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KDE Developer Quits


Being grumpy is almost part of the job description for developers.

Recently though several KDE developers came right out and asked, “Does KDE even need (certain) users?” While, Troy Unrau, a KDE developer and perhaps best known as the author of stories for KDE News, opened this can of worm by saying “This is a rant,” it was soon taken in earnest. Unrau’s opinion was quickly seconded by another KDE developer, Jason Harris, who said, “KDE, like many other open-source projects, doesn’t really need users at all, whether they are poisonous or not.” Instead, both Unrau and Harris wanted to see KDE get more developers.

In the end though, KDE has ended up with at least one less developer. Unrau has quit KDE. He puts the blame, in part, on simply having too much to do and too little time to do it and on both internal and external criticism of KDE’s recent development direction.

The dispute which caused Unrau to leave dates back to conflicts within the KDE community. The spark for this dispute over ‘poisonous users’ appears to have sprung from a KDE developer thread that suggested on June 7 that a KDE fork was in order. This quickly ignited into a flame war between supporters of Plasma, the KDE 4 default interface, and KDE 3.5x supporters.

Negative reviews of KDE 4.0x and public suggestions that a KDE fork might be a good idea seems to have poured gasoline on the ongoing internal dispute.

By then, however, the discussion had already boiled over into a heated argument of users vs. developers both on such KDE lists as the KDE developer list and on far more public forums such as Joe Brockmeier’s OStatic blog and Mark Asay’s CNET blog. The final result has been Unrau’s departure, at least for now, from KDE development circles and other KDE developers, such as lead Plasma developer Aaron Seigo, spending their time on KDE coding instead of further in-fighting on mailing lists and online discussion groups.

Looking ahead, as the passions slowly cool, KDE’s leadership is working on a “Code of Conduct” to keep conversations from turning into flame wars. While there were no details on what might be in such a Code, Kévin Ottens, a KDE developer, suggests on his blog that such a code be written, and enforced, to prevent the “constant bashing” of individual developers and development decisions.


  1. Linux SYS , probably one of the biggest installation (18G), also is changing just from KDE to GNOME. Currently GNOME is completely recompiled
    Reasons: KDE dont go forwards, not by tecnical reasons but because the organization is a chaos and the quality of the developers is low. Also in the forum was permitted a mobbing campagn by persons of another inferior distro and instead of controling this, at the end the project page for SYS was canceled, this has insofar to do with KDE as the project don’t keep distance to that forum and on both places exists the same kind of mind and chaos. Other reasons are that KDE dont want to follow certain norms, f.ex. about building the binaries, and that errors are not effectively corrected

  2. 18G as in “18 thousand”? if so, it’s not even in the top 20. KDE has individual installations that reach *10s of millions* of users.

  3. KDE Code of Conduct
    1. You have no right to complain
    2. We don’t need you; go away.

    (Note. This is supposed to be a joke, Don’t get mad; laugh.)

    The more I time I spend studying this controversy, the more convinced I become that this is whole problem is about public relations, nothing more. That’s the good news. The bad news is that everyone at KDE seems to the think that the public, not KDE, is responsible for KDE’s public relations. As long as that’s the case, nothing is going to change.

    This guy was actually a writer for KDE News? !!??
    Yeah, they may have a little bit to learn about Public Relations.

  4. All joking aside, I support any Code of Conduct that will prevent the contemptible personal attacks that I’ve read against individual developers. For that kind of abuse, KDE is not responsible.

    But I hope that will be part of a proactive, comprehensive public relations policy.

  5. After your recent posts a discussion has started in the ubuntu community cafe titled “what’s happenning to the KDE community lately?” check it out

  6. I really wish you would stop putting words into our developers mouths, and doubt into the minds of our users.

    I do not claim to be a KDE Developer, but over the last few months, I have come to get to know a few. And recently, they have not been the same. They are irritable, and not excited about their project.

    You say that “being grumpy is almost part of the job description” of being a developer. But you could not be more wrong.

    When I started following the development of KDE 4, and getting to know the brilliant men and women behind it, it inspired me to learn how to code, so that some day I can do what they do. But now, they are not cheerful, they are not excited, and they do not look towards the future like they used too. They are secluding themselves, or leaving the project. Much of this as a direct result to blogs like yours, where the opinions are not based on fact, and the suggestions have no sustinance. They are vapid and trivial at best.

    People like you have succeeded in making the KDE Development Team split apart, today, I don’t see what I used to see, and it worries me. I’m not worried about KDE 4, I know that ignorant users like you who hate change won’t be there to bash it for long. What I am worried about is the state of the community. The developers can’t possibly invision the future, with such remarks holding them back. The community is being torn between two parties, those who want change, and those who don’t.

    Please, stop getting into the personal lives of the KDE developers. You are not welcome there.

  7. To the best of my knowledge the KDE Development Team is not splitting apart.

    I have no interest in KDE developers/supporters’ personal lives. I am interested in KDE. I report and opine on what publicly happening with KDE. I will be continuing to do so.


  8. If I have any complaint about this article, it would be that sjvn DIDN’T put enough words in Troy’s mouth. The link didn’t make up for the lack of a direct quote from Troy’s announcement, giving his reasons for leaving. That was certainly an unfortunate omission.

    But let’s face it. It wasn’t the spin of this article that makes Troy’s departure seem more significant than it may actually be. It was the timing of the announcement, which could not have been worse. I don’t know how these things work, but I have to wonder if he could have waited a few weeks before posting on the blog. It would have made a huge difference.

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