KDE4 under MacOsX and Windows

Aaron J. Seigo aseigo at kde.org
Fri Nov 10 16:47:32 GMT 2006

On Friday 10 November 2006 4:37, Jaroslaw Staniek wrote:
> Boudewijn Rempt said the following, On 2006-11-10 10:14:
> >>Now KDE4 can be launch on Linux-MacOsX-Windows.
> >
> > Dot! Dot! Dot!
> Yeah. And I suggest to show uninformed readers a bit of history as well:

let's do so with a clear set of messages as to what the purpose is and why. 
this is not necessarily a conversation to litter k-c-d with, but the thread 
is already here, so ... bah. =)

when this is announced there will be a significant number of people who will 
feel that this is a loss of focus on free software and puts KDE at long-term 

and if done without direction or purpose, i'd agree with that viewpoint. so 
let's please move ahead with both direction and purpose.

to that end here are some thoughts as to what such a direction and purpose 
might look like and which would further the goals of KDE, particularly:

 - to increase usage of KDE software
 - to foster support for Free software

and without

 - leaving behind our long term partners in the Linux and BSD world
 - disenfranchising those who are here for the benefits of Free software
 - betraying our efforts on the workspace or foundation libraries

i will save everyone the long diatribe into why these are important things (at 
least, to me ;) and just use them as axioms for now. if you wish to discuss 
the philosophy, let's do so off this list so as to avoid a stupidly long 
thread full of noise. =)

the direction and strategy i propose would go something like:


There are 2 primary reasons to port our applications and application 
development environment to these two non-Free platforms:

1. Grow our developer base

For everyone one developer on Linux/BSD/UNIX there are dozens if not hundreds 
of developers on Windows (and a few on MacOS too =). By given them better 
tools (ours) to use in creating their applications they gain access to 
free-as-in-beer technology that bridges a lot of application needs while 
getting them acquainted both with our technologies and open source 
development in general. This can allow people to target their current user 
base (e.g. on Windows) while creating more easily portable software, thereby 
helping ease the "application gap", and opening a doorway for them as 
developers into our world of open source.

In support of this: one reason many applications that are otherwise portable 
can not get ported off of Windows is the web rendering component. I have been 
told this by various ISVs in this situation repeatedly. If we bring KHTML to 
win32 we will solve the challenge of a cross-platform, 
designed-to-be-embedded, low-memory-footprint, high-performance html stack.

2. Encourage interoperability

There are certain sets of functionality that create barriers for Free/open 
source software on the desktop due to lack of interoperability. These include 
things such as Exchange server being a non-porous black box keeping Outlook 
around which in turn keeps Exchange around which in turn .... another example 
is Microsoft Access and the file format employed by it that keeps these 
projects tightly locked to the Microsoft platform. These things keep people 
off of Free software operating systems altogether, particularly in 
potentially heterogeneous environments since these use cases require support 
on all platforms to be workable.

In this case porting applications such as Kontact and Kexi can help bridge 
gaps that are not going to be bridged elsewise.

Any other reasons are not particularly in the long term benefit of KDE. They 
may be benign in the long run or they may be negative, but they almost 
certainly won't give it a boost. This is based on watching the progress of 
other similar application efforts. 

We also need to enumerate some commitments in this process:

 - Free/open source operating systems will remain our primary focus and 
proprietary operating systems will be a second tier target. If faced with a 
decision between making something better for a proprietary system or a Free 
system without being able to reconcile between the two we will choose the 
Free system over the proprietary system.

 - Even if the numerical majority of users of a piece of software are on a 
proprietary system, we remain committed primarily to the user base on Free 
operating systems and not abandon, mock or relegate them to "unimportant" in 
our decision making processes. We know who our base of support is, where we 
have the greatest market share and will continue to honor that.

 - We will strive to make a good impression on these proprietary operating 
systems. If we can't port an application well, then we won't port it. It is 
better to not show up than to show up poorly and cast a shadow on all open 
source software.

 - We remain committed to a well integrated platform, from the workspace on 
up. Even as our applications find new homes on other platforms we are not 
losing focus of this. We simply intend to provide both a well 
integrated "home base" as well as banner applications and libraries that run 
well elsewhere.

 - We will continue to recommend Free software platforms even as we deliver 
technologies to others.

 - We will not divert appreciable existing assets to the support of these new 
platforms but rely on interest already existing on those platforms to grow 
them into self-sustaining efforts just as the ones on free operating systems 

We realize that others that have gone before us have not always adhered to 
these principles or goals, and this is why we make them explicit and known. 
We wish to communicate to each other in the project as well to those who rely 
on us as users, developers and supporters where we are headed with clarity.


the above is my accumulated thought from result of talking and listening with 
many people both inside kde and outside of it over the last year about this 
matter. so the above isn't particularly revolutionary, it's more of a 
gathering of thought and an attempt to make explicit what i've observed as 
already mostly in place. i've personally become comfortable with the above 
even though i started somewhere rather else at the beginning of this 
exploration. i do feel my own reservations from a year ago are met acceptably 
by the above; i hope the same can be said of those who are working on these 
porting efforts.

i'm not sure where the discussion to refine (or to abandon) the above should 
happen. it's not really a marketing thing: it's a commitment we as developers 
would make to ourselves, our partners and our users. it's communication 
needed to avoid confusion, doubt and uncertainty amongst our loyal base of 
supporters. i also don't want to abuse k-c-d for Yet Another non-technical 

this extends far beyond the purpose and coverage of KDE e.V., so doesn't 
belong there either.

*shrug* any suggestions?

Aaron J. Seigo
humru othro a kohnu se
GPG Fingerprint: 8B8B 2209 0C6F 7C47 B1EA  EE75 D6B7 2EB1 A7F1 DB43

Full time KDE developer sponsored by Trolltech (http://www.trolltech.com)
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