For the third interview in our series previewing aKademy we approached Waldo Bastian, whose most recent major project has been the Kiosk framework. Tom Chance and Fabrice Mous talked to him about Kiosk, the new Kiosk Admin Tool, Linux on the corporate desktop and what we can expect from his talk at aKademy. Don't miss the previous interviews with Matthias Ettrich and Nils Magnus.
Q: First of all can you explain who you are and what is your role in the KDE-project?
Waldo Bastian: My name is Waldo Bastian, I started working on KDE in 1998, since 1999 I work on KDE for SUSE LINUX. My main focus is to provide the underlying non-GUI technology for KDE applications, examples of that are the IO-slave handling, command line parsing, handling of temporary files, configuration files, the internal generation of the KDE menu and DCOP (inter-process communication).
Q: What is Kiosk?
WB: KDE has many powerful features and possibilities. However, there are situations where it is desirable to reduce the number of features and
possibilities. In a work situation for example you may want to provide workers with a desktop environment that is streamlined for the tasks that need to be done. Excess functionality can be distracting in such case. KDE's Kiosk framework makes it possible for a system administrator to turn off certain KDE features.
Q: What's the focus of this project and how did it start?
WB: The focus was originally on public terminals (hence the name Kiosk) and Internet cafes but it became soon clear that similar functionality would also be very valuable in other environments such as schools or enterprise use.
Q: Are you paid to work on Kiosk?
WB: I am full-time employed by SUSE LINUX and the graphical management tool, the Kiosk Admin Tool, has been specifically written for Novell's upcoming Novell Linux Desktop.
Q: When was Kiosk first integrated into the KDE framework?
WB: The first version of the Kiosk framework was introduced in KDE 3.0. Since then it has been improved and fine tuned. The result is a quite mature Kiosk framework in KDE 3.2 that has been successfully used in several large deployments. Recently I also started with a graphical management tool, the Kiosk Admin Tool, which should make it easier to take advantage of the Kiosk features.
Q: Can you tell us more about the Kiosk Admin Tool? Will it be integrated into KDE's release schedule, and moved out of kdeextragear?
WB: The Kiosk Admin Tool is a graphical tool for managing KDE's Kiosk framework. It allows you to create default profiles for groups of users and provide each of these groups with a tuned default desktop. The Kiosk Admin Tool is released independently from the major KDE releases which allows me to incorporate feedback faster, and I have no plans to move it out of kdeextragear. I expect that most Linux distributions will include the Kiosk Admin Tool together with KDE. Ask your distributor for it if you can't find it in your favorite distribution.
Q: Is there more information for system administrators who would like to use the Kiosk-framework?
WB: Every KDE system administrator should have a bookmark to the KDE for System Administrators pages. People interested in the Kiosk Admin Tool will want to keep an eye on its homepage. To be informed about the latest releases and to get answers to your questions or help with problems there is the kde-kiosk mailinglist. Response times may vary though, especially during KDE releases.
Q: It seems that a lot of distributions are offering enterprise solutions. Is Kiosk part of some of those solutions?
WB: Kiosk and the Kiosk Admin Tool will be part of Novell's upcoming Novell Linux Desktop.
Q: Do you have examples of organizations using KDE as the Kiosk framework?
WB: I do not keep track but there are quite a few internet cafe's using KDE and Kiosk. See http://enterprise.kde.org/interviews/publicinternet/ for example. It's also quite popular with schools. The kde-kiosk mailinglist has more than 200 subscribers and I suspect that many of them take advantage of KDE and its Kiosk features within their organization.
Q: What does the project need the most now?
WB: Feedback. I want to hear from you if you use KDE's Kiosk features. I want to hear it when you are happy with them and I want to hear it when you have problems with it.
Q: Do you think there is a place for KDE Desktop Enterprise as companies using Microsoft Windows desktops are overwhelmingly dominant. Why should a company opt for a Linux desktop?
WB: There are of course cost saving aspects but I think the most important reason for companies to go with KDE is that it puts the company back in control over their corporate desktops. With KDE your IT department gets new opportunities to help make your desktop workers more productive instead of spending all day fighting to prevent things from falling apart.
Q: You are one of the speakers on aKademy. What's your talk about? Who should be attending your talk?
WB: Both my tutorial and my talk are aimed at system administrators that want to deploy KDE and that want to take full advantage of the features that KDE has to offer to system administrators.