Here’s what Aaron Seigo is saying about KDE 4.0 (source: http://aseigo.blogspot.com/2008/01/talking-bluntly.html):
Ah, the “until it’s ready” idea. Some would say 3.5 isn’t ready; software never really is from a perfectionist’s standpoint. It’s so complex and full of ever springing promise that one can never reach that point of perfection; usually we are just happy with “better than good enough” and call it a day at that point.KDE 4.0 isn’t yet “better than good enough”; so why don’t we just release more betas? When one perpetually releases alphas/betas a few things happen: people don’t test it aggressively enough, third party developers don’t get involved, core developers continue doing blue sky development rather than focusing on release qualities. Between the rc’s and the tagging of 4.0.0 the number of reports from testing skyrocketed. This is great, and shows that when I assert “people don’t test when it’s alpha or even beta” I’m absolutely correct. This is not about tricking people either: people seem to forget that the open source method is based on participation not consumption. So testers look for a cue to start testing; that is their form of participation. “alpha” and even “beta” is often not enough of a cue, especially today when so many of our testing users are not nearly as technically skilled with the compiler, debuggers, etc as the typical Free software user was 10 years ago.
The KDE4 libraries are ready for application development, as testified to by the quality KDE4 apps that exist today. However, third party application developers tend to be a conservative lot, and rightly so. They wait for user base migration, they wait for stability in the APIs, etc. They want to know when to start working with the new awesomeness, and for most of them that isn’t “alpha” or “beta”. The libraries crossed that stage in quality and reliability many months ago and so it is only fair to mark them as such.
Finally, the amazing maturation at all levels of KDE 4.0 software that has happened since the last beta shows just how focusing developers off of blue sky development and onto release quality code is important. The delta speaks for itself.
Of course, the reason why I mention this here is because I strongly disagree with this. I refrained myself from commenting on the labels used by the KDE 4.0 releases by the past but after reading this I would like to intervene. BETAs are tested by the community, I’ve released enough BETAs to appreciate the feedback and the level of testing that was going on. Recently we’ve even released an ALPHA, and that also did get tested very well.
The matter here is to call a cat a cat. If something is labelled as being STABLE then I want to be able to use it as my main desktop, I want to be able to recommend it to people, I want to be able to trust it. If it’s full of bugs, and even worse… if it’s not finished (because that’s what we’ve seen here with the so called Realease Candidates) then there should be some indications of this. I could use the same argument and label our Fluxbox Edition “KDE Edition” so that people try it more than they do now. This is ridiculous. It’s ok to release technological previews, but they should be called previews… and we have a name for this –> “ALPHA”. It’s ok to release non-tested software once you code-freeze and again we have a name for this –> “BETA”. An “RC” should be almost the same as going STABLE, the code should have been frozen months ago, all features implemented, fully tested and with absolutely no known bugs. Calling an ALPHA release an “RC” so that people download it more and perform more testing on it is simply ridiculous. It deserves to be mentioned and criticized. This hurts credibility and it’s a pity for one if not the most popular among our Linux desktops.
I couldn’t understand how RC2 wasn’t labeled “ALPHA”, and I find the justification even worse. I’m being blunt as well and I’m sorry if I’m offending anyone. KDE is probably the most popular desktop within the Linux community, it’s got a great line of 3.x releases and from what I can see 4.x looks extremely promising, why would the devs compromise themselves and hurt their credibility on this? Are they under some kind of pressure? I can’t wait to see KDE 4.0 become stable but you’ve scared me so much with these “RC” alphas I’m wondering if the name for KDE 4.0 stable isn’t simply going to be “4.1”.
What do people think? Am I over-reacting on this? There was a discussion on the Linux Action Show and a KDE dev was justifying the labels by saying that the libs themselves were of RC quality. We’ve been postponing our KDE Edition so much and for bugs that were so small people would hardly notice, but hey.. there’s no lobbying or angry bosses telling us we need to release yesterday, so why not just release “when it’s ready?”. What’s so wrong with that?
Apologies to Aaron and the KDE Team if that is seen as an attack. You’re in charge of a beautiful project and if I wasn’t passionate about this I wouldn’t start this discussion.