What is the Common Desktop Environment? From my earlier article on CDE:
COSE had several areas of focus, such as networking, graphics, multimedia, object technology, and many other things; they wanted to ensure interoperability between the various UNIX offerings in the world.
Sadly, CDE was closed source, and as such, never gained much traction beyond big-iron UNIX systems like Solaris and HP-UX. The open source world focussed on KDE and GNOME instead, and while Xfce was inspired by CDE in its early days, it started carving out its own path later on.
So, yes, it might be too late, but that doesn't mean it's any less cool and awesome. "The Common Desktop Environment project is proud to announce the open sourcing of the Common Desktop Environment a.k.a. CDE," the project writes, "CDE was long the defacto standard among workstation vendors which enabled ease of software porting and training. It is still in use by Solaris (up to version 10), HP-UX, AIX and OpenVMS."
Motif, the widget toolkit used by CDE, will also be released as open source, but since there are still a few legal issues to work out there, this will have to wait. In the meantime, the project decided to move ahead with CDE, since it can be built using Open Motif anyway.
Why should you care? Well, most importantly, while CDE is outdated and not exactly what you'd call pretty, its usability is of a kind you don't see anymore these days. For me, the core quality of CDE is that it never does something without without the user initiating the action. From my earlier CDE article:
In addition to that, CDE never goes out and do things without your consent. It does not bother you with pop-ups, (modal) dialog windows, or more of that nonsense. It is focused on just one thing: serving you, The User. CDE will not do things without your full permission, something so many other desktop environments do constantly. Where Explorer, KDE, GNOME, and the Finder are more like cats, CDE is more like a dog. And even though I am a total cat person, I really like CDE for it.
I'm very interested to see what the future has in store for CDE - I'm hoping they maintain the UI behaviour, but will move to making things a little prettier. And when they do decide to add new features, I hope they won't harm the spirit of CDE - although I do realise concessions may have to be made.
In any case, I wish the project lots of good luck!