Improving KDE Public Relations

There is a general consensus that the KDE project, despite its technical superiority among various desktop environments, has had a poor PR record, especially in North America. Now that the release has been delayed a week or so, let's take this opportunity on to present and share ideas that will help the KDE PR and marketing efforts. Just to get us started, here's one idea which I mentioned to Mosfet:

I just looked at (This is actually what reminded me of KDE's poor public relations and advertising record compared to the competition.) If KDE can be configured to
look virtually exactly like the competition, why not advertise that fact when KDE2 is released? Those companies or organizations who have invested in the look and feel of the competition can consider the technical superiority of KDE
without worrying about style issues. And the naysayers on /. etc. who talk about how the competition is prettier can be silenced before they even start. When the KDE2 release is officially announced, the folks at /. etc. should have immediate links to screenshots showing off style compatibility with the competition.

Look, now that KDE is totally (L)GPL compatible (ok, for some of us there was never a real
problem to begin with but let's not even go there), why not include a couple of themes using the competition's icons, etc. (minus the foot) in the standard KDE distribution? This will make it easier for users to get that look if they want and then they focus on the technical merits or demerits. If KDE can include non-standard applications in the distribution, then why not distribute some non-standard
styles as well?

If this has already been discussed somewhere, then I missed it. Any way, given all of the work that has gone into KDE2, not to mention the great configurability that has been developed, it should be advertised LOUDLY and decisively immediately upon release (links to screenshots, etc). The excuse that "Well, uhh, I chose <insert name of competition here> because it looks cooler man" can and should be put to rest once and for all.

The above is meant to provoke ideas and general discussion about KDE PR. The release delay gives the PR team (who are they anyway?) an extra week to get things together. After all of the experience of the past, we have no excuse to not get it right this time. There may never be as crucial an advertising moment for KDE as with this KDE 2.0 release.

Thank goodness they dropped the KDE2 1.x idea, or we'd be in REAAAL trouble.



by vinn (not verified)

I don't necessarily agree that embracing
GNOME's style is the way to go. Personally
if I want something that looks good I'll run
E with KDE.

However, you're right that KDE needs to draw
upon its strengths. Looks at what kinds of
amazing things KDE has now:

  • Network and filesystem transparency
    in the form of kioslaves (RIO baby!)
    integrated into a kick ass filemanager.
  • A full blown office suite that almost
    no one has seen any working examples
    of because the koffice team is even
    more inept at PR. (C'mon, we get
    deluged in PR crap about some program
    called Evolution that is still pre-alpha.)
  • New theme engines, new themes, new

Most other projects flood the linux news sites
with weekly updates, weekly screenshots, RFP's,
and nonsensical PR bs. I admire KDE for not
announcing every little crapplet as major
innovation, but there's a lot of amazing stuff
in the new release that no one knows anything
about (yes folks, you can browse smb..)

by Philippe (not verified)

To show the KDE io_slaves, I suggest to prepare
a series of screenshot showing the same konqi accessing all possible filesystems (including rio).

And for developers, just tell that one
only needs to code a simple io_slave to add support for new protocols (and add a link to the io_slave html library and to examples).

Konqueror as a web browser should of course have a dedicated paragraph, with all the features it includes. Perhaps, a detailed comparison to Mozilla would be interesting, especially since the rendering is faster than gecko. IRC, some kind of java support is disabled for security reasons. Perhaps it should be mentionned too.

Kde is criticized for not using Corba, so we should defintely have lot of examples ready to demonstrate DCOP and kpart. Simon Haussman once showed in response to an article what one can do with DCOP. This is the kind of thing that developers love and that will make them turn to kde. So have examples of that and of more powerful interactions ready for the developers to try.

Mention that one can embed an editor in kde with kpart. For the moment, there is only kwrite, but vim should be there one day (I'm working on it), and qfte too. This means that a user will be able to always edit with its favorite editor.

Mention that khtml is also an embedable componnent, that could even be replaced by gecko as Corel suggested.

Ok, I realised these are too much developers things.

User things are ... (thinking) ...
Yes, unicode.
- Show a whole desktop in russian, in japanese, in chinese, etc.
- Do we have applications that are unique ? Something better than a mail client and a ftp client ?
- The programs most used by 'simple' users should have a word: Irc, icq and aim, mail, organizer.

by Chris Aakre (not verified)

This is so true. Konqueror has to be the best browser for linux to date, yet no one knows about it. It's ok to hype a product if theres so much to hype about.

by Jelmer Feenstra (not verified)

Uhm vinn,

I'm afraid that SMB browsing isn't as complete and functional as you would like it to be. It has quite some irritating bugs left, which are not very likely to be removed on a short notice, because the library (libsmb++) that is being used for the smb functionality isn't really updated anymore (the author has no internet access for quite a while now, and isn't on a smb network anymore).

So unless you tell me all smb slave problems have been fixed, I suggest not to go shouting around that smb browsing is fully functional...

by vinn (not verified)

I didn't say it worked well did I? ;)

by Jelmer Feenstra (not verified)

No you're right.



by Andrew Brown (not verified)

I'm a professional writer and I've done a fair bit of computer journalism in my time. I'm also sympathetic to linux and KDE in particular. It's fun and konqueror is really very impressive. almost my favourite browser on any platform.

But the rest is nothing like ready for the consumer market, especially Koffice. The first thing missing is interoperability. Like it or not, MS Office is the world's standard. If your applications can't read and write its formats they are about as much use as 1994 Mosaic would be on today's web: much less use than Lynx.

Beyond the lack of filters there are other problems. Kword, which is, for obvious reasons, what I have looked at most, lacks all sorts of elementary features for a professional word processor -- select/delete words, lines, or sentences, for one example. Macros, for another. The ability to transpose letters. A degree of configuration so that everything can be made to work in familiar ways when you change from something else.

Kspread doesn't seem to have a "find" function. This stuff is not even Beta. It's alpha software, as far as I can see. It is not going to persuade any serious user to change over. Don't boast about an office suite when it compares to MS office roughly as dos 3 compared to Unix.

One final thought. If you want to do something which would really make KDE stand out from the competition, get the help finished and consistent. The basic framework is all there and excellent but hardly any of it is complete and lots of the help files still start with a section on where to get hold of the software. If I hadn't got that far, I wouldn't be reading the help file, would I?

by Morty (not verified)

How to emulate gnome look in 2 steps :-)
Make a gnome icon theme.
Code a style to look like Sawfish and use the QT
GTK style for the widgets.

Then scrap the icons, hack the style to use some
nice looking widgets. (Sawfish's window
decoration looks good :-)

by Fernando Delgado (not verified)

The other desktop enviroment seems to me less easy to use, and that is the bigger issue for non windozes. But for some reason KDE has no the "media" that the others have. May be they are better at that may be not, but I belive KDE2 will be a bigger player in the near future than KDE1 has been. Anyway PR are always a good investment unless it affect the real work.

by Herwin Jan Stee... (not verified)

I think KDE has need a little more PR, but not that much, we are ( or i'm ;_) ) not a American who always blow of the higest tree ;-)

I think KDE2 will make it anyway by its own, Ok little PR is OK, but not say things you cannot make true.

KDE1 was also a success, but most people used it but did not say they did !

i realy like KDE2 and i'm rewriting KXicq to KDE2!

but please let KDE2 be what it is and not more and sure, not less !

by matthew (not verified)

I agree that showing that you can look like the other dt is not the way to go. What will sell in America is the features that you will bring to the market. To be honest, even mentioning or begging comparison with the competition I take as petty, and sort of a pathetic, and bitter response. Lay out what they're getting in their package. Don't use the other guy as a (low) benchmark.

by Antonie Fourie (not verified)

I agree that KDE has generally lacked good PR, but yet according to some surveys it is still the most populate user environment out there.

This clearly indicates that whether the competition has a better approach to PR or not - people like using KDE. It is this quiet confidence that attracted me to KDE in the first place.

However having said that, how do you attract future Linux users to KDE?

The KDE PR has to be at multiple levels and geared towards specific audiences.

** A PR effort is required to attract third party application developers to KDE. Applications, commercial or otherwise, are critical to the future viability of KDE.

** A PR effort is required to attract corporate/business users to KDE. A focus on productivity, ease-of-use and applications.

** A PR effort is required to attract "everyday" end users to KDE. Again ease-of-use and applications.

A focussed approach will allow KDE to effectively reach the right audience with the right message.

For example:

A PR effort based on technical superiority or politics ("we have a better component model that the competition...", "we have a superior theme engine...", "we are GPL compliant !", etc) will miss the point when you are trying to attract novice end-users to KDE. KDE must be made relevant to their day-to-day computing needs - "You can use KOffice to do...".

An overall PR strategy is required, but specific individuals or groups must be responsible for PR endeavors geared towards specific audiences.

Another area may be to relook the design of the KDE home page as it is generally the first contact that new users have with the KDE community.

Maybe the design should combine a more marketing orientated look-n-feel with the technical information that is currently available.

by Brian Fisher (not verified)

Although I enjoy KDE and Gnome nearly equally the same. Personally, I find the main reasons why I prefer KDE is it's sloppy focus.

In the KDE Control Center, under 'Window Behavior'/'Properties' I use 'Focus follows mouse' and 'Click Raise' as Focus policy.
Previously in fvwm and afterstep this was known as sloppy focus. I think this is a key GUI functionality that is not publicized enough. This option provides me with what I'll refer to as a 'reference window'. I can be either editing or running a script in one window, while referencing the contents of another (perhaps very large) window which can be overlapping my window. This allows me to compare output which may be used for troubleshooting, running test scripts, or simply formulating an email response. What's great about this is that everything stays in place. I'm not clicking between windows to activate them, nor is a window being raised automatically which could obscure my view. (Gnome has a 'sloppy focus' feature but it doesn't provide the same functionality)

I utilize this method regularly since I find it most efficient. Furthermore, I think that many who would use this feature might never want to have it any other way.

Brian Fisher

by Jamin P. Gray (not verified)

Sawfish (Gnome's default window manager) can be configured easily to do exactly this.

by Kevin Vandersloot (not verified)

Sawfish comes with this behavior by default. I personally don't like it but try out Sawfish for the first time and thats what you get. You also can get this feature from enlightenment ( and probably others that I havn't tried).

by Arker (not verified)

As others have noted, sawfish and E both have this behaviour available. I use WindowMaker, and it also does this, by default I think, but if not by selection, and does it well.

by JS (not verified)

I think it is missing a daily or weekly summary/digest of the KDE world, including digests from the devel lists as well as application reviews, presentation of projects and announcements of releases. .kde is already fulfilling some of these items.

Regarding themes, why should I settle for an imitation when I can get the real thing? I've always preffered the(fast) non-intrusive themes to the baroque stuff. Simplicity, speed and productivity should be the major 'selling' points.
I like to look at enlightenment, but i prefer to use kwm for example.

Just my personal contribution.

by Bill Soudan (not verified)

The weekly summary idea is actually in the works. Our plans are to provide a weekly summary of the news items, with some additional content thrown in (insightful user comments perhaps, extra development tidbits that don't belong on the main page, CVS stats, etc). Look for it soon!

by Luc taesch (not verified)

My 2p on that:

seen that already:
oracle vs sybase, Ms vs apple.
the technically superior ( assumed sybase, apple here) were so sure that "IT will shows by itself", that they did not do so much about PR. and also, they were targeting brother-technicians, ie initiated, not "normal people", or corporates.

the competition, reversely, knowing that they cannot compete on the technical side, pushed on Pr and marketing. they didnt talked to the technicians, they talked to their boss. oracle and Ms were targeting corporate heads, and the PR was targeted at them.

we all know what the result was for these two head-to-head.

but probably techies prefer doing nicer things than lying, lobbying, and managment talking...

we all know that corporate talks bs makes no sense, ... except for corporates...

by Shashi Thapar (not verified)

All communications regarding Public Relations must be addressed to me in future.

by Raphael Bauduin (not verified)

Wouldn't it be good to link the KDE annoucement to a general review of KDE2 and its features? Aren't there people ready to write a piece about a specific part of KDE2? Here a things I think about:
Konqueror file manager
Konqueror Browser
Control Center Themes
Control Center Localization
Control Center Personalization
KDE sound system (Arts)
KDE Multimedia features
KDE2 Games
KDE2 Utils
+ several developers features
etc, etc

As you see, there's a lot of work. Are there people interested in writing such a review? I'm ready to participate actively!


by Joshua Kuebler (not verified)

I think KDE's PR should be done by the users, leaveing the devlopers free to give us some great code.
I agree that many projects become bogged down with PR, and therefore the product is not as good as it could be.
So, my fellow users, lets get to work doing PR for KDE, and leave the developers to their work.


by Divine (not verified)

The idea looks good.. it's true that probably only the Enlightenment team is more secretive than the KDE group =) But at the same time it's up to the numerous fans to help as well...
Personally what I would do first and foremost is to improve the site... prove me wrong, but even the frontpage (is Linux ready for the desktop?") didn't change for the last 1.5 years... and that's THE starting page where anyone interested in something new looks for info. Persoanlly, I have seen MS Windows themes pages which are much more appealing (don't get me wrong, it's "constructive critisism").
Solution? The KDE developers don't want and don't have the time to write flashy homepages instead of workin' on code (especially now =))) So why don't we get together 10-20 people helping them? Ok, I can't write coe and don't know where Perl is, but I can write a review of the KDE appz that I use... and if everyone does the same, we'll have plenty of reviews/tips&tricks/howtos etc to constructively advertize KDE.
Anyone interested, email me!

by Christian A Strømmen (not verified)

The web-team has been working for the last months with a new look and feel for the web-page, and the way it looks now, we'll be able to launch the new page when we ship kde2. :)

by Spud (not verified)

Something I hear a lot is 'kde looks just like windows'. I think shipping a couple of hardcore, over the top, purposefully pure eye candy themes would help out. I dont really see any in the 1.94 release (Even the marble ones look too useful, not enough hacker like :). Also, if SMB really works we should get the word out. And finally showcasing konqueror wouldn't hurt I dont think, but dont talk about the javascript...

I would showcase kword but it cant really compete with SO for importing word files.

by Erik (not verified)

Personally, I don't see why a GNOME look and feel is a problem, nor do I understand how it's stooping to the competition. You're highlighting KDE2's configurability; what better way is there to illustrate this than to make it look almost exactly like another desktop? It's not like you're hard-coding the GNOME look into KDE2. It's an option, and a good one at that. If a user does not want it, he or she does not have to use it.

Add the GNOME libraries to the system, and there will be virtually no reason anyone could claim that KDE2 can't do for them what GNOME can.

(Note: I don't have any real biases either way with regard to KDE or GNOME. I'm just responding to the responders who say that making KDE2 look like GNOME -- even temporarilly -- is stooping. I strongly disagree.)

by Mukhsein (not verified)

I find that the argument of: "I know KDE is more stable and has more features but I still think GNOME looks better!" is something that I hear extremely often!

I don't understand why they think so since GNOME looks awful to me but there you go. So because of this, I think it would not hurt KDE at all of we actually did show some thing like "You like that look? Oh, no prob, click here and here and here and presto! - but wait, there's more!".

It's not stooping in any way. At least I don't think it is. It's silencing silly comments before they even get a chance to start. After all, the other project has all it needs in terms of PR what with large commercial interests backing it - we don't need to let them win a simple battle we could not lose...right?

by Samawi (not verified)

> After all, the other project has all it needs in > terms of PR what with large commercial
> interests backing it - we don't need to let them > win a simple battle we could not lose...right?

That's EXACTLY the point. Although many or most of us don't like the competition's look, by providing an optional compatible style we can actually steer the debate away from style issues to more substantive things. Let's remove this red herring once and for all. Yes, this is known already amongst all KDE developers but the word has to get down to the masses at large. The "look and feel straw man" is one of the last distractions put forward by many loud voices on the other side. Let us remove this distraction once and for all. It should not take much work. KDE has nothing at all to lose in this regard and everything to gain.

Let's not be reactionary; let's steer the debate!


by Frank (not verified)

I completely agree! I am new to the whole linux thing and wanted to just spend (really not to much) some time on testing KDE or GNome. There is lots of talk which one is best, but if you are a newbie like me you really don't know whom to trust, so I decided more or less emotionally. The look of an desktop is then of great importance and if KDE can look whatever desktop you like, it is an advantage (one of many!)

by David Walser (not verified)

Please! Put a warning before that screenshot link or something! I almost puked!

Gnome is so ugly, badly designed, and its icons are terrible! The new Gaim has taken on Gnomish icons, so I had to set my prefs to show text and not icons now, just because they're so ugly (and they're not intuitive at all, KDE's are).

by Jamin P. Gray (not verified)

This is all a matter of preference. I personally use Gnome for a lot of reasons, aesthetics being one of them. What I found interesting about the screenshot is that it didn't really look like Gnome. it had a few of the same icons, but that's about it. Sure you probably could make gnome look like that, but by default it looks rather different. But one thing I will agree with, the screenshot is ugly. :) I much prefer my Gnome's beautiful...

by Tackat (not verified)

> What I found interesting about the screenshot is that it didn't really look like Gnome.

Oh well --- I put that icon-theme together in something like 15 minutes to test certain aspects of our icon-engine. So my major goal was not to "emulate" a perfect gnome. Still I'm sure that one could ask a gnome-coder to recreate konquerors widgets in gtk while using gtk's icons and themes. If one would do a screenshot of that and say it would demo KDE's themability people like you would still reply the same bullshit.


by Neil Stevens (not verified)


Do you use some of the features Gaim has that Kit lacks or something?

Take a look at "Kit", in kdenetwork, if you haven't already.

by the_1000th_Monkey (not verified)

I've thought of this before, and have meant to start an effort which in my mind would be called Kameleon, which would create packages to make KDE2 mimic other desktops through the use of icons, color schemes, widget themes, and kicker applets. With these things all being completely configurable, it's totally feasable to morph the default KDE desktop into an almost exact copy of any desktop I can think of. It would a great draw (IMHO) if KDE could easily be made to look like an enviroment that new users might already be familiar with (Windoze, MacOS), and I agree it would be great PR to say, "you like the competition's look? then fine, have it!"

by ac (not verified)

Great idea! It should also apply to keyboard shortcuts, single-click/double-click. There is also the Mac-Menubar, Focuspolicy, panel/taskbar mode, system sounds, button order in dialogs, ...

Kameleon is a great name for that, please go ahead and start that project!

by frank (not verified)

the kde team creates software; gnome issues press releases on what it is getting ready to start doing about the process of beginning a new alliance that will ultimately look into the idea of creating software...

in example, kde now has a quite workable software suite...gnome has did have abiword, but per stallman's recent interview, has abandoned that to whoever wants to continue playing with it...instead it now, or soon, will have star office, a klunky old dog that not even sun was able to turn into an attractive product...but putting the gnome footprint onto star office doesn't integrate it into gnome, that's a one to three year short, at now, gnome has only vapor, promise, and press release for an office suite...

those who use computers will use kde...those who only talk about how good things are gonna be someday will continue talking about gnome...kinda like george, lenny, and the rabbits...

by Jason Katz-Brown (not verified)

Wow, it really is like George, Lenny and the rabbits (I like that book)-- I found AbiWord pretty weird, and KWord to be superb, especially with KParts. And I don't like StarOffice that much.


by Manuel Zamora (not verified)

Hi there,

I DO agree with quite everything said in the article - I do hear a lot about Evolution-Pre-Beta-29,234 with 2 lines of changed code (just to name an example).
But it was, half a year ago, hard to get any news about KDE issues. That is one point which IMHO *has* to be changed AFAP.

Another point, which has been already mentioned, that if you *can* give KDE2 quite every look you want, why don't you include some popular ones in the standard distro? If there's someone, who likes the gnome look (btw. I don't ;), give it to him. Also include some windoze-themes for some crazy guys, who like that style of computing.

KDE2 really *is* something very cool, so why don't promote it?

If someone want's to organize a PR-Team (or if the existing needs help) I am there for you.


by Otter (not verified)

One big disadvantage KDE has on the PR front is the lack of a celebrity front man. Miguel de Icaza serves as the public face of Gnome, while KDE is a software collection that periodically emerges from somewhere in Germany. The result is that KDE is viewed as a faceless corporate product while Gnome is perceived as a project of the hacker community -- despite the fact that Gnome is much more driven by corporations (Red Hat, Sun, Eazel, Helix Code) than KDE is.

BSD suffers from a similar issue. Linux is viewed as the project of Linus and his hacker buddies even though it's vastly more corporate-driven than the BSDs.

One of the reasons I enjoy contributing to KDE is the complete lack of ego and empire building. It's unfortunate that it works to the project's disadvantage on the PR front.

by thil (not verified)

Yes, the lack of ego and the honesty of KDE team is a great advantage.
The community is broader.
There is no disilusion.

KDE is more like DEBIAN.
Just real and good code.
Just thankful users.

Long life !

by Arnold (not verified)


Iguana's PR efforts are notoriously succesful. Without his lobbying efforts Gnome would have been dead by now.

The Big-Iron support he managed to get was a killer, and I dislike him for that... ;)

His machismo works wonderfully in the Californian sun, where the cool and eurocrat temper doesn't work.

If KDE doesn't have a self-proclaimed diva then that is too, too bad. It may be hard to swallow such personalities, but they are needed in the US, where competence and technological arguments don't sell.

The anti-hero Alan Cox is the closest Europe has come up with (apart from Linus), but he is allied with Gnome, so he is out of the question.

Perhaps Kalle Dalheimer? He is a talented guy, with a sense for style, and not too shy.

Kalle, will you be our poster guy?

KDE's panel must go all the way across the screen. That sucks for people using Xinerama. This is the only reason I don't use KDE.

I think if you wish to improve your image, you should let your code stand on it's own (which it does, for the most part), rather than bringing your competition into it.

by Evan "JabberWok... (not verified)

KDE's panel must go all the way across the screen. That sucks for people using Xinerama. This is the only reason I don't use KDE

That's one reason I don't use KWin and Kicker. I use BlackBox instead, but run all the other nice KDE2 programs, including KControl, KWrite, Konqueror, etc.

With a 3200x1200x24 screen size, KWin and Kicker *do* start to break down, but many other window managers work just fine with KDE2.


by Gordon Heydon (not verified)

That's one reason I don't use KWin and Kicker. I use BlackBox instead, but run all the other nice KDE2 programs, including KControl, KWrite, Konqueror, etc

This is why I use the gnome panel, as I don't want it to go all the way across, I want it in the right had corner taking up only the room it needs, I don't use the task list app, I only use something like that for iconified apps, and I have that in E.

Besides the panel that is almost the only thing I use of gnome, the rest are just system utils.


I do want my kicker to go all teh way accross. And now it doesn't because of comments like this. Argh. Why don't they make it optional.

by josh mcgee (not verified)

When i first started using linux i used kde, then i switched to gnome. i still think kde is great, but i always here the kde team talking about its technical superiority. What parts of kde is superior technicaly, ive never seen any examples.
could someone please list some.

by Odair (not verified)


by Anonymous (not verified)

kfm is superior in features because it can also do web browsing.
But gmc is superior to kfm in file management in general.

by jannek (not verified)

You can't be serious? gmc was clumsy piece of crap that segfaulted all the time.

Kfm isn't such a great filemanager, but it was the best one available on linux and it worked and worked well.

by Arker (not verified)

IMHOP, gmc is far better. It doesn't segfault for me and I use it every day. Kfm is totally annoying, not only for wanting to be more than a file manager (displaying HTML inline is a bug not a feature so far as I am concerned - gmc will hand off the HTML to whatever browser you prefer) but also for the fact that it insists on being a "desktop manager" (my root window is NOT a "desktop" and I don't want it to be) and refuses to exit cleanly. Gmc at least will exit cleanly and not require an explicit kill. I'm told konquerer solves this problem at least - I'll see in a few days I expect, when the actual release version of KDE 2 comes out I'll be downloading it.