Native KDE Port for Mac OS X

A few days ago Benjamin Reed, a.k.a. RangerRick and Benjamin
, a.k.a. icefox, succeeded in making Konqueror, the KDE swiss army
knife, run
natively on Mac OS X
. Now they have an update: KOffice, Kate,
Konsole, and a few other KDE
applications work natively on Mac OS X. That means, they don't
use an X server, like the GUI apps such as those ported
from Unix and Linux to Mac OS X by the Fink project do, but they base on the native Qt/Mac library to run KDE in the
native Aqua environment. They have solved all major porting problems,
with only a few rough edges left to polish. Congratulations on this
milestone achievement!

Screenshots of KSpread ,
KDE games
KDE Wallet,
KTips as well as Konqi
look pretty cool on Mac OS X.
Note that the KDE icons also appear in the Apple equivalent of Kicker.

It seems that RangerRick and icefox have not only satisfied, but have
heightened the expectations now: Mac people seem to be rather keen on also seeing
KDE killer applications like KDevelop and Quanta ported to Mac OS X... ;-)


by chris (not verified)

what about a X independency Libary wich translates all calls of KDE apps to X or MAC ? wie can add more displays later like directx or directfb or xouvert or what you cann imagine.

by Phisiker (not verified)

What about a replacement of the Mac-Interface with a version, which uses X and is binary-compatible? Because of the missing X-support, I don't buy a Mac.

by Justin (not verified)

Mac OS X 10.3 comes with a built-in X server. It's rootless, so X apps co-exist with native apps. The windows are managed by the OS, so they have proper borders and drop-shadows too. The server itself is easy to manage, just click and go. I was very impressed.

by Anonymous (not verified)

Actually, the built-in X server can be rooted or rootless, your choice.

by Mr_boots (not verified)

How about a transparent kitty cat that would be like "meow" and then the hardware will be like WTF? Meow?

hades is my HERO!!!

by Yo Daddy (not verified)

>How about a transparent kitty cat that would be like "meow" and then the hardware >will be like WTF? Meow?

>hades is my HERO!!!

Whoa - easy on the catnip there, bucko.

by Mike (not verified)

It also doesn't work very well: poor desktop integration, no menu bar support, all X11 windows get treated as a single group. X11 is simply not a priority to Apple.

And, yes, replacing Quartz with X11 would be a good thing.

by mikeyd (not verified)

We already have one, it's called Qt

by Anonymous Coward (not verified)

For truly cross-platform toolkits!

by Southpaw (not verified)

Hooray!! Cheers!!

The last time before this pre-alpha version I got any of a Linux working on OS X was going through the FINK process through terminal, and using X11 to run it. That was a pain in the neck in some ways. Particularly afterward, because Norton emergency disk couldn't Disk Doctor the disk with it installed. Plus, some applications just wouldn't run.

This is just the best news in the computer world to me. I don't want to buy all new hardware to run Linux. OS X Panther is great. KDE is great. Having both is REALLY great. Now if GIMP goes native OS X and adds a some more bitmap tools and cmyk, that'll just complete this fantastic setup. After all, blender 2.35 (-= is native OS X Panther. And blender now has Global Undo in 2.35 ~~ hats off to blender!

Thank you for programming KDE for native on OS X. I can now have panther and linux on the same desktop, I don't know if computer life could be any better.

by Riot Nrrrd™ (not verified)

Look at the Kate snapshot. The buttons all look like XP. XP != Mac.

Are those buttons all from Qt or something? They need native Quartz buttons/etc.

by Anonymous (not verified)

Which Kate snapshot? qt-mac-kdebase.png? That was obviously taken when the Mac style didn't work yet. This (osxtheme.png) shows a later state.

by blbbottom (not verified)

You can easily see that all elements in KDE are just "emulated" , i.e. painted to look like native elements, because they have many flaws compared to real Aqua. I suspect that with the KDE design it's impossible to use native Aqua widgets, because those don't allow any kind of 'themeing'.

But what the hell .. KDE was not designed with Mac look and feel in mind, so it will always have "alien" UI compared to Aqua. The goal is rather to reduce the pain using it in OS X (very much like what OroborOSX did before Apple produced the "real thing"). Normal Apple users won't use KDE anyway, so I think it's less of an issue.

by anon (not verified)

nope.. it uses the appearance manager just like cocoa and carbon applications do. Nothing is emulated. However, currently, none of the behavior questions have even been addressed yet, nor worked on.

> Normal Apple users won't use KDE anyway, so I think it's less of an issue.

Yes, but normal Mac users can use KDE /apps/

by ik (not verified)

seems the shots are taken during various stages in development ... kword looks very nice

by Jon (not verified)

The UI elements such as tabs buttons in this
Konsole screenshot are correct for Mac OS X 10.3 Panther. Tabs shown in
KWord screenshot are not Mac OS X native.

by silvestrij (not verified)

Sorry, but I'm pretty sure you're looking at the terminal window behind Konsole, which AFAIK, is an open source, native OS X application. I don't use OS X that much, so I'm afraid I can't tell you which app it is.

by me (not verified)


That's because that's a Mac app behind Konsole. Konsole is using the Windows style scrollbars.

by clark goble (not verified)

That is iTerm in the background. A good, if albeit flawed terminal package. It looks like the developer is having standard err go to the iTerm to test Konsole.

by andre (not verified)

As Mac users are used to the shareware principle perhaps we could raise funds. The gpl is compatible with the ASP guidelines for shareware.
We could ask for donations to fund the development. And even better, Apple could pump development money into KOffice as they did with KHTML. On the homepages on most download pages I don't see a reference to the KDE donation system.

by ac (not verified)

> And even better, Apple could pump development money into KOffice as they did with KHTML.

Good idea...
Still I hope that one day the same khtml tree is used for konqueror and
safari. Right now it feels that khtml is hanging significantly behind safari,
even that IIRC all of the initial apple patches have been merged.
There has been a lot of work going into safari after...

by Southpaw (not verified)

I agree. KDE natively on mac is worth investing in any day of the week. Well, at least the days there's some extra money, lol.

by Anton Velev (not verified)

Hey people, how about native Cocoa KDE port instead of Qt one?

This thing does not seem to me native, becuase it's not Cocoa but uses Qt instead.

Freeing the KDE from Qt (at least for the Mac in the beginning - as (thanks to Apple) they already did to Safari/KHTML/KJS) is freedom from GPL!

Freeing KDE from Qt is a way out from the already very serious GPL issue, which is the reason for companies to choose GTK instead of KDE. My understanding is that KDE libs are LGPL and the only problem is with Qt, once KDE libs have no GPL dependency - no GPL problem.

Safari is a good example for a 100% GPL free code.

Btw what is the license of this KDE port - GPL or LGPL? (because if its still LGPL Apple or someone else could just free it from GPL)

by Datschge (not verified)

Hey Anton Velev, how about stopping your anti-Qt spin sometime? You are free to not wanting to use some particulary licenses, but stop pushing others and bothering them with your painfully apparent lack of any technical insight. Thanks.

by Kurt Pfeifle (not verified)

Hey, Datschge, be patient ;-)

by Anton Velev (not verified)

You should be joking.. have you ever read some news on the internet?

Kde is a great desktop and my understanding is that it's only pain is the GPL issue. Correct me if I am wrong but KDE libs are 100% free of GPL and the only problem with GPL is Qt, right?

(read the licenses again, I will do the same too, but again until now I was sure and had the belief that KDE libs are free of _any_ GPL code and only Qt is 100% GPL)

by Jonathan Bryce (not verified)

I don't consider the GPL issue to be a pain. I consider it to be a major benefit.

by :-| (not verified)

well, for me, the license is a pain... thats why though i use kde as my desktop, i have to program in gtk :(

by d_i_r_t_y (not verified)

qt is dual licensed you know. there's no excuse to be programming in an inferior toolkit because you/your company can't be bothered shelling out a thousand bucks for a qt license.

I want to create a GPL application for Windows, Mac and Linux. Can you show me where I can download the 3.2 Qt for windows?

Not to sound sarcastic, but what do you mean "cross platform and supporting GPL development under windows" ?? Let alone non GPL.

by Anonymous (not verified) has instructions where you can download and how you can help to make it happen.

Thank you!

I dont want to sound like a troll,
but quoting

"Currently Qt 1.45, 2.3.1, 3.0.4, 3.1.1 and KDE 1.45, 2.2.2 and 3.1.1 have been ported and are of beta quality."

That's not Qt3.2 (and all Beta?) and kde-cygwin certainly does seem to be a Qt lead project. What guarantee does one have this kde-cygwin project keeps up? I guess I also have to foregive 'unstable' Mac support.

So far I am not impressed by Qt's support for cross platform and I AM talking pure GPL code here. After all its Trolltech themselves who claim Qt being cross-platform. But developers need to be send somehow to a non-trolltech site, still not to find what they are looking for.

I would prefer using Qt, but for now its still wxWindows here, and I am not even mentioning any dual license.

typo: and kde-cygwin certainly does seem *NOT* seem to be a Qt lead project."

by Datschge (not verified)

No, Trolltrech's official Qt's as well as KDE's Qt-copy patches (Qt/X11 only) are the only "leading" sources. Feel free to get what you want by giving them the support they ask you to give. If you don't want to do so and instead limit yourself to your own egocentrical needs don't blame others for doing the same.

Look, Trolltech tells on their site being cross-platform, but what this really seems to mean is: let uss create "leading" sources and let others do the porting which might or might not work. Those doing the porting cannot earn money which we CAN make from their porting by requering money for non GPL code.

All this is not really Qt pursuing being cross-platform in my book. If you call all this "me limiting myself in my own egocentric needs" then so be it!

by agsnu (not verified)

What exactly are you on about? Trolltech developed and maintains all of their own ports, AFAICT.

I guess there's some confusion here:

- There's the win version of Qt3 which is a native version completely
written by Trolltech, *not* available under the GPL.
- then there's the cygwin version which is a port of the GPLed X11
version of Qt. This port has nothing to do with Trolltech.

So Trolltech writes and maintains the versions they claim to.
> and kde-cygwin certainly does seem *NOT* seem to be a Qt lead project."

It's certainly not a Trolltech project. No one claimed that.
If you want Trolltech's win version of Qt you'll have to buy it.

Yes it seems I was wrong on the part where I thought Trolltech could make money of other peoples porting work.

The last post does indicate Trolltech hardly directly supports or encoureges GPL software under windows using their Qt library, I just think that's a sorry state of affairs. A different approach on Trolltechs part could move many more developers to start using Qt for cross platform stuff.

by Datschge (not verified)

I'm sure Trolltech might consider again releasing a GPL'ed Qt/Win when a KDE release on OSX should considerably increase the number of commercial Qt/Mac licencees. If that doesn't happen then a GPL'ed Qt/Win is very unlikely in the future considering the very bad experience with the previous free version.

by Ralf Habacker (not verified)

The beta state in fact comes mostly from problems of the underlaying cygwin emulation library and because of the different os and/or service pack, buggy ms update combinations and relating problems for which I'm not resonsible, but are affected.

The qt 2.x releases were 85000 times downloaded (see with about 40-50 problem reports (I remember not very exactly, but it were very less).
For the qt 3.x release I have measured about 32000 downloads until now with very low problem rate (I remember about 5-10), so this port could not be so bad.

Additional I'm using this qt release every day writing mails with kmail/cygwin without virus problems,browse the internet with konqueror/cygwin and had never problems with qt library, more with hanging processes after a windows update (So it really seems to me that this qt port could leave the beta status)

BTW:This is currently not true for the native qt port, but we hope that this will be also in the future.


by Anton Velev (not verified)

i agree with you. Kde is a nice desktop for the linux, but the pain GPL.
however why don't you check out something different than GTK (it's not only GTK and Qt, there are a lots of quality OO GUI libs) - wxWindows and VCF seem very responsive and their APIs are very good. Also for some other things that are very simple or browser/office oriented you may also check out the mozilla/gecko libs and the OO.o libs.

by Kurt Pfeifle (not verified)

>> Hey people, how about native Cocoa KDE port instead of Qt one?

This sure is too much work. Qt contributes *a lot* to what KDE is.

>> Freeing the KDE from Qt....

I think we strongly disagree here. I belong to the camp which is convinced that the GPL in essence *defends* and *protects* the Freedom of Software covered by it.

To "free KDE from GPL" (as you imply) would make KDE vulnerable to non-Free attacks, and make it non-Free itself, sooner or later... ;-)

>> they already did to Safari/KHTML/KJS

In KHTML and KJS is and was no Qt code (or very, very little, which makes replacement easy). KHTML and KJS were completely under the LPGL, which explicitely allows usage of code without "giving back" anything. Apple however chose to give back anyway. Probably they act currently voluntarily in relation to KHTML and KJS, by and large just like they were bound to the GPL. However they are not *bound* to it, and that's probably what they care most about it....

>> the reason for companies to choose GTK instead of KDE

Not quite right: kdelibs *are* under LPGL! However kdelibs also use Qt (under GPL). So probably you meant to say "to choose GTK instead of Qt"....

But even *then* it would not be quite right. Since Qt is dual-licensed and Qt allows for the same things the LPGL allows for, albeit in return of a licanse fee, they *could* use Qt (so this has the additional advantage of ploughing back at least money to employ fulltime developers improving the GPL-version of Qt ...).

And in fact, a lot of Fortune 500 corporations *do* develop using Qt: Adobe, Boeing, Borland, Canon, DaimlerChrysler, Deutsche Telekom, Disney, Fujitsu, General Electric, Hitachi, Honda, HP, IBM, Intel, JD Edwards, Lockheed-Martin, Mitsubishi, NASA, NEC, Pioneer, Samsung, Scania, Sharp, Shell, Siemens, Sony, Toshiba, Toyota, Unilever, Volkswagen... You can find more on the Trolltech website at

--> <--

Why don't all these companies use Gtk? Why don't they prefer a *gratis* toolkit?

Because they use additional considerations. It is not just the per-developer, one-time license fee that counts for them when they choose a tool. It is also the question if it is the *right* tool for the job.

Most commercial Software developming companies are applying avarage business sanity before taking a toolkit decision. They don't mistake IEC ("Initial Entry Costs") for using a particular toolkit with its TCO ("Total Cost of Ownership"). They know very well that many more factors than just developer licenses are involved when trying to calculate their ROI ("Return Of Investment"), like:

* a professional support for the toolkits their developers use, including access to a hotline;
* overall development time;
* good and well-organized documentation;
* their available developers' learning curve if these must use a new toolkit;
* the company's policy or preference for a programming language;
* relative bugfree-ness and stability of the toolkit;
* the "time to market" the final product;
* re-use of the toolkit on various OS platform with a uniform performance, support and stability;
* and some considerations more.

Overall, it seems to have made many Fortune 500 companies (as well as small or mid-sized ISVs) to decide for themselves that the Qt "license price" is worth the value over the alternative, which is "gratis" Gtk development.

by Rayiner Hashem (not verified)

KHTML is LGPL'ed, which means Apple was obligated by the license to give back the changes to the rendering engine. They were not obligated to give out the source of the Safari browser itself, and they did not. Aside from the webcore component, Safari is 100% closed source.

by Ingo Klöcker (not verified)

You are confusing GPL and LGPL. Because KHTML is LGPL'ed (and not GPL'ed) Apple was _not_ obligated by the license to give back the changes to the rendering engine.

See for example:

And of course the licenses themselves:

by Anonymous (not verified)

You're wrong Ingo. The LGPL doesn't cancel the duty to make changes to a LGPL library available:

4. You may copy and distribute the Library (or a portion or derivative of it, under Section 2) in object code or executable form under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above provided that you accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable source code, which must be distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange.

by Anton Velev (not verified)

Okay, i know the arguments for a multiplatform OO API, many do already support multiple platforms:
- MPL Mozilla (cannot guess what was the toolkit behind it but for sure it's their own)
- LGPL VCL? (or something like it, for sure you know what i mean I don't have the free time now to search on the web what exactly was its name)
- wxWindows - you tell me what is the license
Seems that a lot of them are very capable and some of them very well developed and OO though. But the market seems to adopt GTK like it or not. (I am personally for BSD) (for interested people read this: ))

The other issue of course is not just the quality of the code (VCF seems to be very good btw) but also the need of relyability on 3rd party software (Microsoft and Qt are good example) while one prefers to rely on something real free or entirely internal codebase.

Of course there could be may be a lot more reasons, but of couse you guys should not care about them, since you care about KDE (not the GTK vs QT vs VCF vs wxWindows vs other guys affairs). What is for sure is that KDE loses from this affairs, and that Sun, HP, and some other (like Novell, UserLinux etc) adopt non-GPL solutions. ....

anyway, KDE free of GPL will be better in my oppinion for the adoption

by Kurt Pfeifle (not verified)

>> What is for sure is that KDE loses from this affairs...

We'll see.

And work against this in the meanwhile. Stay tuned.

by Datschge (not verified)

Me being an interested person read your linked article, and in my opinion both the author as well as you don't have the "Required knowledge" stated at the top of the very page: "You must understand why authors of free software differ in their opinions what to allow others to do with the software they released to the public."

> What is for sure is that KDE loses from this affairs, and that Sun, HP, and some other (like Novell, UserLinux etc) adopt non-GPL solutions. ....

Really? Now, how do you reason? So you mean that if a "big company" uses a toolkit, that means success? That is not how I define success.

If these "big companies" use free toolkits at their will, to develop kick ass commercial apps, without contributing much back, then what will happen? This will surely be the knife on the throat for open source apps.

> anyway, KDE free of GPL will be better in my oppinion for the adoption
Is this really the "adoption" you wants? Think again please. Open source development is at risc here.

> so this has the additional advantage of ploughing back at least money to..

...the open source community. :-)