"The Plasma community has been taking a bit of undue heat in my opinion," he says, "Because with its complexity, it really did have to wait for newer versions of QT and some [KDE libraries] to be done. And above and beyond that, it really did start from scratch."
Moreover, when compared to the desktop in earlier versions, Olson suggests, the Plasma desktop is "infinitely more flexible. And it's going to take a lot less heat when it comes to the control you have over the panels, the transparency of those panels, how cool it is with compositing effects and dealing with multi-head displays and different resolutions." Olson also indicates that the new desktop will feature the ability to choose different use profiles at startup, and tight integration into Kiosk, a tool for controlling what users can do from their desktop.
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Although KDE 4.0 is barely out the door, the project is already considering future improvements. Later this week, Google is scheduled to sponsor an official launch event, where the KDE community can not only meet with the press, but also plan future directions in an informal, Barcamp-like setting.
Still, Olson suggests, some directions are obvious already. Besides the details that were dropped to make the release, and the changes that were dependent upon a stable 4.0 environment, he says, "We still have to complete a lot of oxygen icons. We still have to work on the Oxygen look and feel [and] Plasma is still in its absolute infancy."
Other areas of improvement include enhanced work on VOIP and, possibly, the integration of Nepomuk, the semantic social desktop, into a future version of KDE.
KDE already runs on a number of Unix-based operating systems, but, as the new pillars mature, he expects to see increased work on porting KDE-based applications to Windows.
"It's not even a question of should we," he says. "Developers are moving forward on it. All the major KDE applications most likely will run on windows and Mac, natively and proficiently in the future." Recently, Olson says, he was able to install Marble, a new map display on Windows; he claims that, "It looked like a native Windows application, and ran as fast as a native Windows application."
KDE 4.0 is an important stage in the desktop's environment. But Olson stresses that, in the true free software tradition, it is simply part of the ongoing development process. "We are totally selling the fact that KDE 4.0 is the starting line, not the finishing line," he says. "Now we get to get rolling."