KDE Connect Indicator: Use KDE Connect On Desktop Environments That Use AppIndicators (Unity, Pantheon, Etc.)

KDE Connect is a tool which allows you integrate the KDE Plasma Workspace with your smartphone (Android only for now), via WiFi. With the help of KDE Connect Indicator, you can now use KDE Connect in desktops which support Ubuntu AppIndicators, such as Unity, Pantheon (elementary OS), Xfce (Xubuntu) and so on.For those who aren’t familiar […]

Calligra Gemini Added to Calligra Suite

About a year ago, the Calligra community added a new application to the suite by the name of Krita Gemini, which combined the functionality of the Krita digital painting application with the touch optimised user interface of the tablet focused Krita Sk…

KDE Commit-Digest for 8th June 2014

In this week’s KDE Commit-Digest:
Calligra adds Okular generator for DOC/DOCX, based on the one for ODT
Marble supports polygon moving, node deletion and adding polygon holes
Solid offers more detailed battery status information
KDevelop plugin control…

Plasma Bugfix Release Increases Integration with KDELibs 4 Apps

This month the Plasma 5 team brings you 5.1.1, a bugfix release to polish up the offering. It includes all the latest translations and a bunch of bugfixes. The bugfixes include syncing settings better with kdelibs4 applications so if you select which…

Franklin Weng: The strength behind open source is the strength of contributing

This is the first part of KDE & Freedom, a series of interviews with people who use and contribute to FOSS in their everyday lives. Please consider donating to the KDE End of Year 2014 Fundraiser. We need your help!

Franklin is a 39 year old FOSS activist based in Taipei. He has coordinated KDE’s zh_TW translation team since 2006, and is the core developer of ezgo (Chinese), a compilation of educational software used by schools all over Taiwan. ezgo, which in its Linux installation uses KDE by default, blends more than 100 free software applications into one localized, easy to use package. [More information in a previous Dot article.]

Exchanging emails led to a voice conversation between The Dot and Franklin.

What is your motivation behind computer freedom?

Many people asked me the same question. My simple answer is because I like to be free.

Before the year 2000, when we wanted to install and run an open source application, we would download the code, then there would be a file called “INSTALL” telling us how to compile and install the application. If we followed all the steps there would be a 95% chance that the compilation will fail. But then we would still have clues to find out what the problem was. We didn’t need to call the vendor and ask why it’s not working and have him ignore us. I like the feeling of finding the answer, no matter if it is by myself or by discussing with others on the Internet.

In Taiwan there were many excellent people working on the i18n [internationalization] framework, which made localization a lot easier. I appreciated their contributions very much, and that’s also what drove me to contribute more into the open source world.

What do you think of the situation of free software in Taiwan?

In my opinion it is far behind where it should be.

Why?

There are people working, contributing and promoting FOSS in Taiwan. But we still are under the control of many big international software vendors like Microsoft or Adobe.

All these years we tried to let people see the value of free software as a public resource, but people have gotten used to commercial software. One of the reasons, I think, is that there was a lot of software piracy several years ago. Now it is much better, but I think it could be one of the main reasons why we have difficulties promoting open source software.

“Contribute without thinking too much and opportunities will come to knock on your door.”

You are the main developer of an educational platform. How can free software improve education?

Contributing. I told teachers and people that the strength behind the world of open source is the strength of contributing. So many people contribute without asking for any economic feedback. That’s the most amazing strength in the world, and that should be what teachers should tell our kids while they’re using FOSS.

It would help a lot if teachers could understand that FOSS is actually not only for computer classes, but for all kinds of subjects. There are so many educational FOSS and educational public domain resources!

The latest release of ezgo is based on Kubuntu 13.04 and has Linux 3.8.0 in its core.

And why did you start to collaborate on ezgo?

Before 2007 I just translated KDE and other applications and I sent them upstream. I started to be the coordinator of the KDE zh_TW l10n team in 2006 and then my partner Eric Sun sent me an email. He told me that he was running a project under the Ministry of Education in Taiwan promoting free and open software to elementary and high schools. ezgo it was one of their products, collecting many good FOSS applications in it. The target was to make it easier for people to understand and use FOSS.

So everything was started by your translation work?

When translating KDE I didn’t think too much. I didn’t expect to get any feedback or credit, I didn’t expect to get any chance to be a part of any other communities.

That’s also what I would tell young people. Contribute without thinking too much and opportunities will come to knock on your door.

My partner told me his thoughts and the value of ezgo. At that time I had two babies and I started to think about what I can do for education using FOSS. I joined his group, and at first I was just a consultant, helping them to solve problems. From ezgo X, I became the main developer.

“Open source and public domain are good for education.”

In the beginning, ezgo had GNOME 2 by default, but since ezgo X you have used KDE. Why?

The main component of ezgo is the menu. It’s categorized and sorted so people can easily understand and find out the applications. It’s very important for us but when GNOME 3 was released it was gone. Then Ubuntu started to use Unity, which didn’t have a menu either. So we had to decide if we should let people use GNOME 3, Unity, or any other desktop environment. Finally we decided to switch to KDE. The most important reason was that it kept the normal menu.

ezgo provides a huge selection of FOSS apps.

And what has been the response so far?

We have two different reactions. When we are promoting ezgo, we don’t highlight what desktop we are using because we focus on the applications. So most people aren’t aware that they’re using KDE. It doesn’t matter what OS, window manager or desktop we are using, we are always using the same applications. We collected more than 100 free software applications in ezgo, no matter if KDE apps or not. So for most people, it was okay to switch to KDE. However, there was another reaction—some people don’t like KDE. They think that interfaces like Gnome 3 or Unity would be the correct way since mobile devices are more and more popular. They think that PCs will vanish one day.

What are the next steps for ezgo?

ezgo hasn’t completed its mission. It’s just like an auxiliary wheel on a bicycle. We still hope to let more and more people understand and enjoy the world of open source. From the aspect of education, we hope that more schools and teachers understand that open source and public domain are good for education. They don’t need to rely only on commercial software. We’re not against such software, but we want people to know that they have choices.

ezgo will complete its mission when people don’t need ezgo anymore.

How do you imagine education in Taiwan in 20 years?

Though there are many problems in Taiwan’s education system, there are many teachers and even students working to improve our education from the bottom to the top. I believe that it will be more open and more creative.

And technical education?

Technical education in Taiwan has never been an issue. There are so many teachers and government officers who like to play with new toys!

We hope that in 20 years kids and students will learn how to find resources and solve their problems, no matter if it is a public resource or commercial software. In Taiwan we’re now hot on things like ‘flip classroom’ or ‘mobile learning’. Some teachers believe that computer classrooms will vanish in a few years, replaced by tablets.

But I don’t agree with them. Tablets are good for collecting information and for some learning. But there are many basic skills, concepts and fundamental knowledge that they can’t satisfy. I’m not against these devices but I believe that all kinds of computers have their own role.

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KDE Commit-Digest for 1st June 2014

In this week’s KDE Commit-Digest:
In KDevelop it is now possible to modify many include directories and defined macros at the same time
KStars adds an “eyepiece view” feature to the observation planner; It renders a view of the eyepiece and DSS / other…

KDE at LISA 2014 – Seattle, November 12 and 13

There will be a KDE exhibit at the upcoming LISA (Large Installation System Administration) Conference. The full conference takes place November 9 ‒ 14 in Seattle; the expo is open on the 12th and 13th. There is no charge to attend the expo.

Several members of the KDE Community will be in the booth—presenting various aspects of KDE; answering questions; demonstrating applications (thanks especially to Krita and ogbog); recruiting contributors, users, companies and sponsors. All members of the KDE Community are welcome to visit, to jump in & represent KDE, or to just make contact with other KDE people. These small regional gatherings are necessary until we are financially self-sustaining enough to justify a national gathering such as Akademy. The Seattle KDE group is off to a great start.

This is also an opportunity for people who are curious, or interested in what the KDE Community is doing. Our governance, separation between development and administration, and strong mentoring programs are the foundation for an effective international community that is resilient and innovative. Just in the past few years, KDE developers have built a new development platform (KDE Frameworks 5), a fully redesigned desktop environment (Plasma 5) and a modern look-and-feel (Breeze)—demonstrating KDE’s value to the broad technology industry.

The LISA conference has long served as the annual vendor-neutral meeting place for the wider system administration community. Recognizing the overlap and differences between traditional and modern IT operations and engineering, the highly-curated 6-day program offers training, workshops, invited talks, panels, paper presentations, and networking opportunities around 5 key topics: Systems Engineering, Security, Culture, DevOps, and Monitoring/Metrics. Don’t miss the chance to be a part of this unique career-building journey.

Many thanks to USENIX for the generous support of KDE.

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Season of KDE 2014

Season of KDE is a community outreach program, much like Google Summer of Code that has been hosted by the KDE community for six years straight.
It is meant for people who could not get into Google Summer of Code for various reasons, or people who simp…

Make the World a Better Place! – KDE End of Year 2014 Fundraising

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As we approach the end of the year we begin the season of giving. What would suit the holiday better than giving to the entire world through the KDE Year End 2014 fundraiser?

Here is a unique way to give back to KDE allowing us to keep giving free software to humankind.

By participating in this fundraiser, you’ll be part of the improvements we’ll put into our educational software, so kids can have better tools for school; our office suite, so we have the best tools for the workplace; and our desktop so we can all experience a fun and productive experience when interacting with our computers.

Donating to KDE is not for you, it is for the entire world.

As a way to say thank you, starting with €30 we will send a KDE themed postcard to any given address. You will get an extra card for every additional €10 donation. Get cards for yourself and for your family and friends to show them you care for freedom. It’s the perfect way to spread the festive cheer and donate to your favorite project at the same time.

Plasma 5.1 Brings Back Many Popular Features

Plasma 5
Today, KDE releases Plasma 5.1, the first release containing new features since the release of Plasma 5.0 this summer. Plasma 5.1 sports a wide variety of improvements, leading to greater stability, better performance and new and improved fe…

Third Release of KDE Frameworks Brings a Multitude of Fixes

Releases of KDE Frameworks are now a monthly feature. The release of KDE Frameworks 5.3 brings many small, but important fixes including:
KWindowSystem has added features needed for future versions of KWin,
KTextEditor used in Kate fixes memory leaks,…

KDE will be at Qt Developer Days in Force

Qt Developer Days Europe is next Monday to Wednesday in Berlin. It features tutorials and talks on making the most of the Qt toolkit most KDE Software is based upon. Since Qt opened up its development process a large part of KDE Frameworks develop…

Time to Test Plasma 5’s Second Release

Put your testing hats on, Plasma 5 has a beta release. The second version of Plasma 5 is due out in under two weeks and now is your chance to test it for bugs which have crept in. It features a bunch of missing features which have been added back suc…

Akademy 2014 Talk Videos Available

Videos of all of the Akademy Talks are now available online to watch in your own time.
You can access them from the Akademy schedule. Follow the schedule to the talks for the links to the videos and the slides.
A small note, due to technical issues wit…

LaKademy 2014

From August 27th to 30th, 2014, nearly sixteen KDE lovers met in the 2nd LaKademy – The KDE Latin America Summit. The sprint took place in the Free Software Competence Center (CCSL) at University of São Paulo (USP) in southeast Brazil.

A little bit of history

Since 2008, a bunch of initiatives have been taken towards the fostering and spreading of KDE community and technologies in Brazil and Latin America. Even though at a slow pace sometimes, such effort have yielded good results in disseminating the motivations and benefits of get involved in such a vibrant free software community, mainly in a region where the tradition of sprints is not yet fully consolidated.

In 2010 the 1st Akademy-BR (Brazilian KDE summit) took place at Praia do Forte, Bahia, northeast Brazil. Nearly 20 participants met in a three days meeting where some of current active Brazilian KDE contributors made their first steps in contributing with coding, translation, and promotion. Some people have come and gone, but some of them got vastly seduced by the idea of coming together in the pursuit of sharing knowledge and making world better with high quality free software. Those remain pushing KDE in their universities, companies, and in high visibility meetings such as FISL and Latinoware.

After Akademy-BR, we focused on trying to better integrate KDE people from other countries in Latin America. Some contributors from Peru and Argentina were invited to present their work at previous editions of Latinoware, meet the Brazilian fellows, and help deciding on actions to narrow KDE relationships in Latin America. Such an effort culminated in the 1st LaKademy, held in Porto Alegre, south Brazil, from April 27th to May 1st, 2012. Sixteen participants from Brazil, Argentina, and Peru were involved in artwork, translation, promotion, and development activities.

Two years have passed again until the time for the 2nd LaKademy, held at the Free Software Competence Center (CCSL) at University of São Paulo (USP) from August 27th to 30th, 2014. USP is one of the most important and prestigious universities in the world and CCSL is a two-storey building entirely devoted to free software projects, quite close to IME (Mathematics and Statistics Institute) – where Computer Science, Mathematics, and Statistics courses are offered. Motivated by an expected audience of potential KDE newcomers, we’ve decided on a schedule with KDE talks on the very first day, an introductory Qt short-course on the second day, and the usual contribution sprints happening in the last two days of LaKademy 2014. Sadly, the number of guests was lower than expected. In spite of that, the talks allowed us to better know each other’s work in KDE and the Qt short-course was a place to clarify common doubts and providing an initial support for the KDE newcomers specially attending LaKademy 2014.

LaKademy 2014 - Group Photo

LaKademy 2014 Group Photo

What we have done ?

The first day of LaKademy 2014 began with the Lamarque’s talk about Eduroam and Plasma Network Management. Afterwards, Rafael Gomes presented his KDE SysAdmin talk – which provided some interesting information about KDE infrastructure and all the work undertaken behind the scenes in order to support KDE technologies development and community communication. The next talk was about KDE Connect, presented by Ronny Yabar, where the most exciting features of KDE mobile-desktop integration were presented, followed by a brief discussion about its architecture. At the end of the day, Filipe Saraiva presented a talk about Qt and KDE applications on Android, with a special note to the GCompris case.

Rafael’s talk about KDE SysAdmin

A Qt introductory short-course was presented by Sandro Andrade in the second day of LaKademy 2014. Given the limited time available, the focus was on the essential aspects underlying the Qt-ish way of developing cross-platform applications: signal/slots mechanism, (dynamic) properties, meta-objects, moc and uic compilers, event loops, and basic design of interfaces using QtWidgets and QML. In the audience: some newcomers invited to attend LaKademy, translators trying to get a grasp on programming, veterans helping to make some points clearer, and three guests from USP.

The third and fourth days were dedicated to hacking sessions and a BoF about KDE promo. Among the development outcomes, we managed to port Bovo to KF5 (pushed in ‘frameworks‘ branch of bovo repository) and Filipe started porting Cantor to KF5. Ronny has also submitted some changes to review, regarding KDE Connect. Filipe also started the creation of a meta-package for KF5 in Mageia. Boaglio and Sandro (two old-school geeks with an inexplicable passion for MSX) started the development of QMSX – a GUI front-end for the openmsx emulator:

The QMSX frontend to openmsx

The BoF about KDE promo lasted about two hours and raised a number of questions, evaluation of strategies, and seventeen tasks were recorded in todo.kde.org (‘KDE Brazil’ project), including the development of promotional material, webinars, KDE presence on social networks, and financial aspects. Filipe helped in fixing the web bots for spreading news in Facebook e Twitter. The next LaKademy was also one of the exciting discussions during the KDE Promo BoF. In general, we agreed on having the 3rd LaKademy happening already in the first half of 2015. The venue is also almost confirmed.

As for the artwork outcomes, Adriana (who joined the group at the very last minute), Viviane, and Wagner produced some amazing stuff in those days. What about these new Konqi and LaKademy wallpapers ? A LaKademy commemorative KSplash theme was also developed.

    

Wallpapers developed during LaKademy 2014

Finally, Aracele, Camila, and Bianca were involved in translation activities. They focused on techbase translation, which got from 18% to 24% during those days. At the end of the third day, we had a beer-and-pizza lovely night at the Garoa Hacker Club, with a lot of lightening talks, KDE keyrings getting out of a 3D printer, and other nerdiness.

We would like to say a big ‘thank you’ to the KDE e.V. for the financial support, to the Free Software Competence Center for hosting LaKademy 2014, to Viviane Notato for the artwork support, and to Aracele and Filipe for the local arrangements. We hope to meet each other again soon, at LaKademy 2015, with a 4-5 days of sprints only. No talks, no short-courses :). After all, where can we get the most of fun from when contributing to KDE ?

LaKademy 2014 flickr photoset

This article first appeared on KDE-Brasil

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Akademy Wednesday and Thursday Wrapup

Akademy continues with hacking and BoF meetings. This wrapup meeting video covers sessions from Wednesday and Thursday including accessibility, release team, user information reporting, KDE applications websites, KDevelop and share-like-connect.

Akademy Tuesday Wrapup

Akademy is in full swing here in Brno in the Czech Republic. The days are now filled with BoF sessions to discuss given topics and make decisions in person much faster than would be possible online. Here is the wrapup session from Tuesday which cover…

Akademy 2014 Day 2 Talks

It was a cloudy morning in Brno…. luckily not as hot as the first day. The traces of fun from last night kept many participants similarly subdued but they were soon woken up by a truly inspiring keynote by Cornelius Schumacher, our fresh former president of KDE e.V.!


Akademy 2014 Group Photo, how many can you name?


Keynote by Cornelius

Cornelius opened by telling us he became a better person by participating in the KDE Community and wants to share with us why. He kicked off with a tale about his early days in KDE—one day he removed a folder from his code repository: the admin folder. Little did he know about the consequences of this action. The admin folder was shared among all KDE projects and contained the scripts and tools needed to build all KDE applications. Rest assured, it did not take others long to notice that every build had broken. Ultimately, Cornelius learned a lot about CVS and fixing things with it – it is mistakes which teach best. Later on, he ran for the Board of KDE e.V. and learned some of the world’s longest words, courtesy of the necessary bureaucratic skills for running a legal organization in Germany. Many of the skills he learned he applied in his work; his KDE experience helped him grow in his role as a manager.

And he is not the only one who benefited from the learning environment the KDE community offers. An old picture of Till Adam shows the Managing Director for KDAB Germany wasn’t always the best dressed person in KDE. Cornelius also found a picture of Eva Brucherseifer at a KDE meeting long before she started her own company, BasysKom, which has been sponsoring Akademy for many years. KHTML, our web browsing engine, has grown to be at the core of most modern browsers like Safari and Chrome. One of its initial developers, George Staikos, is now VP of Web Technologies at Blackberry. The pictures Cornelius treated us with once again didn’t make it look like either would make it that far. A few more quips were made about t-shirts. Rohan and Vishesh got applause for getting as far as they did in the time they have been part of the KDE community—from students to being full-time employed to do the awesome work they do.

Not all in KDE have been so successful. Upon seeing the screenshot of the most famous Plasma theme, the IRC channel erupted in protest and many contended all was fluffy but before this protest reached him, Cornelius had already moved on to the next slide. And yes, the KDE 2 wallpaper with the slogan ‘I con do it’ (to promote the work on new icons) might not have been our best and brightest marketing moment. Finally, Cornelius touched on the downside of working with know-it-allstalented and stubbornambitious people: sometimes people bump heads. The KDE community has been dealing with such issues in a comparatively constructive matter, in part through the Community Working Group and other structures.

The question then is: how did all this come to be? Why is KDE such a great environment for growth? Cornelius gives three main reasons for this, starting with Freedom.

    “Freedom is central. Freedom is nothing else but a chance to be better” ~ Albert Camus

The license and the freedoms that were defined by Richard Stallman are at the core of our culture and this results a low barrier of entry, motivation to do interesting and fun things, and it facilitates learning because making mistakes is not punished like they are in other environments.

A second important thing is purpose. We have a common goal: build software for client users, specifically the desktop. Cornelius felt this most strongly at an event in Frankfurt where Linus Torvalds handed out an award for providing the best desktop. There was clearly a higher purpose to the KDE community and its work noticeable there. Another great picture giving this feeling is from an event in India where Pradeepto is talking to a group of students. They were about to leave the event (traveling back for almost a day!) as they did not feel their skills were enough to benefit from the sessions available at the event. Pradeepto convinced them to stay and organized, at that moment, a series of beginner-level sessions which were suitable for them, so the second day they could participate already in the normal schedule.


Fluffy Developers Try to Subvert our Reputation as an Enterprise Desktop

The third ingredient Cornelius sees in KDE is fun. And he can only say this in this room: doing C++ is fun! It is even more enjoyable if you use Qt! It isn’t the only fun stuff we do, we are a diverse bunch, but it is a common ground, something we all feel at home with. He now works as a manager, but sometimes going back to writing some C++ is relaxing. And it gets us to accomplish great things, be creative, bring our software to millions of users. This is all fun! This is expressed beautifully in the Randa picture he showed: you can see and feel how it is fun, getting into the zone, being productive, helping each other grow. Not many places allow focus as deep as the Randa meetings.

So, freedom, purpose and fun. We should ask ourselves next: how do we preserve what has made KDE great? On the freedom side, we have a solid, strong base. We’re pretty safe with that. There are challenges for freedom, but many people are addressing them. Fun is a safe thing, too, this Akademy is a testament of that: we are having fun.

Purpose is the challenge for the KDE community. Our native platform, C++ is still big, but in a slow decline. And the numbers of our contributors and contributions are in decline as well. Yes, lies, damn lies and statistics, and this Akademy we welcomed a lot of new people, but we had bigger events in the past. We have to change to stay relevant and grow. We should be serious about that and shouldn’t just say our move to Git screwed our statistics – maybe it did, but that is no reason not to try and do better. At CeBIT we got an award, a readers-choice for the best desktop – won by a large margin. We have a great base and great software and we know what we are doing. But is the desktop still our purpose? If not, then what is? Cornelius wants to see our purpose a little wider. He sees our goal being “give people access to great technology”. We want to do great technology, we’re ambitious, but in the end it is about bringing it to people. This is where we should put our emphasis to keep KDE relevant.

The secret is, in the end that it isn’t KDE which makes anybody a better person. It is us – all of us, together. Cornelius’ final message is: be free, maintain your purpose and have fun! Then we can all grow. He receives a great applause and throughout the rest of the event, his keynote comes up many times: it was inspiring and motivating, but also made us think about where we need to go.


Pradeepto Inspires students at kde.conf.in

Fast Track Time

After Cornelius’ opening keynote, it is time for the fast track again, starting with Kevin Ottens on “Software Craftsmanship”. He discussed hacker culture and taking pride in creating a beautiful (finished) product as a teaser for his other talks and workshop. Alex Fiestas showed off KDE Connect and its nifty features to make your phone work with your Plasma desktop. He was interrupted by his phone (named Rusty Trombone) receiving a call during the talk which successfully stopped his showing of Dr Who. Kai Uwe Broulik showed how to integrate your KDE application with native features on Android and iOS devices. Jos Poortvliet gave some tips on how to deal with people AFK (away from keyboard, with his real-life examples drawing quite some laughs from the audience.

Björn Balazs shared a guide on the impossibility of doing usability. The hardest issue is that we can’t do usability in KDE very well as we can’t reach our users… In order to save the world, we need to find a way to connect to our users! Starting with our user interface itself. There are plenty of ways to do that and there will be a BoF session to make this happen. Albert Astals Cid ended the morning track with a overview of the release management process. He showed the amount of work put in each release. His point was clear—with 8 releases in July alone, the current process has to be improved. Of course, a BoF session will take place on this subject.


Group Photo time!

Lunch Time and Technical Sessions

After the release management talk the audience was herded outside to have their picture taken, and then again unleashed on Brno to hunt and gather. Food had to come from rather far as nearby places were closed but the clouds had disappeared and the sunny walk provided some time for discussion and the production of vitamin D. After lunch, there was a technical and a less technical track. We don’t have coverage of all sessions there, but you can watch the videos later and we have a small selection below again.

Andrew Lake from the Visual Design Group gave an inspiring talk about building up and fostering a community of very different people with a wide variety of skill levels. He explains there were originally fears of design-by-committee (the implicit thought: that produces not-great-design). Andrew claims that while things can go wrong, they don’t have to. Oh, and – the same arguments against community design have been leveraged against Free Software itself in the past.

The approach to get a group of people to produce good design is roughly as follows:

  • Organically curate content by everybody (here it matters to teach people proper communication skills: be gentle, respect opinions etc.)
  • Encourage those who have gained influence chime in on proposed designs
  • Limited time for review of a design proposal (this is really important)
  • Build and sustain a community
  • Explicitly encourage constructive feedback – set an example – draw a line on destructive behavior
  • A community needs tools.. forum, VDG in the HIG, mockup toolkit
  • Sometimes focus on short-term success, even if you want to shoot for the moon
  • effective = correctness * commitment
  • Interaction with developers (a 3-lobed circle with “resident designer” and “designer community” interacting with the “developer”)

The community design cycle was described by him as follows: develop candidate design; announce the cycle and the candidate design and length of cycle; execute.

Last, Andrew shared a multi-year roadmap for building up the design community – there is still plenty to do!

After Andrew, Jens Reuterberg and Thomas Pfeiffer continued on this subject with a zombie-themed talk. Thomas Pfeiffer (who later got injured in the line of duty) explained how to infiltrate software development teams with tasty brains to eat as ultimate goal and how development teams can get designers and usability experts involved, again, with brains as goal. The talk was conversation-style with Jens talking about communication and the realities of design work and collaboration. It was noted that as a first step:

  • Developers and usability experts/designers need to go outside of their comfortable boarded-up houses and lure the zombies closer
  • Shuffle like the zombies, moan like the zombies

Step 2 of the plan (for the zombies!) is to listen, understand, speak the language of the developers, learn to blend in, learn their ambitions and challenges. Jens explained the position of designers and why it is often hard to get them to work in the open on the same channels as developers: “Designers have to care about their careers – and hearing your code is bad once or twice won’t impact your career; but having an employer see that others considered your design that bad will”. That is an important reason for the use of forums, Google Hangouts and so on by the KDE Visual Design Group.

The third step is to conquer by crafting a productive relationship. This is based on trust: the developer should trust the designer to know what he/she is talking about and the designer should trust that the developer takes him/her serious. And the other way around!

In the end, this leads to better software and most importantly: more brains for everybody.

Jonathan Riddell inspired the masses with drama and emotion. He had a really, really bad accident a few years ago, from which he recovered impressively well although it still hampers him at times. Of course, you don’t need to be brain-damaged to care about Free Software and Kubuntu, he cared about them long before the accident happened. He is grateful to Blue Systems as it allowed him to continue working on Kubuntu.


KDE Community Food BoF

In a talk about the Next Generation desktop applications, Vishesh Handa and Alex Fiestas showed off their app Jungle, a new video player, which aims to bring intelligence to video handling, as an example of bringing web-style ideas to the desktop. Alex asked why we use native applications on tablets and why on desktops we use web applications. He looked at web applications and saw features like suggested content, sharing content and giving feedback, of the desktop apps he still uses, none of them offer these features. So he and Vishesh set out to write a video player which would be smart. Jungle learns from the user and organizes your video library for you. In the discussion, it even was suggested to suggest romantic movies to the user when the phone of the boy/girlfriend of the user is detected. It will have a Home/Dashboard and it will download subtitles in the right language. Alex and Vishesh want an Android app (written in Qt) as a remote control, and they want to be able to stream to and from other devices for the future.

The parallel technical session was kicked off by Jan Kundrát who spoke about bringing the Gerrit code review tool to KDE with help of the XIFI project. Gerrit is already available in a testing mode and KDE developers are free to email Jan to request their projects to be available through Gerrit. The future plans are ambitious – each patch, no matter who sends it for evaluation, will be checked by the Continuous Integration system which will run on resources provided by the XIFI project.

Aleix Pol gave a history of his attempts to put KDE Software on mobile platforms, the N900 then the N9, Jolla and now he is working with Android and feels this is the way forward. He has made KAlgebra and it’s in Google Play. He has worked on CMake to allow it to compile apps on Android. He says we need to work with F-Droid as well as Google Play and other stores but warns “We need to be mindful of our inner RMS and remember user freedom.”

Frederik Gladhorn started with a demo of accessibility for blind people on his laptop opening his presentation with his monitor blanked out, the voice spoke out the elements of the Plasma 5 UI so that he could open his talk. This works well now in Qt 5.4. We badly need a virtual keyboard with working word suggestion, touch friendly and spell checking. Some parts need fixes for the screen reader: KickOff and system tray and KWin need some improvements. Once it’s good enough, we will get feedback from the blind community and listen to them.

Kevin Ottens and craftsmanship “agile to the rescue”
What are the promises we make / made in FOSS? Collaboration, security, freedom… To Kevin, these feel like broken promises. For instance, it’s less collaborative than we pretend it should be; bus-number of 1 is too common. Does this stem from the methodology advocated as Open Source? Or something else? Even if we knew what caused these problems, the problems are still there. So let’s look for solutions. Kevin discussed agile methods for that, mentioning the awesome hamster-wheel effect and sharing a lot of ideas for improvements.

After Kevin, we should have had Tomaz Canabrava explain how he coerced Linus Torvalds into coding C++ but unfortunately, he broke a leg and had to stay in Brazil. Instead of him, Aleix Pol talked about KDevelop5 and the work that is being done on that.

Closing

After the last session, everybody got together in the big room for sponsor presentations.

  • Blue Systems’ Jonathan Riddell created the usual big show. He’s been on this for years, making a mess on the stage by inviting people for the goodies he brings – polo shirts this year.
  • Digia’s Tejo had a simple message: we build Qt, you build on top of it – you’re awesome, keep it up!
  • Red Hat was happy to welcome all of the KDE contributors and would love it if some of them would stay even longer: join Red Hat!
  • KDAB told everybody to enjoy the conference and keep hacking!
  • The Open Invention Network makes no money directly but builds a patent pool to protect Open Source and Free Software and invites us to join, help publish defensive patent articles and so on.
  • SUSE was represented by Bruno Friedman, openSUSE board member. He’s a long time KDE fan/user/occasional contributor and sponsor and he thanked the KDE community for being welcoming and inspiring and strengthening his faith in freedom and collaboration. He finished noting that if anybody asks him where he’d like to be 10 years from now, the answer would be Akademy 2024!
  • ownCloud was represented by its founder, Frank Karlitschek. He said that he is happy that ownCloud, having grown from the KDE community into its own strong community with a startup behind it, is now in a position to sponsor Akademy. He brought up the state of ownCloud support in KDE and especially the Emblem support in the upcoming ownCloud client release which won’t make it in Dolphin due to unfortunate timing and asked if anybody wanted to sit together and see what could be done about it.
  • Froglogic, Google and BasysKom had no representative at the conference but big thanks for them and their support as well! Each has been sponsoring Akademy for quite a while and we’re glad they continued their contribution.

After the sponsors talks it was time for the Akademy Award Winners, which you can read about in our previous article.

Akademy now continues with five days of BoF sessions and hacking to discuss, design and create the next year’s worth of output from KDE.

Thanks to everybody who contributed notes to this article: Jonathan Riddell, Jan Kundrát, Camila Ayres and Adriaan de Groot. Remember we offer free hugs for anyone at Akademy who read this far.

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Akademy Award Winners 2014

The talks weekend at Akademy finished with the traditional announcing of the Akademy Awards, our recognition of the stars of KDE. The winners are selected by those who received the award the previous year.
Winners for 2014 are:

Application Award: J…

KDE PIM Newcomers

With Akademy in full swing, we thought we’d treat you all on a conversation with a handful of newcomers to the KDE PIM team. The conversation took place both online over the last months and offline at Akademy yesterday. Let’s start with introductions, in order of their replies.

Guy Maurel is French, almost 67 and retired. Having studied electrical engineering, he has seen the first coax cables forming an intranet and later managed DNS, mail and router systems following the growth of the IT industry. He’s been using Linux for a while and when a student told him he should be contributing to Open Source, he decided to join KDE PIM.

Daniel Vrátil lives in Brno, Czech Republic and works at Red Hat, maintaining KDE on Fedora and working ‘upstream’. He hacks on Telepathy, KScreen and recently became maintainer of the Akonadi framework. He’s also the team lead of the local Akademy team this year!


Sandro Knauß

Sandro Knauß is a 29 year old German who, since finishing studying physics, has been working as an IT freelancer. He’s been in touch with KDE since he was 17, having used several distributions since starting with SUSE. When his current distribution (Debian) moved to KMail 2 he decided to join its development, fixing the crypto message part and getting hooked after that. He also hacks on ownCloud and maintains packages for Debian.

Michael Bohlender, Mike for the English speaking crowd, studied social anthropology with a minor in computer science. He initially started to contribute to Plasma Active and got into KDE PIM hacking through his GSOC project for developing a touch mail client. He’s still mostly hacking on this client as well as QML components around mail data.

Scarlett Clark, hailing from Portland, USA, has been an avid Linux user since about 1998. She has a BA in Computer Information Systems and a background in System administration and web design. She’s interested in learning more about technical writing and decided to put some effort into the documentation of her beloved OS. KDE PIM, and KMail in particular, is the lucky project she started with.

What are you up to now?

Sandro was first to explain more about what he’s up to: “I was very interested in KMail 2 because I thought that the architecture with Akonadi is a very good approach. A friend of mine switched to KMail 2 two years ago and I was very disappointed about the crypto support. Then a year ago I had time and started to look at the code and searched for the bugs in the code. When I heard about the PIM sprint in berlin, I was very enthusiastic and hoped to find a person to help me fix the crypto stack. At the sprint Volker and I prepared one bug fix. The sprint motivated me to make the bug fix nice and shiny and I started to close a bunch of bugs in the crypto stack. In the long run I would like to make the crypto support as good and shiny as possible.”

He added a call for help: “I’m looking for a UI Person, who likes to make the interface for sending encrypted messages better. Now, sending a crypto message requires clicking through up to five dialogs and I can’t imagine that this can not be done better”.

Things are now even more exciting for Sandro: during the course of this interview, he was employed by Kolab to work on the KDE PIM stack, including the libraries, UI, kolab-utils and so on. “For me it makes things easier to get paid regulary to work complety for an Open Source project. I’ll hope both side will profit from my work: KDE PIM and Kolab”.

Dan continued: “Most of the time I spend on KDE development is hacking on Akonadi – adding new features, improving speed and of course fixing existing bugs. Occasionally I’m improving the IMAP resource, usually when a bug gets into the way of my workflow I’m also maintaining Akonadi resources for integration with Google Contacts, Calendars and Tasks services and the library with Google API implementation, LibKGAPI. This is a special project for me, as it was my first code I contributed to KDE few years ago and through it I got involved with the awesome KDE PIM community”.

Scarlett explains that she has moved on to doing packaging for Kubuntu: “I have been an avid Open Source user for 15 years, so I decided to find a place for me to become a contributor and hopefully with time, a career. Documentation seemed like a great entry point, so I jumped in and was received with a lot of kindness and help from the KDE team. While I still do some documentation, I have started packaging for Kubuntu and absolutely love it, so packaging > documentation right now and in the future”.


Scarlett and Michael at Akademy in Brno

KDE folk and Akademy

With the KDE Akademy Conference going on, it made sense to ask the interviewees about their thoughts around meeting KDE people.

Dan is part of the local team organizing Akademy this year. He “first attended Akademy in Tallin in 2012, to finally put faces to IRC nicknames. Meeting all the nice KDE people there was probably the main reason I decided to get more involved in KDE (PIM). I always enjoy meeting fellow KDE hackers on Akademy and various sprints and conferences, as it means lots of fun, hugs, beer and hacking (not strictly in this order ;-)) and builds these special relationships that make working on KDE pure pleasure for me.”

Scarlett went from “I always would have loved to go to something like Akadamy, but being in the US makes it difficult to swing a trip like that” to “Courtesy of Ubuntu donors I am attending Akademy this year!”. Her first day is over and she told us that it “is really awesome! I’ve talked to so many people that I worked with online…”

Sandro has already visited the Desktop Summit in Berlin in the past, describing it as “very amazing, to get in touch with all the people I read about. On the other side, it was hard to remember so many people, because I didn’t know anyone before. When I wasn’t shy to ask, the people were all very nice and chatty. It is much easier to get into touch with people at sprints, because there are less people”.

Michael, also at Akademy, shared “the AGM meeting wasn’t very exciting but the first conference day was awesome”. Meanwhile, he is working on a new mail client, build on the KDE libraries and work that was done earlier to make Akonadi and KDE PIM ready for Frameworks. He has brought this idea up on the forums and has gotten help and mockups from the design and usability teams.

At Akademy, the PIMsters both new and old will be coming together at a KDE PIM BoF on Tuesday the 9th in room 4 and there’ll be plenty of work and conversation going on for sure!

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