You, KDE!

For me, it (still) feels very unnatural to talk about us as KDE. I’m still thinking in terms of the KDE community; and the KDE Project releases the KDE Desktop (or just KDE). I’m also fine with the KDE Workspace and other specialized variants. However, the login manager now also shows the term KDE Plasma Workspace. In my very own humble opinion, this is already too much of buzz words.

At university, I’m helping out with system administration. And since I’m very familiar with KDE, I fix all KDE related issues (and usually enjoy doing so). We have lots of colleagues that never used KDE. Now, try to explain the term Plasma… Well, it’s a desktop shell – also too complex. It’s the desktop, with all the icons and panels. That’s more understandable :) But next, a dialog pops up with some status messages: Akonadi. Well, try to explain the term Akonadi. It’s similar with other technologies. Explain what Nepomuk is doing with the difference to Strigi… When I try to explain what’s happening, and what all these components do, I sometimes feel pretty much stupid uncomfortable using these words.

It is similar with the term KDE SC. As part of the rebranding, the KDE Software Compilation or short KDE SC was introduced. I can understand that we build a platform and our target is more than just the Desktop. But talking to other people, I feel stupid saying KDE SC. For me, it simply is (and probably will always be) a no-go. But it changed already, to the KDE platform, or maybe I misunderstood that ? :-)

Funnily, I think it’s fine to use application names such as dolphin, kate, amarok and what not. So to some degree, I’m certainly simply used to these terms. But still, it feels right, also when talking to other users. We have to be very careful to use fancy names in very prominent places. Ah, and with respect to naming applications, there is a similar discussion on kde-core-devel right now ;)

14 thoughts on “You, KDE!”

  1. “KDE SC” was never meant to be used as a public term; it’s a release engineering thing that happens, not a product or something that actually “ships” per se.

    I do, however, understand how it can feel different and even “unnatural”. Change is like that. It wasn’t without reason, however. Our communication is far clearer now and we are able to communicate that applications, such as Kate, indeed do not require you to log into “KDE” to use.

    Oh, and “KDE Platform” is just kdelibs and runtime stuff; it had no relation to (let alone replaced) “SC” as a term :)

    1. Does that mean I can use “KDE 4.7″ without having to fear beatings from the marketing dudes? :^)
      Maybe I even agree with the message communicated. But it’s not always easy / straight forward. ;)

    2. If it was never to be used as a public term, you (as in “whoever runs the kde.org website, communicating *publicly*) sure is doing a terrible job. Looking at the press release archive (press releases are “public”, right?), they’re full of “KDE SC”. Saying it was never meant to be used as a public term is either misleading or a lie. In any case, it has added to the confusion.

      I also love, advocate and use KDE / KDE SC / Plasma, but it is getting increasingly hard to keep up with whatever the name of the month is. How you expect anyone “on the outside” to keep track is beyond me.

    3. > “KDE SC” was never meant to be used as a public term; it’s a release engineering thing that happens, not a product or something that actually “ships” per se.

      Wow, what an interesting statement. Looking at the history of promo messages on dot.kde.org sends a different message:

      Quote from http://dot.kde.org/2009/11/24/repositioning-kde-brand:
      The product we currently have released as “KDE 4.3″ is essentially a compilation of our software (Workspaces, Applications and Platform), and thus the next release will be named “KDE Software Compilation 4.4″

      Quote from http://dot.kde.org/2010/02/09/kde-software-compilation-440-released:
      Today KDE announces the immediate availability of the KDE Software Compilation 4.4, “Caikaku”

      So even if it wasn’t meant as a public term, the promo team used it at least for a year to announce new KDE releases. And now you expect people not to be confused about the name of the KDE product?

      1. The plan was to talk more about the individual bits: Plasma workspaces (Plasma Desktop and Plasma Netbook), KDE Platform and the KDE apps. We recognised that there was also a need for a catch all term and came up with SC. We didn’t intend to use that a great deal, but in the early release announcements where we did a single announcement we, frankly, didn’t follow it through properly and screwed it up a bit.

        In recent releases (since 4.5, I think) we’ve had three separate releases, one for the Plasma workspaces, one for the KDE Platform and one for the apps. There has been very little/no use of SC in the announcements since then.

        Does that mean Aaron is wrong? Not necessarily. I think he had the vision from the start of getting to where we are now. But not everyone is at all the meetings all the time and people have different views even in the promo team. Hence we didn’t really get it right in the first couple of releases where we talked about SC too much

        1. But which use does care about this distinctions? All user here at work are happy enough to know which “KDE” version they use and I doubt that they care bout the plasma/platform/app split. They just know (if at all) which full KDE install they use atm.
          (Beside I doubt that releasing the stuff on different schedules will make it not even more confusing :)

  2. “Now, try to explain the term Plasma… Well, it’s a desktop shell – also too complex. It’s the desktop, with all the icons and panels. That’s more understandable But next, a dialog pops up with some status messages: Akonadi. Well, try to explain the term Akonadi. It’s similar with other technologies. Explain what Nepomuk is doing with the difference to Strigi… When I try to explain what’s happening, and what all these components do, I sometimes feel pretty much stupid uncomfortable using these words.”

    In short: “Difficultātem facit doctrīna” (“Knowledge adds pain” in rough translation)

    Sorry but technology needs to be opened up. And that means we need to use correct technical words and definitions at least once for new users so they are not under others mercy of the knowledge.
    Everyone makes huge mistake when they start taking shortcuts about technology definitions. It just cause that people who does not get accurate and true (technical in this case) information can not solve problems or do choices in future but they are under the terms what was given them in first place.

    To make learning easier, it is not important to open every definition at the first place. Just go along and then in the end open up if there are new questions. Important is just that every technical definition is used correctly and not by a way what would “make things easier”.

    The “KDE SC” really is harder to explain. As what brand is, needs to be the easily spoken (brand is the name for company/community and in this case the KDE is the brand, while KDE SC is product) and attach to it. KDE is great on that as we can build a community and attach to it. But KDE SC as a product does not work if it is not real product (like now Plasma Desktop).

    Technically KDE SC is correct. But now saying it was never meant to be used in public is terrible mistake. KDE SC seems to be like somekind bundle of thirdparty (like the “pay what you want” bundle of games from multiple publishers) but not from the originals. And the old “KDE” was better in that case because it was the product. But because technology the “KDE” does not fit anymore and makes explenations more difficult to give, it really should be now that “KDE SC” is the product name and not name for bundle.

    And if it was never meant to be used (KDE SC) then it should never be invented or told as so. Then it should have been said to be “K Desktop” or something what gives people the clear product name. what they can know. But again, as the technology rules first, it is impossible as such format.

    Now the problem is that people do not want to use KDE SC or they even courage people not to use it. KDE simply should just stick on it and build on it. Rebranding is very complex task and usually does not work and cause more problems than before. But it is not good thing at all to jump back and worth over the line what “KDE SC” really is.

    Normal people (are coders normal? ;) ) needs a name for visual/physical object. And that seems to be missing from the “KDE SC” as “KDE Plasma Desktop” does not fit at all for that.

  3. No, we will hunt you down and beat you indeed ;-)

    So, what do you _actually_ want to talk about with “KDE 4.7″? You can use “SC 4.7″ if you absolutely /must/ talk about the whole block of stuff that we release on the same day. But what’s wrong with talking about Plasma Desktop 4.7 or KDE Platform 4.7 and just being a bit more specific? Do you talk about Apple 11.4 or do you talk about OSX 11.4, iTunes 2, iPhone 4 or whatever?

    Or, you want to talk about Kate, how about just talking about whatever version Kate is at nowadays? Wouldn’t you rather your users were excited there’s a new Kate coming? Not only because KDE is also releasing other software on the same day?

    1. The comparison to Apple etc is ridiculous :^) The context is KDE, so much is obvious. Kate’s version in KDE 4.7 is Kate 3.7. So it’s confusing to just talk about Kate 3.7 without telling how you get it: You get it with the next KDE release, and that is KDE 4.7.
      Now, to my understanding, the term KDE 4.7 is already wrong. It should be KDE SC 4.7. To be formally correct, I would have to use this term in each blog and each bug report I comment on. And that’s exactly what this blog is about. It’s inconvenient.
      When talking to my colleagues, I’d have to say KDE Plasma Workspace 4.7 or similar variants. I bet almost no one (!) really does that in real life. We fall back to KDE 4.7 (maybe meaning KDE Plasma Workspace 4.7). We’ll never ever get people to always use the “full qualified name”. And that’s what I criticize :-)

      PS: As mathematician, you learn to formulate everything formally and very precisely. This is what we did in KDE to some degree now as well. But for promotion / convenience, it’s much better to fall back to simple variants. It’s easier to understand, …to grasp… It must be as simple as possible, but still elegant ;-)

      1. Exactly. And the main point in the comparison with apple is that apple has never had a product called “apple”. It has usually always been called mac os, osx, ios or some other name, but never the same name as the company / group behind it. KDE has always been KDE – both whoever is behind it, and the “product” name. This is true, especially in the historical sense, as the whole name comes from the “K Desktop Environment”.

        Now, I totally understand the reasoning behind wanting to separate the group (KDE) and the different “products” / projects, but switching or changing these every other month does nothing to help – in that case it would have been better to use the common name “KDE” for all of it.

        I think the best example in this regards is Microsoft (don’t shoot me yet). Their flagship product is Windows (or “Microsoft Windows”). They’ve gotten it right. They have a name for all their different Windows’es, but it’s always Windows. The product name is clearly recognizable, and there is no confusion. Still, “Windows” encompasses a lot – there are frameworks, applications and a lot of other stuff inside it – but that’s only interesting to developers, power users and others *actively seeking it*. Sure, if you’re reporting a kate bug you would be interested in knowing the version, but saying “It came with the 4.7 release” will give you enough, as that’s the common denominator for any KDE SC.

        In any case, the wiggling back and forth about the name only gives the impression of an identity conflict, or a “search” for an identity. You may not have found it yet, but you’re confusing your users by publicly displaying that “identity search” in press releases, application compilations, etc. It would be better for everyone – *including you (the KDE organisation/community as a whole)* if you actually managed to sort stuff out and agree – clearly, and across the community – before you started changing the names.

        The length of my comment should be proof enough that I’m *caring* not simply venting.

        1. Well, if the important thing is to have separate names for the product(s) and for the group behind it, given that everyone already knew the product as “KDE”, we had better chose another (new) name for the group.

          “KDE community” ?
          “KDE people” ?
          “The Kommunity”? (well, scratch that, the trend is to get rid of these “K” everywhere, but the term feels kool).

          Plus, it would have meen more semantically correct. If “DE” in “KDE” means “Desktop Environment”, real people don’t qualify.

          1. As far as I know, the term KDE officially does not expand to “K Desktop Environment” anymore. KDE now means the community: We are KDE.
            By changing the meaning of KDE, we also lose some of our history of the KDE project. Well… whatever…

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