TechCentral on KDE and Novell/SUSE Acquisition

With the KDE development and user communities flourishing more than ever, some people are anxious to drum up panic and drama surrounding corporate plays such as the acquisition of SUSE by Novell. As you might know, SUSE has thus far been a huge KDE believer and by using KDE has benefited from a loyal and enthusiastic Linux desktop userbase of its own. Last year, Richard Seibt CEO of SUSE confirmed this sentiment and pledged to maintain SUSE's strong support for KDE. A recent investigation by TechCentral reveals the same: "SuSE will continue (to operate) as a business unit of its own." said John Phillips, Novell's corporate technology strategist for the Asia Pacific region. "We don't expect to make Ximian the default user interface, and for the medium term KDE will remain the default GUI on SuSE Linux."

With the number of incredible KDE Enterprise features available now and planned for the near future, the robustness and vitality of the KDE community, we can remain confident KDE will be an incontrovertible choice for Novell in the long term as well.

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by Superstoned (not verified)

I guess it whouldn't be a good thing if SUSE whouldn't support KDE anymore...

by frizzo (not verified)

What happens when they are in a money crunch or their stock is down and something needs to be cut?

by AC (not verified)

They cut the expensive Gnome support. Supporting KDE is cheap. The community does almost everithing. See how uch money Gnome companies spent over the years...

by anon (not verified)

indeed.. Eazel burned through $50 million dollars making Nautilus, and went bankrupt soon after.

by Yellowboy (not verified)

Well, sorry to piss on your parade
But it was 13million
And that was to support 90 employees
(at a rather nice 100grand a year salary)
most of whom were working on things other than Nautilus
Eazel went bust because of other things
not because of making nautilus.

by cwoelz (not verified)

Hey, hey, don't get mad. Notice that the comment was _not_ an attack on Gnome, but only a response to some smart guy trying to put KDE down.

Cool man!

by Eric Laffoon (not verified)

> Eazel went bust because of other things not because of making nautilus.

And to think their press releases made it sound like they were finally bringing a GUI to Linux. IIRC they had something like 30 or so developers and 30 or 40 usability people. This was a big time proprietary model writing GPL'd code. Most interesting was their interview answers about how they were going to make money. They had several ideas. Where I come from we call that "What do you mean you don't have a business plan?" Because they were Apple guys who "invented" the GUI after a field trip to Xerox the press treated them like the coming of a messiah.

All I know is that I can't imagine anyone dumping millions in my lap without a business plan. Konqueror seemed to come out with similar features before Nautilus with less developers. I have actually spent money developing Quanta. We use users on CVS for usability testing. I can't begin to imagine what I'd do with $13 million. Given that Quanta has cost a tiny fraction of a percent of that to develop I would guess KDE would have the most formidable application suite in the world within a few years.

I don't use Nautilus so I can't judge their knowledge of software. What Eazel clearly did lack was a business plan or a desire to use common open source methodologies. They did in fact burn money. However a friend of mine who is a financial planner has told me that creatively burning venture capital can leave you set for life, so it's possible I'm missing the real objective. It's difficult for me to imagine the Eazel team being a real hero to anyone who didn't think pro wrestling was real.

by Roberto Alsina (not verified)

Developing software is cheap and getting cheaper.

Now, the guys that can manage U$S13M... those cost a fortune!

by anonymous (not verified)


by Derek Kite (not verified)

Very very funny. And probably not far from the truth.

The challenge of getting into the desktop market is how to survive while the software grows and matures (years). There is an established competitor who knows full well that it can kill any newcomer by cutting off the cash supply. Can Novell bankroll the whole thing? No way. They are depending on the goodwill and contributions of all the desktop developers. The developers decide where they put their energies.

Maybe Perens has done some inadvertent consulting for Novell with the Userlinux desktop controversy. File under "Mistakes to Avoid".


by Yellowboy (not verified)

How the fuck is it "probably not far from the truth"?
How much money have gnome companies gone though in the years and how is that in any way directly related to the cost of supporting gnome?

by David (not verified)

Because it shows just how expensive it is to develop apps for Gnome. All that money for a file manager and a PIM application? Look at Konqueror, Kroupware and the Kontact suite? How much did that little lot cost in non-existent venture capital funding? Some people on the Gnome side really are living in a fantasy world.

by Expensive (not verified)

But be honest, Konqueror get support from SuSE and Mandrake, Kroupware was manly payed for by the German government. I guess that it didn't cost those millions but it did have some corporate support.

by Scott Wheeler (not verified)

Yeah, I guess what they're trying to say is that there haven't been any big venture capital backed KDE companies. Ximian, Easel and Redhat all rode that wave (for good or bad).

However this basically has nothing to do with their toolkits or whatever. Management quality is not a feature of the toolkit. ;-) So the Easel guys didn't know how to run a for profit company -- this is somehow connected to them using GTK and we're supposed take from this that GTK costs more to develop for?

Where'd I set my bat-o-logic?

by manyoso (not verified)

Not so hard to grok, Scott. The contention is that developing for GTK+ is *hard* compared to Qt, thus (at least on average) it requires more development hours spent for features produced. Someone upthread said that Easel burned through capital primarily through developer salaries and all they had to show was Nautilus.

by Yellowboy (not verified)

No, what I showed was that they were paying their developers handsomely.
They had IIRC about 20 out of 30 developers working on Nautilus, the other ten were working on "other things". The rest of the team was managers, PR departments, artists, and other things that weren't overly essential to developing software, but are essential to running a company.

It has *nothing* to do with how hard or easy one toolkit is to use over another.

IMO Eazel's main flaw to to assume that they were going to succeed with no problems at all and expanded too far too quickly. But as Scott said, management competency isn't a feature of either QT or GTK

by David (not verified)

Qt is a heck of a lot more than a graphical toolkit, like GTK is. There is no comparison.

by anon (not verified)

Don't forget Corel and Caldera as well. They played crucial rules in early KDE 2.x development. Although they aren't around much anymore in terms of KDE (Corel->Xandros, Caldera->SCO)

by Roberto Alsina (not verified)

Corel? I think they contributed a fair chunk of Ark, and a code review.

Can´t remember anything else coming from them.

by mill (not verified)

Well, using the above logic -- of course Corel didn't contribute anything when Qt is sooooo expensive and hard to use..


by David (not verified)

Yer, it's expensive to a kid on Slashdot. To a corporate - no. Hard to use? Yer. right.

by mill (not verified)


by cwoelz (not verified)

Whatch your language. Are you trying to discuss something or are you here to call names?

Answering your quastion:

It seems easier to develop to KDE. The development tools are better, the base library is more documented (Qt), the translation tools are excelent (and even used by other desktops), kdevelop rocks, the components (kparts) are easy to implement and easy to use, the XMLUI makes it easy to adapt the existing applications to a specific function.

But I could be wrong.

by Yellowboy (not verified)

I didn't call anyone names did I?
No, I just checked, I didn't.

Sometimes, use of strong language adds emphasis to a point.

And ummm, your answer didn't answer my question.

by a.c. (not verified)

Howdy Navindra.
Do you do edits on postings? Or is it simple to do so?
It might nice to do some re substitues over the postings and subjects.
Perhaps just replace after the first letter with the usual garbage.


by Derek Kite (not verified)

Well, lets see who actually lives off what they write.

KDE now has a very good foundation of a groupware solution because someone went out and sold a solution, got money for it, stuck their neck out in promising something, then did it. They built on what was there before, and they and others are putting time and resources into finishing the whole thing. We all benefit. Novell can improve and sell it too.

Call it reality. When I see FOSS people doing the industry fluff, vapor and scam stuff, I get disgusted.

Funny, it is just fine and logical to suggest that KDE disappear, but the instance Gnome and their rich fanboys get criticised, the language gets bad real quick.


by Yellowboy (not verified)

Yeah, cos the KDE boys didn't get annoyed over the UserLinux thing at all.

And the rest of your comment is completely unrelated to anything I posted and is really just a strawman you've set up.

And for what its worth...
I don't get paid to work on GNOME so I'm definelty not a "rich fan boy"...
You probably shouldn't jump to conclusions, it makes you look very silly.

When I see FOSS people doing the "lets talk shit about stuff we don't know" stuff, I get disgusted.

by David (not verified)

"I don't get paid to work on GNOME so I'm definelty not a "rich fan boy"..."

He probably wasn't talking about you. You can talk in the third person you know.

"When I see FOSS people doing the "lets talk shit about stuff we don't know" stuff, I get disgusted."

Yer it's called common sense. Hurts doesn't it?

by Yellowboy (not verified)

> He probably wasn't talking about you. You can talk in the third person you know.

No-one else was jumping in to defend GNOME, so... I guess he was talking about me.
And no
Its not called "Common sense"
Its call bullshiting.
And it doesn't hurt
Its just annoying.

by David (not verified)

"No-one else was jumping in to defend GNOME, so... I guess he was talking about me.
And no
Its not called "Common sense"
Its call bullshiting.
And it doesn't hurt
Its just annoying."

Go away then.

by Derek Kite (not verified)

Indeed, the KDE people (me included) got annoyed with the Userlinux thing. For very good reason, just like you were annoyed and moved to swear when someone had the temerity to suggest that Gnome could be the loser in some decision.

So let's put the shoe on that foot. Does Gnome pay it's way? Does it cover anyone's cash flow requirements? Maybe it does. I know, and I used one example, where it does cover someones cash flow, someone sold a solution based on KDE, were paid for development work that then was put back into the project. This isn't some flakey 'well, if we scam some investors with some grandiose promises...' thing, this is real money for real solutions.

And no, I wasn't referring to you. I don't know who you are.

It isn't KDE people who are saying that there should be one desktop to rule us all. It isn't KDE people who are saying, and I quote "it will take us two years to catch up to KDE in functionality", and suggesting that it would be best if KDE was marginalized, or better, went away. It wasn't the KDE people who were saying that Novell will naturally use their desktop.

KDE people are saying that there are two desktops, will be two desktops, lets make them both work together where it makes sense. And Gnome developers are saying the same things as far as I can tell. There are certain interests and prominent people in the FOSS community that somehow think they can take charge of something that they don't own. So far, it belongs to whoever writes the code. Both KDE and Gnome have active communities, churning out copious amounts of code. And both have growing, enthusiastic user communities. It's not a zero sum game.


by jdell (not verified)

This story is very thin on details only suggesting that ultimately Novell will make changes. Anybody have a clue what the thinking is with regard to OpenExchange server? Is it going to get canned in favor of GroupWise? (I hope not!)

by Anonymous Coward (not verified)

The sales of SLOX4.1 are going very well. It has a WebDAV interface which you can easily use from your own applications (see ) to access ALL data on SLOX. Together with iSLOX and oSLOX (plugins for Outlook) it allows much over 90% of all Exchange users to switch from Exchange to SLOX without losing functionality while using Outlook as their groupware client. SLOX is really an Exchange killer and Novell would be dumb to throw this away.

Here is a full quote of what he wrote to kde-core-devel list, for all those
who are too lazy to click the link in the story above (or missed to see it).

------------------- quote --------------------------------------------------

List: kde-core-devel
Subject: Statement
From: Richard Seibt <>
Date: 2003-11-11 13:19:43

Dear KDE developers,

since I joined SUSE in January 2003, I learned that KDE is one of the most
successful and fastest evolving open source projects. Since the first day I
use it myself and I am thrilled with it. My personal thanks to all of you who
contributed in the last seven years to KDE.

KDE is the defacto standard for Linux desktops in Europe. Without KDE, I do
not believe we would be seeing the interest in Linux on the corporate desktop
that we are seeing today and on the consumer desktop as well.

Please be clear: SUSE LINUX will continue to strongly support KDE.

Both the Ximian and SUSE LINUX acquisitions reaffirm Novell's strong belief in
the value of the open source development model and strengthen Novell's
commitment to supporting the open source community. SUSE LINUX is an
integrator with a wealth of experience in working with both the open source
community and the IT industry. SUSE LINUX brings extensive experience in KDE
and has a track record working with GNOME. Ximian has core competence in
GNOME and a great desktop focus, both in platform and product offerings.

Together with our Ximian colleagues at Novell, we will also enable our
customers to use GNOME with the same convenience and comfort KDE offers to me
and all SUSE employees today.

The integration capabilities SUSE LINUX brings will continue to help
seamlessly integrate Linux-based offerings, inside and outside of Novell.
Together, we might even think about new opportunities to leverage the usage
of Linux on the desktop. E.g. why do we not open Linux for Apple's Mac OS

Today and tomorrow, we must be strongly committed to deliver what our
customers ask us for. They know best what tools will help to fit their needs.
That's why we recently choose our new slogan - Simply change! It is an
affirmation to all of us to listen what our customers and users need
-- and change our manners and goals, if necessary.

So I really love to stay with you in an ongoing and fruitful dialog.

Richard Seibt, Chief Executive Officer - Vorsitzender des Vorstandes
SUSE LINUX AG, Deutschherrnstr. 15-19, D-90429 Nuernberg

------------------- unquote ------------------------------------------------

That is all well and good, but it may not be his decision at the end of the day.

Long term it doesn't make sense to have Suse supporting KDE and Ximian doing Gnome. Either Suse switches over to Gnome or Ximian switches to KDE (wouldn't that be cool!)

Why doesn't it make sense? IBM for example, sells and supports AIX, AS400, the big iron, Windows (alot) and Linux. Why? because the have customers who want one or all of the above.

Right now, Ximian and gnome have valuable elements. KDE has valuable elements. This won't change.

The reason this won't change is because developers that aren't working for Novell will work on, improve, extend, innovate on whatever they feel like. It isn't Novell's to control. Right now if you limit your clients to one desktop, they are missing the strengths of the other. That won't change. KDE will improve to match Gnome where it may lack, and visa-versa. At the same time each advances elsewhere. They will never be equal, or equally suited to all purposes.

The only way the linux desktop can be viable for Novell or SUSE or anyone is to use the work of hundreds of other developers not in your employ. Yes, improve, contribute, finish, maybe gently push in a direction or other. No-one could afford to do it all.


You are talking as if all the decisions on the linux desktop front were already made. Neither gnome nor kde have a clear advantage over each other.

So we may expect that Novell will decide what is best to its business. Companies may try to shape the market, but usually it's the market who shapes the companies! Novell will support either gnome and/or kde if that makes a profit for the company, that's all.

by Kurt Pfeifle (not verified)

Richard Seibt:
>>>> "E.g. why do we not open Linux for Apple's Mac OS desktop?" <<<<

...or why not the other way round? Bring KDE applications to Apple's Mac OS Desktop?

Oh, wait.... they are doing this already! They are even nearly there!! (Ignoring the rough edges which may still be there -- but hey, our two Benjamins working on it say the port is still Beta).

Screenshots here:

--> <-- # names starting with "qt-mac-..."
--> <--

Downloads here:


The fact that they were able to do most of the work during X-Mas holiday season is a tremendous tribute to the Qt and KDE cross platform capabilities.

A Win32 port is also going forward (""). More problems there to solve, but it is a living and kicking project, also with already working KDE programs....

by claes (not verified)

I read somewhere that it was about 4. It does not sound so much, and I definitely think they could continue to pay for that, no matter what. For Novell, especially.

by Erik Hensema (not verified)

According to :

SuSE pays KDE developers Waldo Bastian and Lubos Lunak to work on KDE development. SuSE also employs around 10 KDE developers which are free to work on KDE during their work time.

by Bruce (not verified)

All the Gnomeistas are automatically assuming that its the end for KDE on SuSE, but the opposite is more logical. Heres my thinking:

1. KDE is established on SuSE (counter: Why acquire Ximian then?)
2. SuSE is the money maker, not Ximian. (counter: ?)
3. Novell is interested in making money. (counter: ?)
4. Most commercial linux desktop distributions use KDE as default: SuSE, Lindows, Xandros: precedence issues (counter: differentiation)
5. KDE is not "tied" to specific corporate interests like Gnome (Sun, ex-redhat). (counter: so this means that Gnome is already co-opted)

Of course the biggest argument against this is that the Ximian honchos are in the Desktop side of Novell distribution so reason might be trumped by ideology... Hasn't been the first time.


by - (not verified)

Novell bought ximian because it bets on mono becoming .net on linux. I agree they will dump ximian gnome.

by Birdy (not verified)

Looking at doesn't sound like Novell is about to dump gnome...

by Anonymous (not verified)

Only 7 of the 45 bounties were solved in the given time frame. Either they are missing enough developers or it's too difficult to develop for Gtk/GNOME.

by anonymous (not verified)

Wow. That is some pretty bad PR.

by anon (not verified)

+++ "Only 7 of the 45 bounties were solved in the given +++
+++ time frame. Either they are missing enough developers +++
+++ or it's too difficult to develop for Gtk/GNOME." +++

If that's true, it is a really bad sign for GNOME. First tease the developers to
do the unpopular/difficult stuff -- and then fail to get what you want....

But, maybe, it is just a webmaster being on vacation not having updated the table?

Anyone here who is lurking on GNOME mailing lists knowing what's going on?

by anonymous (not verified)

It's true. Check

by anon (not verified)

It could _still_ be the webmaster being on holiday...

by anony (not verified)

Wow -- I haven't visited the dot in a while, and I'm horried at the attitudes around here. I thought Slashdot was bad ...

Anyways, yes, only 7 bounties were claimed IN TIME for the deadline. The whole contest was only about a month long, and involved a lot of non-GNOME people learning a new development environment.

If you actually look through the bugzilla entries, lurk on the mailing lists, or listen in on, you'll see that ALMOST ALL of the bounties are being worked on. Only 7 were finished ahead of time. Others are on the doorstep. Others are still coming in the second round.

While many people are working on the bounties, the people running the contest are holding the highest of standards for the entries. No cheap hacks here.

by Yellowboy (not verified)

Other possible reasons:
a) Gaim developers are not forthcoming with accepting patches (who'd have guessed...)
b) Evolution mailer developers both went on 3 weeks vacation over the holidays and so many of the patches could not get committed or discussed
c) Christmas is exam/finals time for students, so hacking is a secondary issue.