As founder of the KDE project, Matthias Ettrich continues to guide development for the popular desktop environment. KDE is part of the vision to bring a graphical, end-user friendly desktop to the Unix world. What was once a simple dream of a unified desktop combined with a clean and easy look has become one of the largest projects in the Open Source community (after Linux). Matthias is responsible for many of the fundamental KDE technologies, such as the libraries, the window manager, and terminal emulation.
Working on KDE is a full time job for Matthias. He is employed by Trolltech, the Norwegian company responsible for Qt--the C++ GUI application development framework underlying KDE.
KDE's initial goals were optimistic, but sensible. It was to provide a desperately needed graphical front-end to the overwhelmingly command-line driven terminals Unix is popular for. Inspired by parts of Microsoft Windows, CDE, and X window managers such as fvvm and afterstep, KDE combined all of these elements into one of the best graphical interfaces on any operating system. While originally KDE was only to be a more friendly "window" for working with other X apps, it has now taken a life of its own. Office suites, graphics programs, a Web browser, email and Usenet clients, system tools, games, and a comprehensive documentation set all came to fruition. Things only thought as pipe dreams before, such as drag-and-drop and reusable components finally became very real and very useable. Matthias laid the foundation for most of it.
KDE isn't Matthias' only claim to fame. He also initiated the LyX project--a GUI interface to the LaTeX document processor commonly found on Unix systems. It was only natural to later enhance LyX to exploit KDE's power with KLyX.
Matthias was born in Germany and went to school at Eberhard-Karls University in Tuebingen. He majored in computer science and civil law. He now lives in Oslo, Norway working for Trolltech. Matthias has said that the KDE project has far exceeded any of his original goals, and that he is very proud of all the help it has given to all of its users.