The KDE Software Compilation grew out of the history of the KDE Project. In its inception, KDE was formed to create a beautiful, functional and free desktop computing environment for Linux and similar operating system. At the time, these systems lacked a graphical user environment that could rival the offerings from the larger proprietary operating system vendors. KDE was created to fill this gap.

Originally, KDE software consisted of a collection of basic utilities that a together where shipped, and branded, simply as the K Desktop Environment. Since it was bundled as a collection of simultaneously released applications and libraries, it was sufficient to release the entire collection as a singly branded block of software.

However, as the KDE team grew, and more applications were created, many of these applications have moved toward using their own release cycles and patterns. While these applications are still developed by the KDE team, they were not part of the main desktop software compilation. In addition, most KDE Applications now run independently of workspace or even operating system requirements, which requires that they now be treated as independent entities, rather than a part of a larger collection of simultaneously developed and released programs.

The KDE Software Compilation is the set of libraries, workspaces, and applications produced by KDE that share this common heritage, and continue to use the synchronized release cycle. Software may move in and out of this semi-formally defined collection depending on the particular needs of the contributors who are working on that software, with exceptions made to ensure that binary compatibility remains at the library level throughout any major release of the compilation.

Benefits of the Software Compilation

For its users the unified Software Compilation brings many immediate benefits:

  • A consistent look and feel between applications
  • Internationalization: the Software Compilation promotes translation, and is available in dozens of languages
  • A host of useful KDE applications that are designed with integration in mind
  • A synchronized software update cycle, which makes updating or installing KDE software easier to schedule

The current Software Compilation

The current official Software Compilation consists of the following packages, many of which contain multiple applications and/or libraries:

  • KDE-Libs: The software libraries that compose the KDE Developer Platform, required by all KDE applications.
  • KDE-Base:
    • Runtime: Additional software components required by many KDE Applications to perform properly.
    • Applications: Applications that are central to a basic desktop experience, such as a file manager or web browser.
    • Workspace: The KDE Workspaces that provide the tools and user environments for a Desktop, Netbook or Mobile experience
  • KDE-Plasma-Addons: Additional themes and applets for the desktop and panel.
  • KDE-Network: Networking applications such as an instant messenger and download manager.
  • KDE-Pim: Mail client, addressbook, organizer and groupware integration.
  • KDE-Graphics: Document viewer, image viewer and selected other graphics applications.
  • KDE-Multimedia: Includes a video player as well as different audio players.
  • Phonon: Multimedia layer that supports different backends, on different operating systems, for multimedia output.
  • KDE-Accessibility: Applications to improve computer access for disabled people such as a text-to-speech system.
  • KDE-Utilities: Useful utilities like an archiving tool and a calculator.
  • KDE-Edu: Education and science applications.
  • KDE-Games: Classic and modern games.
  • KDE-Toys: KDE's fun stuff.
  • KDE-Artwork: Additional icons, styles, wallpapers, screensavers and window decorations.
  • KDE-Admin: Various tools to aid with system administration.
  • KDE-SDK: Script and tools which simplify development of KDE applications.
  • KDE-Bindings: bindings for various programming languages (Python, Ruby, Perl, Java...).


Other KDE Software

Several other packages which are not part of the official release are also available. Software in these packages are not usually linked to the release cycle and requirements of the main Software Compilation.

  • Calligra: An extensive productivity and creative suite for desktop and mobile platforms.
  • KOffice: Integrated office suite.
  • KDEWebdev: Web development applications and tools.
  • KDevelop: C/C++ Integrated Development Environment.
  • KDE-Extragear: Extragear is a collection of applications associated with KDE, not part of the official software compilation release for various reasons. These are however still part of the project and can be downloaded separately. This gives them higher visibility to Translators and Documentation Writers and permits a separate workflow, which can be better suited to certain applications.
  • KDE-Playground: Similar in scope to KDE-Extragear, this pseudo-package contains mostly pre-release and unstable software not part of the main software release. It is a place for applications to mature before being presented for public consumption, and should not be considered for regular users.

And last but certainly not the least, there are literally thousands of excellent applications not part of KDE releases, yet are designed around KDE technologies. These applications are too numerous to mention individually on the main KDE website, but you can find these using the KDE-apps.org central database.