Yet another failed KDE release?

Duncan 1i5t5.duncan at
Sun Mar 24 14:16:34 GMT 2013

Kevin Krammer posted on Sun, 24 Mar 2013 12:41:03 +0100 as excerpted:

> On Friday, 2013-03-22, Duncan wrote:
>> My problem isn't so much with that, it's with killing support for old
>> versions before the new versions are sufficiently stable replacements,
>> ESPECIALLY after promising support "as long as there are users!"
> Well, the 3 series was actively released about one and a half year into
> the 4 series and continues to be available up to today.

For the record, this asegio post was the one I was referring to re the 
promise to support kde3 as long as there were users.

A lot of folks including me took that as the promise it was, from someone 
in a position to make it, given his status at the time as president of 
the KDE foundation or whatever it/he was.  KDE's reneging on that very 
publicly made promise lost them the trust of a LOT of users and admins 
who were depending on KDE to keep its word.

And if it was NOT correct and he spoke without the authority to do so, 
where's the disavowal?  And if he didn't mean "supported by kde itself", 
he could have said that. Otherwise a statement such as "KDE3 will remain 
supported for years. Why? Because there are users." ... from someone in 
the position he was in, directly implies that kde itself will be 
providing that support.  Yes, the Trinity folks stepped up, but there was 
no way to ensure they would, and indeed, kde3 users were left without 
reasonable support for quite some time before trinity got on its feet and 
was viable enough to do that support.

Of course that came on top of the hard fact that despite kde's insistence 
to the contrary, kde 4.3 was still alpha quality, not even beta.  I 
routinely run pre-release and know both the experience and definitions of 
alpha: critical features still missing, and beta: features generally 
implemented but sometimes broken, and with kde devs at the time of kde 
4.3 still replying to bugs saying features weren't implemented in kde4 
yet, that's classic alpha.  Yet they were insisting this alpha quality 
software was ready for ordinary use, and worse, had dropped support for 
the actually stable version where it was actually working.  Worse yet, 
this was after that public promise NOT to drop said support!

By the same measure, however, I'm on record as saying that with late kde 
4.5 (say 4.5.4), kde4 was finally release quality.  What was 4.5.0 thus 
should have been a late rc, and 4.5.4 or 4.5.5 were what should have been 
4.0.  KDE did finally deliver with 4.5, as I always expected it would, 
but the process was far more difficult than it should have been for all 
involved, users and devs alike, due to broken promises and prematurely 
forcing people to a still broken and immature platform.

Yes, absolutely release early, release often, just PLEASE don't call a 
pre-release ready for ordinary use so you can dump support for the 
version that actually works that you promised to provide!

Actually, that's why I jumped off of akonadified kmail so fast.  I saw 
the whole early kde4 thing happening all over again.  Only this time I 
knew there were alternatives and I make the personal executive decision 
to take one of them!  Had the whole <kde4.5 presented as full-quality-
release thing not happened, I'd have had a lot more tolerance for 
problems as kmail worked thru them, but as the saying goes, fool me once, 
shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me, and I wasn't down with a repeat 
of THAT story!

> One of the things that can easily be missed when not considering the
> surroundings of the "big picture" is that requirements for products of
> the same or similar category can be vastly different.
> Akonadi is certainly a bit overengineered, also due to it being the
> second generation solution (second generation problem), but it does
> address needs and issues gathered over years of wide spread use.
> For example, if we look at KMail, one can easily fall into the trap of
> thinking of it as just an program for writing and reading emails and
> thus compare it too closely with other products that do that but only
> that.

Believe it or not I understand that.  As I said, I'd have likely been 
rather more tolerant as the kdepim/kmail/akonadi devs worked thru the 
bugs, had the whole pre-4.5 kde4 thing not gone down as it did.  But...

Also... as happened to me earlier with amarok, I realized that the 
feature set the devs were focused on simply wasn't the feature set I 
needed.  Among other things, I /needed/ mail that WORKED RELIABLY, 
without losing messages.  I had and have little doubt kmail would/will 
eventually get back to that, and perhaps it already has.  But that 
doesn't change the facts on the ground, and I'd seen the whole story 
about so-called supported old versions while the kinks were worked out in 
the new versions play out before, with kde3...  Meanwhile, all these 
fancy new features they were working on were nice... but not what I 
actually needed, or for the most part, even used at all.

All that said, I do have this niggling worry about my over-reliance on 
the now deprecated gtk2.  I'm not /to/ worried as long as firefox isn't 
fully gtk3 ported yet, as that's a rather critical app, but there is that 
bit of cause for concern I see in the oncoming horizon.  I had mentioned 
wayland.  That's actually one of my concerns about it, as I'm running at 
least three gtk2 based apps I consider mission critical now, and until 
they're all either ported to gtk3 and gtk3 to wayland, or I know for sure 
that gtk2's going to be well supported on wayland, I /am/ a bit worried 
about the (near as I can tell) 18-36 months out timeframe.

That's where my big wayland concerns are, that gtk2 and the like (tcl/tk 
comes to mind, tho IIRC I don't have it installed ATM and if I do I 
certainly don't have any "mission critical" apps on it... fltk... 
others...) may not be ported, and that various apps will die with x11 if 
wayland really takes off, as they'll remain unported from their dying 

That's the "desktop environment upset of the status quo" I was referring 
to with wayland.  I guess time will tell...

> Indeed. Frameworks 5, aside from its modularization work, will also
> improve the visibility of the distinction between different products.
> Discussions like this are a good example how difficult it still is for
> many people to see the how wide the range of products is, how unrelated
> certain products and their respective teams are to others, etc.

Good point.

>> [The upcoming] xorg -> wayland [switch] could really upset the Linux
>> desktop environment status quo in all sorts of interesting ways
> My guess would be that only a small group of products will be affected,
> mostly those related to the workspace category, maybe some system tools.
> The vast majority of programs does not employ any X11 specific code and
> should thus be mostly unaffected by a move away from it.
> The main unforseeable issues would be hidden assumptions on system
> behavior.

As I said above, I'm worried about non-leading-edge versions of toolkits 
and the apps that depend on them.  Definitely gtk2, but also tcl/tk, fltk, 
etc.  I'm afraid the non-leading-edge stuff may not be ported, and that 
the apps will die as a result.  Taking the gtk2-based claws-mail as an 
example, I mentioned in an earlier post how stable it was, and the irony 
of my being back to it after choosing kmail over it a decade ago.  It has 
a large enough userbase I don't see it going anywhere any time soon on 
its own, but it's only one among many gtk2 apps that will suffer if gtk2 
isn't wayland ported, and while kde4 (to be 5) and gnome3, and with them 
qt5 and gtk3, are certainly being ported, I know nothing about gtk2 or 
qt4 (let alone qt3 and kde3/trinity, tho I know they're working on a qt4 
port, but will it need to be qt5 and are they doing that?), let alone 
fltk, tcl/tk, etc.  There's a lot of apps around that "just work" without 
too much hassle now, that could be left behind if their toolkits don't 
make that wayland leap...

Of course they'll with a near-certainty still continue to work on xorg 
for a few years anyway, but once the general desktop moves to wayland, 
the X dependency gets moved to the "might not be installed for anything 
else" list, and suddenly the additional deps cost of running that old app 
go ***WAY*** up, which means fewer people run them, which means a bigger 
likelihood of an accumulation of serious bugs over time.

That's the wayland upset of the status quo I'm a bit worried about.

Thanks for the discussion, Kevin.  Certainly we don't always agree, but 
I've definitely come to value your input rather highly whenever I see it, 
and you've certainly changed my thinking with a number of posts.  I know 
it can't be easy to deal with the negativity some posts seem to have, 
including my own at times, and I really do appreciate your continuing to 
post in spite of that.  As I said, you really /have/ changed my thinking 
at times, so it's not for naught, tho it may seem that way sometimes.

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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