Wednesday, October 12, 2011

2 days to go and KDE turns 15!

Whoooo. Just 2 more days until KDE can celebrate the 15th birthday. Have you prepered your presents ;-)
And even more important: Are you ready to party?

Find more information on the dot.

October 14th—a global celebration of freedom and achievement!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Back from the Desktop Summit 2011 in Berlin

Perhaps I am the last one writing about the wonderful Desktop Summit in Berlin some days ago. Nevertheless I want to summarize my personal highlights.

The Desktop Summit was awesome. I had the pleasure to meet people (old and new friends from all over the world), discuss complicated stuff face-to-face and of cause: have a lot of fun together.

In a combined cross desktop marketing BoF we discussed some ideas how we (GNOME and KDE) could join forces to get bigger media coverage (e.g. TV, radio or big newspapers). One intresting first step is by paying attention on our messages. It occured that the message was: "... is THE Linux Desktop Environment" or "A is better than B".

From a commercial marketing perspective this is very common. Just a little bit ignoring the reality and making a strong statement (with the hope the unknowing reader is going to believe it) is usual. On the other hand this takes us (down) to the same level of trust many of the big companies have today. Exacletly this is one of the big differences we want to make. We are NOT like these big companies, playing with "the truth" to manipulate people. So we agreed to use phrases like "... is ONE of the leading / bigest / ... Desktop Environments for Linux" etc. There is GNOME, there is the KDE Plasma Workspace etc. and if we look at the whole market we see, that the big competition is not the other community.

Further I had some good discussions with different people about the improvement of the business side of KDE. Recent (economic) developments showed us the danger of having only a few, but big companies in our environment. The big ones are very nice, however, we gain stability by having many small businesses as well in our ecosystem. You might like business or not. But who would deny some money for hacking on his/her favorite open source project?

I recognized with big pleasure how powerful, creative and successful small/medium companies could be when they cooperate. Plasma Active is here one excellent example. In my view we need more such cooperation. There were some ideas how we, the community could build a better context for those developments.

Besides the talks and BoFs there were many techical and social activities together.

 Hacking on computers ...

 ... and hacking on the piano ...

 ... or having lunch together.

 Jos did again his collaborative open source cooking.

There were really many great events. One of my personal favorite was the football match (thanks to openSUSE/SUSE for sponsoring).

Like last year I came back with a huge motivation and many plans how I could help to bring KDE further. As I know big plans and great ideas do not matter in our world, it is the result, the things you have actually done. My daylife hit me (not really soft) when I came back and I did a poor job for KDE so far. Other times will come in a few months.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Preparing my talk about conflict management for the Desktop Summit

This is my favorite place to prepare my talk for the Desktop Summit in Berlin. It is about conflict management in communities and teams. Watch it on Aug. 6th from 12:00 until 12:30, room: Audimax.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Last chance: Vote on openSUSE strategy

The vote on the openSUSE strategy is closing on 30th of june. So official openSUSE members have the opportunity for ONE more day to express their opinion.

Take your chance. It is here: go, read the document one more time and cast your vote!

And if you are not sure if it is important, here you find some hints.

And BTW:

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Visiting Randa: The multi sprint

Last Saturday I visited Randa to see my friends working hard on the future of KDE. There were about 60 developers in the house, hacking and discussing everywhere.

Hacking everywhere - The nepomuk and multimedia crowd

Especially for my they did some lightning talks to give my an overview. (I haven't expected less.)

The audience is listening

Sebas was explaining the whys and the hows about plasma active.
Miliam talked about new features of KDevelop like the plasma based dashboard and python language support.
Frederik Gladhorn presented some work about accessibility.
Harald Sitter gave an overview about KDE multimedia covering Phonon, Amarok, Tomahawk kde'n'live and more.
Finally the Fluffy gang reveled there plans to go Flinky.

Also some "work" was done outside.

Platform_11 team at work

Finally Sebas gave us a demo of the plasma active tablet. The usability was not so bad. Even my 3yo daughter could change activities.

My impression during the short time was that a lot of work was done yet and a lot was waiting to be done. I am sad I could not stay longer. But it was a pleasure meeting you all again. See you in Berlin.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Strategy is alive

CC by nc sa mikep @flickr

There was a long pause during the strategy process. Now the strategy team is working on it again. News are coming the next days. Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Contributions that matter

CC-BY-NC-SA by __Dori__ @ flickr

In the last days I read two post on planetkde and planetsuse, written by (to me) new contributors with the best intention to help their projects. However the response of the community was not as positive as they would have expected. What happened?

3 types of potential new contributors

Some lines from my last years Akademy paper.
"Krogh, Spaeth and Lakhani analyzed the characters of potential new contributors in mailing lists.[12] Based on that work three types could be found.
  • Proactive problem-solver: They use the program, find a bug, and work out the solution. In the first mail to the list they send the patch. These people are very successful in communities and often become continuous contributors.
  • Waiting volunteer: This group offers their abilities to the community and waits until they get a job allocated. In general this character is not very active. Most communities can not integrate them successfully.
  • Visionary: They use the program and have ideas on how the program should be improved. Although visions and aims are important in communities, the character-type visionary is not successful. In the past his/her visions were not identical with the ideas of the code developers. The resulting costs of conflicts exceed the benefits of the discussion."
Even the headline of one of the post gives you a hint which type might be behind the post in question. Visionaries often use words like "it should", "you have to" etc. instead of "I have done" or "I am going to do".

Results matter - words do not

In open source communities the developers decide what they do. They want to get work done. In most cases they have a vision for their project and not enough time to do as much as they would like to. That's one of the reasons why achievement is the currency. Talking and writing visions is not. If you want a change - do it.

This does not mean, that your contribution is not appreciated. The contrary is the truth.

Contributions that make a difference

KDE as well as openSUSE have special pages to guide new contributors. They propose your first steps into the project. (You will find other useful information about how to start contributing at openhatch a plattform to bring new contributors and projects together.)

Contributions that make a difference are contributions which are important and valuable from the perspective of the community; things the developers want to get done. Help them and you will succeed. Junior Jobs (JJ) are a good starting point as well.

Start now doing things!

There is really a lot to do. Your contribution is very welcome. Visions are important in communities, but they are not the best point to start with.
Instead, grab a task the community needs to be done. Inform yourself first, invest some time and love. Then contact the mailing list and post your questions or ask for a mentor. Present a solution and be amazed by the positive feedback you might receive.

Good luck!

P.S.: If you have an idea how the program could be improved use the provided tools (the brainstorm section in the KDE forum is the place for your are locking for; more experienced users could open a feature request at; openSUSE has openFATE.) or contact the developers on the mailing list.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

GSoC idea 3: Store annotations within PDF

As I mentioned in my previous post I can't mentor GSoC students myself and therefore are looking for a developer to jump in for me.

GSoC idea 3: Store annotations in PDF file

Application/component: Okular/Poppler

Brief explanation:
It is possible to store annotations with Okular. They are saved in separat files. One of the most wanted bugs is 151614 (123 comments, 739 votes). It would be awsome to have that feature in our wonderful Okular.

Expected results:
  1. Store annotations in the PDF file.
  2. If that is not enough apped support to modify the PDF (insert, delete pages etc.)
In my next life I will become a developer and the I could mentor that project myself. Until this happens I am really hoping someone else steps up.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

GSoC idea 2: Improved (more elegant) keygeneration in KMail/Kleopatra

As I mentioned in my previous post I can't mentor GSoC students myself and therefore are looking for a developer to jump in for me.

GSoC idea 2: Improved (more elegant) keygeneration in KMail/Kleopatra

Application/component: KDEPIM/KMail and Kleopatra

Brief explanation:
Signing and encrypting emails is very old, however only a minority is using it. One reason might be, that it is not easy enough for regular users to use it. The importance for private and business users is still high. Private companies started to sell proprietary, secure e-mail services (e.g. in Germany DE-Mail and e-brief). There are good key creation, signing and other key management functions present in KDE software. The goal of this proposal is to make it easy and fast to work with signed and encrypted emails.

Expected results:
  1. Analyze and optimize the key creation, signing etc processes, make it dumb easy to create and use a key/signature. One way could be to add a button “Generate Key” (next to “Change”) in the KMail – Identity settings – Cryptographie; start the key creation wizard from Kleopatra and take the name and email address from that identity (at the moment you have to enter them manually). The user just has to enter the passphrase and is done. Offer a button “Save private key and revoke key on usb” or something like this and “send public key to server” / “Make key public”. Add the key creation (or import possibilities) into the identity / account creation wizard of KMail. Add the possibility to create revoke keys within the gui (when sending the key to the server, there is an information message yet.) 
  2. Guide the user through the whole process of signing and encrypting/decrypting emails. Offer possibilities to learn about the topic in an easy and fast way (offline help, online help / wiki, videos, tutorials etc). Show how they use the keys, how they get their keys signed, how they sign other keys etc. 
  3. Integrate other free/open services like CAcert. 
These are just some ideas. If there is someone interested I could go more into details if necessary.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

GSoC: Mentors wanted! - Elegant display settings for presentations

I recently mentored some students during the Google Code In project. Now the preparations for Google Summer of Code have begun. Unfortunately I am not a hacker, I am a promo guy and I can't mentor here. Nevertheless I have some ideas for GSoC and I hope to scratch somebodies itch so she or he will mentor that idea. 

Idea 1: (More elegant) Display settings for presentations 

Application/component: Plasma

Brief explanation: The handling of multiple screens has continuously improved during the last releases. The handling of a stationary setting of two screens seems to be rather good. When it comes to presentation-mode with a projector I would be delighted to see even more elegance (simplicity).

Expected results: When doing presentations there is in general only one question to decide. The presentation mode:
  1. The same picture of both screens or 
  2. The notes on the notebook, the presentation on the projector. 
To 1: Autodetect the smallest max. resolution of the two displays. Instead of scaling the picture to full screen it would be nicer to keep the ration and leave some space blank on the left and right notebook screen.

To 2: Autodetect the max. resolution of each of the two displays and set those different resolutions. The panel, all the widgets and all the open windows should stay on the notebook screen. The projector screen shows only the wallpaper. It does not matter if the projector “screen” is located above or on the right or wherever of the notebook screen.

It would be very useful to link that dialog to the keyboard shortcut (e.g. Fn+F7) or to start it automatically when a projector is attached. (At the moment I have to start krandrtray from krunner first or have the symbol in the taskbar all the time. I am not sure if a new users could work that out in a couple of seconds.)

Save the display/plasma settings (esp. widget positions etc.) to restore them when the projector is detached. (Perhaps that could be solved with activities.)

Extra points: It is possible to save the standard settings. In a second step different screen setting profiles could be saved and loaded (like in powerdevil). Presentation-mode 1 and 2 could be such profiles and a user could modify them (e.g. projector on top or right) if it is necessary.

So what do you think. Is that scratching your itch? Can you imagine how cool this would be to have? At least for me as a presenter that would really rock.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Free/Open Content for promo

I am presenting and promoting open source software at various locations. It is much more impressive to show the power of KDE/Linux when you have some content with you; Amarok rocking the booth is much more attracting than a plain KDE Plasma Desktop (the plain Plasma Desktop is attracting anyway but it could be enriched :-) ). Interested people could play around by themselves if they find some data on the demo machine. You can't do much expect moving Dolphin windows with a blank system (unfortunately most live CDs don't provide content). We wanted to change that. So I submitted a couple of tasks during the Google Code in project.

* we have cc music (which works with Amarok's Wikipedia, lyrics and CD cover downloads features,
* we have HQ blender videos (like sintel) to show multimedia power (moving pictures are always attracting),
* we have documents in ODF- and MS-formats to show the import/export capabilities,
* we have pictures for your favorite photo-management software (like digiKam or Gwenview).

The next step would be to create compressed archives to make it possible to download the whole packages but I haven't found a good place to put them.

You can download the content onto your promo machine (e.g. I put it into my demo-user home directory) or integrate the content onto live CDs (or more likely DVDs when talking about videos).
With Suse Studio you can create a live CD/DVD/USB-Stick within a couple of minutes. You can choose the applications you want to have included and you can upload all the demo content.

Perhaps the creators of live CDs find some space on their media to include at least parts of that demo content. IMHO it would significantly increase the experience for a our users / testers.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Google Code In – My Summary

(C) by Wade Olsen

It was my first time I mentored a couple of students during a Google sponsored project. It was possible to submit non-coding tasks as well. So I focused on promo stuff.

Over all I submitted ten tasks (nine could be closed).

The first block of tasks (solved by Todor Stoyanov and Paul) was about the creation of a free/open content collection that could be shown during demos and presentations or could be integrated into live CD/DVDs.

The second block of task was covering KDE and FLOSS in the area of education (solved by TheOne and Giannis Konstantinidis). It started with a survey of needs of students, doing the survey, analyzing student tasks and ended with a concept for students how to promote KDE and FLOSS at their school (incl. promo material e.g. a poster, presentation, talking points for students etc.). One of the students is going to test it within his school. Isn't that rocking?

I truly believe that KDE and FLOSS (esp. KDE EDU and the openSUSE based Desktop4Education and Server4Education projects) have so much to offer for schools and students. We should do even more in this area.

For me it was very difficult to set the level and the time needed to fulfill the task when I was submitting it. It depends so much on the skills and the age of the student. The task to find free music and test it with Amarok (support for CD cover, lyrics and Wikipedia information) would be easy for a student with installed KDE and with some experiences with free and open stuff. A student new to the open source world will need days to work out that (for him) difficult task.

All in all it was much more work than I expected, on the other side it was a wonderful experience to see how the students developed themselves over time (and how fast the tasks were taken). It was a great success and I am looking forward to the next time.

@my students: Thanks for your contribution. It was a great pleasure to work with you. Let's keep in touch. Let's keep on rocking the world!