In the last few years, smartphone hardware has become powerful enough to drive conventional desktop software. A developing trend is to create laptops using hardware initially designed for smartphones and embedded systems. There are distinct advantages to this approach: those devices are usually very energy efficient, so they can yield a long runtime on a single battery charge; they're also rather inexpensive and lighter than conventional laptops.
One such device is the Pinebook, created by a hardware manufacturer from China. The Pinebook is a low-cost laptop (at about 100 USD) with the full functionality one would expect. It is powered by a quad-core 64-bit ARM CPU clocked at 1.2 GHz, and comes with 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB of eMMC storage, and a 14" TN LCD at 1366x768.
Blue Systems has worked together with the manufacturer of the Pinebook to create a showcase test image that runs well on these devices. The team has adapted KDE neon and created a bootable and installable remixed live image that works on the Pinebook. Developers have also fixed many bugs - both minor and major - across the whole software stack, kernel, graphics drivers, Qt, packaging, and in KDE Frameworks and Plasma.
The result shows that Plasma is an excellent candidate for devices like this. The process has also yielded significant performance improvements in KDE Frameworks and Plasma; a result every user has enjoyed with newer Plasma releases.
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.
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.
Day 2 of Akademy started with a wonderfully insightful keynote by Claudia Garad, the Executive Director of Wikimedia Austria. She focused her talk on some of the challenges that organizations like hers face when trying to bring about more inclusivity and diversity within their communities.
She emphasized the importance of making underrepresented communities feel more welcome and heard within the organization, then went on to speak about how she perceived KDE as being quite ahead of Wikimedia in some aspects, especially when it came to reaching these goals.
One of the things she thought brought a positive vibe to the KDE community was that "KDE embraces cuteness", she said while displaying a slide with the "pile of Konquis" picture. On a more serious note, she said that through events such as Akademy, sprints and events around the world, you can bring together people from immensely diverse backgrounds and have them work towards building a stronger community.
Kai Uwe Broulik explained what is working (quite a lot), and how you will be able to control every aspect of your web browser with Plasma's integrated tools. Already working are controls for playback of videos and music on many popular sites using desktop widgets, including the likes of KDE Connect.
Talking of playing music, Camilo Higuita told us about the progress of VVAVE, a next generation audio player that is fully convergent (it integrates both with your Plasma desktop and on your mobile phone), and is but one part of Camilo's idea for an open audio streaming service.
Andreas Cord - Landwehr gave a talk on Yocto and how to use it to build images and SDKs and to create KDE-powered devices with Yocto. In a a similar vein, Volker Krause showed of a Raspberry Pi-based device running Plasma Mobile also on Yocto. The excitement of the KDE developers when it comes to running KDE software on mobile devices is electric and the audience was buzzing during these talks.
Finally, there were the Akademy Awards ceremony. The Akademy Awards are a way of honoring members that have done outstanding work for the benefit of the whole community.
The Application Akademy award went to Aditya Mehra for their work on the Mycroft integration providing KDE with a free speech assistant which is free as in freedom .
The Non-Application Akademy Award went to Valorie Zimmerman for for their work driving KDE's mentoring programs and the Community Working Group, and being one of KDE's good souls
There were three Jury awards this year they went to Sebastian Kügler for for their many years of relentless hacking and more (Plasma, KDE Marketing, years in the KDE e.V. Board), David Edmundson for their work on Telepathy, porting applications to Frameworks 5, Plasma, KWin, KWayland, and being the crazy guy around and to Mario Fux for supporting KDE over many years through organizing the Randa meetings.
The Akademy Team were thanked with the Organizational Award to Stefan Derkits and the whole team responsible for putting together Akademy 2018.
Congratulations to the winners and thank you for being so awesome!
Akademy 2018 got off to a wet start with rains accompanying all attendees pouring into Vienna for KDE's largest annual community conference. Although the Pre-Registration event was held on Day Zero (Friday the 10th) and it was a fun-filled affair, Akademy kicked off in earnest on Saturday, with talks, panels and demonstrations. Read on to find out about Day 1 of Akademy and all that transpired:
Dan Bielefeld, the Technical Director of the Transitional Justice Working Group, explained the work they do to map North Korean locations of mass burial and execution sites using mapping technologies. He also delivered insight into how North Korea and the Kim regime operates, and how his organization gleans information both from interviews with refugees and from studying satellite imagery.
Although the topic of the suffering of North Koreans is grim, there is a silver lining, says Dan: One day there will be a transition, there will come a day when the Kim regime will end and North Koreans will regain the freedom that they have been denied for over 70 years. The work of the Transitional Justice Working Group will also help with that. Finding out what happened to loved ones and bringing those responsible for the atrocities to justice will be a crucial part of helping the nation heal.
And it makes sense, says Dan, for the Transitional Justice Working Group to work with both Free Software and Free Software communities. The software offers the group a degree of security and control they cannot find in closed source applications; and Free Software communities uphold the same values Dan's group is fighting for, that is, the right to privacy and personal freedom.
Quite appropriately, after Dan's keynote, Adriaan de Groot ran a panel where members discussed the matter of privacy. Developing privacy-respecting software is one of KDE's main goals and the panelists explained how developing free and open Personal Digital Assistants like Mycroft was crucial to protecting users from snooping corporations.
Another thing we rarely think about but is a source of concern with regard to personal information is trip planners. In actual fact, the amount of sensitive information that we unwittingly share by letting opaque apps tell us when and where to catch our flight is staggering. Since the 2017 Randa sprint, there are KDE developers actively working on a truly open and private solution that will help solve this problem.
The other thing the panel discussed was the state of GnuPG in Kmail. GnuPG is the framework that allows users to encrypt and decrypt email messages that, otherwise, would be sent in clear text -- a big privacy concern. At this stage of play, GnuPG is tightly integrated into Kmail and, is not only convenient for end users, but has also proved to be immune to recent vulnerabilities that have affected other email clients.
Combined with the underlying policy of all KDE apps of never collecting data subvertly or otherwise, KDE is sticking strictly to its goal of preserving user privacy.
Neofytos Kolokotronis talked about the progress of another of KDE's main goals, namely the onboarding of new users. Neofytos explained to attendees the progress the working group had made so far and where they wanted to go to. He had some advice on how to help new users join KDE, such as having good and clear documentation, mentoring new contributors, and building connections outside your immediate niche.
The Indian union government has a nation-wide recommendation in place for the use, promotion and development of Free and Open Source software. Despite this, FOSS adoption has remained low in the country. The decision taken by some state governments to not adopt these recommendations in conjunction with the aggressive marketing carried out by proprietary software vendors in India has seriously hindered the use of Free Software. SuperX, however, has managed to find a place within the government and a few Indian universities thanks to its user-centric approach. SuperX has deployed 30,000 KDE shipments -- one of the largest deployments in the world, and there are 20,000 more in the works.
This was followed by a panel discussion by Lydia, Valorie and Bhushan in which they told the community about our KDE student programs and how to contribute to their running and up-keep. It was a talk of high relevance, given our KDE Community goal to streamline the onboarding process for new contributors and the fact that a large part of our new contributor base comes through our organized mentoring programs, namely Google Summer of Code, Google Code-in and Season of KDE.
Mirko Boehm presented a talk on the genesis of Quartermaster, a toolchain driven by Endocode and supported by Siemens and Google. Quartermaster implements industry best practises of license compliance management. It generates compliance reports by analysing data from the CI environment and building graphs for analysis, primarily performing a combination of build time analysis and static code analysis.
Lays Rodrigues talked about Atelier, a cross-platform program designed to help you control your 3D printer. It supports most printers with open source firmware and Lays demoed the various features of Atelier during her talk, including video monitoring of the printer, 3D preview of the print design, temperature graphs and more.
Zoltan Padrah gave a talk on KTechLab and explained how he discovered it as a student of electronics engineering in 2008. KTechLab is a program that helps simulate electronic circuits and programs running on microcontrollers. It was migrated to the KDE infrastructure and joined KDE in 2017. The developers' upcoming plans are to release KTechLab for Qt4 and Qt5 and to port it to KDE Frameworks 5, as well as add new features like support to simulate automation systems for mechanics and have KiCad import/export.
Day one was so full of content, it is hard to summarize everything that went on here. This has just been a summary of a few of the talks and demonstrations we enjoyed. There were many more talks on all topics, ranging from containerizing KDE's graphical apps, to an end users' perspective of using Kontact in a professional environment.
As we write this, already on day 2, it looks like today is shaping up to be equally exciting.
Eike Hein, Treasurer of the KDE e.V. board, believes that the extra influx of sponsors is thanks to "KDE software being loved again." Eike points out that Plasma is reaching more kinds of devices every day, attracting larger communities and more hardware manufacturers -- some of which will be at Akademy this year. KDE applications are also becoming more mainstream and reaching larger audiences. Krita and Kdenlive, for example, are making inroads within the community of graphical artists, raising awareness of KDE in a whole new sector of end users. Kirigami is becoming the go-to framework for projects that need convergence on desktop and mobile devices.
"I would also attribute the increase in support to the fact that KDE actively engages with partners" says Eike. A case in point is the Advisory Board. The Advisory Board makes organization-to-organization interaction more rewarding and helps build a stronger network of like-minded Free Software associations and companies. Through the Advisory Board, KDE can better reach and support larger communities, which in turn reinforces KDE's position within Free Software.
For most of the year, KDE -- one of the largest free and open software communities in the world-- works on-line 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.
Since the KDE Advisory Board was created in 2016, we have been encouraging more and more organizations to join it, either as patrons or as non-profit partner organizations. With Ubuntu (via Canonical) and openSUSE (via SUSE) we already had two popular Linux distributions represented in the Advisory board. They are now joined by one of the biggest and oldest purely community-driven distributions: Debian.
KDE has a long-standing and friendly relationship with Debian, and we are happy to formalize it now. Having Debian on our Advisory Board will allow us to learn from them, share our experience with them, and deepen our collaboration even further.
As is tradition, we will now hand over the stage to the Debian Project Leader, Chris Lamb, who will tell you a bit about Debian and why he is happy to accept our invitation to the Advisory Board:
Debian is a stable, free and popular computer operating system trusted by millions of people across the globe, from solo backpackers, to astronauts on the International Space Station, and from small companies, to huge organisations.
Founded in 1993, Debian has since grown into a volunteer organisation of over 2,000 developers from more than 70 countries worldwide collaborating every day via the Internet.
The KDE Plasma desktop environment is fully-supported within Debian and thus the Debian Project is extremely excited to be formally recognising the relationship between itself and KDE, especially how that will greatly increase and facilitate our communication and collaboration.
Apart from re-writing a lot of the internals to clean up the code and make Kdenlive more efficient and easier to stabilize, this beta adds a bunch of new and interesting features. For example, the video and audio from clips are now automatically separated when dropped in the timeline, the slow motion effect now works and insert/lift/overwrite should also work reliably. Another thing you can do is install new keyboard layouts with one click. This means that, if you are coming from another video-editing software and relied on its shortcuts, you can still be equally productive with Kdenlive. For a full list of the new features in Kdenlive 18.08 Beta 17, take a look at the article on the projects site.
A word of warning: Kdenlive version 18.08 beta 17, as its name implies, is beta software. It is not stable and some features will not work. Do not use this as your main production video-editing software. Also do not overwrite any important project files with files produced with the beta version of Kdenlive, since compatibility with older versions of Kdenlive is a known issue.
If there is one document you want to read to discover what KDE has been up to and where we are right now, this is the one.
KDE's yearly report gives a comprehensive overview of all that has happened during 2017. It covers the progress we have made with KDE's Plasma desktop environment; Plasma Mobile (KDE's graphical environment for mobile devices); and applications the community creates to stimulate your productivity, creativity, education, and fun.
The report also looks at KDE's activities during 2017, giving details on the results from community sprints, conferences, and external events the KDE community has participated in worldwide. It also covers what is probably the most important community milestone of 2017: defining and agreeing on what are the most important global goals, goals that will direct the efforts of KDE community members for years to come.
You can also find out about the inner workings of KDE e.V., the foundation that legally represents the community. Check KDE's financial status and read up about the KDE e.V. board members, the different working groups, the Advisory Board, and how they all work together to keep KDE moving forward.
Optimized and less resource-hungry, Plasma 5.13 can run smoothly on under-powered ARM laptops, high-end gaming PCs, and everything in between.
Feature-wise, Plasma 5.13 comes with Browser Integration. This means both Chrome/Chromium and Firefox web browsers can be monitored and controlled using your desktop widgets. For example, downloads are displayed in the Plasma notification popup, so even if your browser is minimized or not visible, you can monitor the download progress. Likewise with media playing in a tab: you can use Plasma's media controls to stop, pause and silence videos and audio playing in any tab – even the hidden ones. This a perfect solution for those annoying videos that auto-start without your permission. Another Plasma-browser feature is that links can now be opened from Plasma's overhead launcher (Krunner), and you can also send links directly to your phone using KDE Connect.
Talking of KDE Connect, the Media Control Widget has been redesigned and its support of the MPRIS specification has been much improved. This means more media players can now be controlled from the media controls in the desktop tray or from your phone using KDE Connect.
Plasma 5.13 is also visually more appealing. The redesigned pages in 5.13 include theming tools for desktops, icons and cursors, and you can download new splash screens from the KDE Store directly from the splash screen page. The desktop provides a new and efficient blur effect that can be used for widgets, the dashboard menu and even the terminal window, giving them an elegant and modern look. Another eye-catching feature is that the login and lock screens now display the wallpaper of the current Plasma release, and the lock screen incorporates a slick fade-to-blur transition to show the controls, allowing it to be easily used as a screensaver.
Discover, Plasma's graphical software manager, improves the user experience with list and category pages that replace header images with interactive toolbars. You can sort lists, and they also show star ratings of applications. App pages and app icons use your local icon theme to better match your desktop settings.
Vaults, Plasma's storage encryption utility, includes a new CryFS backend, better error reporting, a more polished interface, and the ability to remotely open and close vaults via KDE Connect.
Connecting to external monitors has become much more user-friendly. Now, when you plug in a new external monitor, a dialog pops up an lets you easily control the position of the additional monitor in correlation to your primary one.