Suspend2, variae.

my Suspend2 theme.

Gaah. Trying to fix a bug in guidance didn’t work out (yet?), so I guess
I’d better call it a day, again.
The past days have been quite OK, last weekend Kim and I started building a new home for the
two chinchilla’s we share a flat with. That should increase the space that they can use
considerably. The biggest gain will be in the height, which more than doubles. They’re climbers, so
that’s a big plus.

Last night, I build a new kernel for my notebook. Took the 2.6.16 vanilla and patches it
with suspend2 to have faster and nicer suspend to disk.
Suspend to RAM is quite useless for this notebook since the battery is more or less dead. It loads
up to 18% which is just enough to change power sockets, but nothing you would trust offline for
longer than 5 minutes. The second patch I applied is Con Kolivas’ -ck patch which has a different
i/o scheduler as the default. This patch improves system responsiveness under (I/O) load
considerably, and given the slow harddisk, that’s more than noticeable. The fbsplash and vesafb-tng
patches add a nice splashscreen to the suspend-to-disk process, for which I’ve created my own
theme.
What buggers me about suspend2 though is that it’s not yet found its way into the
linux kernel. To explain that a bit, suspend2 has been developed out of tree, but is well tested,
documented, has an active maintainer (= one that doesn’t reply “send a patch” by default), supports
encryption and compression (doubling the speed of reading and writing the memory image) of the
suspend image, is much more stable in terms of freezing processes, supports writing the suspend
image to regular files and is much more configurable in general. Yet Pavel Machek refuses to even
consider working together with Nigel Cunningham to get suspend2 merged for the sake of happy users who just want a fast
and reliable suspend-to-disk implementation in Linux. Nigel on the other hand has been helpful for
users for years, has done everything the kernel people asked to make the code mergeable. Pavel has
gotten a lot of criticism lately, not that that changed anything in his attitude. In november he
began realizing that the in-kernel swsusp isn’t all that scalable and that users demand more. So he
began writing swsusp from scratch in userspace(!), adding another one or two years until the
featureset of suspend2 is available to users who don’t want to patch their kernels. That pisses a
lot of people of. It’s time someone kicks that guy swiftly in the butt. I’ve been helping testing
suspend2 releases for about 3 years now, and the contrast between two developers just cannot be
bigger. Lately, Pavel seems to have won the battle of PM maintainers, Nigel announced that he’s given up trying to merge his
patches, but will maintain them as an out-of-tree patch. Sad. Well done, Pavel. Sigh, I’ll stop
ranting at this point, just wanted to raise awareness for that topic though.

Today, I started writing a paper which I plan to submit for FrOSCon. It’s about Guerilla Marketing and the approach we’re
taking in KDE. I’m also writing on an article for the german c’t magazine, which deals with KDE in
general, stuff like dcop, kio, a couple of desktop-wide concepts. In order to get a better idea what
the ‘improved workflow’ in plasma means, I asked Aaron if he could clear that up for me. He swiftly
called me and we had a nice and interesting phone call for about an hour. Thanks for taking the time
to explain that stuff, dude!

Ow, and Ha,Ha, those made my day.

demoing kde at events.

At events, people are often demoing the KDE desktop. At this point if you watch someone
demoing the desktop, there are roughly two options: You see the personal information of that person,
photos, addressbook, documents, or you get an empty, default desktop without example data.
The event teams would benefit if someone could create a fictional KDE user, and populate her
homedirectory with data. Adriaan had a nice idea how to do that:

Take your favorite harmless book – say, something with Sherlock Holmes – and create a user
on your system “watson”. Populate the KDE data for that user from the book, google a few images,
take a photo of a landscape, tar up that user dir, done.

The amount of work involved with that is probably about one evening, yet someone has to do
it. I can imagine that this kind of a task is fun, and that people will be willing to help you with
material and ideas. Collect a couple of documents to show off in KOffice, populate the addressbook,
find some free mp3 or ogg files and so on, there’s room for your ideas
So if you have a little spare time and would help out the people that are demoing KDE at
events, send an email to kde-promo@kde.org
and volunteer for creating the role model KDE user!

on decision-making.

Pinky: What are we going to do tomorrow night, Brain?
Brain: The same thing we do everynight, Pinky.
Pinky: What’s that?
Brain: …I have no idea.

I think a lot of us Open Source people are taking part in a community hoping that the whole
will be greater, not less than the sum of its parts. That assumption is also the basis for
democracy, although the real effect is questionable in some cases. We’re lucky, since we don’t have
to discuss that. Wait, we have. Meritocracy
has been the government system in KDE for quite some time, but recently we saw a shift towards democracy. While I’m pretty convinced that
democracy can suck badly, and especially in merit-based communities, there are certainly some
positive effects. In my opinion these have a lot to do with the meritocracy not having been explicit
enough, and are as such very Open Sourcish. Open Sourcish since explicit sharing of skills is
certainly not one of the strengths of most Open Source communities. Tacit knowledge is what we’re
good at and we need to find ways to make that knowledge more easily available to others
if we want to open up for new
contributors. And we can since we might just
have solved one of our biggest problems that has been slowing down the development process:
scalability of the group decision-making process. Enter our Technical Working Group.

I am really happy to see that decision-making actually is happening again. For a major new
release, someone has to do the job of trying to get the heads into the same direction, and that is
no fun. Coding is fun. Dealing with politics is not. What I’m missing sometimes is some sort of
shared vision. Sure, that doesn’t fit into a naturally grown community like most Open Source
projects are, but at least it’s a good idea to remember that making decisions and communicating them
is an essential topping for the pizza that’s called world domination. Bottom line: We went far
beyond what’s supposed to work “together”, and we’ve certainly proven the mythical man month wrong in more than one
aspect. But if we want to keep doing so, guidance is certainly needed. And that’s what I’d like the
Technical Working Group to give to KDE. Guidance, and a clear direction.

In Patterns of Governance in Open Source by Steve Weber (Published in Open Sources 2.0 – The continuing
evolution
), the author proposes to design the governance institutions in ways that facilitate
information paths, rather than the other way round. Sounds like a no-brainer, sure. Now try to think
about the complex information structure in most Open Source projects. That’s where I’m getting
dizzy. Nevertheless we did quite a good job, since our decision-making-dudes are respected,
long-time contributors and as such, they’re also information hubs within the community.

Well done, KDE.

berlin, t60, promo!

Discussing various KDE issues LTR: sebas, Marcus, Mirko, Eva, Ellen.

Last weekend, I’ve been to Berlin to attend the meeting of the KDE e.V. board. Together with Cornelius, Eva and Mirko. We discussed
issues such as what needs to be done for aKademy2006 and reports of the different Working Groups of
KDE. Mostly boring stuff though. The meeting went really well, and we managed to go through a pile
of topics within our planned schedule.

Saturday night, Ellen invited us to join her to go to a party. An your later, we arrived at
a very nice techno party where the ‘not-so-shallow’ part of
Berlin’s nightlife took place. Good to see that Berlin hasn’t changed too much recently.

I’ve written that the battery of my
notebook is pretty worn out, so I decided to replace that thing (the whole notebook though). My
requirements were 14″ in 4:3, long battery life, a good keyboard and a high-res display. The 14″ and
4:3 cuts down the number of possibilities to about two models. Dell sells crappy keyboards, so the
model I’ve ordered is a Thinkpad
T60
. Unfortunately there’s one minor problem with it – no video driver for Linux. ATi
has not yet released a linux driver for the radeon 500 (r500) chip that’s needed for the integrated
X1300 video adapter. So I’ll be bound to use the VESA driver in the meantime. I hope that vesa-tng
works though, because it’s much faster than ‘standard’ vesa, and the standard driver also doesn’t
support a resolution of 1400×1050 pixels. Not the optimal solution though, but still a very nice
notebook. If someone from ATi reads this, PLEASE IMPROVE YOUR LINUX SUPPORT!

Then, there’s kde-promo. Recently, we’ve got a few additional contributors to join. There’s
Jasper, one of my officemates, he’ll tackle the taskmanagement system for SpreadKDE, Barbara, who volunteered to keep track of events,
Joerg, who’s collecting things to do to have a boothbox (a box with all kinds of stuff you need at
events, that can be shipped through Europe to have available at events), Danil, who’s taking care of
screenshots for the 3.5 branch, Friedrich, who’ll be consolidating the events webpages … Hack,
listing up the things that are currently happening gets me a smile on the face. (And that’s
something I really needed lately, since a hellofalottawork has been cutting down my spare time
during the last weeks to zero). So thanks everyone stepping up. (And if you want to get involved
with all those cool people from the promo team, we’re
“hiring”
).

Again, my conclusion is that the KDE community really rocks (and ATi less-so).
:-)