KDE 4 goes on show at aKademy

Open source Vista and Mac OS X alternative coming

The annual technical conference for the open source KDE desktop project, known as aKademy, will have a special buzz this year as developers from around the world prepare the fourth-generation release which promises all the glitz of Windows Vista and Mac OS X.

With the first beta due in July and the final release slated for October, KDE 4 will include a host of new technologies aimed at providing a new user experience on the desktop.

This year's aKademy is at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland and begins with the KDE Contributors Conference from June 30 to July 1.

This opening event will feature the "KDE 4 pillars" track where developers will present the KDE 4 emerging technologies.

Both Vista and OS X have announced significant improvements in their desktop search capabilities and KDE's contender here is Strigi.

Lead developer Jos van den Oever proclaims Strigi to be "the fastest and smallest" desktop search engine, which does more than searching as it can also be used for writing "clever GUIs".

Van den Oever believes the traditional Unix tools like find, grep and locate no longer suffice because the amount of data has grown more than data access speeds, many document formats are too complex to handle by simple tools, and relations between different types of data are becoming more important for a convenient user experience.

Strigi introduces a new way of looking at metadata and file formats that enables the creation of "very efficient tools for improving the way users handle their data".

Also on show will be Decibel, a real-time communication framework which enables developers to set up communication channels to users using IM protocols, computer telephony integration, voice, or video streaming.

German KDE developer Tobias Hunger will give a description of Decibel and demonstrate it to the audience.

If there is one new KDE technology that is sure to draw a crowd it will be on Plasma by lead developer Aaron J Seigo.

Plasma is a new desktop application, or applet, platform that aims to provide a new level of user experience to the desktop, which, according to its developers, has not changed much since Apple's 1984 Macintosh.

Seigo's presentation on Beautiful Features will discuss how KDE software can make a great first impression while building commitment and trust over the long term.

The talk will be a "vigorous discussion" with the audience about the holistic presentation, design, and interaction of KDE software.

"My hope is that it can be the next step in getting our collective goals in line with each other so that KDE 4 will end up more consistent, more impressive, and simply the most slick desktop software around," according to Seigo.

The KDE project is online at www.kde.org.

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Rodney Gedda

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