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KDE GUI

Five Years of KDE 401

Posted by michael
from the birthdays-for-everyone dept.
Jacek Fedorynski writes: "Looks like KDE is five years old. Five years seems like a lot of time but just look how much they've achieved in this time." I think the hard part is just beginning - KDE has got all the basics down, and now they have to resist adding too much more crap.
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Five Years of KDE

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  • by Starship Trooper (523907) on Sunday October 14, 2001 @11:15PM (#2429231) Homepage Journal
    In 5 years, Microsoft went from Windows 1.0 to 2.1, all of which were essentially poor-to-mediocre DOS shells.

    In 5 years, KDE has gone from nothing to KDE 2.2, which is an almost enterprise-quality desktop suite, with sophisticated development tools, an included office suite, and hundreds of other tools.

    Imagine where we'll be in another five years.

    • KDE has really made some great strides in the last few releases... i think the best thing about it is it's integrated concept... making a bunch of apps that work really well together with the environment... oh wait, isn't that the reason we bash microsoft? anyway.. i DO like KDE, though
    • by mduell (72367) on Sunday October 14, 2001 @11:19PM (#2429242)
      Or, rather, to use the same 5 year timespan, in 5 years, Microsoft went from Windows 95 to WindowsXP. That is a huge leap in terms of stability and security (both up) and boot time (down).
      • Well, that's not exactly true. The Windows NT (from which XP hails) and WinDOS (3.1, 9x, ME) families were completely different operating systems, being worked on simultaneously. It would be more accurate to say they went from Windows NT 3.1 to XP, which is still impressive of course. But the Windows NT kernel was essentially just VMS force-fitted to DOS-style conventions. In fact, WNT = VMS with all the letters incremented. The "New Technology" line was force-fitted later for marketing :-)
        • Actually, VMS=WNT incrementally.

          increment = Pronunciation: 'i[ng]-kr&-m&nt, 'in-
          Function: noun
          Etymology: Middle English, from Latin incrementum, from increscere to increase
          Date: 15th century
          1 : the action or process of increasing especially in quantity or value : ENLARGEMENT
          2 a : something gained or added b : one of a series of regular consecutive additions c : a minute increase in quantity
          3 : the amount or degree by which something changes; especially : the amount of positive or negative change in the value of one or more of a set of variables
        • I don't know the complete history of KDE, and quite frankly, I don't care, but in its 5 years has KDE ever had a near-complete rewrite like 9x->NT?
        • But the Windows NT kernel was essentially just VMS force-fitted to DOS-style conventions. In fact, WNT = VMS with all the letters incremented. The "New Technology" line was force-fitted later for marketing :-)

          Err, wrong. NT has no VMS code in it at all. Perhaps you're referring to the fact that Microsoft hired a number of big-time VMS developers to create NT? That would explain VMS-isms in NT, while supporting the fact that NT != VMS. As far as the acronym goes, that's pretty much BS (in the way that crap like numerology is BS. You can always come up with those types of "interesting" correlations that mean absolutely nothing). The company line on NT is that it has no meaning. It's simply the letters 'N' and 'T'. "New Technology" is something that the media dreamed up to assign meaning where there was none.

          • How much sense does it make that they randomly grabbed two letters for a product name? If it doesn't stand for New Technology, then the next plausible answer is that it is VMS incremented, analogous to the IBM -> Hal change.
        • NT = Intel N-10 (Score:3, Informative)

          by cpeterso (19082)

          I read an interview that the name NT actually shorthand used by Microsoft developers for N-10, the codename for the Intel i860 (the RISC CPU for which Windows NT was orignally written).

      • Or, rather, to use the same 5 year timespan, in 5 years, Microsoft went from Windows 95 to WindowsXP
        Wrong tree.

        In six years microsoft have gone from NT 4 to windows XP. It's not a particularly big jump in terms other than hardware support.

      • Or, rather, to use the same 5 year timespan, in 5 years, Microsoft went from Windows 95 to WindowsXP. That is a huge leap in terms of stability and security (both up) and boot time (down).

        In 5 years they went from Windows 95 to Windows ME (not XP - that's 6 years), stability of ME, at least on my machine is a lot worse (in fact it's so unstable it's what finally drove me to install Linux), and I shudder to think what boot time would be on the same hardware I had back then (486/66).
    • Key word is "almost." 2.2 is incredible; of course the FUD has always been "OS desktops are about cloning proprietary desktops." We HAVE come a long way, baby. That being said, I hope the K people don't listen to the 486'ers and increase the functionality regardless of how many cries of "BLOAT, BLOAT!" they no doubt hear these days.
      • What they should do, to keep everyone happy, is make the extra functionality optional. So the 486ers can get the latest stuff, but have it more of a KDE lite, so they pick and choose exactly what they want.. Of course, some things couldn't be optional, but what can be, should be.
    • except Microsoft did it without a prototype. Human kind would have a really easy time if God would just show us the map.
      • except Microsoft did it without a prototype


        Ummm, Macintosh?

      • except Microsoft did it without a prototype


        OS/2 Nuff said.
      • Are you kidding me? Nothing Microsoft did in the GUI arena was marginally original, GUIs have been around since 1973. Here's a screenshot timeline [pla-netx.com]-- note that even in 1983 MS were in the habit of announcing software long before delivery. The first Windows post-dates the first X. And every major change to Windows is foreshadowed in some other GUI.

        Frankly, I don't care what Microsoft did anyways, this is a ridiculous competition, this Windows vs. Linux stuff. Obviously Microsoft have been writing software for a very long time now and have some talented programmers and designers working for them-- and while they make some bad decisions, overall the software is not bad. But since all of that is overshadowed by the way they price their products and treat their customers, they could be coding software that turned lead to gold and some of us would do our best to avoid it.
    • by Publicus (415536) on Sunday October 14, 2001 @11:29PM (#2429273) Homepage

      And after 5 years I'll bet most KDE users are using pretty much the latest version. Nearly 7 years after its release it is not odd to find Windows 95 still in use (about 100 of the 500 boxes I support are running 95), enough so software and peripheral companies still benifit from supporting it. Why is it still in use? For one, the price of upgrading all the software, secondly, the value of not replacing old systems for many orginizations. Comparing KDE and its five years of development and any five years of development in Windows history demonstrates the strenth of free software.

      A company should have a focus - instead of trying to be all things to all people (MS == content provider/os maker/game station maker/you name it). KDE is a great example of what is possible when a project is not non-competitive, and focuses on providing one thing, in this case a desktop environment. Some might argue that KDE's focus is too broad. I don't use it that much, so I couldn't say.

      Anyway, good work KDE people! Keep it up!

      • by Gaijin42 (317411) on Sunday October 14, 2001 @11:37PM (#2429300) Homepage
        A) There are way less users of KDE than of windows

        B) Users of KDE tend to be the admins of their own machine
        C) Installs of KDE tend to be highly isolated compared to the mass installs you will find of windows at a corporation

        Anyone who does custom work on their own (especially when there is OSD dogma pushing them forward) will of course upgrade as soon as possible. Corporations always move slower.
      • it is not odd to find Windows 95 still in use

        Sure, many companies still have site licenses for windows 95. If you have a machine running 95 they know it is compliant without hasstle. Microsoft won't sell site licesnes for windows 98, so those users are on their own, the company can't legally support them (even if they own the machine) without having to keep track of licesnes for everyone. If you lose your copy of the license, then they fire you and call it a employiee steeling when audited. Those who have the offical OS on their machine (windows 95) are supported and the company takes the risk of keeping track of licenses. (which is easy)

      • And after 5 years I'll bet most KDE users are using pretty much the latest version. Nearly 7 years after its release it is not odd to find Windows 95 still in use

        Compare the costs/benefits of upgrading KDE-1.0 to KDE-2.2.1. Now compare the costs/benefits of upgrading Windows95 to WindowsME.

        Frankly, for zero cost I get a wealth of new features and stability with KDE-2.2.1, but I have to spend $100 to get the miserly offerings of WindowsME. No contest. I know several people who still use Windows95. Their stated reason is simply that they see no compelling reason to upgrade.

        What percentage of Windows users actually chose to upgrade from Window95 to 98 to ME? A very low percentage. Most Win98 users got theirs with their computer. Most WinME users got theirs with their computer.

        (and of course, the demographics are completely different from Unix to Win/DOS users, and also for Win/NT, which is why you find a more NT users upgrading to 2K than you do W98 users to WME)
    • This is a really unfair comparison. Windows made the trek first (ok, so they stole everything from Mac and Xerox). KDE is reimplementing ideas which already were hashed out. They never had to try out the stupid designs, because other people had already tried the stupid designs and failed. This is not to say that KDE isnt a great acomplishment. But you can't say that KDE moved this fast solely because it was OSD. It got to ride on the bootstraps of everyone who came before.
      • This is a really unfair comparison.

        I couldn't agree more. There are very few (if any) paid KDE developers. Basically all of the work that went into producing KDE was done for free by people on their own time. Considering that Microsoft pays its Windows developers, they don't have to work another job at the same time, and there are quite a few more of them, I'd say it's even *more* remarkable that KDE has come as far as it has in such a short timeframe.
    • Five Years? (Score:3, Funny)

      by Alien54 (180860)
      Has it been five years since 1996?

      It feels a lot longer to me.

      It must be the dog years phenomena, where 5 years = 30 dog years.

      somehow, that feels alot closer to the truth.

    • All I'm going to say regarding this analogy is from Windows 1.0 to Windows 2.1 the highest processor you were using was an Intel 286.

      It was a completely different time and makes your analogy not very applicable.

    • by Pr0xY (526811) on Monday October 15, 2001 @12:10AM (#2429410)
      I agree that these five years worth of progress is very impressive. However comparing them to Microsoft's work isn't entirely fair. Microsoft was developing an Operating System, not just a GUI for it. KDE has the advantage of using somone else's GUI library to work with as a basis. Plus they don't have to worry about the complexities of Operating System's.

      Don't get me wrong, i don't mean to not give KDE credit where credit is due...but we gotta be fair, comparing KDE to Windows is hardly an equal comparison.
      • When KDE 2.2 came out, someone said that this 3 months of work was a bigger upgrade than MS's 3 years from 95 to 98. When I installed it, I agreed.
      • (1) They don't may not have to worry about writing an operating system, but they had to worry about portability, and they couldn't just change the operating system when they needed to.

        (2) Comparing the upper levels of Windows to KDE is entirely fair. Sure, Open Source has different engineers working on the lower levels, but so does Microsoft.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 15, 2001 @01:33AM (#2429587)
      This is not a flame, not a troll, just the sad truth.

      A point that needs to be raised is that all this was achieved in the face of possibly the nastiest episode in the history of free software; the FUD spread by GPL fanatics about the QT licence.

      Gnome was founded by said fanatics for one reason and one reason only - to squash KDE, the best thing that had ever happened to desktop Linux. Microsoft must have been laughing their heads off...

      And let's not forget that when Trolltech finally GPL'd the QT library RMS in one of the most arrogant pieces I've ever seen graciously granted "forgiveness" to the KDE team for unspecified breaches of the GPL that *may* have happened and then ended with "Go Gnome!.

      Five years on KDE continues to bring out with almost military precision new releases. Despite vastly greater resources thrown at, Gnome 2.0x is as far off as ever, and Gnome remains a pretty but unstable desktop with some poorly-integrated GTK apps that have been retrospectively given the Gnome imprimateur.

      Ironic, innit, that the only reason Gnome is still going is because the US suits who back it prefer LGPL to GPL - ie our noble FSF clacque who dumped on KDE using the GPL are quite happy to use a less free licence.

      Anyway, as a usable desktop KDE is way out of front. Gnome is there for wannabe hackers who can't stomach the discipline of C++ and ideological fanatics. And those who want to stay in the perfection of eternal beta-land.

      KDE shows what can be done with limited resources and a proper design and project plan

      GNOME shows what happens when large amounts of resources are pissed up against the wall to make up for lack of said design and project planning.

      KDE = Konqueror
      GNOME = Mozilla

      KDE = results
      GNOME = vapourware
  • Crap? (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by jamesk (18755)
    One person's crap is another's fertilizer!
  • I'd say congrats. I mean, they stuck through. They even got packaged with some major selling packages, i.e. red hat 7.1. (I don't know what else, if someone could tell me) They've gone far, and should be an example of what other projects should follow.

    Oh, and what's with all the spammers on here tonight?
  • Crap? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by robbyjo (315601) on Sunday October 14, 2001 @11:22PM (#2429246) Homepage

    KDE has got all the basics down, and now they have to resist adding too much more crap.

    I think KDE team is doing their good job. What do you mean by "adding more crap"? Do you mean adding more apps into the window manager? Well, you can always only download kde-base and other necessary ones if you don't like KOffice, KDevelop, and other stuffs...

    Meanwhile, I like the idea to integrating their office suite with KDE. That way, you can get consistencies in user interface so that Windoze users don't get too much shock on migration.

    Moreover, they're getting better every release. More stable, speedier, and more usable to users. Five years to develop this brilliant stuff is just unbelievably short. Not even Microsoft can build their lousy Win3.1 to another lousy Win2K, that took them more than 5 years...

    • by md_doc (8431)
      Integrading other things is different than adding more crap. Example with apache, mysql, and everything else running my system uses about 60 megs of ram. I start up KDE and bam 150megs are getitng used. If they ad more crap (things that are not needed and should be placed as options when installing) then the memory use only gets more and more.
      • Please read this article [kde.org]. They said that the effort will save around 450K each app and possible more.

        KDE teams certainly wanted to squeeze the RAM usage. There IS an effort to do that. Big RAM usage is inevitable for GUI apps, IMHO. Moreover, KDE apps are designed to interoperate -- that's an obvious need for another chunk of RAM.

        If you'd like to use as minimum RAM as possible, don't use GUI stuff -- just the bare command line, load only necessary modules. If necessary, you can recompile the kernel and the modules, apps, daemon you use using highly optimized switch of the GCC.

    • Re:Crap? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Osty (16825)

      Five years to develop this brilliant stuff is just unbelievably short. Not even Microsoft can build their lousy Win3.1 to another lousy Win2K, that took them more than 5 years...

      Please note that KDE is simply a desktop environment/object model/bunch of apps. If Microsoft only changed the interface between win3.x and win2k (or even between win3.x and win95), then that would be a valid comparison. However, the evolutions you refer to involve the core operating system as well (especially your comparison of win3.x to win2k, but even win3.x to win95 included core OS changes, such as the switch to native 32-bit protected mode, using DOS only as a boot strap, rather than being little more than a DOS shell).


      KDE is a great product, and I agree that it has come far in a relatively short amount of time, but please compare apples to apples. And don't forget that KDE didn't have to do all the "difficult" research that Microsoft did. 12 years after the GUI became "mainstream" (1984, Apple Macintosh), KDE began their project. Both Apple and Microsoft had gone through numerous iterations, making mistakes on the way, and eventually coming up with paradigms that Just Work. KDE was able to use all this design that came before it. (Note that I'm not saying that's a bad thing.)

    • Lets not forget more than 5 years, a multimillion corporation and paid employees to only get half of what KDE has done with no corporation, and mostly free volunteer work.
  • KDE 1.x was okay, but it's the 2.x series which delivered a nice framework with (IMHO) great technologies (DCOP, KParts, KIO). While none of these are revolutionary by themselves, they have definitely matured a lot. While the framework can use continuous improvements, it's ready.

    Next step: applications. A lot of development focus of some of the core developers is shifting from kdelibs to KOffice which indeed needs more work, but the differences between 1.0 and 1.1 are a positive sign for 1.2/2.0. With a stable API (porting from Qt2/KDE 2.x to Qt3/KDE 3.x is very little work) KDE 3 should do for applications within KDE what the 2.x series did for the framework.

    I doubt much more new features will be added to the core technology of the desktop. I don't get such an impression on the mailinglists or IRC either, so I wouldn't worry too much about that. :)
  • Kool Desktop Environment ??? wow you learn something new everday! I take it they droped that. It would be intresting to see some screen shots of some of the first releases of KDE
  • Isn't it quite amazing to read over that newsgroup post by Matthias Ettrich? It is probably the most ambitious post about a software project (that came true!) I've ever read. I wonder how people took it at first? Most probably laughed. Now look where it has gone. He wanted something to happen, and so he (and all those who joined him) worked towards the goal to _make_ it happen. Kind of like Torvalds and Linux. Truly inspirational!
    • But in a lot of ways, it's not like Torvalds and Linux. The first messages about Linux were "I've been hacking on this, and somebody wanted to see it, so here it is. It probably won't compile." I've not read an early ambitious post about Linux; Torvalds never claimed it was going to be a big thing until it was a big thing.
    • LyX (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Moritz Moeller - Her (3704) <mmh AT gmx DOT net> on Monday October 15, 2001 @05:56AM (#2429940)

      Well this wasn't Matthias Ettrich's first and only accomplishment. He also gave us the first and only usable frontend to latex [lyx.org].

      I (and many other people!) swear by lyx [lyx.org] for their scientific papers. It is absolutely great. Only after this did Matthias Ettrich start KDE.

      First he created a GUI for the best OS text processing system, then he went on to create the best GUI for the entire unix OS!

      Unlike some other guys (Miguel, Bruce, ...) he did not become a poster child of slashdot kids, but he deserves our gratitude for his great work towards a linux (and BSD) for the end user and on many desktops.

      THANK YOU!

  • is drag-and-drop between KDE and Gnome apps. I'd like to be able to drag and drop a text document, for example, to my KDE printer icon and have it work. Or, say, a text file or spreadsheet from Nautilus to KOffice, or create a link by dragging a KDE desktop icon to a Nautilus window.
  • by shankark (324928) on Sunday October 14, 2001 @11:41PM (#2429314)
    The announcement [kde.org] that Matthias made that seemed to have sparked off the KDE (and I knew only now that K stood for Kool!) gives the impression that Matthias was onto something big. He was cocksure of KDE's success, confident that it was going to be a big hit (though even Matthias mightn't have expected it to catch on like it has done). Well, thats something that's lacking in the Open Source World 5 years thence. The conviction, that what one is doing is big, and the faith in one's abilities. Guess, there are just too many bloated carcasses floating around with little support/management, and moreover no cohesive force that rallies coders around, whips up their passion into doing something new.

    Way to go, Matthias. Now, if only that announcement could motivate me to getting round to completing my assignment in time.. :(
  • by Ars-Fartsica (166957) on Sunday October 14, 2001 @11:41PM (#2429315)
    KDE is an amazing set of products. I am using KDE 2.2 right now and compared to a product like OSX, it is competitive in terms of features and applications.

    The QT libraries continue to evolve nicely, and thanks to Troll for GPL'ing the code.

    Konqueror is an excellent browser product, and I consider it to be on par with the excellent Mozilla product.

    KOffice is a competitve, well integrated product for people with moderate needs. I haven't had any problems yet I could not solve with KOffice.

    KDevelop is the closest thing the Visual Studio on linux.

    Other lesser-known product like Qunata, Kate and KXML are starting to show real promise. I would like Kate in particular to really catch fire like Emacs has over the years - its time for an editor that it totally integrated with its visual environment.

    Its the integration that keeps me using KDE over GNOME, which I admit may have some stronger individual programs but just isn't stitched together like KDE is. Its amazing that this entire system is free and has source code available. I look forward to the next five years of this fantastic set of products.

    • Other lesser-known product like Qunata, Kate and KXML are starting to show real promise. I would like Kate in particular to really catch fire like Emacs has over the years - its time for an editor that it totally integrated with its visual environment.

      I've been using Kate more and more in the last while. While it has its quirks and a few bugs (which I'll pass on to bugs.kde.org!), it seems to have a feature set that's "compatible" with the way I work.

      Of course, it is kind of strange knowing a *person* named Kate, and seeing the menu choices "About Kate" and "Configure Kate"...
  • by Navarre (60169)

    I agree that KDE should resist the urge to add too much nonsense. Tighten up what is there. Keep it fast and sexy. Gnome is still slow and bloated. Don't give in to feature creep.



    Otherwise, all you've got is winblows on Linux.

    • by Geek Boy (15178) on Monday October 15, 2001 @02:30AM (#2429657)
      Thanks to the modular design of KDE, adding new features doesn't bloat it in any way unless you actually use those features. If you use those features, then of course you have to allocate resources too them.

      KDE doesn't start up features unless you actually want to use them, and this is definitely a good thing.
  • by Ogerman (136333) on Monday October 15, 2001 @12:53AM (#2429516)
    .. is a woman!

    From Matthius' original newsgroup post:

    "..The idea is to create a GUI for an ENDUSER. Somebody who wants to browse the web with Linux, write some letters and play some nice games.
    I really believed that is even yet possible with Linux until I configured my girlfriend's box.


    Yes indeed, I would like to thank Matthius and the rest of the KDE team for their enormous contributions to the future of Open Source. But most of all, I'd like to thank the nameless girlfriend who wasn't afraid to complain! (-:
    • But most of all, I'd like to thank the nameless girlfriend who wasn't afraid to complain!

      Well, that's (in my experience) not something girlfriends are typically afraid of. ;)

    • >> I really believed that is even yet possible with Linux until I configured my girlfriend's box.

      This guy's girlfriend has a configurable box? Today blonde and trim, tomorrow dark and bushy. Is there no end to these open source guy's talents???
  • by hack0rama (253610) on Monday October 15, 2001 @12:58AM (#2429532) Homepage Journal
    Since KDE is out of Germany and QT from Norway I was just thinking how much international connection Linux has compared to Windows or Macintosh which are completely US centric.

    Linux - Finland
    GNU - US
    KDE - Germany
    QT - Norway
    GNOME - Mexico ( Miguel )
    OpenOffice - Germany ( Stardivision )
    Mozilla - US
    SAMBA - Australia

  • by Jagasian (129329) on Monday October 15, 2001 @01:08AM (#2429546)
    KDE Desktop Environment New Project: Kool Desktop Environment (KDE) Programmers wanted! Motivation Unix popularity grows thanks to the free variants, mostly Linux. But still a consistant, nice looking free desktop-environment is missing. There are several nice either free or low-priced applications available, so that Linux/X11 would almost fit everybody needs if we could offer a real GUI.

    Of course there are GUI's. There is the Commond Desktop Environment (much too exensive), Looking Glas (not too expensive but not really the solution), and several free X-Filemanagers that are almost GUI's. Moxfm for example is very well done, but unfortunately it is based on Motif. Anyway, the question is: What is a GUI? What should a GUI be?

    First of all, since there are a lot of missunderstandings on this topic, what is NOT a GUI:

    • the X-Window-System is NOT a GUI. It's what its name says: A Window system
    • Motif is NOT a GUI. They tried to create a GUI when they made Motif, but unfortunately they couldn't really agree, so they released Motif as Widget-Library with a Window-Manager. Much later they completed Motif with the CDE, but too late, since Windows already runs on the majority of desktops.
    • Window-managers are NOT GUI's. They are (better: should be) small programs that handle the windows. It's not really the idea to hack a lot of stuff into them.

    IMHO a GUI should offer a complete, graphical environment. It should allow a users to do his everyday tasks with it, like starting applications, reading mail, configuring his desktop, editing some files, delete some files, look at some pictures, etc. All parts must fit together and work together. A nice button with a nice "Editor"-icon is not at all a graphical user environment if it invokes "xterm -e vi". Maybe you have been disappointed long time ago too, when you installed X with a nice window manager, clicked on that beautiful "Help"-Icon ... chrk chrk (the hard disk)...an ugly, unsuable, weird xman appeared on the desktop :-( A GUI for endusers The idea is NOT to create a GUI for the complete UNIX-system or the System-Administrator. For that purpose the UNIX-CLI with thousands of tools and scripting languages is much better. The idea is to create a GUI for an ENDUSER. Somebody who wants to browse the web with Linux, write some letters and play some nice games.

    I really believed that is even yet possible with Linux until I configured my girlfriends Box. Well, I didn't notice anymore that I work with lots of different kind of menues, scrollbars and textwidgets. I already know that some widgets need to be under the mouse when they should get the keyevents, some sliders wants the middle mouse for dragging and some textwidgets only want emacs-bindings and don't understand keys like "pos1" or "end". And selecting some text is different everywere, too. Even the menues and buttons (for exampel Xaw, Fvwm, XForms, Motif) behave completely different.

    One word to the Athena-Widgets: Although there are a few nice applications available that uses these "widgets" we should really get rid of them. Thinking that "Athena is a widget-library" is a similar missunderstanding like "X is a GUI". Athena is an very old example how widget libraries could be implemented with Xlib and Xt. It's more or less a online-documentation for Widget-Set-Programmers, but not a tool for application-programmers. Unfortunately, the old Unix problem, a so good online-documentation that people used it for applications.

    So one of the major goals is to provide a modern and common look&feel for all the applications. And this is exactly the reason, why this project is different from elder attempts.

    Since a few weeks a really great new widget library is available free in source and price for free software development. Check out http://www.troll.no [troll.no]

    The stuff is called "Qt" and is really a revolution in programming X. It's an almost complete, fully C++ Widget-library that implementes a slightly improved Motif look and feel, or, switchable during startup, Window95.

    The fact that it is done by a company (Troll Tech) is IMO a great advantage. We have the sources and a superb library, they have beta testers. But they also spend their WHOLE TIME in improving the library. They also give great support. That means, Qt is also interesting for commercial applications. A real alternative to the terrible Motif :) But the greatest pro for Qt is the way how it is programmed. It's really a very easy-to-use powerfull C++-library.

    Qt is also portable, yet to Windows95/NT, but you do not have to worry about that. It's very easy to use UNIX/X specific things in programming, so that porting to NT is hardly possible :-)

    I really recommend looking at this library. It has IMO the power to become the leading library for free software development. And it's a way to escape the TCL/TK monsters that try to slow down all our processors and eat up our memory...

    It's really time yet to standarize the desktop somewhat. It's nonsense to load 10 different widgets into memory for the same task. Imagine this desktop:

    • fvwm (own widgets)
    • rxvt (own widgets)
    • tgif (own widgets)
    • xv (own widgets)
    • ghostview (athena widgets)
    • lyx (xforms widgets)
    • xftp (motif widgets)
    • textedit (xview widgets)
    • arena (own widgets)

    One may argue that a usual UNIX-Box has enough memory to handle all these different kind of widgets. Even if this might be correct, the really annoying thing is, that all these widgets (menus, buttons, scrollbars, etc.) behave slightly different. And this isn't only an academic example, I've really seen such desktops :-}

    I know we couldn't get rid of this chaos at once, but my dream is a coexistance between Motif and Qt. The Kool Desktop Environment (KDE) I don't have the time to do this all alone (also since LyX is my main project). But a thing like a Desktop Environment can easily be cut into lots of parts. There is very probably a part for you, too! If you want to learn some X-programming, why not doing a small, neat project for the KDE? If you know others who like to programm something, please prevend them from writing the 1004th tetris games or the 768th minesweeper clone ;-) Think we also have enough XBiffs yet...

    So here is my project list so far. Probably there are even more things to do that would fit great into the KDE. It's a very open project. Panel: The basic application. Run's as FvwmModule (at the beginning). Offers a combination between Windows95 and CDE. I think about a small taskbar at the bottom and a kind of CDE-panel on the top of the screen. The panel has graphical icon menus on the left (similar to GoodStuff) to launch applications, 4 buttons in the middle to switch to other virtual desktops and few icons for often needed applications on the right. There is for example a mail-icon that also indicates new mail, a wastebasket to open the delete-folder (that also indicates when it isn't empty and is capable of drag'n'drop). Maybe a analog clock with date at the very right. Also a nice special icon for exiting the environment or locking the screen. All the stuff is completly configurable via GUI. I'm also thinking about solutions, that only available applications can be installed on the desktop and that new applications appear on the desktop automatically.

    I started to work on this panel, but would of course love some help. There are also lot of smaller things to do, like a tool to chose a background pixmap (for each virtual desktop) etc.

    Also nice icons are needed!

    Filemanager Another major application inside the KDE. The idea is not to create a powerful high-end graphical bash-replacement (like tkdesk tries to be), but a nice looking easy-to-use filemanager for simple tasks. Simple tasks are mainly deleting some files, copying some files, copying some files to floppy disk, starting applications by clicking on a file (for example ghostview for postscript files or xli for gifs, etc).

    I'm thinking about nice windows, one for each directory, that shows icons for every file. It should be possible to drag files around (either copy or move), even between different windows. Another important point is the support of the floppy-disk, so that mounting/umounting is done user-transparent.

    Dragging of icons should be done in a nice way, that means moving around a special window (see Qt's xshape example), NOT like xfm or xfilemanager by setting another monochrome bitmap for the cursor.

    So it will also be possible to put files as icons on the desktop. This is IMO a very nice feature. Since applications are launched by the panel, it's even clear that icons are real data-objects. With fvwm-1 and the FvwmFileMgr it wasn't really clear wether an icon is yet a file or an iconified window.

    Drag'n'drop inside a Qt application isn't really difficult. The filemanager is IMO a very nice and not too time consuming project. Who wants?

    mail client A really comfortable mailclient. IMO the most comfortable mailclient for X is yet XF-Mail. And the author is willing to port it to Qt when the KDE-project will start! But he asks for some assitance (for example for coding the small popups, etc.)

    easy texteditor Very small but important project. An editor that fits the needs of those who have to edit a textfile once in a month and didn't find the time yet to learn vi (and don't have the time to wait for x-emacs to start, and don't have the memory to use a motif-static-nedit, and don't have the cpu-power and memory to use a tk-monster like tkedit,...)

    Unfortunatly the Qt multiline-textwidget isn't available in Qt-1.0, but Troll-Tech already announced the beta-testing. So the texteditor can be started in a few weeks, too.

    Terminal Similar to the CDE terminal program. A kind of xterm with nice menu bar to set the font, exit, etc. Nice project, get the xterm sources and add a GUI with Qt!

    Image viewer The application that will be launced as default from the filemanager for gifs, jpegs and all this. Well, xv is shareware and really needs quite a long time for startup. But there is a plain Xlib programm without any menues or buttons called "xli". Get the sources and make it userfriendly with Qt!

    Lots of small other tools:

    • xdvi with Qt-Gui
    • ghostview with Qt-Gui
    • xmag with Qt-Gui
    • whatever you want
    Hypertext Help System A complete desktop environment needs a nice hypertext online help. I think the best choice would be HTML (>= 2.0). So a free Qt-based html-viewer would be a great idea. It might be possible to use the Arena-sources, but arena needs very long for startup. Maybe it would be best to start from scratch. Qt offers excellent functions for dealing with different fonts. For a help system HTML 2.0 is more than enough, some nice search function added and that's it. Since it is also possible to convert the obsolete troff man-pages to HTML, we can also integrate the original UNIX help system.

    BTW: There is a Troll Tech Qt-competition (look at their webpages). The best application (not only functionallity, but also design counts. Just porting an existing great application to Qt won't probably be enough :-( ) wins $2000 and a few Qt on NT licenses (worth another $2000). They also mentioned a browser-project as an example. So a nice HTML-browser in Qt, ready in Janurary may be worth $4000 (This includes selling the unneeded NT licenses ;-) )

    Window Manager At the beginning, the KDE panel will work as an Fvwm-Module. When this is done, a lot of stuff can be stripped from the bloated fvwm window manager. We don't need anymore fvwm-menus, icon handling and zillions of configurable things. We need a small, realiable windowmanager. So maybe stripping all unncessary stuff from fvwm will make sense in a while. But this may come very last.

    System Tools Whatever a user, or you, might need. A graphical passwd comes to my mind. But probably there are a lot more! Maybe this will lead to a small system administration tool someday.

    Games We have yet a nice tetris game (an Qt example program). What is needed is a nice set of small games like solitaire (please with nice cards that can be really dragged!). There are several nice card games available for X, for example xpat2. So why not take the cards from them and write a real solitaire games, very similar to MS-Solitaire. I really had to install Wine sometimes just to play solitair, what an overhead! But other games are needed, too. Take xmris, pacman, etc. add a nice GUI. Or write some from scratch. Whatever you want :)

    Icons A set of nice icons. 3D-pixmaps are quite a good start (but why should the button be inside a pixmap, if we use a toolkit with buttons???)

    Documentation A documentation project is always a good thing to have. But before we should clearify how the hypertext help system should look like. We can then start with documentation pages in the chosen HTML-subset and for example use arean as help browser. Anyway we need some application to document first.

    Web-Pages / Ftp Server / Aministration We need a server for the files and webpages that inform about the state of the project. Especially what projects are currently worked on and what projects still wait for somebody to do them. I set up a preliminary homepage on http://www-pu.informatik.uni-tuebingen.de/users/et trich [uni-tuebingen.de] that just contains this posting yet and a few links. I may setup real webpages for the very beginning but I would be very happy if I could concentrate on discussion and coding. So if there is someone out there in the net who likes to design and maintain webpages, here is a job for him :)

    Discussion The most important topic :-) If you are interested please join the mailing list kde@kde.org [mailto]

    Subscribing can be done by sending a mail with in *Body*: subscribe [your email address]
    to
    kde-request@kde.org [mailto]

    Applications When the KDE gets widely accepted, new (free) applications will hopefully be based on Qt, too, to fit with the comfortable and pleasant look and feel of the desktop.

    We may for example port LyX to Qt, so that a comfortable wordprocessor is available. But that is still in discussion in the LyX Team.

    A nice vector-orientated drawing tool would also be fine. Well, Xfig is a powerful but ugly monster. But there is "tgif", a very powerful, easy to use but ugly program. The author doesn't like the idea of adding a Qt GUI for the menus, icons and scrollbars, since Qt is C++ and he wants to keep tgif plain C, since on some sites no C++ compiler is available. Well, the KDE doesn't really aim on these old and weird UNIX boxes (also I think a g++ is almost everywhere available). But maybe the tgif-author agrees when somebody else adds a nice GUI to tgif (the sources are free, don't know wether this is GPL). Since tgif yet implements its own GUI this shouldn't be too difficult. It's really easy with Qt to access plain Xlib functionality and functions, so not very much will have to be rewritten. Also C++ makes it very easy to include plain C code.

    What about an easy to use, nice newsreader similar to knews? Could also be integrated into the KDE. ... and ... and ... and.

    So there is a lot of work (and fun) to do! If you are interested, please join the mailing list. If we get about 20-30 people we could start. And probably before 24th December the net-community will give itself another nice and longtime-needed gift.

    The stuff will be distributed under the terms of the GPL.

    I admit the whole thing sounds a bit like fantasy. But it is very serious from my side. Everybody I'm talking to in the net would LOVE a somewhat cleaner desktop. Qt is the chance to realize this. So let us join our rare sparetime and just do it!

    Hopefully looking foward to lots of followups and replies! Regards,

    Matthias Ettrich
    (ettrich@informatik.uni-tuebingen.de [mailto])

    BTW: Usually these postings get a lot of answers like "Use a Mac if you want a GUI, CLI rules!", "I like thousands of different widgets-libraries on my desktop, if you are too stupid to learn them, you should use windoze", "RAM prices are so low, I only use static motif programs", "You will never succeed, so better stop before the beginning", "Why Qt? I prefer schnurz-purz-widgets with xyz-lisp-shell. GPL! Check it out!", etc. Thanks for not sending these as followup to this posting :-) I know I'm a dreamer...

    BTW2: You might wonder why I'm so against Tk. Well, I don't like the philosophy: Tk's doesn't have a textwidget, for example, but a slow wordprocessor. Same with other widgets. In combination with TCL the programs become slow and ugly (of course there are exceptions). I didn't yet see any application that uses Tk from C++ or C, although an API seems to exist. TCL/TK is very usefull for prototyping. Ideal for example for kernel configuration. And since Tk looks little similar to Motif, the widgets are also quite easy to use. But I really don't like any TCL/Tk application to stay permanantly on the desktop. And Qt is much easier (at least as easy) to program. Check it out!

    BTW3: I don't have any connections to Troll Tech, I just like their product (look at the sources: really high quality!) and their kind of marketing: free sourcecode for free software. Original document by Matthias Ettrich [mailto],
    HTMLized by Matt McLeod [mailto]

  • by mj6798 (514047) on Monday October 15, 2001 @01:16AM (#2429565)
    KDE is a great achievement, it works well, and it looks nice. But I'm still not using it, and I'm certainly not developing for it. Why?

    • C++ is deeply ingrained in the system; I don't believe that's where the future of application programming is going. I also believe that the use of C++ makes KDE slow and resource intensive.
    • A lot of KDE just duplicates existing functionality, but using the Qt toolkit and KDE libraries, all in the name of KDE integration. But often, the KDE equivalents are less functional.
    • KDE consumes huge amounts of resources and starts up lots of processes.
    • The KDE/Qt licenses (GPL/commercial) restrict my ability to create open source software (say, under BSD or LGPL licenses). I think the licenses are also harmful from the point of view of trying to attract more commercial developers to the Linux platform. Toolkits are a commodity these days, and they shouldn't be the major cost when choosing a platform.
    • KDE is replicating an old paradigm--the Windows desktop; I don't think that's where the industry is going.

    KDE has its place in the world--something for people who think Windows is easy to use and want a similar environment for Linux/UNIX. I'm not sure it can compete with Windows, because Windows isn't really about quality, it's about complete, detailed compatibility. But that's for others to decide.

    I just hope KDE won't become the predominant Linux/UNIX desktop. In fact, I hope no single desktop will become "predominant" on Linux/UNIX--the strength of Linux/UNIX has been its diversity and flexibility. And I hope the KDE developers are smart enough to realize that they can't produce something that satisfies everybody--that would be the same trap Microsoft has fallen into.

    • C++ is deeply ingrained in the system; I don't believe that's where the future of application programming is going

      Huh? C++ is the only popular standardized language that supports multi-paradigm, large scale, performant coding. C will always be there but for developing component architectures there are numerous reasons to go with C++.


      KDE consumes huge amounts of resources and starts up lots of processes.

      Blackbox is nice on starved boxes, but for anyone who has a PIII or higher, KDE sessions are quite useable.

      The KDE/Qt licenses (GPL/commercial) restrict my ability

      Wasn't QT GPL'd??

      KDE is replicating an old paradigm--the Windows desktop; I don't think that's where the industry is going.

      Huh? XP, OSX, Win2k, all are polishing up their WIMP interfaces. Even task-oriented systems like the PalmOS are being supplanted by general WIMP interfaces as people demand more functionality.

      • Wasn't QT GPL'd??

        Yes, which basically means that I have to use the GPL for any open source software I write based on it--that's too restrictive. I want to let people use my open source software under BSD or LGPL licenses.

        KDE is replicating an old paradigm--the Windows desktop; I don't think that's where the industry is going.

        Huh? XP, OSX, Win2k, all are polishing up their WIMP interfaces. Even task-oriented systems like the PalmOS are being supplanted by general WIMP interfaces as people demand more functionality.

        Actually, Microsoft and other systems are increasingly going over to browser-like interfaces, and that's likely where the future lies.

        • Actually, Microsoft and other systems are increasingly going over to browser-like interfaces,

          Excluding the obvious logic that browser interfaces are themsevles WIMP, Microsoft has backtracked from this by scaling back Channels and the Active Desktop.

        • Yes, which basically means that I have to use the GPL for any open source software I write based on it--that's too restrictive. I want to let people use my open source software under BSD or LGPL licenses.

          Qt is dual licensed under the GPL -and- the QPL. You aren't allowed to write any proprietary software using Qt (like you are with the GNU products), but you are allowed to write software licensed under any Open Source license.

          Actually, Microsoft and other systems are increasingly going over to browser-like interfaces, and that's likely where the future lies.

          Do I have to go to the future, or can I stay here? I've used browser-like interfaces and they suck rocks. It may indeed be the future, but not because human beings wants it, but because the subhuman creatures in marketing will think it's cool.
    • C++ is deeply ingrained in the system; I don't believe that's where the future of application programming is going.

      If you want applications compiled natively for your processor, then C and C++ are your only realistic options. Every other common programming language is interpreted. Now if there were *standard* native compilers for Python and Java, I would switch in a heartbeat. But I don't see them coming, so I'll stick with C/C++ for now. Semantically, Java is clearly superior. But the real world demands more than semantics.

      A lot of KDE just duplicates existing functionality, but using the Qt toolkit and KDE libraries, all in the name of KDE integration.

      It's that integration that makes it worthwhile. Konqueror is the best web browser out there, IMO, but it would never exist if the KDE developers decided not to duplicate existing functionality.

      Take away KDE and you *STILL* have duplicated functionality. Take away GNOME and Xfce and you *STILL* have duplicated functionality. Take way Windowmaker, Blackbox, IceWM and Enlightenment and you still have two score window managers. Take way joe, jed, vim, and emacs and you *STILL* have two dozen text editors.

      What KDE has offered up is a suite of tools, utilities and applications that are integrated with a common look and feel. That's a valuable asset right there.

      KDE consumes huge amounts of resources and starts up lots of processes.

      The resources aren't that bad at all. If you have a P100 with 16M RAM, then by all means stick with twm and rxvt. Actually, I find that I'm using LESS resources with KDE-2.2.1 than I did with KDE-1.1.2. Why? Because it has Konqueror now so I don't have to load up that behemoth known as Netscape.

      The KDE/Qt licenses (GPL/commercial) restrict my ability to create open source software (say, under BSD or LGPL licenses).

      Hmmm, I write BSD licensed software that uses Qt. Should I be on the lookout for the police? Is my freedom in jeopardy?

      Qt is not licensed GPL/Commercial. It's licensed GPL/QPL/Commercial. That means you can write software with ANY open source license. You only have to pay if you write proprietary software.

      KDE is replicating an old paradigm--the Windows desktop

      Hah! If anything, KDE is closer to the OS/2 Workplace Shell than the Microsoft Start Button desktop.

      I'm not sure it can compete with Windows

      Who cares? KDE isn't for the DOS or NT operating systems. It's for Unix operating systems with X11. Different domains. Wanting KDE to compete with Windows is like wanting your Dodge Ram Truck to compete with a Ford Escort.
  • It's good to see the progress that KDE has made, and in such a short amount of time. It seems well designed and has lots of great features. I remember how impressed I was with KDE when I first saw it. It was version 1.1 running on FreeBSD 3.2, a rock solid combination.

    The 2.x series is much better in terms of usability than was 1.x, but it lacks one major thing that 1.x had: stability. With 2.x, I get occasional (much too frequent) Konqueror crashes and Noatun crashes. 2.x is also a little on the slow side. I'd really like to see it slimmed down and optimized. Of course, now that they're already planning the release of 3.x, maybe the 2.x series will just end up as the interim between the great debut and the greatness that lies ahead in 3.0.

    Anyway, happy birthday KDE, you're the greatest of the Unix desktops!

  • It's amazing what you have achieved in such a short time!

    One thing that is still missing is the possibility to configure "everything". To make it even more useful than it already is, it should be possible to configure basically "everything" from the control center. I know this is what the different distro's deliver and there is also the "little" problem that KDE also runs on FreeBSD among others and the differences between the distros. All this makes it more or less impossible (well that's what I've heard/read earlier) to create something like that.
    Still the fact remains, it would be nice to have. Instead of having to use YAST in Suse and *Drake tools in Mandrake, etc. it would be nice if it was simply available from the control center - it's the same stuff I want to configure, whether I run Suse, Mandrake, FreeBSD on the box and IMHO it belongs in the KDE Control Center, not as a separate tool. It would make KDE an even more Integrated Desktop

    As this seems to be up to the distro's to create such tools, I have a little idea, which probably will never be a reality and maybe it is not even possible (warning: I'm rambling now :) ):
    What about creating something that works with a LSB compliant distro and is easy to tailor for each distro maker and even for *BSD, etc. to fit the way the different *nix'es is configured.

  • I'm not sure if "modular" is the right word, but here is my gripe:

    I installed KDE2 for the first time a few weeks ago and I love it. It's a great desktop and everyone who helped in its development deserves thanks. But when I decided that I wanted to upgrade KMail so I could have the new IMAP functionality, I found out that I can't upgrade just KMail. I would have to upgrade my entire KDE2 installation, which is no easy task for those of us who are new to it.

    At least I have broadband. Imagine the poor guys on dialup that have to download all of KDE just to upgrade the mail client.

    So for now I'm using Balsa [freshmeat.net] which seems to get the job done. But I miss KMail... other than lacking IMAP support, the version I have is great (easy filtering, nice GUI, etc.).

    And yes, you could claim that you just need to upgrade the knetwork package. But that requires other ones which require other ones. Following the dependency trail you end up installing the whole KDE system again. Don't you think you should allow upgrades of individual components?
  • It's too slow, especially on opening new windows, makes explorer on Windows look good. The file manager that *really* shows how it should be done in terms of speed is rox (http://rox.sourceforge.net/). I also love the concept of AppDirs for programs, which would be neat if everyone used it, could solve a lot of problems that we need packages for. It may not translate as well to libraries, but even there it could have uses. And it's not ugly. I don't care if there is a web browser in my file manager, I just want something that looks and feels nice, while being efficient, unlike Konqueror and Nautilus. Though ROX development is less complex (no extensive toolkit stuff), it provides a good file manager and good AppDir philosophy that should be considered more...
  • In the dawn of time (the mid 80s :), X battled a number of compettitors for the seat of UNIX graphical display interface. There was News from Sun, a system I can't remember the name of from Digital, Domain/OS and its unusual networked display technology (from which CORBA is, oddly enough, the only surviving descendent).

    That battle was won by X because its source code was free and because it was so well designed. But, that battle forced the state of the art to improve.

    Today there are many desktops for UNIX and UNIX-like systems. KDE really led us out of the dark ages (from systems like CDE, shudder), and GNOME, OpenStep, and others continue to make interesting and innovative progress. One day, one of these systems will probably win out, but until then I'd just like to say thank you to all of them. You are pushing the state of the art further forward than most of us could have imagined 10 years ago!

    Many will not remember the days of VT100 terminals and UNIX-as-endurance-test work environments. I do, and I'm very grateful!

  • About "more crap":

    I totally agree. What the KDE team needs to do now is rip out the internals and simplify them. There's no reason why something like KDE couldn't run speedily on a P200 with 64MB of RAM if it was properly designed.

    I'm not saying KDE sucks any more than anyone would say Linux 2.2's VM sucks. Both were good considerng the experience of the programmers and designers, but they both need(ed) revision. There will probably be wailing and gnashing of teeth, but when it's done, it will be worth it.

In specifications, Murphy's Law supersedes Ohm's.

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