Markus’ Little Blog

December 27, 2011

Very short 4.8 first look (from a user’s perspective)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Markus S. @ 17:44

The release candidates of the 4.8 generation are out since a few days and now also openSUSE packages are available in the KDE Unstable repository.

Release candidates by KDE are usually very solid with incomplete translations as biggest drawback but since translating is usually done during RC phase, it’s to be expected.

Plasma Desktop

I’m not a friend of bright desktop themes which is why I always change the Plasma theme from Air to something else on the first day and never see Air again until I do a fresh install for whatver reason. So I can’t comment if the Air theme itself has changed. What I noticed when I switched to Air out of curiosity was the giant size of the clock:


This is in Air alone. In the dark Oxygen theme the clock looks not like someone screaming at me that my eyes are bad. ;-)

Possible theme changes aside, from an end-user point of view, the desktop hasn’t changed.  The device notifier uses new technology inside but it looks and behaves just like the old one.

There is a slight graphical glitch in Plasma Network Management but openSUSE has some random (likely untested) git checkout of that in its Unstable repository, so I’m not sure if that’s a Plasma Desktop bug or a PNM bug.

A small but nice change in the Oxygen window decoration is that the X button now glows red when hovering it. IMO that improves usability quite a bit:

Dolphin

A big user-visible change is Dolphin 2.0. As Peter explained last August, 2.0′s file directory code is a complete rewrite and it shows immediately. Dolphin 2.0′s workflow hasn’t changed, so there’s no need to re-adjust, but what’s there is a whole new level of polish:

As you can see in that YouTube video (WebM version available), all operations that require icons to be re-sorted have a fluid animation (lags in that video are due the recording process – it’s 100% fluid on my low-end laptop). Directory reading speed is also much better now.

I encountered three small bugs, though. I’m not sure if I’m the exeption or if those bugs are the rule with the new version:

Bug 264434 Dolphin doesn’t remember the columns widths in details view

Bug 281598 Geometry issues when increasing width of information panel (not exactly my problem but Peter closed my Bug 289851 as dupe)

Bug 289850 Size column uses KiB only
Other than those minor bugs, the experience is great!

Kontact

With 4.8 I also bit the bullet and switched to Kontact 4.8. I kept using Kontact 4.4 under KR 4.7 because of its bad reputation. My personal mail accounts – thanks to mailing lists I subscribed to – contain several tens of thousands e-mails. So any migration naturally takes its time.

Overall the experience with Kontact 4.8 is OK. From what I see the biggest problems aren’t actually problems with the programs itself but bad communication by the applications.
I also use Thunderbird for my work-related e-mail because I like to keep work and private mails separate. So I can actually compare both.
Kontact just like Thunderbird index mails for quick search. With as many mails as I have, both TB and Kontact take their time but here the bad communication comes into play:
TB says in its status bar in an unobtrusive manner that it indexes the mails. Kontact says nothing. It sits there, some Akonadi process eats roughly 30% CPU power and no common user knows what’s going on.

So there the problem is that Kontact does not talk at all. In another case Kontact talks too much. When I put my laptop in standby and later wake it  up, I get a notification for each mail account that the resource is broken and that the account if offline because of that.
No, nothing is broken. Standby simply caused the internet connection to be severed.
In another case – when I manually flag a mail as spam – I get the notification that the mail can’t be moved, even though it was successfully moved to the Trash folder at the same time.

So what would common users think? Probably something like this: “Kontact causes high workload and admits it’s broken all the time.”

Another problem is the result of an actual bugfix. KMail 1.x could only handle one operation at the time. This occasionally caused the GUI to freeze. The Akonadi back-end still can only do one operation at the time but now the GUI is responsive. So KMail2 downloaded 7,000 mails from one IMAP account and I could still use the application. So I went to another account (already synced) and wanted to read a mail just to get a “Retrieving folder contents” message for the time it synced the other account. Well, at least KMail told me what was going on.

Luckily such large-scale syncs are a one-time thing. After setting Kontact 4.8 up initially, the experience is smooth. In fact I find it smoother than Kontact 4.4. The GUI freezing fix may cause irritation during large-scale syncs but on a daily basis it’s way better. Bug 193514 has also been fixed. Those two have been two of the most hated bugs in KDE history.
I can’t tell how Kontact 4.6 and 4.7 have been but 4.8 is a solid improvement over 4.4. And no, Thunderbird is not better. It has better notifications but that’s it.

That’s it for now. I didn’t notice other changes so far but from what I gathered from blogs, most changes are under the hood anyway. So you may or may not benefit from them.

October 9, 2011

Forking the FSF – RMS and Steve Jobs

Filed under: Uncategorized — Markus S. @ 11:26

If you’ve read the blogosphere around GNU (Planet GNOME etc.) you’ve probably heard that some people are really upset about a comment by Richard M. Stallman about Steve Jobs’ death. RMS wrote “Steve Jobs, the pioneer of the computer as a jail made cool, designed to sever fools from their freedom, has died” and continued with a requoted phrase said about a corrupt mayor: “I’m not glad he’s dead, but I’m glad he’s gone.”

I’m not sure forking the FSF would solve any problems. Despite what RMS sometimes says, the FSF is broken in its foundations. From the very focused goal to build a completely free operating system called GNU the FSF transformed to ‘everything that vaguely adheres to our standards can call itself a GNU project and we’ll throw an occasional political manifesto on top of it all’.

The FSF doesn’t need a fork. Newer organizations already took over FSF’s former responsibilities: ‘Software Freedom Law Center’ does the majority of legal work. Linux provides the kernel and KDE and GNOME (officially still a GNU project but de facto without relation) provide the userspace tools.

As for RMS himself: I don’t think his political ideals are wrong or go too far. As even Apple itself once said: “people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do”.
We shouldn’t compromise our ideals of Free Software or – in broader terms – free knowledge for everybody but IMO we don’t RMS any longer because we have more than just him now. People like SFLC’s Eben Moglen reflect more about what they are about to say.
IMO arguments for free software/knowledge weigh more when there is no crazy talk mixed in. It’s a plain fact that while Apple is hardly perfect from our perspective, Steve Jobs made Apple way more open than Apple under John Sculley, Michael Spindler, and Gil Amelio. Everything was proprietary. After Apple bought NeXT and effectively NeXT took over Apple’s operations, suddenly we had an Apple that contributes to GCC, releases its new NeXTStep-derived operating system’s core (Darwin) under a LGPL-like license, creates WebKit, maintains CUPS, and is the main driver of LLVM.

So to get back to the first paragraph: I’m glad we had Steve Jobs. Not only did his decisions result in improvements of FOSS itself, he helped to break the dominance of Windows and let people accept that there are alternatives that not only work as well as Windows but even surpass it.

August 8, 2011

Get the branding: Unofficial KDE abbreviations list

Filed under: Uncategorized — Markus S. @ 13:17

Sometime last year I expressed my thoughts on the kde-promo mailing list that one of the reasons for lacking support of the KDE rebranding initiative from 2009 was the lack of official abbreviations – after all, “KDE 4.7” is easier to write than “KDE Plasma Desktop 4.7”. I got no responses but for the last months I didn’t really care a lot.

After yesterday’s announcement of KDE Frameworks 5.0 I’ve seen talk about “KDE 5.0” on several web sites. But as anyone into KDE knows, there is no KDE5. Reading the mailing lists and other Planet KDE posts, it seems to me that the Plasma Workspaces won’t necessarily jump to the next major version once Frameworks 5.0 are released.

So here’s the list of abbreviations that I personally use since a while and also saw a few others use as well:

  • KPW – KDE Plasma Workspaces: All shells developed by KDE.
  • KPD – KDE Plasma Desktop: The shell by KDE for desktop computers.
  • KPN – KDE Plasma Netbook: The netbook shell.
  • KF5 – KDE Frameworks 5: Successor of KDE Platform and kdelibs.
  • KApps: KDE Applications: Applications written by KDE.
  • KR: KDE Release: Coordinated release of several KDE modules twice per year. Formerly called Software Compilation (KSC/SC4) or K Desktop Environment. (KR is probably the most common abbreviation as openSUSE uses that since quite some time to refer to its own release repositories.)

So that’s it. Remember: That list is in no way officially endorsed by KDE Promo, KDE e.V., or anyone else.
As with all 3-letter abbreviations: Conflicting meanings exist – be it Kathy’s Patch Works, or a Netherlands telecommunications provider. So use them only if the context is clear.

March 30, 2011

WTH?!? I need to use AdBlock on AdBlock?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Markus S. @ 00:17

After my last blog post I promised myself to concentrate more on KDE again but this blows my mind:
My AdBlock Plus extension for Firefox was updated recently. Today I opened its context menu and found a huge “Recommend us on Facebook” button in the menu.

WTF?!?

Luckily Firefox’ GUI is itself rendered with FF’s own rendering engine which means that AdBlock Plus can block parts of the GUI.
A quick look into ABP’s forums turned out to have a solution already: Just subscribe to the “Antisocial” list on http://adversity.uk.to/

March 16, 2011

Short Review of GNOME Shell

Filed under: Uncategorized — Markus S. @ 13:47

It feels a bit weird to be part of KDE land and be a bit of the conservative guy these days. We had our first Plasma Desktop release three years ago and the first fully user-targeted 4.2 release two years ago. Since then things improved on a steady but not revolutionary pace. Well, that’s not entirely true for our back-ends as I feel that eg. QML is a very revolutionary move for developers but the desktop experience from a user’s POV stayed largely the same.

As I have an open mind, I of course gave GNOME and lately GNOME Shell a try and today I upgraded my GNOME installation to 3.0 beta 2.

Startup

What I noticed immediately was the lack of a splash screen. Since I upgraded from an older release and the settings were kept, I stared at a entirely black screen for a few seconds because in the meantime I deleted the wallpaper I had selected before. I honestly didn’t know at that time what if anything went wrong. While some say progress bars are evil from a usability standpoint, I at least like it when something is moving to ensure me that nothing is hanging. With clean settings you stare at blue stripes for a while but you still can’t be 100% sure anything is loading at all. I find our smoothly fading Plasma splash screen way better.

Launching Applications

Starting applications is a bit weird. First you have to open the Activities screen (so far OK). Then you can either run them from the Dock-like bar on the left side which in my case only held Firefox and Nautilus or (and this is the weird part) switch from the current ‘Windows’ view to the ‘Applications’ view. Initially I didn’t even understand that the two Windows and Applications “buttons” are clickable. They follow no convention known to me to indicate that they are clickable instead of being mere titles of some sort.

And even if they indicated that: As the default ‘Windows’ view shows a Exposé-like view of all open windows (in the current Activity), I’d expect the ‘Applications’ view to show all running applications regardless how many windows are open. (Yeah, I know. Knowing about applications and which windows they spawn is considered geeky these days.)

Alt-F2 also works but it’s a simple command prompt. IMO the Shell crew should adopt something akin to our Runner for a future release.

Maximize and Minimize

There is quite a big fuss going on about the decision to drop Maximize and Minimize buttons by default. I don’t think it’s much of an issue. The new concept behind GNOME Shell is clear: Less window management but instead Activities management.

Switching between maximized and windowed state all the time seems so 1990s to me. These days you either have a rather high resolution screen with which running maximized windows makes no sense at all or you have a portable device like a netbook or small laptop where windows should open maximized by default anyway. Windows nevertheless can still be maximized or windowed by double-clicking the title bar or via Aero Snap-like gestures (dragging the window to the top of the screen – other Aero Snap gestures are also available).

The missing Minimize button is another story. While it’s clear that Minimize is no longer needed, provided that good activity management is in place, it currently is not.

Neither do new windows spawn in new Activities by default (which IMO would make sense given the paradigm), nor is moving windows between Activities easily accessible just as the Activity switcher is not.

Better Activity accessibility is something likely to be in line for 3.2 in fall.

The Little Things

It’s little but I fell in love with it: The way startup feedback of applications work. Here in KDE land we have the jumping cursor which I also love. In GNOME Shell a roundish progress writes the title of the application into the task bar.

One aspect I found a but weird was Firefox: For some reason under GNOME Shell placing the mouse cursor somewhere inside the Firefox window makes it completely change its appearance. In FF the cursor is back with white outline while outside of FF it has inverted colours. WTF? It can’t be Firefox’ fault because under Plasma the cursor doesn’t change to something completely different.

A rather big usability fuckup is the introduction of a new switch widget to replace checkboxes. I have the same on my touchscreen phone where they work because I have to use my thick fingers to activate options but on cursor-driven GUIs they just look clumsy.

The “Is that a clickable button?” question also hit me when fiddling in GNOME Control Center. The “Back to All Settings” button doesn’t look like a button at all.

The title bars of windows are a bit too big. I don’t mind them to be bigger than before (after all the average screen resolution increased) but in 3.0 it’s a bit too much.

Conclusion

The most important question is: Is it good? And yes, it is. There are quirks here and there but it’s just a dot-0 release. In time they’ll be ironed out. I’m sure.

Is GNOME Shell something to imitate for Plasma? No. Like often there is no objectively right way to approach users. There are a few concepts that can be adapted however. The application startup notification may be worth trying out adopting in an alternative task bar Plasma widget but my guess it that it won’t look good in a cramped task bar.

Shell’s Acitvity approach is IMO also no something that works well with the existing Plasma Desktop but I think something along Shell’s lines would work well for Plasma Netbook and Plasma Mobile.

Will I switch? No, definitely not. GNOME Shell is good but from my point of view it’s also fundamentally flawed.

  1. Shell is a plugin to the Mutter window manager. Crashing the window manager means crashing everything. While typing this review I switched back and forth from my other session and at some point I had just a back screen with a mouse cursor and locked input – meaning I couldn’t even switch back to my main session running Plasma. I had to forcefully turn off my PC (luckily Blogilo saves automatically every few minutes).
    Not only that but being a window manager plugin also means I can’t choose to use a different WM with Shell. KWin allows me to on the fly turn off compositing. It’s nice because my GPU is too old to handle compositing and GPU-accelerated HD video decoding at the same time. Mutter does not and KWin can’t be used with Shell.
  2. It’s still GNOME. By default GNOME shows only a handful of options in GUIs. GNOME has many hidden settings but it’s my opinion that settings should be organized well instead of being hidden. While it’s true that our own past releases tended to have options simply thrown together, we changed our approach since 4.0 and the results are great, usable, configurable but not crippled applications like Gwenview, Dolphin, Marble, etc.
    In GNOME 3.0 I couldn’t even find a way to change Shell, Mutter, and GTK themes. Maybe I am missing some pref pane package but so far it looks like everything moved into hidden settings.

Rating: B+

March 14, 2011

Did you read Planet GNOME lately?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Markus S. @ 02:50

Planet GNOME is a good read lately. After Canonical found it to be a great idea to take 75% of revenue away from GNOME Foundation for an application Canonical didn’t even develop, discussions about older experiences of Canonical’s “interaction” with the GNOME community.

It basically goes on like this: Mark Shuttleworth blames GNOME for allegedly being close-minded for not adopting app indicators and GNOME people are arguing that the rejection was solely based on bad timing (feature freeze too close) and disagreement about the implementation on a purely technological level.

Whatever the truth is (read the posts and decide yourself), the aspect I find most amusing is the irony that Shuttleworth on one hand portrays himself as a victim of GNOME’s alleged high entry barrier for contributions and on the other hand requires contributors to Canonical projects (incl. the indicator library) to assign all copyrights to Canonical and rejects patches because Ubuntu is not a democracy and all design decisions are made solely by Canonical.
Either Shuttleworth is a great comedian or he really does not get the disconnection between his acts and what he preaches.

February 11, 2011

Nokia’s risk with Microsoft and the “Mobile computer” loophole

Filed under: Uncategorized — Markus S. @ 17:38

You heard by now that Nokia chose to use Windows Phone 7 as main smartphone OS.

I certainly won’t buy any WP phone ever. I’d rather buy some Android phone as long as it doesn’t depend on Windows (like Samsung’s AFAIK do).

As you may recall, Palm went a similar route before: PalmSource developed PalmOS 6 based on many technologies from BeOS. They had a superior OS but Palm never used it in any devices. Instead they sticked with PalmOS 5: Outdated technology but binary compatible to existing applications.
As PalmOS 5 was gradually replaced with Symbian as dominant OS, Palm partnered with Microsoft and shipped Windows Mobile on its devices. In the short term it helped Palm gain back some market share. In the meantime PalmSource was bought by ACCESS and Palm worked on webOS.
webOS seems to be a very nice OS but clinging to PalmOS 5 first and later partnering with Microsoft distracted Palm. The result: webOS came too late. Palm was bought by HP.

Change some nouns above and you’ll pretty much get Nokia’s recent history.

However, Nokia at least was wise enough to have two loopholes: The first is that Qt stays for lower end phones which means Nokia won’t stop developing it. The second is – and that one seems underrepresented in the news coverage – Nokia still plans to develop MeeGo “computers”.
You may not know it but by Nokia’s official terminology the Maemo-based N900 is not a smartphone. It’s not a phone at all. It’s a “mobile computer” that happens to be usable as phone.

If Nokia continues those “mobile computers”, the situation is not so grim. However if Nokia really bets on MS – and history showed us that doing that is a safe bet for doom – I’ll say Lenovo will buy them.

January 16, 2011

Quick look at Firefox 4 for Qt4

Filed under: Uncategorized — Markus S. @ 17:40

A while ago I blogged that I left Firefox for Rekonq. Sadly that didn’t last long because Flash keeps causing crashes.

So for a while I used Konqueror in KHTML mode. While Flash didn’t crash there, it did other weird stuff such as painting over the toolbar when during scrolling.

So I tried Chromium… gosh, that GUI is really unbearable when using under a KDE environment.

Then I went back to Firefox but being so fed up with FF3, I tried FF4. To my surprise at least its performance was immensely improved. The GUI however was not. Well, at least I could restore most functionality (status bar via an extension, real stop/reload button via rearranging). Thanks to SUSE’s KMozillaHelper application I also have some Plasma Workspace integration but FF3 had that as well, so no news there.

When I’ve read yesterday that a Qt version of Firefox is now available, I decided to try it. After all, the screenshots on that website didn’t look so bad, right?

Well, time to put them into a KDE perspective:


Default window after first launch.


Accessing a menu (context menus don’t work at all, bzw)


Firefox-Qt’s Open/Save window

There you have it: Don’t bee too exited, yet. FF-Qt still has a long way to go.

EDIT:
I just made the mistake to scroll in one web site. Half the page turned white.

January 14, 2011

So Canonical ported Unity to Qt…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Markus S. @ 19:35

In case you haven’t heard already: Canonical ported Unity to Qt.
So far it’s only advertised as option for people without 3D drivers (like the EFL port of UNR before Unity) and no plan to make this default at some point has been announced.

To me it seems very weird, though. All that replacing and porting over and over again (UNR port to EFL, later a rewrite of UNR as Unity for Clutter/Mutter, then porting Unity from Vala/Mutter to C++/Compiz and now from Clutter to Qt with whatever window manager) makes me wonder if there are people in charge at Canonical who don’t change their mind every few months…

From a KDE perspective the increased adoption of Qt is certainly a plus but OTOH losing (or at least cutting down) Aurélien Gâteau’s paid work on KDE software is sad (he’s now part of the Unity porting team). He already announced his plans to work more on KDE software in his free time, so we won’t lose him as a community member but I fear his Unity work will go to waste in a similar way as EFL UNR just because some manager decides that everything has to be ported to Moonlight/Java/FLTK/Android/… six months from now……

What do you think is the overall picture? Will Unity-Qt help KDE due increased Qt adoption or will the work force transfer hurt KDE? Or will nothing change for us at all?

November 15, 2010

What’s Nokia doing in MeeGo?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Markus S. @ 23:18

EDIT 2: Damn, I’m so dump. I had the answers already but I totally forgot about them. I posted something similar to this blog post in the comments section of that article but being a bit ill (not surprising in November..) I completely forgot about it and never checked back.
Due weird circumstances my websearching brought me back to that article where I found a reply by Nokia’s Quim Gil. He wrote:

The apps included in the MeeGo Handset UX are the top of a complex iceberg. Nokia is contributing heavily to Core OS and Handset UX, from Kernel to MeeGo Touch Framework. The Handset application/services layer in MeeGo products from Nokia will be heavily tied to Ovi and Nokia proprietary apps. It would be quite schizophrenic to also develop the open alternatives. Still you can see Nokia’s involvement in Mozilla, KOffice and essential application back-ends like Kcal or Buteo.

Now we have it: Nokia won’t open source the actual front-ends. The code for the Handset UX front-ends is just meant to be a reference implementation and nothing to ever become a usable product on its own.

Apart from MeeGo Touch Framework (a component I wasn’t really aware of at that time, even though I had heard the name before but it never caught my attention) Nokia is involved with upstream projects for back-end services.
A misconception (likely due my unclear use of words because I’m not a native English speaker) in said comments section was that I accused Nokia to be not involved in FOSS except Qt. That is not what I meant. Both my comment and this blog post were solely about MeeGo-specific projects and not multi-purpose upstream projects like Mozilla where Nokia is developing a Qt port of Firefox Mobile.

With my regained memory about the VisionMobile article, let me say a few words about the comparison of MeeGo Handset and Android. If the MeeGo Handset front-ends stay a mere reference implementation, cheap smartphone manufacturers will more likely opt for Android because even stock Android is a polished product. The development may occur behind closed doors but a complete end to end stack is released with each development cycle.

This however may serve as opportunity for us KDE people. If Plasma Mobile + our apps turn out as polished product bundle, we “only” have to make potential MeeGo adopters aware of it as in “Just take it all for free. You only need to set a branded wallpaper and you’re set. If you do encounter bugs, our development is open – just submit a patch.”

Now that it’s all settled, I can go to bed again. ;-) For reference I keep my original blog post below:

(more…)

August 26, 2010

Follow us at the new digg.com

Filed under: Uncategorized — Markus S. @ 09:23

So digg.com has been completely redesigned and KDE now has an account, too.

http://digg.com/KDE will automatically publish KDE.News stories and Planet KDE posts.

Let’s see how/if that works.

[EDIT] It works! \o/
So in case you don’t use Akregator (shame on you!), you can now also follow KDE in digg to get Planet KDE posts. KDE.News stories will take a bit longer but they’ll come.

Now don’t forget to digg (=vote up) your posts. :D

August 23, 2010

Bye Firefox, hello Rekonq

Filed under: Uncategorized — Markus S. @ 14:30

I’ve been following the development of Rekonq since quite some time. With the release of 0.6beta I finally made the switch from Firefox.

While FF is nicely extensible, it got more and more on my nerves with its slow JavaScript execution, bad KDE Workspace integration (even with SUSE’s KDE extension for FF), etc.

Getting FF’s bookmarks into Rekonq took some manual steps, but overall went smooth:

  1. Export FF’s bookmarks with its bookmark manager as HTML file.
  2. Close Rekonq/Konqueror, run keditbookmarks and import the HTML file.
  3. Let keditbookmarks fetch all favicons (select all and then right-click).
  4. Define your FF bookmark bar folder als KDE bookmark bar folder.
  5. Close keditbookmarks and launch Rekonq again.

A few glitches came up pretty soon: All text fields were off, weird crashes on Facebook, and no spell check in text fields.
The first two glitches have already been fixed in Qt. So I added openSUSE’s pre-release Qt 4.7 repo and upgraded all Qt components. So far I don’t see any problems despite its pre-release status (it even fixed the flickering with apps using dbus-menu in the systray).

Spell check is indeed missing but luckily after Qt 4.7 the QtWebKit team will release new QtWebKit versions independently from Qt. So getting spell check after WK Bug 42100 has been fixed, we don’t need to wait all the time for a new Qt release.

Currently Rekonq has no extension support. It’s in development, though, and AdBlock support is built-in anyway (not that I care about a Web Inspector but that one is built-in as well).

A small but irritating quirk is the too high bookmark bar in Rekonq. Favicons are 16✕16 pixels but Rekonq stretches them. I circumvented the problem by manually defining higher resolution icons in keditbookmarks. Now my bookmark bar looks very pretty with those high-res icons. :)

Yeah, I listed a few quirks but considering the big picture and how much FF sucks (performance-wise) these days, the benefits outweigh the quirks. Maybe if Mozilla Corp. reconsiders and officially releases a Firefox 4 variant built on the Qt port which Nokia has done for MeeGo Handset and follows the KDE HIGs (eg. no "Preferences" in the "Edit" menu), I may switch back. But since that scenario is unlikely, I stay with Rekonq for the foreseeable future.

August 16, 2010

K3b 2.0.1 Released

Filed under: Uncategorized — Markus S. @ 16:24

So, here it is: The first K3b release done by me (Michał and Sebastian are still the main programmers, though).
I hope I didn’t mess anything up – I’m still fresh at this release manager job. ;-)

Get the source code tarball from here (be sure the file is 11.7MB in size – in my first test download SourceForge aborted after 4MB).

The following bugs have been fixed since 2.0.0:

  • Freeze on ripping Audio CD using external encoder to MP3 or FLAC (236466)
  • Drag and drop from Dolphin doesn’t work (242745)
  • Symbolic links are not added to a project when a folder is added recursively (243555)
  • Install app icons to hicolor so that they are visible in non KDE WMs (BNC619731)
  • Overburn doesn’t work (241534)
  • Data part of mixed CD is not written – searching for previous session doesn’t work (246798)
  • Fixed the speed comparision and formatting when cdrecord changes the writing speed automatically (246262, 243482)
  • Track pointer seg fault (247588)

If there anything wrong with this tarball, please comment here. If you have usual bug reports, please file them at bugs.kde.org.

Apart from the both usual suspects Michał and Sebastian, this release contains fixes by Nicolas Lécureuil (Mandriva) and Will Stephenson (SUSE). Thanks to both!

July 24, 2010

Plasma – the GNOME way

Filed under: Uncategorized — Markus S. @ 15:56

I just stumbled over The Board via Planet GNOME.
Judging by the video it’s a bit of a mixture between Plasma Desktop (free placement of applets), Plasma Netbook (“pages”), and Apple’s Keynote presentation application (the theme and page flipping animation looks a lot like a presentation I did years ago with Keynote 1.0 or 2.0 when I was still a Mac user).

No idea whether The Board ever enters mainline GNOME 3.x, but it’s great to see that our concept (which is in itself also an evolution of Konfabulator etc.) gains followers from outside our immediate community. This gives us a fresh set of eyes with respect to usability decisions.

Hopefully in the future Plasmoids can be used within The Board and The Board applets in Plasma.

Which window decoration do you use?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Markus S. @ 12:30

With the recent talk about “Elegance” I proposed to the KWin mailing list to no longer ship some of the KWin decorations as part of the default installation.

To make it clear: The proposal is not about forbidding people to use those decorations. The current idea is to move them to the “KDE Artwork” module where they are still available to all SC users if they choose to install that package.

I’ve posted a poll to find out which of our shipped decorations are even used.
You can find the poll in our awesome KDE Forums.

May 23, 2010

KDE’s WebKit browser Rekonq gets extension support

Filed under: Uncategorized — Markus S. @ 22:31

Sometimes pretty cool things happen and yet almost nobody knows about them.
One of the coolest things I came to learn recently is the development of extension support in rekonq.

The development is done by Nikhil Marathe. He’s implementing Chrome’s extension API which is luckily based on HTML, JavaScript and other web standards which makes it easier to adopt than Mozilla’s current XUL-based model (which is being deprecated my Mozilla in favor of Jetpack in Firefox 4.0 anyway).

Kudos to Nikhil for his awesome work!

In related news, from what I’ve read rekonq 0.5 is shaping up nicely. According to the roadmap all targeted features are done which hopefully means that the release target in June is hit.
Rekonq will (at least if nothing unexpected happens) also become the default browser of Kubuntu 10.10. It’s already default in nice Arch-based distro Chakra.
Now only Fedora 14 KDE and openSUSE 12.0 need to follow. :D

May 21, 2010

Oh my… the hypocrisy around WebM / VP8

Filed under: Uncategorized — Markus S. @ 10:30

For years we were told by Mozilla and the like that they won’t ship MPEG codecs, because they are patented. At the same time they refuse to support the patent-free but high-quality Dirac codec (developed by the BBC using techniques whose patents expired – Xiph used the same method when designing Vorbis).

Then one day Google shows up and releases the sources to a codec that’s merely a derivate of the patented MPEG-4 AVC Baseline codec. Suddenly all hell breaks loose, Mozilla immediately supports the new (possibly patented) codec.

This raises various questions:

  1. Why does Mozilla refuse to use Dirac since years but adopts WebM / VP8 immediately?
  2. Why did Mozilla refuse to adopt the Matroska container until Google blessed it?
  3. Why is Google’s word on VP8′s patent situation just being taken as truth without an independent patent review?
    (After all, Android is covered by patents from Microsoft and possibly Apple’s as well.)

I suspect that since Mozilla (and Opera as well) gets many million dollars per year from Google for being the default search provider, questions about WebM are not asked. I think Mozilla mainly wants to please its pimp main sponsor to get the money.

Luckily KDE is not part of the discussion (I merely state my opinion as an individual). Konqueror simply uses Phonon to play back HTML5 videos, hence the video can be in whatever format as long as a compatible Phonon back-end is used – WebM, Dirac, AVC,…

May 10, 2010

The Haiku operating system reaches Alpha2

Filed under: Uncategorized — Markus S. @ 10:52

Don’t know if you noticed, but our friends from the Haiku project released the second Alpha of their operating system.

Haiku is a FOSS operating system inspired by BeOS. It’s not very useful as of yet, but it shows good progress. Haiku is also proof that C++ can work in the kernel.

Haiku (and BeOS) is noteworthy in a KDE context simply because pretty much all some of what Nepomuk tries to achieve, BeOS already did 10 or more years ago. ;-)

Among other things, new features compared to include a WebKit browser, WLAN support, and internationalization support.

And now fire VirtualBox up and give Haiku a spin. :-)

May 9, 2010

K3b 2.0 status update (incl. note to distributors)

Filed under: Uncategorized — Markus S. @ 14:49

It’s been quiet about K3b 2.0. It’s not that it’s no longer developed or anything.

There are two blocker bugs:

One related to DVD-DL burning (https://bugs.kde.org/show_bug.cgi?id=234033) and one to Blu-ray burning (https://bugs.kde.org/show_bug.cgi?id=236069).

The main problem is that Michał, the main developer, does not (yet) have a Blu-ray recorder to work on the a fix himself. He sent out letters to drive manufacturers to see whether they can sponsor one. No reply as of yet.

And the DVD-DL bug cannot be verified by either Michał or Sebastian.

So if you can help with either bug (eg. sponsoring a recorder, contributing code, testing), leave comment in the appropriate bug report or send Michał an e-mail (his address is also in the bug reports).

And now the note to distributors:
All KDE Platform 4-based releases were preview releases (Alpha, Beta, RC) of 2.0. This means unless a new pre-release added a dependency that you can’t meet (IIRC it only affects the switch from sudo to KAuth that was done relatively late and AFAIK also requires SC 4.4), you really should package newer K3b releases as official updates – especially as there is a full feature and string freeze in place since the first RC (when you shipped pre-releases of Firefox 3.0 and Thunderbird 3.0 you had no problems doing the same).
The K3b team is very very small. And while I try to get some of the work load off Michał’s back (like blogging about status updates), incoming reports for bugs that are already fixed, but you don’t package newer versions, increase the load in an unnecessary way.

Thanks for reading and since I like promoting bands who are not known around the world, here’s one song from an awesome Romanian music group (and the vid’s funny, too): Șuie Paparude – Armada verbală

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April 19, 2010

KDE time travel

Filed under: Uncategorized — Markus S. @ 20:30

In my “quest” to update KDE-related Wikipedia articles, I had to do more research than I expected and I needed to fix things I didn’t expect. But that research was fun, too. It brought me back in time when I was still a teen who tried to get some ancient Linux distribution working and fiddled around with KDE 1.

After many website transitions, much info on KDE.org got kinda lost. For example, there seems no longer to be a proper announcement of KDE 1.1. The KDE website doesn’t have it. Can’t find it in the mailing list archives of kde-announce@kde.org either. There are only two places where I could find when 1.1 was released: The Way Back service of Archive.org and a backup of the news archives of KDE’s previous website in SVN. After I found the exact date, I took the liberty to at very least add the date to the KDE 1.1 changelog which is still linked from KDE’s announcements page (the KDE 1.x changelogs had white text on white background — there as well I took the liberty to modify the files).

That brings me to an earlier problem: When was KDE Beta 1 released? After much digging I found out, that pretty much all old announcements (except for KDE 1.1 and KOffice 1.0) still reside in KDE’s SVN and those can even be accessed via web browser. http://kde.org/announcements/beta1announce.php works, but it’s not linked from the announce page either along with most other announcements that old.

Next problem: Some dude uploaded a screenshot of KDE 1.1 to Wikimedia Commons and labeled it KDE 1.0. Wow, great. When I looked for real KDE 1.0 screenshots, the whole internet seemed to use exactly the same image. The Way Back service wasn’t of any use either. No backups of KDE.org of that time in their archives. Screenshot of KDE Beta 3, yes. Screenshots of 1.1, too. After many searches I found an image on a Spanish blog that should be KDE 1.0. Needless to say that I replaced the wrong image with this one and re-uploaded the wrong image again as 1.1.

Now KDE 1.x is in good shape in German Wikipedia. I don’t know what I do next: Update the chapter about KDE 2.x or extend the English KDE 1 article…
I wouldn’t mind if one of you extended the English article. All references are in English, so using the German article as base should be possble even if you don’t speak English.

Btw, during my research I found – in retrospect funny – articles which I’d like to share with you:

ArsTechnica reviews SuSE Linux 6.0 with KDE 1.0
ArsTechnica reviews KDE 1.1
LinuxToday’s outlook to KDE 2.0

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