Why KDE4 is called KDE?

Duncan 1i5t5.duncan at cox.net
Mon Dec 7 18:40:20 GMT 2009

Istvan Gabor posted on Mon, 07 Dec 2009 18:04:53 +0100 as excerpted:

> I would like to ask KDE4 developers, on what bases do they call KDE4
> KDE.

As a matter of fact... the name /did/ officially change, recently.  While 
before, KDE stood for K Desktop Environment, now, KDE (the initials 
apparently standing for nothing in particular) is the platform, and the 
KDE Software Collection (that is KDE SC or KDE-SC, I'm not sure what the 
official abbreviated form is) is the new term for what was formerly 
referred to as KDE.

What they're doing is emphasizing the collection of KDE technologies and 
APIs as a software development platform, while deemphasizing the core 
supporting applications, thus bringing third party applications developed 
on the KDE platform up to (or even beyond) the core applications in 

Or at least that's what the coverage of the announcement I read lead me 
to believe.  The above is mostly that, the below, my interpretation.

When people talk of MS Windows, in general, it's the platform they're 
talking about, not the set of stub-apps that ship with it.  It's assumed 
that you'll install other apps to fill out the functionality.  That seems 
to be the idea here as well -- make KDE a platform upon which all sorts 
of third party apps, some free, some not, can be developed, much as is 
the underlying Qt toolkit libraries but at a higher level. (The 
difference, of course, MS doesn't have distribution package repositories, 
while on Linux and the BSDs, many/most/all of the additional packages 
would be assumed to come from the same distribution repositories as the 
original KDE Software Collection they build upon.

But to your point...

I don't agree that previous knowledge of kde won't get you anywhere.  
Konqueror is still konqueror, konsole is still konsole, kmail and the 
rest of the kontact suite are still there, and work very much the same 
way.  What /did/ change was the shell, from kdesktop/kicker to plasma-
desktop (with plasma-netbook or whatever they call it coming along as 
well).  A comparison could be made with MS Windows in the switch from the 
3.x era to the 95/98 era -- the shell changed there from Program Manager 
to Windows Explorer.  That was still called MS Windows, with the UI 
operating much the same, tho a different shell was used.  (I guess some 
other changes have happened since, but I can't compare them as I upgraded 
to Linux when Windows eXPrivacy came out and simply wasn't a (legal) 
option for me any more, as I objected to MS usurping the control of my 
machine from me, requiring activation, etc, and it was illegal to run it 
with the functionality serving MS instead of the user turned off.  
Fortunately, there WAS another legal alternative for me, Linux.  I have 
MS to thank for pushing me into Linux, one of the best moves of my life! 

IMO, the biggest mistakes KDE made, and continues to make, was not in 
still calling it KDE, but in first, failing to properly convey that 4.0 
wasn't ready for ordinary use, second, actively claiming that 4.2 and 4.3 
are ready for ordinary use (tho every kde4 version so far has massively 
improved on earlier kde4), and third, prematurely removing support for 
their /actually/ usable for ordinary use kde3.5 series, before kde4 was 
/anywhere/ /close/ to functional enough to properly replace it -- this 
after very publicly claiming support would continue.

As a habitual development software tester, I have some personal 
experience in what the "normal" world considers "ready for ordinary use", 
alternatively put, "ready for a full X.0 release", and while every kde4 
version so far is /indeed/ /massively/ improved over the previous 
version, they absolutely get credit there, and while they've built in 
kde4 a great framework that should ultimately take them well beyond the 
competition, they're simply not there, yet.  What they released as 4.0 
they themselves claimed wasn't ready for ordinary use, despite the X.0 
moniker.  That was what in my experience is normally called an early 
"technology/developer preview", the point at which the functionality and 
API of they underlying libraries is stabilized enough to release early 
versions for other developers to start writing their own apps to, but 
certainly not intended for actual production use in any way, shape or 
form, and kde apparently agrees on that, tho I think they'd say it was 
further along than I do.  I don't believe 4.1 was claimed to be ready for 
ordinary use either.  That'd be tech preview release two.

Unfortunately, they claimed 4.2 was ready for normal use, but I'd say 
nowhere near close, tho much improved, to the late alpha or early beta 
release stage.  It should be mentioned that with the /claim/ of ready for 
normal use, kde pretty much dropped support for the previous version here 
as well, with bugs being closed as WONTFIX for kde3.  4.3 is a later 
beta.  Most of the basic functionality is finally there, but there's 
still a lot everybody, users and developers alike, says is still broken.

Based on the rate of progress and various kde dev blogs, etc, I predict 
kde-sc 4.4 (scheduled for February) should be getting quite close to what 
I'd call release quality -- what with most software is release candidate 
status.  There will still be a bugs, some major but in corner cases, most 
more minor, but nothing that would normally be considered a show stopper, 
tho there'll still be polishing going on before most would call it a full 

If that prediction and the rate of change holds, 4.5, scheduled for 
August, will finally hit full release quality status.  Interestingly 
enough, some people have been predicting that it'd be 4.5 before many 3.5 
users could comfortably and reasonably switch, for some time, since 4.1 I 
think tho looking at the state of 4.0, there were guesses (as opposed to 
predictions) before that.  It's also worth noting that while kde3 took 
3.5 years to reach the .5 release, kde4, with its six-month 4.X release 
cycle, will have shortened that by a year, to 2.5 years.  So even if it 
/does/ take to 4.5 to reach 3.5's level of functionality, it will have 
happened in a year less time for 4.5 as opposed to 3.5! =:^)

4.6 and beyond should finally begin to show the potential of the new kde4 
technology framework, as (hopefully) development continues unabated, 
surpassing anything available, kde or otherwise, today.  By 4.7, 3.5 
years from the release of 4.0 as 3.5 was 3.5 years from the release of 
3.0, just as with kde3 at that maturity level, kde4 should finally have 
come into its own, dominating the *ix market in its technology areas.

With both the name-change and the kde(-sc) development progress in mind, 
it's now possible to take a look at things from a different angle.  If 
indeed the emphasis is now on the KDE technologies and platform and with 
the name change to reflect that, the KDE4's versioning begins to make a 
*LOT* more sense.  It was the development /platform/ that reached X.0 
status with the release of 4.0 -- the included apps were little more than 
sample programs shipped as technology demos (which is what I stated above 
kde 4.0, now the kde-sc, was, a tech/developer demo).  4.2 was the point 
at which the development /platform/ had evolved to where it was "usable 
for normal use" (which in the platform perspective, would mean, for 
/developers/ to develop against it "normally").  Looked at it from /that/ 
perspective, the numbering suddenly makes sense, as do the KDE claims!

Unfortunately, that still leaves us with the little problem of 
disappearing support for kde3, even as the declared replacement, kde-sc 
4, isn't yet ready to be swapped in as a fully functional replacement.  
But at least the kde devs don't look quite as insane as they did, with 
their claims of ready for normal use -- yes, it's ready for "normal" use, 
for the now obviously intended market of other developers!  
Unfortunately, the user audience took that claim as intended for them as 
well, when kde itself seems not really intended or targeted at them any 
more, as made quite apparent by the name change and accompanying 

If that message can be properly conveyed to the wider (former) KDE user 
audience, such that they understand where KDE's marketing is really 
targeted now and that claims for the new KDE itself do not necessarily 
apply to the user market, especially if they are successful in presenting 
KDE-SC as the user targeted brand, perhaps sanity can and will return.

Duncan - List replies preferred.   No HTML msgs.
"Every nonfree program has a lord, a master --
and if you use the program, he is your master."  Richard Stallman

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