I’m travelling at about 250km/h back to the Netherlands right now, from Darmstadt in Germany
where I’ve met Eva Brucherseifer for a meeting on marketing issues in KDE. We mainly discussed
highly confidential stuff (confidential mainly because not *everyone* should read about the imminent
beginning of our world domination tour already).
After having gone through different angles of scientific strategic analysis, notably market
segmentation, relationship marketing, the techology adaption lifecycle and more applied stuff like
the decision making process in large groups, we came to the conclusion that surprise,
surprise KDE can do much better, and if we use our full potential in more
areas than only developing cutting-edge technology, we really scare of our competitors. Konqi, the little dragon is becoming a dangerous adult dragon!
More interesting recent news, there is now a shared forum for promoting the free desktop, it
has a couple of GNOMIES and some people of the KDE crowd. We’re hoping to share resources and stop dragging the free
desktop into different directions, and thereby wasting resources. It doesn’t make sense anyway to
try to steal from the small piece of pie other friends of the free desktop have. We need to break
into the 90%+ of the desktop market that has not yet been freed. This is one of the first real
results from Portland
and I hope there’s more to come.
In my non-KDE life, I’m working on quality
metrics for Open Source software, to be more precise, on the criteria for a standard for quality
certification of Independent Software Vendors (ISVs). I’m talking a lot to different people about
such kind of new stuff, and generally people, especially from the “business world” like the idea
very much. ISVs are missing a certification that offers them the opportunity make a difference,
customers like the idea of being able to base their choice on hard criteria. My personal opinion is
that such a certificate is needed to show decision makers that Open Source can score very well in
the real world, that quality of Open Source products is not only good, but that it can be measured.
But how would you measure the quality of Open Source products from the point of view of a
customer? Quite often, you see that the time it takes “the community” to fix a certain bug is
measured. Well, that’s a beginning, but it’s definitely quite unusable as the only measurement for
the maintainance level of some software component. You have to put that in relation to the severity
of the bug, to the “risc level”. I think Open Source quality has to offer quite some more with
respect to quality, and some characteristics of Open Source software make quality assessment a fair
bit easier. You don’t need to sign NDAs to be able to review code and to do for example static
checking of the source base. You can have a look at the development process, you’re able to test the
software without the need to think about license questions, you’re able to look at history and you
might even take advantage of assessment that has earlier been made Hack, most Open Source components
even publish their bug database. So what more do you want?
Fact is that a lot of Open Source project rely on peer-review as the only
means to improve and maintain good quality. While that certainly works for quite some projects, I
think it’s about time to apply more methods to maintain and improve quality of Open Source software.
In the near future, I’m planning to blog more often on different aspects of software
quality, especially in the Open Source world, to raise the awareness within the community, and
simply because it’s an interesting subject with a lot of different ways to approach it. So stay
people already noted, the KDE-NL new year’s meeting has been quite a success. We
talked wrapped up the last year, talked about upcoming events and had a couple of drinks together. I
took my camera with me, so there are photos available. Claire, Martijn and me also took the opportunity to talk
about Marketing stuff, mainly strategic things, our expectations for the future and how we can
further improve KDE’s exposure to the rest of the world. Quite useful to stick your heads together
and share ideas. We missed Wade.
The newest regional group of KDE is also one with an
enormous potential, KDE India. Judging from the number of potential
users, KDE India’s importance for the future of KDE just cannot be overstated.
But also in terms of more strategic issues, there’s a lot KDE India can contribute: think
experience with eastern cultures, think merchandising, think issues in giant (geographically,
culturally) countries. KDE India can make KDE so much richer, especially regarding the lack of
coverage of KDE in eastern countries.
But not everything is easy, for example, a logo such as the one designed by Kenneth can mean
a legal challenge. Apparently, rules for using
official symbols in India are quite strict, using something strongly resembling the Indian national flag can make you a
criminal. Probably a good exercise for opening your mind and training intercultural communication
But then, it’s really refreshing to see an enthousiastic group of KDE people on the other
side of the world, both culturally and geographically working on getting KDE India off the ground