Celebrating KDE’s 22nd Birthday with Some Inspiring Facts from its Glorious Past!

Wishing A Very Happy Birthday to KDE!

Let us Celebrate this moment by looking back into its Glorious history with some Inspiring Facts on this legendary and much-loved Desktop Environment!

Happy Birthday KDE

22 years ago, Matthias Ettrich (now a Computer Scientist and Software Engineer at Here), then a Computer Science student at the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen, was not quite happy as a Common Desktop Environment (CDE) user.

He wanted an interface that was more comfortable, simpler and easy to use, with a better look and feel. Thus, the Kool Desktop Environment (KDE) project was born!

Note that KDE is clearly some pun intended to CDE!

Konqi is KDE's mascot. Katie is his girlfriend and mascot of KDE women's project.
Konqi with girlfriend Katie!

Trivia: The official mascot of KDE is Konqi who has a girlfriend named Katie. Previously there used to be a wizard named Kandalf but was later replaced by Konqi because many people loved and preferred the mascot to be this charming and friendly dragon!

Screenshot of earlier version of KDE desktop
Konqi from the early days who replaced Kandalf (right)

Some Interesting and Inspiring Facts on KDE

We’ve looked back into some Interesting yet Inspiring events that took place over the last 22 years of the KDE project:


15 developers met in Arnsberg, Germany, in 1997, to work on the KDE project and discuss its future. This event came to be known as KDE One followed by KDE Two and KDE Three and so on in the later years. They even had one for a beta version.

The KDE Free Qt Foundation Agreement

The foundation agreement for the KDE Free Qt Foundation was signed by KDE e.V. and Trolltech, then owner of the Qt Foundation who ensured the permanent availability of Qt as Free Software.

First Stable Version

The first stable version of KDE was released in 1998, in addition to highlighting an application development framework, the KOM/OpenParts, and an office suite preview. KDE 1.x Screenshots are available here.

The KDE Women Initiative

The community women’s group, KDE Women, was created and announced in March 2001 with the primary goal to increase the number of women in free software communities, particularly in KDE.

1 Million Commits

The community reached 1 million commits within a span of only 19 months, from 500,000 in January 2006 and 750,000 in December 2007, with the launch of KDE 4 at the same time.

Release Candidate of Development Platform Announced

A release candidate of KDE’s development platform consisting of basic libraries and tools to develop KDE applications was announced on October 2007.

First KDE & Qt event in India

The first conference of the KDE and Qt community in India happened in Bengaluru in March 2011 that became an annual event henceforth.

GCompris and KDE

In December 2014, the educational software suite GCompris joined the project incubator of KDE community (We have previously discussed GCompris, which is bundled with Escuelas Linux, a comprehensive educational distro for teachers and students).

KDE Slimbooks

In 2016, the KDE community partnered with a Spanish laptop retailer and announced the launch of the KDE Slimbook, an ultrabook with KDE Plasma and KDE Applications pre-installed. Slimbook offers a pre-installed version of KDE Neon and can be purchased from their website.

Check out the entire timeline in detail here for a more comprehensive outline or you can take a look at this 19-year span coverage:

Today, KDE is powered by three great projects:

KDE Plasma

Previously called Plasma Workspaces, KDE Plasma facilitates a unified workspace environment for running and managing applications on various devices like desktops, netbooks, tablets or even smartphones.

Currently, KDE Plasma 5.14 is the most recent version and was released some days ago. The KDE Plasma 5 project is the fifth generation of the desktop environment and is the successor to KDE Plasma 4.

KDE Applications

KDE Applications are a bundled set of applications and libraries designed by the KDE community. Most of these applications are cross-platform, though primarily made for Linux.

A very recent project in this category is a music player called Elisa focused on an optimised integration with Plasma.

KDE Development Platform

The KDE Development Platform is what significantly empowers the above two initiatives, and is a collection of libraries and software frameworks released by KDE to promote better collaboration among the community to develop KDE software.

A Personal Note

It was an honour covering this article on KDE’s Birthday and I would like to take this opportunity to brief some of my personal favourite KDE based apps and distros that I have extensively used in the past and continue to:

Favorite KDE Apps


The best feature I like about this legendary music player is how it compiles your music collection and retrieves lyrics from an online database!


There are so many ways in which this beautiful program is a lot better than MS Paint!


A KDE based multimedia player with simple and easy to use features with support for digital TV.

Favorite KDE-based Distros


Many of you might be already aware of it. Instead of GNOME, this Ubuntu-based distro uses KDE as its default desktop environment.


SimplyMepis is a Debian based Linux that was started by Warren Woodford in 2003. SimplyMepis 11 uses Plasma 4 as its default desktop environment.

Some more lesser known but great apps are enlisted here. Many of these apps made to our list of best applications for Ubuntu.

Hope you liked our favourite moments in KDE history on their 22nd Anniversary! Please do write about any thoughts you might have about any of your memorable experiences with KDE in the comments below.

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  • I don’t know why people keep saying that the “K” in “KDE” stands for “Kool”. Matthias Ettrich himself has said many times that the “K” stands for nothing in particular. This is well documented. Originally he and the other developers were going to have it represent “Kool,” but changed their minds when they realized that “Kool” was a cheap contrivance, judged by the standards of that time. Nothing has changed: “Kool” is a contrivance by today’s standards.

  • Wow, 22 years!
    I remember way back then, there was only one thing stopping me dropping W95 altogether and that was the lack of a good file manager on Linux.
    A search (probably with an early version of Google) for a Linux file manager came up with this new project, KDE, that had released it’s first public version (Alpha 0.12) the previous day.
    I’ve been using it ever since (well once it had built — that took a couple of days at that time).

  • The worst part about Amarok is that it spills online the infromation about what music I am listening to. It would be better to not be so smart, I prefer dumber players who just play the music and do not try to be so helpful.