Alexander Tratsevskiy has announced the release of Calculate Linux 13.19, an updated version of the Gentoo-based distribution with separate flavours for desktops (with KDE or Xfce), servers and media centres: "We are happy to announce that Calculate Linux 13.19, the last of the 13th, has been released. CL….
This is the second half of the ‘where KDE is going’ write-up. Last week, I discussed what is happening with KDE’s technologies: Platform is turning modular in Frameworks, Plasma is moving to new technologies and the Applications change their release schedule. In this post, I will discuss the social and organizational aspects: our governance.
You can’t talk about KDE and governance without bringing up KDE e.V. (eingetragener Verein or, in English, registered association). This Germany-based non-profit is the legal organization behind the KDE community, and it plays several important roles.
Initially set up to handle funding for KDE’s conferences, the e.V. still has the organization of events as a major task. But that is no longer limited to the yearly Akademy conference. There are now events all over the world, from Camp KDE and Lakademy in the Americas to conf.kde.in in India. In addition, many Developer Sprints, usually with about 5-15 people, are supported, as are the annual Randa Meetings which can attract 40-60 developers.
KDE e.V. also provides legal services, pays for infrastructure and takes care of our trademarks. The KDE Free Qt Foundation is equally represented by KDE and Digia. The Foundation was set up between the former Trolltech and KDE to maintain Qt’s open status, and has been continued with Nokia and Digia, the successive holders of the Qt trademark. KDE e.V. is not the guardian of technical decisions, however. This is up to the natural community development processes.
But KDE e.V. does act as an agent of change. It provides a place where core KDE contributors come together and discuss a wide variety of subjects.
In the last 8 years or so, KDE e.V. has been the major driver behind increasing the number of developer sprints and has created the Fiduciary Licensing Agreement which allows it to re-license KDE code when needed, while protecting developers’ interests. The Code of Conduct originated with KDE e.V., as did our Community Working Group which helps deal with communication issues in the community.
A recent example of our ongoing improvement efforts is the KDE Manifesto. This has been for a very long time coming but Kévin Ottens got it to the finish line.
The Manifesto explicitly defines our community: our values and our commitments to each other. The importance of this can hardly be overstated – knowing who you are and what you want helps you make decisions but also shows others what you are about. The Manifesto made plain what was involved in being part of the KDE Community, including the benefits and the ways we operate.
Joining the KDE community
Since the Manifesto was written, several projects have joined KDE or begun the process of doing so:
It is clear that these projects contribute to the growing diversity in the KDE community. The many projects joining us has prompted some refinement of the KDE Incubator, an effort to document the process of becoming part of the KDE community (also started by Kévin, who probably felt sorry for the fallout of his manifesto creating so much extra work ;-)).
Other projects have moved on, or emerged from the KDE community and have become independent communities. Examples are Necessitas (provides Qt-on-Android) and Ministro (installer for libraries on Android) but also the well-known ownCloud project which was announced at Camp KDE 2010 in San Diego and still has many KDE folks involved in it.
KDE has grown – and so has Qt (pronounced ‘cute’). The Qt ecosystem today is very big – it is estimated that there are half a million Qt developers world wide! And not only has Qt usage grown, but so has the ecosystem around it, with more and more contributions from more and more companies, communities and individuals. Including KDE.
KDE has always been close to the Qt community, with many KDE developers working for former Trolltech, now Digia, or in one of the companies providing Qt consulting. KDE played a major role in establishing the KDE Free Qt Foundation, and KDE people were critical to the process of creating Open Governance within the Qt Project in 2011. In 2013, the Qt Contributor Summit was co-located with Akademy, and as discussed in the previous article, KDE is contributing a lot of code to Qt and building closer bonds with the Qt ecosystem through our Frameworks 5 efforts.
Based on the above, one could extrapolate. More projects will join the KDE Community, and KDE will become more diverse. KDE is also working on formalizing the relationships with external entities through a community partnership program. This will allow KDE e.V. to work closer with other communities in legal and financial matters and share KDE’s strengths with them. With these changes, the community shows a desire to expand its scope.
The Join the Game program looked for 500 KDE supporters
Another area where change might take place is in the financial area. KDE e.V. does not have the mandate to define technical directions. To sponsor a developer, the Krita team set up the Dutch Krita Foundation to handle the funds. Currently, Krita, Free Software’s most successful and powerful drawing application, is running a Kickstarter campaign to obtain funding for several developers with the aim of bringing the upcoming Krita 2.9 release to a new level. In other cases, external organizations supported developers working on KDE code, like Kolabsys supporting several developers on the KDE PIM suite (like Christian), and of course the various Linux Distributions (like Red Hat) which have made massive improvements to KDE possible over the years.
Paid development is a complicated topic, as most KDE contributors volunteer their time. Money can be damaging to such intrinsic motivation. At the same time, some tasks are just no fun – paid developers can perhaps help. Some people in the community feel that KDE e.V. (or perhaps another organization?) could play a more active role in raising funds for certain projects, for example. The Randa Meetings fundraiser 2 years ago might be a sign of things to come, and again we’ve started a fundraiser to make Randa 2014 as successful as the earlier meetings: Please support it!
There may be more sustaining membership programs such as ‘Join the Game’ in the future, and suggestions, ideas and practical help in obtaining and using funds for KDE development are very much welcome.
Not all change
But in all this change, it is crucial that the KDE community preserves what makes it work well. KDE has gotten where it is today by the culture and practices of today (see some of my thoughts on this). Like in any community, these are hidden rules that allow KDE to pool the knowledge of so many brilliant people, and without too much politics, to make the best decisions possible. The KDE culture, so to say. This includes well known Free Software soft rules like Who Codes, Decides, RTFM, Talk is Cheap and Just Do It but also very ‘KDE’ rules like Assume Good Intentions and Respect the Elders. And just like in the French Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité, the rules are inseparable and interdependent. They are what makes KDE such an amazing place, full of creativity, innovation and fun.
Of course, in other areas, it can hamper progress or block people from making changes as quickly as they like. All culture has good and bad aspects, and we should stay flexible to adapt to changes and fix shortcomings. This is a slow process, often counted in years, rather than months – putting off some people who wish things went a little faster. But change happens.
Change to keep things healthy
The KDE Community Working Group is an institution with the goal of preserving positive aspects of our culture. The CWG consists of a group of trusted community members dealing with conflicts and social issues. It has been around since 2008 and has recently been given the ability to deal with ‘stormy day’ scenarios – they will now handle situations where somebody is persistently behaving contrary to the culture. Luckily such situations are extremely rare but it is good to have a process in place to deal with them.
The kde-community mailing list has moved many discussions into an open forum that used to be limited to KDE e.V. members. Opening up our internal discussions is more inclusive; it preserves the open nature of our project in the face of growth and change.
Putting these changes together, a pattern starts to emerge:
I think KDE is going meta.
KDE is becoming a meta organization. Perhaps you can call it an Eclipse for GUI or end user software, bringing a wide variety of projects together under one umbrella. The challenge for the KDE community is to guide these changes, keep good practices and develop new ones that fit the new world!
KDE is becoming a umbrella-community, a community of communities. A place where people with a huge variety of interests and ideas come together, sharing a common vision about the world. Not a technical vision, mind you, but a vision about HOW to do things. Shared values are what brings us together. And with KDE going meta, there is more room for everybody!
These articles are based on a talk given at conf.kde.in by Jos Poortvliet with lots of input from KDE contributors. A more extensive version of these articles, quoting members of the KDE community for more background, can be found in the upcoming September issue of Linux Voice magazine, ‘the magazine that gives back to the Free Software community’
José Antonio Calvo has announced the release of Zentyal 3.5, a major new version of the project’s server distribution – now based on Ubuntu 14.04: “The Zentyal development team is proud to announce the release of Zentyal 3.5, a new Zentyal Server Community edition. Zentyal Server is the…. Read more …
See full announcement here.
Congrats to Unvanquished, they are doing a great job for sure!
This post was retrieved from freegamer.blogspot.com.
antiX MX, a special edition of the well-known antiX Linux-based operating system created in collaboration with the MEPIS community, has reached version 14.2 earlier today, July 1, dubbed Symbiosis.
This is a maintenance release that fixes major bugs discovered and reported by the community from the previous stable version, antiX MX 14.1.1, and updates various packages.
According to the quite small changelog, antiX MX 14.2 updates the powerful LibreOffice suite to the latest stable version, …
The ninth edition of Akademy-es was held last month in Málaga at the Telecommunications School of University of Málaga. Akademy-es had never been held in the city before but it is where the idea of Akademy-es began, during Akademy 2005, resulting in the first Akademy-es in 2006 in Barcelona. KDE old timer Antonio Larrosa is the link between both editions, being the local organizer of Akademy-es 2014 and Akademy 2005.
This year Akademy-es has continued its upwards trend in people registered, ending up with around 100 people. Talks as always have been varied, including philosophical talks about what KDE is, technical ones about how to use ASAN to debug your apps, practical ones on how to make your computer and your [Android] phone work better together, some programming with an introductory QtQuick talk (in English!), and much more.
Besides the serious talks there was always time for some socializing, an important part these kind of conferences.
Finally, please join KDE España in thanking our sponsors Digia, Opentia, openSUSE and Wabobo for helping make Akademy-es 2014 possible.
The SME Server 9.0 Linux operating system was revealed on June 29 by the non-profit Koozali Foundation, Inc. corporation, through the announcement posted by Ian Wells on the project’s mailing list. First of all, we should mention that this SME Server release is dedicated in the memory of Chris Burnat, who passed away on Wednesday, June 11, 2014. He was a strong supporter of this CentOS Linux distribution, and without him SME Server 9.0 would not have happened. The official announcemen…
In this week’s KDE Commit-Digest:
David Purse has announced the availability of the beta release of Simplicity Linux 14.7, a Puppy-based distribution with LXDE as the preferred desktop: "Simplicity Linux 14.7 beta has been released. You can find the ‘Desktop’ edition here and the ‘Netbook’ edition. There is no X edition in our….
Clement Lefebvre, the leader of the Linux Mint project, has announced that ISO images for the Cinnamon and MATE editions of Linux Mint 17 “Qiana” have been updated and marked as “v2″.Linux Mint 17 “Qiana” was released only a month ago, but in all that time some important issues have been fixed by the developers. In order to make the life of the users a little bit easier, the Linux mint devs have decided to regenerate the ISO images with the new fixes.According to …
The Beta version of SteamOS, a Debian-based distribution developed by Valve to be used in its hybrid PC / console, has just received an update and numerous packages.Valve has two builds for SteamOS. One is a stable version (sort of) and the other one is a Beta (Alchemist). The two versions are not all that different from one another, but the Valve developers are using the Beta release to test some of the new updates before they hit the stable branch.According to the changelog, the NVIDIA drive…
I’m a big advocate of the phrase, “Release Early, Release Often.” I think it is by far the best way to keep or gain community interest in a project.Of course, that simple phrase doesn’t quite sum up what you actually must do – simply uploading a releas…
John Martinson has announced the release of Robolinux 7.5.4, a new update of the project’s Debian-based distribution that comes with a pre-configured VirtualBox for running Windows as a "guest" operating system: "We’ve been listening to our user base and have delivered many popular upgrades plus expert tech support….
This Legacy beta update corrects fast item switching and introduces a bunch more old animations, plus tons of fixes. Log in now and give it a try!
The OS X bundle has finally been released. The bundle should work on Mountain Lion (10.8) or later. Users of an earlier version of OS X are advised to upgrade. Note that there is no 32-bit bundle anymore.
Git 2.0.1, a free and open source distributed version control system designed to handle everything from small to very large projects with speed and efficiency, is now available for download.The new Git 2.0.x branch continues the trend of large releases, integrating a big number of changes and fixes. This latest update is just maintenance, but it’s pached with fixes.According to the developers, the tools that read diagnostic output in the standard error stream no longer see the terminal …
This article explores where the KDE community currently stands and where it is going. Frameworks, Plasma, KDE e.V., Qt5, KDE Free Qt Foundation, QtAddons – you heard some of these terms and want to know what all the fuss is about? A set of articles on the Dot aims to bring some clarity in the changes and constants of the KDE community in 2014 and further. This is the first article, diving into the technical side of things: Plasma, applications and libraries.
KDE is People
Today our technology goes much further than the humble beginnings in 1996, when we started out building a ‘Desktop Environment’. KDE today has many hundreds of active developers. They make not only a ‘desktop’ (Plasma Desktop) but also a variant for tablets (Plasma Active) and TVs (Plasma Media Center); Plasma Netbook is already 5 years old!
Meanwhile, the KDE applications have gone beyond simple clocks and calculators – we have a full office suite, mail and calendaring, video and image editors and much more. Not only that, KDE applications are being ported to multiple platforms – from Windows and Mac to Android. And our libraries (being renamed to Frameworks 5) are going modular, making them freely available to a far wider audience than just KDE developers.
Today, KDE is no longer a Unix Desktop Environment. Today, KDE is people: Us. You and me. And our technologies—Plasma, Applications and Frameworks—are doing more today than ever before. Let’s explore where they are going, starting with Plasma, central to our desktop interface.
Plasma by KDE
Plasma was conceived as the next generation of KDE’s desktop technology. When its architecture was drafted in 2006 and 2007, the goal of the developers was to build a modular base suitable for multiple different user interfaces. It is easy to see this as an obvious goal in a world with high resolution displays, tablets, mobile phones, media centers and so on. But as argued here, until today, KDE technology is unique in its ability to converge the different form factors at a code level. Others are still either attempting to build one interface for a wide variety of devices, looking for a middle ground or have realized that user interface convergence is a futile exercise and created separate interfaces.
Multiple Plasma Workspaces in March 2011
Plasma took some time to mature, in part due to its ambitious design, in part because the technologies it built upon were not mature enough for the needs of Plasma. This is still somewhat of a problem today, and the 4.x series has workarounds to deal with the deficiencies in the platforms below it.
This is where the next generation of Plasma technology comes in. Conveniently named Plasma Next, it will bring pixel-perfect design and super smooth performance thanks to the QML and Qt 5 technologies and fully hardware accelerated display rendering. High DPI support and the ability to work with Wayland (Linux’s next generation display server) are planned as well, but neither are expected to be fully finished with the first release.
These capabilities put the current Plasma far ahead of any competitor and the gap will only increase with the release of Plasma Next. But these advanced features do not take away from the familiar interface. The Plasma team is fully aware of value of established work flows of computer users and the need of not disrupting them. This means that there will be minimal feature loss or changes in the setup of the desktop. Just butter-smooth performance, polished look and more flexibility.
The Visual Design Group, Interaction Design and Usability
Aside from technical work, there is design and usability work going on. The idea behind the Visual Design Group was to build a team in KDE which would focus on design. This is done in a rather novel way, led by the enthusiasm of Jens Reuterberg, a FOSS enthusiast and designer from Sweden. Since the inception of the design team, there has been work in many areas. There have been new icons and improvements to existing design elements of KDE software but the majority of work has been focused on Plasma Next. A widget theme is in development, a cursor theme as well and icons are being discussed. And Plasma 5.0 will move to the Oxygen font by default. But the team also looks at interaction design and work flows in the interface, working together with the KDE usability team.
The usability team keeps developers and designers experimenting with new user interfaces close to the ground, making sure the user impact of their work is evaluated. The team conducts surveys and tests as well as using its own expertise to help the KDE developers design powerful but easy to use applications.
Usability experts have been giving feedback in various areas of KDE’s software, for example working closely with the developers of a new network manager interface for Plasma. Another example is the chat room experience in KDE Telepathy. Currently, work is being put into redesigning Systemsettings and many other things.
At events like Akademy, the usability team gives developers training in testing user interfaces with real users. Aside of working directly with developers and training them, the usability team has been reworking KDE’s Human Interface Guidelines.
Work in progress
The first release of this new generation Plasma will not be without its issues. With a substantial change in underlying stack come exciting new crashes and problems that need time to be shaken out. This can also lead to visual artifacts. While QML2 brings better looks due to its seamless integration of openGL and more precise positioning, the immaturity of Qt Quick Controls, the successor to the 15 year old widget technology in Qt, will bring some rough edges in other areas. Moreover, as the latest Beta announcement points out, performance is also heavily dependent on specific hardware and software configuration:
“In some scenarios, Plasma Next will display the buttery smooth performance it is capable off – while at other times, it will be hampered by various shortcomings. These can and will be addressed, however, much is dependent on components like Qt, Mesa and hardware drivers lower in the stack. This will need time, as fixes made in Qt now simply won’t be released by the time the first Plasma Next version becomes available.” Plasma 5.0 is scheduled for release July 2014.
The KDE Applications
Compared to the desktop and libraries, the situation with KDE’s applications is simpler. Currently at 4.13, the next release will be 4.14, coming in August. After that there will be another release (together with KF5-based applications) but what comes next is still up for discussion. KDE’s release team has been experimenting with shortening the release cycle. Shorter release cycles seem to be a trend throughout the ecosystem, facilitated by improved tools and processes.
A very fast release cycle?
Experiences in the world of mobile and web applications have shown that users are far more likely to start using features and appreciate small batches instead of large dumps. Short release cycles can bring bug fixes and improvements to our users much faster. On the other hand, most users of KDE software access their software and updates through the downstream distributions which are on slower release cycles even though they have repositories for updated software. Therefor this is a discussion which needs to include the distributions as much as the upstream developers.
And in any case, both our release infrastructure and our promotion will have to be adjusted as well. This has been started on the KDE Community mailing list, with proposals involving a clean up of the KDE Applications, changes in the release cadence and turning KDE Applications 4.15 into a Long Term Support release so application developers can move their focus on Frameworks 5.
Moving to Frameworks 5
The trend towards shorter release cycles requires many questions answered before it becomes feasible in practice. But a move to Frameworks 5 is certain to happen at some point, the question merely is when. Some applications have already started porting, encouraged by the swift progress being made on Frameworks 5. However most have not; it is not likely that most applications will have been ported to Frameworks 5 by the end of the year. Porting is relatively easy but the teams vary in focus and goals so we will have a Frameworks 5 based Applications release next to a 4.x series for a while.
Here again, KDE developers want the upgrade process to be smooth for users. In short, the 4.x series will be with us for the time being, and a Frameworks 5 series will be available in parallel. Regardless of the series, applications will work fine under any desktop. Developers want to ensure that migration is not an issue.
When KDE began more than 15 years ago, development was application-driven. Libraries were intended to share work, making development easier and faster. New functionality in the libraries was added based on simple rules. For example, if a particular functionality was used in more than one place, it was put into a shared library. Today, the KDE libraries provide high-level functionality like toolbars and menus, spell checking and file access. They are also used occasionally to fix or work around issues in Qt and other libraries that KDE software depends upon. Distributed as a single set of interconnected libraries, they form a common code base for (almost) all KDE applications.
Under the KDE Frameworks efforts, these libraries are being methodically reworked into independent, cross platform modules that will be readily available to all Qt developers. Some functions have already been adopted as Qt standards. The KDE Frameworks—designed as drop-in Qt Addon libraries—will enrich Qt as a development environment. The Frameworks can simplify, accelerate and reduce the cost of Qt development by eliminating the need to reinvent key functions. Qt is growing in popularity. Ubuntu is building on Qt and QML for Ubuntu Phone and planning to move over the desktop in the future. The LXDE desktop and GCompris projects are in the process of porting over to Qt. Subsurface (a divelog project made famous by having Linus Torvalds as core contributor) has had its first Qt based release.
With Frameworks, KDE is getting closer to Qt, benefiting both, as well as more and more users and developers. The Frameworks team plans to go for monthly releases with ‘branch-less development’. This means that everything will be developed in master, so each release will contain a few new features and bugfixes. Of course, this type of release cycle comes with a price of its own. Features in released modules can only be introduced in a very fine grained way so as to not jeopardize stability and our continuous integration and testing tools will be taken very seriously. All modified code has to come with corresponding tests and there is a strong focus on peer review. This model is still under discussion with the distribution teams, considering the impact on their release practices. KDE Frameworks 5.0 is planned to be released in the first week of July 2014.
Now, we’ve covered the Frameworks, Applications and Plasma—the full gamut of KDE technologies. By summer of this year we can expect new generation Frameworks and Plasma to be available. The Applications will take a tad longer, but should run on any desktop. All have release cycle changes, no longer releasing as part of the full “KDE Software Compilation”. Compared to the previous major change in platform (KDE 4.0), these will be incremental on a technical level. Plasma Next and Frameworks 5 are very much about taking advantage of the fact that our infrastructure has caught up with our ambitions. We intend to deliver these benefits in the form of a great experience for our users!
Next week, we’ll publish part two of the ‘where KDE is going’ mini-series, with a look at KDE’s governance and how our community has been changing.
These articles are based on a talk given at conf.kde.in by Jos Poortvliet with lots of input from KDE contributors. A more extensive version of these articles, quoting members of the KDE community for more background, can be found in the upcoming (August) issue of Linux Voice magazine, ‘the magazine that gives back to the Free Software community’
Events, videos, and a fantastic competition are all featured in this edition of the RuneScape Community Chronicle.
Drupal.org will be affected by maintenance Wednesday, July 2nd, 13:00 PDT (July 2nd, 20:00 UTC).