The Common Desktop Environment (CDE) is a desktop environment for Unix and OpenVMS, based on the Motif widget toolkit.
SunSoft, HP, IBM and USL announced CDE in June 1993 as a joint development within the Common Open Software Environment (COSE) initiative. The primary environment was based on HP's VUE (Visual User Environment), itself derived from the Motif Window Manager (mwm). IBM contributed its Common User Access model and Workplace Shell. Novell provided desktop manager components and scalable systems technologies from UNIX System V. Sun contributed its ToolTalk application interaction framework and a port of its DeskSet productivity tools, including mail and calendar clients, from its OpenWindows environment.
In March 1994 CDE became the responsibility of the "new OSF", a merger of the Open Software Foundation and Unix International; in September 1995, the merger of Motif and CDE into a single project, CDE/Motif, was announced. OSF became part of the newly formed Open Group in 1996.
Until about 2000, users of Unix desktops regarded CDE as the de facto standard, but at that time, other desktop environments such as GNOME and KDE were quickly becoming mature, and became almost universal on the Linux platform, which already had a larger user base than most commercial Unixes in total. Red Hat is the only Linux distribution to which CDE has been ported, although it has since been phased out in favour of GNOME. However CDE code can still be bought and compiled on any UNIX and UNIX-like OS.
In 2001, Sun Microsystems announced that they would phase out CDE as the standard desktop on their (Solaris) workstations in favor of GNOME. Solaris 10, released in early 2005, includes both CDE and the GNOME-based Java Desktop System. Future releases of Solaris will be based on the OpenSolaris open source project, which states that there is no plan to make the Solaris CDE "consolidation" (OS component) available as open source.
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