Improving our integration with KDE application teams, and supporting companies

Cornelius Schumacher schumacher at
Mon Aug 20 09:58:05 BST 2018

On Montag, 20. August 2018 00:30:37 CEST Thomas Pfeiffer wrote:
> Interestingly, in almost all conversations I had at Akademy about this
> topic, people were actually very positive about the prospect of growing an
> ecosystem of companies around KDE. Maybe it's the difference between the
> people who are still active and want to see people spend paid time on KDE,
> and those who are mostly watching KDE from the sidelines and want to go
> back to "the good old timeṣ"™ when KDE was just a bunch of enthusiastic
> geeks who wanted to change the world as a hobby.

As one of the people who is more on the sidelines now but has seen the "good 
old times" I can say that I don't think what you are describing is the issue. 
We always had paid people working on KDE. I would even say we had more paid 
people in the past. The distributions were much more involved at the beginning 
and we had projects such as all the work around Kolab which had many paid 
people working on KDE full-time.

I don't think that anybody has a problem with having a healthy ecosystem of 
companies around KDE. That's not the debate we are having.

> For those people who claim that having paid people work on a Free Software
> project will inevitably kill all motivation for volunteers, let's look at
> some examples within or close to KDE:

We need to get clear on what we are debating. It's not that paid people are a 
problem. It's about how this is done and who is paying them.

We have a very conscious standing decision that KDE e.V. does not pay 
developers. This clearly separates paid and volunteer work there so that there 
can be no issue with harming volunteer motivation. We might want to revisit 
this decision but would need to be very clear about the governance of this 

In the cases where people are paid by companies we have a clear governance 
structure, the company decides, and it's very clear how you can get paid, by 
becoming hired by the company. This is much less prone to conflicts than if 
the organization which is mostly representing the volunteers is paying people.

We have seen unsuccessful attempts in the past such as bounty programs which 
did more harm than good. That's something we can learn from.

We also have made some experience such as with the Kolab project where a lot 
of good community work was done by paid people, but in the process of the 
project basically all volunteers turned into paid people. When the project was 
done this left the community with a painful lack of developers, as neither 
paid people nor volunteers were there anymore. We have to consider such 
situations as well.

It would be good if we can have a rational debate about how we make best use 
of paid work in KDE. I have the feeling that some emotions are in the way of 
actually discussing the real questions. Let's put them aside for now and talk 
actual business.

Cornelius Schumacher <schumacher at>

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