Making KDE software the #1 choice for science and academia
Open, Needs TriagePublic


There is a lot of yet-untapped potential for the usage of KDE products in the research and academic sector (henceforth called R&A).

The R&A sector has a lot to gain from using our software, for example:

  • The flexibility of our products allows them to be adapted to the often very specific needs of R&A institutions
  • They are under constant pressure to reduce cost, yet several institutions can pool the resources they have in order to improve Free software that they can all use, meaning they don't have to sacrifice quality for cost
  • Proper scientific procedure actually requires that the software used to make calculations is at least open-source in order to ensure reproducibility (and awareness of that is growing in the scientific community under the label "Open Science")
  • Much of the software they use is already Qt-based (see e.g. Kitware)

On the other hand, KDE could also benefit a lot from our software being used in that sector:

  • If students use our software on a regular basis, chances are good that they will like it and want to still use it later in the workplace
  • Students are good candidates for becoming KDE contributors, either because they get interested in hacking on the software they use, or because their university makes them work on it as part of their courses
  • As said above, if several institutions pool their resources, they can provide significant development resources and / or funding for KDE software

KDE already has a lot to offer to the R&A sector:

  • WikiToLearn is a great way for students (but also researchers) to share their knowledge
  • Kile is the best (La)TeX editor I could find (I've searched long for an equivalent application because I was not able to get it to run on my Windows machine at the university, but could not find one that even came close)
  • RKWard is by far the best R GUI / IDE I could find (same as above)
  • KDE Edu has lots of great scientific applications (e.g. Cantor, KAlgebra, Step, KStars, LabPlot, ...)
  • Plasma is perfect as a special-purpose desktop

However, our products are still unknown to the vast majority of students and academics I've met, and Plasma is certainly not the default desktop in most academic and research institutions. That should change.

I see three potential reasons (or a combination thereof) for that:

  1. We don't communicate the benefits of our software to the R&A sector enough (if at all)
  2. There are still unmet needs that people in that sector have towards our products
  3. The proprietary software sector does a lot of lobbying to tie R&A into their products (e.g. Microsoft happily throwing free licenses for their products at students)

What it will take

As KDE as a whole we could tackle all three fronts (though my hope is that if 1 and 2 are solved, rationality on the side of the institutions will defeat lobbyism).

For 1 we could

  • Use the ties that our community already has with people in the R&A sector to establish more direct communication with them
  • Equip people in the sector who like our software with promo material and help them with advocating our software
  • Show up at academic conferences to present our products

For 2 we could

  • Invite people from the R&A sector to join mailing lists such as enterprise, kde-edu or specific application mailing lists
  • Conduct user research directly with them and improve our offerings for their needs
  • See if we can make use of research or teaching programs / funds or even tenders for improving our software to meet their needs
  • Integrate WtL and the rest of our offerings better
  • Make sure that our relevant applications are easy to find and install on Windows, since many researchers and students are still locked into Windows

For 3 we could

  • Invite institutions that already use any of our products into the Advisory Board to make them our allies

How we know we succeeded

  • the majority of people in the R&A sector are aware of KDE and our products
  • We gain institutions as partners who deploy our software for research and teaching
  • There are success stories of R&A institutions being happy about improvements we've made to our software

I am willing to put work into this

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I am interested

  • Bhushan Shah
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