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09 November 2009, 10:05

German Federal Cross of Merit for KDE founder

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The initiator of the free K Desktop Environment (KDE), Matthias Ettrich, was decorated with the German Federal Cross of Merit in Berlin on Friday. The highest German state decoration for the common good was awarded to him for his contributions in the field of open source software.

In 1996, Ettrich initiated the "Kool Desktop Environment" to establish a more user-friendly interface for Linux, which at that point still relied heavily on the command line. When later on the project became established on a more professional basis, its developers decided to drop the 'Kool' and simply use K. Ettrich's initial decision to develop KDE exclusively with Qt, a toolkit by Norwegian vendor Troll Tech (now owned by Nokia), sparked a lot of controversy because at the time Qt was a commercial product. Some developers thought that basing KDE on software that wasn't free itself would start the project off in the wrong direction.

Since then Qt itself has gone open source. There are thousands of K applications, and the current release of the desktop manager, KDE 4.3.3, is the standard desktop of various Linux distributions. Native versions of the desktop are available for Windows, Mac OS. A LiveCD version running the openSUSE Linux distribution is also available for those who wish to try out the desktop without having to run a full installation.

The Federal cross of Merit is awarded by the President of the Federal Republic of Germany for achievements in the political, economic, social or intellectual fields and for all kinds of outstanding services to the nation. Since 1951, approximately 240,000 people have been decorated with this medal.

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