Some reflections related with the KDE 4.2 release

Please take this as a reflection. When you try to express delicate messages, feelings, the language barrier becomes bigger. I felt it was the time to say this, now that I feel the arrival is so close that I’m sure all the KDE crew feel the power of the big release, so hopefully people get the positive part of the message I want to point out.

I’m not a KDE developer but definitely a KDE user. I have KDE 3.5 on my everyday laptop and KDE 4.0 first and KDE 4.1 now on other machines I have around (my netbook, for example). I’ve been one of those that have been following the project in general and the tough decision made by the KDE crew a couple of years ago (and the previous discussions). I am not at first line obviously, but hey, that is also a cool stuff about free software community projects, you can watch and learn from the core people… I really respect what the KDE project does. There is no doubt about it.

I understood the decisions made then. I supported and got happy with it. I obviously am now. As a dev told me once, it’s like life itself. Sometimes you reach a limit and it is a smart decision to stop, think and change instead of keep pushing on the same direction. This is an idea some other free software projects will follow after KDE success (we knew it from the very beginning 😉 ).

Now that KDE 4.2 is here, many of you that have been working hard to make this happen have reasons to be proud of the job done and the risk taken. I am, and haven’t done a single line of code. I’ve never imagined to get such an empathy with a few million lines of codes and the people that create it everyday.

The Linus case has made me decide to write about what I’ve seen around me the last few months. I’ve read many comments about it and the explanations given from many tech people in general and KDE people in particular. I want to add my personal experience.

I’ve seen some frustration around, related with KDE 4.0 and 4.1 lately. The regular free software user is one of those who likes to try what it comes in a magazine, in a distro. They wait for the next version like Christmas. In some sense, they (we) are like kids (love to play with toys). But most of them (that is part of our success), have no idea about how to deal with critical problems. I’ve been explaining to them so many times the past months that kde 4.0 and 4.1 were not an everyday OS…well, the regular arguments you already know… . But this installation…uninstallation process some people have gone through with previous versions has been unstopable (the people around me at least).

So I’ve failed. Why?

I don’t know yet, but what I know now is that I cannot compete anymore against distros, magazines, that cool aura free software has these days, etc.. That is supposed to be one of our victories. This is not a “mouth to mouth” system anymore (I mean installations based on personal trust). My friends don’t call me to try a linux distro. They don’t need me for that anymore (thanks God). They just call me when they have critical problems. Since they know I’m a KDE fan, they have called me quiet frequently the past months.

KDE has built a reputation through the past years that have not finished drastically the past few months. Some of the lost credit will be soon recovered with today’s release…but not all. We (I insist in including myself) will have to put an extra amount of energy for a longer time. Some people maybe won’t want to try KDE 4.2. We should be prepare for that. Probably Linus won’t. He has a new toy and it make sense to think he will give it a try for some time. That is a well known marketing law.

Once again, I totally assume and support the decision made to build a totally new system and I understand the decision taken about the KDE 4.0 release. I’ve been supporting it. But now that I have faced the consequence, my hope is that this kde 4.2 great release, all the happiness and the attention that the developers and the project itself deserve (and will have, I’m sure), will be followed by a general reflexion about how to deal in the future with decisions like this one. The KDE 4.0 release have shadows, do not have a single point of failure so it won’t have a single solution. It also have shown many good points, of course. I just want to point out that despite all the coming success, experience tells me we were not totally right.

I hope that all the good energy we have around this (and future) release don’t avoid the discussion to get to some conclusions future devs, deployers and user can learn from. If we do this, we probably will get even more credit in the long term than we will the following months. KDE 4.0 was necessary but has had consequences we must face and learn from.

Today is a good day. KDE 4.2 is out and I’m really happy since I’ve been waiting for it so bad … Congratulations.

Posted in kde

10 thoughts on “Some reflections related with the KDE 4.2 release

  1. Thanks for your opinions.I’m curious about any of you die-hard kde 3.5.10 fans, who stay on that release due to actual application functionality, like within Kate.I read horror stories re: kate4, so, I’m just curious if anyone has taken the steps to compile kde 3.5.10 using Qt4.4(.5)?Which other apps in kde4.2 have basic functionality issues?

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  2. I think it was the right decision to release the KDE 4.0 – But not for a everyday use. It was necessary for all the contributers to check out what is possible and for all the geeks to find all the bugs. The idea of the new concept is really great. And it is just the beginning of something totally now. I think this break from 3.x was necessary to create something new without all those old rubbish.Now, with this release we start at KDE 4.Thanks to all of the contributers of the KDE-project.

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  3. mmh, so the problem weren’t the distributions but the distribution? maybe kde4 should have been released with bigger warnings, I don’t know.I thought it was alpha/beta and waited with testing, don’t know were I got that from.Was it unstable or did it just miss features? Not releasing can’t be an option for opensource software and every tester helps…who is to blame for making the wrong people testers?Was it so bad? I liked seeing kde4 grow! starting with kde3-apps in kde4.1, I expected less than I got.

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  4. Shouldn’t make distributions responsible, it’s hypocrit.If KDE decides to release a 4.0 and a 4.1 then you couldn’t tell to distributions or end users that this is not in fact a normal release, only a passenger’s release to the final and actually usable 4.2, because distributions will pack it because users will demand it.So don’t blame to distributions or users, because they don’t understand the small letters of the release’s text.Responsability is in this case of KDE, which should not have released 4.0 nor 4.1 in form of stable builds. Users which downloaded this releases and now they decided to try gnome because they noted the incompletness of KDE, now will remain using Gnome, and KDE will have less users because of the bad decission of relasing 4.0 and 4.1 which was in fact a beta unusable software.

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  5. Thanks for posting your comments.Maybe they are part of the problem but I resist myself on blaming them at 100%. They have (and will) paid the consecuences of releasing KDE 4.0 and 4.1 too. They have been also affected so maybe they have some arguments to add to this discussion too.

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  6. distributions were the only problem of kde4. communication with the enduser should be done by them. missing features after a rewrite? surprise. who forced it on the users?

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  7. I think that you are missing one point one big problem for KDE4 was the fact that distributions start to install it their only KDE version before 4.2 and so people were mistaken that kde4 was ready when not. Another point important to correct and it’s also distributions related is the nepomuk problem or more precisely soprano. In soprano you have the choice between to backend, one slow, old, unmaintened and sesame2 but for different reasons most of the main distributions don’t want to package it and so strigi will be disable in kde4.2 and so nepomuk will be completely useless or awfully slow. So people will think that kde4 is awfully slow and instead to blame the distributions and packaging as it should be they will complained about KDE project. Nepomuk and semantic desktop is one of the most important new feature in KDE4 and we won’t have access to them. Good luck and I hope that the futur will be bright for KDE.

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  8. I’m in the same perspective. I has been using kde since 2.x because in that days, and through 2.x and 3.x series, gnome was a very incomplete desktop.Now we have moved to the 4.x series, making a difficult decission of creating a new platform. After testing 4.0 I saw it had the same problem of the former Gnome (it was not a desktop yet, only a semi-operating idea). I sincerly didn’t find any improvment in the 4.1 series, except some big bugs and minimal requirmentes not present in 4.0.So I moved to Gnome, and now I’m waiting to find in 4.2 KDE at least an usable desktop, In wich I can connect to a ethernet or wireless without going to the console, for example, or a desktop with more serious features in form of contents than features in form of not working or usable “art” (yes, of course, Plasma).

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  9. Hi Agustin:Great post. I’m a strong supporter of KDE and although I didn’t use KDE 4.0, I’ve been using 4.1 and 4.2 since the first beta.Today is indeed a big day, not only for KDE developers and users, but to all FOSS community. I strongly believe KDE 4.2 sets a new paradigm for the desktop experience and, like you, I’m proud of what KDE is and will be in the future. Long live KDE 😉

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