Sunday, October 15, 2006

KDE's 10th birthday

The Dot story tells all.

KDE's certainly changed my life in more ways than one:

A. I get a highly-configurable desktop that - apart from hardware integration and software installation issues - absolutely kicks Windows or Mac OS X in the face:

Konqueror is an incredible web-browser that loads, responds and renders far faster than Firefox/Linux and actually integrates with the desktop. In fairness, I do still use Firefox/IE for those more stubborn websites.

KMail is my email client of choice - friendly and does threading correctly, which I cannot say about Outlook.

KWrite is the model of how UNIX text editors should be - easy-to-use, while still having power features like syntax highlighting. None of the ESC, beep, colon, w, oops I left caps lock on, behaviour of ViM. And none of the Emacs operating system's crazy shortcuts, nor games (yes, literally; I used to spend far too much time talking to psychiatrist app they had in there :)). My favourite productivity boosting feature has got to be "View / New Window".

Konsole and its tabs and convenient Shift + {Left, Right} for switching tabs and Shift + {Up, Down} for scrolling by one line go well with the UNIX terminal's Shift + {PgUp, PgDn} for scrolling. The power of the UNIX command line is the perfect complement to the ease-of-use of the KDE GUI.

But my favourite app would have to be KTimeMon, the only clear and concise system-monitoring taskbar applet in existence.

And, Amarok, a media player that actually cares about playlists and gives context about the current song or artist. Having said that, it is a bit unstable at times and I wished it played video (else it's not a "_multi_media" player).

And of course, KMix.

Most importantly, it's all opensource and free (in terms of speech and beer) so it will always be around.

B. On the developer side of things, hacking on KDE over the last 5 years has taught me more about developing software - heavier C++ than I was used to, revision control, listening to users, UI design bug management, organisation, release processes, highly collaborative and distributed development, support, effective email communication, team management, the list goes on - than I have learnt anywhere else, even university. I still see closed-source companies that do not understand any of the above.

KDE is wonderful because it brings together the best software development practices and the most passionate people to create a kick-arse, opensource desktop environment that users love and a community where people meet, learn from each other and develop all kinds of skills.

It's a bit scary that I've been hanging around for half of KDE's existence. I started with KOffice filters and remember how friendly people like David Faure and Nicolas Goutte were in helping to get me up to speed. I moved on to write KolourPaint, touched other bits and pieces in KDE but became relatively inactive due to university commitments. But every minute I've been there, KDE's been one of the most rewarding things I've ever been involved in. As bonus, next year I'll be graduating and only working part-time after that, so I should have plenty of time to work on KDE.

Finally, congrats to everyone who has contributed to KDE's success and I'm sure KDE will only get bigger and better. Cheers!

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