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Feature: Desktop Software

What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

By Bruce Byfield on July 15, 2008 (7:00:00 PM)

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When KDE 4.0 was released in January, it was supposed to be the foundation for a new era of desktop development. But as 4.x versions began finding their way into distributions, negative reactions began to obscure other ones. With the upcoming 4.1 release due at the end of this month, it's hard to avoid wondering: what happened?

To a degree, the answer seems to implicate everybody involved, from KDE and the distributions that ship it to the free software media and users. In doing so, the answer highlights some of the changing relationships in the free and open source software (FOSS) community.

Finding answers matters because the user revolt -- or the perception of one -- that KDE seems to be facing is almost unprecedented. KDE took a giant technical leap forward in each of its other releases, but the reactions to the 2.0 and 3.0 releases were very different from 4.0's reception. Like the latest release, KDE 2.0 had early performance problems, and some applications were slow to upgrade, but users seemed largely content to wait for improvements. Similarly, although KDE 3.0 was greeted by accusations that the release was mishandled on the kde-devel mailing list, both user and reviewer reactions were generally positive. Nor has any other FOSS project received a backlash like the one facing KDE.

By contrast to earlier releases, what happened to KDE 4 is harder to make sense of. Despite its misleading version number, KDE 4.0 was repeatedly described as a developer's release -- not for the average user's desktop. Wade Olson, the press contact for KDE in North America, points out that most major reviews of KDE 4.0 clearly communicated its state.

However, starting in April or May -- about the time that the first versions of KDE 4.0 were finding their way into distributions -- that message seems to have been lost, and users started to react as if KDE 4.0 were a finished piece of software. Within that frame of reference, some of these reactions were justified, especially those about the loss of features and customization options in the available binaries. Other reactions, such as criticisms about the new menu or desktop manager, may have been indicators of a fear of change as much as legitimate complaints. Some, like the numerous complaints about stability, were as much the responsibility of the distributions as of KDE. Still others, such as the fear that the emphasis on Dolphin as a file manager meant that Konqueror would be slowly phased out, seemed to have little basis in fact. However, regardless of their validity, the negative reactions slowly became dominant, appearing on various KDE mailing lists and as comments on KDE.news and even as repeated thread hijacks in the middle of Groklaw discussions.

These reactions were accompanied by articles in the same vein by professional and semiprofessional writers. At one extreme, Linux Hater's Blog zeroed in on KDE and core developer Aaron Seigo as continual targets for abuse. At the other extreme, veteran FOSS journalist Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, after expressing his personal dislike of the KDE 4 desktop, suggested that the project needed a fork because the current developers had lost touch with users. Such writings both echoed user sentiments, and, perhaps, created them.

Having worked on KDE 4 for more than three years, KDE developers reacted with understandable anger. In particular, Troy Unrau, best known for his "Road to KDE 4" articles, went so far as to say in his blog, "KDE and open source is not ever obligated to please users. We are not obligated to fix bugs. We are not obligated to implement things that you demand. We are not obligated to provide open forums for you to attack us personally."

A week later, Unrau apologized, but his rant had already fuelled the flames. When Unrau put his KDE activities on hold for personal reasons, his departure was widely seen as a reaction to the situation. Many saw Seigo's suspension of his blog so that he could focus on coding in a similar light, although he himself explains it as a wish to step down after more than a year of being the chief public relations figure in KDE.

Puzzled responses and justifications

In the last couple of weeks, Seigo and other key KDE developers have begun taking a more dispassionate view of the situation as they try to figure how their dream turned into a nightmare, and to prevent a similar situation from happening in the future.

To start with, Sebastian Kügler observes that the negative reactions are not the only responses to KDE 4. He points out that, since KDE 4's release, 166 new developer accounts have been opened for KDE's versioning system -- almost one every day. He also suggests out that positive reactions tend to be ignored in favor of the more sensationalistic negative ones.

Still, even with these encouraging signs, Kügler says that the general reaction "puzzles me. The complaints feel disconnected to our actual performance."

Similarly, while Wade Olson admits in his blog that KDE might have missed "some features or level of perceived stability that we predicted," he also maintains that "we've been promoting nothing but honesty from a marketing perspective since inception."

A wicked problem

A more complex view is expressed by Aaron Seigo, who refers to KDE 4's reception as what management theory sometimes calls "a wicked problem" -- that is, as "not a problem where there's one cause and one solution." Instead, he sees the reception as reflecting a number of different tendencies in KDE in particular, and FOSS in general.

Seigo begins by acknowledging that the sweeping changes in both back end technology and desktop functionality may have been more than many users could handle. He suggests that, after years of trying to equal Windows and Mac OS X desktops, KDE has finally succeeded, and is now looking for ways to innovate. The trouble is, this change leaves users without a frame of reference.

"It's harder for people to have a sense of what we're doing and what we're reaching for," Seigo says. "[KDE 4] is such a huge and new set of ideas that, unless you immerse yourself in it on a daily basis, it's not that easy to get."

At the same time, Seigo suggests that the KDE project "did not do as good a job as we should have of managing some of the conversations" on its sites and mailing lists. While KDE is used to unmoderated conversation, Seigo sees that a small number of posters "who really don't have a lot of care or trust for anybody" were allowed to dominate the discussion, and "the tone was set by this small group of people who were loud, ill-mannered, and obnoxious. And that set a tone, and a sort of mob mentality set in." As a result, more reasonable voices were lost or stilled.

For Seigo, another part of the problem is that KDE may have misperceived its audience. "Personally, I naively thought that we had really proven ourselves with KDE 3. We had taken the promise of KDE 2 and matured it to KDE 3.5.9. And then we were going to attempt to replicate the results of that previous effort and take it to a whole new level."

But what Seigo and the rest of the KDE community may have failed to realize is that, with the recent popularity of FOSS, many KDE users lacked this historic sense -- and, therefore, did not have the sense of trust he expected.

In addition, he says, "There's still very much a consumer model in people's minds and not a participatory one." In other words, some users, rather than trying to contribute to the project, reacted more as customers who had a right to demand satisfaction, and as though the only way they could get their complaints addressed was by causing a disturbance.

Another contribution to the problem, Seigo suggests, is the varying ways in which distributions handled KDE 4.0. While some, like openSUSE, took time to polish KDE 4 and presented it as an experimental option, others "released packages that simply don't work. And these days, the distributions are pretty much our public face. So when the distributions don't get it right, we look bad."

Not all distributions seem to have communicated -- as the KDE project expected they would -- users that KDE 4 was experimental. Instead, they seem to have been motivated by a number of factors, such as the fact that support for the Qt 3 tool kit used by KDE 3 would no longer be maintained after July 1. This situation left distributions with the choice of a release that would depend on unsupported libraries for some of its lifecycle or shipping KDE 4.x. Given the competition between modern distros to be the first to include the latest software, many opted for shipping KDE 4.

In many cases, this decision increased the dissatisfaction. On the Fedora list, for example, many users complained long and bitterly about KDE 4's unfinished state, and some queried what it would take to ensure that KDE 3.5.9 packages would be available in the next release.

Yet another factor is the role of the FOSS media, according to Seigo. Because the negative reactions were so violent and colorful, they may have encouraged journalists attempting to be fair to give them more attention than they deserved. In turn, those wishing to find faults focused on the negative aspects in reporting and ignored the positive, creating a vicious circle of escalating criticism.

Furthermore, Seigo sees a switch in the FOSS media from advocacy journalism to an adversarial position "that doesn't exist and shouldn't have to exist." According to Seigo, the role of the FOSS media is to "interpret the bias of KDE, and they have failed to do so."

"You guys are part of the machine," he says. "And you are a big part of whether what goes out is accurately reported or fairly reported. You become part of the success or not." In other words, in the case of KDE 4, the FOSS media failed to do its job.

However, Seigo reserves his strongest criticism of the media for sites like the Linux Hater's Blog. "I think it's exceptionally sad that they have received the level of acceptance they have for what isn't satire, but is pretty puerile and negative. There's a difference between satire and just being destructive. Those same things can be said in a way that isn't destructive."

Working towards solutions

The KDE project rejects out of hand the idea that technical changes might be slowed so as not to overwhelm users. No doubt, after so many months of planning, admitting mistakes in direction would be difficult, but the issue does not seem to be even considered.

"I really hope that the message that gets out is not that innovation is dangerous and will wreck your project," Seigo says, addressing participants in other projects. "That scares me to death. We're at the point where we're turning a lot of concerns innovation-wise and technology-wise, and I really hope that other projects don't look at this and say, 'Wow, if I do something really cool, I'm not only not going to get rewarded, but be beaten up for it.' Don't lose your nerve. Continue following your passion, and don't be afraid to make mistakes."

Instead, the KDE team is placing much of its faith in communication to solve existing problems. As Summer of Code student Chani Armitage blogged, the question is, "How do we keep communication between developers and other contributors and users open, without people being overwhelmed?"

So far, possible answers to this question include a user advocacy board in KDE, and a glossary and FAQ to accompany new releases. An especially popular suggestion is a code of conduct on KDE sites and mailing lists.

"The code of conduct is a way to let people coming in know what our culture is and what is acceptable and what isn't," Seigo says. "It allows us to create a description of what to most of us is common sense, what our community actually stands for, and then is there for everyone to see and reference. And when exceptional steps have to be taken, then the person who is going to take those steps can look at it and go, 'OK, I'm justified in doing that."

Most of all, though, KDE is counting heavily on what it delivers in 4.1 to make people forget the problems with 4.0. "This will wash out over time," Seigo says. "The biggest thing that we can do is executing and delivering. People who look at 4.1 are seeing a very different animal from 4.0, which is what we said at the beginning."

How much clearer communication will help may take a while to determine. How much a strong release can calm the disturbance will be revealed when the community can assess 4.1 at the end of the month. But the real question -- and what seems to worry many KDE developers -- is whether the tainted atmosphere around 4.0 will cause people to reject 4.1 without giving it a chance.

It's a question that members of other projects may want to watch closely. More than anything that the project did or didn't do on a technical or PR level, the problem seems to have been caused by some unexpected but fundamental changes in the ways that FOSS projects, users, distributions, and the media relate to each other. If that's the case, other projects, especially large ones, might find themselves facing a similar revolt -- possibly for no better reasons than KDE has.

Bruce Byfield is a computer journalist who writes regularly for Linux.com.

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on What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

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What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 159.238.13.56] on July 15, 2008 07:32 PM
I looked at it, being that it is an experimental release, in a virtual machine. I did not like it, and stayed on with KDE3.

In this case, I am a consumer. I am a participant, but NOT IN KDE. However, although I did not like it, and did not consider it finished, this is all I have to say negative, because I have a choice of what to use. Unlike Vista where the end of sales of XP (and eventual end of patches) means that I have no choice. Since this is open source, I can help maintain KDE3 if it is that important, either migrating it to the new Qt library, or maintaining the old libraries.

This is open, there are no secrets. If you don't like it, fix it.

As for me, I am going to just keep using KDE3 until 4 is ready, and if it never is, I will switch desktops. I like having a choice.

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If you don't like it, fix it. WTF?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 208.101.154.165] on July 15, 2008 11:02 PM
Ah, no!
I am a consumer of Linux, not a programmer, and not a #%&*$@ beta tester. When I install a finished product, I expect it to work.

That being said, I knew to stay away from 4.0. It was made crystal clear from the beginning that it was a "work in progress", so I didn't install it, I didn't use it, and I didn't complain when it didn't work. If there's any blame to be laid here (and I'm not sure there really is), it would be the distros that offered it without properly communicating precisely what the risks were. Gone are the days when only gurus, programmers, and system administrators are using Linux. Ordinary computer users are happily installing and using it every day, most of the time without any difficulty. It's important that clear communication takes place, to avoid the kinds of shouting and accusations that have filled the Intertubes over this.

And repeating the tired old saw "if you don't like it fix it yourself" is not only rude, it also does a disservice to the entire FOSS community. It's wrong and you know it!

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Re: If you don't like it, fix it. WTF?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 85.178.201.37] on July 17, 2008 06:58 AM
Actually the fix it part is not as rude as it seems. It seems rude if you are in a commercial product mindset. It would be very rude for a company delivering a product you might even have to pay for to say this. Within the open source world it's not really rude at all. You don't have to be a programmer to help fix things. Contributing bug reports and helping the developers to figure them out and fix them is as much contributing as writing code. Only through participation can FOSS be a much better experience than closed source. And I don't think it's too much to expect contribution.

Of course the whole KDE 4 matter wasn't handled well. I wonder why they didn't just call it 4.0 beta or even 3.9 something to make the state of the software obvious when looking at the version number. It's not really clever to use a point zero version number for work in progress.

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Re: If you don't like it, fix it. WTF?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 75.87.66.197] on July 19, 2008 05:56 AM
Wrong attitude. If you want to be a consumer, that's fine...go buy a commercial OS. Open Source only works when users are developers, too. These guys devote time, money, and significant pieces of their lives to giving you good software; the least you can do is give back and help out, even if you can't program.

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Re: If you don't like it, fix it. WTF?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 211.128.85.140] on July 29, 2008 01:33 PM
Consumers are lazy and you know it. Here's one for you: "If you don't like it, pay for it to be fixed." If you've never contributed to FOSS, then shut your pie hole.

OK, I think I should not read anymore comments. I'll have to repeat myself.

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What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 208.111.203.85] on July 15, 2008 07:33 PM
Great article. I don't use KDE myself, so I didn't realize what a storm 4.0 had generated. I have to agree with Seigo though, "This will wash out over time." Innovation will always be met with initial resistance. Maybe this is why GNOME devs will never do a 3.0 ;)

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Re: What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 63.239.69.1] on July 16, 2008 02:58 PM
actually 3.0 is coming out. But perhaps because they got scared with what KDE did, it will just be Gnome 2.30 with a new name.

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What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 76.74.205.122] on July 15, 2008 07:35 PM
I think it's because the devs didn't realize that waving the carrot in front of the users would upset them.

That's great that you got that kewl new feature in git! Can ordinary users gets it now, when you're showing it off? No. Can they attempt and get disappointed by failing? They sure can.

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Re: What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: RichardP on July 21, 2008 04:35 AM
Actually, the devs did nothing of the sort. They always (and still do) say the current version is still a work in progress. Is that what you would consider waving the carrot?

I'm a Suse user. When I installed, I was told that 4.0 was experimental, and that 3 was the one to use for real work. I chose to install 4 out of curiousity to see how far it had come.

If your distro gave you the impression 4.0 was finished product, take it up with them, not with KDE, and consider changing distros.

RichardP.

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What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 193.91.165.165] on July 15, 2008 07:47 PM
Nothing. While some people can't read or care not what is written, many of us do care and can read too.

I've been running KDE 4 for months using Kubuntu with a real-time kernel - all provided with the distro - no compiling from source or head-scratching on my part - it just works great! It's fun to have a drum-machine like Hydrogen banging away without missing a beat when you switch desktops to Ardour, Rosegarden, Blender, GIMP, Inkscape or Konqueror showing www.linux.com. :D

As the KDE 4 developers have stated numerous times - 4.0 is not for regular users - wait for 4.1. WAAAAAAAAIIIIIIITTTTTTTTTTTTT! Do you hear me? WAAAAAIIIITTTTT! WAAAAIIIIITTTT! Sit tight! WAAAIIITTT!

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What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 65.6.195.151] on July 15, 2008 07:51 PM
Nothing went wrong with the release as far as I can tell except a failure of communication with the end users. KDE 4.0.x was never meant to be as functional as the 3.5.x branch has become. It was meant to be basically functional (which it was) with lots of room for development (which has been happening). For a good summary of everything that happened, read this article at Groklaw:

http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20080710131440951

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Re: What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 71.0.174.134] on July 15, 2008 08:43 PM
EXACTLY... there was no miscommunication. Devs said this was not for general consumption. Do you realize that they have changed _everything_ architecturally and foundationally in KDE4? Wait for the 4.1 release for more stability. If you really want stable, etc, wait for 4.3 or better.

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What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 75.145.180.221] on July 15, 2008 08:14 PM
Ironically, I would label myself as a case of 'any publicity is good publicity'. I was vaguely interested in KDE 4. When 4.0 came out, I tried it and was sorely disappointed.

But all the angry comments about it made it pretty obvious that hte devs meant it as a pre-release--it was easy to find that info. And it got me more interested in Seigo and KDE in general. Now, I'm nearly drooling for KDE 4.1. All the publicity about it (good or bad), just kept KDE in the news (and thus on my radar, so to speak) a lot longer.

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Re: What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 169.253.4.21] on July 15, 2008 09:13 PM
I completely agree. The more negative I hear about it, the more I want to jump in and help out. I installed Kubuntu with KDE4 and have found that it runs fine. It only takes a few hours to get comfortable with Plasma, after that its no problem.

On another note, I can't wait for PCLinuxOS to come out with KDE4.

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What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Alvare on July 15, 2008 08:48 PM
One of the BIGEST problems KDE 4 had was that it looked like windows VIsta.
That's the reason I didn't downloaded it.
The last thing i want is someone entering the door and shouting: "Is that the new windows ? It's awesome!" I would certainly kill that person.
BTW great article, I read it all and I am not english, my native lenguage is spanish, so I got tired sometimes but it was worth.

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Re: What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 71.188.233.228] on July 15, 2008 09:13 PM
Nice to see the KDE developers taking a hard dispassionate look at how they could have done it better. They've dropped the defensiveness. Kudos on that.

I hate KDE4. I think it's terrible. But I want the KDE developers to have a real chance to prove me wrong. If they do, I'll be happy to say so. And I hope they do. I want KDE4 to succeed, even more than I want to be right. Thanks for your hard work, but having your work criticized is part of the whole "release early and often" thing you've been citing so much lately.

Attacks on the developers are uncalled for, and any forum poster who personally attacks a developer by name should be banned immediately.

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Re: What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 77.163.173.87] on July 28, 2008 01:00 PM
ummm that vista look is default. How can a skinable desktop style be the BIGGEST problem? and to quote someone else roaming the internet : "why is it okay to look like mac OS but not like windows", what defines that it looks like
vista anyway?

I tried 4.0 out, first the polished version of opensuse and then the factory version (dev). Thought it was beautiful to play with, looks very promising, especially all those extra little applications (specially liked the maths ones)! But i'm sticking with 3 until 4 is matured a little. playing with 4 even made me appreciate what the KDE dev team had done with 3, brilliant job!! They have all my confidence that 4.0 will become a masterpiece! just take it easy and ignore the consumer mentality of the masses, the mentality that barks and bites the hand that feeds it's needs, they will hopefully see in the end that that mentality is baseless and greedy.

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What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 89.214.169.179] on July 15, 2008 09:26 PM
KDE4 is a work in progress, but very usable, full off new ideas, concepts and technologies. I'm sad that others users didn't understand that. I use KDE since it is born. I use KDE4 every day, compiling it from trunk, seeing it's progress. I'm a normal user, and I like what I see in KDE4.

Sorry for my bad english :)

Sergio Fernandes

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Re: What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 8.8.131.59] on July 16, 2008 03:51 PM
You're right KDE4 is a 'work in progress' and the KDE team calling it KDE 4.0 release is up to them. The major problem are the various distributions. Some, Red Hat - Fedora release, did not give the ability to upgrade to Fedora 9 and still use KDE 3.0. They forced the user to use KDE 4 or stay with Fedora 8. KDE or at least the distributions should have kept KDE3 as stable until KDE4 has the full KDE3.last functionality. I don't see KDE 4.1 (at this time) at the full functionality of KDE 3.last.

As of now I'm using gnome as the desktop and using KDE apps for everything else include kpager. :-) Yes, its a mess but so far less complaints than being forced to Fedora 8 and KDE4. :-)

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What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 71.188.233.228] on July 15, 2008 09:33 PM
***People who look at 4.1 are seeing a very different animal from 4.0, which is what we said at the beginning."***

No. Not really. I ran KDE 4.1 beta2, for hours and hours in Kubuntu. The crashing apps were expected in a beta, but I just don't see what the payoff is supposed to be for all this added complexity. I was impressed by the Widgets, but that wore off.

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What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 10.0.1.61] on July 15, 2008 09:52 PM
Problem is that regardless of what the developers might say to the contrary, calling it 4.0 implies it's a real release. If it's merely a developer preview of some kind, that's what they should be labeling it, 4.0pre1, or something like that.

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What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 217.171.129.72] on July 15, 2008 10:57 PM
Thank you Bruce, a very good article. I've publicly criticised you in the past for not talking to the devs first and the subsequently inaccurate articles, so I'm very happy to publicly acknowledge the excellent job you've done here.

I tend to agree that the main thing that went wrong is that we probably failed to realise that there were so many new users out there who have little understanding of the way the FOSS ecosystem works, the way KDE works, and the historical perspective of what a .0 release implies. Ask any hacker what a .0 release implies, they know, but someone recently crossed over from the dark side? Perhaps we do need to document these types of things somewhere, a kind of Dummies Guide to the Free Software Community.

For those still complaining about the 4.0 number, it's a technical thing, numbering it anything else would loose the implication for developers that the library code comes with a API and Binary compatibility guarantee. That's one of those sort of things we need to explain better to new users.

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Re: What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: nanday on July 16, 2008 04:18 AM

Thanks -- I think :-)



Whether I talk to the developers or not depends very much on the story. For reviews, I often try to reflect the reactions of average users, so far as I can extrapolate them. Generally speaking, software should stand on its own.



By contrast, in article that is more about events and trends in the free software community -- like this one -- the input of developers becomes relevant.



- Bruce Byfield ("nanday")

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What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 87.18.30.12] on July 15, 2008 11:10 PM
I'm using KDE from KDE-1.
I can understand that new users can like KDE-4, but for me it's no more KDE.
Perhaphs a sort of Gnome-QT or something similar, but it's really miles away from kde-3.
It's something else and I don't like it.
I'm using Debian so I will use as long as possible KDE-3, then I will try KDE-4.x and if it's not good enaugh, I will change desktop.
Sorry for my english.

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What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 58.179.111.85] on July 15, 2008 11:28 PM
Nothing did. Past KDE 0 have been missing features user were more the Old Unix style users. More tolerant.

The Flair up is simple people don't understand what a major number change means. Where the past users did. Major internal alteration that can lead to some upsets. Vista did not help particularly that is SP1 has not address the issues it has after people waited 12 months for it. Most of KDE 4.0 will be gone inside 12 months from its release.

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What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 88.163.1.159] on July 15, 2008 11:41 PM
The marketing team jumped the gun. Look at the release announcement for 4.0, is there a mention of a "developer only" or "preview" status ? No, it is heralded as the Second Coming. No wonder users were disappointed. Not everyone follows the blogs of developers...

http://www.kde.org/announcements/4.0/

compare with the one for 3.5.9 (an excellent release, btw):

http://www.kde.org/announcements/announce-3.5.9.php



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There's always Gnome

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 82.192.250.149] on July 16, 2008 12:23 AM
If you don't like the way KDE goes, you can always switch to Gnome. There is a choice.

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What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 67.60.95.83] on July 16, 2008 02:01 AM
Release early, release often. This is the open source motto. If people would have really read the release notes they would have read that the 4.0 release was in order to allow developers to get their programs completely ported to Qt 4. They would have also read that plasma was not yet complete. I know I'm not the only one who saw the release notes. I'm not a developer or beta tester either. With the release of KDE 4.0 I've decided to start learning C++ so I can contribute as well.

Posted a little earlier in the comments... Groklaw did a great story, far better than this one, located at: http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20080710131440951 They didn't just read blogs and responses, they actually had a real interview with the developers.

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Re: What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: nanday on July 16, 2008 04:01 AM
You are, of course, perfectly free to prefer the article on Groklaw to this one. I liked the Groklaw article myself.

However, you seemed to have missed two essential points:

1.) The Groklaw article wasn't an interview. It was written by KDE developer Sebastian K├╝gler, with input from several other people. And, while its topic was related to this article, its emphasis was not on the causes of the reaction but on answering specific misconceptions.

2.) Any opinion from a KDE developer in the article above where a link to a blog entry or comment is not given is taken from an original interview. In particular, all Seigo's comments are original.

I'm fine with criticism, but please criticize what I actually do or say -- not what you imagine.

- Bruce Byfield ("nanday")

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What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 127.0.0.1] on July 16, 2008 02:37 AM
Step one might be to realize that this is not a communications problem. While not a developer, I have been compiling this thing on a virtual machine since it was first available on SVN. I got frustrated when feedback that developers did not like was reacted to as if it was a personal attack. It looked to me - again, for a very long time - like this was a project without discernible goals. Furthermore, facilitating a port to windows created an immense distraction and considerable compromise. Another issue was cmake. I admit that I was resistant to learn yet another methodology - I have enough crap rattling around the cranium - thank you very much. In the process, it was as if the entire KDE culture had collapsed amd was taken over by people who were more interested in demonstrating their coding smarts than the needs of users.

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Re: What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 71.188.237.115] on July 16, 2008 03:06 AM
"And repeating the tired old saw "if you don't like it fix it yourself" is not only rude, it also does a disservice to the entire FOSS community. It's wrong and you know it!"

Well, more than that, it's pretty much daring the dissenters to fork it. Whenever you say "you're getting it free you have no right to complain" you might as well be saying: "Well fork it; I dare ya!" So don't be surprised when the subject comes up.

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Re(1): What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 84.11.16.250] on July 16, 2008 08:56 AM
Afork requires a split in the developer community. I don't see it.

#

What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 70.251.107.13] on July 16, 2008 03:04 AM
Imagine what would be written on this site if any of the words spoken by the KDE development team were spoken by somebody working at Microsoft about one of their products. Yeah, it would be ugly. My favorite is the notion that the press exists to interpret KDE's bias, not to have an adversarial (arms length) relationship and report the truth, but interpret the project's bias. Can you imagine if Steve Ballmer said that instead of Seigo? Dude its a sign of maturity in the FOSS media that they won't buy anybody's BS.

#

Re: What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 71.188.237.115] on July 16, 2008 03:27 AM
***Imagine what would be written on this site if any of the words spoken by the KDE development team were spoken by somebody working at Microsoft about one of their products. Yeah, it would be ugly. My favorite is the notion that the press exists to interpret KDE's bias, not to have an adversarial (arms length) relationship and report the truth, but interpret the project's bias. Can you imagine if Steve Ballmer said that instead of Seigo? Dude its a sign of maturity in the FOSS media that they won't buy anybody's BS.***


I like how they ponder why we don't understand what they're trying to do with our computers... but they never for a second consider the remote possibility that they don't understand what WE want to do with our computers.

Well, I don't like the looks of this, but we need to give them a chance. What I think they should be telling people is that KDE 3 is not about to be euthenized. If we can be assured that we can stick to KDE3 for a long time, we can let this happen. KDE4 is going to happen, and it should happen. These guys deserve a chance to prover us wrong, , and all I need to shut up and relax is an assurance of a couple of years of security updates for KDE3. If it's as bad as it seems, we'll talk about forking then. I used to think that wouldn't be necessary, now I'm not sure, but if you devs want to me stop wringing my hands in public and talking about a fork, announce 2-3 years of security updates for KDE3. I think that's all we have a right to expect. (You want the same AND different? That's not reasonable.)

It's true that most users didn't contribute to KDE development, though many of us contriuted to FOSS in other ways. But nevertheless, we own it. The "P" in GPL? That's us. Sucks for you, I know.

#

Re(1): What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: nanday on July 16, 2008 04:12 AM
To be fair, I don't think Seigo meant that the free software media should be nothing more than the PR arm of KDE. I think that what he is getting at is that some of the media is now routinely taking an adversarial position, rather than talking to developers and basing comments on what they hear. In other words, he's suggesting that in some cases sensationalism is taking the place of good journalism.

- Bruce Byfield ("nanday")




#

Re(2): What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 70.251.107.13] on July 16, 2008 04:23 AM
"By the way, he was saying that the FOSS press' job was to push the FOSS agenda (that's what advocacy in the quote means)."

Yes, and in some ways he's right. Simply by covering FOSS topics, journalists become advocates, implying that these topics are worth covering. In a world in which FOSS is rarely discussed in anything except the most general terms in the general computer media, and hardly at all in the mainstream media, that is necessarily so. And, for the most part, FOSS journalists are writing for an audience of FOSS supporters.

However, advocacy shouldn't and needn't imply uncritical cheerleading. If you look at a copy of George Orwell's collected works, you'll find that, for much of his life, his income came from newspaper articles in which he fiercely attacked people on the political left. Yet Orwell was a leftist himself, and writing in left wing papers.

However, the balance is tricky. If you're an advocate journalist who doesn't criticize, you become a sort of marketing drone, and your writing becomes worthless. Yet if you automatically criticize out of a need to show your independence, then a certain falseness enters into your writing. Effective FOSS journalists have to balance their natural interest in their beat with a dedication to the truth as they see it, and sometimes these two goals conflict. That's how things have been for as long as I've been in the field, and, from what I have seen, ever since anything identifiable as the FOSS media existed.

What worries me far more than the old news that FOSS journalists are advocates is that some are being unnecessarily adversarial -- and, in some cases, apparently solely for the purposes of quickly gaining a readership.

-Bruce Byfield ("nanday")


[Modified by: nanday on July 15, 2008 09:04 PM]

#

What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 217.22.121.18] on July 16, 2008 05:49 AM
"But the real question -- and what seems to worry many KDE developers -- is whether the tainted atmosphere around 4.0 will cause people to reject 4.1 without giving it a chance."

That's what they need to think about the next time when they release v3.99beta as v4.0

#

What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: karellen on July 16, 2008 07:17 AM
I think the biggest mistake that was made concerning KDE 4.x was releasing in as the default KDE desktop environment on a number of mainstream distros (opensuse 11.0, Fedora 9), which were eagerly anticipated and caused frustration in return because of the inherent bugs and shortcomings of a beta product

#

Re: What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 24.30.68.17] on July 16, 2008 09:16 PM
Yes but amongst all of this one must admit that OpenSUSE 11.0 does offer the option of installing KDE 3.5 and notes that it is the stable selection for KDE, I can't say for the others as I have always had some version of SuSE for my main distro. Also one must remember that distros like OpenSUSE and Fedora are testing grounds for the commercial versions provided by Novell and Redhat, If one wants stability pay for want you want as it helps support Open Source. If you can't pay as others have said try to contribute in some productive way.

#

What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 71.188.237.115] on July 16, 2008 08:35 AM
"And you know this because you can read authors' minds through the internet? You picking up any vibes right now?"

You have heard of observation and inference, right?

- Bruce Byfield ("nanday")
[Modified by: nanday on July 16, 2008 08:56 AM]

#

What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 121.45.11.227] on July 16, 2008 10:44 AM
"There is one significant possibility that is not being considered here. . . . This isn't really criticism at all ... it is an orchestrated smear campaign."

Well, if you imagine a conspiracy theory large enough, you can explain the entire cosmos as a plot. But the reason I never considered the possibility of a smear campaign is that there's no evidence. Occam's Razor suggests that the misinformation is more easily explained as rumor until some concrete information comes along.

- Bruce Byfield ("nanday")



[Modified by: nanday on July 16, 2008 09:02 AM]

#

Conspiracy or incoherency

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 129.240.235.122] on July 16, 2008 12:46 PM
"This isn't really criticism at all ... it is an orchestrated smear campaign."

Get over yourself! KDE 4 was continuously hyped by KDE bloggers, and where anyone did mention the developer-only status of the product, the message that came across was that ready or not as a competitor to the mature KDE 3.5.x series, users would probably have to get used to the idea of getting KDE 4 in whatever shape or form in the relatively near future, such as in the next Kubuntu release. Indeed, reading the release plans for Kubuntu 8.10 it would seem that KDE 3 is regarded as "obsolete and largely unmaintained" - talk about throwing away goodwill and trust!

I've seen maybe two applications for KDE 4 which appear to be in good shape and worth running; everything else seems to be in a state of flux. Had the KDE project not insisted on monolithic bundling practices, maybe there'd be a reasonable transition from 3 to 4, but what users are being confronted with seems to be a downgrade to KDE 3.2 but with more "bling". In another two years, perhaps we'll have the KDE 4 equivalent of the current KDE 3 releases, but then I expect that everyone will want to redo it all over again.

#

Re: Conspiracy or incoherency

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 121.45.11.227] on July 16, 2008 03:10 PM
"I've seen maybe two applications for KDE 4 which appear to be in good shape and worth running; everything else seems to be in a state of flux. Had the KDE project not insisted on monolithic bundling practices, maybe there'd be a reasonable transition from 3 to 4, but what users are being confronted with seems to be a downgrade to KDE 3.2 but with more "bling". In another two years, perhaps we'll have the KDE 4 equivalent of the current KDE 3 releases, but then I expect that everyone will want to redo it all over again."

Get over yourself!

I'm running KDE 4.1 RC right now, it basically works just fine, and the speed issues from KDE 4.1 beta 2 are gone. The menu is the same as KDE 3.5.9, folderview works and I can have icons on the desktop, I'm still able to run applications I want from KDE 3.5.9 (such as Amarok ... OK, Ksnapshot doesn't work, but that is the only one I have come across so far).

What in heaven's name is your problem?

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Re(1): Conspiracy or incoherency

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 129.240.235.122] on July 17, 2008 12:29 PM
"What in heaven's name is your problem?"

That I'll end up having to choose between an unsupported but functional desktop or something which you insist "works just fine" but will quite probably have various irritating issues that have thankfully been flushed out of the KDE 3.5.x series. I don't look forward to upgrading to Kubuntu 8.10 or beyond.

#

What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 70.251.107.13] on July 16, 2008 12:12 PM
"This isn't really criticism at all ... it is an orchestrated smear campaign."

An orchestrated smear campaign implies an orchestrator. Are you suggesting a vast Gnome conspiracy? A Microsoft campaign to destroy KDE? Neither of those sound credible. Here's an alternate theory. A significant and vocal number of KDE users don't like either 1) the direction the developers have chosen to take the project or 2) the manner in which the new direction was rolled out.

Since I don't see my post where I made this point before I'll post the same idea again. Imagine if Steve Ballmer were quoted as saying, "You guys are part of the machine," in reference to the IT/Computer press. The FOSS media has got to be more than Pravda for FOSS development teams or its worthless.

As far as Seigo's comments about a lack of trust or care in the community, I thought that was the whole idea behind releasing the source code: Trust but verify.

#

What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 80.86.67.101] on July 16, 2008 02:24 PM
Every bad comment against KDE4 is just pathetic IMO.
I have used it since version 3.80 and always used the :UNSTABLE repository in openSUSE, and I must say I am impressed by the pace and the quality of the development.

Never before did I have so much choices as with KDE4, mainly thanks to the Plasma desktop.
Anyone who think the default theme, either in 4.0 or 4.1 looks like Vista needs new glasses, besides, we are using Linux, we have a choice.
Check www.kde-look.org, there are several Plasma Themes to choose from if you happen to not like the default one.

KDE4 has also inspired me to create - plasmoids, plasma themes, Qt4/KDE4 apps... because of the ease of development.
KDE4 made me much more productive, I remember I was against the inclusion of Dolphin in the beginning, but, I gave it a try, and I liked it!

This is the problem I see here, people only see what they want to see, they don't give things a chance.
Such ignorant people should not be listened to, instead the developers behind this wonderful creation should be praised.

#

What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 190.73.121.232] on July 16, 2008 02:25 PM
I met and talked with Aaron Seigo a couple of years ago. I believe that he is doing the best he can in a difficult position. He does not personally make all the decisions for KDE, he is a developer and a speaker for the project.

I feel that the major problem facing FOSS today is the very acceptance that we have all been pushing for many years. Many of those new users expect a "release" to be at least feature complete and not 2 steps forward and 1 step back. Perhaps KDE5 will have a 4.9x.xx beta version until everyone is using it because it is better than the old version.

When the developer version was released with a 4.0 label it was misinterpreted by the vast number of new users and maybe some old users. I continued using 3.5.9 although I did try a couple of the ISOs on CD-RW to see what was coming. Since it was obviously not feature complete I continued on with 3.5.9 which was very well for my purposes.

Since the beginning of the transitions of QT4 and KDE4 are beginning to be felt in sidux/Debian Sid, I am now running Xfce-4.4.2, which is remarkably feature complete. It allows me to continue working and follow the rolling Sid release. KDE 3.5.9 will hopefully still be functional, and by then it is possible that KDE4.1 will arrive more feature complete and usable. Yes, I know there are people who use it now, but they are not a majority.

#

What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 63.239.69.1] on July 16, 2008 03:04 PM
I think what went wrong is that it was being worked on for 3 years so people ended up having bigger and bigger dreams about what KDE4 would be. It's like when you see a movie preview 2 years before it comes out and it's an adaptation of your favorite story/comic book character/TV Show/etc. For two years you hear about how awesome the movie's going to be and they've hired this guy and so on. When the movie finally comes out, if it's not amazing, you're going to think it sucked - even if it's a good movie. It was just too much hype.

I think that that's part of what happened with KDE4. There was so much hype about how they were going to revolutionize the desktop and there were monthly mockups and all kinds of speculation. I heard the warnings that KDE 4.0 was not stable - don't use it. So I didn't. I'm not upgrading to Fedora 9 until Fedora 4.1 comes out. However, many others couldn't contain themselves after 3 years of hype. And well....they were pretty dissapointed. A lot of stuff didn't work as well as 3.5.x and a lot of the new promised "revolutionary" technologies weren't there yet. (like the plasma API). So people complained. I think KDE will eventually shrug off the bad publicity as long as 4.1 restores most/all of 3.5's functionality while also providing the revolutionary stuff. And, I think perhaps explaining once more why all these changes had to be made and letting people know what these new technologies let them do.

#

What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 10.30.80.31] on July 16, 2008 03:20 PM
[quote]
[...] KDE 4.0 was repeatedly described as a developer's release -- not for the average user's desktop. Wade Olson, the press contact for KDE in North America, points out that most major reviews of KDE 4.0 clearly communicated its state.

However, starting in April or May -- about the time that the first versions of KDE 4.0 were finding their way into distributions -- that message seems to have been lost, and users started to react as if KDE 4.0 were a finished piece of software.
[/quote]

This is key. The information about "what" KDE 4.0 would offer was spelled out clearly,
yet, as mentioned, both users and professional reviewers/writers slammed the KDE team.
I have been using openSuSE's implementation of KDE 4.x and have had zero issues
(even many of the problems reported with KDE 4.1 on NVIDIA).

What happened is that users noticed, "oh look - KDE 4 is available for my distro" and
would elect to install it, have issues, and the rants ensued. i was especially surprised
to read what sjvn had to say about the KDE situation. i posted a response to
three of his blog rants. (only one of my comments ended up in the comments section -
freedom of speech? - looks like it depends upon the moderator :)

Anyway - what we will see in the 4.1+ release is beyond what we're seeing now. KDE4 is an
immense effort and the KDE Team is to be commended. In time, people will eventually say
things like, "KDE4 far surpasses KDE3".

Regards, mjt - author, "Inside Linux"

#

What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 140.194.192.5] on July 16, 2008 04:11 PM
I think they could have avoided most of it by calling it 4.0alpha1, 4.0 alpha2, 4.0alpha3, 4.0beta1, 4.0beta2, 4.0 beta3, 4.0pre1, 4.0pre2, 4.0pre3, 4.0rc1, 4.0rc2, 4.0rc3 etc... (Letting the developers work with stable API's from the first 4.0alpha while continuing to improve things with an eventual release of 4.0 similar to what will probably end up being the 4.1 release.)
I have used KDE for years - used to prefer Mandrake before they became Mandriva and still like KDE even though I have not been following it closely...
The hubub over KDE 4.0 has not discouraged me at all - to the contrary I hope to start doing some development with QT / KDE in about a month or two... (I have been a FOSS "user" for about 10 yrs and I would like to become a "contributor.")

#

What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 172.21.171.84] on July 16, 2008 04:34 PM
I use KDE4 since it was released as a masked/testing ebuild on Gentoo. Something that could ring our bell is that, a distro like Gentoo, which has a strong stability policy, said it would never release KDE 4.0 in the stable tree in Portage...

The users that wanted to use it, could but at their own risks. I knew that it lack some applications (kdepim and koffice for example), and users that really followed the development of KDE4 knew that too. For me, when something lacks, I use the kde3 (I heard that kubuntu did the same and packaged KDE4, with most KDE3 apps).

I'm really happy of KDE4.0, as I can use it as a daily desktop. Yes I lack applications, yes there are some bugs I would like to see fixed... but I chosed this. I'm really eagerly looking towards KDE 4.1 and 4.2, as there will be many things in it I want to use : as the folderview plasmoid...

Eh, we should speak of plasma : do you know any desktop (on any Operating System) that propose a so promising technology ? Plasma is really a wonderful tool/toy : it's not only something to display widget, it's an app to interact with your desktop... you can imagine lots and lots of things with this : and it's all NEW in the Desktops world : KDE 4 is INNOVATING, and user are scared of that. But developers listen at user's propositions.

And Nepomuk : this is a brand new technology, that come from research, to implement semantic technology in the desktop : everything on your desktop, at the point of your fingers... 4.1 brings a first GUI to this underlying technology.

To users that don't like KDE 4 and prefer KDE3, I can understand that (I use it too on my laptop) : It's more stable, there are more options in it... and you've got your habits on it. But don't say : "I'll never use KDE4". KDE is innovating, if you don't like that, stay on you dusty (or which soon will be) windows-like desktop...

Oh... and no : KDE 4 doesn't look like Vista at all...

#

What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 24.248.89.66] on July 16, 2008 06:26 PM
this seems like an example of why development / experimental version numbering is a good idea. Perhaps when they get it ready for prime time they should call it 5.0

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Re: What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 74.224.165.87] on July 19, 2008 05:19 PM
"this seems like an example of why development / experimental version numbering is a good idea. Perhaps when they get it ready for prime time they should call it 5.0"


Why this false line of thinking is so rampart amongst Linux users is beyond me. That numbering scheme only works with SMALL projects. GCC 4.0 was not stable. Kernel 2.6 was not stable until it passed double digits. Please stop acting like KDE is the first to do a major number change on a development branch.

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What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 99.152.246.175] on July 16, 2008 06:29 PM
Several comments here and the article itself claim that the unfinished nature of kde 4.0 was clearly communicated. Conspicuously absent are any citations to links supporting this contention. Also ignored are the several cites to the official kde 4.0 announcement:

http://www.kde.org/announcements/4.0/

which plainly demonstrates the over hyped, marketing driven hoopla surrounding the release of kde4.0. The record of miscommunication and over hyping regarding kde 4.0 is clear so please stop engaging in revisionist history.

That being said, I think that more than miscommunication is at the core of the kde 4.0 controversy and I don't think this type of controversy is new or unusual. I recall a similar level of vitriolic comments between users and developers when gnome radically changed its direction, removing many configuration options and adopting the "spatial view" metaphor which many users hated. The lesson is pretty clear - users are very attached to their favorite GUI and react with anger when anyone substantially changes that GUI. If you are a developer that intends to make substantial changes in the desktop GUI, expect to get a lot of heat from end users and make darn sure that end users can configure the new GUI in a manor similar to the old one. In fact, make it easy to revert to the old and familiar and allow users to adopt the new at their own pace. No one wants to be told their new baby is ugly, but if you radically change the users' desktop, that is exactly what you are going to hear. Don't be surprised when it happens.

#

Re: What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: nanday on July 17, 2008 02:51 AM
The links were only absent because the point was minor and I was trying to keep the length under some sort of control.

However, as someone who covered 4.0, I can say that Wade Olson is right: the fact that the release was not ready for widespread use was clearly communicated to journalists.

Below are some statements made around the time that KDE 4.0 was released by me and others to support that claim:

- "KDE has in my opinion has done something very good here, building foundations that are both very strong and very flexible," Lars Knoll VP of Engineering at Trolltech told InternetNews.com. "They have tried to build KDE4 from the ground up and I am convinced that we will only see the full effect of having these foundations in a year or two from now." (http://itmanagement.earthweb.com/osrc/print.php/3721056)

- "KDE 4 is a major feature on the Linux landscape in 2008, and while KDE 4.0 is not yet ready for production enterprise use, Novell anticipates that the innovations driven by KDE 4[...]" (http://www.internetnews.com/dev-news/article.php/3720971)

- "Olson says that he expects KDE to receive some criticism because last week's release included only the basic desktop -- and, in many people's perception, fell short even there some times. The problem is, once you stray beyond the educational programs, games, and utilities, many KDE programs are simply not ready for KDE 4. Some KDE-based programs, he says, were dependent on the pillars of KDE or the new libraries being relatively mature, and could not possibly have been released with the basic desktop." (http://itmanagement.earthweb.com/entdev/article.php/11070_3721606_2)

So, while the release announcement may not have mentioned the fact, KDE publicists do seem to have got the message out.

- Bruce Byfield ("nanday")

#

What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 69.148.169.216] on July 16, 2008 07:52 PM
"I got frustrated when feedback that developers did not like was reacted to as if it was a personal attack."

I second this comment by another anonymous. You would have to have followed the KDE blogs to understand this as a truly major factor in the sturm und drang. That, to me, was the biggest problem. I never expected KDE 4.0 to be anything but a developer's beta. Not because of anything on the KDE website, but because of reporting on sites like this. (Well-written, well-balanced story, by the way.)

I have been following the KDE blogs to determine when KDE4 would fulfill my needs. What I read from some developers was more than annoying. Rather than letting users know that they were being heard and that their comments were of interest, commenters were told repeatedly that they didn't "get" it.

Some commenters simply asked if there was a vague timeline on returning some features. They were told that developers didn't want to spend a year putting in old features. Okay, does that mean all old features would be put in in two years? Many, many people simply want to know what expectations to have.

Interspersed with both useful and defensive bloggers' counter-comments, users were told by other users that they were "afraid of change". Not helpful and not true. Or that "KDE4 Rocks!" Not helpful, but hopefully true.

There are more skills to communication than being articulate. Communicating also means listening and making it clear that you are listening. And if you tell a user, in directed counter-comments, that they just don't get it, or they are afraid of change...do not be surprised if they will not be part of your fan base.

#

What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 208.57.139.45] on July 16, 2008 09:08 PM
I use KDE4 (as a Fedora user, it's either that or Gnome--setting aside for the moment the possibility of compiling and installing a complete KDE3 environment all by myself). I like it well enough. I dig the progressive search in the main menu.

Nevertheless, I feel sad about the loss of SuperKaramba (it's present, but completely useless in practical terms in Fedora 9 because of the QT4 bindings). I feel sad that kdesvn is only half-functional (again, because of the QT4 bindings).

I don't feel cheated. I don't feel misled. On the other hand, I don't feel like it's morally wrong for me to feel and express loss. Human emotion, you see.

The KDE user base is almost certainly overreacting.

On the other hand, if you put a sticker on a box of soap and say "New and Improved" because now it can clean up fingerprints from wasabi peanuts, and get so caught up in your technical achievement that you fail to stress that this comes at the cost of no longer cleaning up--let's say--dried-on egg, the dried-on egg folks are going to feel abandoned.

Perhaps this is childish of them. And moreover, it sucks to ALWAYS have to be the adult one.

But you kinda gotta.

#

What went wrong with the KDE 4 release? - Some distros too early, that's it

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 87.254.72.116] on July 16, 2008 10:19 PM
I tried Ubuntu 8.04's implementation of KDE 4 & it was unstable, lacking control panel, just a bit too early.
They have since released updates to fix this, but it was too early for 8.04 inclusion really.

However, I've been running openSUSE 11.0's implementation of KDE 4 & it is rock solid & visually elegant.
All the apps I need work, only one that crashed was Pidgin & have gone back to kopete for the time being.

With KDE4 as a user it's just a matter of finding where stuff has moved to really, no worse than XP to Vista.
Talking of which, one comment above says looks too much like Vista - that's a good thing if we're ever going to get more Linux desktops out there.

On a side note, had a play with a new MacBook recently & didn't take long to find way around; felt KDE like rather than Gnome like to me.

#

What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 70.20.9.251] on July 17, 2008 01:57 AM
What KDE is facing now isn't completely new. Do you remember all the flak that the Gnome developers took for Gnome 2.0? The flames were so bad that the developers completely abandoned their volunteer news site, Gnotices. The replacement, footnotes, never really took off because the developers had retreated to the mailing lists and irc.

Some of the reasons were the same. The software platform had been largely rewritten, and many programs were slow to port to the new platform. In moving the software to the new platform, many of the accumulated preference options were not implemented at first, infuriating the power users. The developers also chose to hide many configuation options from the many GUI to streamline the interface (while often placing the preferences in less visible locations), also infuriating the power users. Where the developers tried to change the usual paradigms, a vocal section of the users revolted in a heated way (e.g. changing the button order to the Mac system and spatial Nautilus). Personally, I think the Gnome developers got a little gun-shy in making contraversial changes after the flaming in the early 2000s.

Does that sound familiar? It's quite similar to what is happening with KDE, though I think the KDE developers are currently being even bolder in trying to change the way they do things. I think you'll find the Gnome developers are looking on with a great deal of sympathy. They're also trying to figure out how to transition to Gnome 3.0 while avoiding the Gnome1->Gnome2 hell and the KDE3->KDE4 hell. Hopefully the two groups will talk and learn from each other's mistakes.

#

What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 69.226.251.234] on July 17, 2008 04:18 AM
I would consider myself a "consumer", not a dev. of KDE. I have used a few window managers: gnome, fwm, xfce, kde2-3, and have tried KDE4 as a virtual environment. Some distros did seem to push it as "ready", while others seemed to take more of a "beta" approach.

While I await the 4.1 release I have a simple suggestion that could have maybe eased some of the confusion: The 4.0 release should have been named 3.9B or 3.9-BETA, as some users/"consumers" expect a ".0" (ie 1.0, 2.0, 3.0...) release to be stable. Though from the perspective of the software development and developers version numbers are mostly arbitrary, many people outside of that process (especially less technical but vocal people), expect a "4.0" release to be production-ready. While this case was not helped by distros that made KDE4 the default window manager, naming it 3.9-BETA or something similar may have clearly shown to everyone that it was not quite ready for prime time.

BTW - though KDE4 is not totally polished, I think it has some great potential - the usage models and ideas seem very interesting, even if not fully implemented with all the bugs squashed.

#

What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 62.148.134.162] on July 17, 2008 09:36 AM
I remember well how 4.0 was released. It had been explained perfectly what is released, why it is released, and what to expect. The problem has been created by the media.

To me, it looks like an organised campaign of disinformation and false expectations, with the key concept being that of the "average user" getting quality software for free.

I guess it is necessary to enforce communication rules: those who installed something from a distribution repository can report/complain only to the distribution maintainers; those who installed from source may complain to developers. There should be zero tolerance to generalizations like "Linux" when in fact it is "Ubuntu" or "Fedora". In particular, nothing specific can be said about a "Linux user" since there is almost nothing ALL Linux users share.

If we do not find a way to punish media it will fail us again and again.

#

What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 201.82.134.13] on July 17, 2008 03:35 PM
I'm using KDE4 right now, and it has serious problems, but it has great ideas either.
As I use it, looks like KDE is reviewing the way users experience their desktops. It's really not stable, I found lots of bugs and had to return to bash to complete some tasks, but this is experimental, and I'm proud of be a part of this trip.
So, final users can complain, media can make a lot of noise, but open source software has it's own way to innovate, and I really don't want to be stucked on old fashion ideas or copyrighted software paradigms, I want something new!
Congratulations to KDE team!

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What went wrong with the KDE 3 users?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 89.8.170.7] on July 17, 2008 04:06 PM
It seems that the most eager early adaptors are the ones having problems with KDE 4. That's to be expected. Holding KDE responsible for their own unrealistic expectations is absurd. Personally i ran KDE 4.X on OpenSuse 11 in dualboot until it felt comfortable to switch. It's been comfortable for a while now, and I have abandoned other distros and desktops. Im my view it's far superior to any other Msoft or Gnu/Linux desktop, and the potential superb. If a user isn't ready for it the user should wait until he/she is ready.

Sadly, many of the rants implies that some fail to see the potential - but KDE can't be blamed for shortsighted grumps.

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What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 190.174.195.46] on July 17, 2008 10:40 PM
I have always been a fan of KDE, since I started using it a long time ago, probably what happens is that KDE3 is such a good product that it is hard to do something even better, besides, when you to create something all by yourself is much more difficult than making something KDE inspired on Mac or Windows as it is mentioned in the article. I think KDE4 it is not ready for prime time yet but when it does it will be awesome.

I really love KDE I take into account the efforts that the programmers are doing to develope it and I really appreciate it. I have been very anxious to get and use KDE 4 and still I am, I try to test the new versions as they are released and I would love to offer my feedback in a positive way to help improve it even more.

Regarding what I did not like about KDE is the fact that desktop icons are treated as widgets, and they take too much space of my desktop, usually it is filled with icons and in KDE4 the screen is not enough to hold all of them, and space between icons also makes me feel uncomfortable, I dont like the fact that I am not able to change the clock's fonts size and I think Dolphin is fine but I prefer to use Konqueror, Dolphin is too simple and konqueror gives me all i need. Besides I don't like the new KDE menu, the traditional one was much better for me. These are the most important annoyances I found when trying to use it and I am confident they will dissapear in time. One other thing I didnt like is the default icon theme and window decorations.

I dont think anyone should complain about KDE4 nor anything, I prefer that developers feel free to make as many changes they want or feel like and work on then rather than make an updated version of KDE3. Besides this is how they invest their free time and they

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What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 24.36.125.194] on July 18, 2008 03:21 AM
Hi,

Thanks Aaron for the effort that you put into this it adressed a lot of issues. Myself I started using KDE around 3.0 or so. I do not have experience with what happened with KDE 2.0. Before KDE4 I did read a lot of blogs about it and also all about the new technologies and since I have a programming background I soon realized that these things would take some time. When KDE 4.0 came out I was kind of disseminated with it but I saw it as a work in progress and happily went back to 3.5.X I tried 4.1 RC with Kubuntu and had a few crashes and I'm also running the Neon nightly I've seen a progression from 4.0 but it may not be quite far enough... there are still a few crashes and missing features compared to the 3.5 version... so I'll try 4.1 when it comes out and see how I feel. I might not think KDE 4.1 is ready to be used fulltime but I still have KDE 3.5 which I prefer over gnome or windows. I have a feeling that 4.2 will be what I hope for... so I'm not too worried.

I know all you developers are doing your best and I realize that big changes can take time, but are usually worth it.

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What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Chris Spencer on July 19, 2008 05:30 PM
I keep reading uninformed users criticize KDE for naming it 4.0. Did these very users have the same criticism for GCC when it went to 4.0? Of course, you weren't supposed to use GCC 4.0 because it wasn't stable yet, so everyone just stuck to 3.4

What about Kernel 2.6? Of course, Kernel 2.6 wasn't stable until at least 2.6.12, so you were supposed to ship kernel 2.4 if you wanted stability.

What's wrong with KDE is the same thing that was wrong with the other 2 projects I mentioned: some distros shipped it knowing it wasn't ready, caring only about being bleeding edge and their own coolness factor. You take away the distros that shipped it, and all you have are a select few who felt adventurous enough to compile it themselves, or another group of people who tried it because their distro shipped it as optional and experiential.

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If it's incomplete or buggy then call it BETA

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 192.168.1.29] on July 21, 2008 03:32 AM
This is a marketing failure. The developers/advocates/distros tried to create BUZZ about a "product" that wasn't finished. Companies do this all the time so you are getting the same frustration/blowback. I would go as far to say that the naming scheme seems to be deliberately dishonest. If the project took 3 years then why the sudden need to "release" as 4.0?

The desktop is the most visable part of a users experience. Mistakes there are most likely to cause frustration.

Don't release until it's ready - or label it BETA or PRE. Normal users won't always read the manual/warnings but they'll generally expect an x.0 release number to be a milestone STABLE release. Distros will be more hesitant to use a clearly labeled beta as the primary desktop.

As for the comment about GCC 4.0 - A compiler has a VERY different user base to a desktop. GCC users are developers who are more likely to research the compiler and expect bugs and incompatibilities as part of any major release. They are more likely to identify with the project developers and provide bug reports and patches and rollback as required.

The lesson to be learnt here is to save x.0 releases for major stable releases and you won't give people the wrong idea.

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What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 88.97.17.41] on July 22, 2008 07:09 PM
I use KDE 4 on Fedora and Mandriva. When I first saw it I wrote to a friend
that I had loved KDE for years, and I hoped they were not going to drive me
away. I did not like what I saw. I stuck with it to see how things went,
and was amazed at how quickly problems were resolved. Now here I am, a
couple of months later, loving it. What's more important, I'm seeing other
people report a similar conversion.

It is a fact of life that most people fear change. When Fedora released KDE4
alone in F9 it left its KDE users without any kind of anchor. Was that a
mistake? It may seem so, but in the long run I don't think it was. There
was always the choice of reverting too F8 or going to another distro, but
stalwarts would hang around, as I did, to see what happened. Maybe if I had
been given the choice I would have reverted to 3.x and not got the comfort
with 4 that I now have.

Dolphin vs konqueror for file management is a similar case. Konqueror can,
of course, still be used for file management, and for a while I tended to do
that, but gradually I found myself moving over more to dolphin. This weekend
I was setting up a 3.x distro for someone, and found myself looking for
abilities that dolphin offered me, forgetting that I couldn't do that.

I think the early indications are that those who stick around and try to
understand the thinking behind 4 are beginning already to like it. It
strikes me, too, that either people are settling down or have left F9's KDE,
as the howls of pain have definitely subsided.

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Best KDE4.x article

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 216.239.85.38] on July 23, 2008 04:09 PM
I dont usually toot someone's horn but this is by FAR the best interpretation of this whole affair. You seemed to nail all the reasons (as in there was more than one) and I didnt even realize the QT-July 1st thing you mentioned. And you didnt pull any punches.

I use both 3.59 and 4.1..... except that KDE 3.59 will stay on our home computers, those of friends and family while 4.1 is only used on my laptop.
I tried 4.0, saw what it was and waited for them to bring back some functionality in v4.1. It was clearly mentioned what 4.0 was. I didnt take offence and kept on living a happy and productive life. The switch in no way affected me.
Once I started using it more than regularly, I started realizing where they are trying to go with v4. Fascinating stuff.
It doesnt mean my wife and kids will be using 4.1 but 4.2 could be very promising.
And guess what?
If Im not 100% satisfied with that,... I'll just wait for the next one to complete the switch.

Way too many drama queens and professional whiners in FLOSS.
Throw that in with a confrontational atittude and lack of manners that many seem to ape from leaders such as Torvalds, Miguel de Icaza, Theo and so on and you have an unhealty mix. Flying off the handle small perceived insults or disagreement of opinion seems to be a badge many wear too proudly.
I stopped going on mailing lists and other such bitchfest years ago, I didnt need the aggravation.
I cant imagine how the developers must feel about them.
I have no free time to give to free software apart from testing some betas but if I gave so much of my personal time to a cause FOR FREE and got so much grief, Im not sure how long Id last too.

I think Seigo's paragraph about worrying that some developers get the cold feel because the message they could get fro this is that innovation is dangerous.
I want free software to be at the forefront of technology and our methodology permits it to be (just look at Compiz-Fusion like eye candy, no proprietary company comes close). I would hate for this fiasco scare other free software developers into being bold and pushing the envelope.


I dont spam my friends with articles very often but definitely put this in the 'must read' category for anyone who wants a good recap of this whole story.
Bravo.

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What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 193.190.253.144] on July 29, 2008 11:05 PM
KDE 4.1 is looking good.

KDE 4 didn't deserve all this trouble.

I wonder if everything would have gone better if KDE 4.0 were called KDE 3.9 instead, and KDE 4.1 were called 4.0 instead.

It's simply a number, but it can do a lot.

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What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 75.170.131.161] on July 30, 2008 06:19 PM
If, as the article states, "Despite its misleading version number, KDE 4.0 was repeatedly described as a developer's release -- not for the average user's desktop. Wade Olson, the press contact for KDE in North America, points out that most major reviews of KDE 4.0 clearly communicated its state."

Then why did the KDE/Kubuntu communities get so upset when Canonical chose not to make an LTS version of Kubuntu 8.04? Why would they be upset about Canonical being unwilling to support kde 3 for years after its developers abandon it and not be understanding of an organization balking at supporting a "developer's release" also for 3 years.

https://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/kubuntu-devel/2007-December/thread.html#2066

I suggest the reason is that kde 4 being a "developer's release" was not well communicated to their own community and therefore the statements above are merely back-pedaling trying to explain away the rough edges.

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What went wrong with the KDE 4 release?

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 190.88.27.86] on August 03, 2008 09:38 PM
Seen all the responce one big thing is coming forward.

Even the good press and the bad press have not seen what kde4 was and why it will not be accepted

Users private and Commercial all will use KDE4 if it acts like KDE3 is the same as KDE3 have the same controls as KDE3

Seen by several comment talk of a fork I do think there should be a fork but in KDE4

1 single desktop with all the tweaks, icons on desktop etc etc off kde3 no matter how it should be there
The same control programs as in kde3 it should be there
No dolphin but Konqueror with the same functionality as its kde3 counter part
No bling bling then use compiz what means a cut down Qt4 so no trouble with NVIDIA cards
Normal sounds as in Kde3 normal icons as in kde3 no svg and in kde3 format
This is what all the KDE3 users are using now.

And if you can not live with that KDE4-private-user use the full blown KDE4 but call that KDE4 - professional





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