SEP
12
2019

Akademy 2019 Wednesday and Thursday BoF Wrapup

Wednesday continued the Akademy BoFs, group sessions and hacking in the morning followed by the daytrip in the afternoon to Lake Como, to have some fun, get away from laptops and get to know each other better. Thursday was back to BoFs, meetings and hacking culminating in a wrapup session at the end covering the last two days so that what happened in the different rooms can be shared with everyone including those not present.

Watch Thursday's wrapup session in the video below

SEP
10
2019

Akademy 2019 Talks: Here's What You Missed

According to the now traditional schedule, Akademy 2019 started with two days of conference talks. Hosted by unixMIB at the University of Milano-Bicocca in Milan, Italy, the central conference of the KDE community attracted more than a hundred attendees during this past weekend. Many of them were attending Akademy for the first time ever, which is always a reason to celebrate.

For those of you who were not able to join us, we've prepared a recap of all the talks from this year's Akademy. The conference program on both Saturday and Sunday was split into two tracks after the lunch break, and included plenty of time for socializing (and hacking!) in between.

Day 1 - Saturday, September 7: Goals, Reports, and the Future of Qt

Akademy 2019 started in the morning of September 7 with an introductory session by Lydia Pintscher, President of KDE e.V., followed by the first keynote. In the keynote, Lars Knoll from Qt presented the path towards Qt 6 all the way from the very beginning of the project. Lars also spoke of what upcoming changes in Qt 6 may potentially impact the KDE ecosystem.

The next batch of talks was dedicated to the KDE community goals. Ivan Čukić started by presenting the progress of the Privacy and Security goal in his talk "Everything to hide: Helping protect the privacy of our users". Ivan pointed out that security and privacy should come before usability, even if some users hate it, because it's our duty and responsibility to protect them.


Ivan shows how to capture a password from an insecure application.

Eike Hein talked about the Usability and Productivity goal and wondered: "Are we there yet?". Massive improvements have been made to KDE software as part of this goal, and Eike emphasized the importance of communicating this progress (as illustrated in weekly blog posts by Nate Graham). The achievements of the third community goal - Onboarding New Contributors - were presented by Neofytos Kolokotronis, who listed the adoption of Matrix as a communication tool, the on-going adoption of GitLab, and the creation of the KDE Welcome team as some of the major moments.

After looking back at the previous set of goals, it was time to look forward to the new ones. During the panel with Ivan Čukić, Eike Hein, and Neofytos Kolokotronis, Lydia Pintscher announced the three new goals that the KDE community is going to focus on. The creators of the goal proposals spent some time talking about their plans and tasks that will kick off the new goals.

In the afternoon round of quick talks, Adriaan de Groot presented QuatBot, a meeting-managing bot he wrote for the Matrix IM service, and talked about the power and versatility of KDE Frameworks. Attendees also got a chance to hear how Carl Schwan brought in new contributors from Reddit and Aleix Pol dispensing valuable advice on how to organize a sprint.

Over in the Security track, Albert Astals talked about the cool ways developers can use oss-fuzz to test their code, and encouraged KDE developers to use it for projects such as Baloo, kfilemetadata, and PIM-related code. Volker Krause presented parts of the work carried out for the Privacy goal in his talk "Secure HTTP Usage", and warned about the importance of having secure defaults in KDE software.

The Community session included a talk on building developer portals by Ivana Isadora Devcic, followed by Ray Paik's talk on making a difference in the community. As a Community Manager at GitLab, Ray shared his experience with identifying crucial community metrics, attracting new contributors, and improving leadership and inclusivity efforts.

Meanwhile, the tech talk session continued with Marco Martin and Bhushan Shah discussing the future of Plasma on embedded devices. They rightfully pointed out that the assumption your software will only be used on a desktop is not true anymore, and explained how KDE Frameworks enable creating software for different platforms. Aleix Pol talked about the details of optimizing Plasma to run fast on low-end hardware; more specifically, on the Pinebook. Aditya Mehra presented a demo of Plasma and Mycroft being used to voice-control a car, and Kai Uwe Broulik gave an in-depth look into the overhauled notification system shipped with the latest version of Plasma.


Aditya shows us how some day KDE tech may control your car.

The first day of Akademy 2019 closed with reports by Google Summer of Code students developing fresh new code for KDE, and the KDE e.V. Board and Working Group reports that provided an insight into growth and health of the KDE community.

Day 2 - Sunday, September 8: New Technology, FOSS Revolution in Italy, and Akademy Awards

The second day of Akademy 2019 opened with a keynote "Developers Italia and the New Guidelines: Let the Open Source Revolution Start" by Leonardo Favario from the Team Digitale IT. Leonardo presented the work that his team has been doing to establish guidelines for Free and open source software distribution in the Italian administration. Continuing on a similar topic, Michiel Leenaars talked about NGIO (Next Generation Internet Zero); a EU initiative focused on helping non-profit organizations build a better Internet for everyone.

The tech talks on Sunday were fascinating, with new, innovative technology introduced left and right. Cristoph Haag explained how Collabora made Plasma desktop usable in a Virtual Reality environment, and set up demos that the attendees could play with during the day. Trung Thanh Dinh showed how AI face recognition can be used in digiKam, KDE's photo management app, and Eike Hein presented a completely new KDE application called Kirogi, which provides a FLOSS ground control for consumer drones that works on mobile devices.


Eike points to the skies, which is where KDE is going next with Kirogi.

In the afternoon sessions, Katarina Behrens from the Document Foundation talked about integrating LibreOffice products with KDE Plasma, while Timothée Giet and Aiswarya Kaitheri Kandoth told the story of how a single floppy disk with LaTeX on it resulted in schools using GNU/Linux and GCompris in Kerala, India.

Volker Krause gave two more talks - one about the development and usage of KPublicTransport, a framework for interacting with data from public transport operators; and another on how the limitations of the Android development platform impact KDE Frameworks. In another developer-oriented talk, Daniel Vràtil gave his perspective on using C++ to build APIs. Attendees also heard from Caio Jordao Carvalho, who presented the progress on kpmcore, the heart of KDE's partitioning and disk management tools.

Meanwhile, a session on different ways to package and distribute KDE software was chaired by Dan Leinir Turthra Jensen, with participants explaining advantages and shortcomings of different solutions (AppImage, Flatpak, Snap, Steam, Google Play...).

The session was followed by two community-related talks. In "What We Do in the Promos", Paul Brown gave a realistic look into how people outside the FOSS bubble perceive (or do not perceive) KDE software, and explained the reasoning behind activities carried out by KDE Promo. Afterwards, Aniketh Girish explained how code reviews can be toxic and put off new contributors, so he offered some advice to prevent that. Last but not least, Dan Leinir Turthra Jensen presented the "Get Hot New Stuff" project and its development.

Following the lightning talks from Akademy 2019 sponsors, the second day of the conference closed with the announcement of Akademy Awards winners:

  • Best Application: Marco Martin for work on the Kirigami framework
  • Best Non-Application: Nate Graham for persistent work on the "KDE Usability & Productivity" blog
  • Jury Award: Volker Krause for long-term contributions to KDE including KNode, KDE PIM, KDE Itinerary and the UserFeedback framework

The organizers win a special award for an excellent Akademy.

Akademy 2019 continues this week with daily BoF (Birds of a Feather) sessions, meetings, and various activities that help us strengthen the community bonds. The recap video of the first BoF day is already available - stay tuned for more. And for something completely different, take a look at the sketchnotes from Akademy 2019 talks by Kevin Ottens.


Kevin sketches Akademy talks.

About Akademy


Akademy 2019, Milano

For most of the year, KDE - one of the largest free and open software communities in the world - works online by email, IRC, forums and mailing lists. Akademy provides all KDE contributors the opportunity to meet in person to foster social bonds, work on concrete technology issues, consider new ideas, and reinforce the innovative, dynamic culture of KDE. Akademy brings together artists, designers, developers, translators, users, writers, sponsors and many other types of KDE contributors to celebrate the achievements of the past year and help determine the direction for the next year. Hands-on sessions offer the opportunity for intense work bringing those plans to reality. The KDE community welcomes companies building on KDE technology, and those that are looking for opportunities. For more information, please contact the Akademy Team.

SEP
10
2019

Akademy 2019 Tuesday BoF Wrapup

Tuesday continued the Akademy BoFs, group sessions and hacking. There is a wrapup session at the end of the day so that what happened in the different rooms can be shared with everyone including those not present.

Watch Tuesday's wrapup session in the video below

SEP
9
2019

Akademy 2019 Monday BoF Wrapup

Monday was the first day of Akademy BoFs, group sessions and hacking. There is a wrapup session at the end of the day so that what happened in the different rooms can be shared with everyone including those not present.

Watch Monday's wrapup session in the video below

SEP
7
2019

KDE Decides the Three New Challenges: Wayland, Consistency, and Apps


Lydia Pintscher, Eike Hein, Ivan Cukic and Neofytos Kolokotronis discuss the results of the past goals.

The KDE Community has spoken! On the first day of Akademy 2019, Lydia Pintscher, President of KDE e.V., announced the three new goals we will prioritize over the next 2 years.

The goals were selected by community vote from a dozen proposals, all created by community members. Read on to learn more details about each of the new goals.

Finalize the transition to Wayland and embrace the future of desktop

Despite its many merits, the X server has become very long in the tooth, and Wayland is poised to become a more modern and dependable alternative. However, KDE's software is still quite far off from being completely implemented on the newer protocol.

"As technology and the needs of modern computer users advance, X server has been proven less and less capable to keep up", says Fanis Bampaloukas, author of the first proposal. "I propose to make our goal to migrate the core of the Plasma desktop, and make X server an optional compile and runtime dependency".

To achieve this goal, Fanis says KDE will have to fix major breakages and implement missing features.


Jonathan Riddell and Niccolò Venerandi explain their ideas for new KDE goals.

Improve consistency across the board

As KDE relies on "volunteers, each with different ideas and "scratching their own itches", there is often a lack of organization and consistency within the app ecosystem" says Niccolò Venerandi, author of the second goal proposal. Niccolò points out that inconsistencies are not only found in the design of applications, but also in their features. Tabs, for example, are implemented differently on Falkon, Konsole, Dolphin and Kate, making them confusing for users and difficult to fix for developers.

To solve inconsistencies, Niccolò suggests the unification of behavior in app elements (such as sidebars, hamburger menus and tabs), ending the fragmentation of apps with overlapping features (like having several multimedia players), and laying down criteria for hosting application websites, among many other things.

KDE is all about the apps

"KDE has over 200 applications and countless add-ons, plugins and Plasmoids" says Jonathan Riddell, author of the third proposal. "But much of the support we offer has fallen short; until recently there wasn't even an up-to-date website listing them all".

The importance of KDE's app ecosystem cannot be stressed enough. Often it is the gateway to other apps, the Plasma desktop, and to becoming a member of the KDE community. In his proposal, Jonathan recommends modernizing the platforms through which KDE developers communicate with users, improving the way each app is packaged, and continuing with reworking to the documentation and metadata supplied with the apps.

Past Goals

The previous three goals were chosen by the community back in 2017.

All goals have had a net positive impact on the community. The Onboarding initiative, for example, has led to a substantial increase in the number of new contributors - especially young students - that has brought a renewed vigor to the community.

The Privacy project has encouraged developers to implement measures for keeping users secure and their data private.

Finally, the Usability project has removed hundreds of design flaws and niggling papercuts. As a result, using Plasma and KDE applications in general is now a much more enjoyable experience.

KDE goals give the community focus and solve problems that otherwise may not be fully addressed. The same way 2017 proposals helped make KDE a better community with better software, this year's goals will help push the project towards a brighter future.


About Akademy


Akademy 2018, Vienna

For most of the year, KDE - one of the largest free and open software communities in the world - works online by email, IRC, forums and mailing lists. Akademy provides all KDE contributors the opportunity to meet in person to foster social bonds, work on concrete technology issues, consider new ideas, and reinforce the innovative, dynamic culture of KDE. Akademy brings together artists, designers, developers, translators, users, writers, sponsors and many other types of KDE contributors to celebrate the achievements of the past year and help determine the direction for the next year. Hands-on sessions offer the opportunity for intense work bringing those plans to reality. The KDE community welcomes companies building on KDE technology, and those that are looking for opportunities. For more information, please contact the Akademy Team.

SEP
5
2019

Developers Italia and the New Guidelines: Let the Open Source Revolution Start! An Interview with Leonardo Favario


Leonardo Favario, Open Source Project Leader at the Italian Digital Transformation Team.

Leonardo Favario is the Open Source Project Leader at the Italian Digital Transformation Team. Italy has an ambitious agenda to move government IT to open source. In principle, all software written by government should be published as open source. This is a big change from the past and requires many changes in how software is being developed.

Leonardo will present this work to the KDE community in an Akademy keynote on Sunday, September 8. We were interested in hearing more about this initiative, and Leonardo kindly sat down with us for an interview.

Jos van den Oever: Hello Leonardo, you’re the speaker of the second keynote at Akademy 2019. Thank you for agreeing to this interview. We’re very happy to have a keynote from our Italian host with such wonderful Free Software developments.

Leonardo Favario: Hello Jos and thanks for contacting us! I can do an interview even though it's been quite hectic lately.

Jos: Your bio on the Team Digitale website is wonderfully written. You have been in software and even Free Software from an early age. Do you contribute to any FOSS communities?

Leonardo: Yes, I must admit that for me the Free Software movement was love-at-first-sight! I immediately felt it was a natural tool to empower people and I really enjoyed the thriving communities that were flourishing around even small pieces of wonderfully written code. As such, as many youngsters do, I jumped from channel to channel trying to fit all the small pieces together and get the complete puzzle in place. Soon I decided that lurking was not my way of being, so I started to create communities around Free Software, getting friends to work together. I am particularly fond of communities striving to improve education by using technology and that’s where I have been active lately, especially in Italy. One example is the Open edX community where it’s possible to find a great combination of actors, ranging from full stack devs to educators, all trying to work together on the future of education. That’s something that I love about FOSS communities.

Jos: You have a background in education and communication, which seems like a good fit for the work that Team Digitale does. How did you get into the team and what is your role there?

Leonardo: I am a computer engineer by training, but I decided to get my PhD in Control and Computer Engineering to dive deeper into the research world and understand the ways we can still improve the world we live in through software.

Well, Team Digitale does exactly that! Formally speaking, its name is the “Italian Digital Transformation Team” and I felt a strong connection with each of those words. I was lucky to join this awesome combination of extremely talented folks at the very beginning of this year as an Open Source Project Leader. My role, as the name suggests, is focused on drafting strategies regarding Free and open source software for everything related to Developers Italia, the community of public service developers.

Jos: Can you tell us more about Team Digitale? How did it come to be and where is it going?

Leonardo: The Italian Digital Transformation Team (from now on Team Digitale) was born at the end of 2016 to build "the Operating System” for the country. We refer to the OS to indicate a series of fundamental components on top of which we can build simpler and more efficient services for the citizens, the Public Administration and businesses, through innovative digital products.

We are now exactly at the end of the third year of operations and a lot has been accomplished so far. First and foremost, the Team consists of around 35 people, generally way younger than the average age of the Italian Public Administration employees. These young people did not have a formal experience in government before joining. This allows us to tackle every issue from a different perspective, and I believe this is a great advantage in order to come up with innovative solutions.


The Digital Transformation Team.

From an organizational standpoint, Team Digitale is divided into subteams, each one focused on different topics ranging from APIs to Data Analytics.

Jos: Your presentation will cover publiccode.yml, a way to describe software projects. Can you give us a bit of background on this project, and tell us where it's headed?

Leonardo: Exactly, I will talk about Developers Italia and the new open source catalog that we have been building during the past months. In fact, in order to make open source software easily discoverable and indexable, the Team created a catalog which is automatically populated by a crawler every night. As such, you may understand that we needed to collect information regarding each piece of software in a standard way to later publish them in our catalog. That’s why we crafted a metadata specification, called publiccode.yml. This helps to achieve exactly that goal. Consequently, by creating a specific publiccode.yml file for the software and inserting it into the source code repository, the government entity that is publishing the software can transparently communicate the metadata. Our crawler can automatically recognize it, extract the information from the file, create the related info page, and show the information in the catalog.

Technically speaking, the specification format is interesting because it can be written and read by non-tech experts as well; for example, by Public Administration (PA) managers. This can help its adoption in wider circles.

Jos: How is this information you collect used by Italians?

Leonardo: Right now, there are packages in the catalog that are already reused by many local administrations. See for example the one for managing a public call or the software to insert and manage events.

The existence of the catalog itself is a big change, because it is necessary to evaluate, study, and test an application before actually reusing it. The absence of a real browsable container makes such tasks difficult to accomplish. Since we started the catalog in late May of this year, we are witnessing a positive spread among different players, and this is reflected in the discussions arising in various communication channels.

Jos: KDE projects have an AppStream description. Is this comparable to publiccode.yml?

Leonardo: Yes and no. As far as I can see, the AppStream description goes into details which are relevant for packaging, managing dependencies, and so on. The publiccode.yml format, instead, is designed for reusability: it contains standard metadata (which may overlap with some of the typical entries of AppStream like, title, description, development state...). However, the publiccode.yml format introduces some information that a PA expects to find, such as the maintenance contracts together with the contractor details, or the information regarding the legal context in which the software has been designed.

Furthermore, it contains information regarding the tree of forks (which is useful for understanding the root that originated the current version) or information regarding the dependencies, which can be open or closed. This is crucial when deciding if a piece software can be reused inside a PA environment.

Additional keys have been specifically crafted to endorse the PA use cases in order to be able to easily fulfill all the possible needs during the selection and validation phase.

Jos: Is the Italian government pushing towards having most off-the-shelf and custom software published in the open? Do you have any insight into the percentage of the tax money that is spent on code that goes public, versus the code that stays closed?

Leonardo: Well, I want to say that the Italian legislation regarding Free and open source software is one of the most advanced in the world (but I’m happy to be proven wrong). In fact, we have the Digital Administration Code which states - in articles 68 and 69 - that PAs must prefer FOSS in the acquisition phase, and must always release their code when developing something from scratch. Team Digitale played a consistent role in this initiative. The new guidelines regarding the acquisition and reuse (which are the topic of my talk) reinforce those statements, and underline how to properly complete the process of releasing software. As such, the Developers Italia catalog is a strong action in this direction - helping PAs find and publish open source software.

Jos: Do you see communities forming around government source code? Are they mostly Italian or also international?

Leonardo: I would say that in the last two to three years, something started happening, and I am not just happy but optimistic about this. In many conferences and events around the world, the phrase “Open Government” has been circulating a lot. If we don’t start to understand that we have to go FOSS-by-default, it will continue to be a just buzzword. So yes, I am excited to see that some communities are starting to form, and I am also proud to state that we are going exactly in this direction with Developers Italia. For example, our chat channel has more than 2600 people subscribed, and the Forum reached nearly 90 000 page views in the last month. This clearly indicates that if we put private citizens, Public Administrators, and small/medium enterprises all together in the same channel, it is possible to start a chain reaction that can lead to positive outcomes. I personally believe that we are still in the very early stages of this sort of community building, but the future looks golden.

Jos: The Government of Belgium is extending the Public Sector Information directive to cover computer programs so even if code is not actively published, citizens can still request it. What is the status of Italy in this regard?

Leonardo: As I already mentioned above, our legislation framework is quite strong when it comes to the ad-hoc designed software, or when dealing with an acquisition of an already existing one. However, a lot of software has not been released yet and this has to change in the future.

There are many reasons why this is happening; we could have a discussion around this for weeks. But, I believe that the freshly published guidelines go exactly in the right direction, since they contain practical down-to-earth guides on how to design, write, and maintain software in the open. This practical approach is starting to pay off: in just a few weeks, we have already collected more than 40 software packages in the catalog, and many more are coming.

I believe it’s a matter of getting things started, and finding a way to provide support where and when it’s needed. Let’s catch up in a year and I’ll let you know if my optimistic view was correct. :)

Jos: I've worked in the Dutch government and that is still mostly a Windows environment. It's impossible to do work when avoiding proprietary software. How does Team Digitale solve this problem?

Leonardo: We prefer Free and open source technologies when they are available, according to our national policy. Our initiative is mainly focused on ensuring that custom software developed by or for the government gets released as open source, since the expense for custom software is huge and its quality is quite low. We push this FOSS route by showing that it’s convenient and it delivers quality.

That said, our team members don’t have particular restrictions regarding the OS or the software they use, and this freedom allows each one of us to pick the tools that best fit our needs.

Jos: Can Team Digitale help reduce the dependency of government on proprietary cloud solutions?

Leonardo: Right now the Italian panorama is highly fragmented with regard to IT infrastructure, and a strong cloud migration strategy is needed to improve the reliability of services and their security. So we have a dedicated team handling such issues, tracing possibilities for different use cases.

Of course, the team’s mission is to facilitate the migration while avoiding the introduction of new vendor lock-in or strong dependencies on proprietary software.

Jos: Do you use any KDE software and if so, what are your impressions? What do you hope to achieve with your presentation and your presence at Akademy?

Leonardo: Personally, yes. I’ve been using KDE for many years and I just can’t live without Kdenlive! Hopefully I’ll be able to contribute to it in the future.

Regarding Akademy I’m excited, it’s a great opportunity to get to know the great KDE community, show what we’re doing for the FOSS ecosystem, and learn a lot! See you there!


About Akademy


Akademy 2018, Vienna

For most of the year, KDE - one of the largest free and open software communities in the world - works online by email, IRC, forums and mailing lists. Akademy provides all KDE contributors the opportunity to meet in person to foster social bonds, work on concrete technology issues, consider new ideas, and reinforce the innovative, dynamic culture of KDE. Akademy brings together artists, designers, developers, translators, users, writers, sponsors and many other types of KDE contributors to celebrate the achievements of the past year and help determine the direction for the next year. Hands-on sessions offer the opportunity for intense work bringing those plans to reality. The KDE community welcomes companies building on KDE technology, and those that are looking for opportunities. For more information, please contact the Akademy Team.

AUG
29
2019

Lars Knoll, CTO at Qt and Keynote Speaker at Akademy 2019


Lars Knoll at the Qt Company's headquarters.

Lars Knoll has been working on Qt for a long time. It is now 20 years since he joined Trolltech and even longer since he started developing crucial pieces of the KDE ecosystem. In that time, he went from theoretical physicist to software engineer to project leader, and survived the many roughs-and-tumbles Qt went through, including the event that nearly killed the project brought on by a certain company from Redmond.

Lars will be delivering the opening keynote at this year's Akademy and he kindly agreed to talk to us about the past, present and future of Qt.

Paul Brown: Hello Lars, how are you this morning? You seem very busy...

Lars Knoll: Hi Paul, I'm doing good. There's more than enough to do, but I had a good weekend.

Paul: Great! So tell me a bit about yourself. Looking over your résumé, you seem to have been in software production forever. Is this something you always wanted to do, since you were young?

Lars: No, not really. Of course I played around with computers a bit when I was young. I had a Commodore 64 back then, but I mostly used it for games.

I actually went and studied physics when I went to University, and had quite a few years where I did very little with computers.

Things started picking up again during my masters and PhD thesis time in Heidelberg. I needed to use computers a lot to analyze the data that we collected during our experiments. We used Linux computers and Unix machines at that time, and I had to do quite a bit of my programming in Fortran. I really didn't like that language, so I started teaching myself C and some C++ to have a better language to work with. That was around 1996, 1997, if I remember correctly.

At that time, I also read about KDE for the first time, as a project to create a Desktop for Linux. That was something that also triggered my interest, and I started looking into it a bit and started subsequently to use it, as it was way easier than FVWM which is what I was using before.

Paul: So... Wait a second... It was KDE that led you to Qt and not the other way around?

Lars: Yes, I heard about KDE before Qt. I found creating a desktop for Linux interesting and started looking a bit into what was happening there.

The first thing I did was triggered by a need I had. I had my computer hooked up to a modem and wanted to use that as an answering machine for my phone. There were some command line based apps and tools available for Linux, but nothing graphical. So I started writing my own app, and I used the KDE/Qt libraries to do that. That's how I then slowly got involved with KDE. I started reading the newsgroups and mailing lists and fixed some bugs in different parts of KDE. Mainly in the apps I used myself, like KMail and the file manager for example.

Paul: The famous "scratching your own itch" that gets most people started down the road to Free Software.

Lars: Pretty much. At least at the beginning that's what got me started.

KDE had in it's first versions a small web browser based on a library called khtmlw. It was doing HTML 3.2 quite ok, but was getting old pretty fast. That's when HTML 4 was announced and websites started using more and more CSS and Javascript.

I still remember that around '98, Martin Jones, who was contributing a lot to KDE at that time and later went on to work for Trolltech, sent a mail to the kfm-devel mailing list saying that we needed to rewrite that engine. I didn't react at that time, but half a year later, I had some time and interest and sat down and read through the HTML and CSS specs and started writing some code trying to generate a DOM API from the IDL in the specs.

It worked out pretty well and I announced that on the mailing list almost exactly 20 years ago. That was basically the start of khtml, which became a HTML 4 compatible browser engine. As most people in the KDE community know, it got picked up by Apple in 2002 for their web browser and finally became the basis for the WebKit open source project.

In any case, I guess that got me lots of contacts with different people in the KDE community. I went to one of the first KDE meetings (they weren't yet called Akademy back then) and I met many community members in person for the first time there.

Matthias Ettrich, who founded KDE, went to work for Trolltech in '98 or '99. In Winter of '99, I got a call from Eirik Chambe-Eng, one of the founders of Trolltech. He invited me over for a job interview.

I had about 6 months of my PhD left, and was open to working abroad for some time after that. I went to Oslo in March and really liked the company and signed up there and then. I started working for them in July of 2000.

Paul: Wow. Just to think there may be some of your code still floating around in Webkit...

Lars: My copyright is certainly still there. So is the copyright of many of the old KDE people that worked on it with me.

Paul: Have you contributed anything else to KDE since then?

Lars: Not directly. I worked on khtml until around 2003 in KDE. After that I contributed some bug fixes and smaller things here and there until around 2005. But most of my work has involved contributing to Qt. I still felt very connected to KDE, but I also saw that the work I did on Qt was helping KDE a lot as well.

And then, in 2005, my daughter was born, and that also naturally left a lot less time to do coding in my spare time.

Paul: Qt has gone through a lot and you have been on it for nearly all of it. What has made you stick with it?

Lars: The 20 years with Qt have certainly sometimes felt a bit like a roller-coaster ride. We've gone through lots of ups and downs. Especially combining open source and a business has not always been easy and is a constant balancing act.

But there's been lots of things that made me stay around. One thing is the technology that I really love. When I first came in contact with Qt during the KDE years, I really fell in love with the framework. It is something that made it easy and fun to develop with. Developing that further and thinking about how to make the lives of other developers easier is something I find very gratifying.

The other part is certainly the people I've been and am working with. Lots of incredibly talented people work on Qt and it's fun and interesting to work with them, both in our office, but also remotely through the Qt project and open governance.

Another part that kept me around is that my work is very varied. In my current position, I do quite a lot of different jobs, from presentations to low level programming. In addition, with Qt being such a wide framework, there's always something new to look into and learn about.

Paul: You have lived through a lot of, let's say... interesting moments: the buy out of Trolltech by Nokia, then the Nokia-Microsoft fracas, then Nokia went from being the most important mobile phones manufacturer to... well... whatever it is today, and Qt was then sold off again... What was the most tense moment?

Lars: That's a difficult one to answer. There have been quite a few tense moments. If I have to pick something, I'd say the year from the Nokia-Microsoft announcement until we were sold to Digia was the most tense.

After the Microsoft announcement I was extremely close to quitting my job. I had worked very hard to try to get Nokia to move into the right direction. Just when we were starting to see the first successes, with Symbian phones having Qt on it, a working App Store and the N9 almost out, Nokia completely changed direction and threw it all into the trash can.

I only stayed because some people convinced me to stick around with Qt. We got sold out of Nokia a year later after the final project we were working on got canceled. I had another tense three months where our future was uncertain and I tried hard to keep at least some of the good engineers around.

Paul: Ah yes! I remember reading about the exodus of engineers.

Lars: That's what happens when things are uncertain and there's a need for good engineers around. In Oslo for example, pretty much everybody immediately got lots of calls from different recruiters.

But yes, after we came out of Nokia, we had quite a few scars and lost many good people, but we were able to start building things up again.

Things weren't all that easy in the first Digia years either. Qt and the rest of Digia had very different business models. With all of Qt being available under LGPL v2 it wasn't even clear whether we could build a business on top of it. At least not whether that business could live from selling the product and not consultancy.

Building the business on doing consultancy was not an option we wanted to take, as it would have stalled product development to a very large degree, leading to a model that would not have been sustainable in the long term.

Paul: Fast forwarding to the present... so how are things today? What is your business model now?

Lars: As with any business, things are never really easy. But we've been managing to grow the business over the years. But we still don't have as many engineers working on the product as we had in Nokia times. This also means that we need to grow further to make this sustainable.

The business model is basically the same as what we had in Trolltech times: we have a product that is dual licensed and available under (L)GPL and also a commercial license. The OSS licenses help us create, maintain and grow a large ecosystem and we earn a living from the people that need a commercial license for various reasons.

To help us get here, we've been changing the license of Qt to LGPLv3 (after negotiating a new agreement with KDE), and are introducing some of the new functionality we develop under GPL.

Paul: Talking of which. What new stuff are you and your team working on now?

Lars: Well, some of that is going to be the focus of my talk at Akademy. We are now looking into the next major version of Qt, Qt 6.

Paul: There's a lot of buzz about that...

Lars: I've recently posted a longer blog post about some of my ideas for it. To name a few here: We need to do quite a bit of work on our graphics stack. OpenGL isn't the only 3D API in town anymore, and we need to make sure Qt can work with Vulkan, Metal and Direct3D. In addition, many users want to easily integrate 3D content into their UIs and we need to prepare Qt for that.

QML has been really important for Qt's success over the last years, but we see that there are quite a few things we could have done better. We are now looking into developing the next generation of the QML language, one in which we can improve on some of those things.

I also would like to make it a lot easier to integrate UX designers into the workflow. This is something that we've been working on already for some time, but my goal is that Qt 6 helps us take the next steps there.

Paul: What do you mean by that? Making Qt Creator friendlier for designers?

Lars: Qt Design Studio is exactly that: it's Qt Creator made designer-friendly.

Paul: Right.

Lars: Other things for Qt 6 will be upgrading to C++17 and see what we can use from the new C++ standards, hopefully expose some of the concepts that we added in QML to C++ (especially the concept of bindings), and of course do some house cleaning.

Paul: How do you think this will affect KDE?

Lars: That's a good question, and something I hope to be able to discuss with people at Akademy. My goal for Qt 6 is that it be mostly source compatible with Qt 5.15 so KDE should be able to easily port over to it. But traditionally, major version changes in Qt have also triggered larger changes in KDE. Let's see if this happens again this time.

Paul: Fascinating stuff, Lars. Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us!

Lars: Of course! It's been a pleasure talking to you.

Paul: We all look forward to your keynote. See you in Akademy 2019!


About Akademy


Akademy 2018, Vienna

For most of the year, KDE - one of the largest free and open software communities in the world - works online by email, IRC, forums and mailing lists. Akademy provides all KDE contributors the opportunity to meet in person to foster social bonds, work on concrete technology issues, consider new ideas, and reinforce the innovative, dynamic culture of KDE. Akademy brings together artists, designers, developers, translators, users, writers, sponsors and many other types of KDE contributors to celebrate the achievements of the past year and help determine the direction for the next year. Hands-on sessions offer the opportunity for intense work bringing those plans to reality. The KDE community welcomes companies building on KDE technology, and those that are looking for opportunities. For more information, please contact the Akademy Team.

AUG
15
2019

KDE Applications 19.08 Brings New Features to Konsole, Dolphin, Kdenlive, Okular and Dozens of Other Apps

Can you believe we've already passed the half-year mark? That means it's just the right time for a new release of KDE Applications! Our developers have worked hard on resolving bugs and introducing features that will help you be more productive as you get back to school, or return to work after your summer vacation.

The KDE Applications 19.08 release brings several improvements that truly elevate your favorite KDE apps to the next level. Take Konsole, our powerful terminal emulator, which has seen major improvements to its tiling abilities. We've made tiling a bit more advanced, so now you can split your tabs as many times as you want, both horizontally and vertically. The layout is completely customizable, so feel free to drag and drop the panes inside Konsole to achieve the perfect workspace for your needs.

Dolphin, KDE's file explorer, introduces features that will help you step up your file management game. Let's start with bookmarks, a feature that allows you to create a quick-access link to a folder, or save a group of specific tabs for future reference. We've also made tab management smarter to help you declutter your desktop. Dolphin will now automatically open folders from other apps in new tabs of an existing window, instead of in their own separate windows. Other improvements include a more usable information panel and a new global shortcut for launching Dolphin - press Meta + E to try it out!

Okular, our document viewer, continues with a steady stream of usability improvements for your document-viewing pleasure. In Applications 19.08, we have made annotations easier to configure, customize, and manage. Okular's ePub support has also greatly improved in this release, so Okular is now more stable and works better when previewing large files.

All this sounds exciting for those who read and sort through documents, but what about those who write a lot of text or emails? They will be glad to hear we've made Kate, our advanced text editor, better at sorting recent files. Similar to Dolphin, Kate will now focus on an existing window when opening files from other apps. Your email-writing experience also receives a boost with the new version of Kontact, or more specifically, KMail. After updating to Applications 19.08, you'll be able to write your emails in Markdown, and insert - wait for it - emoji into them! The new integration with grammar-checking tools like LanguageTool and Grammalecte will help you prevent embarrassing mistakes and typos that always seem to creep into the most important business emails.

Photographers and other creatives will appreciate changes to Gwenview, KDE's image viewer. Gwenview can now display extended EXIF metadata for RAW images, share photos and access remote files more easily, and generate better thumbnails. If you are pressed for system resources, Gwenview has your back with the "Low usage resource mode" that you can enable at will. In the video-editing department, Kdenlive shines with a new set of keyboard+mouse combinations and improved 3-point editing operations.

We should also mention Spectacle, KDE's screenshot application. The new version lets you open the screenshot (or its containing folder) right after you've saved it. Our developers introduced a number of nice and useful touches to the Delay functionality. For example, you may notice a progress bar in the panel, indicating the remaining time until the screenshot is done. Sometimes, it's the small details that make using KDE Applications and Plasma so enjoyable.

Speaking of details, to find out more about other changes in KDE Applications 19.08, make sure to read the official announcement.

Happy updating!

AUG
1
2019

Trusted IT Consulting Firms Directory Provides Businesses with KDE Support

KDE's Trusted IT Consulting Firms directory provides you with the support and the direct line to developers you and your business need.

Finding support or fulfilling a need is sometimes tricky when it comes to software. Proprietary providers often become unreachable, hiding behind helpdesks staffed with interns reading from a manual. Bugs can take months, sometimes years, before they are squashed. Getting proprietary software manufacturers to implement a feature specifically for your company is to all effects impossible.

Free Software is better in that you can often talk directly to the developers themselves and many will be sympathetic to your requirements. However, Free Software projects are often run by volunteers and everybody has bandwidth limit. Being able to communicate with the people that can implement a change, doesn't mean that it will happen as soon as you would like.

Fortunately, the main tenant of Open Sourcedom is that anybody can modify the code. And KDE knows the companies that can do that for you:

KDE's Trusted IT Consulting Firms directory provides you with the names and web addresses of enterprises that can help you with support, customization and implementation of KDE-based software. All the companies listed have long track records building and evolving KDE software and are ready to give you the support you need.

To send in a query or to find out more about the Trusted IT Consulting Firms, email us at [email protected] and we'll advise you on the best way of solving your problem.

JUL
31
2019

The Linux Application Summit is coming to Barcelona in November

The KDE and GNOME Communities are pleased to announce Linux App Summit 2019.

LAS 2019 will be held in Barcelona, Spain from November 12th to November 15th. Our Call for Participation opens on July 31st, and will run until August 18th.

LAS is a conference focused on building an application market. Through LAS, the GNOME and KDE communities intend to help build an ecosystem that will encourage the creation of quality applications, seek ways of compensating application developers, and foster a thriving market for the Linux operating system. We are excited about combining our efforts in app development for Linux and we aim to take on an active role leading the way into the future.

Venue

The inside of the La Lleialtat Santsenca building where LAS will take place. Photo credit: @ttncat and @SeguimFils

The conference will take place in the beautiful Lleialtat Santsenca, a community space that hosts many meetups and conferences, and which has been featured in architectural articles due to the startling contrast between its art deco facade and its überfunctional minimalist interior. The core conference days will be from November 12th to 14th, and November 15th will be reserved for BoFs and hackathons. Participants are welcome to stay longer and hack together over the weekend. We encourage participants to collaborate and not just meet and talk about change, but actually make it happen.

Previous iterations of this conference (under the name Linux Application Summit) have been held in the United States, in Portland, Oregon, and Denver, Colorado. This year, Barcelona, Spain was chosen as the hosting location due to growing international interest. Barcelona is known for embracing open source technology, and in fact made headlines back in 2017 when it announced that it would no longer use Microsoft and instead use Linux (Spanish language article). Apart from enthusiastically embracing open source, Barcelona is known as one of the world's most influential cities, and is a major touristic and cultural attraction. We are thrilled to have the first international version of the Linux App Summit hosted there.

Everyone is invited to attend LAS, and there will be travel sponsorship available for those who need it in order to make the event more inclusive. A special invitation will be extended to companies, media, and individuals who are interested in learning more about the Linux desktop application space and growing their user base.

Important Dates

  • 31 July - CfP opens. Submit your talk idea! Visit our Call for Participation (CfP) page for more information.
  • 31 Aug - CfP closes.
  • Week of 9 Sept - Speaker notification begins.
  • 12 to 15 Nov - LAS conference dates. There will be 3 core days and 1 day for BoFs and hackathons. Participants are welcome to remain longer and plan BoFs or hackathons over the weekend.

Join Us!

The organizing team, GNOME and KDE, are excited about the possibilities of our combined influence. We will no longer sit passive, but will lead and plan for the future. Join us in Barcelona!

Sponsor LAS 2019! Find out about the available packages contacting us at [email protected]. If you have any questions, contact [email protected]. Don't forget to follow us on Twitter @LinuxAppSummit.

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