User Question: With Some Free Software Phone Projects Ending, What Does Plasma Mobile's Future Look Like?

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Q: With some free software phone projects ending, what does Plasma Mobile's future look like?

A: The future is rosy. While it is true that Plasma Mobile used to be built on the Ubuntu Phone codebase, that was superseded some time ago. The recent events at Ubuntu and other mobile communities have not modified the pace of the development (which is pretty fast) or the end goal, which is to build frameworks that will allow convergence for all kinds of front-ends and apps on all kinds of devices.

The "converged" KAlgebra app running on an Android phone.

That framework for apps already exists. It is called Kirigami. Usually an operating system gains traction because of its apps. Think back when Android was the underdog to iOS, what did Google do? Lower the bar and put in place incentives for developers to create apps for Android.

The plan is that Kirigami will make the underlying platform irrelevant. If developers can port their apps with minimal hassle, and users can run their apps the same on all platforms, including the desktop, the possibility of having a shot at grabbing a slice of the mobile market becomes much more realistic. Even for new players, the main hurdle at the point of entry, i.e. having a well-stocked app store, disappears.

In the last couple of weeks Plasma Mobile developers have been working with some other mobile communities and has now announced the Halium project. This project aims to develop a common free, open and community-backed base-layer for all GNU/Linux-based mobile operating systems, including Ubuntu Phone which lives on through the UBports project. This interface will allow all operating systems to interact with the Android subsystems that control hardware and other low level components.

As you can see, the Plasma Mobile developers are working on bringing a common framework both to the UI side front and to the base layer. Interestingly, they are doing this, not only for the benefit of Plasma Mobile, but, in true Free Software fashion, for every community with a mobile project. This was already the goal before what happened at Ubuntu, by the way.

So, as I said at the beginning, the future for Plasma Mobile is bright.

Where KDE is going - Part 2

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This is the second half of the 'where KDE is going' write-up. Last week, I discussed what is happening with KDE's technologies: Platform is turning modular in Frameworks, Plasma is moving to new technologies and the Applications change their release schedule. In this post, I will discuss the social and organizational aspects: our governance.

Where KDE is going - Part 1

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This article explores where the KDE community currently stands and where it is going. Frameworks, Plasma, KDE e.V., Qt5, KDE Free Qt Foundation, QtAddons - you heard some of these terms and want to know what all the fuss is about? A set of articles on the Dot aims to bring some clarity in the changes and constants of the KDE community in 2014 and further. This is the first article, diving into the technical side of things: Plasma, applications and libraries.

KDE is People

Today our technology goes much further than the humble beginnings in 1996, when we started out building a 'Desktop Environment'. KDE today has many hundreds of active developers. They make not only a 'desktop' (Plasma Desktop) but also a variant for tablets (Plasma Active) and TVs (Plasma Media Center); Plasma Netbook is already 5 years old!

KDE Brainstorm: Get Your Ideas Into KDE!

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KDE is about the community, rather than the product. It is not all about the code: there are many other ways in which people can be part of KDE, and a very simple way is to connect with other people.

In an effort to bridge the gap between users and developers, the KDE Community Forums have launched a new initiative to coordinate feature requests. A new "Brainstorm" section has been created in the KDE Community Forums: users are encouraged to post requests there.

KDE Desktop Usability Survey

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The HASE (Human Aspects of Software Engineering) group at the University of Maryland Baltimore County is conducting two online surveys for KDE users. They expect to obtain results that will lead to useful discussions about the overall usability of KDE. The results of this research will be shared with the KDE community. The surveys take about 15 minutes to complete.

KDE Performance Tips Updated

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Many aspects of KDE performance depend on the underlying system or the user's configuration. The KDE Performance Tips document, which lists some of the performance related issues together with instructions how to avoid or fix the problems, has been updated with new tips. If you would like to add new tips to this page, update the ones already listed, or discuss them, please use the [email protected] mailing list.

KDE 3.3 Usability Study and Review

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Celebrating one month of KDE 3.3 out in the wild, userinstinct put together a usability review with user testing. "Based on feedback from our test group, the default settings for a number of KDE parameters differ from what is usually expected and desired by users. Providing better defaults would reduce the time users spend looking for configuration settings and would provide a better "out-of-the-box" experience."

KDE Users Database

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A few days ago, we've opened a new section on our Polish K Desktop Environment website called "KDE Users Database". This is not only for Polish users, it's international. After some time it'll be good rate of KDE users number all over the world. Every registered user can save generated certificates and put them on his desktop or website. So, let's register! Please note, that this is not an official KDE users counter - but, maybe in future - it might change.