Be flexible to win big

My goal of KDE Plasma World Domination is not a secret at this point. But what does it truly take to get there?

Let’s look at the existing market leaders in the OS space: Microsoft’s Windows and Google’s Android. Neither was the first to market, but they were the first to successfully serve the mass market. Neither is picky about what kind of software you run on them or write for them, so they are used on a wide range of devices by lots of different people. Both work with others in adjacent industries, rather than taking a “my way or the highway” approach. They are flexible.


Before KDE, I came from the Apple world, which takes a different approach. Apple identifies distinct use cases and focuses their efforts like a laser on making them as polished as possible. This works very well, but it requires ignoring, abandoning, or explicitly blocking other use cases, and sometimes inventing new things that conflict with what others are doing, in the hope that their new thing takes over. It requires saying “no” a lot and being opinionated.

Apple’s opinionated approach worked well for me with my own personal use cases in my pre-KDE days, as it did for many millions of other people. But evidently it doesn’t work for everyone, as Apple’s products routinely fail to crack 15% market share. And when they do, they often fall back down to that level after competitors emerge. But that’s okay, because Apple isn’t going for the mass market anyway; they’re happy in their profitable and opinionated boutique niche.

But that’s not KDE, and it never has been; we’ve always dreamed of a broad scope and being useful for everyone. This is what’s behind Plasma desktop’s extreme flexibility; Plasma Mobile for phones; Plasma Bigscreen for TVs; and Plasma Nano for embedded devices. It’s why the Steam Deck handheld gaming console, PinePhone smartphone, and JingPad A1 tablet are built on top of KDE technology.

To be the market leader, you must be flexible enough to accommodate everyone’s weird and random use cases. This includes grandmas, gamers, businesspeople, students, teachers, phones, tablets, shared family PCs, kiosks, and everything in between. It means you have to give up a certain amount of that laser-focus on making a particular use case bulletproof, in favor of flexibly accommodating everyone and working with partners to support their needs so that they can build their products on top of your platform. Windows and Android do this, and so does KDE.

This, fundamentally, is why I believe KDE can and will take over the world. We share the market leaders’ winning strategy and culture of flexibility, and we can supplant them by leveraging our advantages of being free and eternal, our resistance to turning evil because of our diverse stakeholders and decentralized leadership model, and our philosophy of keeping the user in control rather than exploiting them for ad or upgrade revenue.

So I think ultimately we will become the Windows or Android of the Free Open-Source Software world, with projects like GNOME and ElementaryOS competing to be the Apple of FOSS. I think there will absolutely be room for projects like theirs; in fact I think it’s highly likely that they’ll offer a better user experience than we do for people who fit within the usage paradigms they focus on–just like Apple does.


None of this means that we actually have to make our stuff look or behave like Windows or Android, of course. But it means we need to retain their philosophy of not shutting anyone out. We need to stay willing to make changes for vendors who want to ship our software and developers who want to write apps for our platform. We need to keep listening to our users and trying our best to make our software work for them. We need to remain flexible.

And I think we’re doing this. Which is why we’re going to win.

It may take a few decades, but I believe it’s going to happen. If you agree, help get there faster! This crazy thing only works because of people like you and me and all of us. There is no “they” in KDE. So c’mon, get involved and let’s take over the world together.

91 thoughts on “Be flexible to win big

  1. Sorry to hear that, because it will have a negative impact on the development of KDE for desktops. Your bug tracker is already full of bug reports, some of which have been pending for years without any hope of being fixed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I suggest you think about the purpose of your comments before posting them. You are commenting on a post of excitement for KDE and a general description of wanting to support many user’s needs, and you felt the need to let people know there are open bug reports? Software has bugs, they get reported, hopefully they get fixed. II myself am a happy KDE user, and part of that means letting the team know when I run into problems.

      Kuddos Nate! Thanks for all your efforts!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Christian, I suggest that you think about the true dire situation of KDE before feeling the need to criticize a comment which expresses exactly what many others think but do not dare to write!

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          1. Nate, thanks for asking. IMHO it is a dire situation, that most developers of KDE prefer to invent new sexy features and gimmicks while nobody cares or really annoying bugs.
            Just one example: https://bugs.kde.org/show_bug.cgi?id=418635
            Unfortunately I am not capable of fixing it myself, but I guess that it would take a few hours only.

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    2. All software that’s actually used by real people has tons of old bugs. During my 7 years at Apple, the number of open bug reports in the company bug tracker doubled. Yes, doubled. I’m sure it’s the same inside Google and Apple.

      For KDE, the question becomes, “how do you motivate people to fix issues in a largely volunteer-driven organization?” The answer is with positivity and good onboarding. We can’t bludgeon or bribe volunteers; we must convince and delight them that helping to fix these bugs is a valuable and fun use of their time.

      See https://pointieststick.com/2020/08/04/the-structure-of-kde-or-how-anarchy-sometimes-works and https://pointieststick.com/2020/05/18/why-dont-you-just-fix-thing-already

      Since you’re a prolific and high quality developer who is already doing great work throughout KDE software, maybe you’d like to see the highest impact bugs? Check out https://tinyurl.com/kdeplasma-vhi-regressions and https://tinyurl.com/kdeplasma-vhi-bugs

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It seems to me that in order to reduce the already existing number of bug reports, you need (for now) to stop adding new features and “improving” already existing ones (because, unfortunately, quite often these “improvements” add even more bugs). I share your desire to increase market share, but for now you should focus on Plasma Desktop.

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        1. KDE isn’t an autocracy where some person or council can say, “that’s it, no more features until we reduce the number of open bug reports by 20%.” That’s just not the way a volunteer project works. And even if it was possible, it wouldn’t be desirable because this would annoy and turn away people who wanted to implement new features who could also be working on bugfixes at the same time. Finally, we would lose the ability to respond to user and vendor needs in the case of legitimately needed features.

          Ultimately the best resource is more developers. Developers fix bugs as well as implement new features. If you want more of the former, you need to accept the latter.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. I’ve been using KDE for almost two years but now I’m back on Windows because I’m not sure if something won’t break after the next update. Or, for example, I’m tired of constantly closing Dolphin before connecting my phone to PC, otherwise I can’t access its contents.I think that most users expect stability from KDE first,, and only then new features. Pause for a couple of months to work on existing bugs instead of adding new features isn’t such a big tragedy. But it’s a pity that this isn’t your way.

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          2. Sorry to see you go. I agree that a greater focus on addressing bugs and regressions is important. All I’m trying to say is that this can’t be done in a top-down fashion; the only real tool in our toolbox is to try to motivate people to do it on their own.

            Liked by 2 people

          3. Nate, I’m sorry, perhaps my speech was quite harsh. You, your team, and all the KDE developers/contributors are amazing people and you all do amazing things! But at the moment I really lack stability in KDE.

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          4. It’s okay, I understand. I know that our software’s stability isn’t where it needs to be. It’s an area of concern for me as well. I haven’t yet come up with a concrete plan to try to improve it, though.

            Liked by 1 person

          5. I have an interesting idea how to motivate people to fix issues. What about paying for fixing bug? For example, a user who desperately wants a bug to be fixed, but cannot (or doesn’t want) to wait for it to be fixed, might pay a small amount to someone who fixes it. Something like hiring a freelancer at Upwork to fix a bug in KDE.

            Liked by 1 person

          6. Hmm, not sure it works. There are various bounties already attached to KDE bugs via 3rd-party sites, including one with quite a large $2000 bounty, but none of this seems to motivate people. I think the kinds of people who volunteer their time to work on FOSS are not very money-motivated in the first place. And most bounties are too small to be very enticing. $50 is pizza money. I think the best way to fix a lot of bugs quickly is to actually hire someone to do it full-time, which is why I am so big on the idea of the KDE e.V. doing this. Most people who are sponsored to work on KDE stuff are sponsored to write new features for their employer or client’s use cases; the e.V. could stabilize this by hiring someone to fix all the bugs introduced by those features. 🙂

            Liked by 2 people

          7. Heh where I live it’s about three reasonably nice ones when you include delivery and tip, and they don’t last long for my family of four. 🙂

            I could get 10 from Little Ceasars for that much money but my stomach wouldn’t be happy about it!

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        2. New features are also often fixing bugs 🙂 By solving some feature requests or by replacing an older component with some architectural problems. What we need more in KDE are tests. We currently lack the ability to find regressions soon enough (e.g. during the introduction of the new feature) :/

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Exactly, things are indeed not always so black and white.

            Consider polkit-in-kio, for example. Being unable to edit root files in your user session is a bug. But fixing this in a safe and forward-thinking way requires implementing a new feature–a big one. Once it’s merged, it will undoubtedly introduce new bugs, since it’s a large change that touches many things. But failing to do it or merge the work when it’s ready would result in the original issue sticking around forever.

            As a general matter, well-designed new features often fix multiple bugs that were difficult to impossible to fix previously.

            Liked by 3 people

  2. Great, thanks Nate!
    I don’t know if it is a coincidence or not, but last night I was dreaming about an environment/platform/desktop/OS based on KDE which would achieve the goal you’re describing =D
    My dream brought to me thoughts of necessary elements:
    1. More polished Desktop, especially System Settings app to get more granular way of controlling available options (for enabling and disabling availability of settings e.g. GUI with admin rights to “gray out” every module, button, checkbox or slider in System Settings). Just like MSWindows policies setting which can disable let say moving taskbar across the screen.
    2. development platform – IDE focused on KDE apps, bundled with three modern (GIT) mechanisms:
    – cooperative work,
    – automated packaging of apps to distro-agnostic format (preferably AppImage, eventually Flatpak),
    – working on Human Interface Guidelines documentation (yes, KDE needs better documentation),
    3. so-called “center of apps” – hub/store/shop/gallery/center with actual, nowadays ways of publishing apps, maybe donation model crafted in, also with curating apps (by some AI machine testing and QA)
    4. real and full-fledged system to run Android apps in Linux/KDE environment.

    So much and nothing more 😉
    With these few, ten years and KDE will be everywhere 8D

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Built-in packaging for multiple app formats is a great idea! Discover is already supposed to be #3, but I gather you don’t think it works well enough for that? What do you think could stand to be improved there?

      Liked by 1 person

    2. #2 is really needed as platform. We have kdesrc-build, kdevelop, kate. Why not tie them together to make ‘kde sdk’ and ‘kde studio'(ide platform). Android, macos or even windows have their own development platforms. It really helps app creators.

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  3. The GNOME core community is a little wired sadly. But As a DE GNOME is just as Valid as KDE.
    Most of the People dont need a Kitchen-Sink in every Dropdown menu. And it’s also important to provide an intuitive and straight-forward for “normal people” who just want to use thier PCs. That is why Apple has such an intense following, it may not be as big as Windows or Android, still Numbers desktop linux can only dream of, and very loyal.

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  4. With the likes of you, on the team, the ball keeps on rollin’ faster and faster towards that goal!
    Keep it up Nate! 🙂

    Now, if possible enlighten me…

    Is there a way to contribute (to Plasma/KDE) with web dev knowledge (PHP, JS, HTML, CSS) ?
    Or to develop some app/plugin, but that isn’t Electron based?

    Was really looking forward to FirefoxOS when it was introduced, as it promised to bring apps written in JS, that would be equal in functionality with native Android apps (in that they would be able to communicate with all hardware), but unfortunately, the project was shut down…

    Dunno if you guys failed at marketing with that one, or it was intentional to not “shout about it” until it becomes more stable for the “end-user”…
    But, from this post, found out about Plasma Bigscreen.
    Feeling good that such thing exists, hope it can be a good alternative to Android TV OS and similar.

    Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. First, Windows and Android are leaders not because of their flexibility and but because of their marketing strategy. Majority of devices come pre-installed with them, Windows for computers and Android for mobile devices respectively. If Microsoft hasn’t been late to enter mobile market, we would have a tripoly not duopoly. And if devices other macs have come with macos pre-installed, macos would have a market share greater than 15% probably.

    Second, in my opinion linux community need to accept that majority of people doesn’t care about privacy, free/libre software or flexibilty as much as they think. What they care about is convenience that if their device or software just works.

    If KDE wants to be market leader, it needs to be easy to use and default choice on most distribution and more devices need to come with KDE pre-installed with them. So it all ends in marketing and convenience.

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    1. Yes, I agree completely that pre-installation is the key tool for getting there, and I have written about this before. See https://pointieststick.com/2021/10/11/why-pre-installation-is-so-important/

      Then the question becomes, “How do you get your software pre-installed on tons of devices?” And that’s where I think the flexibility comes in. You make your software serviceable for a wide variety of use cases, and you work with hardware partners to accommodate their needs by ensuring that your software can showcase their cool hardware.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Strong disagree. Market leaders are market leaders, often because they get lucky and because their marketing teams are great.

      Windows – got in because of OEM/ISV backhand deals and eventually everyone just went on the bandwagon. Better operating systems (eg. OS/2) existed at the time. And now Windows 11 is released, it looks like Microsoft just didn’t know how to install KDE Plasma properly.

      Android – got in because of mere marketing, when smartphones were just coming into the scene thanks to the iPhone. It could have easily been something else. Nothing innovative other than getting rid of buttons from a phone, just “oooh! aaah! mmm!” marketing.

      Few want to install an operating system, they just want to be able to use the device they bought without incident. Likewise, few don’t want to install a desktop environment, they will just use whatever the OS has on it.

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      1. I love KDE’s optimism! It is very welcome and a breath of fresh air for the FOSS community, especially on the desktop. There are too many “my way or the highway” or “FOSS only so actively disallow anything else” projects in the FOSS community right now. It’s highly toxic and counterproductive. GNOME has been in trouble for many years now (people fleeing/multiple forks) because of their “my way or the highway” attitude when it comes to customization and usability. We are still dealing with people who want to strip anything not FOSS from distributions or actively hinder the use of non-FOSS software like proprietary video drivers, games, and other software that desktop users normally use. It’s nice to see a FOSS project like KDE that wants to be used by everyone, and doesn’t want to hinder desktop users in anyway. If we had more projects like this from the start, Linux would be used by a lot more people.

        Liked by 3 people

  6. I also am hoping for a (somewhat) bigger adoption of KDE.

    I would like to offer my personal perspective on what is necessary for this, with excuses for the length of this comment.

    I used “KDE” – the Kool Desktop Environment – on a daily basis on my main computers over the last 20 years.

    I am overall rather positive about KDE, but what I personally need the most in “KDE” is that the simple, everyday stuff should work. In a word, reliability.

    I mean, OK, KDE looks nice (it does!), but I do not have to impress my friends, I could not care less about that currently everything has to look more flat, but tomorrow something else etc.
    Foremost a desktop environment should function correctly. and reliably

    I think I could summarize my use of KDE as using it a networked, corporate environment (either working with a laptop or with a desktop with a 24 inch monitor)

    These are some everyday problems I always had with KDE.
    – Being able to work with SMB protocol reliably also if the remote server is not available
    KDE should not become blocked (as it is now for me) if remote file operations fail or if the NAS has to wake up.
    – reliable shutdown
    I have to shutdown my laptop as follows after watching a full-screen youtube video when working out.
    1. Press escape to get firefox from full-screen or it will end up in a weird state the next start
    2. Press the power button
    3. Do not close the laptop lid too quickly or KDE will not shut down
    Shutdown of the desktop computer always has a large delay unless I type “shutdown now” in a konsole.
    – Reliable and simple scaling of fonts (Wayland seems a step back here)
    I am thinking of buying a 4k monitor, but I feel forced now to buy a 43 inch version so I do not have to
    use any scaling (or keep using X-windows).
    – Reliability of desktop, an app crashing should not take down the desktop (Wayland seems a step back here)
    – Printing: print page ranges from Okular (it cannot reliably do this), enlarge the prints by user-choosen percentage

    For a corporate environment I can add that is important to reliably work with various monitors and projectors that are docked / undocked all the time.

    Luckily my linux desktop experience improved hugely the last 10 years, but it is not just due to KDE.
    Big improvements were the work done by manufacturers like cups for printing, intel and AMD graphics drivers, systemd, network manager, pipewire and general improvements in the kernel (Alsa, better realtime behavior).

    I am aware that KDE had a user voting process to determine the focus of development, but I feel that, perhaps as a result, there is a little too much focus on following UI trends (as I see it anyway) and too little on basic robustness and basic functionality. Of course I also realize that you cannot just let a developer work on something else if he offers to improve the UI, this must be the first area towards new developers are attracted.
    That is why this will need a kind of publicity campain as well.

    To summarize, as a human I can adjust to basically any desktop style, but I cannot adjust to having to forcibly reboot the computer a few times a day or not being able to reliably shutdown and restart my laptop or having to look at fuzzy fonts on my expensive screen.

    Perhaps we can have a few plasma releases in a row where we focus on “KDE as a realistic alternative for a corporate environment”?

    I do not use it, but I bet that Gnome excels more in this department because it is developed by the big corporations with just this in mind.

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    1. And yes, I choose KDE since it limits me the least, compared to Apple or Gnome.
      I guess what I need to add to the above comment is that KDE’s flexibility comes at a price (reduced stability, increased maintenance, difficulty of making bigger code changes), since there will be many untested code paths due to all possible configurations that users may choose. Personally that is for me the reason that I leave all settings at standard, use the default theme etc..

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  7. I just switch to KDE after many years of using other desktop (Gnome, Xfce…) , I wonder why I didn’t do it sooner! I like the level of customization, the virtual desktop, the grid are so easy to navigate! I have KDE plasma 5.23.3 and I see a big difference on the stability compare to the previous version of 5.23.X! Keep up the good work!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Since so much of the appeal of KDE and plasma for desktop users is exactly its extreme flexibility, it only makes sense to leverage that same ethos when approaching other projects and vendors. It gives a kind of meta-coherence to the project, “we are KDE, this is what we do.”

    I am one of those people that the GNOME workflow *works* for (like *velvet*), but the larger ecosystem and community will always need projects like KDE with the ethos of KDE expressed here.

    The wonderful thing about free and open source development is that laser focused opinionated projects and high flexibility generalist approaches can exist side by side and both be the better for it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yep, that’s exactly that I think too! I’m not trying to kill GNOME or ElementaryOS. I feel very strongly that we need them to help push the boundaries of their narrow workflows to provide ideas we can copy. 🙂 Just like they need us as a pressure release valve so that people for whom their workflows aren’t well suited can leave and go somewhere else rather than destructively throwing spite and bile at the project all the time. I think more of the vocal critics of these projects probably *should* leave them. Generating less negativity about their choices would be better for everyone.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. “I think more of the vocal critics of these projects probably *should* leave them.”

        I feel like you and I have probably had the same frustration as though we were looking at an open and full buffet table called “The Linux Desktop” with something for *everyone* while certain individuals around us were loudly arguing about whether or not only the sweet rolls or only the plumb pudding was even worth eating.

        All I want healthy, actively developed KDE that’s easy for me to recommend to people who are looking for extensibility and customization, and maybe to “ooh” perhaps even “ahh” occasionally at screenshots of all the fun things KDE users are doing on their systems.

        Liked by 2 people

  9. Hey, thanks a lot for an article, I am using Linux because of kde project, and the fact that you go in different directions is amazing, love the plasma mobile, the kde connect and overall possibility to just polish the work that has already been done. The functionality is awesome already, all it takes right now is wrap it up together and polish the angles. Because I already see kde as an ecosystem, rather then just another project, you have history, experience, and a view to the future, keep it up!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Totally agree.

    The kernel is another case, that by being flexible has taken the world, ALMOST EVERYWHERE a kernel may be needed, well there you will find Linux, and then you may find a few competitors with laughable market share.

    What about web browsers? Well there was IE, then came Firefox and its extensions with a super flexible engine to take over, sadly Chrome saw this and came toot with much more money while being almost equally flexible, and now their engine is everywhere…

    People at KDE has been doing great at keeping relevant in this aspect in the past few years at least (I arrived to FOSS pretty late, so don’t know much history) and today they are on fire, rising like the milk. And I like it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Also, I think that along to flexibility, there must be reliability in equal grounds.

      You can’t go breaking your user’s workflow every time, because then your user will just not trust your work. Updating the system and having the certainty that all your stuff will keep on working, is a feeling that isn’t here yet, but I believe that with great effort the KDE team has advanced leaps in this aspect since at least Plasma 5.9, and I’m confident that we will arrive at that point way more sooner than later.

      Along to flexibility, reliability, is the other aspect that has kept Windows and Linux where they are, when even the big money making actors in the world can trust their software makers that they will not break a feature they rely on in the next few YEARS, that talks big about the software and the people behind it.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. We had three new people arrive at work recently all of whom have degrees in engineering or physics.

    As an experiment they had KDE installed on their office desktops. All 3, within the first 1/2 hour, said they were lost and didn’t understand this new operating system. They resorted to their personal windows laptops for a couple of weeks until the IT dept installed windows on their desktop.

    If users with that profile can’t get comfortable there is definitely an adoption problem.

    Perhaps key developers could find a windows-land friend to sit down and go through in their first KDE interaction what exactly is confusing?

    In my view there should be a few changes in the menu setup and desktop icons to make KDE more friendly for newbies coming from windows.

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      1. i was a bit busy to pay too much attention, but it was at a very basic level like finding programs in the menu, and finding the file browser.

        i guess if you are completely new you will have no idea what Kate, Dolphin, KMail, etc. are if you are looking for Notepad, Explorer, and Outlook.

        perhaps there should be some kind of “Windows switcher” tutorial that can optionally pop up on 1st install.

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        1. Sorry for being this opinionated, but what kind developers/scientists they are if they cannot press Win key and enter “text”, “file” or “mail” and see instant app suggestions with relevant description?

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          1. …One probably accustomed to Windows where the search barely works. I would be willing to be bet that they never bothered to use the search at all. I think it’s likely an example of the problems caused by https://invent.kde.org/teams/vdg/issues/-/issues/1.

            This is probably compounded by the fact the Kickoff’s default grid view doesn’t show captions/descriptions. So you have to already know what the apps on that view do.

            This doesn’t apply to the list views, though. Captions appear there:

            So I really don’t understand what people are talking about when they go “Gwenview? What’s a Gwenview” But the answer to that question is right there!

            Maybe it would help if the caption/description appeared underneath the title rather than to the right of it, as the older Kickoff did?

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  12. By allowing systemd to become an important and even mandatory part of the KDE application you acting exactly the same way as Apple; ignoring, abandoning, or explicitly blocking other use cases ( see system monitor ). I do not even want to speak about KUserFeedback alias KDE Telemetry.
    You can dream about KDE taking over the world But the reality is that for our Linux distribution, we are already talking about replacing KDE with an alternative because of your choices. With Valve it will not put a lot of time, few month before KDE being a simple executive of Valve’s wishes.

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    1. systemd is completely optional in Plasma. If it’s not installed, System Monitor works just fine, but its Applications page doesn’t appear because that page makes use of a systemd-only feature. The feature requires systemd because the needed functionality could not be provided without it. But if you don’t want to use systemd, that’s fine. You just don’t get the feature that requires it.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. And you do not see the problem with that, creating two classes of users ? Those with systemd pass and those without who don’t get the feature which make the software partially usable.

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          1. I don’t know I’m not a developer but a daily user of KDE in my works. By the way plasma-firewall is another software that need systemd. Anyway, even if I can live without these softwares it’s not really honest pretending to be open to all users while the reality is quite different.
            Apart from that there is a lot of little things that make the use of KDE difficult and annoying. Only for Dolphin I could list a lot, regarding Zip or RAR files, issues reading files selected in split mode, issue with the integrated terminal after closing a window view and more. I can also talk about the flood of windows notification in different use case, which is really annoying.
            I do not question the amount of work behind all this, but it’s time to leave the terminal for a full end-user friendly GUI experience.
            THX

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          2. It sounds like you have a lot of complaints. That’s fine; I know we have a long way to go. Please feel free to file bug reports at https://bugs.kde.org so developers are aware of them.

            I want to push back on the notion that non-systemd users are second-class citizens, though. It’s very common for features to require optional dependencies. If you choose not to install the dependency, you don’t get the feature. This is how everything works in all software, including many other KDE apps. For example, if you don’t install Konsole, you don’t get the terminal panel in Dolphin. If you don’t install the packagekit, you can’t install distro-provided apps in Discover. If you don’t install libqalculate, you don’t get the calculator feature in KRunner. And so on. Would you prefer that such features were instead not written and available to *nobody* instead of available to people who install the optional dependencies? That seems like it would be much, much worse.

            Liked by 1 person

        1. It seems KDE is in a difficult position here: they have to cater to those with, and those without, systemd. And the worst part is, there’s really nothing KDE can do about it, it’s a problem within teh Linux ecosystem that chooses to be so badly fragmented under the illusion of choice.

          So hats off to KDE for somehow pulling that one off.
          Btw I was wondering Nate, what is the user supposed to notice with the systemd startup feature anyway?

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  13. I wish Nate’s vision will come true. I also wish that money or greed will not destroy all this. Oh and I also wish all the developers would get generously compensated for their work of course. Here’s a scenario: What if some big shot like Elon Musk or Jeff Satan, I mean Bezos, would suddenly fall in love with KDE and would throw a truckload of money in the development? Then it’s a business. Then someone gets paid less than someone else, and excrement hits fans left and right. Greed, a basic human flaw (along with its lovely cousin, jealousy) takes over. So in a very perverted way I hope it never becomes a business.. Can it be successful with the current model..? And what IS successful anyway..? Bleeehh, too much coffee too many thoughts too many worries. I just want Plasma 5.24 now, because Windows 11 needs a big plasma slap across the face.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. An excellent article, I agree wholeheartedly!

    I often sell re-used computers tailor made for the client who buys them, and I always install KDE Neon. It’s amazing how much positive response I get and how satisfied clients are, no matter if they’ve used Windows or MacOS before. And only KDE allows the system to work well for that many types of people. Some clients are not used to computers and for them I scale back on functions and create something easy to use, others have disabilities like aphasia and for them every little visual hint or practical setting helps in order to make a computer they can truly use well, and for others like myself – who are enthusiasts – it’s awesome to be able to set up the perfect workflow or realize the perfect look. No other DE or OS anywhere comes close to this flexibility and power.

    Therefore I am extremely grateful and impressed by everyone involved in KDE who makes this possible! On my end I try my best to spread the word and the software (and submit a bug report now and then) to realize the dream of KDE being the standard in the computing world – something all users deserve!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. What a cool business! It sounds like you’ve found a way to make money truly doing good in the world!

      If you don’t mind my asking, would you be willing to share the most common customizations you make?

      And the $64,000 question… do you always keep single-click, or always change it to double-click, or choose per customer?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thanks! It is not the main part of my business (which is designing web pages), but it is the most fun part. 🙂 I hope to be able to donate more money to KDE in the future, and perhaps also contribute in other ways – as it’s really amazing to be able to have this project to rely on. But for now I focus on spreading the word and reporting issues.

        No problems, ask away! The most common configuration is by far a classic Win 95-like setup, with a panel at the bottom with a launcher, icons for open windows, panel applets, etc. Classic style for programs with drop-down menus and text next to icons. Classic desktop with icons, trashcan, etc. Most want colorful icons like those in the Oxygen icon theme, but when it comes to application theme both Breeze and Oxygen are popular. It’s not too far from the standard Plasma settings.

        When it comes to accessability, especially for the aphasia group, my main customizations are making sure every app has text and colorful icons for all important functions – and making sure all important functions are available directly in the app panels and not hidden somewhere. (Being able to customize every toolbar in every program is gold here – it makes a world of difference for people with problems with short-term memory: everything needs to be discoverable and can’t be hidden.) Other important things I do for this group is disabling things than can trigger accidentally and confuse the user, like gestures such as “tap to click” on touchpads. This is in addition to obvious accessability features of course, like larger text or practical keyboard shortcuts.

        I’ve also done a few MacOS-like setups and a few unique ones, like a very minimalistic tablet-like interface (which was surprisingly not for a tablet-like device – it was just supposed to be really scaled back. So all programs launched from the desktop, Dolphin had the bare minimum visible and the panel had nothing more than an app-switcher, a clock and a shutdown-button. 🙂

        I usually show off some nice features too that I think customers will find useful. KDE Connect is very impressive and little things like being able to drag a piece of marked text to the desktop to create a note is very popular. 🙂

        As for the final question: almost everyone wants double-click. It’s one of the things I ask about, but only two people this far have wanted single-click. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

          1. No problem! Tell me if you have any other questions about specific settings or so. I should mention this is just based on around 30 installations though, so it is not a huge statistical base. 😉

            Like

          2. Another vote for double-click! I always change it to double-click, after the single-click thing got me into a few weird accidents after trying to select a file ended up opening it.

            Like

        1. Similarly, I have also put KDE Plasma on friends’ laptops after they are done with “Microsoft stress”. I tend to set them up like you, with a Win95-looking setup, but put them on a single-click setting for icons. Most get used to it, but there are a few that prefer double-click. It seems that double-click is a safe-bet for a common preference.

          One of my friends is running KDE Neon and doesn’t like that it pops up update notifications every day. It’s annoying to him, and I’m starting to think that would be the case for normal people. I wish there were a way in System Settings -> Software Update that you could specify how often it checks for updates, so I could change it to once a week, or once a month.

          Liked by 2 people

  15. Great blog post.

    KDE’s become home for me. Even those of us who stray … a LOT … still come back. As have I. 😀
    And I believe I can offer an interesting perspective here –

    To be completely honest, I’ve always been skeptical of your idea of Plasma world domination – it seemed grandiose and silly, but I don’t think it’s far off from the truth.

    Using Windows is becoming untenable (even Microsoft seems to think so – that’s why they’ve patched Hyper-V to run Linux as the host OS), and I’m not even talking about the UX/UI or the privacy/security issues – many of the issues I’ve run into on Windows 11 have been unfixable kernel issues that made my computer very difficult to use (networking issues mostly).

    For people that want to switch, they might not like the fact that Chrome OS is basically proprietary and brunch (Chrome OS on custom built PCs) isn’t a realistic or simple solution for many people. And as far as macOS goes, it requires specific vendor-provided hardware now.

    As far as DEs go, GNOME is fine (personally, I even like it, despite preferring KDE), but it’s often alien and therefore unintuitive, so Valve going for KDE on Arch makes perfect sense to me.

    Windows has slowly but surely been losing ground to chromeOS, macOS and desktop Linux, and unless some crazy new player swoops in, Plasma is probably going to be the way of the future, yeah. Plasma being based on Qt has kind of cemented that – many of the Linux-based OSes used in government and education throughout the world use Qt, and Qt is very platform-friendly, so using Plasma at that point is just a given. And the fact that Chrome OS is based on Linux means we’ll get even more hardware and software support (provided we get good Android support for Plasma on custom built PCs, not just the JingPad). So yeah, the future of KDE/Plasma is very bright in my opinion as well.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. If you want too much, you will get nothing. Especially when your resources are limited, you have to be laser-focused. KDE3 was focused on Desktop power-users, and it was great at that. But the overengineered KDE4 design with Plasma, with it’s far too wide vision, has set back KDE by a decade, because it just couldn’t deliver the optimal quality for any usecase. Furthermore, Microsoft failed at getting Windows onto Mobile, and Android isn’t successful on the Desktop, so I don’t think these examples are very viable for the “extreme flexibility” vision. Nevertheless, good luck! I hope this time it will end better than with KDE4.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. So far KDE is moving forward introducing new bugs while not fixing older ones. This does not align with your vision of world domination. As a long time KDE user, I’d really appreciate if the dev team stopped pushing new changes prematurely and concentrated on QA and stability. Plus, new features are controversial to say the least.
    You borked Kwin’s custom window properties by replacing the ideal QtWidgets UI with a clumsy QML-based trash. You removed many desktop effects like cube, which many people used for their productivity. Meanwhile, Baloo is buggy, Discover is buggy, Falkon hasn’t been improved for years and so on. Don’t treat yourself with dreams, come back to real life!

    Like

    1. In real life, the market leader is often terrible. Windows and Android had egregious user-facing bugs and horribly broken UI conventions for years by the time they gobbled up the market. They still do, really. While I strongly agree with you that we must improve our stability, the market I’m targeting does not seem to require it from a strategic perspective. Apparently stability is a nice-to-have for the market leader, not a must-have.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Thanks Nate for tirelessly advocating for KDE! Sure there are bugs. A few days ago, I hit the update button on Arch and suddenly the font size was three times larger than before! I suspected some evil interference from GNOME and purged it from the disk, but in the end it was good old X11 getting a bugdate. Wayland Plasma session saved me (BTW nice progress on that front). There might also be some proper KDE bugs here and there (my ‘favorite’: the networkmanager applet often being blocking), but will it drive me to the pits of the competitors? Nevarr (arr)!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Hi Nate, as much as I would like to be as optimistic as you are, I don’t see the same situation. And I don’t think the facts support you world domination ideas. Don’t get me wrong, I like KDE and I appreciate all the work that it is going in it but it will never go beyond the distant second most popular DE in Linux (for now). Looking at the facts:

    1. The Linux overall will not take over the desktop. The desktop itself is becoming a niche and irrelevant to larger extend. The corporate users are the main contingent keep the desktop alive. And the big corporations are never moving to Linux as they need the management tools. With Office365 and Azure AD integration Microsoft has basically monopolized the market. If you don’t need the endpoint management, Google is an alternative but it works best with Chromebooks which is still not Linux desktops. Overall with the trend of Managed services and SW as a service nobody want to roll their own management layer on large scale.
    – There was a brief window of opportunity a few years ago when the cloud app development was getting started and Windows was total crap for that. There was a chance the R&D to push Linux as a requirement, but now the window is closed by WSL. More and more questions in the Linux community at my work are ending with “Linux is not supported, please use WSL for development work.”

    2. After each new windows release there are the disgruntled power users who proclaim the windows is intolerable and everybody will move to Linux now. And it never happens! It was the same with XP/Vista/W8/W10/W11… Most of the users don’t care what is the OS as long there is a browser to open their Facebook. The corporate user will use whatever is mandated. The Linux users will remain a niche overall.

    3. KDE will not even dominate the Linux niche.
    – As much as you emphasize the importance of the community nature of KDE, it is its weakness for wider adoption. Companies want to talk to companies with which they can sign contracts and agree on SLAs. Canonical and RedHat are the biggest players in the Linux area and both are working on Gnome. How many of the big HW vendors have gone with KDE – none. Even when Lenovo was starting from scratch with Linux support, they chose Gnome and not KDE. Yes I know there are a few HW vendors that have gone with KDE but I assume the main reasons are that it is free and “it looks like Windows” so it will be easier to attract users.
    And how are we expecting big vendors to adopt KDE if we can’t convince the Linux distributions to change their default DE.
    – Due to the community nature and lack of “patron company” in KDE all major changes are taking forever to implement. Also due to the many stake holders KDE is too conservative and tries to satisfy everybody piling on top of the technical debt and complicated code. It is practically impossible to drop features which constantly increases the maintenance efforts.
    – The community has also taken wrong decision on principled ground and not considering commercial interests – see the NVIDIA wayland support. Yes NVIDIA is what it is but Gnome sucked up their pride and have working Wayland desktop for some time. You can not expect world domination if we ignore the biggest GPU vendor. The situation is improving the sentiment is still “Don’t use Nvidia and Plasma if you don’t want issues”.
    – The C++ and old code base are becoming a show stopper for attracting new developers. Look at System76 – even when considering starting from begging they have not chosen KDE but to write something from scratch.
    – The QT framework has bad stigma around it. I know it is open source but look at the situation with QT6. There is the constant fear that it will have to be forked that KDE team will need to support the QT framework as well. Also QT is a specific and niche framework with small amount of developers who know it.

    I am not saying “KDE is dead” but I think it is important to know what is feasible and work toward that end.

    Like

  20. Soy usuario de Plasma y app KDE, y podría aportar con la detección de bugs e incluso sugerencias de uso, pero se me complica hacerles llegar mis prupuestas debido al idioma, en primer lugar, y luego a que no contamos con una interfaz sencilla para poder comunicarnos con ustedes, los desarrolladores. Creo que esto le sucede a la gran mayoría de usuarios comunes de Plasma, los que no conocemos de informática ni desarrollamos, pero sí somos entusiastas de la tecnología y de las computadoras. Saludos y gracias por el excelente trabajo que llevan a cabo.

    Like

  21. Good article Nate, I enjoyed reading it.
    I agree with what you say of KDE being inclusive and flexible, and it is why I moved to it.
    I enjoy very much the design of KDE, I find it very pleasant to use.
    I also have deep respect for your work on KDE, I think you make KDE move in the right direction.
    That being said, I also agree with what other commenters said.
    There are some bugs that need to be fixed.
    For example, I encountered several bugs related to external screens/video projectors, plugging and unplugging, docking station, mixed DPI, etc.
    Just yesterday during a presentation, I had to move temporarily to Gnome because KDE was not activating my videoprojector, even after a reboot (it was detecting it when I was connecting it, but nothing was appearing on the screen).
    I hope some attention can be given to this use-case.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, our multi-monitor handling is quite poor, a result of being too flexible and not defining common use cases properly. Thankfully it’s actually being worked on right now!

      Like

      1. > Thankfully it’s actually being worked on right now!

        Good to hear that!

        At some point, KDE will also need more corporate support, which has more chance to happen if the software is good.
        I don’t imagine Red hat leaving Gnome, but I still hope Ubuntu will change their mind because they have a more inclusive mentality.
        At some point, they were in love with Qt, but for some reason they did not choose KDE.

        Liked by 1 person

  22. Speaking of choice and flexibility. Will it be able to stop KDE telemetry from *collecting* data in the first place? Currently you can only prevent it from *sending* data, but (some?) data is still collected into .config/kde.org/UserFeedback.org.kde.programname.conf.

    Like

    1. Seems reasonable.

      Note that local data collection is something has been going on since long before KUserFeedback existed. Detailed logs of what you files and apps you open are stashed around in various places to make the “recent files” and various other history-related features work properly, and Activities collects the frequency of use for various things. So while what you point is out is something worth fixing, local data collection without transmission isn’t really a major issue IMO since it’s already been going on for years to support useful features without anyone caring about it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Why would that be? Just because it was always one way doesn’t mean it was or is ok. In any case, I always try to disable all of those “useful” features. Would be nice if I could simply tick one or two boxes and stop fighting against the programs I want to use.

        Like

  23. I would just like to say, amen!

    I was an Apple fanboy for 25 years. Then SJ died and the “creep” started with the blood letting and slavery.
    I switched to what was most familiar… Gnome. Then, after tolerating having my workflow shafted after every single new release, the proverbial straw broke… I switched to KDE Neon.

    It was prickly at first, but I started navigating my way around and the concept of free choice just rocked my world!

    I don’t feel like I have to bend Plasma to my will, I feel like it’s there saying “what do you want to get done?”

    I ported my workflow in a couple of days and now I’m in complete agreement with Nate.

    In summary for any Gnome devs reading this… your days are numbered.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Let me explain my experience with KDE

    For the last 18 years (I first tried KDE in 2003) my experience is as follows:

    I get exasperated with Gnome and install KDE, after 5 minutes trying to customize it, adding panels and widgets KDE crashes Windows 3.11 style, the desktop is frozen and one can just move the mouse and alt+tab to whatever application is open.

    This has been consistent for 18 years, I’m not exaggerating, this is not hyperbole.

    I hate Gnome with a passion, they’re committing suicide and bringing down XFCE with them.

    Please focus on creating a stable desktop and not an universe of software and you will conquer the world at least my computer.

    Liked by 1 person

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