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Linux Today at COMDEX: KDE League Formalized with Press Conference, Granroth Addresses Critics

Nov 16, 2000, 00:54 (3 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Michael Hall)

By Michael Hall at COMDEX in Las Vegas

After spending a few days as a poorly guarded secret, the KDE League held a press conference at COMDEX to formally announce the group's launch and allow KDE developer Kurt Granroth an opportunity to discuss his past statements about the GNOME Foundation in light of the new organization's formation.

Chris Schlaeger, president of KDE League spent a few minutes introducing the KDE project to attendees, noting that KDE is in use, according to an Evans Data study earlier this year, on 70% of all Linux machines. According to Schlaeger, the purpose of the League is to "establish KDE as a standard" both on desktop systems and in mobile devices.

Schlaeger carefully emphasized that the League will have no influence on the KDE development process, and that it isn't a steering commitee or advisory board. Rather, he said "you could call it a marketing organization," designed to promote KDE and act as a mediating body between organizations with an interest in the environment.

"Technical excellence alone does not guarantee widespread use," said Schlaeger, who called the formation of the GNOME Foundation a "wakeup call" for the need to address promotion of KDE.

KDE Developer and frequent commentator Kurt Granroth provided a few words of explanation for how the KDE League isn't representative of a reversal of his comments regarding the GNOME Foundation immediately after that organization was founded. Granroth has been accused of embracing an organization he said would never have a place in the KDE community. According to Granroth, once the corporate sponsorship and non-profit status the two organizations are discarded, the differences between the two are substantial.

"KDE," said Granroth, echoing Schlaeger's comments, "will never have any corporate direction in our development."

As a result of these differences, said Granroth, he will never retract previous commentary he wrote on community sites or statements he made to others regarding the chances of a GNOME Foundation-like organization forming around KDE.

Granroth also took an uncompetitive tone as he spoke about the two organizations:

"GNOME is not the enemy," he said, noting that with Linux currently occupying around 5% of the desktop market, infighting between the two projects will hinder further acceptance of Linux in that area. Granroth also pointed out that many of the members of the new league are also members of the GNOME Foundation, and "they're not going to shoot themselves in the foot."

According to Granroth, the idea for the KDE League wasn't particularly new, having been in the planning stages for about a year, though the announcement of the GNOME Foundation had a "little bit" of an influence on the decision to finally launch the group after several stalls. In the wake of the announcement of the GNOME Foundation, said Granroth, members of the KDE Project received a "huge barrage of e-mails" from members of their user community and elsewhere, encouraging them to launch the organization.

Questions were raised during the press conference regarding the notable absence of Red Hat from the list of distributions forming the charter membership of the group, to which League chairman Andreas Pour said the company is still considering membership. Pour wouldn't comment on the reason Red Hat may have for delaying membership, except to say that he doesn't "have any knowledge" of their ultimate intentions. Pour also addressed the absence of VA Linux from the group, pointing out that though the company isn't a member of the organization, they provide support to the KDE project via their SourceForge site, where KDE is hosted.

Pour said membership to the league isn't closed, and that other companies will be permitted to join as they wish.

IBM's representative, Sheila Harnett of the IBM Linux Technology Center, announced that IBM will be working with TrollTech and Mandrake to bring components of ViaVoice to the KDE environment. Part of IBM's long-term strategy with Linux and KDE includes use of the OS and environment on mobile devices. TrollTech is on hand at COMDEX demonstrating a "proof of concept" of their Qt/Embedded palmtop environment, which will no doubt play a part in the use of KDE in mobile environments.

Representatives from the other corporate members were also on hand, making brief statements in support of both the League and the KDE project. The KDE League is currently comprised of Borland, Caldera, Corel, Fujitsu-Siemens, Hewlett Packard, IBM, KDE.com, Klaralvdalens Datakonsult, theKompany.com, Mandrakesoft, SuSE, TrollTech, and TurboLinux.

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