By a strange coincidence the news broke this morning that RHEL is deprecating KDE. The real surprise here is that RHEL supported KDE all. Back in the 90s they were entirely against KDE and put lots of effort into our friendly rivals Gnome. It made some sense since at the time Qt was under a not-quite-free licence and there’s no reason why a company would want to support another company’s lock in as well as shipping incompatible licences. By the time Qt become fully free they were firmly behind Gnome. Meanwhile Rex and a team of hard working volunteers packaged it anyway and gained many users. When Red Hat was turned into the all open Fedora and the closed RHEL, Fedora was able to embrace KDE as it should but at some point the Fedora Next initiative again put KDE software in second place. Meanwhile RHEL did use Plasma 4 and hired a number of developers to help us in our time of need which was fabulous but all except one have left some time ago and nobody expected it to continue for long.
So the deprecation is not really new or news and being picked up by the news is poor timing for Red Hat, it’s unclear if they want some distraction from the IBM news or just The Register playing around. The community has always been much better at supporting out software for their users, maybe now the community run EPEL archive can include modern Plasma 5 instead of being stuck on the much poorer previous release.
Plasma 5 is now lightweight and feature full. We get new users and people rediscovering us every day who report it as the most usable and pleasant way to run their day. From my recent trip in Barcelona I can see how a range of different users from university to schools to government consider Plasma 5 the best way to support a large user base. We now ship on high end devices such as the KDE Slimbook down to the low spec value device of Pinebook. Our software leads the field in many areas such as video editor Kdenlive, or painting app Krita or educational suite GCompris. Our range of projects is wider than ever before with textbook project WikiToLearn allowing new ways to learn and we ship our own software through KDE Windows, Flatpak builds and KDE neon with Debs, Snaps and Docker images.
It is a pity that RHEL users won’t be there to enjoy it by default. But, then again, they never really were. KDE is collaborative, open, privacy aware and with a vast scope of interesting projects after 22 years we continue to push the boundaries of what is possible and fun.