KDE2 can be acquired in three forms: CVS source code, daily source code snapshots, and occasional binary builds. We'll deal with them in reverse order.
Every 10 days or so, Christopher Molnar compiles and builds both RPM and .tar.gz binaries of the latest KDE2 code, which he makes publicly available. You can download the binaries from this location using any popular Web browser, including KFM from KDE-1.x. Each day, source "snapshots" are prepared which show the state of the code that day. You may download these from ftp://ftp.kde.org/pub/kde/snapshots/current, or from the same directory relative to other KDE ftp site mirrors. You can find list of these at the KDE Web site.
If you want to be on the sharpest of the sharp edges, you can download the "head" branch of the CVS tree. This isn't anywhere near as frightening as it sounds, but you will need to do a few things that aren't necessary for the other two methods. The first step is to download the CVSUP program. It is available as a binary in your choice of libc5 or glibc (libc6) versions. Reports have surfaced concerning problems with the glibc build, so you may want to play it safe and get the libc5 copy even though your Linux distribution supports glibc as well. You are also advised to take a look at the KDE Compilation FAQ in order to ensure that you're up-to-date on any new little bugs and workarounds that may have surfaced during development.
When you have received the binary and followed the installation instructions on its Web page, you will need to create a configuration file. A typical configuration file for downloading the head branch from kde.org looks like this:
*default host=cvsup.kde.org *default base=/home/dep/kde *default prefix=/home/dep/kde *default release=cvs *default delete *default compress *default tag=. *default use-rel-suffix qt-copy kde-common kdeadmin kdebase kdegames kdegraphics kdelibs kdemultimedia kdenetwork kdepim kdesupport kdetoys kdeutils koffice
The first three lines need to be changed. The first line is the site from which you propose to download the source tree. The next two lines, typically specifying the same directory (as here), are where on the local machine where you want the source code to be placed. You must give a directory to which you have write access. Equally as important, you must create the directory—CVSUP won't do it for you. Because it's unwise to go online while logged in as the root user, you'll probably want this directory to reside in your /home directory. The listing following the lines that begin with an asterisk comprises the KDE modules or packages that you wish to build.
The file is saved, typically as something like kde.cvsup. Then go online, open a terminal emulator window in your current window manager and desktop, and type this (assuming the filename suggested):
Then hit Enter. A graphical CVSUP window will appear. At the bottom left of this window is an arrow button that points to the right. Click on it. The CVS download will begin. Be forewarned: This will take quite some time. (Even though the files are compressed in transmission, you are downloading between 100 MB and 150 MB onto your local drive.) Fortunately, after you've downloaded everything, upgrades will take much less time because the only things that have changed are the downloaded files.
The listing of packages in the CVSUP configuration file corresponds to the packages you will download if you get a daily snapshot or occasional binary build. You can have a working KDE2 with just qt-copy (explained in a moment), kdesupport, kdelibs, and kdebase; while this would be enough to give you a sense of how the new version will look, not much can be done with such a bare-boned installation. The packages listed previously comprise the complete KDE2 distribution. Additionally, kdevelop, kdenonbeta, klyx, and kfte are all available for package download, although these are not part of a standard KDE2. kdevelop is a wonderful graphical environment for application development; kdenonbeta is a collection of applications that aren't far enough along to be part of the KDE2 distribution; klyx is a KDE port of the popular LYX typesetting program (which does not appear to be actively maintained at present); and kfte is a KDE port of the excellent programmer's editor that, like klyx, hasn't been modified yet for use with KDE2. (Of these, only kdevelop is available as a binary.)