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KDE-Related Organizations Express Anger Over Ximian Search-Engine Ads

Feb 13, 2001, 02:24 (82 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Dennis E. Powell)

by Dennis E. Powell, Linux Planet

KDE developers aren't the only people upset by a Ximian advertising buy on the Google search engine that pops up Ximian brand GNOME ads when users seek information on KDE or KDE-related products.

"If they've got $15-million, why are they trying to steal business from me?" asked Shawn Gordon of theKompany.com, noting the cash infusion Ximian received from Boston venture capitalists just two weeks ago. "theKompany" is one of the search phrases targeted by Ximian's ad campaign, as is one of its products, KDE Studio. "I guess I'm honored that they know who I am."

TrollTech, publishers of the QT toolkit on which KDE is based, expressed similar dismay.

"We haven't decided officially just how angry we are," said Aron Kozak, TrollTech's public relations manager. But Mac McDougal, director of marketing, seemed to have a handle on what Ximian ads in response to a TrollTech search signified.

"Imagine all the disappointment this is going to cause out there. You have a bunch of users looking for an intuitive and richly functional cross-platform GUI toolkit -- and they find Ximian instead! That's like buying a ticket for a Julia Roberts movie, and ending up looking at Dame Edna reruns," McDougal said.

While neither company threatens legal action, neither has ruled it out, either.

The advertisements first came to light Feb. 8 in a post to the KDE developers list, and anger grew as the vastness of the campaign was discovered.

"Yeah, that happens if free software developers get money. They try to trash other free software developers," said leading KDE developer Stephan Kulow. Others in the KDE community, noting that it was an attack on a free software project by a commercial concern, likened it to a company that purchases blood setting up its booth outside a Red Cross blood bank.

Waldo Bastian, another active KDE core developer, contacted Ximian about the ads and quoted this reply: "I'm sure that if someone is such a newbie that they need to use a search engine to find kde.org, they're not so much 'looking for KDE' as "looking for a desktop environment.'" Said Bastian, "I guess that's just like all those people who search for 'Linux' but actually just want to go to www.microsoft.com."

"My initial reaction was, ' this is not the developers, this is some stupid marketing person who doesn't understand the community yet,'" said Andreas Pour, who has been active in promoting KDE. "I don't even know who has control over at Ximian at this point -- I guess it's the venture capital, not the developers."

One of the ironies noted by many in the KDE community is that GNOME, the project on which the commercial Ximian is based, was established largely as a response to KDE because the Free Software Foundation objected to the proprietary QT toolkit employed by KDE. After months of community pressure, TrollTech released QT under the GNU General Public License.

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