The first day of the KDE 4.0 Release Event in Mountain View, California, got off to a great start on Thursday, with attendees fuelled by a hearty breakfast provided by Google. Then, the "un-conference" was ready to get underway, and within minutes the first topics were added to the whiteboards. Meanwhile, the room filled with people from across North America and worldwide, all with an interest in KDE. Read on for more details.
One of the first topics on the whiteboard covered the state of KDE 4 on BSD. According to Adriaan de Groot and David Johnson, they discussed community building, automated builds and other testing, and the KDE-on-FreeBSD website.
Other topics on the whiteboard included a discussion about the Git version control system and KDE, a Marketing meeting, a Distributions gathering, and a Plasma conversation. Git is relatively new for many KDE developers, and so their meeting started with a few technical questions and a short "what's cool" overview. The talk quickly moved on to the "big picture". According to Thiago Macieira, the future plan is to attempt to migrate one application entirely to Git, and then evaluate further options. There are some issues regarding usability for less-technical contributors, but luckily the Git developer community is interested in our endeavours and is working with us.
The marketing meeting had many attendants, and it proved hard to focus the discussion on the "big picture". Some of the issues KDE has in the area of marketing are widely-known, but a lack of time and hands can make it difficult to significantly improve the situation. Still, improvements to the KDE web presence were discussed, as well as the topic of marketing in the KDE 4 era, as well as the more general concerns of marketing within the unique environment of an open community.
Another productive meeting was the Distributions discussion. Participants discussed sharing the workload on packaging, configuring and improving KDE, and what they needed for KDE 4.0. They came to a few agreements (for example, about improving the theming system in KDE), integrating PolicyKit in System Settings, reviving the KIOSK tool, and improving the KConfig backend system.
The Plasma gathering was probably the busiest, drawing a large crowd. Aaron Seigo, lead Plasma developer, initiated the session with an introduction of Plasma concepts, explanations of fundamental design decisions, and how Plasma enables new interaction possibilities over the KDE 4 cycle. The special needs of small form factor devices, as well as the widely-touted "10 foot interface" of Media Center computers, was touched upon. Aaron also explained that for KDE 4.0, the focus was on recreating the 'traditional' desktop interface with the new framework that Plasma provides. He noted that a proof that the Plasma concept works is that we were able to build a "traditional" desktop interface (a panel, menu, taskbar, clock, and a desktop background with icons on it) in relatively small amount of time, and now also open the door to innovations in the desktop interface.
Questions from the people attending the Plasma discussion revolved around planned features, scripting using high-level languages, integration of online resources, and feature parity with KDE 3.5. Unfortunately, the attendees were only able to scratch the surface of those topics, the one hour that was scheduled for this session turned out to be too short to cover such an important topic. One thing became very clear though: While feature parity has not yet been reached with KDE 4.0, the tools are now in place to quickly get there and to go far beyond what is and was possible. Exciting times lie ahead for both the Plasma team and users of KDE 4.
The KDE hackers that remained rooted to their chair (or were fighting for access at the power sockets!) not only got to know each other (by talking face-to-face, not online!), but were also productive. Some interesting work was Frank Karlitschek's project which allows users to create groups and use those to share files and communicate (think "social networking") on the KDE-Look and KDE-Apps community websites. Meanwhile, Justin Karneges wrote a Datagram TLS plugin for QCA which can encrypt UDP trafic, so that users can do voice and video chats in a secure way. Other developments from the open event room were finalisations to the Oxygen mouse cursor theme, and making Amarok compile on Mac OSX again.
After lunch, the hacking and talking continued, while some attendees were lured away from their laptops for the guided tour of the Google campus. After the tour, more talks and meeting sessions until the shuttle bus returned attendees to our hotel for an evening of social interaction and (presumably!), a small amount of sleep.
Overall, the first day of the KDE 4.0 Release Event was productive and a great opportunity to meet - especially for those who are unable to reach the European-centric annual event Akademy. Stay tuned to the Dot and Planet KDE for more coverage of this event, including the "official" scheduled happenings of tomorrow!