At LinuxTag on Saturday, a meeting of Kubuntu and KDE contributors was held in order to improve the collaboration of both projects. The aim was to to talk about the common future of both projects. Jonathan Riddell and Mark Shuttleworth from Canonical attended the meeting. Later in his keynote speech to the conference, Mark publicly committed to Kubuntu as an essential product for Canonical and showed his commitment by wearing a KDE t-shirt.
Mark Shuttleworth during his keynote at Linuxtag 2006.
At the beginning of the meeting, Mark outlined Canonical's vision of the future of Ubuntu Linux and the role of Kubuntu and KDE therein. Canonical wants to create a free, professional economic eco-system and help to develop and transport KDE's vision of the future of the free desktop. Starting with Dapper Drake, the next release of Kubuntu to be released at the beginning of June, Canonical will ship CD sets of Kubuntu in the same manner as it did with Ubuntu in the past. Artwork of the CD sets was shown to the attendants of the meeting.
Eva Brucherseifer held a short introduction to KDE, explaining different aspects of how the community works together, challenges in the community life cycle such as finding enough new developers and improving the sustainability of KDE as a Free Software project. She also explains that KDE is working actively on extending the KDE community further to non-developers. Eva described the decision making process within KDE as being very much bazaar-like; people exchanging ideas, seeking mindshare and creating it.
The Future of Kubuntu
Mark said that Canonical has created some tools to make Free Software developer communities more scalable such as Rosetta and Malone. It is also important to help newcomers to get into the project. Ubuntu's vision includes offering multiple desktops because it is a healthy way for a sustainable future that those desktop environments should work great together. Tighter integration of Canonical's collaboration tools with e.g. KDE's bugzilla is another keypoint of the collaboration in the future.
Mark went on acknowledging that native office programs - such as KOffice - are the preferred way to go, but that the process of adopting those is not easy because of exchange of for example files with the Windows platform and because they do not work on Windows as OpenOffice.org does. Canonical is committed to making sure to connect the source code vision of a project such as KDE to a user and market centric vision of Ubuntu. They will invite a number of contributors from different parts of the KDE project to the next developers meeting in June in Paris, where the next Kubuntu release - Edgy Eft - will be sketched.
Split up Sessions
After the more general part of the discussion, the group split up to discuss issues such as human computer interaction, artwork, marketing and naturally technological issues.
Collaborations in the improvement of the technical side of things cover topics such as communication on developer level, for example discussing distribution-specific problems directly between the Kubuntu developers and packagers, but also very specific issues such as extending the Ubuntu laptop testing and any other future derivatives to ensure a high quality level of future releases of Kubuntu.
From the human computer interaction point of view, improvements in the acceptance of usability and accessibility are important to be made in the future. Creating more mindshare among artists is another challenge for the future. KDE needs more artists and must help them enter the Free Software community. Kubuntu and KDE will collaborate in trying to attract more non-coding contributors to the projects, not only for work on the human-computer interaction, but also on promotion and marketing.
There are also quite a lot of technological issues that can be solved by having more KDE people in the middle of the Ubuntu community, currently most of the Ubuntu platform developers are mostly using GNOME when developing the underlying operating system basis. In order to achieve that improved interoperation between the different desktop environments on the Ubuntu platform, Canonical will make sure that some of the people Canonical will hire in the future for working on (K)Ubuntu come from the KDE world.