How KDE VDG Is Trying To Make Open-Source Software Beautiful
Written by Eric Griffith in Software on 29 June 2015. Page 1 of 3. 39 Comments

One of the most often voiced complaints about Open Source Software is that it tends to be "ugly" or otherwise aesthetically uninspired. A few years ago a few people in the KDE camp came together and created, what they hoped, would be a solution to that problem: The KDE Visual Design Group.

The Visual Design Group (VDG) describes itself as: "[aiming] to bring the best designers together, find the rising talents and combine them with the old guard. To help refine visuals and interface in cooperation with developers , interface designers and the KDE Marketing team – using open cooperation and collaboration as guidelines."

It was under their tutelage that the KDE Human Interface Guidelines (HIG) were brought about and updated, in an effort to bring some cohesion and sanity to the world of KDE application design. The VDG is also, partially, responsible for the creation of the Breeze icon set, the new Plasma 5 icons to finally supplant the older Oxygen icons.

While anyone can be opt into being a member of the VDG there are existing members who have been a part of the VDG before it was ever created. Nuno, for example, is one of the original creators of the Oxygen icon theme from the days of KDE4, his profile describing him as the "Grand Ole Man of KDE design". There is also Elena who assisted in the design and finalization of the KDE Education Portal.

Some projects of the VDG are more high profile than others. The Calamares Installer Framework, recently having had its 1.1-rc1 release is one such project that has influence from the VDG. The Calamares Installer Framework describes itself as having: "arose from a desire of several independent Linux distributions to come together and work on a shared system installer. Instead of everyone working on their own implementation and forking forks of forks, why not work together on something that can be used by many?"

While Calamares development is currently sponsored by Blue Systems, its user interface design and artwork were provided in cooperation with the KDE VDG. Calamares is not, however, a one-distro project. Calamares prides itself as being a possible solution to any distribution that lacks an installer, or any distribution that wants to work on a single installer for multiple distributions in order to share code.

The main distribution currently shipping Calamares is KaOS, a from-scratch built Linux distribution that focuses on KDE and Qt. That being said, more well-known distributions such as Fedora's KDE remix, Manjaro, Sabayon, and PCLinuxOS are claimed to be evaluating Calamares as a possible solution in the future for handling their installations.

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