My Photo

People person, technology enthusiast and all-things-open evangelist. I have managed and marketed communities for over a decade, getting started in the KDE community, followed by working as openSUSE Community Manager at SUSE and now managing community matters at ownCloud. I'm busy growing the ownCloud community, speaking at and organizing conferences and writing about my passions ranging from psychology and people in communities to innovative technology. I take care of my dog together with my wife in beautiful Berlin and you can find me also on Twitter and Diaspora!

21 January, 2008

Hot tub rocks!

After the horrible accident this afternoon, the KDE hackers made up with the crocodile (after all, it's family of our beloved mascotte), and enjoyed some time in the hottub.

Yes, it was HOT in that thing...

It proved to be very difficult to get them out of hacker mode, though, as they continued to discuss improvements to plasma. It finally took the magic sentence "I've got beer in my fridge" to get them out of the hot tub and in to what could be described as closer to normal life. I must confess that the beer brought them back into discussing plasma... Probably not an incredible good thing considering the effects of alcohol on some people.

(they're back at work...)

18 January, 2008

KDE release event & google!

So we're in the US now. Never been here before, so I must say, kind' a weird. Interesting, too. Surprisingly good food, the beer imho isn't as bad as pictured before. The people are nice as well, but roads are worse than in Belgium. And Helio bought a PS3 (which I haven't seen in action, but I suppose it's cool too).

Yeah, the event. Really great, really enjoyed yesterday. Did you know google ppl are very cool? Unfortunately, the google marketing ppl don't want us to give them proper credit... They read through my daily article, to ensure I didn't mention them too much. Feels kind'a weird - after all, in a FOSS community like ours, giving proper credit is like a second nature, you know?

So that's why I wanted to thank them here - they can't forbid me to blog... They provided us with a hotel, food, they organized like almost everything - put some very dedicated ppl here, who are helping us any way they can, even helped us finish the beer last night (they were good at that). They're even gonna work saturday just to get us a cool third day... Oh, and they provided a bus to travel from the hotel and back (with a google-minded chauffeur). Did I mention the excellent food? T-shirts printed by them for every KDE hacker? Meanwhile, I'm not even allowed to take a picture of the great google people helping us - yeah, gotta be kiddin', right? Nope, I may not talk about them, use names, nor pictures. 'It should be about KDE'.

Here's a picture of three of the great google ppl helping us to get rid of some alcoholic beverages. Big thanks to them!

Well, this won't help create more cool conspiracy theories, you know... Tuesday I stumbled upon a great one, which was about KDE-on-Windows. Apparently, Google initiated the KDE-on-Windows thing. So I talked about this to the other 4 hackers around me, one of which was actually Holger, the KDE guy who started KDE-on-Windows 5 years ago. He still thought it was because his employer didn't allow him to put linux on his windows-laptop, but when we talked about it with the google people they acknowledged Google indeed was using some search-engine-mojo to brainwash people into doing stuff like that...

Now the talk by Aaron is coming up so I'm gonna go back to writing on the daily article - it gotta be a nice one for today ;-)

14 January, 2008

Sweet Follows Sour

I think it's really necessary to respond to some criticism seen on the reactions to the latest OSnews article.

I won't go into the article itself, imho it's rather negative, but hey. From an user's perspective, it makes sense to only review 3 or 4 parts of KDE 4 and complain about them, and ignore all the other brilliant pieces of work in there, right?

On to the responses, I found this reaction by dagw to be the most typical.

Let me quote the most important part:

The KDE team obviously shot themselves in the foot with calling it 4.0. I'm sure they had a reason for not calling it Beta or Developer release, but whatever the reason it was a bad one. Especially since every complaint is met with a response of "well what did you expect, it's a Beta software". No matter which way I look at it, the KDE team screwed up this release, and it would probably be in their best interest to admit it and just flat out say, we jumped the gun.

Well. That's painful. So, is he right? Did we make the wrong decision? Let's look at it from a broader perspective for a while. Let's see it in the Grand Scheme of Things to Come.

The big question that should come up is: couldn't we have released what will now be KDE 4.1 as KDE 4.0?

No. Seriously, no. If you think that, I see why you would agree with what dagw said. But it's wrong, for many reasons.

One of those reasons can be summarized as 'community dynamics'. You need to get people into release mode, and we wouldn't have been at KDE 4.0.0 stage right now if we wouldn't have committed to releasing it. Many users will start using KDE 4.0.0 and start reporting bugs, so many corner issues the developers themselves would've NEVER found will be fixed in 4.1 - those would have been there if 4.1 would be our first release. Sure, the current 4.0 won't be picked up by as many ppl as the '4.1-4.0' would have been - but by more than if we would have released another alpha or beta.

A second issue is packaging. KDE 4.0 is relatively hard to package, not due to it being that difficult - packaging it is far easier and faster than KDE 3.x. But it is new, and new always needs adjusting to. CMake, SVN, many new dependencies, many new architectural pieces, changes in the internal structure of the major KDE packages like KDElibs and KDEbase. It'll take a while to get used to those. We probably can't expect distro's to put out KDE 3.5.x quality packages for at least a few months. By the time 4.1 is released, though, they will have some experience, and get it done rather quickly. (if you don't believe me - just check out a few different KDE 4.0 distributions... They differ wildly in terms of stability, features, everything...)

Third, we didn't want to hurt KDE-edu, KDE-graphics, KDE-games and the other parts of KDE that were ready for a release up to a year ago - for an explanation, read my previous blog - Why KDE 4.0 now.

Fourth - underlying issues. Many of the problems in KDE 4.0 can and will be fixed by the KDE hackers (many of them hopefully in KDE 4.0.1 already). But many can't. By pushing the boundaries of technology, you'll be pushed back. We've exposed issues in drivers, architectural issues in X, windowmanagement, Qt, all over the place (if you want to read up about it, aaron seigo has some excellent blogs about it). These simply would've appeared in '4.1-4.0', and would've bit users just as hard as they're biting now.

What I'm trying to say is of course the typical stuff: it is easy to say a decision is wrong if you're standing on the sideline. But the issue is often much more complicated than you think - and indeed, it is. Please, take that into account when you criticize the decision we (as in the KDE community) made. My bold statement is: No good would have come of delaying the release any longer. We would just have delayed progression. Would you want that?

(have a nice day and see you on the other side of the ocean)

09 January, 2008

Viral marketing rocks!

Hi everyone!

Within a few days the release announcement of KDE 4.0 will be finished and put on the web. You can imagine we, the promo ppl, are working very hard to create a good, quality announcement to do justice to the enormous amount of hard work put into KDE in the last 2 years. After all, we envision KDE 4.0 will be the beginning of something great. I've just been trying KDE 4.0.0, and I can only say I feel proud to be part of this community. I know I haven't written a single line of code - as I simply can't. But I still feel KDE 4.0.0 is a little bit mine ;-)

To guide reviewers and new users through KDE 4.0.0, we have tried to write not just a press announcement and a what's new, like we did for the beta's and RC's, but a much more 'do this and that' like guide. We hope to receive quality reviews that way - after all, if you're thrown in the KDE 4.0.0 desktop, you might feel a bit alienated. It is very different from KDE 3.5.x, after all. I might add that, as far as I know, this was Sebas' brilliant vision - don't underestimate our Master Teddy Bear!

Now we, the promo team, have a request for you all. We need to get the word out. We want everybody to know about KDE 4.0 - and unfortunately, we only have commit rights to ;-)

So we would like to ask every single one of you to help out. Please submit the release announcement (and the visual guide) to all kinds of news sites. Digg it, Reddit, put it on, shoutwire, but also local media sites like menéame, Fuzz, yigg or Tweakers. Post it on formums, talk about it on IRC, blog about it... Spread the word!

Even though it is the first release in the KDE 4 series introducing many new technologies, I am confident KDE 4.0 presents a stable and usable desktop to its users. I hope this release will encourage people all over the world to explore the exciting possibilities brought by it. In time, we will build and improve on this framework, and bring over all the functionality users have come to expect from the KDE 3 series - and more, of course.

We need to get this message out there - and YOU are the ones who need to do that.

05 January, 2008

KDE 4.0 - why now?

After a few posts about why we release KDE 4.0 while it's in a not-yet-perfect state, Aaron wrote an excellent post about it. Even though is post was pretty much perfect, I want to add a little thing to it - maybe obvious to most, but probably insightful to others.

As many of you might know, KDE is a large project. Under the KDE umbrella are projects like Kalzium, KTouch and KStars from KDE-EDU (each saw a lot of work). Of course, there are the games, receiving new graphics and features. KDEGraphics, which contains Gwenview (video), Okular, and kolourpaint. And let's not forget the many KDE Base applications like Kate or Juk from the KDE multimedia area. And of course I'm skipping over many other useful KDE applications.

These applications are, for most part, ready for release. Actually, the games and educational applications could have had a release a year ago. The latest OpenSuse, 10.3, already ships some KDE games and KDE Edu applications from KDE 4!

We could let these applications wait for another 6 months - sure. But that would hurt them. They would lose users (no release = no new features & fixes so users will start to look somewhere else). They would not gain new developers (which are, after all, often attracted to cool projects - and you're not that cool if you don't release). They might even lose developers (developers often develop because they want their code to be used. Not sit bit-rotting in a big repository somewhere).

So, a choice had to be made. Wait more, let the parts of KDE 4.0 which aren't up to 3.5 standards mature, while other parts of KDE would slowly start to deteriorate? Or do a release in true FOSS spirit, bring it out while it's fresh, and hope that it will infuse a stream of new developers to help us make it more mature?

Well, you all know what happened. Yesterday tagging. Release in a little over a week. I think the right decision was made.