Linux Expo UK 2003 took place in London on October 8 - 9. KDE took part in the .org village along with twenty other Free Software projects (photo from front, photo from back). We demonstrated KDE 3.2 Alpha to a constant stream of visitors (over 5 500 were at the show, most of them seemed to be at the .org village stand) and handed out several hundred leaflets.
Several KDE developers including Jono Bacon, Chris Howells and Jonathan Riddell were joined by Debian packager David Pashley (photo) and salesman extraordinaire Ben Lamb (photo) to demonstrate the forthcoming KDE 3.2 release and solicit feedback from existing users. We met several companies looking to deploy GNU/Linux and KDE on the desktop and talked to journalists from all the major UK Linux magazines.
The users have decreed KDE 3.2 looks "beautiful". Our demo machine was using the Plastik theme with the Crystal icons.
Besides the beautiful new look, visitors were very impressed with Kontact. For people who knew about KDE 3.2 it was the first thing they asked to see. However confusion abounded that Kontact only worked with Kolab and not standalone. We emphasised that even when running it as a standalone application it is possible to exchange appointments via email and publish calendars to the web.
Everyone had their own wishes. Some users asked for LDAP connectivity, another was very pleased to discover KGPG had all the functionality he needed to easily manage his encrytion and keys. Smaller features such as the new system tray applet for changing the screen resolution and TrueType font previews were universally applauded.
Almost everyone wanted to know if/when their distribution would be shipping KDE 3.2, how they could upgrade and whether we had the code available on CD. It's clear that many users do not know how to upgrade to the latest release and some are still running KDE 2. The difficulty of software upgrades and installation was one of the general GNU/Linux grumbles people kept mentioning. The others were drivers for some hardware (caused by manufacturers who do not work with the open source development process) and the integration issues which HAL aims to fix.
KOffice 1.3 was also demonstrated although most of the people were already using OpenOffice.org. Several people were unaware of KOffice altogether and many did not realise that the applications have improved considerably since its first release. Kexi, the database frontend, was generating a lot of interest but sadly we weren't able to demo it. A number of people asked after Umbrello UML Modeller which pleased Jonathan.
Criticism flowed as well, ranging from "the application names are confusing" to "the logo is rubbish". More constructively a plea, from a large corporate, for better documentation about locking down KDE desktops and possibly a GUI front-end to the kiosk framework. It is a shame when KDE has the features but they go unused for lack of documentation or publicity.
An almost continuous stream of people visited the stand on both days. Most were existing KDE users and at least a quarter had been following the progress of KDE 3.2 and would have upgraded anyway. After seeing a demo nearly everyone was convinced that it would be a worthwhile upgrade.
Our stock of polo shirts and badges sold out and almost 500 flyers and stickers were handed out. Next year we will take more.
Article by Ben Lamb and Jonathan Riddell, photos by Chris Howells and UK Linux .