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.

JUL
22
2019

enioka Haute Couture Becomes a KDE Patron

enioka Haute Couture is joining KDE as a Patron and will support the work of KDE e.V. through the corporate membership program.

enioka Haute Couture is a software development house that creates complete and tailor-made solutions. enioka strives to return ownership of the software development and innovation to its customers. To that effect, it co-creates the software with its customers' teams to allow them to retain control of their projects in complex systems or organizations.

"We are excited to welcome enioka Haute Couture as a Patron of KDE. They truly understand what it means to empower people when creating software; something KDE cares deeply about", said Lydia Pintscher, President of KDE e.V.

"enioka Haute Couture is a company driven by its values and its manifesto, in the same vein as KDE which we've chosen to support. We are grateful for the existence of all the communities creating Free Software. They are a real enabler in our mission to give back control of their development to our customers. It is time for us to express our gratitude by supporting a community like KDE", said Marc-Antoine Gouillart, CTO at enioka Haute Couture.

enioka Haute Couture will join KDE's other Patrons: Private Internet Access, The Qt Company, SUSE, Google, Blue Systems and Canonical to continue supporting Free Software and KDE development through the KDE e.V.

JUL
19
2019

Powered by Plasma: ALBA Synchrotron in Barcelona, Spain

As you go about your daily tasks, you’re probably unaware that Plasma runs on the computers in one of Europe’s largest research facilities. We were also oblivious – until we met Sergi Blanch-Torné at FOSDEM 2019.

We’re always looking for interesting stories from people who use KDE software at their workplace, in school, or in government institutions. You can imagine our delight, then, when we met Sergi Blanch-Torné at this year’s FOSDEM.

Sergi is a Controls Software Engineer at ALBA, a KDE user, and a Free software advocate and contributor. Not only was he willing to tell us about his favorite KDE apps, but he also works at one of the most amazing places on Earth! In this interview, he tells us what it’s like to work at ALBA, and answers the burning question: “what even is a synchrotron?”.

ALBA is a third-generation synchrotron radiation facility in the Barcelona Synchrotron Park, in Cerdanyola del Vallès, Spain. Managed by the Consortium for the Construction, Equipping and Exploitation of the Synchrotron Light Source (CELLS), it is jointly funded by the Spanish and the Catalonian Administration.

Aerial view of the ALBA facility. Source: CELLS media gallery.

With its eight operational beamlines (and additional four in construction), ALBA has been serving more than 2000 researchers every year since first opening for experiments in 2010. It comprises a complex of electron accelerators that produce synchrotron light – electromagnetic radiation covering a continuum of wavelengths, ranging from infrared to hard X rays (including visible light). Synchrotron light is millions of times brighter than the surface of the Sun, which allows scientists to visualize atomic structures in extremely high resolutions.

ALBA also happens to be the place where Plasma powers the majority of desktop computers in the controls department. Read more on this, plus a bunch of fascinating details on how synchrotrons work, in our interview with Sergi.

JUL
11
2019

Akademy 2019: Talk Schedule is out!


I'm going to Akademy 2019

The schedule for Akademy 2019 is out and it is full of interesting and intriguing talks, panels and keynotes.

On day one (Saturday, September 7), the teams that have been working on the community goals over the last two years will discuss how things worked out and what has been achieved (spoiler: a lot). As many of the procedures and processes developed for the goals have now been worked into the everyday ways the KDE community operates and builds things, it is time to look for new goals. That is precisely what will be happening next, when the panel unveils what the community has decided to work on in the next two years.

Apart from goals, there will also be time for the bleeding-edge tech KDE is so well-known for. You will find out from Aleix Pol how developers managed to make a complex graphical environment like the Plasma desktop start up faster, and Marco Martin and Bhushan Shah will show us how Plasma can work everywhere, including on embedded devices. Taking things a step further still, Aditya Mehra will demonstrate how the open source Mycroft AI assistant can be the next great thing to assist you while you drive your car.

On Sunday, the schedule is equally full of challenging ideas and fun stuff. You will see what's new in KDE's effort to create a completely open, privacy-protecting travel assistant, courtesy of Volker Krause. In Akademy 2018 Volker introduced KItinerary and this year he will be talking about KPublicTransport. Having teamed up with the Open Transport community, KDE is now building a framework which will allow apps to give users a complete travel solution without having to depend on leaky proprietary services.

As projects like Mycroft show, KDE is working on integrating AI into the desktop. Trung Thanh Dinh will be explaining how AI can also be used in the area of face recognition, and how that can be leveraged by KDE's applications. Another thing on the list of revolutionary technologies is that KDE is setting its sights on virtual reality. Cristoph Haag will explain how VR requires a completely different approach to user interfaces from what we are used to.

Obviously, that is not all. It is but a small cross-section of what you will be able to see at Akademy 2019. Soon we will also unveil our two keynote speakers with interviews here, on the Dot. After the weekend of talks, panels and keynotes, the rest of the week will be dedicated to BoFs (Birds of a Feather sessions), where community members with similar interests get together and work on their projects, as well as coding sessions, meetings, and social activities.

Do not miss Akademy 2019! Join us, register for the event now, book your accommodation soon (Milan gets busy!) and meet up with all your KDE friends.

Besides. did we say it is in Milan? That means pasta, pizza, gelato and Gothic architecture. What's not to love?

Badges

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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.

JUL
4
2019

Plasma + Usability & Productivity Sprint in Valencia, Spain

The KDE Plasma and Usability teams recently converged on the beautiful Spanish city of Valencia for a combined development sprint. The teams admired Valencia's medieval architecture and stayed up until midnight eating sumptuous Mediterranean food. But of course, the real purpose was work!

We camped out in the offices of the Slimbook company, which were generously made available for the sprint. The aim was not only to hack on Plasma and the Usability & Productivity initiative, but also to benefit from the cross-pollination opportunities provided by hosting both sprints at the same time and place.

The result was a huge amount of work done on Plasma, KWin, Dolphin, Spectacle, and many other bits of KDE software.

Present for the Plasma sprint were Kai Uwe Broulik, David Edmundson, Nicolas Fella, Eike Hein, Roman Gilg, Aleix Pol Gonzalez, Marco Martin, and Bhushan Shah. They had quite a busy agenda:

  • Plasma 5.16's new notification system received a great deal of polish
  • Fixed a ton of bugs in the Plasma Browser Integration
  • Rewrote the widget positioning code for the desktop, making it much more robust, future-proof, and usable on touch:



  • Started work on making the Task Manager understand window stacking order, which will allow it to implement new interaction modes for grouped windows (e.g. bring forward the last-used window when clicked)
  • Worked on architecture improvements for the Task Manager to unify its different presentation modes and improve code robustness
  • Worked on a variety of architecture improvements for KWin to make it more future-proof, which, among other things, will improve multi-screen handling
  • Improved the user interface for the System Tray's settings window
  • Added calculator and unit conversion functionality to Kickoff and Application Dashboard

Kickoff now integrates a calculator and a unit conversion utility.

In addition to making technical progress, the Plasma and Usability teams got together to discuss a number of long-standing Plasma issues, and figure out how to resolve them:

We wanted to make it easier to test a custom-compiled version of Plasma. To do so, we implemented changes that allow you to integrate your custom-compiled Plasma into SDDM by running a single command, after which you can log into it normally. For more information, see this article.

We thought it would be a good idea to make more it obvious and discoverable that Plasma is made up of widgets, and show how they are configured. To do this, we decided to create a new "global edit mode" that's triggerable from within System Settings, as this is where new users generally expect everything to be configured. In this global edit mode, all widgets become visibly configurable, editable, removable, etc. We also want to make it easy to change the wallpaper in this mode. With all that done, we'll be able to remove the Desktop Toolbox as it currently exists.

There was a need to unify the disparate scaling methods, so we decided to visually connect the scale factor chooser with the "Force Fonts DPI" setting, since the former actually affects the latter, but not the other way around. This should make it clear that the scaling slider is the primary way to scale the screen, and the "force fonts DPI" control is nothing more than a way to tweak things further.

We needed Plasma to respect the system-wide scale factor on X11, so we came up with a path forward and a plan for getting it done!

We planned out how to add power actions to the lock screen. We concluded that not only does this make sense, but it will be necessary for Plasma Mobile anyway. In a multi-user environment, the user will have to enter an admin password to shut down or restart the machine when other users are also logged in.


Even during down time, KDE carries on coding!

Over in the Usability & Productivity room we had Méven Car, Albert Astals Cid, Noah Davis, Filip Fila, Nate Graham, and David Redondo. The agenda was similarly jam-packed, and included the following:

  • We ported Spectacle to use KGlobalAccel and away from KHotKeys, made the quit-after-copy feature finally work, and added support for drawing annotations on newly-taken screenshots
  • We implemented user-configurable sort ordering for wallpaper slideshows
  • Dolphin received human-readable sort order text and an auto-play-on-hover feature for media files
  • We added inline name feedback when creating new files or folders
  • Users can optionally close windows in the Present Windows effect with a middle-click
  • Many user interface improvements have been made to the Purpose framework, which implements sharing support in many apps (Dolphin, Spectacle, Okular, Gwenview as of recently, and so on)
  • We started working on improving the default selection of pictures available for user account avatars
  • Initial work has been done on a new "Recently used" feature for Dolphin and the file dialogs that will pull its data from a single consistent location and actually notice everything

We also came to some significant conclusions related to higher-level goals. For example, we plan to pay for professional user research to generate new "personas" and target user groups that represent the people using our software. We will use these personas as the basis for professional usability testing for Plasma, Dolphin, Gwenview, Okular, and other components of a basic desktop.

Additionally, we discussed how we can add release notes data to our apps' AppStream data, so that it shows up in software center apps like Discover. The big blocker was getting the required translations added to the tarball. We've started a dialogue with AppStream maintainer Matthias Klumpp regarding a new feature to pull translations from a remote location, which would support our workflow. The conversation is proceeding nicely so far.

Finally, VDG member Noah Davis dug deep into Breeze to work on visual consistency improvements related to selection highlights. Given his growing familiarity with the code, he's well on his way to becoming the next Breeze maintainer!

All in all, it was a very productive week. KDE Plasma and apps are in a great place right now, and the team's effort to further improve things will reach you in upcoming versions, so stay tuned!

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