Rex Dieter has been making the unofficial KDE Red Hat packages for some years now. Since this is a service depended upon by thousands of Red Hat users to get their required latest build of KDE, KDE Dot News interviewed Rex to find out how he got started, why the need for the project exists and how he makes the packages. Read on for the interview.
Rex with some of his packages
Please introduce yourself and your position in KDE
I am System Administrator for the Department of Mathematics at the University of Nebraska Lincoln. I hold no official KDE position other than that of packager, bugzilla/mailing-list lurker, and contributor of unofficial core packages.
What does the KDE Red Hat project provide?
KDE Red Hat primarily provides KDE core packages (kdelibs, kdebase, etc), 3rd party KDE application packages (amarok, k3b...), and mailing lists for our user community.
Why is there a need for the KDE Red Hat project?
When I started the project, there was quite a bit of animosity toward Red Hat from the KDE community. I set out to change that. It's hard to say how far we've come, but I think it's safe to say that we have built a growing, active, and enthusiastic user and developer community.
How did you start with making these packages?
Way way back, when I was using FVWM, I found some KDE 1.0 packages for Red Hat 5.2 built by Bernhard "bero" Rosenkraenzer (now of ArkLinux fame). Now, it wasn't very good by today's standards, but that's when I first became interested in KDE. It wasn't until KDE 2.0 that I started packaging KDE for our Red Hat Linux systems at work by mostly stealing... err, borrowing from Bero's Red Hat rawhide packages. By the time KDE 3.0 came around, I was getting pretty good at creating up-to-date KDE packages and started to think it might be nice to share at least some of this work with the public. So I came up with the idea of founding the kde-redhat project at sourceforge.net, and have been active ever since.
How many people work on this?
There are two project admins, Bob Tanner (who thought to register kde-redhat.org and taught me CVS basics) and myself. We currently have 7 or 8 project developers, who have CVS write access. In addition, we gladly accept package contributions from others as well.
How much time do you spend on this?
I spend anywhere between 5-20 hours per week, reading mailing lists, scouring bugzilla reports, and building packages.
What are the differences between your packages and those from Red Hat?
As time has passed, the differences are getting smaller and smaller. These days, the main differences are that we provide enhancements to KDE that Red Hat either can't enable (i.e., licensing/trademarks) or hasn't included (yet). For the latter bit, I've been trying to use kde-redhat as a test-case to Red Hat to include some or all of our improvements, and, for the most part, Red Hat has been very good accepting suggestions and enhancement requests. Sometimes it is still a slow process, so that usually means kde-redhat's packaging is still usually a step or two ahead.
Do you know how many people use this service?
I don't know, not by any measure remotely accurate anyway. OK, here's one wild statastic: 920421 RPMs were downloaded from our main repository, http://apt.kde-redhat.org/ last month. I guess that probably adds up to few folks.
Have Red Hat ever suggested your packages become the official KDE packages for Red Hat?
No, and they can't really. We include some features that Red Hat/Fedora simply cannot (due to licensing and/or trademarks). However, there is a movement to move KDE out of Fedora Core and into Fedora Extras so that it can be produced and maintained by the community (instead of exclusively by Red Hat). See the Fedora KDE wiki page. If anything ever comes of that, I've committed to assist in any way I can.
You offer both apt and yum sources, what are the differences between these two systems?
apt and yum are two tools that accomplish approximately the same thing: package management and dependency solver. Turns out development on apt (for rpm) has ended, so at the moment, it appears to be an application whose time has come. In the meantime, apt's previous maintainer moved on to develop a new tool called Smart, which appears to be very promising.
Where do your get your install of Red Hat Enterprise from?
What hardware do you use to make these packages?
I build packages using mock on two 2Ghz Pentium 4 boxes, and occasionally use an Athlon 2800+ running VirtualPC under Windows XP for the occasional manual package build or debugging session.