalk it up to said old, cranky dude finally having enough money to buy a Mac and seeing how beautifully it runs and really enjoying it and not wanting to deal with for Linux Desktop on his personal daily equipment anymore.

But anyway, I just wanted to put this out there. I feel like I’m losing part of who I am by doing it officially and all. But I have been using and developing on Apple’s OS X lately and I’m thoroughly loving it. A couple of months ago, the opportunity presented itself at work and I made the switch from the VMware Linux Workstation/Player team to the VMware Fusion team, and I’m really loving it. I had been feeling like I’ve been stagnating lately and not learning or growing as a developer. I had been wanting to make a change and learn new technology and languages. And thus far, I’m really liking Objective-C and Mac development.

So at this point, I’m going to remove myself from planet KDE and take a break from Linux Desktop for a while. I’ve actually been not blogging for quite a while now because I know it’s not going to be relevant to planet KDE and that’s been another source of frustration, so I’m going to rectify that now too. I’ve been meaning to remove myself from the planet KDE feed for a while now, but 1) I felt like I should say some kind of goodbye and 2) I can’t seem to be able to log in to my svn+ssh account anymore to remove myself from the planet feed. =:/

Anyway, sorry to all my KDE friends. I feel like I’m letting you guys down. But truth be told, I haven’t been doing anything in the last couple of years anyway. =:/ I guess it’s just a normal part of life and different phases of it or something. We’ll see where this road goes. I’m hoping that at the very least, this will let me feel like I can start blogging again. =:)

Author: Jason 'vanRijn' Kasper

My name is Jason 'vanRijn' Kasper. I am the ring leader of the amazing Kasper family. I am unashamedly a Christian Nerd. These are our stories....

16 Comments

  1. I just removed myself from the Mac, and am happy to be running KDE. I got tired of looking at the damn spinning beachball. So many of the KDE applications are head and shoulders above their Mac equivalents: compare digiKam to iPhoto, or amaroK to iMusic. And I was already using vlc to play video even on the mac.

    So I went out and got myself a new system76 machine and I am pretty happy. Now if nVidia’s proprietary driver would decide to support xrandr properly, it’d be close to perfect.

  2. I think losing someone who is really worth it is one of the hard moments in the life of a community.

    Good Bye and farewell.

  3. I’m also really considering a MacBook when I finally get around to upgrading… it’s too bad they cost a fortune (especially here!) and don’t have the hardware variety of other laptops (e.g. a FHD screen in a 15″). But the OS might be the most important thing.

  4. why not contribute as you can to KDE on Mac? they need more hands and it would help expand the reach of f/oss applications into the growing Mac world.

  5. Hey Aaron. I’ve been so out of the loop on everything KDE-related that I totally forgot there was even a KDE-on-Mac thing. I’ll have to check it out, for sure! Good idea! =:)

  6. Hey do what makes you feel happy and productive. Actively contributing does far more for the FOSS world than what kind of computer you run.

  7. This will always happen when there is only a tehnical aspect in focus. But FLOSS isn’t (only) tehnical thing it’s much more about community and idealsm. It isn’t purpose of FLOSS to create more eye-candy desktop then OS X or Win, nor superior in any other way, but to create software which will be free (as in speech) for everyone on the planet. It’s about freely sharing knowledge and experience – process and methods are important, not the product it self. But if the product is great, that’s even better! And when FLOSS accomplish something, there is a hope for better world which isn’t all about money, power and competition.

    People which didn’t approach to FLOSS in that way always lose their hope and joy in FLOSS, sooner or later.

    Sadly 🙁

  8. Always a bit sad to read such news, but I have to admit I feel a bit the same sometimes (for the brokenness, not the lack of itch to scratch, yet).

    Wish you the best on your new platform, and as Aaron said, you can resume contributing to KDE from Mac OS X if you feel so.

  9. I have removed you from the planet’s config.

    Cheers.

  10. @Mitch: Are you aware that Nouveau has fairly good acceleration (including OpenGL) support these days? You shouldn’t need the proprietary driver anymore.

  11. And to reply to the actual blog post: It looks like most of your frustrations with GNU/Linux were with proprietary software. Are you sure it’s fair to blame the system rather than the proprietary software? If Skype is crashing all the time, that’s Skype’s fault! I don’t use proprietary software (thankfully, nobody is forcing me to, unlike you), and my Fedora systems work just fine as a result.

  12. Sad to see someone is loosing his conviction.
    Good luck in the future.

  13. KDE is not only about a desktop environments.

    It’s just a bunch of software based on the same technologies.

    This is why the releases are named Software Compilations nowadays.

  14. Thanks for your contributions and support, Jason. It is true, that this is about freedom, but is also about having fun, so have fun.

    Agustin Benito (toscalix)

  15. @Kevin Koller –

    I had tried nouveau but had seen some problems. Interestingly, there issues are worse running in 2d mode (effects off) than 3d mode. (Try turning the effects off and grabbing a window and shaking it).

    This is related to the original subject of the post in that it seems to me that KDE is actually finally coming into its own. Much of the craziness of the 4.0 release is solved. While everything is not totally stable, it is well on its way.

    On the other hand, for a developer such as myself, I found working with a Mac decidedly inferior. I spent much more time finding and installing development tools and libraries. (sudo apt-get install ROCKS!) I couldn’t stand the fact the sftp is compiled without support for key navigation! I can’t stand using the control key in the shell and the command key everywhere else. There were myriad such annoyances. Maybe they don’t matter to a non-technical user, but they bothered me.

    No one on a mac could ever get the office’s irritating Panasonic DP C405 to work right – it would never print color! In Kubuntu, just go through the setup and it works like a charm!

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.