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Let's go for KDE 3.5.9 in Lenny

Update: We have decided going for KDE 3.5.9 in Lenny.

Some days ago I sent a proposal to the Qt/KDE Packaging Team discussion mailing list proposing to ship KDE 3.5.9 in Lenny.
You can read my email and the whole thread generated from here.

I would love hearing opinions, specially from stable users about what they expect/want in stable.

Below, follows an edited version of my email with my personal opinion.

My proposal is shipping KDE 3.5.9 with the KDE 4.1 development platform: kde4libs, kdepimlibs and kdebase-runtime.

No huge advantages in shipping KDE 4.1

Honestly, I do not see any advantage in shipping KDE 4.1 instead of KDE 3.5.9 besides of coolness and bleeding-edge stuff. I do see this movement more like a change of desktop than an improved new version of KDE. The KDE 4 series clearly represent a big change in innovation and improvement over KDE 3, something that has just started. KDE 4 will have a lot of to tell in the future (4.2, 4.3..), you only have to see how much it has improved from 4.0 to 4.1 beta 1. But I do not see KDE 4.1 still fully replacing all the necessities of our users. There is still a bunch of small details there and here, I will talk of some here further on this mail (for example, koffice), but what worries me here specially is that some are totally unknown for us, since we have a lot of users with very different use cases.

KDE 4.1 has not been released yet.

KDE 4.1 has not been released yet, looking at the release schedule, it is supposed to be released July 29th, this is already impossible with current Lenny's release, and we would need an exception from the release team that will be only granted if it is really worth it. Then, a delay in this schedule from KDE release team would be bad for us, since we are so tight in time.
The sooner we could upload something to unstable would be with the RC1 that will be released on the 15th of July, 2 weeks before the final version. Lenny is supposed to go into full freeze in the mid of July, this could be delayed, but what is sure libraries will be frozen in 3-4 weeks, and we need ship a huge amount of new libraries. Besides, it is usually better ship an update of 4.1.x that contains fixes to the most important problems found in the 4.1.0 release.

Build dependencies we need to take care of

And then, it is not only the KDE 4 desktop, there are a set of build dependencies we have to maintain and not all of them are already in unstable, those dependencies are: akonadi, automoc (already in unstable, but it is a snapshot), decibel, soprano, tapioca-qt and telepathy-qt.

Some widely used apps of the KDE desktop are not ready

Even if they are not shipped with the core packages, some apps belong to the KDE desktop and to the KDE project. We have here Koffice, kdevelop or amarok. Amarok is one of a lot of widely used apps in the KDE desktop that won't have a substitute in KDE 4. There is a myriad of small apps in this situation.

Koffice 2 won't be ready so we are shipping with koffice 1 that needs some parts of KDE 3 to work properly (like kcontrol), so it will need some hacking because it is not currently fully installable in KDE 4... and it won't be properly integrated anyway. I'm not sure how well works kdevelop with KDE 4, but newer kdevelop (that needs now kdevplatform package) won't be ready.
Quanta needs as well kdevplatform, but quanta is shipped inside kdewebdev and it is one of the modules we have not packaged yet (together with accessibility and bindings).

No positive feedback about shipping it

My blog post about how to install KDE 4.1 beta 1 had some feedback of other developers in planet and specially from users in several blogs and forums that linked my post. Most of the people seem to like it as in "it will be cool", but everybody seems to agree that it is not still a replacement for KDE 3 in their daily tasks.
Basically, I see 3 kinds of users: developers, power users and average users. KDE 4.1 could be ready for developers who are able to cope with the lack of some apps, mixing kde3 and kde4 without risks etc, and the same goes to power users. But I do not see it ready for final users, they won't like this (imposed) change.
We would be shipping the KDE 4.1 desktop just released, and usually in the community, average users wait until more advanced users are used to this new software then it is when they adopt it, because then, they have support and help from forum and mailing lists from this more advanced users.
With the current beta power users and developers still do not see it ready for daily use, so what you can expect for our average users.

Some arches do not like KDE 4

Let's keep this short: KDE 4 needs to be built in all the release archs, and it actually does not.

You can have everybody happy

My proposal is release with "old" reliable KDE 3.5.9 not forcing anyone to update to KDE 4.1, and just provide 4.1.x "official" backports. So whose who want to use KDE 4.1 will just use the backports and besides, these users will have these backports updated through the KDE 4.1.x (x=1,2,3..) updates. I am willing to work on these backports.
By the way, Backports infrastructure is only for stuff in testing, but I'm sure we can find a nice solution here.


  • kelmo said, on 2008-06-08 15:36:32+02:00:

    Hi. I completely agree with your summary, and firmly believe that the next stable Debian release should not include a "rushed" and early KDE4 release that cannot yet provide everything that a currently satisfied KDE3 user expects (due to missing application ports).

    By now KDE3's shortcomings are known, and nothing much could come as a surprise in Lenny's maintenance period. You would be, in my opinion, taking a considerable gamble by trying to sprint and have KDE4 included, just to possibly (and likely) stumble upon some pretty major problems that could take considerable work to overcome.

    Just to be clear, KDE3 is as ready in Debian now as it can ever be, KDE4 isn't. There is, in my opinion, not enough time to make it ready in a couple of months.

  • Martin said, on 2008-06-08 16:02:55+02:00:


    I also would like to see KDE 4.1 in Lenny but 4.1 beta1 (which I know from some images/live cd) isn't stable enough for Debian Stable. It is a pitty.

    Debian Stable with a unstable KDE desktop is a no go.

    Debian Stable to be delayed is also a no go since it would be some/a lot of month and there would be again a lot of critics.

    Thus, I also prefer the 3.5.9-way. Do you know how long KDE upstream does security updates for 3.5.9?

    You (and the KDE-Team) could provide a KDE 4.2+ using etch-backports in some versions (maybe in Summer 2009) when it is really stable and KDE-PIM uses Akonadi and so on. Or you could promote a kind of Lenny-and-a-half for this purpose...

  • pabs said, on 2008-06-08 16:04:27+02:00:

    At least one user responding to the survey mentioned that they hoped KDE 4.1 doesn't make it into lenny.

  • Debianero said, on 2008-06-08 17:25:48+02:00:

    Being mostly a Debian stable user and sys admin of dozens of Debian desktops, my vote is for KDE 3.5.9.

    Just KDE 4.1 isn't ready for.

  • Rainer said, on 2008-06-08 18:55:22+02:00:

    I am using Debian stable at work and testing at home.

    I am happy with KDE 3.5.9 in lenny and I would appreciate if lenny would ship with KDE 3.5.9.

    I suspect that the number of crashes is higher with KDE 4.1 than with KDE 3.5.9, that would be reason enough for me to go with KDE 3.5.9

    Thanks, Rainer

  • cmiramon said, on 2008-06-08 19:03:50+02:00:

    As a Debian KDE user, I also think that it is the right decision. Lenny is for people who want a boring stable desktop.

  • Vedran Furač said, on 2008-06-08 19:17:44+02:00:

    I also agree. Leave KDE4 in experimental for now. Thanks!

  • Dave said, on 2008-06-08 20:04:47+02:00:

    I was a stable user but since the KDE 4.0 release I switched to Sid. As much as I like 4.1 I have to recognize that a lot of people do not. A KDE3+4 mix is not an optimal solution IMO, at least in the degree it is in right now. Lenny should ship with 3.5.9, but I would not complain if it shipped 4.1 instead ;).

    On the other side, if the Qt-KDE team would continue to support KDE4 in backports (or experimental Lenny compatible binaries), it would be great.

  • Geoff said, on 2008-06-08 20:39:34+02:00:

    If 4.1 beta1 is any indication, KDE4 is still really far away from being ready for stable imho. It is certainly a major improvement over 4.0(and I'm totally itching for the time when it's usable for someone who can't program their way out of issues), but it still has quite a ways to go before it would make any sense to consider including in a Debian stable release.

    I've tried installing KDE4 3 times now since it showed up in experimental, with 4.0.80 being the latest attempt. It's been better every time, but I still haven't yet been able to use it for more than a few minutes before it all goes unrecoverably haywire.

    This humble Lenny user's opinion is that Debian should definitely keep KDE 3.5.x for Lenny/stable. When Lenny goes stable I'll probably keep running testing so maybe I'm a bit biased (as I'm not too concerned about missing out on KDE4 by running stable), but I think anyone who intends to run stable and is lobbying for KDE4 to be included is deluding themselves into thinking KDE4 is stable (yet).

  • allo said, on 2008-06-09 20:19:04+02:00:

    I really want KDE 4.x. But i want to use it like kde 3.5.9 + more features if poosible/needed.

    i.e. for the panel: -more than one panel -free resizable panels -transparent panels -possibility to move applets in panel

    but there are already some good points, as i like the idea of a desktop with several file-areas with seperate folders.

  • Velvet Elvis said, on 2008-06-10 00:27:58+02:00:

    I wholeheartedly agree with this.

    Old, stable software is what people want when they install debian stable.

  • Hal said, on 2008-06-10 01:49:10+02:00:

    This is great news, I was hoping Lenny release team would make this decision, it's good to see they saw the issues clearly enough to make a wise choice.

    The idea of releasing a 'stable' beta quality desktop like 4.1 was not something I was looking forward to at all, but now stable will have a great, mature, well tested, decently debugged, desktop, instead of something whose bugs might have plagued Lenny stable for its entire life.

  • Kevin Kofler said, on 2008-06-10 02:47:20+02:00:

    FYI, the telepathy/tapioca/decibel stack is not actually required, it isn't even really used yet. (Kopete has some experimental support for it, but as far as I know it is not intended to be the default yet, instead, the old backends are still available. Ask the Kopete developers for the latest status there.)

    As for KDevelop, if you set up things correctly so no special "KDE 4 environment" (i.e. broken environment variable hacks) is needed to compile KDE 4 apps, this patch: allows you to easily develop KDE 4 apps in KDevelop 3.

    The KDE 3 KCM stuff is also essentially a solved problem, see the Fedora kdebase3 package. Sune Vuorela was looking at it already.

  • speedyx said, on 2008-06-10 04:42:45+02:00:

    Debian do the right thing postponing the introduction of kde4. I'm afraid if this early announce of kde4.0 when if was far to be ready for general use is a good strategy. I understand the necessity of promotion between developers, but can have the effect to disaffect users. What do you think?

  • ned said, on 2008-06-10 11:42:26+02:00:

    Amen, brother.

    (One average Debian Stable user)

  • Jaume Sabater said, on 2008-06-10 21:37:14+02:00:

    I agree with you. It is a good decision to ship Lenny with KDE 3.5.9. We shall see a stable, mature and advanced KDE 4.x in the version of Debian that follows Lenny.

  • Amit said, on 2008-06-13 15:50:27+02:00:

    What about the "offical 4.1.x backports" part in your proposal?

    Any OFFICIAL decision has been made about this staff?

  • Zsolt Rizsanyi said, on 2008-06-13 18:47:58+02:00:

    I'm also interested about any decision about the 4.1.x backports.

    I have very bad experience about state of the KDE backports. The current backport for etch is version 3.5.7 which is too old. There was an unofficial backport of 3.5.8 but it is still not 3.5.9.

    This was the main reason I have upgraded from etch to lenny before its release and I am also worried that the same will happen for lenny too. A backport might happen like it did for etch, but if it is not maintained, then it's worth is questonable.

  • ana said, on 2008-06-13 18:53:02+02:00:

    Backports info will be posted in some weeks, details of how doing it need to be worked on. About current official backports, i made the backports for 3.5.7 and I did not need backports for 3.5.8 or 3.5.9 so I did not make it. No big changes either.

  • Zsolt Rizsanyi said, on 2008-06-13 23:09:56+02:00:

    IMO 3.5.9 had some important fixes. Among others it support current version of the flash plugin.

    I know that you did the 3.5.7 backport and I'm thankful for that. I have been using it for at least half a year :)

    But if people will be really using KDE from, then regular updates are needed at least to have the security updates trickle in sooner or later. usually follows testing, but makes exception to allow backport of packages from unstable when security fixes are present there.

  • OSZine said, on 2008-06-15 17:00:50+02:00:

    Debian Lenny wird mit KDE 3.5.9 ausgeliefert...

    Die nächste Debian-Version mit dem Codenamen Lenny wird nicht mit KDE 4.1 als Standard-KDE-Desktop ausgeliefert. Vielmehr werde KDE 3.5.9 als Standard-KDE-Desktop installiert. Pakete für KDE 4.1 werden der neuen Version jedoch auch beiliegen....

  • bojan said, on 2008-06-18 18:02:58+02:00:

    release after lenny is soooo far away in the future that Debian is going again to be оutdated desktop.. Lenny NEEDS KDE4.x as option....

  • Ilya Ilembitov said, on 2008-08-15 01:38:40+02:00:

    Damn, I like this news! I'd love to get a KDE4, but let's face the truth - it's not ready for every-day usage. No Digikam, no Amarok, no Koffice - just a mixture of KDE3/KDE4 apps. Anyways, the users that want Debian to be a "modern" desktop, use testing. But the fact that KDE 4 will be in backports, to me actually means that a KDE3-KDE4 switch will run smoothly. That's what I like.

  • Linmagazine said, on 2008-08-21 08:04:27+02:00:

    KDE 4.1 בדביאן...

    Debian GNU/Linux 5 (שם קוד "Lenny" ) לא תשוחרר עם KDE 4.1. אפשר להתנחם בכך שלפחות backport ממאגר אנסטייבל ×...

  • KDE: per Lenny sarà 3.5.9 » Ultima frontiera said, on 2008-09-24 09:54:43+02:00:

    [...] [...]

  • Tim said, on 2009-02-15 20:07:39+01:00:

    Hello, KDE 3.5 was a good choice. 4.x just needs more time to sort all kind of glitches.

    BUT why 3.5.9 when the latest bugfix release is 3.5.10??!!

    Will there be 3.5.10 available for lenny?

    Greets Tim

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