January 04, 2001, 4:37 PM — The Linux desktop battle heated up Wednesday when the developers of the K Desktop Environment (KDE) announced wide industry support for the newly formed KDE league. Developers of the competing Gnome open-source operating environment beat KDE to the punch in August when the Gnome Foundation released a laundry list of vendors backing the group.
Both KDE and Gnome are open source graphical user interfaces (GUIs) that ease other companies efforts to build Linux applications for the desktop. Gnome seemed to have taken the lead in the race to garner support after Red Hat Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM Corp., Compaq Computer Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc. and VA Linux Systems Inc. joined to form the Gnome Foundation. In addition, Eazel Inc. -- maker of a prominent graphical interface for systems running Linux -- said it would ship its software on the next version of Gnome.
KDE countered Gnome's moved by capturing some of the IT world's biggest names, including Compaq Computer Corp., Corel Corp., Caldera Inc., IBM Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., Borland Corp., SuSE AG., and Fujitsu-Siemens Computers BV.
KDE said the league will concentrate on pushing Linux toward the desktop, in addition to efforts in the workstation and handheld markets. They also hope to encourage more third party software makers to develop applications for KDE.
The League will be managed by a board composed of core KDE developers and of representatives of each corporate member. The developers and corporate sponsors will receive equal say in the decision-making process, KDE said in a release. IBM said it would take quick action toward promoting the league by working with third parties to develop KDE-based components for its ViaVoice voice recognition software.
Many Linux developers advocate competition in the open-source market as a method for developing better applications. Gnome seemed to have taken the dominant position in the battle with solid industry support; however, Wednesday's announcement may revitalize KDE's efforts.
Many Linux distributors offer users a choice between Gnome and KDE and applications written for one will generally work on the other. Still, software developers need to choose between using either Gnome or KDE libraries when creating applications.
HP, Compaq and IBM now have their fingers in both of the main open-source pies, seeming to confirm their support for open-source development.