The KDE desktop is about to take a major step forward, with the announcement today of the roadmap for KDE Frameworks 5.0.
Most eyes in the Linux desktop world are on the Berlin Desktop Summit this week, as members of the GNOME and KDE camps come together for a joint technical conference running from August 6-12 at Humboldt University in Berlin. Currently, KDE seems to be making the most strides in the joint event, with the surprise announcement of the KDE 5.0 roadmap, which was revealed by KDE developer Aaron Seigo in his blog Sunday.
According to Seigo, the new KDE Frameworks roadmap, which will encompass "the next major release of KDE's libraries and runtime requirements," will have an "emphasis... on modularity, dependency clarity/simplification and increasing quality to the next level."
What's notable about Seigo's comments, is what the new KDE Framework will be focusing on--mobile--and how the new Framework will be implemented.
"Our goal is to give us better tools for desktop app development, give our KDE mobile projects a leg up and make KDE's libraries something that Qt developers can and will use," Seigo wrote, giving a strong indication that there's interest in pushing KDE as a mobile environment. Given that the Qt libraries are also a foundation of the MeeGo interface, as well as KDE, I would not be surprised to see a lot of Intel- and MeeGo-related interest and news coming out either at this Summit or soon after.
That Intel was the Platinum sponsor of the Summit and Dirk Hohndel, their Chief Linux and Open Source Technologist was one of the keynote speakers was, was an interesting coincidence, to say the least.
Deploying KDE 5.0 as a development platform is clearly something the KDE team is being very careful about.
"Application development will not be pausing as we do this: releases every six months of application improvements will continue based on the 4.x codebase. When Frameworks gets to the point where it is ready for serious banging on, then we will start repurposing our highlight applications to the new codebase," Seigo wrote. "We don't want application development to be held up by the library development, and we don't want the library development to create much, if any, need for 'porting' application code. We want 'just recompile and test' to be the common case, with whatever changes do become necessary to be of the simple and even automatable sort.
"If this sounds rather different from how we approached 4.0, that's because it is. The requirements, needs and context for this release are utterly different. We're after evolutionary improvement and broadening our developer ecosystem, and our plans therefore need to, and in our opinion do, reflect that," Seigo added.
KDE 5, then, will not be the paradigm-shifting platform that happened with KDE 4, a move that caused many Linux desktop fans to throw up their hands and complain that KDE 4 should never have been released in its initial state. Criticism of the KDE 4 desktop still exists (this is, after all, the Linux fanbase we're talking about), but it has moved well past the "immature" and "too much change" arguments that once plagued the inboxes of KDE developers.
Whether you liked it or not, KDE 4 was about big change and was pretty disruptive. Ultimately, the desktop community grew to accept it, and I would argue it gave GNOME developers some implicit permission to try some bold new things with the GNOME 3 interface as well.
Those changes in GNOME 3 have recently come under fire from Linux kernel-developer-in-chief Linus Torvalds, who lashed out at GNOME developers for the failings he perceived in GNOME 3. Torvalds' comments, predictably, drew a lot of negative attention to the GNOME team and many comments from Linux developers who have forsworn GNOME in favor of other desktop environments.
KDE is definitely trying to avoid that level of hullabaloo again, and is inviting discussion on what functionality should be added to the KDE and Qt libraries moving forward.
"As with Qt5, we want this to be a mostly-under-the-hood set of work. We will be taking this opportunity to adopt some new technologies behind the scenes to increase interoperability, such as introducing a Secret Service implementation that can phase out KWallet," Seigo indicated.
The Summit will definitely be an interesting venue for KDE fans and observers this week, as the discussion shifts to looking forward to KDE 5.0.