Monday, April 19, 2021

KDE Gear 21.04 is coming this week! But what is KDE Gear?

Let's dig a bit in our history.

In the "good old days" (TM) there was KDE, life was simple, everything we did was KDE and everything we released was KDE [*]


Then at some point we realized we wanted to release some stuff with different frequency, so KDE Extragear[**] was born.

Then we said "KDE is the community" so we couldn't release KDE anymore, thus we said "ok, the thing we release with all the stuff that releases at the same time will be KDE Software Compilation", which i think we all agree it was not an awesome name, but "names are hard" (TM) (this whole blog is about that :D)

We went on like that for a while, but then we realized we wanted different schedules for the things that were inside the KDE Software Compilation. 


We thought it made sense for the core libraries to be released monthly and the Plasma team also wanted to have it's own release schedule (has been tweaked over the years).

That meant that "KDE Frameworks" and "Plasma" (of KDE Plasma) names as things we release were born (Plasma was already a name used before, so that one was easy). The problem was that we had to find a name for "KDE Software Compilation" minus "KDE Frameworks" minus "Plasma".

One option would have been to keep calling it "KDE Software Compilation", but we thought it would be confusing to keep the name but make it contain lots of less things so we used the un-imaginative name (which as far as i remember i proposed) "KDE Applications"

And we released "KDE Applications" for a long time, but you know what, "KDE Applications" is not a good name either. First reason "KDE Applications" was not only applications, it also contained libraries, but that's ok, no one would have really cared if that was the only problem. The important issue was that if you call something "KDE Applications" you make it seem like these are all the applications KDE releases, but no, that's not the truth, remember our old friend KDE Extragear independently released applications?

So we sat down in the Akademy 2019 in Milan and tried to find a better name. And we couldn't. So we all said let's go with the "there's no spoon" route, you don't need a name if you don't have a thing. We basically de-branded the whole thing. The logic was that after all it's just a bunch of applications that are released at the same time because it makes things super easy from a release engineering point of view, but Okular doesn't "have anything to do" with Dolphin nor with krdc nor with kpat, they just happen to be released at the good time.

So we kept the release engineering side under the boring and non-capitalized name of "release service" and we patted ourselves on the back for having solved a decade long problem.

Narrator voice: "they didn't solve the problem"

After a few releases it became clear that our promotion people were having some trouble writing announcements, because "Dolphin, Okular, Krdc, kpat .. 100 app names.. is released" doesn't really sell very well.

Since promotion is important we sat down again and did some more thinking, ok we need a name, but it can't be a name that is "too specific" about applications because otherwise it will have the problem of "KDE Applications". So it had to be a bit generic, at some point, i jokingly suggested "KDE Gear", tied with our logo and with our old friend that would we have almost killed by now "KDE Extragear"

Narrator voice: "they did not realize it was a joke"


And people liked "KDE Gear", so yeah, this week we're releasing KDE Gear 21.04 whose heritage can be traced to "release service 21.04", "KDE Applications 21.04", "KDE Software Compilation 21.04" and "KDE 21.04" [***]

P.S: Lots of these decisions happened long time ago, so my recollection, specially my involvement in the suggestion of the names, may not be as accurate as i think it is.

[*] May not be an accurate depiction, I wasn't around in the "good old days"

[**] A term we've been killing over the last years, because the term "extra" implied to some degree this were not important things, and they are totally important, the only difference is that they are released on their own, so personally i try to use something like "independently released"

[***] it'd be great if you could stop calling the things we release as "KDE", we haven't used that name for  releases of code for more than a decade now


Some Name said...

Good to see I'm not the only one who misses Arrested Development.

Unknown said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but there is no name for plasma + framework + gear + extra gear. I suggest KDE TWS (the whole shebang).
I still use the KDE name even if it's not the official name because I can't go and tell "you should try plasma desktop and KDE extra and KDE extra gear and KDE framework instead of gnome".
Why not stopping the "KDE is the community" and use KDE name and "KDE community" ?
If I remember correctly, KDE means K Desktop Environment. Environment is a broad term and can cover the framework and the apps too.

Jonathan Riddell said...

"Correct me if I'm wrong, but there is no name for plasma + framework + gear + extra gear. "

KDE software is a common term for all the software made by KDE. There's other KDE projects too like WikiToLearn which are not about releasing software.

smihael said...

What is the problem of using KDE for both the community and the "product" (or one of the products)? So KDE community releases KDE - K(ool) Desktop Environment. As someone already pointed out above, environment is a broad term and connects both desktop as applications. That's why I never tell people to try "nicely looking Plasma desktop with the excellent Dolphin file manager by KDE community" but simply to "try KDE, because it has nice desktop and a powerful file manager". I'm sorry but no one cares about code-names of specific components.

It seems that a lot of these naming issues come from the inconsistencies when releasing things. With the availability of different automatic packaging services, the release cycles are IHMO not so important anymore - one month application X gets an update and another month application Y gets an update. I'm making things up, but KDE 21.05 could for example contain Kate 123.4.1, Plasma 5.33 and Konsole 21.04, KDE 21.06 updates Dolphin to 44.1.3 and we can highlight changes in Dolphin. Then in December Plasma gets a new update and we report more on it...

Apart from releasing the desktop environment, KDE can still be the community which has other projects like the aforementioned WikiToLearn...

In the end, Apache also releases Apache and a lot of different things.

tosky said...

Please not that what you call "Apache" is really the httpd server, and Apache HTTP Server Project.

Also, as it was already pointed out, we have several other bits in the KDE community, like WikiToLearn and Mauikit, with their own archive. And let's consider also Krita or gcompris, which are never going to fit into the thing you just called "KDE".

Those are part of the reasons why we can't have KDE for just a part of the stuff produced by the community, it would be unfair.