K Desktop Environment (KDE)

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The K Desktop Environment (KDE) is a network-transparent desktop that includes the standard desktop features, such as a window manager and a file manager, as well as an extensive set of applications that covers most Linux tasks. KDE is an Internetaware system that includes a full set of integrated network/Internet applications, including a mailer, a newsreader, and a Web browser. The file manager doubles as a Web and FTP client, enabling you to access Internet sites directly from your desktop. KDE aims to provide a level of desktop functionality and ease of use found in Macintosh and Windows systems, combined with the power and flexibility of the Unix operating system.

Several editions of Ubuntu, such as Xubuntu, use the Xfce desktop instead of either GNOME or KDE. Xfce is designed as a stripped down desktop with very little resource overhead; it’s ideal for laptops or systems dedicated to single tasks. Ubuntu Hardy, Ubuntu 8.04 LTR, will officially support and include KDE 3.5, not KDE 4.0. This is because the long-term release (LTR) of Ubuntu is designed for stability. KDE 4.0 is too new a release to guarantee that stability. Only KDE 3.5 will be provided the full 18 month support provided for the LTR release (this does include the new Dolphin file manager).

However, a KDE 4.0 version for Ubuntu 8.04 will be provided in the Universe repository. This version will offer six-month community-based support until the next Ubuntu short-term release, Ubuntu 8.10. A kubuntu4 disc is available for those who want to install KDE 4 directly. The situation is complicated by the fact that the Kubuntu edition of Ubuntu for 8.04 has integrated some KDE 4 features, namely the Dolphin file manager and the System Settings configuration tool. Kubuntu still provides the KDE 3.5 Konqueror file manager for use on Kubuntu 8.04. The older 3.5 version used for alternate desktop installation on the original desktop still uses the Konqueror file manager and Control Center configuration tool. The Kubuntu edition of Ubuntu installs KDE as the primary desktop from the Kubuntu install disc. You can download this disc from the Kubuntu site at www.kubuntu.org/. Here you will also find download links for the kubuntu4 disc. You can also download the discs directly from http://cdimage.unbuntu.com or http://releases.ubuntu.com.

The KDE desktop is developed and distributed by the KDE Project, a large group of hundreds of programmers from around the world. KDE is open source software provided under a GNU Public License and is available free of charge along with its source code. KDE development is managed by the KDE Core Team. Anyone can apply for team membership, though membership is based on merit.

Numerous applications written specifically for KDE are easily accessible from the desktop. These include editors, photo and paint image applications, spreadsheets, and office applications. Such applications usually have the letter K as part of their name—for example, KWord or KMail. A variety of tools are provided with the KDE desktop. These include calculators, console windows, notepads, and even software package managers.

On a system administration level, KDE provides several tools for configuring your system. With KUser, you can manage user accounts, adding new ones or removing old ones. Practically all your Linux tasks can be performed from the KDE desktop. KDE applications also feature a built-in Help application. Choosing the Contents entry from the Help menu starts the KDE Help viewer, which provides a Web page–like interface with links for navigating through the Help documents. KDE version 3 includes support for the office application suite KOffice, based on KDE’s KParts technology. KOffice includes a presentation application, a spreadsheet, an illustrator, and a word processor, among other components.

In addition, an integrated development environment (IDE), called KDevelop, is available to help programmers create KDE-based software. KDE, which was initiated by Matthias Ettrich in October 1996, was designed to run on any Unix implementation, including Linux, Solaris, HP-UX, and FreeBSD. The official KDE Web site is http://kde.org, where you’ll find news updates, download links, and documentation. KDE software packages can be downloaded from the KDE FTP site at ftp://ftp.kde.org and its mirror sites. Several KDE mailing lists are available for users and developers, including announcements, administration, and other topics (see the KDE Web site to subscribe). A great many software applications are currently available for KDE at http://kde-apps.org. Development support and documentation can be obtained at http://developer.kde.org. Various KDE Web sites

KDE uses as its library of GUI tools the Qt library, developed and supported by Trolltech. Qt is considered one of the best GUI libraries available for Unix/Linux systems. Using Qt has the advantage of relying on a commercially developed and supported GUI library. Also, using the Qt libraries drastically reduces the development time for KDE. Trolltech provides the Qt libraries as open source software that is freely distributable. Certain restrictions exist, however: Qt-based (KDE) applications must be free and open-source, with no modifications made to the Qt libraries. If you develop an application with the Qt libraries and want to sell it, you must first buy a license from Trolltech. In other words, the Qt library is free for free and open source applications but not for commercial applications.

New versions of KDE are released frequently, sometimes every few months. KDE releases are designed to enable users to upgrade their older versions easily. The distribution updater should automatically update KDE from distribution repositories, as updates become available. Alternatively, you can download new KDE packages from your distribution’s FTP site and install them manually. Packages tailored for various distributions can be also downloaded through the KDE Web site at http://kde.org or directly from the KDE FTP site at ftp://ftp.kde.org and its mirror sites in the stable directory

Source of Information : McGraw Hill Ubuntu The Complete Reference

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