CDE - the Common Desktop Environment

CDE (common desktop environment) was on the of the first widely available desktop environments for UNIX workstations. It was developed as a way to unify the look and feel of X Window Systems using a single toolkit and window manager.

CDE started as a common development effort from some of the major UNIX vendors. Still today the CDE environment is distributed with the major commercial UNIX systems such as IBM AIX, HP-UX, and other UNIX distributions.

During the 90s, CDE became the de facto standard for UNIX desktop environments. Most applications for UNIX were written with CDE in mind, which meant also that they needed to support the Motif toolkit. Although it is not as popular as in the 90s, CDE is still a major solution for graphical interfaces on UNIX.

CDE provides a lot of services for users that are not available with standard X Window Systems. For example, CDE provides applications to manage the look and feel of the whole desktop, instead of requiring that users change individual applications.

CDE uses Motif as the main toolkit. Motif is a professional solution for UNIX GUI development that has been available since the end of the 80s. It provides an object oriented way of managing widgets and interacting with the rest of the application.

While CDE and Motif are still in use on several UNIX installations, it has lost favor to newer open source solutions, such as GNOME and KDE.

One of the main problems of CDE for Linux distributions is its closed source nature. The source code for CDE and Motif was not available as it is the case for Gtk+ libraries, for example. Therefore, it requires that users buy a commercial license, which can be expensive.

Motif has been recently released as an open source product, so it is still a valid option on many Linux application areas. However, the whole common desktop environment is still closed source. It cannot be freely packaged with Linux distributions, which limits its potential and availability.

Tags: Gtk, Motif, Windows, X, Protocol, Linux, programming, X, X, environment, Unix, desktop, common, CDE
Article created on 2010-08-19 13:45:23

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