Newsflash: Plasma hackers assaulted by dangerous croc.

The two hackers just got away from this horrible incident.
Sunnyvale, CA. Earlier today, two Plasma hackers have been assaulted by
a crocodile while taking a short break from their quest for world domination. The crocodile has later
been hunted down by a KRunner
and lost its life in a Plasma crash. Original photos from the crime scene show one of the Plasma hackers,
Riccardo Iaconelli proudly
his prey.

The incident happened the day after the developers had celebrated the release of KDE 4.0, an innovative
piece of software, written by a bunch of hippies and commies.

Sources on the ground in Sunnyvale reported that the victims are doing fine. They are
from the shock as we speak. Iaconelli, one of the victims states in an exclusive interview with yours truly:
“You know, we’re doing a
dangerous job out here. KDE development is not always as peachy as we’d like it to be, but someone
has to do the dirty work.”

Release Schedule bits and Planned Features for KDE 4.1.

Earlier today, the KDE Release Team came up with a rough release schedule. This schedule is actually
two-fold. Bugfix releases will come out every month, at least for the next half year. The next real
feature release will be KDE 4.1 in July 2008. Furthermore, KDE will be releasing a new feature version
every 6 months, so KDE 4.2 will be there in January 2009, 4.3 in July 2009, and so on. We hope that
this way, we make it easier for both KDE people and distributors / OSVs to plan.

Plasma might see an intermittent release in the meantime,
which is made quite easy with our improved infrastructure,
so early adopting users won’t need to wait until
July for some sorely missing features (resizing, moving panel, anyone?!).

So what’s in the pipeline for KDE 4.1? Let’s see:

  • Mac Port
  • Windows Port
  • OpenSolaris Port
  • Plasma with widgets on canvas, makes things like layouting much easier, and generally
    integrating widgets into plasmoids
  • Webkit in plasma
  • Apple dashboard widgets support in Plasma
  • Decibel VOIP and real-time communication framework
  • Dragon Player multimedia player
  • More polished kopete
  • KDevelop and KDevplatform
  • KDE-PIM, based on Akonadi
  • GetHotNewStuff2 / DXS
  • Plasmagik plasma packages and add-on creator
  • Lots of smaller features

Impressive huh? Actually, a lot of those things is close to being done already, and of course, we’ll
be seeing the ‘usual’, but nonetheless important things like performance improvements, UI polish,
artwork updates, translation and localisation improvements, bugfixes, newly ported applications, new
‘smaller’ features in applications, new plasmoids, more data on GetHotNewStuff, new KWin compositing
effects, and so on …

As KDE 4.1 will be based on Qt 4.4, we’ll get some things for free: new backends for Phonon (gstreamer,
DirectShow, QuickTime), performance improvements in SVG rendering, alien widgets for smoother resizing,
webkit (there’s a KPart being written by Trolltech peeps, and more freedom with
GPLv3. (And
the stuff I forgot :-)).

Around the same time, KOffice 2 should be available, which is another really big thing. Amarok2 also
looks quite promising already, but I don’t have exact data right now (could walk over and wake up
Jeff Mitchell, but not sure if he’d like that ;-))

Disclaimer: Please note that this is not an official list, nobody guarantees
that all or any of the above will end
up in KDE 4.1. Right now, it looks like all this stuff will make it into 4.1, lots of it is even close
to being finished already. In any event, don’t complain if not everythings makes it into 4.1. Also, this
list is not exclusive, so there will surely be more new things.

KDE and the Linux Kernel.

Just returned from a break-out session with some kernel developers who are here at Google where we
discussed a couple of things that can be improved in the current Linux kernel for a better
user experience. We, that is a group of KDE people from different areas, among which aseigo, Dirk,
Thiago, Will, Zack — in randomly alphabetical order. Kernel people in this session include Natalie
Protasevich, Andrew Morton, Daniel Phillips and Gary Greene.

Issues that have been discussed are limitations in inotify where we’d like to be able to watch more
files at once for changes, the most notable use case being desktop search and indexing. Another
interesting issue we’re facing is bad guessing when trying to keep interesting things (such as a
maildir with lots and lots of small files in cache) when dealing with large I/O. This is actually
something we can improve ourselves by using fadvise to tell the kernel what makes sense — the kernel
cannot reasonably be expected to know the purpose and usage of data, so we need to tell it somehow.

Of course, my pet-peeve and the ever-interesting issue of suspend is another big issue with the Linux
kernel we currently have. While it is on the radar of the kernel devs, we made sure that they
know how important that is to us. In my opinion, the solution to this is two-fold. As it’s mostly
drivers that are responsible for the rather bad user experience currently, drivers need to be improved.
Open drivers can obviously be fixed much easier for the kernel developers, but it also helps if
large companies can kick each other when they’re screwing up suspend and hibernate.

Most important outcome of this meeting has probably been the opening of communication channels.
Andrew told us that the best way to get our issues addressed is filing bugs (as emails), voting
for them to justify resources put into them. Andrew also told us that sending such a bugreport
from a email address will prioritise it, which is I think important to know for us. Kernel
people really want to help us, getting them the information they need will make it easier to fix
problems we face when using the Linux kernel. Such a bugreport ideally includes a testcase (code!)
which shows the problem.

Needless to say that I’m very happy we got the chance to exchange. Thanks everybody involved! Also,
I should probably pass on Daniel’s “Thank you for creating KDE!” to you all.

Looking back.

More than 2 and a half years ago a historical meeting took place in Berlin –
APPEAL. From the Dot story:
“The scope was broad and incuded
artwork, human interface guidelines, Tenor (a contextual linkage engine),
alterntives to traditional file managers and groupware applications.”

Reading back, there is a striking similarity with core concepts of KDE4. Most of
those items are reality in KDE 4.0. Others are close to done and will surface
wthin the next releases.

In Malaga (my first aKademy, still
being a student), this atmosphere of doing something big became more evident.
There, I worked with Jan and Ellen (Relevantive & OpenUsability) on a usability review of Guidance. To me, this showed
the great potential and how to merge the processes around software development
ad usability engineering and get something really nice out of it.

I also remember a presentation given by three artists, the Oxygen team. Ken, Nuno and David
presented their first bits of work to the community. They discussed concepts
behind the Oxygen icon set (it was still merely an icon set, back then) and even
showed a first, very early pre-alpha version of some icons.

At the same aKademy, we started setting up the Marketing Working Group, with its
primary mission coherent messaging around KDE, based on Guerilla Marketing and
scientific strategical analyses.

For me, this was the start of the KDE 4 vision. Tomorrow we will flip the switch to make
this vision reality. And next week we’ll
present it to the world.