KDE to Become Better Supported on the Ubuntu Platform

At LinuxTag on Saturday, a meeting of Kubuntu and KDE contributors was held in order to improve the collaboration of both projects. The aim was to to talk about the common future of both projects. Jonathan Riddell and Mark Shuttleworth from Canonical attended the meeting. Later in his keynote speech to the conference, Mark publicly committed to Kubuntu as an essential product for Canonical and showed his commitment by wearing a KDE t-shirt.

Mark Shuttleworth during his keynote at Linuxtag 2006.


At the beginning of the meeting, Mark outlined Canonical's vision of the future of Ubuntu Linux and the role of Kubuntu and KDE therein. Canonical wants to create a free, professional economic eco-system and help to develop and transport KDE's vision of the future of the free desktop. Starting with Dapper Drake, the next release of Kubuntu to be released at the beginning of June, Canonical will ship CD sets of Kubuntu in the same manner as it did with Ubuntu in the past. Artwork of the CD sets was shown to the attendants of the meeting.

Eva Brucherseifer held a short introduction to KDE, explaining different aspects of how the community works together, challenges in the community life cycle such as finding enough new developers and improving the sustainability of KDE as a Free Software project. She also explains that KDE is working actively on extending the KDE community further to non-developers. Eva described the decision making process within KDE as being very much bazaar-like; people exchanging ideas, seeking mindshare and creating it.

The Future of Kubuntu

Mark said that Canonical has created some tools to make Free Software developer communities more scalable such as Rosetta and Malone. It is also important to help newcomers to get into the project. Ubuntu's vision includes offering multiple desktops because it is a healthy way for a sustainable future that those desktop environments should work great together. Tighter integration of Canonical's collaboration tools with e.g. KDE's bugzilla is another keypoint of the collaboration in the future.

Mark went on acknowledging that native office programs - such as KOffice - are the preferred way to go, but that the process of adopting those is not easy because of exchange of for example files with the Windows platform and because they do not work on Windows as OpenOffice.org does. Canonical is committed to making sure to connect the source code vision of a project such as KDE to a user and market centric vision of Ubuntu. They will invite a number of contributors from different parts of the KDE project to the next developers meeting in June in Paris, where the next Kubuntu release - Edgy Eft - will be sketched.

Split up Sessions

After the more general part of the discussion, the group split up to discuss issues such as human computer interaction, artwork, marketing and naturally technological issues.

Collaborations in the improvement of the technical side of things cover topics such as communication on developer level, for example discussing distribution-specific problems directly between the Kubuntu developers and packagers, but also very specific issues such as extending the Ubuntu laptop testing and any other future derivatives to ensure a high quality level of future releases of Kubuntu.

From the human computer interaction point of view, improvements in the acceptance of usability and accessibility are important to be made in the future. Creating more mindshare among artists is another challenge for the future. KDE needs more artists and must help them enter the Free Software community. Kubuntu and KDE will collaborate in trying to attract more non-coding contributors to the projects, not only for work on the human-computer interaction, but also on promotion and marketing.

There are also quite a lot of technological issues that can be solved by having more KDE people in the middle of the Ubuntu community, currently most of the Ubuntu platform developers are mostly using GNOME when developing the underlying operating system basis. In order to achieve that improved interoperation between the different desktop environments on the Ubuntu platform, Canonical will make sure that some of the people Canonical will hire in the future for working on (K)Ubuntu come from the KDE world.


by javier (not verified)

I've found this: http://www.netzpolitik.org/2006/podcast-interview-mark-shuttleworth/

It's not the keynote, but it's a nice podcast talk about kubuntu/ubuntu and other topics. Probably similar to the keynote.

by OKnewbie (not verified)

I have used *buntu for about a year. I want to use only KDE, however, documentation is lacking greatly everywhere. I use *buntu because of the community, I can find the answer I need very easily. This is not true with Kubuntu or anything KDE I have seen. When it came to setting up my wifi in the Ubuntu it took 2 minutes the first time with a good howto. Until dapper I had not been able to get it configure properly, in the end it was just a need to better know how KDE works as far as configuration. So in short the way I see it is if you want Kubuntu to be first class you need the community involvement of a first class distro and you don't have that. If the community and documentation is their the users will come, especially if you this can happen before the release of KDE 4. I think that then the stage would be set for widespread adoption.

by cw (not verified)

> If the community and documentation is their the users will come

Unfortunately this is only true of relatively advanced users, the vast majority of uses will only come if there's great marketing to make them feel safe. (It's silly, but that's how people act). And all of the Ubuntu marketing says Ubuntu, none of it says Kubuntu. So the users won't come.

Mepis at least doesn't say Ubuntu, it has a real name of its own. From a PR point of view I'd rather understand an article on Mepis on the Dot, although again that woudn't be fair to Debian and Ubuntu.

I'm losing my coherency and probably need to go to sleep :-)

by ac (not verified)

The current naming scheme of Ubuntu is indeed biased toward gnome and will invariably channel popularity toward gnome and away from KDE. Here are two ways of fixing it:

1) Call the KDE version Ubuntu KDE and the gnome version Ubuntu GNOME. When users go to download Ubuntu, they should be given a choice of desktops.

2) Call the gnome version Gubuntu, and let Ubuntu refer only to the base distro.

I bet that if the naming was made fair, Ubuntu KDE downloads would *immediately* outnumber Ubuntu GNOME downloads.

by anon (not verified)

i think dropping the name "kubuntu" is already a good step. Maybe just call it "ubuntu/KDE", which already sounds nicer..

by Me (not verified)

Yeah, let's make sure we have the names Gnome and KDE visibly present to get everyday people to switch from Wdoze. Folks love vague references that mean nothing, right?

Think you'll ever see this exchange? "What does KDE stand for?" "Uh, Kool Desktop..." "Alright, I'm gonna change operating systems to something with Kool in the name - sign up my whole corporation."

by superstoned (not verified)

i agree - but the gnomes don't want that. they are standing in the way of more linux use, imho - as Microsoft has said a few times, its developers developers developers that matters - and KDE is a much more mature and efficient environment to develop software in. you will even get commercial support (trolltech).

well, its clear anyway - KDE dev's are better at coding, Gnome ppl can make more noise. sadly the big company's (Novell, Red Hat) seem to prefer the latter.

by Aaron J. Seigo (not verified)

there have been articles about mepis (and other kde OSes) on the dot in the past (example: http://dot.kde.org/1077133869/). when there is news in the distro world regarding kde (and this thing about kubuntu qualifies) it ends up here.

while i'm certainly not proclaiming kubuntu to be the killer distro to end all kde distro shuffling, i'm also happy to see it progressing and gaining more mindshare within the canonical group that it had. that's all =)

by ht (not verified)

As mentioned before, if you want a distribution that gives that best kde performance and always the latest kde version, try archlinux.

Did anybody notice that kde 3.5.3 will ship shortly after dapper ships? If kubuntu users want kde 3.5.3, they will have to use unofficial packages or semi-official but unsupported ones.
On the otherhand, archlinux will always have the latest kde in the main repository.

Still, if you don't 'need' the latest kde, suse first and next kubuntu will give the most polished kde installations.

by Andy (not verified)

what speaks against this KDE committment is the announcement of the edubuntu developer which followed his talks that the edubuntu would want to remove all educational apps from edubuntu which are KDE based and replace them by gtk ones. And: He would like to get a K-edubuntu with KDE. What madness, what toolkit zelotism.

I think we should get away from toolkit centric thinking.

It is not motif etc. anymore. GTK and QT applications are quite interoperable and *more could be done*. We should get away from the Gnome = GTK, KDE = QT formula.

Portland offers great ways of improvement. Then GTK often only means that applications uses toolkits which just render with GTK. X-theming, standardisation on the backend level and of course a common unix bookmark repository which could be used by firefox, Konqueror, Galeon etc.

KDE users want GTK apps and want them to integrate better into their desktop environment of choice, same applies for KDE or QT apps under Gnome.

by Eero Tamminen (not verified)

I think the reason for separating them is performance, mainly memory usage.

A toolkit like Gtk/Gnome or Qt/KDE is big and this doesn't mean
just disk space consumption. When you run the applications, the libraries
need to be loaded into memory and they might require additional service
processes (gconf, kio-slaves etc).

If the applications are using same libraries and support services,
they are shared between the applications and user can run more
applications at the same time and the applications start faster.

So, if user is running Gtk/XFCE/Gnome desktop (Xubuntu/Ubuntu), by default
Gtk applications are installed, if user is running KDE desktop (Kubuntu),
by default KDE applications are installed. HOWEVER, this is just default,
nothing is preventing user from installing the meta package bringing in
set(s) of applications using the other toolkit, if she has enough memory
on the computer to use both, or otherwise just wants to have both. The
point is that default set of apps is sensible (also from performance point
of view) AND that it's easy to add/install other (supported) software.

Having Kubuntu and Ubuntu in close collaboration makes more well
working & integrated software available to users of both desktops.

by Brian (not verified)

I agree about the common bookmarks used for all browsers. Opera, Konquerer, Firefox, Galeon, Links, Lynx, they should all save a user's bookmarks in /home/username/bookmarks or /home/username/settings/bookmarks or /home/username/browser/bookmarks. Or someplace that all browsers can get to. This should be a part of the LSB.

For Ubuntu and Kubuntu, there should be a desktop icon when running the liveCD, or the installed version, for test versions for making bug reports. The link needs to bring up a webpage or a window for creating a simple email bug report and if email, then tied to an ubuntu smtp server. Lock it to a single send address to prevent outbound spamming. Also have this icon launch a script to grab dmesg or whatever other logs are commonly collected or asked for. I've tested many LiveCDs and several Dapper testing CDs. I've had various problems, mostly with install and i386 and had no idea how or where to send a bug report while running it. I just hunted around and found a blurb:

Your comments, bug reports, patches and suggestions will help turn
this Beta into the best release of Ubuntu ever. Please report
bugs through the Launchpad bug tracker:


If you have a question, or if you think you may have found a bug but
aren't sure, first try asking on the #ubuntu IRC channel on FreeNode,
on the Ubuntu Users mailing list, or on the Ubuntu forums:

http://www.ubuntuforums.org/ "

But that was not obvious from the kubuntu.org page and not found by chasing the "bugs" link. The "bugs" link, takes you to https://launchpad.net/distros/ubuntu/+bugs and a whole rigamarol to report a bug or crash.

Just my opinion.

by gardion (not verified)

I see a lot of complaints about KDE/Kubuntu so I will try and show the direction I think Mark is taking based on past actions and news articles rather then just feelings of skepticism.

1. Ubuntu started as a gnome distribution. (Probably for its predictable release cycles of every 6 months)

2. Some people wanted a kde based ubuntu distribution. One of the cheif people being Jonathan Riddell

See this link for an interview with Jonathan Ridell

3. Mark Hired Jonathan to start working on Kubuntu. At that time Kubuntu was not supported with Shippit.

4. At some point Mark Shuttleworth announced that Kubuntu would be a first class distribution along with Kubuntu. Some time after Kubuntu was supported with shippit (xubuntu is not yet as far as I know). This is a significant since shippit doesn't cost us anything but it costs Mark Shuttleworht a lot. Mark I guess was impressed enough with Kubuntu to start shipping it with Shippit.

5. Some people complained on the http://www.kubuntu.de/ that Mark Shuttle worth was not giving access to some of the programmers, wanted more control and wanted ubuntu to hire more kde developers and some other general complaints. They also wanted to know what first class distribution meant. (I can't find the orgiginal article)

6. Mark sent out this announcment about the meeting at linuxtag for kubuntu and kde
Basically if there is interest in the KDE community to work with Kubuntu Mark is ready to give a lot more control to KDE /Kubuntu developers even to the point of eventually letting Kubuntu have it's own release cycle (if there's enough support for it). (see the story)

7. We have the this recent announcment where Mark met with KDE and Kubuntu developers about where things can go. It seems there is some interest in the KDE community to work with Kubuntu.

A lot has been accomplished and there is a lot more to go before Kubuntu can be a real "first class" distribution but this depends not only on Mark Shuttleworth but on the KDE community as well.

Basically it seems to me that Mark is doing more and more for KDE starting from nothing when Ubuntu was first realeased. Mark seems to start small and adding support for stuff rather than starting big and taking away like Redhat did and SUSE did with KDE.

Some people in the KDE community want more support for KDE/Kubuntu. Mark seems to be doing that. The question is whether the KDE community will support those efforts or whether Mark Shuttleworth is wasting his time. It seems there are enough people interested in Kubuntu/KDE that it's probably not a wast of time.

PS. I use Ubuntu and now prefer GNOME. Before Ubuntu I actually liked KDE better. Maybe Kubuntu can make people give KDE another try.

by cw (not verified)

> PS. I use Ubuntu and now prefer GNOME. Before Ubuntu I actually liked KDE
> better. Maybe Kubuntu can make people give KDE another try.

That's a strange and a bot twisted way of looking at things, since according to all apparencies the sole purpose of Kubuntu is making KDE users give Ubuntu a try. And since there are lots of these KDE users out there, it certainly looks like a trap. My question is whether Kubuntu is still a promotional trap (take this word lightly), or certain things have changed. Up to this point nothing has changed, strictly speaking not even Shipit, which will only be available for Kubuntu in the (admittedly near) future.

by Simon Edwards (not verified)

> That's a strange and a bot twisted way of looking at things, since according
> to all apparencies the sole purpose of Kubuntu is making KDE users give
> Ubuntu a try.

What a load of crap. Give it a rest cw. The "kubuntu is a gateway drug for Ubuntu usage" theory doesn't hold any water at all. The Gnome desktop isn't even offered as an option when installing Kubuntu.


by cw (not verified)

I've never said 'gateway drug', I just got carried away with this because I don't understand the Kubuntu project's role within Ubuntu, neither technically nor politically, and it seems that no one is able or willing to explain it. Of course I don't suspect a conspiracy, but I do suspect a serious lack of overall direction, and I was hoping that maybe I'm wrong.

However the most encouraging answers that I've got have been along the lines of 'be patient, the real news is secret for now'. And since I can afford being patient, I will. Sorry for the inconvenience.

by Anonymous (not verified)

> 'be patient, the real news is secret for now'

I'm not sure, if secrecy is any good for _Open_ Source projects.

by gardion (not verified)

Actually one of the main reason I switched to Gnome was that Ubuntu made GNOME very clean on the desktop and cleaned up a lot of the menus. KDE had seemed a lot more cluttered in terms of menu items. My hope is that Kubuntu & KDE clean up a lot of the less useful menu entries and gives a much cleaner desktop to start with.

Secondly if Mark is trying to get KDE users to swtich to GNOME, then he is a fool. He is much better targeting windows users (90-95% of the destkop market) rather than kde users (<1% of the desktop market). If you look at the number 1 bug on gnome you will see that Mark is targeting windows users. He is trying to get them to swtich to Linux and using ubuntu / kubuntu as a platform for other linux distributions.

Finally you can always use Mepis a KDE/kubuntu based distribution, if you are concerned about being pushed into gnome. Mepis is definatly a KDE based distribution and it is number 4 on distro watch in the last month, scoring higher then Kubuntu.

by Me (not verified)

This "community" acts like Mark owes you something just for existing. The guy doesn't have to even recognize your existence if he doens't want - his his distro/his dollars.

by Simon Rönnqvist (not verified)


I've been wanting to use Kubuntu for about a year now, but the apps keep crashing on me... and I can't really find any pattern. This goes for both Hoary and Breezy, no matter which of the three available platforms I've used.

At last I gave up and went with Ubuntu (GNOME) modifying it's panel to look like KDE's, but that doesn't give me everything that I was looking for. :-)

Now however I've started testing SimplyMEPIS (which now is moving over to a Ubuntu-base), despite it's ugly default theme (which I changed) it looks very promising. I also don't seem to be alone switching from Kubuntu to SimplyMEPIS, because of the bugs (according to forums&mailinglists). I actually would like Kubuntu better... but the bugs are really a big problem... Why doesn't people involved with the project talk more about?

(Check how Kubuntu has been going down at distowatch.com lately, I think this might be the answer... people give up on it because of the bugs.)

Well anyways, it's nice to see that Mark is showing interest for KDE while others (such as SUSE&Redhat) go in the other direction. I think his, along with the community's efforts (mentioned in the article) will help clearing out the bugs in the long run. Hope SimplyMEPIS's move to a Ubuntu-base helps in some way too.

cheers, Simon

by Simon Edwards (not verified)

Try Dapper and I think you will be pleasantly surprised. A lot of effort has gone into the quality of Dapper and making sure that it is much more stable than the previous versions. As Aaron mention earlier, the difference is -huge-.

There is also a live CD too which you can easily try out.


by Hup (not verified)

Would be nice to get Ubuntu's support for YaSt for Debian. Yast could lead to simplification and unification.

by javier (not verified)

Kubuntu dapper brings many easy-to-use-yet-powerfull-tools to configure the OS written in python (guidance). Probably yast is richer right now, but they are getting closer.

by Mark (not verified)

I've tried Both versions (K)Ubuntu etc...

I've found the gnome version to be far more stable & easier to use (hardly any app crashes).. on the other side KDE seems much nicer (easier on the eyes, yet you can change the look ^^).. I prefer KDE simply because of the way it's set out... But I miss the stable gnome desktop.. (that's what I think)

on KDE there is also some major bugs in the GUI when setting up Wireless access, I had to edit the network file to get a connection to my wireless router!

praise network-admin in gnome!

(btw I'm very new to linux...)

Keep it coming!

by cw (not verified)

KDE itself is normally very stable. Kubuntu, on the other hand, has been normally very unstable. However the new version (Dapper) is reported to be vastly better, so do try it out (I certailnly will).

Also check the new SimplyMEPIS (which is based on Kubuntu) and the new SUSE (SUSE has always had a great and very stable KDE).

BTW everybody, sorry for my temporary madness, although I still am eager to hear some meaningful news :-)

by stairwayoflight (not verified)

I guess the titles Kubuntu, Xubuntu, etc. really declare the obvious: that they are a derivative project.

Ubuntu's philosophy seems to be ease of use, and the question here one of choices. This is quite a cliche argument among linux users, but there is a reason it is addressed again and again. Every choice provided by distro architects is another choice that must be made, and another factor of complexity introduced to the system.

Maybe my question reflects a puritan idealism which if carried to its logical end would result in a more Gentoo-like distro, WHICH IS NOT MY INTENTION,

but if ubuntu is going to be developed with KDE as much in mind as GNOME, shouldn't the gnome version be renamed GNubuntu?

by Mark (not verified)

Except that that would imply the distribution is made by/directly affiliated with the FSF.
Plus "Ubuntu" and "Kubuntu" mean something, whereas, "Gnubuntu" doesn't.

by Jocke (not verified)

Gubuntu perhaps? why the N?

Gubuntu vs Kubuntu all Ubuntu's... ?

But seriously, i don't see the use in renaming anything now, it would only confuse people.

Ubuntu is a good step in the right direction, but it's still not as easy as Mac/Win.