29 September, 2007

So, those who hate NON-KDE things, and little, furry animals in particular: skip this post.

Because even though I've spend half the day on KDE, I don't have much to say about that. I do however have something else to tell - today, we (my ex-GF who I still live with, and me) welcomed two new additions to our household: Xina, the rat, and Putsy, the dwarfhamster.

And boy, are they cute. Xina is really the loveliest rat who ever climbed all over me - she is extremely curious, even though she is 1,5 year already. And of course, there is Putsy. Well, see the pictures and judge for yourself...

Xina looking at us...
Xina exploringXina on the lookout
Exploring the new living space...candy is nice, yet she prefers to be in the tube
So I'll desperately try to bond with her in there ;-)

Aren't they cute? It's hard to make good pictures, I'm not that good with a camara, and they never sit still... :D

27 September, 2007

Performance - Win & KDE

People often say Linux has a better performance than Windows. Others disagree, and say the opposite is true. Now in my own experience, it's mostly so that both perform differently. windows boots up faster, in the sense of showing the desktop. But you can't actually USE that desktop, clicking the start menu as soon as it's show can take several minutes. In linux/KDE, it'll show slower if your session is still being restored (that functionality doesn't even exist in Windows) but it won't take minutes.

On the other hand, moving and resizing windows goes faster than in Linux. And have you ever seen your mouse anything else but smooth in Windows? I can stop my mouse for a second even on my 2 ghz/3GB dualcore system in linux - just use konsole with 10 tabs, set it to send the commands to each tab and log in as another user (10 times). That's not even hard - but X chokes on it.

Yet I've changed my opinion in the last few months. I've worked with windows a lot, and the deficiencies are becoming clear. Sure, drawing performance is excellent, and the mouse never stops. But start firefox (and let it restore 5 tabs) and your system becomes unusable for a few seconds (not the least because you just can't minimize the starting firefox, it insists on jumping up and taking focus a few times). It takes 10 minutes at least to boot up and start Outlook and firefox. Pretty painful. But the weirdest thing is that the system can become very slow without any apparent reason. The start menu normally takes it's time for showing submenu's, but sometimes I'll have to wait over a minute; the background doesn't redraw, I can't switch windows. My collegues react pretty dull to these kind of things: "you're trying too much, just wait". Well, I got work to do, I don't want to wait.

So I tried to figure out what's wrong. In linux, I use a cpu meter on my panel. That way, you know what's going on - is an app slow, it's because you're compiling, moron!

But the CPU monitoring stuff on windows is entirely useless. Really, wtf is that thing measuring? It seems like some random value... For example. The following screenshot was made a little over 10 minutes after boot. I started firefox, an explorer window (never showed up) and Outlook. So everything stopped to redraw, most things got slow (but not moving mouse, or even a window). So - there must be something going on, right? Well, no. According to the system monitor, those apps which didn't start nor redraw didn't stop working due to a lack of CPU or memory:

(screenshot taken after minutes of waiting for a response - thought the system was busy...)

As I know a little of scheduler things on linux (having followed the -ck mailinglist for years) I suspect a priority inversion or something like that - an higher priority process wants data from a lower prio process, but by being high prio, it makes the low-prio one unable to actually process and send the data. This seems to happen a lot, and most Windows users here at work are so used to it, they don't even notice it anymore. Not being able to work for up to a minute, many times a day - apparently, you can get used to anything. Boy, I get annoyed if the K-menu takes more than half a second to come up.

Guess there's a good reason why Vista takes up so much resources - these hickups of course seem to be smaller on much stronger hardware. Stronger hardware = more room to fuck up. So instead of fixing the scheduler (and other) problems, they up the minimum requirement... Gotta love those guys.

How much money would companies earn on switching to linux? I mean, JUST decent windowmanagement in windows, I'd spend a million bucks on that if I had it. Windows just take focus while you're working, or they seem to have focus but don't (Outlook asks for my pasword everytime it starts. It shows a little 'type pasword here' window, which seems to have focus, but doesn't). And don't get me started on the alt-tab behaviour - even a tooltip over a button seems to count as a full window in alt-tab, so you can't use that to switch to another application if your mouse is over a button!!! blegh. I don't understand why ppl take that pathetic excuse of an OS seriously, and say 'linux isn't ready for the desktop'. No, WINDOWS isn't ready. Linux was ready years ago, but MS still has a long way to go. The only reason it's being used is because ppl gave up on it - they don't try things more efficiently (alt-tab) because it won't work. Just do everything the slow and painful way. Companies should sue MS for RSI...

26 September, 2007

videos are cool

As I gotta give a talk about KDE 4 in about two weeks, I thought about preparing a little. I'd like to make it as visual as possible, as I'm not such a technical person. So screenshots. But what about screencasts? I can make a screencast me, right? Sure, not even hard. So I present you a screencast of Dolphin, showing off the smooth animations in KDE 4 (not so smooth in the video).

Yes, it uses the plastik style. I'm sorry. But Oxygen is right now so seriously broken, I didn't have a choice. The next screencast will have Oxygen OR Bespin, a cool, configurable and flexible new KDE 4 style. (Bespin is what Oxygen used to be before Akademy, so it's heavily inspired on the first Oxygen mockups, but very configurable - which makes sense as it's written by the author of Baghira!!!)

---> above was written a little over a week ago.

I wanted to re-do the video, but I made a mistake in making a youtube account - I used another email adress than the one here, so I can't couple my blogger account and youtube. Removed the youtube account - but my name is still used :(

So I planned to blog only about this when I figured out how to solve this, and keep this blog as a draft.

Then I found my video. Yes, stumbled upon it. apparently, it wasn't removed with my account (?) and even got quite a few viewers. Aaah well. So lets post this anyway.

Here's the video.

KDE Beta 3 is coming!!!

Dear people, friends & fellow gearheads,

There's a new Beta coming. Still over a week to go - it will be tagged October 3th and released one week later. But last time we started writing the announcement a week before it's official release (shortly after tagging) and we had a delay of one day (and some stressful days for the promo ppl).

I'm not a big fan of being late. So, I started writing the announcement and overview of what's new on September 18th already. That should do it.

And I think now is the time to start asking for great stuff, features, things which should be mentioned. It's all most tagging time, so not much cool will get in Beta 3. So, everyone who wrote, read or heard about or just saw some cool feature - put it on the announcement page.

Don't be afraid to put things there which might not be important, or things that might have been from before beta 3 - I'll check, I'll write. Links to blogs or just a commit are highly appreciated, though, as it makes the above much easier. And no, you don't have to be a developer to do this! Anyone who occasionally reads the dot, or follows some mailinglists, or the planet, hangs out on IRC - all of you who know something about the development can contribute here. Look at the page, see if something is missing, and if it is, just add it. And if you feel like it, yes, you can write something more elaborate.

It's easy, it helps KDE. So why not?

23 September, 2007


There was an email today about the KDE4-Edu-polishingday-story from their 'master' (I was almost gonna say mother. Should I?), Anne-marie Mahfouf. She responded to a little discussion about how polished Ubuntu was (or rather, was not) according to Walt Mossberg, some Wall Street Journal writer. The Edu polishing day was very successful, despite all the negative comments on the dot-story. And these developers receive more negative comments, it's not just there on the dot.

PPL don't seem to realize how valuable KDE-Edu is. And they still don't seem to understand how FOSS works. Let's just hope the first can be fixed, and the latter is due to all the new ppl we have in our community, who simply haven't learned the ropes yet. I won't go into the "How does FOSS work", as that apparently can't really be explained, one has to see how a community works and decides how and where to put resources. It just takes time.

But I can talk about the importance of KDE-Edu. And I don't even know where to begin. One might say: "I don't use those applications". Sure. I don't. So that's it? We're just gonna go "If I don't use it, let's stop working on it"? There are millions of children out there who would be (and are) very happy with these apps. Have you ever seen how bad, how incredibly bad most educational applications in schools are? KDE-Edu is ahead of what most schools pay thousands of dollars for, really. It's a driving force for KDE in schools, you know. I actually have an article in the pipeline about that, a company which makes it's mony mostly by bringing Linux/KDE into schools.

But that's not all. KDE-Edu is generally ahead of the rest of KDE. The usage of GHNS2, SVG (!pixmap cache!) and other core parts of KDE in Edu leads to loads of bug fixes and better functionality which benefits everyone in this ecosystem. Marble, anyone?

Also, the KDE-Edu part of our community is very friendly to newcomers. Yes, we all are. Of course, we're all big loving hunks'o'love. But it's rather daunting to work on Konqueror, you know. It's much easier to work on Khangman. That's what I'm talking about. If you want to learn KDE development, it's easier to start in the KDE-Edu project. And these people have a lot of experience with newcomers, as they simply HAVE a lot new ppl all the time. So, there you learn how the community works, you learn how to work with C++, Qt and KDE code, how to use the KDE infrastructure and what code styles are acceptable. In time, you can probably work on other parts of KDE. Big win-win, right?

And last something I know a little about.
  • Do you know which apps have been most prominent in the KDE 4 presentations I gave the last 2 years?
  • Do you know which apps always have been the best looking out there, during KDE 4 development?
  • Do you know which apps where run at booths to show people what KDE 4 could do?
  • Do you know which apps ensured people where like "wow, KDE 4 looks cool" and "hey, it's not all vaporware"?
Yeah, those apps which looked the most polished and stable, which really showed of the new KDE 4 capabilities. KDE-Edu and the KDE games. Promotion-wise speaking, those have been on the forefront, pulling our efforts to a higher level. Without them, I would've been without nice screenshots on FOSDEM, 2006. To give just one example of a meeting where I really would have hated to be without KDE-Edu and KDE-Games. Because EVERY other KDE app still looked like sh*t back then.

Really, KDE-Edu is one of those parts of KDE you CAN NOT IGNORE. Even Edubuntu, a project not exactly pro-KDE (once in a time they wanted to rewrite Kalzium in GTK) is forced to rely mostly on KDE-applications - just because they are the best.

So please, give this part of KDE the respect it deserves. Every part of KDE matters, and they have done an amazing job. I think, after all this flaming and negativity, it is time for three cheers for this Very Important KDE project and their developers.

and here you go.

22 September, 2007

KDE apps on Windows

Now everyone knows KDE apps will be usable on windows. Recently, KDE-nl'er Niels van Mourik send me an email with some cool screenshots with KDE apps he compiled on windows! So, I thought that'd be worth posting here.

Thanks, Niels, I'm gonna use these for presentations...

21 September, 2007

Marketing and Promotion

Now Troy is at it, I'd thought I would chime in as well. I won't create such a huge marketing vision, we got enough grande plans and Idea's, I'm more of the "let's do this" type of person right now. So I'll just add to some of the points Troy mentions.

I've been busy with press stuff since I started to write for KDE - and we need more of that still. Communication is key, I've blogged about that before. So I have ideas how to write better announcements, plenty. But help would be great for this (see the blogs about that).

But there is other stuff to do. I recently wrote an article for 'general press' on how to write about KDE, and tried to get it on kde.org. Now that project has grown into writing a full 'press' page on KDE.org - a page which doesn't exist right now. The goal is to give journalists but also bloggers or anyone who wants to write a little piece about something KDE related a place to start and some good tips & tricks. If you want to help - the current work is on google docs and I can easily give you access.

And yes, we need writers from everywhere to write about KDE. We get questions like "we'd love to have an article about X, do you know someone who could write one" regularly, and I've tried to get those seekers someone who can write. But we need more ppl who could write (just join the kde promo mailinglist if you're interested!!!).

20 September, 2007

The $10,000 Music API Challenge

Now I think some the Amarok ppl might be qualified for this, and interested as well. Of course, not just Amarok ppl - there are many more talented hackers in the KDE community that are probably interested in spending time on sharing music API's ;-)

Now I dunno about the particular pro's and con's of the Music Locker and mp3tunes, but I do know Robertson. He might not be the biggest freedomfighter out there, not a Richard Stallman, but I'd pick him over the Steves (Jobs and Balmer) anytime, any day. So I thought this was worth mentioning...

From the article: MP3tunes is having a music contest. You won't have to sing or perform to win. You won't get an American Idol record contract but you could have a bigger impact on the future of music than any media-manufactured star.

-> it's about designing an API for connecting to devices and the Music Locker, so you can listen to your music anywhere and however you want. Sounds neath, right? So if you're tired of KDE development for a minute and wanna make a buck (the 10 best api's get $1000), have a look ;-)

And maybe DIGG it...

18 September, 2007

Good stuff going on on the 'other side'

Yeah, there is. A lot.

Some time ago, Gimmie came up. Check this and this. It's pretty cool, imho, and a relatively new approach on how config screens, app lauchers and search interfaces should look. And we need it.

Have you ever seen the compiz/beryl configuration modules? Here is a screenshot, and think for a moment how horrible it is. It doesn't SEEM complex, no, it looks good. No problem there (and I personally love that theme). But now, look for something. You have categories on the top. Then subcategories on the left. Then those are each divided in tabs. And those tabs contain a scrollable area with a huge bunch of options. It's not that unique, this is cool as well... And this is an older version of the beryl settings manager, as far as I can tell.

That's much. I mean, really much. I'm used to checking the settings of most apps I use, see if I like the defaults, if I want to change things. That's almost impossible with beryl/compiz... It's just too much. Now, they have a new version. And it's better. Much better.

Why? it DOES show more stuff in one window, right? Yes, it does. But still, it's less intimidating as all these sub-sub-sub divisions. It still seems less. Stuff is easier to find, with much less mouseclicks. And this is showing up in more spots: check the new gnome configuration tool. And be sure to take time to read the blog, it's interesting...

Maybe here's an idea for Rafael as well: see further down the page, how THEY handle selection of a category.

Of course, many of the great ideas in that new control center aren't so very new. Wow, a 'nifty filter' function ;-) But still, its a good design. Based on an evolutionary approach, at least since the gimmie stuff. But imho - a great result. I'd love to see KDE developers play with this, and probably adopt it (maybe with improvements).

Edit: Indeed, as I said, many of the ideas aren't that new. Actually, only the sidebar is new compared to what Kubuntu has made (Cyrille just mentioned it), and what will be the KDE 4 control center. And, afaik, it does one thing better than the Gnome Control center: It doesn't start each control module as a separate app/window, but embeds them. Yeah, KDE technology rocks ;-)
But the sidebar offered by Ubuntu might fit well in this scheme, imho. Might even eliminate the advanced tab. And the forward and back buttons could be in the sidebar (on top?) as well.

10 September, 2007


When I wasn't that involved in KDE, I really appreciated the good looking and verbose release announcement, or visual guide as it was called. KDE 3.5 had it first, written by Jes Hall, Tom Chance and Roland Wolters.

The 3.4 release from 2005 seems not to haven been this lucky, at least I can't find such a visual tour. Text, yes, unfortunately no screenshots. And when you go further back in time, the announcements become less and less verbose. On the other hand, our 'coopetition' got their act together a long time ago.

I have always read their announcements, and enjoyed that. Had to chuckle often, as I generally had been using many (if not most) of the new and great things they introduced in my KDE desktop for years. I'm surprised to see how even the 2.20 release still feels like that, even though our last major release was almost 2 years ago.

But KDE always lacked in the marketing, and even though we are doing better, this really is something that needs more work. As many of you might have noticed, we are improving. KDE 3.5 had a lovely announcement, and we are gearing up for KDE 4. Beta1 had a nice graphical overview of what's new. And Beta 2 of course. And we want to do even better, especially for the final announcement.

But it is a lot of work. Last announcement took me many many hours (I was actually surprised by how much time it took) and it's definitely not perfect. So in one of my previous blogs, I asked for help. And some did help, and it made a difference. Really. So: thanks to those who spend a minute to add some worthy things to the announcement page on techbase.

And for those who didn't: please do. It's easy. You don't have to write the text, just give a short description (a few words is enough) and a link. I'll do the writing. Of course, feel free to write something, I can use that, and it saves me time.

And boy, do we need collaborative editing. After the first draft, improving these announcements would be so much simpler if I could just ask Danny and the others to work with me realtime on them...

Aaah well. KDE 4.1???

06 September, 2007

KDE 4 Beta 2, Tagua

I've been busy working on the Beta 2 announcement (please read it, it took many hours to compose...), and a Tagua announcement. Now that last one was funny. Paolo contacted me, asking if I would wanna work on it, and well - I did. Tagua is the new KBoard, and boy, is it cool. Not to take away the fun of the announcement, but really - gorgeous graphics & animations. I urge everyone capable of doing graphics ('artists') to get going with it, it's really neath. Same for those who miss their favorite boardgame in KDE: Tagua is a generic boardgame app, and it's very easy to write another one. It only has two games (with each 2 variants) now, so more would be great.

And I didn't even mention the fact you can play it over the internet or a network yet, did I? Yeah, it's good. Really good. Very KDE, still, though, as it's pretty configurable - esp in the graphics area. I already suggested to tone that down a bit...

Now onto the Beta 2 announcement, I must say I'm looking forward to start working on the beta 3 one ;-)
Sebas suggested some improvements to the process and final product, and I'm gonna work on that to make his work easier. Of course, I have to thank Danny as well, not only for the review but also telling me how horrible my spelling mistakes are, and that I should really do something about them. So I'll try. Sir, yes, sir.

Last, I think I should blog more, but I have no time. There is so much cool stuff going on, and my personal life is busy as well. I've applied for a job (and it's likely I'll get it), to name just one thing.

And to join the gang - KDE 4 is indeed becoming usable. I won't be using it as default yet, but yeah, soon. Maybe even next beta already... Go, KDE, you Rock :D