Chapter 2. Introduction

2.1. What is TDE?
2.2. On which platforms can I expect TDE to work?
2.3. Why should I use TDE?
2.4. Is TDE a window manager?
2.5. Is TDE a CDE, Windows or Mac OS clone?
2.6. On what platform is TDE based?
2.7. Is TDE free software?
2.8. Why the rebranding and renaming efforts? Why not continue calling the software KDE?
2.9. Why the change in version numbers?
2.10. How is Trinity different from KDE4?

What is TDE?

TDE is the Trinity Desktop Environment. The project was initiated by Matthias Ettrich in 1996 and originally called the K Desktop Environment. The aim of the TDE project is to connect the power of the Unix-like operating systems with the comfort of a modern user interface.

For additional information about TDE, check the Trinity web site at About Trinity


On which platforms can I expect TDE to work?

TDE is a Desktop Environment for all flavors of Unix-like systems. While most TDE developers use Linux based systems, TDE should run on a wide range of systems. You might need to tweak the source code a bit to get TDE to compile on different variant of Unix-like systems, or when not using the GNU development tools, in particular the gcc compiler.


Why should I use TDE?

TDE provides a traditional computer desktop that is snappy and responsive. A project goal is to provide a highly customizable desktop without forcing any particular feature or effect on users. TDE comes with many software tools to provide a productive and enjoyable computer desktop system.


Is TDE a window manager?

No, TDE is not a window manager. While TDE includes a sophisticated window manager (TWin), TDE is much more, providing a full integrated desktop environment. TDE includes a web browser, a file manager, a window manager, a help system, a configuration system, many tools and utilities, and many applications, including but not limited to mail and news clients, drawing programs, a PDF and a DVI viewer and so forth.


Is TDE a CDE, Windows or Mac OS clone?

TDE is not a clone. Specifically TDE is not a Common Desktop Environment (CDE) or Windows clone. While developers have and will continue to glean the best features from existing desktop environments, TDE is a unique environment that has and will continue to go its own way.


On what platform is TDE based?

TDE uses C++ and the Qt C++ crossplatform toolkit. The TDE development team now maintains the Qt3 toolkit, renamed TQt3.


Is TDE free software?

Yes, TDE is free software according to the GNU General Public License. All TDE libraries are available under the LGPL making commercial software development for the TDE desktop possible, but all TDE applications are licensed under the GPL.

TDE uses the Qt C++ crossplatform toolkit, which, since version 2.2, is released under the GPL.

Both TDE and Qt can be made available on CD-ROM free of charge. No runtime fees of any kind are incurred.


Why the rebranding and renaming efforts? Why not continue calling the software KDE?

The "KDE" name, various logos, and related efforts are trademarked by the KDE Foundation. Since the Trinity project is not affiliated with the KDE Foundation, legally we can't use their trademarks.


Why the change in version numbers?

Trinity evolved from the last KDE 3.5 release, 3.5.10. Subsequent Trinity releases followed that numbering scheme. Release R14.0.0 marks a turning point in Trinity history because a great deal of the code infrastructure was changed. While those changes do not effect the usability or look-and-feel of the desktop that users enjoy, Trinity developers believe a change in the version scheme distinguishes when those changes occurred. An original project goal by users was to retain the flavor of the original KDE 3.5 desktop. That goal remains intact. To reflect that original goal, the last number in the original version scheme is retained in the new version scheme but is now the primary version number. While the infrastructure has changed, the desktop itself remains the same as the original KDE 3.5. This new version scheme indicates a modest divergence from the original KDE 3.5 series and that Trinity is now its own desktop environment. The new version scheme reminds users that Trinity retains the original KDE 3.5 design, but is moving forward as a separate desktop project.


How is Trinity different from KDE4?

Both desktop environments share common roots to KDE 3.5.10, which was the last official release of KDE in the 3.x series. Many KDE developers wanted to break from that code chain and tool sets to start afresh. Thus was born KDE4. In addition to moving to the Qt4 tool set, the KDE developers revamped the underlying KDE code set.

KDE4 and Trinity have different philosophies about work flow preferences. KDE4 developers want to support certain work flow concepts and techniques. Trinity developers want to maintain a "traditional" desktop environment.

For example, KDE4 offers the following tools:

  • Semantic desktop through Nepomuk

  • PIM (Personal Information Management) data caching through Akonadi

  • Desktop file searching through Strigi

  • Activities, a computer desktop metaphor for managing tasks and activities

Whereas TDE offers the following:

  • Desktop search through the locate:/ tdeio-slave and Beagle

  • Integrated PIM suite with plugins

  • Related task management using multiple desktops

The KDE developers support alternate desktop interfaces, such as those used with netbooks, tablets, and smart phones. TDE provides a single interface that is optimized for the mouse/keyboard HCI (Human-computer interaction) model.

Both desktop environments provide an excellent choice for various work flows but differ in approach. Trinity leans toward user expectations of how desktop environments have functioned traditionally. There is a sense of familiarity with that environment many people like. Similarly other users prefer the work flow features offered by KDE4 because those features match their expectations of how they want their computer to behave. The difference between the two environments does not mean one is better, buggier, or slower — only that they are different and appeal to different types of people. Although sharing a common heritage, both desktops appeal to different groups of people. As always with free/libre software, there is a choice.