JAN
29
2002

People of KDE: Chris Howells

From the old british kingdom, Tink brings to you this week the feelings and the thoughts of Chris Howells. One of the youngest members of our community, Chris is an excellent proof of the kind of diversity and richness that KDE's people bring to the project. In the distant time of glory and legend when KDE got started, Chris was too young to even care. Yet he grew to appreciate what we do and he decided to get involved in web design and, recently, to learn about writing code for KDE. A typical sample of the "People behind KDE" series.

Comments

I wonder, has anyone answered anything but "The dishwasher" to the question about who washes the dishes? It seems that KDE developers have a particular distaste for washing dishes manually.

Hmm, I wonder what the tally is for BSD or Linux kernel hackers, or GNOME developers perhaps...


By Carbon at Wed, 2002/01/30 - 6:00am

>I wonder, has anyone answered anything but "The dishwasher" to the question about who washes the dishes? It seems that KDE >developers have a particular distaste for washing dishes manually.
Simply because answering my wife or girlfriend is not politically correct ;-P


By Chouimat at Wed, 2002/01/30 - 6:00am

Err, if you had the choice between using a dishwasher and doing it by hand, would you choose to do it by hand? You think it's strange that people like conveniences? I'll bet they wash their clothes in a machine, too ...


By KDE User at Wed, 2002/01/30 - 6:00am

Well, that depends. Not everybody has a dishwasher. Myself, give a choice between a top of the line dishwasher and washing machine or a top of the line SGI workstation, well.... there'd be no contest :-)


By Carbon at Wed, 2002/01/30 - 6:00am

Well I remember years and years ago ;-)), when Waldo and I just had our own apartment, doing the dishes together was a great way of catching up on eachothers day and have some nice chats.
Now, we have a dishwasher and I must admit it has create a void in our relationship ;-)
On the other hand it has created a new bond, teaching how to stock the dishwasher.
What is it with men and aspecially developers that they seem incapable of lining up cups and plates?

Just pondering.......

--
Tink


By Tink at Sat, 2002/02/02 - 6:00am

I am sure you miss the speed of KDE 1, I wonder how could you work on KDE 2.x on such a decent PC for KDE 1 and not for KDE 2.x which needs 500+MHz and still it won't surpass the speed of KDE 1 :(

KDE3 = speed of KDE1 + features of KDE 2...


By Asif Ali Rizwaan at Wed, 2002/01/30 - 6:00am

Are you insane?

KDE2 runs fine on an AMD K6 233!


By Charles Samuels at Wed, 2002/01/30 - 6:00am

Hey, its Asif we're talking about. he has to get his dig in on KDE2 at least once per story. if it isn't speed that he's complaining about, it's a laundry list of features. on a positive note, he manages to consistently post off-topic.


By Aaron J. Seigo at Wed, 2002/01/30 - 6:00am

As long as he's consistent... :)


By Charles Samuels at Wed, 2002/01/30 - 6:00am

He probably ....

1) compiles Qt with exceptions
2) compiles a totally unoptimized KDE
3) has apache, ftpd, samba, cupsd, sshd, inetd, and a few other services running in the background
4) confuses startup time with runtime performance
5) has a ton of bookmarks slowing Konq 2.x startup further

with the net effect of his KDE feeling as slow as a dog.

Maybe he also uses gcc 2.91, making things worse yet.


By Neil Stevens at Wed, 2002/01/30 - 6:00am

I don't know this guy at all but..

Shouldn't KDE have decent performance *without* optimizing it?

I know for sure that he's not the only one with the opinion that KDE got bad performance.

Nope, I'm not expecting an interesting discussion out of this.

regards,
Frans


By Frans at Wed, 2002/01/30 - 6:00am

Not true. The thing about it is, KDE provides only source. The types of optimizatinos he's referring to all occur in the compile or runtime stage, which the kde project doesn't have direct control over.

Besides, often KDE is blamed for the wrong thing. Before saying that KDE is slow, try:

- Patching your kernel to be preemptive
- Compiling your kernel with the nifty-fast Intel compiler
- Compiling your kernel, XFree86, and any other base software you use with maximum compile time optimizations.

That should help considerably.


By Carbon at Wed, 2002/01/30 - 6:00am

My kernel is preemptive(2.4.17), compiled with ordinary gcc 2.95.3. Xfree 4.1 compiled from source, no optimization(except i686).

Compiling glibc would probably help some..

But nothing of this affects memory usage.. right?

And my definition of "optimization" includes fast, clean, small written code combined with good design/system architecture. I'm not saying that KDE hasn't the stuff I mentioned(I actually don't know); no one really explain to me why KDE consumes so much resources.

regards,
Frans


By Frans at Wed, 2002/01/30 - 6:00am

KDE Consumes VERY little resources!

Half of our users say: "I want animated cursors and neon window borders and 6 different sets of icons, all at the same time!"

The other half say: "KDE is too slow" or "KDE takes too much memory"

Well here are a few facts:
a) memory usage is proportional to features. You just CAN'T have something with a lot of features be as fast as something with minimal features (so as long as the one with minimal features isn't slow as hell because of lousy coding :)
b) top is wildly inaccurate at reporting memory usage. Pretty much the only thing it's useful for is CPU usage, and even then it's not very accurate.

KDE developers try to take the middle ground. We try to have a fair amount of features (so it doesn't get TOO slow). But we also write tight, fast code, sometimes at the sacrifice of features.

Naturally, this causes lusers, such as yourself, Asif, to complain about either speed or features, since you've not mastered the fine art compromise.

This compromise means that KDE takes a minimum of 64mb of ram, but somehow, we manage to squeeze in about 80mb worth of features. I've used it for a long time with 64mb. It worked fine so as long as I didn't run gdb or gcc.

How about you stop complaining and thank us for the fantastic job we've done.. and then move to afterstep or windowmaker which might take less memory, because it has fewer features?


By Charles Samuels at Wed, 2002/01/30 - 6:00am

Hallelujia!
I, for one, am blown out of the water that KDE is as fast as it is, given what it does, how well it does it, and the fact that it's largely *NIX cross-platform. Congrats, to the KDE folks. To the whiners, go run twm.

And, I'd like to ask, how bad is it *really* when something takes, say 3 seconds to start vs 2?


By Shamyl Zakariya at Wed, 2002/01/30 - 6:00am

Hey.. Shamyl and Charles, we're one the same side. I've submitted numerous bugreports and working on fixing bug #37250. I know, it's a _very_ basic thing (not that basic to me, I'm still on the "C++ for Dummies" level which means I need to look up how to construct a while loop..) but it's the idea that counts.

Am I accepted now?

> And, I'd like to ask, how bad is it *really* when something takes, say 3 >seconds to start vs 2?

Why ask me? Isn't it a fact that alot of people whines about performance? If you put 3s vs 2s in a situation I will give you my opinion. +-1sec in KDE startup means nothing but rendering a HTML page is a whole other thing. Don't you agree?
KDE is fast if you _know_ how to do it, if you're a developer. In my opinion, the only thing that's interesting is how good the official releases included in distributions perform ,causes that's what the majority of the users will run.(well, perhaps not right now but KDE's target audience is those who run the big distributions without the knowledge how to apply all the fancy speed tweaks).

I've posted an extensive post on kde-linux regarding KDE's performance, let's continue there. I would really be glad if you read my post and perhaps commented:

http://lists.kde.org/?l=kde-linux&m=101216791307872&w=2

(btw, did I at all mention top? I'm just listening to the harddisc swapping like a mad dog ;)

Oh, one last thing; Perhaps I am a troll, perhaps(probably) I am just flaming and posting nonconstructive. BUT, that's not my intention. Do you think I am trolling? Tell me, and I'll make a better try next time.

best regards,
Frans Englich


By Frans at Wed, 2002/01/30 - 6:00am

If the distributions don't come with optimizations, then the problem is not with KDE, it is with the distros. Go complain to them. They can and should provide the most optimized KDE possible, but the KDE project cannot influence how they compile their packages.

KDE developers already think about speed, and they don't need you to tell them to do so. From their point of view you are just another person whining about performance (though I see you are working to become a developer, which is great). There are no easy explanations for exactly why KDE takes up X MB of RAM or takes X seconds to do action Y. The developers can't just tell you "oh, the reason KDE is slow is _this_." Of course people are working on making KDE faster, for example Waldo was doing several performance-related things for KDE 3. And the GCC guys are working on their end of things with the new prelinking stuff.


By not me at Thu, 2002/01/31 - 6:00am

That sounds fair enough.

Anyway, as always these discussions at the dot always freak out..

regards,
Frans


By Frans at Thu, 2002/01/31 - 6:00am

"KDE's target audience is those who run the big distributions without the knowledge how to apply all the fancy speed tweaks"

Is this generally accepted to be true? I always assumed that since most KDE developers are volunteers, that they are their own target audience...aren't they making the DE that *they* want to use, first and foremost?


By LMCBoy at Fri, 2002/02/01 - 6:00am

"It is our hope that the combination UNIX/KDE will finally bring the same open, reliable, stable and monopoly free computing to the average computer user that scientist and computing professionals world-wide have enjoyed for years."

Quoted from http://www.kde.org/whatiskde/index.html


By Bill at Sat, 2002/02/02 - 6:00am

Well, I for one like KDE a lot. I recently reinstalled my work machine, and I kept my old OS-rotted Windows partition, but have yet to reinstall Windows cause KDE works so well.

Of course there are improvements we can make, that's why people are still interested in getting involved, but it does pretty well these days. I'm particularly hoping the usability people can help make KDE a sleeker to use.

As far as the startup times go, isn't that largely the linker, and that whole objprelink business? Supposed the gcc/g++ people were looking at that. Anyone know if any progress has been made?

EE


By Eric E at Wed, 2002/01/30 - 6:00am

i'm not shure but i think something is wrong with my machine. i use an amd duron 1.3 Ghz, with i GB of sdram and an nvidia geforce fx 5200. the hardware accelerated driver from nvidia are also installed.

i use kde, i compiled it from source and i'm very happy with it's look, it's features. but i can't run opengl apps like quake3, wolfenstein on kde. i tried with the fastest preferences in the game, lowest resolution... no chance, it is not gamable. on afterstep, i have no problems with the games, best-quality-preferences are really usable.

i wonder if kde would be faster if i'd install from binary packages.

but anyway, i use kde, i like it, i can change to afterstep just for gaming.

congratulations to all the kde developers, well done!

greetings


By tizz at Tue, 2003/10/28 - 6:00am

ugh ?
-patching your kernel to be preemptive.
this is to get LOWER LATENCIES. your computer won't be faster.
-since when can i compile my kernel with a non-gcc compiler ?
-those compile time optimisations won't do a lot.

please. We're not encoding mp3's or playing movies here. We're running a DE.


By ik at Thu, 2002/01/31 - 6:00am

-patching your kernel to be preemptive.
this is to get LOWER LATENCIES. your computer won't be faster.

It won't calculate faster, but it will respond faster if under load..
It will feel faster and more responsive, okay?


By Moritz Moeller-... at Thu, 2002/01/31 - 6:00am

Pre-emptive patching will help the system to respond faster, including the DE, if it's under load, or if it's doing something time sensitive (like aRts)

You can compile the kernel with a non-gcc compiler. STFW.

Compile time optimizations will help. It probably won't be more significant then, say, 10 or 15%, but it will be noticable, especially if they're applied to the things that are doing the most low-level work (kernel, XFree, etc).


By Carbon at Thu, 2002/01/31 - 6:00am

How you compile is as important as what code you're compiling. Try khtml/konqueror compiled with egcs 1.1.2, then try it with gcc 2.95.3, then see if you still wonder how important the build is to KDE performance.


By Neil Stevens at Thu, 2002/01/31 - 6:00am

Hmm. Which one is faster?


By Navindra Umanee at Thu, 2002/01/31 - 6:00am

Building any release software without optimizations with gcc is a very bad
idea -- since according to gcc developers themselves [see gcc mailing list archives], the code produced by gcc without optimizations is very slow, while
code compiled with even simples one is good.
That is hardly KDE's fault, of course, and it's simply a quirk of the compiler.

Further, by default, gcc will build code for a 386...
The chip in your machine is very different, and can do things
much faster even with slight rearrangements on the instruction stream..


By Sad Eagle at Fri, 2002/02/01 - 6:00am

>4) confuses startup time with runtime performance

Interesting point. KDE often gets bashed of its slow startup time, but runtime performance is much more important. I don't really know why the startup time is so important.


By Loranga at Wed, 2002/01/30 - 6:00am

Agree.. I never close my apps, having Konq/Kmail/Konsole running all the time. The only time I need to restart them is when they crash (which means very rarely. ;))


By Johnny Andersson at Wed, 2002/01/30 - 6:00am

Njaard, how about 'KDE2 runs fine on an AMD K& 233' and without 'Are you insane?'

Asif doesn't deserve being called 'insane', just because he stated that his KDE is slow.

Some people experience that KDE is slow just because they use too many animations. For example, if people have slow animation on shade/restore checked they will have feeling that overall performance is lousy.
Many people save Konqueror profiles with urls and they complain it takes 20 seconds to start Konqueror.

KDE is extremely fast even without objprelink compilation, but everyone should know how to tweak it. Maybe we need a web-site (a new one in our kde.org family) with good advices about tweaking and optimizing KDE. If we had that you wouldn't need to read again and again posting where people complain about KDE being slow.

Here:
Login to KDE 2.2.1 = 6 seconds, log out of KDE 2.2.1 = 3 seconds, starting Konqueror <1 sec.


By antialias at Thu, 2002/01/31 - 6:00am

>>Maybe we need a web-site (a new one in our kde.org family) with good advices about tweaking and optimizing KDE. If we had that you wouldn't need to read again and again posting where people complain about KDE being slow.<<

The problem is that those people who are complaining don't seem to be those who do something against it...


By Anynomous one at Fri, 2002/02/01 - 6:00am

This discussion ***again***..... :-(


By Johnny Andersson at Wed, 2002/01/30 - 6:00am

Asif, was that you who came by the booth today with the list of demands for KDE 3?

I can't believe I missed you -- it would have been like enacting the Dot in real life!


By KDE Booth at LWE at Thu, 2002/01/31 - 6:00am

He should change his nick to C++-Howells ;-)


By Steven at Wed, 2002/01/30 - 6:00am

I'm also learning C++ at the moment. The KDE source is very nice to learn new things. I know Java and have a basic knowledge of OO design.

A week ago, I was browsing tru webcvs and I found Kalypso in kdenonbeta that is supposed to install KDE from scratch (using Qt). Chris was making it. It still very basic and doesn't do much. So, I gave him some advice.

A young person who can bring a lot of new ideas into KDE, that can't be bad :-)


By Andy "Storm" Go... at Wed, 2002/01/30 - 6:00am

(I was eating Marabou Chocolate when I read the interview! :) Coincidence?)

Is it possible to extend the interviews to two per week? It's really interesting to see who the people behind the cvs commits are!


By Loranga at Wed, 2002/01/30 - 6:00am

Yes, in one way that would be good.

OTOH, it's nice seing that Tink pics different people, not just those who "deserve it the most". I think it is really important.

regards,
Frans


By Frans at Wed, 2002/01/30 - 6:00am

Of course, it doesn't have to be people behind the cvs commits, KDE people in general is also interesting.


By Loranga at Wed, 2002/01/30 - 6:00am

>>I was eating Marabou Chocolate when I read the interview! <<
>> Is it possible to extend the interviews to two per week.<<

Well maybe if you would have send me the Marabou Chocolate ;-)

No I don't think so, now it's fun, 2 times a week probably gets boring.
Besides that, it's not easy to get people to submit their answers and send a photo.
Some people even never send a photo and don't get published at all and some people just never send their answers back.
It often takes weeks of harassing and flaming and stress ;-))

--
Tink


By Tink at Sat, 2002/02/02 - 6:00am

~ If you are a smoker, does it ever happen to you that your cigarette sets your ashtray on fire? How often?

This no good question as well!


By at Wed, 2002/01/30 - 6:00am

I think Tink is just expecting an answer along the lines of "Well, I haven't ever set my ashtray on fire, but one time I turned my CPU into a little puddle of melted silicon when I....". The interviees can really be more original then they are now, can't they?

Also, here's an idea: since the questions are the same for everybody, what's to prevent Tink from just making the Q&A accessible with a web interface to KDE developers? That way, any developer that wanted to be "interviewed" could do so at their leisure.


By Carbon at Wed, 2002/01/30 - 6:00am

No good.. You'd have to pretty damn self-promoting to do a thing like that. :)


By Johnny Andersson at Wed, 2002/01/30 - 6:00am

> ~ If you are a smoker, does it ever happen to you that your cigarette sets
> your ashtray on fire? How often?

> This no good question as well!

Hey, my favourite question, you wouldn't believe how often this happens to me,
coding and ashtray-depleting (sp?) are mutualy exclusive activities!
:-)
regards,
tom


By tomte at Wed, 2002/01/30 - 6:00am

getting used to smoking while you code or sit in front of the computer is the best way to start smoking 3pkgs per day.


By tester at Thu, 2002/01/31 - 6:00am

Great interview! I am glad Chris is featured in People of KDE because he does a very good job! Chris works on various KDE websites: webcvs is very useful and he set up edu.kde.org in a very short notice.
He is always willing to help and KDEEdu would not have had such a good start without him.
In the name of the kdeedu team: thanks, Chris!


By Anne-Marie Mahfouf at Wed, 2002/01/30 - 6:00am

..or maybe the -rmap VM and you shoud "see" a difference without recompilation of the KDE source. But it can't harm anyway...;-)

Regards,
Dieter


By Dieter Nützel at Thu, 2002/01/31 - 6:00am