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.
In this week’s KDE Commit-Digest:
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.
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.
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.
Releases of KDE Frameworks are now a monthly feature. The release of KDE Frameworks 5.3 brings many small, but important fixes including:
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…
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…
Videos of all of the Akademy Talks are now available online to watch in your own time.
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
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 ?
This article first appeared on KDE-Brasil