Developers of the popular free desktop say expanding its reach will benefit open-source software in general.
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.-Developers of KDE, the popular Linux desktop environment, are targeting Windows and enhanced Macintosh support.
With release 4 of KDE, also known as the K Desktop Environment, officially announced Jan. 11, the developers of the free software environment said support for Windows and deep support for Mac OS X are on the horizon, with some pieces ready for evaluation now and others to be available by the summer.
At the KDE 4.0 launch event here at Google's headquarters on Jan. 18, Aaron Seigo, KDE project lead and vice president of KDE e.V., the governing body of KDE, said the goal of taking KDE cross-platform is "potentially one of the game-changers" for the technology and for open-source software in general.
In a keynote speech at the KDE 4.0 launch, Seigo said that developers "came to the realization that for every one of us programming on the free operating systems, there were hundreds [of programmers] on Windows and Macs, and we were losing an opportunity here of bringing free software to all of those individuals. ... So, in one sense, Windows and Mac had been sort of a free software ghetto, so with KDE 4 we worked on ports to Windows and Mac."
On Jan. 22, the KDE community released KDE mirror infrastructure to deliver KDE Windows packages to developers. The new KDE binaries for Windows are early components representative of additional KDE libraries and applications KDE plans to port to Windows as part of the KDE Windows Project.
"Traditionally, we have done really well with Linux and the BSDs [Berkeley Software Distributions]," Seigo said. "Solaris is an OS [operating system] we are purposely targeting with KDE 4, so we've actually started a project within the OpenSolaris community to manage the packaging and the Solaris-specific improvements to KDE 4."
Moreover, Seigo said the support for Windows and Mac is "not just a Linux compatibility layer. ... These are native apps; they run natively. They are in technology preview right now. They work. The goal is to deliver these [technologies] in production quality in KDE 4.1."
He said KDE 4.1 is expected in July.
Benjamin Reed, a KDE developer, demonstrated Konqueror, the KDE Web browser, running on the Mac OS.
"The goal is to, by KDE 4.1, have everything integrated and have a finished release," Reed said of the libraries and applications KDE will port to the Mac OS.
Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.