KDE Dev Guide

General glossary


Accessibility (a11y): The ability of all people, regardless of disability or severity of impairment, to use the features of a program.

Akonadi: KDE extensible cross-desktop storage service for personal information management (PIM) data and metadata providing concurrent read, write, and query access. Provides desktop-wide object identification and retrieval.

Akregator: KDE open source feed aggregator, supporting both RSS and Atom. Feeds can be sorted into categories, and there is an incremental search feature for the titles of all the entries in the database.

Algorithm: step-by-step procedure for calculations, data processing, and automated reasoning.

AmarokRediscover Your Music using KDE's Amarok. Core features such as the unique context browser, integrated Wikipedia lookup and lyrics download help users to find new music, and to learn more about the music they have.

Application programming interface (API): A particular set of coding rules and specifications that software programs can follow to communicate with another. It serves as an interface between different software programs and facilitates their interaction, similar to the way the user interface facilitates interaction between humans and computers.

apidox: API Documentation

Applet: Program written in Java to be embedded in another environment, such as a Web page.


Backtrace: also called stack backtrace, stack trace or stack traceback. This is a report of the active stack frames at a certain point in time during the execution of a program. When using KDE software, one gets the best backtrace from Dr. Konqui, if it pops up after a crash. Otherwise, GDB can be used to get a backtrace.

Bot: Software applications that run automated tasks over the Internet, or in IRC channels.

Bug: An error, flaw, mistake, failure, or fault in a computer program or system that produces an incorrect or unexpected result, or causes it to behave in unintended ways.

Bug Squad: The team that keeps track of incoming bugs in KDE software.

Bugzilla: A web-based, general-purpose bugtracker and testing tool, used by the KDE community.

Build: Short for software build, which refers either to the process of converting source code files into standalone software artifact(s) that can be run on a computer, or the result of doing so. One of the most important steps of a software build is the compilation process, which converts source code files into executable code.

Build system: Software tools that script or automates a wide variety of tasks that software developers do in their day-to-day activities, such as compiling computer source code into binary code, packaging binary code, running tests, deploying code to production systems, and creating documentation and/or release notes.


Channel, IRC channel: The basic place to ask questions and get help in IRC. It is rude to direct questions to one person rather than asking the help channel in general.

CMake: an open-source build system that enables developers to automate compiling, testing and packaging of software based on specifications written in text files.

Code: Text written in a computer programming language.

Commit: To make a set of tentative changes permanent.

Compile: To use a compiler to process source code into executable code. Also a destination for messages logged by programs or the operating system, where administrators or developers can view the messages.

Console: A command-line interface (CLI).

C++: The coding language in which KDE software is primarily built.


Debugger: A computer program used to test and find bugs in other programs (the target programs).

Desktop: In graphical computing, a desktop environment (DE) commonly refers to a style of graphical user interface (GUI) derived from the desktop metaphor that is seen on most modern personal computers. The most popular modern Linux desktops are the KDE workspaces and GNOME.

Dependency: A package you need to install in order for your application to build and run. 

Diff: A file comparison utility that outputs the differences between two files. Also refers to the output of such a program, which can be called a patch (since the output can be applied with the Unix program patch).

digiKam: an image organizer and editor that uses the KDE Platform. It runs on most known desktop environments and window managers, supports all major image file formats, and can organize collections of photographs in directory-based albums, or dynamic albums by date, timeline, or tags. Users can also add captions and ratings to their images, search through them and save searches for later use. With the plugins one can also export albums to 23hq, Facebook, Flickr, Gallery2, Google Earth's KML files, SmugMug, Piwigo, and Simpleviewer, or burn them onto a CD, or create a web gallery.

Distributed repository: A peer-to-peer approach to sharing and maintaining code or other collaborative work, in contrast to the client-server approach of centralized systems. Rather than a single, central repository on which clients synchronize, each peer's working copy of the codebase is a separate repository bound by a web of trust.

Distribution (Distro): a selection of packages that make up a working software system, and provided together to the user. Often applied to the GNU/Linux system in particular.

Docs: documentation, an essential part of the development process.


EBN: English Breakfast Network, a site dedicated to the contemplation of tea, KDE API Documentation Validation, User Documentation Validation, Source Code Checking, omphaloskepsis, and star-gazing.

Eclipse: A multi-language software development environment comprising an integrated development environment (IDE) and an extensible plug-in system. It is written mostly in Java and can be used to develop applications in Java and, by means of various plug-ins, other programming languages including Ada, C, C++, COBOL, Perl, PHP, Python, R, Ruby (including the Ruby on Rails framework), Scala, Clojure, Groovy, and Scheme.

Environment: A set of configuration scripts and bash commands provided as a recommended configuration when building KDE software manually.

e.V.Eingetragener Verein, a registered voluntary association in Germany. The KDE e.V. is a registered non-profit organization that represents the KDE Community in legal and financial matters.


Forum: An online discussion site where people can hold conversations by posting messages. They differ from chat rooms in that messages are archived. A discussion forum is hierarchical or tree-like in structure: a forum can contain a number of subforums, each of which may have several topics. Within a forum's topic, each new discussion started is called a thread, and can be replied to by anyone who wishes to.

FOSS: Free and open-source software (F/OSS, FOSS) or free/libre/open-source software (FLOSS, FL/OSS) is software that is liberally licensed to grant users the right to use, study, share, change, and improve its design through access to its source code.

Framework: An abstraction in which software providing generic functionality can be selectively changed by user code, thus providing application specific software. It is a collection of software libraries providing a defined application programming interface (API).

Frameworks: Beginning with KDE Frameworks 5.0, KDE has a roadmap for the next major releast of KDE's libraries and runtime requirements, with an emphasis is on modularity, dependency clarity, simplification and increasing quality.

Freenode: An IRC network used to discuss peer-directed projects.


GDB: GNU Debugger, usually called just GDB and named gdb as an executable file. This is the standard debugger for the GNU software system.

Git: a distributed revision control system with an emphasis on speed and support for multiple branches shared among many developers. Every Git working directory is a full-fledged repository with complete history and full revision tracking capabilities, not dependent on network access or a central server. Free software distributed as GPL v.2.

Gluon: a way of creating and playing games, and a means for players and makers of games to get together and talk about their shared interest. You can use the powerful Gluon Creator to build the games, interact with other makers and players of games on the GamingFreedom.org network site, and play them on any of the many supported platforms with one of the Gluon Player applications.

GPL: The GNU General Public License is a free, copyleft license for software and other kinds of works.



Integrated development environment (IDE): a software application that provides comprehensive facilities to computer programmers for software development. An IDE normally consists of a source code editor, a compiler and/or an interpreter, build automation tool, and a debugger. (Also known as integrated design environmentintegrated debugging environment, or interactive development environment.

Internationalization (i18n): The insertion of constructs that make it easy to change the interface and language of a program for different cultures and countries (see also Localization).

Internet Relay Chat (IRC): A text-based real-time communication tool. KDE channels are on irc://irc.freenode.net.



Kate: a text editor included in the KDE SC. The name Kate is an acronym for KDE Advanced Text Editor.

KDE PIM: KDE Personal Information Management, such as Kontact, KMail, KOrganizer, etc. Also, a work group within the larger KDE SC project that develops the individual Kontact applications in a coordinated way.

KDE SC: KDE Software Compilation, the sources for the KDE distribution

KMail: KDE email client that supports folders, filtering, viewing HTML mail, and international character sets. It can handle IMAP, IMAP IDLE, dIMAP, POP3, and local mailboxes for incoming mail. It can send mail via SMTP or sendmail.

Konqueror: KDE web browser and file manager. Provides file-viewer functionality to a wide variety of things: local files, files on a remote ftp server and files in a disk image.

Konsole: a free terminal emulator that is part of KDE SC. The KDE applications Konqueror, Krusader, Kate, Konversation, Dolphin and KDevelop use Konsole to provide embedded terminal functionality.

Kontact: KDE's personal information manager and groupware software suite. Supports calendars, contacts, notes, to-do lists, news, and email. Uses KParts to embed the various applications (KMail, KAddressBook, Akregator, etc.) into the container application.

Kopete: KDE's multi-protocol, free software instant messaging client.

Kpackage Kit: KDE's frontend for PackageKit. PackageKit is an open source suite of software applications designed to provide a consistent and high-level front end for a number of different package management systems.

Kparts: component framework for the KDE SC. For example, Konsole is available as a KPart and is used in applications like Konqueror and Kate.

Konversation: user-friendly Internet Relay Chat (IRC) client built on the KDE Platform.

KWin: the window manager that is an integral part of the KDE SC. It can also be used on its own or with other desktop environments.


LAMP: acronym for a software bundle or platform consisting of Linux, Apache, MySQL and Perl/PHP/Python.

Licensing: legal instruments (usually by way of contract law) that govern the usage or redistribution of software. All software is copyright protected, except material in the public domain.

Localization (l10n): making the changes required to display a program's interface using the language and conventions of a particular country (see also Internationalization).


Mailing list: A collection of names and addresses used by an individual or an organization to send material to multiple recipients. Often extended to include the people subscribed to such a list, so the group of subscribers is referred to as the mailing list, or simply the list.


Nepomuk: KDE workspaces project that supports annotations, indexing, search, and linking.

Nick: a user's screen name or online handle.

Nightly: a neutral build that reflects the current state of the source code checked into the version control system by the developers, as built in a neutral environment (that is, in an environment not used for development). A nightly build is a neutral build that takes place automatically, typically each night. Project Neon is such a project for KDE.


Object-oriented programming (OOP): a programming paradigm using objects – data structures consisting of data fields and methods together with their interactions – to design applications and computer programs.

Ocular: KDE's universal document viewer based on KPDF.

Operators (IRCops): Channel operators have powers over the IRC channel, including moderating or kicking out disruptive users. IRCops or sysops control the IRC server, so they control the channels as well as having control over who can participate. On most systems, ops are identified with a symbol next to their nicks, but Freenode discourages ops from appearing as such unless they have work to do in the channel.

Package, packaging: There are two types of packages that may be downloaded from the KDE FTP site: binary packages (rpms, debs, and the like) and source packages. Binary packages are compiled ("runnable") versions of KDE SC that are built to run on a specific OS or distribution. Source packages are the raw code that makes up KDE SC, and need to be compiled before they can be used. KDE software packages available from the distributions may be slightly different from the pure KDE source packages.

Pastebin: a web application that allows users to upload snippets of text, usually samples of source code, for public viewing.Use is encouraged in IRC channels, where pasting large amounts of text is considered bad etiquette. KDE's pastebin is hosted at http://paste.kde.org

Patch: software designed to fix problems with, or update a computer program or its supporting data. This includes fixing security vulnerabilities and other bugs, and improving the usability or performance.

Phonon: multimedia API provided by Qt; the standard abstraction for handling multimedia streams within the KDE SC.

Plasma Active: the latest initiative of the Plasma team, bringing KDE functionality to mobile devices.

Plasma: KDE SC framework to facilitate the creation of widgets. These cover interactive application launchers, window and task managers, and more.

Plasmoid: widget in the Plasma Desktop environment.

Post-mortem debugging: Debugging after a crash report has been filed.


QtCreator: An integrated, cross-platform IDE for C++ and JavaScript that is part of the Qt SDK.

Qt: Cross-platform application framework that is widely used for developing application software with a graphical user interface (GUI).

Quassel: cross-platform, distributed IRC client, meaning that one (or multiple) client(s) can attach to and detach from a central core -- much like the popular combination of screen and a text-based IRC client such as WeeChat, but graphical.


Rekonq: KDE web browser based on WebKit.

Reviewboard: web-based collaborative code review tool, available as free software under the MIT License. An alternative to Rietveld and Gerrit, Review Board integrates with Bazaar, ClearCase, CVS, Git, Mercurial, Perforce, and Subversion.

Review: systematic examination (often as peer review) of computer source code. It is intended to find and fix mistakes overlooked in the initial development phase, improving both the overall quality of software and the developers' skills.


Script: small program written for a command interpreter or another scripting language.

Server: computer program running to serve the requests of other programs, the clients.

Solid: device integration framework for KDE SC. It functions on similar principles to KDE's multimedia pillar Phonon; rather than managing hardware on its own, instead it makes existing solutions accessible through a single API.

Source: Human-readable instructions in a programming language, to be transformed into machine instructions by a compiler, interpreter, assembler or other such system.

Sprint: face-to-face meeting of team members who usually work together remotely.

Suite: collection of computer programs, usually application software and programming software of related functionality, often sharing a more-or-less common user interface and some ability to smoothly exchange data with each other.

Summit: in KDE and FOSS, a large meeting for members who usually work remotely. Team sprints may take place before, during and after a large summit.

SVN (Subversion): A software versioning and a revision control system distributed under a free license, part of the Apache Foundation.


Techbase: KDE's developer documentation wiki.

Telepathy: A realtime communication framework that supports instant messaging, VoIP, and collaboration.

Terminal: interface for serial entry and display of textual data. See also console.

Testing: investigation conducted to provide stakeholders with information about the quality of the product or service under test.

Text editor: program used for editing plain text files.

Toolchain: set of programming tools that are used to create a product (typically another computer program or system of programs). The tools may be used in a chain, so that the output of each tool becomes the input for the next, but the term is used widely to refer to any set of linked development tools.

Toolkit: set of basic building units for graphical user interfaces. KDE SC uses the Qt toolkit.

Trunk: the unnamed branch (version) of a file tree under revision control. The trunk (or master) is usually meant to be the base of a project on which development progresses.


Unit tests: method by which individual units of source code are tested to determine if they are fit for use. A unit is the smallest testable part of an application. In object-oriented programming a unit is usually an interface, such as a class.

Usability: ease of use and learnability of a human-made object, in this case, our software.

Userbase: KDE's user documentation wiki.


Valgrind: GPL licensed programming tool for memory debugging, memory leak detection, and profiling. The name valgrind comes from the main entrance to Valhalla in Norse mythology.

Variable: symbolic name given to some known or unknown quantity or information, for the purpose of allowing the name to be used independently of the information it represents. A variable name in computer source code is usually associated with a data storage location and thus also its contents, and these may change during the course of program execution.

Version control: Revision control, also known as version control and source control (and an aspect of software configuration management or SCM), is the management of changes to documents, programs, and other information stored as computer files. It is most commonly used in software development, where a team of people may change the same files. Changes are usually identified by a number or letter code, termed the "revision number", "revision level", or simply "revision".


Widget: element of a graphical user interface (GUI) that displays an information arrangement changeable by the user, such as a window or a text box. The defining characteristic of a widget is to provide a single interaction point for the direct manipulation of a given kind of data. In other words, widgets are basic visual building blocks which, combined in an application, hold all the data processed by the application and the available interactions on this data.

Wiki: website that allows the creation and editing of any number of interlinked web pages via a web browser using a simplified markup language or a WYSIWYG text editor. Wikis are typically powered by wiki software and are often used collaboratively by multiple users. 

Word processor: computer application used for the production (including composition, editing, formatting, and possibly printing) of any sort of printable material.


 X, X window system: computer software system and network protocol that provides a basis for graphical user interfaces (GUIs) and rich input device capability for networked computers. It creates a hardware abstraction layer where software is written to use a generalized set of commands, allowing for device independence and reuse of programs on any computer that implements X. X.Org serves as the canonical implementation of X, and is what KDE SC uses.


Yakuake: drop-down terminal emulator based on KDE Konsole technology.


Z-machine: virtual machine used by Infocom for its text adventure games. Kwest is a Z-machine interpreter for KDE.