KDE and openSUSE developer Will Stephenson is working on a slimmed down version of KDE that he calls KLyDE, short for K Lightweight Desktop Environment. In a blog entry about the project, Stephenson says that he thinks: “KDE is not intrinsically bloated”, but that most distributions of the open source desktop environment would, by default, install almost all of the software developed within the project. In his opinion, this leads to an overwhelming number of applications, widgets and options being presented to users. With KLyDE, Stephenson wants to create a modular distribution of KDE that can be reduced to the bare bones of what is necessary for a desktop environment.
As part of his project, Stephenson and his fellow openSUSE developers Jos Poortvliet and Klaas Freitag have packaged Nepomuk and Akonadi as modular packages that are not needed in KLyDE by default but can optionally be installed, if users want them. Nepomuk provides a semantic metadata framework that is the basis of KDE’s desktop-wide search functions and Akonadi is the foundation for the desktop environment’s personal information manager (PIM) suite. Both components have in the past been criticised by some KDE users. Some think Nepomuk uses too many system resources, while Akonadi is reputed to be buggy and relatively unstable. Activities and Attica, on which KDE’s social networking support is based, will also be optional in KLyDE, as Stephenson thinks that many users of KDE do not use these features.
Aside from improving the desktop’s startup time, the developers are also looking to stem KDE’s infamous flood of configuration options. Taking a hint from their GNOME colleagues, options that are not much used will be hidden to create less daunting configuration screens. Additionally, KLyDE will feature desktop profiles that customise the user experience for different workflows, but are all based on the same package set under the hood.
Taking advantage of SUSE’s Hack Week event, some of the work on the new KDE variant has already been accomplished. Akonadi and Nepomuk have already been moved into modular packages, work on startup performance and the new system settings layout is ongoing. Completed KLyDE packages are available from the SUSE Build Service.