The Future of the KDE Free Desktop
JP: And is there commercial interest in all this, are companies getting involved? And, does that work?
SK: There are three areas where KDE is getting commercially very interesting. One would be PIM. This has been the case for years, and it's being used quite a bit in enterprise environments. The KDE groupware suite has been developed with enterprise deployments in mind, and in fact, much of that work has been contributed by companies making money on adapting KDE for corporate use cases. Second, there is KOffice. It's being deployed on the Nokia high-end smartphones right now, and this can go in many more areas. Third, Plasma is seeing commercial interest lately, by device manufacturers, for example.
AS: Well, the more people are involved, the bigger the chance something good comes out of it. This is what makes FOSS work so well. The community is very good at experimenting. In a more traditional environment, where return on investments is key, you have to guess before you invest. It can be very hard to come up with a good idea in such an environment. But we don't guess, we just try. What works, sticks. Bringing in commercial interests is good; it brings in more people, more creativity and different perspectives too. And, they are willing to work on things volunteers might not like—like Bluetooth support. A Nepomuk researcher in France isn't interested in that, but Maemo developers are. The challenge is to integrate it all—research, experimentation and commercial results—in one community. We're doing very well at it, I would say. We have lots of people coming in lately, new commercial ventures, large, entrepreneurial. If we can keep our culture intact, this will lead to great things!
Jos Poortvliet is a leading member of the KDE marketing team and has been promoting KDE at conferences and in writing for the past six years. He is an organizational psychologist by profession, lives in the Netherlands and works as a business consultant at a major financial institution.