Monday, 18 October 2021 08:19

German developer Ettrich's dream, KDE, is now 25 years old

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KDE as it looks today. KDE as it looks today. Courtesy KDE

The first advanced desktop environment for Linux users, KDE, has completed 25 years in existence, a testimony to the fact that free software is very much alive and kicking.

German software developer Matthias Ettrich [seen below, right, in a photo courtesy of the KDE] kicked off the project, sending an email on 14 October 1996 to outline his aspirations.

He had one main goal: to create a graphical user environment for the end-user, or as he put it: "Somebody who wants to browse the web with Linux, write some letters and play some nice games."

The name KDE was intended to be some kind of play on CDE, the Common Desktop Environment that had been developed by HP, IBM and Sun.

Ettrich initially thought he would call his project the Kool Desktop Environment, but it ended up as the K Desktop Environment and later simply as KDE.

matthias 300Today KDE is a very polished desktop environment. It has far exceeded the humble goals that Ettrich outlined.

There is a separate port for use on mobile phones and also a dedicated line of laptops customised to run KDE.

In 2009, the project did a bit of rebranding to differentiate the different parts of the desktop into Plasma Workspaces, KDE Applications, and the KDE Platform – they were bundled as KDE Software Compilation 4.

Later, in version 5.0, each product got its own release cycle and the three are no longer bundled together.

To mark the occasion, a number of people behind KDE are participating in so-called fireside chats.

On 25 October, Ettrich will discuss the history of KDE and also examine his perspective of what has been realised since he sent that email.

Two days prior to that, Massimo Stella of Kdenlive will have a chat about how the video editor for the DE came into being and how things are shaping up for the future of open-source film-making.

At 3am AEDT on 19 October, Nate Graham (developer and author of This Week in KDE), KDE president Aleix Pol and vice-president Lydia Pintscher will participate in a Q and A on Reddit.

Links to all these chats will be provided on this page when the time for them to be held gets closer.


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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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