System Settings

July 23, 2011

One Ben Cooksley, KDE System Settings Maintainer is not amused that GNOME now has an application called System Settings as well, and has launched a “formal complaint”:

As you may or may not be aware, the name “System Settings” for an application is currently in use by KDE. A recent renaming by your GNOME control center developers to this name creates a naming conflict.


As KDE occupied this name first, it is ours as a result [..]

Someone explain to me how this is any better than Apple holding a trademark on “app store”.

Someone from Ubuntu then goes into more detail about these alleged “severe problems for users”; “numerous problems for users on both sides”:

To be more specific about the problem, installing kde-workspace to a GNOME installation results in 2 indistinguishable apps named System Settings and 2 named System Monitor. On Ubuntu at least, if I want the GNOME version, I have to remember to click the first System Monitor but the second System Setting which is awfully frustrating.

You’re installing two desktop managers side-by-side, and your biggest problem is that two applications (with the same purpose1) bear the same name?

This thread also delivers on the predictable, usual debate over just what constitutes an operating system:

So far we are running the same OS (for most of us it is Linux, but it can be Solaris or *BSD). DE != OS.

Yes, I’m sure drawing that distinction (whatever it may be: Linux, contrary to this quote, is a kernel, not an OS) makes users feel right at home.

Luckily, some sanity from GNOME’s side on the matter:

I very much doubt users will be any less confused when confronted with “System Settings” and “System Preferences”. We should work on shared groundwork so that our settings are interoperable. If a user has to set his language in two different applications just because he happens to use applications written in two different toolkits, we have failed miserably.


You just can’t expect to own generic names across desktops.

When two people quarrel, a third rejoices. And a fourth. And a fifth.


  1. Granted: GNOME’s “System Settings” and KDE’s are each likely to focus on their own respective perspective, but from a user’s point of view, these differences are entirely technical, and should neither exist nor matter.