[kde-linux] Users guide to KDE?

Kevin Krammer kevin.krammer at gmx.at
Sun Jul 6 18:33:42 UTC 2008

On Sunday 06 July 2008, Jim Philips wrote:
> On Sunday 06 July 2008 09:55:09 Kevin Krammer wrote:

> I work in the world of commercial software and it's always tricky business
> to start talking future features with your customers. They have unrealistic
> expectations or they will start pushing you to do things with the code that
> don't make any sense from an architectural point of view. Or they will
> hurry you into a feature before it's ready. The same caveats would seem to
> apply to the open source world.

Indeed, the proprietary software industry has, in its self inflicted downwards 
spiral which sacrifices the very basics of engineering for time to market, 
trapped itself and consequently everybody else interacting or competing with 

However, Free Software developers, especially the ones with respective 
education, really value software development as an engineering discpline and 
will probably under no circumstances "bend over" to unrealstic expectations 
because the usually have to when doing proprietary software.

Which results in behavior which is totally new and unexpected to the 
miseducated customer side. Will be interesting to see if this strong 
resistance against the wrong model can free others from this trap as well.

> I don't know that you would have to push it to that extreme, but as the
> user base for KDE expands, the nature of communications is bound to change.

Right, it already has changed a lot.
Originally all communication was very geek oriented, e.g. by using 
mailinglists and usenew groups, but it has been taken to more widespread 
public by putting information onto the web, e.g. article series on 
dot.kde.org. blogs.

> I have been a happy user of KDE since 2.0. I can truthfully say that the
> change from 3.0 to 4.0 has been far more jarring than the change from 2.0
> to 3.0. If my memory isn't lying to me, the alpha versions of 3.0 (I rushed
> out to compile them) were more stable than the 4.0 release version. I can
> live with that and it isn't going to turn me off to KDE. But if you have a
> release version that is so far from feature complete, you have to expect
> some backlash. This isn't, however, a reason to cut off communications with
> your user base.

The KDE2 to KDE3 transition isn't actually quite comparable. I was basically a 
porting to the new Qt and improving of the already existing implementations, 
no major changes in architecture or frameworks.
This is probably one of the reasons why the difference of KDE4 is so 
substantial, because the previous incarnation has been around for two major 

Of course, ideally any new incarnation should at least be capable of all the 
things the previous one could do, but given limited resources not all 
compatability measures could be made available at this time and had to be 
Of course it was expected that this less than ideal approach would trigger 
concern or irritation, but it was quite unexpected that people would totally 
be unaware of the principle of improvement and would assume that the 
currently available feature set would all that would ever be.

Given that there were quite some substantial improvements during the KDE2 and 
KDE3 series, I was shocked to learn that some users obviously think that KDE4 
will never go beyond the scope of KDE 4.0

> I'm all for creating blogs that act as channels for targeted
> audiences...and for not opening them up to people who only rant about the
> difficulty of using A or B.

The problem with this is that is defies the reason why developers blog at all.
The reason is to allow those who are not directly involved an insight in what 
is going on.

It will be dark day in the Free Culture world when we can no longer believe in 
people's abilities to decide for themselves what kind of information they 
want to get but rather have someone deciding it for them.

> Most users will not appreciate the openness of a new architecture until it
> has concrete benefits for them. If you target your audience carefully, you
> won't get useless complaints about a new architecture that hasn't yet
> produced tangible benefits for the end user.

True, but the main problem I can see is how does one control that media 
outlets like news site only report about things suitable for their target 
Naively I would have expected that to be their responsibility since they have 
probably a better understanding of their audience than anyone else.

I am also not sure if they would like to be told what to report and what not 
to, especially since they would have to check back whenever creating 
something they want to publish.


Kevin Krammer, KDE developer, xdg-utils developer
KDE user support, developer mentoring
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