On Monday, thanks to the amazing help of Jill Ratkevic, Bruce Perens and Xandros, I was able to attend the Desktop Linux Conference to represent and speak about KDE. I followed a talk by Xandros, another KDE based product, and their demonstration was an impressive example of how KDE is being used to do great things. My talk focussed on what KDE is, what it provides, and where we're going with 3.2. It's standard for KDE developers, but important for those who are looking to move to Linux on the desktop. It was a long day!
There was an excellent turnout for the event, and the facilities were ideal. The talk schedule did change quite a bit, both in speakers and in timing. My talk was scheduled for 3:15 but didn't start until approximately 4:00. At that time everyone, including myself, was tired but we made the best of things.
I spent much of the day listening to other talks and talking to an uncountable number of people about Linux and KDE. I could write forever but it would bore you and take too much of my time, so here are some key points I learned:
- We still haven't educated people enough regarding FreeQt. People who should be well educated about these things were still trying to tell me that if Trolltech is acquired, KDE would end up being a proprietary platform.
- Our PR is worse in North America than I had originally imagined. Many people use KDE, few know what it is, and I suspect some think they're using other things even.
- OpenOffice.org wants to work with us. We need to work with them. Let's get going folks!
- Government regulated/approved accessibility is no longer optional. If we don't do it and do it now, we might as well give up hope of seeing KDE accepted into government and corporate institutions.
- We need to come up with an alternative plugin scheme to Mozilla's XP based plugins that can be used across all Linux browsers, and perhaps on other platforms too. Browser plugins are a mess.
- The Linux Desktop, according to business types, is Linux+Desktop+Mozilla+OpenOffice. We need to integrate better with OpenOffice, and we need to better educate people about Konqueror.
- The real target for most businesses (IBM and others) is thin clients and hybrid configurations. Ironically KDE is best suited to this, especially with Kiosk mode (something people were demanding at the conference, and apparently NovellXimianSuse will provide a proprietary Ximian desktop solution for).
- Businesses want a corporate partner to buy their free desktop from. Go figure.
- Novell is really stressing the "ISV support" point. It's as though they're taking a lesson from Microsoft - give away inferior product to destroy the competition and then provide expensive peripheral applications and vendor lock-in. Ironic that they took direct shots at Red Hat for apparently trying to do this.
- We need to be involved with the Desktop Linux Consortium. We need help from everyone to speak about KDE, and additionally about Linux on the desktop in general.
- We need to continue our work with freedesktop.org. The X server enhancements coming from there will be very good too.
- Let's get involved with Fedora. They want our support. There is mutual benefit to be had.
- Linux on the desktop is a 4-6 million machine pie right now. That's 1-1.5% of the market. There's only one direction to go from here. We need to make sure that KDE remains competitive and retains our majority portion of that pie.
- There are some great case studies out there, and we need more of them.
This is a summary of what I learned and saw at the conference. Of course it's not a complete picture but I think it illustrates what the direction is for Linux on the desktop, what we need to do, and what's possible in the future.