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Greg Bear
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Revolution or Hype?

Yesterday, in a press inquiry which ended up in my mailbox (as most KDE press inquiries do), I got asked whether KDE4 will be a revolution, or if it's just a hype. While there certainly is quite a hype around KDE4, the answer is not quite so simple. Let me try to explain. The Free Desktop and KDE have come a long way during the last years. There have been various huge changes in KDE's social structure, in it's infrastructure and of course in the sourcecode itself. I've split this into three different areas where I think a shift in paradigm has taken place.

Target Groups

This is probably the one that has the most to do with the question. KDE is about to enter the mainstream market. KDE4 will not be for geeks and enthusiasts only, but for a very wide range of users. Those new users (casual computer users, no IT experts) have different perception of software, and they're generally not willing or able to fix small problems, while our current userbase (early adopters from a marketing POV) can fix minor glitches themselves. Now let's have a look what KDE 4.0 will be: First stable version of our frameworks and libraries, a first set of applications we think meet our standards. As every dot-oh release, there will be glitches (we are perfectionists, but we also need to release early, release often). So 4.0 might not be perfect in every single aspects, it *will* need some polishing. We hope, however, to reach the quality of what currently is KDE 3.5 early in the release cycle.


Sound handling and hardware management are two examples that are now being done in a central place. Software and users need to get used to this. This means that not every application will take full advantage of all those new frameworks since they're just too, well new. Also, being able to make use of search, semantic desktop features, complete new visual possibilities, easy access to multimedia and all the goodness the pillars of KDE 4 provide will set some developers to think what is possible now, it enables creativity because it makes it easier to integrate all those things in one application. I'm pretty sure we'll see some very innovative new applications of those technologies popping up in the course of the next release cycle, a lot probably post 4.0. More than once, last weekend someone who was not working on KDE yet would ask me if his idea of a new application or way to organise work would be possible to implement. In all cases, with the new technologies it would even be relatively trivial. This, on the one hand says a lot about the applicability of our technologies, but also that we're able to attract new people and that those people will bring a lot of new and exciting ideas into KDE.


The community has grown a lot during the last 2 to 3 years. We've not only lots of new developers, but also completely new parts of the community. See the usability people, usability is a process embedded in our development process now. The Marketing Team is also rather new, and working with the developers. The KDE community is really growing from a Free Software project into a Free Culture project and thereby becoming a broader set of qualities. At the same time, our developer community is growing, we get lots of new developers and developers shift also into the class of critical core developers. KDE is a *very* healthy community as it stands.

Bottom line: There's a hype around KDE4 and we hope we can live up to that. During the last years, the KDE community has gone through an evolution and is now a mature and healthy Free Culture project that is about to revolutionise the computing experience.

update: Computerworld has published the interview.

[ Wed, 29 Aug 2007 22:14:32 +020 ] permanent link

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© Sebastian Kügler
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