Yet another failed KDE release?

Duncan 1i5t5.duncan at
Wed May 8 14:46:11 BST 2013

Ross Boylan posted on Tue, 07 May 2013 23:04:02 -0700 as excerpted:

> On Tuesday, May 07, 2013 04:21:21 PM Duncan wrote:
>> > P.S. Composed in kmail 1.13.7, which mysteriously hangs from time to
>> > time, can't autocomplete from the address book, and sometimes show
>> > blank messages with any way I can see to get it show html.
>> Kmail-1 is an effectively abandoned product.  While it continued to
>> work with newer kde for awhile, and my distro, gentoo, continued to
>> offer both the pre-akonadified kdepim-4.4.x and the newer version in
>> parallel for awhile (so the admins of individual installations could
>> choose which they wanted), without anyone officially adopting and
>> continuing to maintain the pre-akonadi version, that's getting tough to
>> maintain as mainline kde progresses farther away, leaving kdepim-4.4
>> (with kmail-1) further and further behind and stale.

> I'm using Debian Wheezy, which was released about 2 days ago.  It's a
> little odd: help | about shows KMail Version 1.13.7 use KDE dev Platform
> 4.8.4.  The Debian package version number is 4.4.11, which I suppose is
> a reference to the kde pim version.

Released two days ago but already 11 months out of date (4.8.4 but 
current is 4.10.3).  A lot has happened in that 11 months.

> I'm guessing the Debian packagers thought KMail 2 was too unreliable, at
> least when they made the packaging decision, which would have been quite
> a biit before the release.
> Maybe some of the problems like the address book non-lookup are from
> mixing KMail one with a later general KDE release.

You nailed it.  kdepim 4.4 was originally intended as a six-month 
"bridge" release, the address book being already akonadified, but kmail 
not yet.  The kmail akonadification port took longer than expected, 
however, so that doubled to over a year for the 4.6 release, which was 
effectively a beta, and 18 months until the 4.7 release which synced back 
up with mainline kde release numbering.  During that time there were 
further 4.4 releases to keep it working with current mainline kde, the 
final one being 4.4.11, to match mainline kde 4.6.  With the 4.7 kdepim 
resync with mainline, further upstream kdepim development of the previous 
"bridge-release" kdepim 4.4 series halted.

But, this bridge release always had what were intended as temporary 
hacks, designed to make the already ported to akonadi kaddressbook work 
with the not-yet-akonadi-ported kmail.  The idea always was to finish the 
kmail akonadification, aka kmail2, thus making the temporary bridging 
hacks that were originally intended to be for only a single 6-month-
feature-release obsolete.  And with the release of kdepim 4.7, that 
happened, so from upstream's perspective, there was no longer any further 
need for the kdepim 4.4 series and the temporary bridging hacks it 

Of course as we now know, kdepim 4.7 and 4.8 continued to improve the 
kmail2/akonadi stabilization, but thru 4.7 anyway, upstream did continue 
to keep kdepim 4.4 support around.  However with 4.8 the code was allowed 
to diverge, and with no further kdepim 4.4 releases to keep it in sync, 
further bugs began to appear.

In theory, the 4.9 and now 4.10 series are reasonably kmail2 stable, 
now.  However, a lot of folks including me migrated off kmail around 4.7, 
and will never know from personal experience, and others who remained on 
it continue to experience issues.

In the gtk/gnome universe, this wouldn't have been so bad, as there's a 
number of competing mail clients available there.  Unfortunately, kmail1 
was good enough and dominate enough that there really aren't any good qt/
kde alternatives save for the still new and IMAP-only trojita.

So it's not like kde-based (sub)distros have a whole lot of choice.  It's 
either the now rotting kdepim-4.4 with kmail1, or newer kdepim, with 

And with kde 4.8, kdepim-4.4.11+ (the plus indicating further distro 
patches to try to keep it working after upstream abandoned it with 
4.4.11) was still /reasonably/ workable, not /that/ much more broken than 
the supported 4.7/4.4, and comparable in quality to the still maturing 
kdepim 4.8.

So the debian kdepim/kmail packagers had a hard choice to make.  I can't 
say they made the wrong choice for 4.8, but of course 4.8 is as I said 
above, 11 months, basically a year, outdated now... and that's at debian 
RELEASE.  Two years from now or whenever they do the next release...

I shudder to think about the originally six-month kmail bridge-hack that 
was kdepim 4.4 continuing not just the two years to 4.8, but now three 
years at debian wheezy release, and probably five years or longer by 
release of wheezy+1!

But, on the up side, there's an opening for another qt/kde mail client 
now, that someone will probably fill at some point.  And in the mean 
time, the patched-up-from-the-beginning-temporary-fix kdepim 4.4 in 
wheezy can only continue to encourage further migration away from kmail, 
to some other client, probably gtk-based due to the lack of qt/kde 
alternatives, except where trojita's IMAP-only alternative can work.

Meanwhile, with late 4.6 I had had enough of the new and buggy akonadified 
kmail2, and found myself asking myself one day, why I put up with it, at 
which point I realized I didn't need to and wasn't going to do so any 
longer.  I ended up choosing claws-mail here (my mail providers are POP3 
not IMAP, so trojita wasn't an option), a very good fit for me, and I 
know others have chosen it as well.  Others switch to thunderbird or 
evolution or balsa or... which is a point I made above, unlike kde/qt, 
gtk/gnome has ALL SORTS of mail alternatives.

Looking a bit further out, kde-frameworks (kde5 core, plus more modular 
and optional individual apps) is more modular, making it easier for 
people to pick individual kde app solutions where they fit, and use 
something else where the available kde apps don't fit the bill.  
Hopefully it'll make the wheezy+1 freeze, and it'll be even easier for 
folks to choose non-kde alternatives on an otherwise kde-based desktop 
where they need to do so, than it is now.

And if we're really lucky, there will be other qt/kde mail alternatives 
around by then as well, so it won't be all gtk/gnome choices.

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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