K Desktop Environment 1

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K Desktop Environment 1
Initial release12 July 1998; 25 years ago (1998-07-12)
Final release
1.1.2 / 13 September 1999; 24 years ago (1999-09-13)
Written inC++[1]
Operating systemUnix-like with X11
PlatformQt 1[2]
SuccessorK Desktop Environment 2
Available inMultiple languages[which?]
TypeDesktop environment
LicenseGNU GPL

K Desktop Environment 1 was the inaugural series of releases of the K Desktop Environment. There were two major releases in this series.


K Desktop Environment, version 0.1 from February 1997

The development started right after Matthias Ettrich's announcement on 1996-10-14 to found the Kool Desktop Environment.[3] The word Kool was dropped shortly afterward and the name became simply K Desktop Environment.[2]

In the beginning, all components were released to the developer community separately without any coordinated timeframe throughout the overall project. First communication of KDE via mailing list, that was called kde@fiwi02.wiwi.uni-Tubingen.de.[4]

The first coordinated release was Beta 1 on 20 October 1997 (1997-10-20) – almost exactly one year after the original announcement.[5] Three additional Betas followed 23 November 1997 (1997-11-23), 1 February 1998 (1998-02-01), and 19 April 1998 (1998-04-19).[6]

K Desktop Environment 1.0[edit]

K Desktop Environment,
alpha version from July 1997
K Desktop Environment Beta 3
Release schedule
Date[6] Event
20 October 1997 (1997-10-20) KDE Beta 1 released
12 July 1998 (1998-07-12) KDE 1.0 released
4 March 1999 (1999-03-04) KDE 1.1 released
3 May 1999 (1999-05-03) 1.1.1 Maintenance release
13 September 1999 (1999-09-13) 1.1.2 Maintenance release
14 October 2016 (2016-10-14) 20th anniversary re-release[7]

On 12 July 1998 the finished version 1.0 of K Desktop Environments was released:

KDE is a network transparent, contemporary desktop environment for UNIX workstations. KDE seeks to fill the need for an easy to use desktop for Unix workstations, similar to the desktop environments found under the MacOS or Window95/NT [sic]. We believe that the UNIX operating system is the best operating system available today. In fact UNIX has been the undisputed choice of the information technology professional for many years. When it comes to stability, scalability and openness there is no competition to UNIX. However, the lack of an easy to use contemporary desktop environment for UNIX has prevented UNIX from finding its way onto the desktops of the typical computer user in offices and homes. With KDE there is now an easy to use, contemporary desktop environment available for UNIX. Together with a free implementation of UNIX such as Linux, UNIX/KDE constitutes a completely free and open computing platform available to anyone free of charge including its source code for anyone to modify. While there will always be room for improvement we believe to have delivered a viable alternative to some of the more commonly found and commercial operating systems/desktops combinations available today. It is our hope that the combination UNIX/KDE will finally bring open, reliable, stable and monopoly free computing to the average computer.

— KDE 1.0 Release Announcement[8]

This version received mixed reception. Many criticized the use of the Qt software framework – back then under the Qt Free Edition License[9] which was claimed to not be compatible with free software[2][10][11] – and advised the use of Motif or LessTif instead. Despite that criticism, KDE was well received by many users and made its way into the first Linux distributions.[12]

K Desktop Environment 1.1[edit]

K Desktop Environment 1.1

An update, K Desktop Environment 1.1, was faster, more stable and included many small improvements. It also included a new set of icons, backgrounds and textures. Among this overhauled artwork was a new KDE logo by Torsten Rahn consisting of the letter K in front of a gear[13] which is used in revised form to this day.

Some components received more far-reaching updates, such as the Konqueror predecessor kfm, the application launcher kpanel, and the KWin predecessor kwm. Newly introduced were e. g. kab, a software library for address management, and a rewrite of KMail, called kmail2, which was installed as alpha version in parallel to the classic KMail version. kmail2, however, never left alpha state and development was ended in favor of updating classic KMail.

K Desktop Environment 1.1 was well received among critics.[2]

At the same time Trolltech prepared version 2.0 of Qt which was released as beta on 1999-01-28.[14] Consequently, no bigger upgrades for KDE 1 based on Qt 1 were developed. Instead only bugfixes were released: version 1.1.1 on 1999-05-03[15] and version 1.1.2 on 1999-09-13.[16]

A more profound upgrade along with a port to Qt 2 was in development as K Desktop Environment 2.

KDE Restoration Project[edit]

To celebrate KDE's 20th birthday, KDE and Fedora contributor Helio Chissini de Castro re-released 1.1.2 on 2016-10-14.[7]

That re-release incorporates several changes required for compatibility with modern Linux variants. Work on that project started one month earlier at QtCon, a conference for Qt developers, in Berlin. There Castro showcased Qt 1.45 compiling on a modern Linux system.[7][17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sirtaj S. Kang. "The K Desktop Environment". Archived from the original on 3 March 2020. Retrieved 19 September 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d "Ars Technica: The K Desktop Environment – Page 1 (3/99)". Archive.arstechnica.com. Archived from the original on 24 July 2014. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
  3. ^ Matthias Ettrich: New Project: Kool Desktop Environment. Programmers wanted! on Usenet, 14 October 1996 (1996-10-14)
  4. ^ "History of the KDE project". August 2003. Archived from the original on 31 October 2010. Retrieved 18 November 2010.
  5. ^ "KDE 1.0-beta1 Release Announcement". 20 October 1997. Retrieved 26 May 2010.
  6. ^ a b KDE History Archived 13 June 2018 at the Wayback Machine – Time table
  7. ^ a b c "KDE Project releases KDE 1 !". 13 October 2016. Archived from the original on 13 June 2019. Retrieved 14 October 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)"KDE Project releases KDE 1 !". 13 October 2016.
  8. ^ "KDE 1.0 Release Announcement". 12 July 1998. Retrieved 27 March 2008.
  9. ^ "Qt Free Edition License". Trolltech. 1992. Archived from the original on 14 October 2016. Retrieved 14 October 2016.
  10. ^ "The Qt issue". KDE. 3 December 1998. Archived from the original on 3 December 1998. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
  11. ^ "Trolltech to Release Qt Under GPL – Decision Alters Linux GUI Landscape". LinuxPlanet. 4 September 2000. Archived from the original on 24 March 2018. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
  12. ^ "Ars Technica: SuSE 6.0 Review – Page 4 (3/99)". ArsTechnica. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
  13. ^ "1.0 to 1.1 Changelog". KDE. 6 February 1999. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
  14. ^ "ANNOUNCE: Beta versions of Qt 2.0 released". Lists.kde.org. 28 January 1999. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
  15. ^ "1.1.1 Release Announcement". KDE. 3 May 1999. Archived from the original on 25 March 2018. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
  16. ^ "1.1.2 Release Announcement". KDE. 13 September 1999. Retrieved 28 May 2013.
  17. ^ Kügler, Sebastian (4 September 2016). "Helio compiling Qt 1.45 at #QtCon, the clean build takes about 1.5 minutes on his five-year old laptop". Berlin: Google+. Retrieved 14 October 2016.