KDE at FOSDEM 2006

Last weekend, the Free and Open Source Software Developers' European Meeting took place in Brussels. KDE was present there with a lot of developers, a devroom and several interesting talks. Among the speakers were Jonathan Riddell from the Kubuntu Distribution, Sebastian Kügler from the KDE's Marketing Working Group, Bart Coppens from the Krita development team and Raphael Langerhorst & Sander Koning from the KOffice teams.

Bart's Krita talk

FOSDEM's first day was a fruitful and busy time for the KDE developers. Not only did we give out 800 Kubuntu CDs, we also spoke with many enthusiastic users and developers who are interested in the development of KDE.

The day kicked off with a lengthy keynote from Richard Stallman about software patents. He made some interesting points countering the propaganda coming from the pro-patents lobby and warned us of the new European Patent Consultation which is very likely to include allowing software patents in Europe. He also described the changes made in the GPL 3 licence.

The Kubuntu talk by Jonathan Riddell (Slides) filled the KDE devroom to the top. One of the topics the talk covered was the usability improvements and simplifications Kubuntu made to the KDE desktop. Work is also being done on several KDE based tools from Guidance for installing and configuring the underlying OS. Another exciting development is the Rosetta support added to KDE. Rosetta will make the translation of KDE easier by offering a web based interface for translators to work with. The package manager tool Adept will soon feature a simplified application installer and a notification applet for updates. Lastly, a live CD installer is being developed, which will allow for a single-CD distribution, live CD and installation to hard disk all on one disk.

The marketing KDE talk, Roadmap to World Domination (slides, notes), given by Sebastian Kügler described how KDE is working on marketing related issues in a methodical and structured way. SpreadKDE is the guerrilla-marketing platform which will enable the community to evangelise KDE to the world. Coordination has been missing in the past, and the Marketing Team is working to change that. The talk received a lot of positive feedback and questions, showing the importance of and interest in the work being done in that area.

Sunday, KOffice day on FOSDEM.

The first talk about KOffice in the Enterprise (slides, notes) resulted in some questions about migrating from MS Office to KOffice. There are already tools available, for example Kexi can now import many Microsoft Access database files directly. The many components in KOffice deliver everything one needs in a much more integrated fashion compared to other office suites and using a fifth the amount of code compared to OpenOffice. This tight integration and small footprint, combined with excellent scripting capabilities, are the key advantages KOffice has to offer to its users.

News also came in from the localisation front. Originally thought of last year at Akademy, a working screenshot-automation script was presented by Sander Koning(slides, notes). This amazing piece of work will save translators and documentation writers hours of work by automatically creating screenshots of applications in all of the languages that KDE supports.

Relaxing after the first day

Bart Coppens presented the new features in Krita 1.5 (slides, notes) to a full room of developers. Krita 1.4 was a technology preview, great in itself, and generated much renewed interest in Krita. But the really impressive features will be available to the world in KOffice 1.5, due to be released next month. It will include industry-strength tablet support, powerful independent colourspaces, full colour profile support, OpenGL acceleration and experimental scripting support.

The bug fixing frenzy for the layer support code resulted in much better and more flexible layer support, with features like previews, grouping, tooltips and drag 'n' drop. Krita can also embed any kind of KPart in a picture, like a KWord document or a chart from KChart. This will work even better in KOffice 2.0 using the improved functionality in Qt4.

One very cool new feature is Adjustment layers. Using these you can apply effects without changing the underlying picture. Using the group layer function you can adjust part of a layer, a whole layer or even several grouped layers at a time.

Another exciting new feature is watercolour support - painting with virtual watercolour paint on textured paper. This feature will most likely be disabled in the 1.5.0 release, as it is still not entirely stable - but 1.5.1 should bring this to the masses. Clearly the work on Krita and KOffice in general,
is going so fast that the developers have had a hard time slowing down enough to concentrate on stabilising it for normal use. The presentation ended with a long preview of a recent snapshot of Krita.

Sander Koning concluded the day with a quick presentation Better Looks for KOffice (slides, notes) about the visual consistency coming to the different KOffice components for the 1.5 release in about one month.

The KDE team would like to thank everybody who paid us a visit at FOSDEM 2006 and most of all, the FOSDEM organisers themselves who make this event possible each year. We hope to see everyone again next year in Brussels!


wow, i can't even recognize the first part (thanx fabrice and all other editors ;-))...

ow, and krita has been delayed a little...

anyway, FOSDEM was great, as others already said. looking back at it, i think the friday evening drink time was the best moment ;-)

tough i was amazed by Koffice 1.5...

By superstoned at Mon, 2006/02/27 - 6:00am

Hoi Joske,

Simon did most of the reviewing I believe. So many thanks to Simon.

Kind regards,


By Fab at Mon, 2006/02/27 - 6:00am

I must say that from what I've read here and in blogs, it seems as if everybody has done a really great job for KDE and KOffice! Thank you!

By Inge Wallin at Tue, 2006/02/28 - 6:00am

The progress on KOffice is stunning , I'm blown away. My compliments to the developers.

It looks like KOffice is going to become a OpenOffice killer, and Krita specifically a GIMP killer.

If I wouldn't need OpenOffice's MS Word .doc exporting capabilities (last time I tried KOffice wasn't so good at that) because of all my fellow students who use nothing else than MS Office, I would probably be using KOffice 1.5 exclusively when 1.5 is released. I know it would probably suck to reverse-engineer .doc exporting, but it is an essential feature for me.

Haven't heard much about Karbon though. It would be cool to have Karbon as an alternative to Inkscape, but atm Inkscape is still better.

By F for Fragging at Tue, 2006/02/28 - 6:00am

When exporting to MS word the best way usually are to export as rtf, in fact that's what MS Word itself does when exporting to some of the other MS word versions. It even lies and calls the files .doc, when they are actually are rtf files.

By Morty at Tue, 2006/02/28 - 6:00am

There's been a lot of work on Karbon and Karbon is much nicer than it was. Usability, stability, features, import and export -- lots of very impressive work.

By Boudewijn Rempt at Tue, 2006/02/28 - 6:00am

"KOffice in the Enterprise" and it could have been better: I left 30min after the beginning because the presenter have said only a few general things but repeated them 3 or 4 times which was a bit too much for me to bear.

Now, making a good speech is *hard* so it's not really a criticism..
Stallman was quite impressive in this regards but he has been doing it for a long time!

By renox at Tue, 2006/02/28 - 6:00am

Yes, in fact I did repeat myself a few times (always slightly shifting the focus). To make sure the message gets through - the facts I presented are basically THE (general) key points for the success of KOffice. I'm sorry if it was too much (or too often) for you.

We had quite some lengthy discussions and questions afterwards, which were more specific.

By Raphael at Wed, 2006/03/01 - 6:00am

The thing is: just before I assisted to a very hard presentation on 'patch algebra' (that I didn't understood really because the presenter was going *very* fast) and then I came to your session where the rythm was so different (quite too slow for me: studying difficults facts from several point of view is ok, presenting simple generalities several times even from a slightly different POV is boring).

Note that I'm not claiming that I could have done any better: it's *very easy* to criticize, but it's quite hard to do..

By renox at Thu, 2006/03/02 - 6:00am

After recording it on my digital camera, I made a transcript of RMS describing the proposed changes in the GPL 3 licence: http://www.ifso.ie/documents/rms-gplv3-2006-02-25.html

There're also two sources of videos:

* ftp://ftp.belnet.be/pub/mirror/FOSDEM/
* http://free-electrons.com/community/videos/conferences

By Ciaran O'Riordan at Fri, 2006/03/03 - 6:00am