How much do you really know about all of the various distributions that
have KDE as their desktop default? With the flexibility of KDE and our
applications, distributions are able to focus on different goals, target
different users, and develop different personalities. Every couple of weeks, KDE Dot News will interview a distro maintainer to discuss the history of their distribution, what they are focusing on now and what their goals are in the future. To begin with we talk to Tomas Matejicek, the
founder and maintainer of SLAX,
a LiveCD based from Slackware.
The primary goal of SLAX is "to provide a wide collection of useful
software while keeping the CD image small enough to be written to a
185MB CD medium (small 8cm CD). SLAX boots directly from the CD or
USB devices and it provides a full featured Linux operating system." You
can learn more about SLAX on their features page and
download one of its versions and modules on their download page.
Can you tell us about the history of your distribution?
SLAX started back in 2002. It was just a test to make Slackware Linux
run from CD, but when several people found it useful then I decided to
start the project.
Why did you choose KDE and which version of KDE did you first implement?
I chose KDE because Slackware installs KDE into /opt so it was
very easy to distinguish KDE files and the rest of the system. Moreover
I like the look of KDE, in my opinion it has the best icons
available. The version of KDE was 3.1.
How did you find initial support for a new distro?
I didn't find any. I tried sourceforge.net, but they refused to provide
web space for SLAX. I had to setup my own server and pay for it.
What could KDE have done better to help new distros use KDE?
I would suggest a better packaging system. For example, when I wish to
install KWord, I must install all the rest of the KOffice package. This
is usually not any problem for end user, but for distro packagers it's
important. Nobody wants useless files.
What were your first impressions about KDE's documentation and community?
It's huge! :)
How closely do your releases depend on KDE releases?
In the past, it has been very close. Nowadays it doesn't depend on it,
but it's always nice to have the latest version of KDE in SLAX, of course.
Do you have a clear target audience for your distro?
All users who need very small system with KDE.
Do you have any user feedback mechanism? If so, what feedback do they have about KDE?
Yes, users talk to me personally by email, or by using our web-based forum.
They say only good things about KDE, they like it because it looks so
good. Moreover I choose only KDE applications for SLAX so the whole
desktop seems very coherent, all apps look the same. Users like it, of course there are still some people who suggest FluxBox :)
In what ways do you customise the version of KDE that ships with your distro?
I'm using Slackware's packages only for Arts, Qt, KDEBase and KDELibs.
The rest is recompiled because I want to include only some
applications, not the whole packages. For example, I include KWord,
KSpread and KPresenter in SLAX but nothing else from the KOffice package.
What are the biggest strengths of KDE for your distro?
The design. The icons. The amount of applications shipped with KDE.
What are the biggest weaknesses?
The applications shipped with KDE :) As I said, it's hard to compile
KWord alone. This should be improved IMHO.
What KDE applications are the most popular among your users?
I don't know. SLAX uses only KDE applications as default so it's hard to
say. I think that Kopete is very important, KPlayer (mplayer frontend)
and K3b (burning software).
Do you feel that you have a good relationship with the KDE community?
I don't know. I don't talk with KDE people much. But KDE are
using SLAX as a base for the official KDE Live CD (Klax) and I like it :)
What feature would you as a distro maintainer like to see in KDE?
Easily customisable package building. Possibility to compile only one application from the package (again, the previously mentioned KWord, for example). Maybe this is already possible but I didn't find any documentation. The DONT_COMPILE variable doesn't work well for me.
Is the extended 4.0 release cycle an issue for your distro?
Not at all.
What are you most looking forward to about the 4.0 release?
Wobbly windows by using 2D acceleration (without 3D cards).
Do you plan any involvement in the beta/RC releases of the 4.0 release?
Sure I test every beta/RC, moreover sometimes I release KDE RC versions
with SLAX too.
Any other plans for your distro in the future?
Sure, a lot of plans, but not about KDE :)