CDE is a desktop environment similar in scope to KDE, Gnome or Xfce. It was designed to unite the various windowing systems used on the Unixes of the day (OpenLook, Panorama, 4Dwm, etc) to create a uniform look to make training on new systems easier for companies.
For a rather dated and marketing view of CDE see [What is CDE?].
CDE contains a window manager for windows placement and control, a session manager to maintain state across logins, a workspace manager supporting virtual desktops, tooltalk for inter-process communication, application launchers and dock and a suite of accessory programs such as a file manager, simple text editor, terminal emulator, calculator, calendar and email.
CDE was developed, from 1993, by the Open Software Foundation (OSF) to build upon the GUI work done in Motif. Contributions came from HP, DEC, AT&T, Sun and SCO. HP donated HPVUE, which resembled what became CDE. Sun donated it's desktop tools, mail, calendar, etc. AT&T gave workspace communication software and SCO the session manager and virtual desktop from Panorama. Later Fujitsu and Hitachi also contributed to the project.
CDE 1.0 was released in 1995 and was quickly adopted among various UNIX vendors. SGI even used CDE for a time as an alternative to Indigo Magic Desktop.
In 1996 OSF merged with X/Open to create The Open Group.
In 1997 The Open Group released CDE 2.1, the last major revision.
The source code to the programs and libraries are released under the GNU LGPL 2.0 or later. The media files such as icons, backdrop and documentation are released under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 licence.
See the file COPYING for more details.
The LGPL allows users to run, modify, expand and reuse the CDE code.
CDE use of the LGPL has a clarification with regards to static or dynamic linking against unmodified versions of the code;
This should allow commercial programs to carry on using the open versions of CDE libraries
without placing any addition worries on them about the 'viral' nature of the licence.
Please see the file COPYING within the distribution for more information.
Motif is not yet available under a fully Open Source licence. The Open Group and ICS (the current maintainers of OpenMotif) are actively working on this and an announcement will be made very soon.
Motif, the X widget library that CDE is built against will need to be at least version 2.1.30. It has also been compiled against OpenMotif 2.3.3, the further semi-open development of The Open Groups's Motif (which is API and ABI compatible with 2.1.30).
LessTif is an independent implementation of the OSF/Motif 2.1 library released under the GNU LGPL, meant to be compatible with Motif.
Building against Lesstif is untested and unsupported. It is also highly unlikely to work.
For now, it has only been compiled to work on recent versions of Linux. Feel free to try compiling it on other platforms (BSD, Solaris, etc).
There are many ways to contribute. You can sending patches, test software, write documentation or simply hang out in IRC and answer questions.
You can join the Developer Mailing List.
OpenCDE is an independent implementation of a GUI environment on top of the OpenMotif release designed to mimic closely the CDE GUI. It was started by Karsten Pederson in 2010.
No, this is the release of the full sources to the previously propriety CDE that was shipped with various commercial UNIXs.
The release of the source code under the new licence is numbered 2.2.0. It's almost identical to the 2.1.30 release The Open Group made available to their customers in 1999, but with the additional improvements to allow building on Linux. It's not called 2.1.30 to avoid any confusion with versions of 2.1.30 not built from the open source code.
Isn't it just. The fonts could definitely do with some work, and the colour schemes included are often very garish.