How Open is KDE Actually?

Well, that was the question Mirko Boehm asked his captivated audience this morning. This is less of an open door question than you might assume. KDE is pretty open. If you measure KDE’s openness in the terms of that recent research paper, we’re 70-80 percent open.

Which is good, but begs the question: why not 100%? The big bug-bear here is KDE e.V. KDE e.V. is a non-profit organization that has a large number of members from the KDE community. It has a yearly meeting, which is closed. It has an active mailing list, which is closed. Yet, KDE e.V. makes a lot of important decisions for KDE as a project, decisions that affect everyone who uses KDE and everyone who works on KDE. Decisions like sprint budgets, Akademy location. And the mailing list sometimes happens to be used for general direction discussion for KDE.

Oops… Maybe I shouldn’t have said that last bit. I’m not sure the rules allow me to.

Which does support Mirko’s point, of course.

Then, Mirko went on: there are other problems in KDE that come through a lack of openness. KDE as a project, as a community is not open to contributions, ideas and suggestions that come from companies. Or, more properly, coming from people who represent a company. That sucks, because, as Mirko very properly argued, it’s a kind of discrimnation. And yes, from experience I can say that this happens.

Yes, KDE is open. We could be more open, and more importantly, being more open would be good for KDE. I support Mirko when he calls for all of us to improve KDE, year after year, not just the code, but our community, our organization and our reach.

The discussion, for now, will probably continue on the KDE e.V. mailing list.