February 16, 2019

The StartX Files: Word to the Wise: KWord's Quest for Completion - page 2

Braveheart Who?

  • November 6, 2001
  • By Brian Proffitt

Being a lifelong Cubs fan, I am very familiar with the mantra "wait until next year," having said it every September since I was old enough to pick up a baseball mitt. And it would be very easy to say something like that here about KWord.

After all, this is a relatively young application. It needs more time to grow and mature. And this is all true.

But how much longer is this going to take?

This is a viewpoint that will not make me a lot of friends in the Linux community and I can live with that. Without neglecting to acknowledge the incredible efforts of the open source developers that have gotten us this far with KOffice on what must amount to a shoestring budget, I have to say that as a consumer, I am getting a bit cynical about opening up a Linux product and being disappointed with the results.

Harsh? You bet, but this is the truth nonetheless.

We all know what the problem is. It's not brilliant programmers -- we already have those. It's not the Open Source way, either. Microsoft's arguments to the contrary, Open Source development consistently demonstrates how superior it is as a methodology.

No, it's money. Without the proper funding, most efforts to build Free or Open Software are going to be halfhearted at best. Volunteerism is a wonderful thing, but it does not put bread on the table. Which means that developers' attention on their projects will always be divided.

I took at look at the KDE League's objectives, and they read like this:

  • "Sustain, provide and facilitate formal and informal education about the features, capabilities and other qualities of KDE;
  • "Encourage corporations, governments, enterprises and individuals to use KDE;
  • "Encourage corporations, governments, enterprises and individuals to develop for KDE;
  • "Sustain, provide and facilitate formal and informal education about development for KDE;
  • "Provide expertise, information, direction and position papers regarding KDE and its development and use;
  • "Foster communication and cooperation between and among KDE developers; and
  • "Foster communication and cooperation between KDE developers and the public through publications, articles, web sites, meetings, attendance at trade shows, press releases, interviews, promotional materials and committees."

Lofty, and certainly excellent objectives. But where's the part about raising the funds? Why isn't this part of the objectives? (And before you GNOMEies get all high and mighty, let me remind you that the GNOME Foundation's objectives mention nothing about funding, either.)

Linux is all about freedom and high ideals to many people and I certainly don't want to take that away from them. But it's also about getting a product out in a timely manner to serve a public that desperately needs a viable alternative from Microsoft. Last week's proposed settlement between Microsoft and the Department of Justice is evidence of that.

So where should this funding come from? I think the distributors should put most of it up, since their future success is tied directly to the success of an application set that rivals Microsoft's. SuSE puts a lot of effort into KDE and it shows. The same for Red Hat and GNOME. Maybe they need to put in more. As a consumer, I think I would be willing to pay an extra $5 or even $10 a boxed copy for more rapid and funded development of applications.

After all, you can build the best desktop environment in the world, but no one will care if there are no applications to run on it.

Available from: http://www.koffice.org/
Versions reviewed: KWord 1.1
License: GPL
Cost: Free

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