Common Desktop Environment
CDE 2.2.0 Alpha running on GNU/Linux
|Developer(s)||The Open Group|
|Stable release||2.1 / 5 February 1997|
|Preview release||2.2.0c Alpha / 4 October 2012|
|Operating system||Unix, Linux, OpenVMS, Other Unix-like OSes|
The Common Desktop Environment (CDE) is a desktop environment for Unix and OpenVMS, based on the Motif widget toolkit. For a long period, it was the "classic" Unix desktop associated with commercial Unix workstations. After a long history as proprietary software, it was released as free software on 6 August 2012, under the GNU Lesser General Public License.
SunSoft, HP, IBM and USL announced CDE in June 1993 as a joint development within the Common Open Software Environment (COSE) initiative. The primary environment was based on HP's VUE (Visual User Environment), itself derived from the Motif Window Manager (mwm). IBM contributed its Common User Access model from OS/2's Workplace Shell. Novell provided desktop manager components and scalable systems technologies from UNIX System V. Sun contributed its ToolTalk application interaction framework and a port of its DeskSet productivity tools, including mail and calendar clients, from its OpenWindows environment.
In March 1994 CDE became the responsibility of the "new OSF", a merger of the Open Software Foundation and Unix International; in September 1995, the merger of Motif and CDE into a single project, CDE/Motif, was announced. OSF became part of the newly formed Open Group in 1996.
Until about 2000, users of Unix desktops regarded CDE as the de facto standard, but at that time, other desktop environments such as GNOME and K Desktop Environment 2 were quickly becoming mature, and became almost universal on the Linux platform, which already had a larger user base than most commercial Unixes in total. Red Hat is the only Linux distribution to which CDE has been ported, although it has since been phased out in favour of GNOME.
In 2001, Sun Microsystems announced that they would phase out CDE as the standard Solaris desktop environment in favor of GNOME. Solaris 10, released in early 2005, includes both CDE and the GNOME-based Java Desktop System. The Solaris 11 release in November 2011 only contains GNOME as a full desktop, though some CDE libraries, such as Motif and Tooltalk, remain for binary compatibility. The OpenSolaris open source project did not include CDE, and had no intent to make Solaris CDE available as open source.
The Open Group released Motif in 2000 as Open Motif under a "revenue sharing" license that does not meet either the open source or free software definitions. (The Open Group had wished to make it open source, but did not quite succeed in achieving this.)
In 2006, a petition was created asking The Open Group to release the source code for CDE and Motif under a free license. On August 6, 2012, CDE was freed under the LGPL free software license. Its source code is available at SourceForge. On October 23, 2012, the Motif widget toolkit was released under the LGPL v2.1 as well, making CDE a completely free and open source desktop environment.
OpenCDE, an open source project to replicate CDE, was started in early 2010. The project intended to reproduce the look and feel, organization, and feature set of CDE without using any CDE-derived code. With the release of CDE as open source, OpenCDE has been closed in its favour.
Operating systems using CDE 
- AIX (IBM)
- Digital UNIX / Tru64 UNIX (originally Digital Equipment Corporation, now Hewlett-Packard)
- HP-UX (Hewlett-Packard) from version 10.10
- OpenVMS (originally Digital Equipment Corporation, now Hewlett-Packard)
- Solaris (Sun Microsystems) available as an add on for 2.3 onwards, and as standard in 2.6 to 10.
- UnixWare (Univel)
- IRIX (For a short time Silicon Graphics offered CDE as an alternative to IID)
- TOG Press Release: The Open Group Announces Common Desktop Environment 2.1
- Thom Holwerda. "CDE released as open source". OSNews. Retrieved 2012-08-06.
- "UNIX Leaders Complete First Release of Specification for Common Open Software Environment Desktop" (Press release). Hewlett-Packard, IBM Corporation, SunSoft, Inc., UNIX System Laboratories, X/Open Company Ltd. 1993-06-30. Retrieved 2007-11-30.
- "Leading Vendors Unify to Accelerate Open Systems" (Press release). AT&T Global Information Systems, Digital Equipment Corporation, Hewlett-Packard Company, IBM Corporation, SunSoft Incorporated, et al. 1994-03-23. Retrieved 2008-05-15.
- "OSF Announces Formal Launch of CDE/Motif Project" (Press release). Open Software Foundation. 1995-09-07. Retrieved 2008-05-15.
- "X/Open and OSF Join to Create The Open Group" (Press release). X/Open Company Ltd. Open Software Foundation. 1996-02-14. Retrieved 2008-05-16.
- "OpenSolaris Consolidation Information". OpenSolaris Web site. Retrieved 2007-12-01.
- "Open Motif Frequently Asked Questions". The Open Group. 2004-07-13. Retrieved 2007-11-30.
- Peter Howkins. "Petition to Open Source CDE and Motif". Retrieved 2007-11-30.
- Dave Lounsbury. "How the Operating System Got Graphical". The Open Group. Retrieved 2012-09-27.
- "ICS MotifZone". October 2012. Retrieved October 2012.
- kpedersen. "OpenCDE". Retrieved 2011-02-14.
- CDE Open Sourced! (woomia, OpenCDE Forums, 2012-08-06) "With this, OpenCDE is officially deprecated. Feel free to make a fork of it if you wish."
- HP-UX : FAQ
- IRIX 6.5 Release Notes for CDE
- "CDE project's official page at SourceForge". Retrieved 2012-08-06.
- Tutorial for the CDE
- Open Group - CDE