UPDATE: This was an April fool’s post! However, we actually do plan to realize its basic idea. For more about that, see the next post
Whenever you introduce bigger changes to something people like, you’re certain to leave some people behind. GNOME had that experience with GNOME 3, where the resentment from users unwilling to adapt to change lead to forks like Cinnamon and MATE as well as GNOME’s partial backpedaling in the from of GNOME Classic/Fallback. Windows 8 got so much flak that it seems like with every 8.X release they’re moving back a little towards the Windows 7 way of doing things.
And KDE knows what happens when you alienate a group of users since the moment when the anger of some people over KDE 4 lead to the first prominent fork of KDE software, the Trinity Desktop Environment.
Now with Plasma Next, we of course want to introduce some fresh new concepts (otherwise, what would be the point of doing something new?), but we still don’t want to alienate our current users. That’s why we want to give users the opportunity to choose whether they want an all new experience, or stick with what they know. However, since we know that our users like choice, we shouldn’t stop there. Trinity shows that there are some people who still want the experience from the 3.x days, so why not give them what they want? And while we’re at it, I’m sure there are some folks who still nostalgically look back to the KDE 2 days, so we should serve them the experience they like, too!
That’s why I came up with the idea of a “Choose Your Plasma Experience” dialog at the end of the installation process of distributions shipping Plasma:
The chosen experience would affect the Plasma theme, the selected Plasmoids, Panel config, widget theme, window decoration and everything else that makes up the desktop experience, even down to the available features! In case of popular demand, we might even integrate KDE 1 support, though it would pain me to have to put five screenshots in that dialog ;)
To move this idea from bold words and mockups in a blog to actual software, of course I need developers and designers on board. I talked to Àlex Fiestas about the plan and he said that though recreating the KDE 2 or 3 experience certainly won’t be easy since it was made with totally different technology in a totally different age, he agrees that it’s worth the effort if it makes our users happy. Jens Reuterberg from the Visual Design Group understandably would love to see the results of his team’s work in Plasma Next to be used by everyone, but prefers to see Plasma Next smash the competition to pieces in the war for the user’s favor, and stand victorious on the battlefield of design!
So with both developers and designers on board, we can set out to give our users more freedom than they ever expected!