Well known news site Phoronix yesterday published a story titled ‘KDE’s Kdenlive Video Editor Has Gone Dark‘. There were some valid and serious concerns around the ‘paused’ development of the project as the last email from the lead developer Jean-Baptiste Mardelle (JBM) was five months ago in July which was about merging the Kdenlive forums with KDE forums; there hasn’t been any new commit since July. Despite the social network age, there are no traces of JBM.
So does that mean Kdenlive is dead as many say? Yes, it would have been dead if it was a proprietary software like Microsoft Windows. Luckily it’s free software – governed by GNU GPL v2 – so anyone can take over the development.
Free software never dies
One of the greatest advantages of free software is that it’s not dependent on one person or a company – people come and go and software continues to live. KDE was created by Matthias Ettrich who has moved on but KDE (the community and technology) continue to live – that can’t be said for a non-free technologies. We have seen so many companies die.
Kdenlive is a very important tool for people like me who do a lot of film-editing and there is a dearth of free and open source video editing software which can match-up with the quality of Adobe Premiere, Sony Vegas Pro or Final Cut Pro. Kdenlive is already quite advanced (than Openshot) and user-friendly (than Cinelerra) so it won’t be hard for the project to replicate the success of Blender, VLC, Firefox, Chromium or other such open source tools which have left behind their non-free competitors. All Kdenlive needs is more resources and developers to make it a top-notch software.
Kdenlive already has a huge user-base and from among those users there are certainly many who are also great programmers and they can very easily move ahead and take over the development of Kdenlive.
Compare it with Winamp where even if there is a community which wants to keep it alive (and out of Microsoft’s hands) they can’t do anything as it’s closed source software.
No one has done that yet may be because they did not know there was a problem. In most cases when there is no communication and users don’t see any development they move to other more sustainable project. That’s what may be happening to Kdenlive as well.
Kdenlive has an advantage that many other projects don’t have – it’s part of the vibrant KDE community which is full of extremely talented and bright people. The flip-side is that the KDE community is extremely decentralized, unlike other free software community like Gnome or Drupal, which makes it a bit harder for the ‘KDE community’ to come together and push the development of Kdenlive.
There is no doubt that Kdenlive is an extremely important tool and its development should continue. So the question to the KDE community would be – how to do it?’