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KDE 3.3 Makes Linux More Collaborative

The open source KDE Project has upped the stakes for desktop Linux with the latest version of its desktop platform KDE 3.3, which was released Thursday.

KDE is a core Linux desktop platform and the default desktop technology in a number of Linux distributions including Linspire, Lycoris, Mandrake Linux, SUSE Linux, TurboLinux and Xandros.

It's also included as a desktop choice in virtually all other mainstream Linux distributions like Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Fedora Core, Gentoo and Debian. KDE lays claim to being one of the first Linux desktop platforms since the project first began back in 1997. The other principal desktop Linux Platform GNOME, released its most recent version at the end of March.

Since its last release in February the KDE community has committed over 60,000 lines of new code and fixed over 7,000 reported bugs.

"The desktop reached a quality hard to top in previous releases," said Stephan Kulow, KDE Release Coordinator. "Nevertheless, KDE 3.3 is a great improvement."

Beyond incremental improvements in speed and stability, KDE 3.3 has a clear focus on improving a lot of its collaborative functionality on the Linux desktop. One of most notable new improvements is the KDE PIM (Personal Information Management Suite), which has received a significant upgrade.

The KDE PIM Suite is composed of a number components, including Korganizer (desktop calendar and scheduling), KAddressBook, K-mail (e-mail application), and a groupware solution called Kolab. In KDE 3.3. the suite is more integrated and linked than in previous versions in an effort to improve efficiency.

"Improvements in terms of usability, stability and integration are particularly noticeable in the KDE PIM (Personal Information Management) suite," Kulow said.

The KDE Project is also well known for its browser implementation, Konquer, that is also one of the core technologies behind Apple's Safari Web browser. The new version of Konquerer included in KDE 3.3 has better integration with Instant Messaging (IM) than its predecessor and together with the integrated K-mail application has presence awareness of IM contacts. An RSS reader has also been integrated into Konquerer allowing users to read feeds in a browser sidebar. Konquer (much like Galeon on GNOME) competes with Mozilla on Linux desktops to be users' Web browser of choice.

The new version of KDE comes on the heals of recent IDC report that shows the Linux desktop has now surpassed the Apple Mac desktop to become the number 2 desktop behind dominant Microsoft Windows.

According to IDC, Linux now represents 6 percent of the desktop market in 2003. The research firm partially attributed Linux's desktop growth to "the perception that it can be obtained at zero cost, or at least at very low cost."

KDE is available as a free download from the KDE Project Website. That said, the KDE Project however has a separate Website, enterprise.kde.org, which includes a listing of companies that provide commercial support for the KDE Desktop and KDE Applications.

In a July research abstract titled "Linux as a Client Operating Environment" IDC said "the growth can also be attributed to the evolution of the complete ecosystem that surrounds Linux."