K(ool) Desktop Environment (KDE)

KDE_logoKDE is a world-wide community of hundreds of programmers producing Free Open Source Software (FOSS). Its central product is the Plasma desktop equivalent to Apple Mac OS X or Microsoft Windows, but running on Linux and UNIX-based operating systems.

The Plasma Desktop is a desktop environment provided as the default work environment on many Linux distributions, such as openSUSE, Mageia, Kubuntu, Manjaro Linux.

The goal of the community is to develop free software solutions and applications for the daily needs of an end-user, as well as providing tools and documentation for developers to write such software. In this regard, the resources provided by KDE make it a central development hub and home for many popular applications and projects like Calligra Suite, Krita, digiKam, and many others.

Matthias EttrichK Desktop Environment (KDE) was founded in 1996 by Matthias Ettrich. At the time, he was troubled by certain aspects of the Unix desktop. Among his concerns was that none of the applications looked, felt, or worked alike. He proposed the creation of not merely a set of applications but a desktop environment in which users could expect things to look, feel, and work consistently. He also wanted to make this desktop easy to use; one of his complaints about desktop applications of the time was that it is too complicated for end user. His initial Usenet post spurred a lot of interest, and the KDE project was born.

The name KDE was intended as a wordplay on the existing Common Desktop Environment, available for Unix systems. CDE is an X11-based user environment jointly developed by HP, IBM, and Sun through the X/Open consortium, with an interface and productivity tools based on the Motif graphical widget toolkit. It was supposed to be an intuitively easy-to-use desktop computer environment. The K was originally suggested to stand for “Kool“, but it was quickly decided that the K should stand for nothing in particular. Therefore, the KDE initialism expanded to K Desktop Environment before it was dropped altogether in favor of KDE = Community due to the rebranding effort.

On 24 November 2009 the KDE Marketing Team announced a rebranding, motivated by the perceived shift from “merely building a desktop environment” to focusing on a wide range of projects done by a community of “people who create free software”. The rebranding focused on de-emphasizing the desktop environment as “just one of many products”, and emphasizing both the community and the other technologies provided as KDE software. After the repositioning, the name KDE no longer stands for K Desktop Environment, but for the community of KDEvelepors including programmers, artists, translators, who work on free software projects within KDE. What would have been previously known as KDE 5 is now split into three products: KDE Plasma 5, KDE Frameworks 5 and KDE Applications.

The financial and legal matters of KDE are handled by KDE e.V., which is a German non-profit organization, and help organizing the conferences and meetings of the community members is also handled by the organization.

KDE Plasma DE


KDE Plasma 5 is the fifth and current generation of the desktop environment created by KDE primarily for Linux systems. KDE Plasma 5 is the successor of KDE Plasma 4 and was initially released on 15 July 2014. It includes a new default theme, known as “Breeze“, as well as increased convergence across different devices. The graphical interface was fully migrated to QML, which uses OpenGL for hardware acceleration resulting in better performance and reduced power consumption.

KDE Plasma 5 is built using Qt 5 and KDE Frameworks 5. Plasma 5.0 improves support for HiDPI displays and ships a converged graphical shell, able to switch between the shells for different target devices.

KDE Plasma 5 utilizes the X Window System, with support for Wayland currently being under development.

On Mac OS X, Qt uses the OS X (Cocoa) widgets and window style, which means that KDE and Qt applications look and feel like other OS X applications. However, KDE is primarily developed on Linux and UNIX systems. Its use on Mac is still experimental. Many packages will work if you follow the instructions below, but some software from KDE is not designed to work on this platform.

About Deepak Devanand

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