Continuing with the subject Case Studies II, as part of the second session we had two talks, one of the by a member of the KDE community and other by a GNOME developer, in order to know the differences between the two communities of free software.
The first lecture was given by Albert Astals Cid, he works with KDE since 2003 and is currently the coordinator of translations in KDE, the maintainer of Okular document viewer and works as a developer in the Poppler library of pdf for Linux.
What is KDE?
“KDE is an international team co-operating on development and distribution of Free, Open Source Software for desktop and portable computing. Our community has developed a wide variety of applications for communication, work, education and entertainment. We have a strong focus on finding innovative solutions to old and new problems, creating a vibrant, open atmosphere for experimentation.”
Currently the name KDE identifies the international team and not just identify with the desktop environment. This team works for quite some time in the development of different tools for different areas, not only in a desktop enviroment.
All that is created in KDE is free software, is licensed under free software licenses, plus all the services provided are free software and tools that are necessary to develop KDE is free software, only has one tool, that virtually not used at present, for code analysis, but is not necessary to develop in KDE.
KDE has lots of tools, in order to provide users all the tools you need to use a desktop:
- Desktop KDE (Kool Desktop Environment).
- Doc Viewer like Okular.
- Web Browser like Konqueror.
- Music Player like Amarok.
- Others like games, educational tools, etc.
The main features of KDE Community are:
- No benevolent dictator.
- Core team based on contributions.
- Lots of small sub-communities (kdegames, kdeedu, amarok, etc.).
- Mailing lists and IRC for communication (forums for users).
- Developer sprints.
- Friendly to new people.
- Multiple areas: translators, artists, usability people, testers, documentation writers, promoters, packagers, developers.
KDE was founded in 1996 by Matthias Ettrich with the main objetive to create a good unify GUI for UNIX users, using the same toolkit (Qt) to ensure same behaviour for all applications. The version 1.0 was released in 1998 and currently is in version 4.8, released in January 2012.
- For libraries: LGPL, BSD, MIT and X11.
- For applications: GPLv2 or later.
- For documentation: FDL 1.2 or later.
- Qt licensing: Qt until version 1.45 was proprietary, in version 2.2 was licensed under the free license GPLv2. Currently is licensed under the GPLv2, GPLv3, LGPL 2.1.
KDE versions follow the X.y.z scheme where:
- X is the major version
- y is the minor version to introduce improvements.
- z is the patch versio to fix bugs and improve translations.
The second lecture was given by Carlos Garcia Campos, he is a collaborator and a developer in different GNOME projects.
What is GNOME?
Simple, GNOME is people, a lot of teams organized to do a different task, loke developers, translators, documentators, designers, marketing, packagers, etc.
GNOME has lots of tools, in order to provide users all the tools you need to use a desktop:
- Desktop GNOME.
- Paint programs like GIMP.
- Media Player like Banshee.
- Music Player like Rhythmbox.
- Others: Cheese, Inkscape, Tomboy, etc.
The main features of GNOME Community are:
- No benevolent dictator.
- Every module has one or more maintainers to makereleases and make decisions about the project.
- Global decisions are discussed and made by the whole community on a public mailing list (desktop-devel-list).
- Any person who has contributed a reasonable number of patches can become a committer.
- A committer can commit to the git repository, but her contributions have to be reviewed and approved by the maintainer of the module.
The GNOME project was announced in 1997 by Miguel de Icaza, and began to develop that same year by his and Federico Mena, with the aim of developing a consistent and complete desktop environment, with applications which have a similar appearance and operation correct. It was built using the toolkit defined for the GIMP tool that was already well underway, called GTK (Gimp Tool Kit). GNOME started as an alternatively KDE because, at that moment, dependent on a proprietary software that was Qt. Version 1.0 was in March 1999, is currently in version 3.0 released in April 2011.
- For libraries: LGPL, but they are thinking in change to GPLv3.
- For applications: GPL.
Here ther are an example of the development process whit the version cycle:
I know that there are a lot of discussion around these two desktop systems, with great supporters and detractors on each side, defending to the death each of the advantages of the system they prefer. In my case I have no preference for either, I have used both systems and I think each one has good features and bad features. From my point of view, I think actually one of the flaws of both systems is that they haven’t joined forces (this is not the truth, they did the Desktop Summit to close positions, but there are some differences that seem insurmountable such as the toolkit). I think if both were in the same direction could get a desktop system that can really get a foothold in the important desktop market and advance precisely the way that free software lacks.
One thing that I liked in both communities is that they are focused more on the people, instead programs, foundations, brand or philosophy, two communities have great similarities and with great desire to upgrade, in which the value is real in each of the members who collaborate in some way in all project processes.