Common Desktop Environment
|Developer(s)||The Open Group (early), CDE Project (modern)|
|Stable release||2.2.1 / March 1, 2014|
|Operating system||Unix, Linux, BSD, OpenVMS, Other Unix-like OSes|
The Common Desktop Environment (CDE) is a desktop environment for Unix and OpenVMS, based on the Motif widget toolkit. It was part of the UNIX98 Workstation Product Standard, and was long the "classic" Unix desktop associated with commercial Unix workstations.
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.
In February 1997, the Open Group released their last major version of CDE, version 2.1.
Red Hat Linux was the only Linux distribution to which proprietary CDE was ported. In 1997, Red Hat began offering a version of CDE licensed from TriTeal Corporation. In 1998, Xi Graphics, a company specializing in the X Windowing System, offered a version of CDE bundled with Red Hat Linux, called Xi Graphics maXimum cde/OS. These were phased out, and Red Hat moved to the GNOME desktop.
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.
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.
Systems using early 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)
From its launch until 2012 CDE was proprietary software.
The Open Group released Motif, the toolkit on which CDE is built, 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.)
Release under the GNU LGPL
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 open-sourced 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 was closed in its favor.
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- Party like it's 1999: CDE Unix desktop REBORN