Munich's KDE Desktops Usability Certified

Munich's KDE distribution LiMux has been certified to meet the international usability standard ISO 9241. The use of KDE 3 as an "effective, efficient and satisfactory" working environment is named as a decisive factor for passing the certification. Read on for more details.

This is the first time that a Free Software desktop has been officially attested for usability by the German certification association TÜV. After an extensive two-year process of iterative testing, TÜV IT confirms that "Open Source has reached a very high level of professionalism" and concludes that KDE's Open Source nature made it very easy for Munich to ensure that the software is especially efficient and user friendly for their office workers.

LiMuX has been customized for the needs of Munich's city administration, which serves and governs 1,300,000 citizens. Further optimizations will be made in the future as part of product aftercare by using feedback from the growing number of users, the computer news website Heise reports (German). Until mid-2009, 11,000 desktop computers will migrate to KDE. Aim of the customization is not only a "comfortable feeling" for Munich's office workers, but also health protection and a reduction of retraining efforts.

TÜV is well-known in Germany for auditing the security of vehicles, machines, products and workspaces. For example, car owners are legally required to have their vehicles tested by TÜV every two years.

Mayor Christine Strobl agrees with TÜV's assessment from first-hand experience, saying that the KDE migration was personally far easier than expected, a German Linux magazine reports.

The ISO 9241 standard consists of 17 parts. It can be summarized as a detailed list of criteria for evaluating the usability of computer software for a given purpose and group of users. Professional usability tests always address a well-defined use case. KDE aims to make it easy to optimise software deployments for the intended use cases by providing advanced customization tools.

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by Scepticist (not verified)

However lately the TÜV is also "certifying" really weird things, like price-stability of some electronics store and the safety of "Sofortüberweisung" (instant money transfer) where you have to enter your bank-credentials (including PIN and TAN!) at an external website... these things really make TÜV less credible to me.

Anyway, congratulations, KDE!

"these things really make TÜV less credible to me."

Why? TÜV looks quite comprehensive in testing everything, which gives them a degree of experience few organisations have.

I trust german cars you know...

by Scepticist (not verified)

Well, for one T stands "Technischer" and testing price-stability does not have anything to do with that IMHO. Secondly, Instant-Money-Transfer urges people to enter their bank-credentials at websites other than their banks', something the banks have been fighting against ever since phishing started. It's like paying with a blank cheque and I think most people will be even less capable of detecting phishing here.

I agree. TÜV has a good reputation from the past, but today it seems like that they will certify anything for money that it meets the selfset criteria. But still it is a nice to have, because many people still think a lot about it. And anyway: KDE is a great Desktop, anyone who has ever tried it, does not need a certificate to know that. :-)

by Tom Chiverton (not verified)

"instant money transfer) where you have to enter your bank-credentials (including PIN and TAN!) at an external website"
Well, that should be easy to certify. With a big fat 'reject' sticker. Seriously. People have just about got the idea that they should never enter their PIN into a web site or random telephone call, and then the banks turn round and destroy that ? Phishers paradise. Jeez.

But I digress - what great news for KDE !

by Béranger (not verified)

It's not a public project, one can't download it, nor buy it on a cheap CD, nor get the sources.

Open source is open source... but not that open, huh?

by Olaf Schmidt (not verified)

Munich will make a public release (under the GPL) later this year.

by Charles de Miramon (not verified)

Is their KDE standard, or do they have patched it ?

by CAPSLOCK2000 (not verified)

The GPL does not require them to publish their version to the general public. Only those that actually use the system (that is employees of the city of Munich) have a right to request sources.

I'm not sure employees have the right to sources either; after all, it's their employer that uses the software.

If they were using Microsoft Office or AutoCad at work, they would also not automatically have the right to use that at home. (Although Microsoft has a special provision for that in their license).

by superstoned (not verified)

Indeed, afaik Munich doesn't distribute it to their employees so they don't HAVE to disclose the source. If they smart, they will, of course, but they don't have to.

by Ben (not verified)

Does ISO 9241 make sense for usability testing?

by whatever noticed (not verified)

Part 11: Guidance on usability