19 Years of KDE History: Step by Step

Introduction

KDE – one of most functional desktop environment ever. It’s open source and free for use. 19 years ago, 14 october 1996 german programmer Matthias Ettrich has started a development of this beautiful environment. KDE provides the shell and many applications for everyday using. Today KDE uses the hundred thousand peoples over the world on Unix and Windows operating system. 19 years – serious age for software projects. Time to return and see how it begin.

K Desktop Environment has some new aspects: new design, good look & feel, consistency, easy to use, powerful applications for typical desktop work and special use cases. Name “KDE” is an easy word hack with “Common Desktop Environment”, “K” – “Cool”. The first KDE version used proprietary Trolltech’s Qt framework (parent of Qt) with dual licensing: open source QPL(Q public license) and proprietary commercial license. In 2000 Trolltech released some Qt libraries under GPL; Qt 4.5 was released in LGPL 2.1. Since 2009 KDE is compiled for three products: Plasma Workspaces (Shell), KDE Applications, KDE Platform as KDE Software compilation.

Releases

Pre-Release – 14 October 1996

Kool Desktop Environment. Word “Kool” will be dropped in future. In the beginning, all components were released to the developer community separately without any coordinated timeframe throughout the overall project. First communication of KDE via mailing list, that was called kde@fiwi02.wiwi.uni-Tubingen.de.

KDE 1.0 – July 12, 1998

This version received mixed reception. Many criticized the use of the Qt software framework – back then under the FreeQt license which was claimed to not be compatible with free software – and advised the use of Motif or LessTif instead. Despite that criticism, KDE was well received by many users and made its way into the first Linux distributions.

28 January 1999
28 January 1999
An update, K Desktop Environment 1.1, was faster, more stable and included many small improvements. It also included a new set of icons, backgrounds and textures. Among this overhauled artwork was a new KDE logo by Torsten Rahn consisting of the letter K in front of a gear which is used in revised form to this day.

KDE 2.0 – October 23, 2000

Major updates: * DCOP (Desktop COmmunication Protocol), a client-to-client communications protocol * KIO, an application I/O library. * KParts, a component object model * KHTML, an HTML 4.0 compliant rendering and drawing engine

26 February 2001
26 February 2001

K Desktop Environment 2.1 release inaugurated the media player noatun, which used a modular, plugin design. For development, K Desktop Environment 2.1 was bundled with KDevelop.

15 August 2001
15 August 2001

The KDE 2.2 release featured up to a 50% improvement in application startup time on GNU/Linux systems and increased stability and capabilities for HTML rendering and JavaScript; some new features in KMail.

KDE 3.0 – April 3, 2002

K Desktop Environment 3.0 introduced better support for restricted usage, a feature demanded by certain environments such as kiosks, Internet cafes and enterprise deployments, which disallows the user from having full access to all capabilities of a piece of software.

28 January 2003
28 January 2003

K Desktop Environment 3.1 introduced new default window (Keramik) and icon (Crystal) styles as well as several feature enhancements.

3 February 2004
3 February 2004

K Desktop Environment 3.2 included new features, such as inline spell checking for web forms and emails, improved e-mail and calendaring support, tabs in Konqueror and support for Microsoft Windows desktop sharing protocol (RDP).

19 August 2004
19 August 2004

K Desktop Environment 3.3 focused on integrating different desktop components. Kontact was integrated with Kolab, a groupware application, and Kpilot. Konqueror was given better support for instant messaging contacts, with the capability to send files to IM contacts and support for IM protocols (e.g., IRC).

16 March 2005
16 March 2005

K Desktop Environment 3.4 focused on improving accessibility. The update added a text-to-speech system with support for Konqueror, Kate, KPDF, the standalone application KSayIt and text-to-speech synthesis on the desktop.

29 November 2005
29 November 2005

The K Desktop Environment 3.5 release added SuperKaramba, which provides integrated and simple-to-install widgets to the desktop. Konqueror was given an ad-block feature and became the second web browser to pass the Acid2 CSS test.

KDE SC 4.0 – January 11, 2008

The majority of development went into implementing most of the new technologies and frameworks of KDE 4. Plasma and the Oxygen style were two of the biggest user-facing changes. Dolphin replaces Konqueror as file manager, Okular – default document viewer.

29 July 2008
29 July 2008

KDE 4.1 includes a shared emoticon theming system which is used in PIM and Kopete, and DXS, a service that lets applications download and install data from the Internet with one click. Also introduced are GStreamer, QuickTime 7, and DirectShow 9 Phonon backends. New applications: * Dragon Player * Kontact * Skanlite – software for scanners * Step – physics simulator * New games: Kdiamond, Kollision, KBreakout and others

27 January 2009
27 January 2009

KDE 4.2 is considered a significant improvement beyond KDE 4.1 in nearly all aspects, and a suitable replacement for KDE 3.5 for most users.

4 August 2009
4 August 2009

KDE 4.3 fixed over 10,000 bugs and implemented almost 2,000 feature requests. Integration with other technologies, such as PolicyKit, NetworkManager & Geolocation services, was another focus of this release.

9 February 2010
9 February 2010

KDE SC 4.4 is based on version 4.6 of the Qt 4 toolkit. New application – KAddressBook.

10 August 2010
10 August 2010

KDE SC 4.5 has some new features: integration of the WebKit library, an open-source web browser engine, which is used in major browsers such as Apple Safari and Google Chrome. KPackageKit replaced Kpackage.

26 January 2011
26 January 2011

KDE SC 4.6 has better OpenGL compositing along with the usual myriad of fixes and features.

27 July 2011
27 July 2011

KDE SC 4.7 has updated KWin with OpenGL ES 2.0 compatible, Qt Quick, Plasma Desktop with many enhancements and a lot of new functions in general applications. 12k bugs if fixed.

25 January 2012
25 January 2012

KDE SC 4.8: better KWin performance and Wayland support, new design of Doplhin.

1 August 2012
1 August 2012

KDE SC 4.9: several improvements to the Dolphin file manager, including the reintroduction of in-line file renaming, back and forward mouse buttons, improvement of the places panel and better usage of file metadata.

6 February 2013
6 February 2013

KDE SC 4.10: many of the default Plasma widgets were rewritten in QML, and Nepomuk, Kontact and Okular received significant speed improvements.

14 August 2013
14 August 2013

KDE SC 4.11: Kontact and Nepomuk received many optimizations. The first generation Plasma Workspaces entered maintenance-only development mode.

18 December 2013
18 December 2013

KDE SC 4.12: Kontact received substantial improvements, many small improvements.

16 April 2014
18 December 2013

KDE SC 4.13: Nepomuk semantic desktop search was replaced with KDE’s in house Baloo. KDE SC 4.13 was released in 53 different translations.

20 August 2014
18 December 2013

KDE SC 4.14: he release primarily focused on stability, with numerous bugs fixed and few new features added. This was the final KDE SC 4 release.

KDE Plasma 5.0 – July 15, 2014

KDE Plasma 5 – 5th generation of KDE. Massive impovements in design and system, new default theme – Breeze, complete migration to QML, better performance with OpenGL, better HiDPI displays support.

11 November 2014
11 November 2014

KDE Plasma 5.1: Ported missing features from Plasma 4.

27 January 2015
27 January 2015

KDE Plasma 5.2: New components: BlueDevil, KSSHAskPass, Muon, SDDM theme configuration, KScreen, GTK+ style configuration and KDecoration.

28 April 2015
28 April 2015

KDE Plasma 5.3: Tech preview of Plasma Media Center. New Bluetooth and touchpad applets. Enhanced power management.

25 August 2015
25 August 2015

KDE Plasma 5.4: Initial Wayland session, new QML-based audio volume applet, and alternative full-screen application launcher.

Big thanks to the KDE developers and community, Wikipedia for descriptions and all my readers. Be free and use the open source software like a KDE.

Read more:

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18 Years of GNOME Design and Software Evolution: Step by Step

 

  • anon

    This is awesome. Is there also one for Gnome?

  • goodnix

    > KDE 4.1 includes a shared emoticon theming system which is used in PIM and Kopete…
    > KDE SC 4.4 is based on version 4.6 of the Qt 4 toolkit. New application – KAddressBook, first release of Kopete.

    Is it right? I remember Kopete even in 3.5…

  • John Willis

    Not entirely correct. Motif and LessTif were both entirely proprietary and commercial products at the time. LessTif cost at least $249 and OSF Motif cost more.

    • Paul Alberto Rufous

      Fixed, thanks.

      • John Willis

        There was also MoTeeth, but I know very little about it. 🙂