Thursday, May 28, 2009

KDE teams needs to rethink versioning

They did it with KDE (the desktop) and now they've done it with KOffice: released a product not ready for the public as a new version number. In their defense they have made it clear that the initial "dot oh" release is not meant to be a fully featured or functional product and so is not for end users for both of these packages. But...

This is utter stupidity. I'm not sure how else to describe it. Every other product on the planet uses a new version number to signify a significant update to a product that is stable and an improvement over the old product. The KDE people do not seem to get this system and all it is going to do is confuse users in the end. Yes, power/advanced/guru users can understand this but the intermediate to beginner will not get this at all. If Firefox 4 came out without the ability to manage bookmarks or, in a more direct analogy, if the next MS Office shipped without PowerPoint (to be added later in a patch) NO ONE WOULD USE THESE PRODUCTS.

Come on KDE, just follow the conventions, use betas and release candidates, etc.. You're hurting yourselves and the Linux/open source community at large; confusing your users is not the way to build a community.


  1. This is a common problem with open source, you need to release your project at one point to attract more developers to help develop your project, otherwise your open source project becomes the next Duke Nukem Forever (and already so many open source projects are Duke Nukem Forever - alike)

    And in case you forget, some other open source projects also do / did that, like the infamous Gnome 2.0.0

  2. Well in the case of KDE they always DO release and they correct their problems with a .1 or .2 release usually. My point is they could just change their naming system to move things down the change .0->RC, .1->.0, etc. I maintain this would be less confusing to non-tech people, and that's what this is really about; they'd never see the incomplete and unstable stuff.

    I'd like to see actual numbers on a developer surge related to a version increment, that's an interesting point. My sense is that the mainline developers work on a project for quite some time and are dedicated folks and so may not be lured to a project by a version release. However, I would guess that people leave them on these and thus replacements come in. But again, couldn't this wait a week or month or two until the RC goes final? I'm sure bug reports jump up on a version release but do these really count as "developers"?

    Yes, I am picking on KDE here, but that's because they seem to be the largest and most well known offenders. I'm sure me being a KDE user has something to do with it. As far as GNOME goes I believe that's all in the past for them... humanity will be long gone before GNOME 3.0 ever sees the light of day.