Why KDE4 is called KDE?
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
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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