long walks and parties.

Last week, in Nijmegen there were the
Vierdaagse
,
according to Wikipedia the largest marching event in the world. Roughly 40.000 people walked
for four days, every day between 30 – 50 km, depending on age and some other things. Only
~3000 did not make it. Those days go together with the “Zomerfeesten”, a week-long festival
in the whole city centre, attracting 1 Million people throughout the week, with a peak on
Friday, the finishing day of the Vierdaagse.

Friday was also the day when Kenny (our great aKademy overlord from Glasgow) came to Nijmegen,
as a part of his vacation. I’m not sure he was prepared for a city full of people partying,
30 – 40 stages in the whole city and the celebrations starting around noon. He’s chosen the
busiest day of the year to visit this city. =)

After aKademy, I was quite exhausted for roughly a week, and I had to catch up on other work
which has been left undone for the week before. I’m quite up to speed with all activities
again now. Today was mostly dealing with administrative stuff for the e.V., such as preparing
travels for the next months and hotel booking for the Board meeting we’re holding at the
beginning of August in Darmstadt.

My TODO list for the next days includes some aKademy aftermath (merchandising, logistics mainly)
and sorting out businesscards status. I’ll also do some more hacking on the
Battery plasmoid, but
that is really freetime / evening activities.

Writing Free Software is even better than dealing crack.

On the way back from Glasgow to the Netherlands, a 13 hour trip (after a technical problem
on the high-speed track between the Lille and Brussels even longer), I read
quite a bit. Adriaan got a copy of “Freakonomics”, a book by Steven D. Levitt and Stepen J.
Dubner, which I am now reading (he finished it while I was snoring 40m under the sea in the
Chunnel).

One of the chapters deals with the question “Why do drug dealers still live with their
moms?”

The answer to this question is that most drug-dealers can hardly make a living from their
“earnings” and that their incentive to choose dealing crack as their profession is the
perspective of becoming a top-notch drug dealer (small chance) and then earning a lot of
money. Of course, the chance to die in the process is much higher than actually succeeding.
(The chance to die while dealing crack is even considerably higher than the chance to die
when you’re on death row in a texan prison.)
The reason for choosing crack-dealer instead of “some other well-paid profession” is that
succeeding in crack-dealing is quite visible in their environment, whereas famous writers
(for example) have close to no visibility — hence more choose to get into the drugs
business.

Now you wonder what this has to do with Free Software? I think there’s an analogy that also
applies to
what we’re doing. Having students see that you can become successful (in whatever way)
by writing Free Software, so increasing the visibility of “Free Software developer” being
a profession, rather than a hobby and a good way to make a living should — following this
analogy — motivate folks to actually become Free Software developers.

Combine this with the situation that there’s actually a lack of Free Software
developers (at least in the KDE ecosphere, I know quite some companies who are looking for
competent Free Software developers they could hire).
Working on KDE gives you a track record and shows that you’re actually able to write good
code, work in a team, have technical understanding and a sense for accomplishing something.
I even dare saying “If you’re working
on KDE and are able to contribute in a meaningful way, you’ll almost certainly get a good
job in this industry.”
For some of us it might be obvious, lots of people have interesting and well-paid jobs in
the Free Software industry. The key is communication. Communicating that actively solves
various problems
at once: new apprentices, a healthier job market and of course more people participating
in Free Software projects. This is by the way also what I’m actively communicating to our
CodeYard students.

wrapping up.

Things at aKademy are starting to wrap up. The last few days have been very intensive,
lots of talking, meeting new and old people, solving problems such as “Where’s a free bed
because the hostel has screwed up *again*?”, “Where the hell did DHL deliver the
merchandise?” (Certainly not to the address that was written on the packages, but to a
random motorcycle shop where the box sat for a week. DHL wasn’t reliable for us at all.)

Great progress has been made on current state the KDE4 desktop, to a state where most
applications work quite well, Plasma is taking shape, lots of people are writing
DataEngines and Plasmoids … it’s shaping up really nicely now and we’re starting to
reap from the effort that has gone into it over the past years. We’re still in the phase
where pieces fall into place.

One of the most important things to me at aKademy is the community. It’s simply great to
meet such a lot of nice people. While I’m really tired after a whole week of conferencing,
hacking, BoF’ing and ‘socialising’, I’m extremely excited by the current state of the
community. There’s both, old and new people who are working on all kinds of things, the
community is really healthy as it is, and everything looks very promising. I’m right now
compiling kdegames for tomorrow’s 13-hour-train trip, and I’ve downloaded some of the
videos of talks from last weekend that I’ve missed. Back home, I’ll catch up on sleep and
start working on the aftermath of aKademy.

Yesterday, Danny Kukawka of kpowersave fame, Kevin Ottens, the Master of Solid and I sat
together to discuss how powermanagement in KDE 4 should look like. We came up with a nice
architecture, having a policy agent (which is a new version of kpowersave), a plasmoid to
show current state of things and of course Solid providing us with most of the API that’s
needed for this. Powermanagement in KDE has not exactly been unified in KDE3, but as it’s
now, things look very promising for KDE4.

I’ll stop rambling now and prepare for the night activities, which is “taking the
organising crew out in order to thank them for their outstanding contribution to KDE. The
conference went very smooth. This doesn’t happen by itself but requires a huge amount of
work, discipline and dedication.

A huuuuuuge thank you to Kenny Duffus and his team!

releasing.

Father…ooh…oh…oh…
I see the world, feel the chill
Which way to go, windowsill
I see the worlds on a rocking horse of time
I see the verse in the rain
Ohh…ohh…ohh…ohh…

Pearl Jam – “Release”

Mark Shuttleworth talked about what he thinks is a sensible
release rhythm. While you probably all know his proposal, here’s what I’m thinking about
releasing every six months (or in regular intervals anyway) and synchronising our releases with
the release of other Free Software communities.

Right now, we can say very little about KDE4. We will have to see how KDE4 pans out. My expectation is that it’ll
prove to be a reliable and stable platform that will suffer from little regressions after 4.0 is out. That means that
we should be able to put out a snapshot every so often and use some weeks (6, 8 maybe?) to stabilise it. Time-based
releases are possible in this scenario, but we should ask ourselves if we want to release on a regular basis (and in some cases
postpone shipping some new feature because it would’ve needed three more weeks to finish and polish).

On the other hand, KDE3 releases were very reliable. If I recall correctly, we only slipped once or twice slightly due to a
security problem (which would affect time-bases releases in the same way). So practically, we have time-based
releases for some time already.

What we can do to make it easier for vendors to ship the next version of our software is making it clear what needs to be done
before a release. That would mean: “Here’s a list with what the next release will look like, if you want to make it happen
earlier, help us hacking”
This could be as easy as recording this in bugzilla, marking it as “showstopper” or “required
for x.y.z” and then make the query showing those entries easily accessible through, for example, a direct link.

As to a pulse and having Free Software communities release at the same point in time would
— from a marketing point of view —
be a very bad idea. It would mean two things: Press coverage for Free Software only once in a while,
and smaller projects being snowed
under by those that are doing better PR work. I’m actually wondering why this is brought up by Mark since Canonical’s
umbrella branding fails miserably in this respect — measured by the press coverage that a Kubuntu release has got during the
last cycles.