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Lycoris Offers KDE User Interface for Handhelds

With the release of its first Linux-based desktop for handhelds, Lycoris aids the KDE project in the push forward with handheld, GUI advancements.
As interest in Linux on the desktop grows, Lycoris and other backers of the KDE open-source desktop are moving ahead with new products and technologies designed to please end users.

Lycoris, Maple Valley, Wash., this week announced its first Linux-based desktop for handhelds, Desktop/LX Pocket PC Edition.

The software, which runs on popular handhelds such as the Sharp Zaurus and Hewlett-Packard iPAQ, offers a variety of features for mobile commercial users including support for wired, USB, infrared and Wi-Fi (802.11b) networking, a Samba-based network browser suite that integrates with Windows networking, a full personal information management (PIM) suite, an Acrobat reader and handwriting recognition, the company said. The software also supports audio, video and streaming media formats and includes a Web browser and e-mail reader with support for HTML, POP3 and CSS4.

The Lycoris desktop does not support the full KDE desktop but employs a KDE look and feel with customized versions of open-source projects including OpenZaurus and Opie PIM environment, the company said. The Pocket PC Edition is slated to ship next quarter.

Lycoris also sells a Desktop/LX product based on the full KDE desktop and lists several resellers including Desktop Evolution, Entellegence, Lanyon Computers, Hermitage Technologies, G.T. Enterprises, Linux Training Group and Qli Technologies.

Meanwhile, the open-source KDE Project announced on Tuesday the completion of its third major desktop platform, KDE 3.2, and the KDevelop 3.0 integrated development environment (IDE).

The new edition of KDE, the default desktop used by Novell's SUSE Linux, Lycoris, Xandros, Lindows, Mandrake Linux, Conectiva and TurboLinux, offers significant performance improvements, an enhanced user interface known as Plastik, and new applications including the Kontact unified interface, which integrates e-mail, calendaring, address book and notes and other PIM features.

The KDE 3.2 desktop also offers a jukebox-like music player dubbed JuK, and Kopete, an instant messenger with support for AOL Instant Messenger, MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, ICQ, Jabber and SMS. Another new application in version 3.2 is KWallet, a secure method of storing passwords and Web form data. Lycoris, for one, plans to support KDE 3.2 in a Desktop/LX 4 update slated for the end of this quarter, the company said.

KDevelop 3.0 is an enhanced IDE that supports system programming, GUI RAD development, expanded customization and support for 15 leading programming languages. The IDE, aimed at multi-platform development, offers support for MAC OSX and the Windows/Cygwin platforms.

The KDE Project also recently released an update to KOffice, version 1.3, that offers a host of core office applications and better interoperability with OpenOffice.org documents and Microsoft Office formats.

For instance, KOffice 1.3 features the KWord word processor, KSpread spreadsheet application, KPresenter presentation program, Kivio Visio-style flowcharting application, Karbon14 vector drawing application, Kugar report generation tool and Kchart graph and chart drawing tool.

The new version, an alternative to the StarOffice and OpenOffice.org suites used in many GNOME-based desktops, now allows users to import as well as export OpenOffice.org documents, the ability to import PDF files into KWord and make changes to the document, and enhanced support for Microsoft documents.

The release of Lycoris' new Desktop/LX Pocket PC Edition and new KDE desktop, IDE and office suite demonstrates that KDE will remain a significant open-source alternative to the GNOME desktop UI used by Red Hat, Sun Microsystems and Ximian, backers say.

Analysts say KDE and rival GNOME desktops will continue to flourish because open-source backers are fond of choice. "The world of Linux will have a wealth of different interfaces for different purposes," said IDC analyst Dan Kusnetzky. He predicted that the KDE and GNOME open-source projects will likely cooperate on standards to create a more unified mainstream Linux corporate desktop, but there will be more than one choice.

Others in the open source industry agree that the market will favor more than one Linux GUI but the open source community will likely adopt standards to make the look-and-feel and menus consistent. According to IDC, the Linux desktop garnered 2.8 percent share in 2002. While the market research compiles final numbers for last year, Linux on the desktop is expected to surpass the Macintosh in desktop share for 2003.

"Competition is healthy in the Linux desktop market," said Jeremy Allison, a lead developer on the open source Samba project. "In the long term, I think the corporates will go for GNOME, due to the LGPL license making it cheaper to write proprietary software for it, and the home/end user desktops may go for KDE," Allison said. "Of course, the GNOME and KDE developers will continue to make the desktops more and more compatible with each other, so by 2005, probably, you won't know or care what's running underneath."

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