Today is "I Love Free Software Day"!
We're celebrating by shining a spotlight on our contributors and on our collaboration with other FOSS communities and organizations. Free Software is an integral part of our lives, and it's important to show appreciation, support, and gratitude to everyone who works on making it better every day.
One of those people is Franklin Weng, a KDE contributor who started his Free Software journey by translating Kalzium. Franklin's contributions led him to amazing opportunities and projects. Read on to find out why he loves KDE so much.
Kalzium – The Start of An Amazing Journey
by Franklin Weng
When I was a high school student, chemistry was not my cup of tea. My grades in chemistry were not bad either, but I hated memorizing those organic compounds. Then, I decided to major in computer science at university, and from that moment, destiny tightly bonded me and Free and Open Source Software.
Around 2001 or 2002, I started to use and later contribute to KDE. However, Kalzium is the start of another amazing story for me. It happened in 2007...
I started translating KDE software around 2005. At the time, the Traditional Chinese language packages had almost been abandoned by KDE because of the very slow translation rate. Some senior FOSS community members called to others to "save" Traditional Chinese, and finally we did. From that moment on, I kept translating KDE because I simply asked myself: "Since I'm using this desktop environment, why not do it?"
So I translated everything in KDE. Everything. I started with KMail because I wanted a mail client that would reside in my system tray. Then I translated more KDE PIM applications, KDE Multimedia, KDE Graphics, KDE Games,... even KOffice. And of course, KDE Edu applications - from the simple, lovely ones, like KTuberling, KTouch, and KHangman, to huge ones like KStars and KGeography (that last one is enormous). Kalzium was just another one for me; I even translated KMyMoney - without any accounting background.
Then in 2007, I got an email.
"I saw you translated the Kalzium software. Could we meet and talk about that?"
That email was from my now friend, Eric Sun, who was (and still is) the Executive Secretary of the Open Source Software Application Consulting Center (OSSACC), a project launched by the Ministry of Education in Taiwan. The project promotes free software for use in primary and high schools. At first I had no idea why this guy would like to meet me. Would he discuss chemistry with me? I wasn't a chemistry-aholic at all!
We met at a Burger King in Taipei. He introduced himself and told me about his idea, which made me appreciate him a lot! He, as the Executive Secretary and also an FOSS enthusiast like me, wanted to introduce educational Free Software applications to teachers and students to help them acquire knowledge from many different fields, without any financial cost.
To promote those Free Software applications, the first step is, of course, to localize them. Teachers and students, especially in primary schools, would never accept software with English interfaces. He noticed that there had been some software with Traditional Chinese translations, and he was curious about who did it. Bingo! It was me.
After that, we have also done a lot of work together, mostly introducing public domain educational resources, including FOSS to schools. I became one of KDE e.V. members and the president of the BoD of Software Liberty Association Taiwan, an NPO which promotes FOSS in Taiwan. In recent years, we have helped Taiwan governments to migrate to LibreOffice and ODF.
Thinking about the past 10 amazing years on the road of promoting FOSS, the start point was that I translated Kalzium. Of course, I wasn't aware that contributing translations to KDE would give me such an amazing tour in my life. Nevertheless, I always use this as an example to tell my young friends in Taiwan: "See? Chemistry is not my thing, but translating Kalzium (and many other KDE applications) made my life wonderful!"
Big thanks to Franklin for contributing to KDE for so many years, and for spreading the word about our software and its educational potential!
Do you have a story about how you fell in love with KDE? Let us know in the comments!
To start with, it comes with a choice between an Intel i5: 2.5 GHz Turbo Boost 3.1 GHz - 3M Cache CPU, or an Intel i7: 2.7 GHz Turbo Boost 3.5 GHz with a 4M Cache. This makes the KDE Slimbook II 15% faster on average than its predecessor. The RAM has also been upgraded, and the KDE Slimbook now sports 4, 8, or 16 GBs of DDR4 RAM which is 33% faster than the DDR3 RAM installed on last year's model.
Other things to look forward to include:
a crisp FullHD 13.3'' screen,
the dual hard drive bay that gives you room for a second hard disk,
a bigger multi-touch touchpad that supports all kinds of gestures and clicks,
a slick backlit keyboard, more powerful WiFi antennas,
and 3 full-sized USB ports, one of which is the new reversible USB-C standard.
The KDE community has worked closely with Slimbook to make sure that everything works as it should. After test-running the KDE Slimbook II extensively, we can confirm it is sleek, we can confirm it is powerful, and we can confirm that beginners and power users alike will enjoy this full-featured and modern Plasma-based laptop.
Although performance and stability have been the prime goals for this version of Plasma, some of the new features include spring-loaded folder views, improved Wayland support, interactive notifications, and more.
Plasma 5.12 LTS is the second long-term support release from the Plasma 5 team. Developers have been working hard, focusing on speed and stability for this release. Boot time to desktop has been improved by reviewing the code for anything which blocks execution. The team has fixed bugs in every aspect of the codebase, tidied up the artwork, removed corner cases, and ensured cross-desktop integration. For the first time, Plasma offers experimental Wayland integration on long-term support, so you can be sure it will continue to improve the Wayland experience.
Also, you can now control music playback from the lock screen, interact with notifications, use "spring-load" folders to move files around without actually opening Dolphin, and change your applications to use global menus à la macOS.
Despite the security meltdown that swept over the tech community, our 2018 started out great - and it's all thanks to you. Your donations helped us reach the goal of our end-of-year fundraiser.
We would like to thank everyone who participated in the fundraiser, and also to all our community members who spread the word about it on social media and their blogs. You are all a wonderful community, and we are proud to be a part of this journey with you.
Having released an update for Plasma 5.11 just at the beginning of 2018, Plasma developers are now gearing up for the first major release of the year. Plasma 5.12 will be the new LTS (Long-Term Support) version, replacing Plasma 5.8.
Since many Linux distributions will rely on this version of Plasma, the developers wanted to make it as stable and fast as possible. Startup speed and memory usage will be visibly improved, particularly on low-end devices.
The KScreen utility will allow Wayland users to adjust the output resolution as well as enable and disable selected outputs. Discover, the software management application, will support the dist-upgrade command for new major releases of distributions. Application screenshots will look better than ever, and support some useful options such as navigation between images. A lot of work has been done on Flatpak support in Discover, and plenty of critical, usability-impeding bugs have been fixed.
It is important to note that new features for KWin on X11 will no longer be developed after Plasma 5.12. Moving forward, only the features relevant to Wayland will be added.
Krita Paints Masterpiece Features
Digital artists, rejoice! A major Krita release with big, beautiful changes is coming this year. With Krita 3.3.3 released just recently, all the attention is now shifting towards Krita 4.0. This version will bring improved integration with Inkscape, allowing the users to copy and paste shapes directly between the two applications.
Krita 4.0 supports Python scripting, comes with a new text tool, and allows bigger brush sizes. Expect two major changes related to file formats, too - instead of ODG, SVG will be the new default vector format. Additionally, the file format for color palettes will change, and the new one will let users create their own color groups.
We're always happy when new or small projects take off and grow to become an important part of the KDE Community. Here's a small selection of some interesting KDE applications to keep an eye on:
If you're into 3D printing, you should try Atelier. Along with its backend, AtCore, Atelier allows you to control your 3D printer, calibrate printer settings, check its status, and send print jobs to the printer. Although the application is still in beta, you can use it on Linux, macOS, and Windows, and there is even an AppImage if you'd prefer not bother with dependencies.
A major redesign of the user interface is in progress, so you can expect better views and multiple workspaces that will allow you to manage more than one 3D printer using one instance of Atelier.
Productivity isn't such a hot buzzword anymore, but people are still looking for better ways to organize their tasks. Enter Zanshin, a small but powerful app grounded in the philosophy of simplicity. It allows you to sort your tasks into projects and divide them into different contexts.
Zanshin integrates with the KDE PIM suite and KRunner, making it easy to add new tasks from incoming email or display them in your calendar. A new version of Zanshin just came out, with features such as recurrent tasks, support for attachments, and the ability to focus on the currently active task to minimize distraction.
Latte Dock officially became a KDE project (as part of our Extragear collection) at the end of 2017, but it has been a community favorite for a long time.
This highly configurable dock allows you to organize your launchers and running applications, and new features are added constantly. Recent changes made it possible to share custom dock layouts with other users (and download theirs), and improved dynamic backgrounds for application windows that interact with the dock.
A new music player on the KDE stage, Elisa is still in development, but it's an exciting project to follow. One of its main features is music indexing, which optimizes the speed of your music collection. Elisa allows you to browse music by artist and album, or display all tracks, as well as create custom playlists. The developers are currently focused on improving the interface. You can try Elisa on Linux and Windows.
Akademy on the Blue Danube
August may seem far away, but we're already preparing for the biggest KDE Community event of the year - Akademy 2018! The annual gathering of KDE community members will take place in Vienna, Austria, from the 11th to the 17th of August at the University of Technology (TU Wien).
The call for participation is now open, and you can send your proposals for talks, panels, and workshops until March 12th, 2018. Of course, you can also simply come as an attendee -- after all, there is no admission fee, and everyone is welcome. Whether you're a seasoned KDE contributor or someone who just started using KDE software two days ago, we would like to meet you!
More Ways for You to Contribute
During our end-of-year fundraiser, many people asked us about using cryptocurrency to support KDE. We listened, and we made it possible - now you can donate Bitcoin using bitpay. You can also donate directly from our Facebook page, or participate in our Join the Game project, where you can become a supporting member of KDE and take part in our General Assembly meetings.
Of course, it's not all about the money. If you would like to contribute to KDE as a developer, take a look at our Season of KDE mentorship project. Want to write articles about KDE for this website? Get in touch with the KDE Promo team, and they will help you get started. There are so many venues to becoming a KDE contributor, and as part of our long-term goals, we will work on making the process of joining easier.
Akademy is the KDE Community conference. The 2018 edition is from Saturday 11th to Friday 17th August in Vienna, Austria. If you are working on topics relevant to KDE or Qt, this is your chance to present your work and ideas at the Conference. The days for talks are Saturday and Sunday, 11th and 12th. The rest of the week will be BoFs, unconference sessions and workshops.
What we are looking for
The goal of the conference section of Akademy is to learn and teach new skills and share our passion around what we're doing in KDE with each other.
For the sharing of ideas, experiences and state of things, we will have short Fast Track sessions in a single-track section of Akademy. Teaching and sharing technical details is done through longer sessions in the multi-track section of Akademy.
If you think you have something important to present, please tell us about it. If you know of someone else who should present, please encourage them. For more details see the proposal guidelines and the Call for Participation.
The submission deadline is 12th March, 23:59:59 CET.
Accommodation & Travel information
Information about how to get to Vienna and the recommended accommodation is now available on the Akademy website
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. For more information, please contact The Akademy Team.
However, these days “KDE” stands for the community and the work we carry out – and that is more than just code. KDE sponsors students and budding developers, meets in events and works in sprints. All of this ultimately, yes, helps KDE produce more and better software. But more importantly, it encourages a large number of people to work together for the common good.
With that in mind, here goes our tribute to the larger KDE community and the landmarks reached in 2017:
New developers and students were brought into the KDE fold in 2017. We showed them how to start contributing to Free Software, opened up career opportunities for them, and helped them realise their full potential.
KDE also sponsored developers and supporters to allow them to visit events far from their homes. We helped Lays Rodrigues from Brazil get to the developer sprint we run every year in Randa, Switzerland. Lays is working on Atelier, a graphical interface for controlling 3D printers.
A sponsorship for Anu Mittal (a software engineer) and Vasudha Mathur (a student software engineer) allowed them to make it to Akademy in Spain all the way from India. Anu is a contributor to several applications in KDE's educational suite of programs, and Vasudha is writing a Qt interface to Rocket Chat, a free, open source team chat system for enterprises. Vasudha's implementation will work both on desktop and mobile devices.
Talking of Akademy...
This year the KDE community met in full force in August in Almería, in the south of Spain. 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.
This year's event attracted over 110 attendees travelling mainly from Europe, but also from North and South America, and Asia. Over the weekend, visitors were able to attend more than 40 different talks on all kinds of topics, ranging from developing applications for mobile phones to best ways for collaboration between communities.
And then, thanks to our sponsors and donations from community members, KDE developers assembled again in Randa, Switzerland, ready to tackle the challenges of accessibility. Voice feedback and keyboard navigation got added to Plasma, Marble got smoother and developers started working on a better text-to-speech engine for the mapping app. The developers also discussed accessibility best practices and decided testers should check if an app can be used only with the keyboard and then only with a mouse. They also agreed that customizations should be kept to a minimum. In summary, KDE developers made everything better for everybody.
The Qt World Summit (QtWS), held in Berlin in October, was a meeting of another kind altogether. Our target at this event was to convince people from enterprises and a wider developer community to Power Up using KDE-based libraries and framework. Visitors could try Plasma Mobile working on an actual handset, and also play with the upcoming Pinebook, a Plasma-enabled ultra-notebook built around the Pine 64 SBC. Attendees could also recharge literally, relaxing at our ample sitting space with comfy cushions in an open and informal atmosphere, while topping up the batteries of their devices with the plugs and USB charging stations strategically placed all around the sitting area. Our aim was to make visitors feel welcome not only to our booth, but also to our community.
But helping people discover Free Software by discovering KDE is only one of the ways we helped further FLOSS in 2017...
We supported the cause for a wider adoption of Free Software in several ways during 2017. We partnered with Purism to work on getting Plasma Mobile ready for their Free smartphone, Librem5. We are proud that KDE's early participation in the crowdfunding campaign was instrumental in pushing it over the finishing line and then some. Not only did we help them surpass their initial goal of $1.5 million and then reach 2 million dollars, but we also precipitated a flurry of endorsements from other Free Software projects, such as Gnome and Monero. The end result is that a fully open and privacy-respecting Linux-based phone is much nearer than you think.
And then we helped the Free Software Foundation Europe campaign push for increased adoption of Free Software in public institutions. The Public Money? Public Code! campaign advocates for software developed using public funds to be released and shared under Free Software licenses. We raised awareness by blogging about it, and published an article about the campaign here, in the Dot. We then spread the news through our social media accounts.
Talking of which...
It has been a good year for growth of the KDE community. We have ramped up our activity on social media to help more people become aware of the benefits of Free Software in general, and of KDE environments and applications in particular.
Our Twitter following has swelled to well over 51,000 users, and our subreddit now has more than 10,000 subscribers. This is a massive audience that re-tweets, comments and posts about what we do, helping us reach an evergrowing audience. We have also increased our presence on Facebook and G+.
Thanks to these outlets, we get to talk to more and more people every day. Our social media accounts allow for a two-way conversation with users we would otherwise never hear from.
More than Software
Although it may sound trite, the long and short of it is that KDE nowadays is more about people than about writing code. Of course, we love our software and adore the talented developers, but we see beyond developing apps and environments. We consider our technology a force for good; a way to help bring usable, accessible and powerful software to the people.
Over the years, we have discovered that we need more than excellent developers to do that. We need a whole community willing to contribute a wide variety of skills, technical and otherwise. Fortunately, KDE has managed to build a strong community, and it is thanks to you and people like you. None of the above milestones would have been possible without your support and your contributions. You can help us even more by donating to our End of Year fundraiser or by spreading this article far and wide, raising awareness of the work we all do together.
Thank you because you made 2017 wonderful, and thank you again because we know you'll make 2018 even better.
After an exciting and successful year, we give you all an opportunity to help us recharge our proverbial batteries.
You've always wanted to contribute to a Free and open source project, right? Maybe you wondered how you could do that.
Well, supporting our fundraiser is a perfect way to get started. Donations are also a great way to show gratitude to the developers of your favorite KDE applications, and to ensure the project will continue.
Besides, you know that this is a project worth backing, because we get things done. Since proof is in the pudding, let's take a quick look at what we did this year.
2017 Software Landmarks
In 2017, we released 3 major versions of Plasma - 5.9, 5.10, and 5.11
There were 2 big releases of KDevelop, with improved support for PHP, Analyzers mode with plugins like Heaptrack and cppcheck, and support for Open Computing Language
We kept pushing Kirigami forward with releases 2.0 and 2.1, and several applications newly ported to the framework. Thanks to the new Kirigami, even more apps can be ported to a wider range of desktops and mobile environments
There were 4 releases of digiKam, the image management software, which also got a new, prettier website design
We welcomed a new browser Falkon (formerly known as Qupzilla) into our KDE family. We were also joined by several new applications, including Elisa, a simple and straightforward music player
Our developers focused on accessibility and made our applications more usable for everybody during the Randa Meetings developer sprint
Into 2018 with You
We look forward to the new year with all its challenges and excitements, and we don't plan on slowing down.
There will be new Plasma and KDE Applications releases, with a new Plasma LTS release (5.12) planned for the end of January. Season of KDE will bring a stream of fresh contributors. Konversation 2.0 will present a completely redesigned interface, and you can be sure it's not the only application that will positively surprise you in 2018.
We will spend a lot of time and effort on our long-term goals, which include improving software usability, protecting your privacy, and making it easier to become a KDE contributor. And as always, we'll be on the lookout for more Free Software projects that we can bring under our wing and help the developers bring their ideas to fruition.
But we cannot do all this without you. The community - that is, people just like you - is what drives KDE forward. Your energy motivates us. Your feedback helps us improve. Your financial support allows us to organize community events and developer sprints, maintain our websites and infrastructure, and so much more.
Help us build a bigger, better, more powerful KDE Community by donating to our End-of-Year fundraiser. We appreciate every contribution, no matter how modest.
You can also support us and power up our fundraiser by posting about it on social media. Share the link, tell others about it, or write a post on your blog and share that. Tweet us a link to your blog post, and we will share it on our social media.
A software developer's life can get lonely. Developers spend a lot of time immersed in their code, and often don't get to see the direct impact of their work on the users. That is why events like Randa Meetings are necessary. They help build bonds within the community and show the developers that their work is appreciated.
Randa Meetings are crucial to the KDE community for developer interaction, brainstorming, and bringing great new things to KDE. --- Scarlett Clark
Randa Meetings are a yearly collection of KDE Community contributor sprints that take place in Randa, Switzerland. With origins dating back to a Plasma meeting in 2009, Randa is one of the most important developer-related events in the community.
This year, Randa Meetings were held from September 10 to September 16, and were centered around a meaningful theme - accessibility.
Accessibility in Free and Open Source Software
Accessibility is incredibly important, yet so often neglected in the process of software development, and implemented almost as an afterthought. Users with disabilities and impairments often find themselves excluded from using the software, and prevented from participating in activities that the rest of us take for granted. Essentially, the software makes them feel as if they don't matter.
To remedy this, many governments enforce laws requiring software to be accessible. There are also accessibility standards, guidelines, and checklists to help developers make their software accessible to all.
FOSS communities and projects have the potential to play a major role in driving software accessibility efforts because of their open nature. People with disabilities can communicate directly with developers, report issues, and request features that they need. Proprietary products are rarely this open to feedback, not to mention the fact they are often very expensive.
Assistive technology covers a wide range of products and solutions: from screen magnifiers, screen readers, and text prediction methods to text-to-speech interfaces, speech recognition software, and simplified computer interfaces. There are also advanced solutions like 3D-printed prosthetic limbs, and those that allow controlling the mouse by moving the head or just the eyes.
The best thing about all this technology is that it benefits everyone. Although people usually associate the word "accessibility" with hearing or visually impaired people, assistive technology can make life easier for many other groups: dyslexic or illiterate people, cognitively disabled people, the elderly, anyone with limited mobility or just bad eyesight.
The analogy is clear with wheelchair-accessible spaces, which are useful to parents with baby strollers, people with bicycles and shopping carts, and delivery drivers. Likewise, improving keyboard navigation, image and color contrast, and text-to-speech tools results in satisfaction among non-disabled users. Making software accessible means making software better.
Making KDE Software More Accessible
Generally speaking, there are two ways to make software accessible: either by building special accessibility-focused tools from scratch, or by implementing accessibility features and improvements into existing applications. The latter is what the Randa Meetings 2017 were all about.
The developers created a useful KWin plugin that can simulate different types of color blindness. This will help in all future accessibility efforts, as it helps developers understand what their color schemes will look like to visually impaired users.
KMyMoney was made more accessible via improvements to keyboard navigation. New keyboard shortcuts were added, and others simplified to make them easier to use.
Randa Meetings 2017 were made special by Manuel, a visitor from Italy who stayed at the Randa house during the sprint. Manuel is a deaf user, and he took the time to explain the problems that hearing-impaired users encounter with KDE software, and software in general. His feedback was extremely valuable in the context of the sprint's theme, and helped developers come up with accessibility-oriented solutions.
Meeting in Randa with other participants makes you aware of deficiencies, possibilities, and needs. For a newcomer, like myself, it was also a chance to meet some community members, see what kind of people build KDE software, and take a look behind the scenes. --- Lukasz Wojnilowicz
Apart from fixing individual applications, a lot of work was done on the Plasma desktop environment itself. Accessibility-related improvements include the ability to navigate the Plasma panel using voice feedback and the keyboard. The following video demonstrates this feature in action:
KRunner was made completely accessible, and this change is visible in Plasma 5.11. The Orca Screen Reader works well with KRunner, and can read the entered query, as well as let the user know which element of the interface is currently focused.
There was also a round of discussions on best practices for accessibility in KDE software. When testing software, the developers should try to use it only with their keyboard, and then only with the mouse. Too much customization is not a good idea, so it should be avoided, especially when it comes to colors, fonts, and focus handling.
Another good practice is to test the application with a screen reader. This experience should highlight potential issues for disabled users. In the end, it all comes down to empathy - being able to put yourself in the user's shoes, and the willingness to make your software available to as many people as possible, without excluding anyone.
More Plans and Achievements from the Randa Meetings 2017
Of course, the developers worked on so much more than just accessibility. The KDE PIM team discussed the results of their KMail User Survey, and tackled the most pressing issue reported by the uses - broken and unreliable search. They also ported the entire Kontact codebase away from the obsolete KDateTime component.
KMyMoney saw some important changes. All plugin KCM modules were ported to KF5. The backup feature is, well, back up and available to use, and database loading was improved so as to prevent the incompatibility between new and old KMyMoney files.
After successfully participating in Google Summer of Code, the digiKam team gathered in Randa to further polish the new code contributed by students. They also worked on the media server functionality, which allows users to share their photo collections across different devices (smartphones, tablets, TVs...) using DLNA.
The developers of Kube worked on resolving an annoying issue with live queries which slows down email synchronization, especially when there are thousands of emails. They also discussed the possibility of implementing an HTML composer to edit emails in Kube, and made plans for GPG implementation. In collaboration with developers from other KDE projects, they explored the options for making Kube cross-platform, and looked for the best way to build Kube on macOS and Windows. Finally, they implemented a visualization in the configuration dialog which indicates when the user input is invalid in configuration fields.
Last but not least, Kdenlive received color correction improvements, and the developers worked on bringing back the popular TypeWriter effect. They also fixed the import of image sequences, worked on porting Kdenlive to Windows and macOS, and removed the warning about missing DVD tools that used to appear when starting Kdenlive for the first time.
Looking Forward to the Next Randa Meetings
With another successful Randa Meetings behind us, we can start planning for the next session.
If you like the work our developers are doing, you can directly support it by donating to KDE. You can also contribute to KDE and make an impact on the users by joining our mentored project called Season of KDE.
Who knows, maybe in the future you too will attend the Randa Meetings!
The KDE community has spoken and it has chosen the proposals which will define the general direction of the KDE project over the next three or four years.
How does the KDE community decide where it wants to take the project? Well, every once in a while, we hold a Request for Proposals, if you will. All members of the community are encouraged to submit their grand ideas which will lay out long-term targets. Proposals are voted on democratically, again, by the community. This ensures it is truly the community that guides the KDE project to wherever the community wants it to go.
This year, the three most voted proposals have been:
Nate Graham proposes improving the usability of KDE's software and making it more accessible and user-friendly for a wider variety of users. Nate argues that, although KDE apps and environments in general boast a "long list of features that are genuinely useful for normal people's typical use cases", small but noticeable inconsistencies and niggling usability issues sometimes mar KDE's semblance of maturity with casual users.
Nate reasons that focusing on irksome details of the most common and commonly used of KDE's software, such as Plasma, Dolphin, Okular and Discover, would be the first step towards polishing the whole. He mentions, for example, the annoying bug that makes Plasma require the Wifi password twice; or enhancements that can be made to Dolphin to support column view or colourised files and directories, like MacOS X's file browser sports; or improving Okular's stamp feature to make it suitable for digitally signing documents.
KDE's environments and applications are mature and usable to a great extent, but by getting small incremental improvements, we can nearly subliminally improve the overall feel of the project and increase its uptake with the general public.
In synch with KDE's vision, Sebastian Kugler says that "KDE is in a unique position to offer users a complete software environment that helps them to protect their privacy". Being in that position, Sebastian explains, KDE as a FLOSS community is morally obliged to do its utmost to provide the most privacy-protecting environment for users.
This is especially true since KDE has been developing not only for desktop devices, but also for mobile - an area where the respect for users' privacy is nearly non-existent. Sebastian thinks that the intrusion on users’ personal lives is very dangerous. Users can have their livelihood and even personal safety put at risk when their confidential data makes its way into the hands of unscrupulous companies or hostile government agencies.
To make sure KDE environment and apps protect users’ privacy, Sebastian lists several measures that developers can implement. He proposes that applications not expose private data by default, asking the user for explicit consent before sending data to third parties. Other measures would involve apps using privacy-protecting protocols when communicating with the outside world; say, a widget should use Tor to collect weather information. Applications should also only require the bare minimum user information to operate and only when it is essential.
Finally, the proposal explains that KDE must provide the right tools to further safeguard users' privacy. These tools include email clients that offer easy ways of encrypting messages, privacy-protecting chat and instant messaging protocols and clients, and support for online services that can be implemented on personal servers.
Although we have made many improvements to KDE's development infrastructure and tools over the years, there are still several things we can do to streamline the access for contributors, says Neofytos Kolokotronis. Thinking of ways to get more people involved in the development, Neofytos proposes measures to simplify newcomer participation within KDE.
KDE is a living community and, as such, it is threatened if new users do not become contributors and therefore do not join its ranks, bringing in new blood and fresh ideas. To solve this potential problem, Neofytos wants the community to look at methods of incrementing user involvement. This will require analysing the available resources, especially the people and time that they can invest in this effort.
He also proposes KDE improve and standardise protocols for accepting and mentoring new users, as well as correcting issues with documentation and tools used to receive new contributions, such as KDE's bug tracking system.
The KDE community will start implementing the proposals into concrete actions and policies. The proposals will shape how the KDE community creates software and works with its members, as well as with outside users. In view of the winning ideas, we can expect a more polished KDE experience, enhanced privacy protection and a more accessible and welcoming community for years to come.
To make sure all KDE's goals are met, we need your support. Head over to the End of Year fundraiser (coming soon!) and help us meet our yearly funding target. You can contribute to the success of KDE and we will also show appreciation with karma and gifts!
On the 4th and the 5th of November, the FOSSCOMM 2017 conference took place at Harokopio University of Athens, Greece. The KDE Community had a presence at the conference. Our Greek troops gave a talk on Sunday about the past, present and future of KDE, focusing on the vision of the community.
What is FOSSCOMM?
FOSSCOMM (Free and Open Source Software Communities Meeting) is an annual conference about free software organized by the Greek Free Software community. The main purpose of the conference is the promotion of free software, as well as social interaction between community members. During the first weekend of November, a great number of free software contributors and advocates gathered in Athens to discuss many interesting topics related to free software and open standards.
In addition, several Greek software communities promoted their work and values at the booths and by hosting workshops. The conference was a success, since a lot of people participated in various conference activities, confirming the significant impact of freedom and openness to the Greek society, especially among young people.
KDE at FOSSCOMM
Throughout the weekend, our KDE Community members talked about KDE-related topics, especially at the Nextcloud booth. We also sought out actions that could promote the KDE Community in Athens.
On Sunday afternoon, we gave a presentation about KDE in the main amphitheater of Harokopio University. After listing the milestones from the 20 years of KDE history, we defined what KDE represents today, and briefly presented the software that the KDE Community creates.
Afterwards, we analyzed KDE Vision. We discussed the reasons that led to its creation and the purpose that it serves, focusing on the social impact of our work and our community values.
Regarding our initiative to improve the impact of KDE in Greece, we created the KDE el Telegram group . Before concluding our talk, we suggested to everyone interested in KDE values and Plasma software to participate in the newly created group.
We hope that this communication channel will constitute a starting point for the KDE Community in Greece to come together, communicate their contributions, and promote KDE and free software in general.
Inspired by this post and by the creation of the Telegram group, several Greek-speaking KDE users and contributors decided to collaborate on developing a stronger KDE community among the Greek-speaking audience, and further promote KDE's work. After a fruitful discussion, the team decided to facilitate participation from additional media that correspond to our values, as this can help in reaching a wider community.
As a result, we created the 'kde-el' Matrix room.
The existing kde-el Freenode IRC channel is now bridged to both the Matrix and the Telegram groups.
The Greek-speaking KDE team can now be reached via:
ΙRC: #kde-el at freenode
Telegram: KDE el
Although the turnout on Sunday was not as high as on Saturday, many students, contributors and free software enthusiasts attended our talk. Since the timeline was quite strict, there was no time for questions from the audience.
Nevertheless, the impact of our talk was quite positive, since several people approached us looking for more information about the material we presented. According to the feedback from attendees, the decision to introduce a privacy- and freedom-oriented mobile paradigm seems to be more than welcome.
Participating in meetings like FOSSCOMM is quite helpful for KDE as well as for the free software community in general. Talking with people from different communities, getting introduced to interesting open projects, and envisaging a world of freedom is always a revitalizing and encouraging way to keep going! Finally, we would like to thank FOSSCOMM volunteers and organizers for being so helpful and managing to host quite a successful event.