Friday, November 30, 2012

Fifteen years of KDE e.V.

This text I wrote as introduction to the latest quarterly report of KDE e.V. I reproduce it here for those of you who haven't read the quarterly report yet (which you of course still should do ;-).

These days we are celebrating a special anniversary. It's the fifteenth anniversary of KDE e.V., the organization behind the KDE Community.

On November 26th 1997, Matthias Ettrich, Kalle Dalheimer and Martin Konold got together at Matthias's student flat to found an association according to German law. Thisorganization would represent and support the community of the small but growing software project they had started a year earlier. They dragged in their roommates and girlfriends to reach the minimum number of seven founding members. After some speeches they formally decided the first articles of association of KDE e.V. Further details about what happened at this historical event got lost over time, but rumors say that it involved discussions about C++ and packet radio.

From today's perspective, it's remarkable the foresight and vision the founders of KDE e.V. demonstrated by putting a formal organization behind the young open source project KDE. This certainly wasn't an easy step, but it proved to be a pivotal element in growing and sustaining the community over one and a half decades. The agreement with the owners of Qt to ensure the freedom of the toolkit, running ten global KDE conferences, organizing many dozens of developer sprints, owning the trademark, maintaining an office and an employee to support the community, all this wouldn't have been possible without KDE e.V.

Just recently we saw a demonstration of what's possible in the KDE community with the Randa meeting, a combination of sprints taking place in the solitude of the Swiss mountains. Mario Fux, the restless organizer of these meetings, brought together people from the accessibility, education, multimedia, and workspace communities to work on their projects for a week of concentrated collaboration. To make this possible, KDE e.V. ran a donation campaign; the result went beyond our wildest dreams. Our friends and supporters donated more than €10,000 to support volunteer contributors to attend this event and spend valuable face-to-face time working together on free software. You can read more about the meeting in this quarterly report. I'm humbled to be part of a community that makes something like this possible. Thank you so much.

Finally I want to applaud another achievement of the community, the creation of the KDE Manifesto. As the result of a process over a number of years to understand the core of the community and what defines our identity as KDE, the KDE Manifesto has been written and is published at For those who are familiar with KDE, there are no surprises, but it is a concrete community artifact that defines who we are, and makes it explicit to us and everybody else. It's a reminder and guideline for KDE and also for the work we do in KDE e.V.

On this fifteenth anniversary, we look back with pride, celebrating one of the largest and longest-lived communities in the Free Software world, and look forward to the future with curiousity and confidence.

On the next fifteen years of KDE and KDE e.V.!

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