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KDE League formed to promote Linux UI

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Linux user interface development operation KDE today launched an attempt to promote its K Desktop Environment GUI as the industry shifts ever Gnome-ward, particularly in the light of Eazel's development of Gnome's next-generation UI.

The KDE League's prime goal is to promote the use of KDE among individual and corporate Linux users, and to encourage software developers to set their applications within its framework. Essentially, it's about pushing KDE as the standard Linux desktop.

It's telling that one of the League's secondary targets is to "help KDE compete effectively, on its merits, with proprietary and other desktops prevalent today". Clearly, KDE's developers and proponents feel that the "others" - read Gnome - are getting the lion's share of the write-up.

Certainly since Eazel launched its plan to create a truly user-friendly user interface - one that can appeal to an audience of mainstream computer users not just Linux's traditional techie fraternity - and its decision to ship the UI with the next major release of Gnome, KDE has appeared less relevant. That's not to deny its strengths or its value, but with the likes of Red Hat installing Gnome by default, KDE has come to represent an optional desktop not the standard.

Of course, not all Linux distros relegate KDE this way. Most of Red Hat's rivals install both or offer a choice - Corel installs KDE as default - but their marketshare is so far behind Red Hat's, you can't entirely blame some users for assuming Gnome is the only option.

The KDE League's founder members include Corel, Caldera, TurboLinux and SuSE, along with the likes of IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Fujitsu-Siemens and Compaq.

Also driving the league is the shipment of KDE 2.0, which was released just a couple of weeks ago. This completely re-engineered version of the UI integrates KOffice, the KIO "network-transparent I/O architecture" and KDE's Konqueror Web browser. KDE 2.0 is arguably the first version of the environment to feel like a complete, commercial-quality release.

The League's role is purely promotional - the KDE team will continue to develop the environment's core functionality: the UI, KOffice and technologies that sit underneath it all, such as the KParts document embedding system.

In the meantime, IBM will work with other League members to integrate components of its ViaVoice voice-recognition technology into KDE.

Finally, there's also a financial aspect to the programme, though the details of how it will work has yet to be specified. ®

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