Aaron Seigo, KDE project lead speaks out

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Aaron Seigo joined the KDE project, which produces a free software desktop system for Linux and Unix platforms, in 2000 and is sponsored by Trolltech. Based in Calgary, Canada, Aaron spends his time thinking about KDE project and its client-side software.

Here he describes how porting KDE4 to Windows and MacOS will enable Kontact, the Open Source groupware application, to challenge the dominance of Microsoft Outlook in the enterprise.

How long have you been working on KDE how has the project developed in that time?

I started contributing patches during the 2.0 development time frame and slowly became more involved with each release after that.

In that time, the project has grown along three avenues: technology, community and organisation.

The code base has grown in complexity as well as capability. Today we have far more applications than we did when I first got involved and they are capable of so much more. While 2.0 was a capable desktop, it was really the promise of it that drew me to it: it was obvious that one day KDE would be a very complete set of products, and we've mostly arrived there by now.

Community-wise, there are not only more people involved but more kinds of involvement. When I first got involved we had relatively few non-coders involved on a regular basis, and if you weren't a coder you were certainly something of a second class citizen.

These days not only do non-coders get treated much more equitably, but we have impressive numbers of artists, translators, writers, communicators/marketeers, coordinators, etc. The user community has also grown substantially, to say the least, and has resulted in many thriving user-centric resources on the web such as kde-look.org, kde-apps.org and dot.kde.org. The growth in diversity and numbers in the community has been nothing short of phenominal.

Organisationally, while the KDE project's global foundation, KDE e.V., existed when I got involved with KDE it was much less visible and far less visibly active. There were conferences every year, but they were smaller and certainly not linked together under a single umbrella as Akademy is.

Today, we have official non-profit status, relationships with many of the biggest industry movers and shakers (not to mention literally dozens of smaller but highly entrepeneurial enterprises), an annual conference event in Akademy (with a second one about to be added in the Americas!), sponsored developer sprints on a nearly monthly basis, quarterly reports that get published both to membership and the public, etc. We have working groups (our version of "steering committees") for things such as human-computer interaction issues (usaiblity, accessibility, art direction, etc) and communication and marketing.

In a nutshell: KDE has grown up in just about every way imaginable in the years I've had the pleasure and privelege of being a contributor. The successful maturation of the project is certainly one indicator of its success, and the fact that it has done this while the active leadership has gone through a couple of generations shows that this likely to continue on. If anything defines KDE, it is the deep internalisation of the values and goals of the group within every corner and sub-project.

How has the release of KDE4 compare to the early days of KDE3?

KDE4 compares much more readily to the early days of KDE2 rather than KDE3. KDE 3.0 was a very evolutionary release over KDE2 with a few interesting and useful new library features, but it was hardly a massive reworking of things.

KDE 2.0, on the other hand, was a couple of years in the making just as 4.0 was, it was certainly not what we would consider "complete" by today's standards though it was usable and it brought a huge number of exciting new framework level advances.

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