Pick a Free OS

In conversation with Martin Konold

How did you get started on KDE?

It was quite simple actually. I was completing my thesis and was wondering what I could next. That's when I met Matthais Etterich, who showed me QT. It was at 0.97, I think. We instantly liked what we saw. At that time we also felt that Linux required a good desktop environment. There was CDE, but that was commercial and it was also based on Motif. I think Red Hat released a commercial version that included CDE, but I wasn't able to see it. We thought we could do better and so we decided to start on KDE.

Did the fact that QT was not GPL ever stop you?

Never. We saw QT and we knew how good it was. We just put out KDE. We're not forcing anyone to use it. We just put it out there. If you don't want to use it, that's ok.

How many people were part of the original team?

When we decided to the start the project, Matthais put out an announcement on comp.os.linux.announce and the LyX mailing list. I setup a mailing list. We got about 10 people to subscribe in the first week. Most of them were just watchers and not actual developers. Mark Donaghue, who ported Xdvi to Linux, was one of the firsts. There was even an Indian who joined us very early on, Khalid Mohamed, and he's still there with us.

How is the relationship between Gnome and KDE developers?

Very good. There is quite a lot of exchange between the developers. It felt very good to meet and talk to Michael Meeks (of Ximian GNOME) here, at Bang!inux. Generally, the users of these desktop environments are more vocal.

Are you worried about GNOME?

No. We're way ahead of them. When GTK 2.0 is released sometime this year, they'll reach where we were, at version 1.4. QT 3 is going to come out later this year and that will take us even further.

The GNOME developers are working on a native port of Open Office. Why aren't the KDE guys doing the same?

We could do that but we don't want to. We have among the KDE developers, Khalid Mohamed, who has worked extensively on StarOffice. He was the one who ported StarOffice to Linux. According to him, StarOffice comes with a lot of excess baggage. There is a huge amount of legacy code in there, some even going back to the DOS days. Essentially, the code is just too big and unwieldy to be worked on. So, we're concentrating on the KOffice suite of applications, which are looking quite good.

KDE has suddenly moved into a very aggressive release schedule. 2 came out in October. 2.01 in January and 2.1 just came out. Comment.