Chapter 5: What's this KDE Thing?

Topics covered in this chapter:
What does KDE stand for?
So what is KDE?
What are the strong points about KDE?

What does the acronym KDE stand for?
KDE stands for The K Desktop Environment, and is made by the KDE organisation worldwide. KDE is open software in every sense, and the company is made up of the Unix community whom contribute to it: Anyone withe to it: Anyone with the desire to, can contribute to KDE, you needent just be a programmer either, you can be a bug reporter, a documentarist, a graphic design artist and many other imaginable posts. You make KDE what it is, and KDE provides back to you. The ideas behind the Gnome project are inherently similar.

So What is KDE then?
KDE is a Windowing Manager and Graphical User Interface for the UNIX operating system, not just Linux (but was made on Linux machines). KDE has been with us since around 1997 (ish), and at the time of writing this chapter (April 2001), KDE is at version 2.1.1. You can freely download and distribute KDE, and these days, there is no restriction on copying it. At the heart of KDE, lies a graphical toolkit and fully featured programming language called Qt. It's based upon C++, and compiles in C++ compilers under Unix and Win32, given the correct libraries. Qt is made by a commercial company called Trolltech. Before early 2000, Trolltech disallowed reproduction of the QT binaries in a commercial environment, leaving a bit of a problem for open source developers, making their software under the GNU GPL, which is quite different to the license for Qt. Mainly because of this, KDE was not shall I say 'liked' as much in the Linux community as it's counterpart, Gnome. Some time in 2000, TrollTech changed the license (juste license (just) for Qt, and now follows the GNU GPL. KDE is now (as ever) extreemly popular, and is a very highly regarded GUI.
In the days of Qt's 'Trolltech' protected environment, I used Gnome, but I am now a KDE user, and I favour it slightly over the Gnome interface, but this guide is not biased in any way towards KDE or Gnome.
KDEs main aims are to make a highly usable, user friendly, innovative and highly powerful graphical user interface. They definitely have fulfilled that goal. In doing so, they have admittedly borrowed the best parts from other operating systems such as MacOS and Windows. As an example, the K button is almost a replica of the Windows 'Start' button, like MacOS X, it allows for skinning, transparencies and other eye candies, and can incorporate many 'Themes'.

What are the strong points about KDE?
  • It is a fully featured Graphical User Interface
  • It has an excellent combo file manager / web browser called Konqueror
  • It is very user friendly, offering extensive help almost all of the time
  • It has an excellent control panel feature that exceeds the functionality of the Windows one
  • It is highly themeable and customizable, allowing you to make KDE look whatever way you wish
  • It has an integrated sound system, Arts, which is very powerful and allows you to do your own sound synthesis
    und synthesis
  • It has thousands of open source applications, games and utilities available from places like
  • By default, it comes with loads of great applications such as an award winning Email client, Kmail, a complete Office suite, KOffice, editors, games and graphical programs
  • It handles files very well: knowing what to do with even files that are foreign to the operating system
  • It's multimedia capabilities are extensively versatile, allowing for easy movie, sound and tv/capture playback and recording

If you want to see a screen-shot of KDE, click HERE.