The User's Perspective: Why KDE?
There are many reasons why people pick KDE as their desktop of choice. Some of them include:
As an Open Source product, KDE grants you freedoms that are not usually afforded the users of other desktops. There is no single vendor (or group of vendors) that controls KDE. This means that when you use KDE you are free from vendor lock-in. You can easily switch from one provider of KDE and KDE-related services to another and know that you will get the same great software you've come to rely on. You can even "roll your own" by compiling source code released by the KDE Project if you so desire!
You are also free to change, redistribute and use KDE as you see fit without royalties or burdonsome restrictions. The only stipulation most KDE software has when it comes to making changes is that your changes must be redistributed under similar Open Source licenses.
Cost (As in None)
The freedom from onerous licensing means you can put KDE on as many systems as you would like, and even modify it to your heart's content at no cost. You might expect to pay thousands of dollars per seat for all the software that comes with KDE, and if you purchased commercial closed-source software you probably would. But KDE has no price tags attached. You can, of course, find companies who would be more than happy to accept your money in return for support and integration services, and the KDE project itself would gladly accept your donations. But all such transactions are up to you.
Finally, technology that you are in control of right down to the cost!
One of the primary reasons KDE is so rich in features is that it is Open Source software. Anyone can built on top of KDE, and the best of those additions are often pulled into KDE itself. This cooperative manner of development has allowed thousands of people to create an impressive mountain of software. With thousands of third party applications to augment the hundreds of applications that come with KDE, there is very little that you can't do with KDE. And the vast majority of it is available for free online!
If you do happen to find yourself needing to do something that isn't available as a native KDE application, KDE is compatible with all Linux and UNIX software available today. You can run non-KDE applications in KDE (and vice versa!) usually with no extra effort on your part. You can even run many Microsoft Windows applications in KDE by using available Windows compatibility tools.
With standardized menu layouts, toolbars, dialogs and behaviors KDE applications tend to be very consistent. This makes KDE an easy to learn, friendly and usable solution that appeals to many users.
KDE is highly customizable and can be modified to suit just about any tastes or needs. In corporate or public settings where control over the desktop is important, KDE's Kiosk system allows for fine grained management of the desktop and what is allowed. In more relaxed settings, KDE offers a wide array of easily accessable configuration panels which allow KDE to be tweaked to perfection. Whatever that happens to mean for you.
Sporting translations in almost 70 languages, support for various calendaring systems, the ability to follow regional customs for weights and measures and options for different international keyboard layouts, KDE is about as global-friendly as it gets. For many people, KDE has been the first desktop that they have been able to use in their own language that respects their region's or country's local policies.
KDE is one of the most widely available desktop systems today. Besides being available on most desktop Linux distributions and many flavors of UNIX, it is available on MacOS X and even to a limited extent on Microsoft Windows. The ubiquitous nature of KDE means that when you install or use a Linux or UNIX operating system, chances are that KDE will be available to you. This allows you to comfortably take your knowledge of KDE from one machine to another.
A large global community of users has grown around KDE. You may never actively engage this community, but the software you are using is a direct result of it. Should you ever have a KDE question, or need a program that does something in specific, or just want to tailor KDE to your preferences the user community is a large and wealthy resource just waiting to be tapped.
A constellation of web sites, online chat forums, email lists and user contributed documentation is a gold mine of information that springs from the community of users. Best of all, you are able and encouraged to participate as well.
A special subset of the user community is the developer community. This segment of users helps create and maintain KDE, and there are several ways to communicate with them. Many developers maintain public web logs and the KDE Bug Tracking System provides a way to offer feedback on KDE (including feature requests) to the developers. You'll often find KDE developers participating in discussions on web boards and in user-oriented mailing lists.
This vibrant and lively community gives KDE something that most technologies lack: a human aspect.
While the KDE community is a great resource, often times a business partner that can be contracted to provide support is desirable. This is especially true in business settings. Fortunately, as the most widely available Open Source desktop, it is easy to find technical support for KDE. Operating systems that ship with KDE also provide support for KDE, as do many independent consulting firms. These companies can provide services such as custom KDE development, training and deployment expertise.
Developing With KDE
|The KDE Project