Tuesday, 24 February 2015.
Today the Free Software Foundation Europe reminds us to thank and celebrate all those in Free Software we love and whose work we enjoy and built upon. In KDE, we stand on the shoulders of giants. Everything we do in some way depends on Free Software w…
KDE will be at Europe’s largest gathering of free software developering this weekend, taking over the city of Brussels for FOSDEM. We start with the traditional beer event on the Friday, sampling 100 flavours of beer while we mingle with old friends …
Today KDE releases Plasma 5.2. This release adds a number of new components, many new features and many more bugfixes.
KScreen dual monitor setup
For more than 1800 years, the Tower of Hercules has guided ships sailing near A Coruña. Soon it will beckon KDE users and contributors, when Akademy—the annual KDE community meeting—is held in A Coruña (Galicia, Spain) 25–31 July. The conference is expected to draw hundreds of attendees from the global KDE Community to discuss and plan the future of the Community and its technology. Many participants from the broad free and open source software community, local organizations and software companies will also attend.
Free software user group GPUL is the local team
What is the local connection?
GPUL (Grupo de Programadores y Usuarios de Linux) is the local organization that is working with the KDE Akademy Team to produce the conference. GPUL is formed by students, professors, IT professionals and people in general who share a passion for free and open software. There is a common view that society should own the software that people use, a practical philosophy that is actively promoted. So GPUL organizes activities to inform people and help them make the change to free and open software. GPUL has produced or helped to produce other free and open technology events, because working with the free software community is quite satisfying. There is always an awesome atmosphere; there have been really great experiences collaborating with free software communities in managing events like Akademy-es 2008 and GUADEC 2012 (the Gnome Users and Developers European Conference). KDE is one of the largest and most effective communities of free software users and developers in the world. Many GPUL members use KDE software. So holding Akademy in A Coruña is something that the Group totally wants to do. GPUL members are honored to be host to Akademy 2015.
Photo courtesy of Triatlon Sin Drafting
A Coruña and Akademy
A Coruña is the second largest city in Galicia with about 250,000 inhabitants. Located in the northwestern corner of the Iberian Peninsula, it’s a city—surrounded by ocean—that has attracted diverse peoples and cultures for over 2000 years. They have left a legacy of legends, myths and history in every corner of the town. It’s a feast for the senses. The city has many sights, such as Tower of Hercules (World Heritage Site), Castle of San Anton, the Promenade, Coruña Museum of Sciences, Maria Pita Square, Garden of San Carlos and San Pedro Park & Ascensor Panorámico (magnifique views of the Rias Altas coast), wonderful beaches such as Riazor and Orzán, and some of the best seafood in the world.
The Venue at the Faculty of Computer Science of the Universidade da Coruña (FIC) is perfectly suited for hacking, presentations, BoFs and working together. Free software events have been held here since 1998. The recommended accommodation near the Venue has enough room for all attendees and free transportation to the city.
The combination of the Faculty of Computer Science, the accommodation, the KDE community, the local free software community and the city itself is a perfect match for Akademy.
GPUL is a Free Software user group based in the Faculty of Computer Science in A Coruña. The group has been working to promote free software in our university and in the local society since 1998 (in fact GPUL is celebrating its 2^2^2 anniversary). There are currently more than 400 members.
For most of the year, KDE—one of the largest free and open software communities in the world—works online by email, IRC, forums and mailing lists. Akademy provides all KDE contributors the opportunity to meet in person to foster social bonds, work on concrete technology issues, consider new ideas, and reinforce the innovative, dynamic culture of KDE. Akademy brings together artists, designers, developers, translators, users, writers, sponsors and many other types of KDE contributors to celebrate the achievements of the past year and help determine the direction for the next year. Intense workshops at the conference bring those plans to reality. The KDE Community welcomes companies building on KDE technology, and those that are exploring possibilities involving free and open source technologies.
In 2015, once again a few hundred Free Software enthusiasts will gather for 2 days of talks and 5 days of workshops and coding sessions. For more information, please contact the Akademy team.
In this week’s KDE Commit-Digest:
Today KDE releases a beta for Plasma 5.2. This release adds a number of new components and improves the existing desktop. We welcome all testers to find and help fix the bugs before our stable release in two weeks’ time.
Today KDE released KDE Applications 14.12, delivering new features and bug fixes to more than a hundred applications. Most of these applications are based on KDE Development Platform 4 but the first applications have been ported to KDE Frameworks 5. Frameworks is a set of modularized libraries providing additional functionality for Qt5, the latest version of the popular Qt cross-platform application framework.
KDE app dragons
This release marks the beginning of a new style of releases replacing the threesome of KDE Workspaces, Platform and Applications in the 4 series which ended with the latest KDE Applications update last month.
The release includes the first KDE Frameworks 5-based versions of Kate and KWrite, Konsole, Gwenview, KAlgebra, Kanagram, KHangman, Kig, Parley, KApptemplate and Okteta. Some libraries are also ready for KDE Frameworks 5 use: analitza and libkeduvocdocument.
Libkface is new in this release; it is a library to enable face detection and face recognition in photographs.
The Kontact Suite is now in Long Term Support in the 4.14 version while developers are focusing on a port to KDE Frameworks 5 with renewed energy.
Some of the new features in this release include:
See the full list of changes in KDE Applications 14.12.
The April release of KDE Applications 15.04 will include more new features, as well as more applications ported to the modular KDE Frameworks 5.
Spread the Word
Non-technical contributors are an important part of KDE’s success. While proprietary software companies have huge advertising budgets, KDE depends on people like you talking with other people! Even for those who are not software developers, there are many ways to support our community and our product. Report bugs. Encourage others to join the KDE Community. Or support the nonprofit organization behind the KDE community.
Please spread the word on the Social Web. Submit stories to news sites, use channels like delicious, digg, reddit, and twitter. Upload screenshots of your new set-up to services like Facebook, Flickr, ipernity and Picasa, and post them to appropriate groups. Create screencasts and upload them to YouTube, Blip.tv, and Vimeo. Please tag posts and uploaded materials with “KDE”. This makes them easy to find, and gives the KDE Promo Team a way to analyze coverage for the 14.12 KDE Applications release.
Learning more and getting started
Find more details and download links in the announcement on the KDE website.
Plasma 5.1.2 is the December output from our desktop team. It’s a bugfix release which adds several dozen fixes and the latest translations.
KDE today announces the release of KDE Frameworks 5.5.0.
GCompris, the high quality educational software suite comprising numerous activities for children aged 2 to 10 well known by parents and teachers all over the world, joined the KDE incubator.
GCompris was started in 2000 by Bruno Coudoin as a Free Software. Originally written in GTK+ the project decided in early 2014 to make a radical change and rewrite it in Qt Quick. The main motivation is the ability of the Qt platform to address the desktop and the tablet market from a single code base.
In order to get the great level of support from a strong developer community, GCompris joined the KDE incubator.
The rewrite is going on smoothly, 86 educational activities of the 140 have been ported to Qt Quick. A release on Android is planned for December 2014 with the help of the KDE translation teams to make sure it is properly localized. Other platforms will follow.
Currently the graphics are one of the weakest part of GCompris, as they were mostly done by the developers, using free graphics assets and sparse graphic artist contributions.
To address this problem, Timothée Giet, a talented graphics artist proposed himself to work on a complete graphics redesign. He is a long standing Free Software contributor, active member of the Krita team and so part of the KDE community. Making new graphics for more than 100 activities is a big work, so a fundraiser has been set up.
The project is not only about creating new background images but consists in a whole graphical rework. At first a graphics charter will be defined as none exists for now in GCompris. This will drive the project towards a unified style that it lacks today. An emphasis will be done on usability, making sure the children find their way easily in each activity.
If you want to help, please consider making a donation.
It’s been quite some time since the Randa Meetings 2014 and even this year’s edition of the KDE Community Summit called Akademy has already happened, but it’s still nice to look back and see what was accomplished at this KDE Tech Summit in the middle of the Swiss Alps.
And before we tell you about the seven groups that participated in the meetings this year (and because of the different participating groups and thus a collection of several meetings under the same roof, the event is called “Randa Meetings” with a plural s ;-), we send a big thank you to all the supporters and people that made this gathering possible. It’s because of you that we could work hard for a whole week and make the software you love even better. In the group picture you see KDE’s diversity, and how this year some KDE contributors could bring their families and partners and thus didn’t need to decide between either family holidays or hacking for KDE.
2014 Group picture, by Martin Klapetek (CC-BY-SA)
The KDE Edu group brings students and mentors together
From the KDE education group, we had people from Rocs, the graph tool, from Kig, KDE’s geometry teaching tool, from Artikulate, the new language acoustic learning tool, from KStars, the KDE astronomy tool and of course from Marble, which doesn’t need any explanation ;-). Two Google Summer of Code students for Marble saw their mentors for the first time in Randa and thus got a stronger bonding with our awesome community. I know of at least one of them who found another playground in KDE: GCompris.
GCompris is a new and still young (at least for the Qt version) member of the KDE family. Bruno Coudoin and his colleagues met in Randa to make great progress on porting the more than 140 activities in GCompris to Qt and KDE technologies. Their main focus is currently to finish a first version for Android and thus Smartphones and Tablets. Bruno even did some live user-testing (of course with kids!) during the lunch time. But beneath the normal hacking on KDE educational software, one other focus was the porting of the programs to KDE Frameworks 5 (KF5). Some of the applications will release a KF5-based version in December as part of the KDE Applications 14.12 release.
Different applications port to KDE Frameworks 5
Other applications that either started a port to KF5 or worked on it were KMyMoney, one of our finance tools. The developers also worked on their Windows port. Gwenview, which has since gained a new maintainer and Jungle, a fresh video player.
Porting to and working on KDE Frameworks was a general focus at this year’s Randa Meetings. We tried to push forward Windows and Mac (unfortunately we weren’t able to bring many KDE Mac people to Randa this year) variants and worked on a more coherent developer story and thus a KDE SDK. The port of Kate and KDevelop to KF5 made great progress and they even achieved making it start on Windows. Besides the porting work, this group also got some GSoC students together with their mentors and thus there was some integration of their work on CLang support and QML/JS.
Picture of the new Randa Konqi: with a white star and an Edelweiss like on the flag of Randa. Thanks a lot to the artist Tyson Tan!
The KDE Multimedia group worked on many different things
Alongside and integrated with all this work and groups some other teams participated at the meetings. They are almost part of the inventory of the Randa Meetings ;-). Amarok and the KDE Multimedia team worked on bug triage (cleaning up more than 200 bugs!), polishing their handbook and Phonon. During this intensive week we saw the release of the GStreamer Phonon backend. KMix, the KDE mixer application got another strong push forwards.
And another multimedia application found its way to Randa: Kdenlive, our great non-linear video editor. The project lacked some direction recently and so a face-to-face meeting of some old and some new contributors was a logical step to take. With Till Theato and Simon Eugster some oldsters of the project could help to document and explain the current code and state to the new maintainer Vincent Pinon. Interestingly enough we learned during the meetings that Vincent’s wife Lucie is using Kdenlive in her professional work and as she was in Randa as well we took the opportunity to make a short interview with her (Thanks Françoise Wybrecht for doing the interview and Myriam Schweingruber for the translation. You can download the French version of the interview.
Lucie Robin lives in Voiron near Grenoble – France and works as a professional video maker with Kdenlive.
Lucie with her daughter and Konqi in the background
What brought you to open source?
Despite being an alien to the open source world, I discovered it through my Linux-using husband.
What pushed you to use free software?
As a video maker, I needed professional video software. Since most software in this field are over pricey, my husband suggested to try Kdenlive back in 2011.
After having used it for three years, what is your overall impression?
I got aware very quickly that Kdenlive is an answer to professional needs. But let’s be honest, its use is full of pitfalls and inconsistencies, which could have discouraged me more than once. But luckily I discovered the philosophy behind free software which kept me going.
New energy for Kdenlive and a new KDE Book
The Kdenlive team spend most of their time discussing and setting the roadmap for the future. At the end of the meetings we decided to bring Kdenlive even closer to KDE and thus start an incubation process for them. And thanks to Françoise, Lucie and Kdenlive you can watch yourself how it looked at the Randa Meetings 2014.
Another group came to Randa to work on a new edition of our KDE Guide. After some problems with internet connectivity (ever heard of this problem at sprints or conferences? 😉 they decided to scratch the planned working process and to quickly develop a new one so they could work offline and integrate the new book directly with KDE source code and extract live snippets from it. They had a great start in Randa but it’s not yet done. So if you’re an expert in one of the KDE Frameworks, please help and submit a paragraph, short text or chapter.
An amazing time that should be repeated
Organization-wise we tried something new this year to connect the different groups participating at the Randa Meetings even better. During lunch and dinner one person of each group had to tell the others in a few sentences what they are currently working on. So everybody in Randa was more or less aware of what was discussed in the other groups and when they should connect and talk with them. But we learned something else too. Doing this talks two times a day was not necessary and so we plan to do it only once a day in 2015.
For even more information about the Randa Meetings 2014 and some personal views, see a list of blog posts and picture collections. It was an amazing time and we got great feedback for the organizational work and thus are looking forward to 2015 and more very productive, successful and inspiring meetings and sprints. So please support us!
PS: There is another great summary in Portuguese of what happened in Randa this year.
KDE was one of about 50 exhibitors at the LISA (Large Installation System Administration) Conference November 12th and 13th in Seattle. The expo was part of the week-long conference for system administrators that has been held annually since 1986. Expo participants included big name tech companies and smaller niche organizations offering products and services to this audience of professional technical people. As we discovered, KDE is well known among this audience.
Visitors included people who have been “using KDE since version 1.0” and other long time users and supporters. Several people said that they have been contributing code and money for many years. We encouraged visitors to check out the year-end fundraising campaign.
The big KDE logo attracted people to the exhibit space where we covered KDE mentoring programs, answered questions and shared information about current KDE activities. The Krita demonstrations by Oscar Baechler generated a lot of fascinated attention too. It is obvious that Krita offers much more to real artists than GIMP or Inkscape. The large artwork of an Emperor Penguin done in Coast Salish style also drew admiring comments. People liked the tie-in between the Pacific Northwest aboriginal art and free/open technology.
We had intended to have a slide show featuring various aspects of KDE. It didn’t work out as planned…fortunately. Instead, people had the opportunity to experiment with the latest KDE goodies—KDE Frameworks 5 and Plasma 5 running on a high performance machine. The system performed well. Several attendees were amazed at the story behind the story: a near complete re-do of the KDE Development Environment and the up-to-date Plasma Workspace. This was an audience that appreciated the effort, the professionalism and the results of KDE’s innovations.
Andrew Lake of the KDE Visual Design Group put together a slide show for his big screen, featuring design principles and examples, along with a visual explanation of the technical structure of Frameworks and Plasma.
photo by ogbog
Some members of the Seattle KDE group discussed possibilities of more regional KDE outreach. Valorie Zimmerman and Andrew Lake are part of this group; the Meetup organizer, Aaron Peterson, was also in the booth space.
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.
LISA was an excellent opportunity to connect with people who know KDE well, as well as people who appreciate KDE software and what the Community stands for.
Many thanks to USENIX for the generous support of KDE.
The Google Code-in is a contest to introduce pre-university students (ages 13-17) to the many kinds of contributions that make open source software development possible. The contest runs from December 1, 2014 to January 19, 2015. For many students the…
In this week’s KDE Commit-Digest:
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 […]
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…
In this week’s KDE Commit-Digest:
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…
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.
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.