12 October, 2007


Some time ago, there was a discussion on the KDE PIM mailinglist. A certain Michael, apparently a big fan of the RS (RetroShare) messenger technology (serverless/p2p stuff), came asking if it would be possible to integrate that application (Qt-based and FOSS) into KDE PIM. He noted how Google Mail has Google Talk integrated, and how Thunderbird is also working on integrating IM.

Others on the mailinglist explained him there was already some integration with Kopete. He then started talking about OO.o, which apparently was looking for an email application to integrate into the suite, together with IM (and probably cooperative stuff as well). He pointed out KMail and RS messenger would have a shot. At a certain point, I said to him:
Let them work with the other freedesktop standards instead of doing ad-hoc integration. Working with Telepathy and Akonadi would be much better, as that would mean integration with all apps that work with those infrastructures, so much less duplication of effort.

He then asked me if I would like to help translate RS to dutch, and I did help a bit with that. Story closed, apparently. This was a little over a month ago.

Then, a few days ago, it started again, on the KOffice mailinglist. He said he heard on the KDE PIM/KMail mailinglist there would be integration between KOffice and KMail. With integration, he apparently meant they would merge, which of course lead to a "huh?" from Boudewijn.

And again, I tried to explain how it would be unlikely KDE would integrate with just one application, but rather go for a common infrastructure. Then came the email I really wanted to let you guys read, as Kevin Krammer wrote such a beautiful response, pointing out the exact flaw in reasoning which made this discussion go on and on:

Basically a misconception based on the way applications aggregate functionality on uncooperative platforms such as Windows, i.e. by putting all in the same application.

Of course! And this other way of thinking and working seems pretty hard to understand. See how companies often have trouble separating "Freeware" with "Free Software". And even when they do, how hard it can be to play by the rules, or to cooperate with the larger community. See how users have trouble with the paradigma's in the FOSS world, like how installing and managing software work.

And of course, the central theme of FOSS is cooperation. It's what we do, breath, live (see what I stumbled upon yesterday, or how LWN.net currently has a story about Volkswagen working on the linux kernel - which you can't read yet, subscribers only). And apparently, it is hard to understand it's full implications, no matter how basic it is for human nature... Kevin on that again:

Obviously KDE applications, on any platform, can do better, i.e. using our framework's cooperation infrastructures and shared libraries.

So the idea/suggestion can be rephrased as "thing about using communication infrastructure", which I am pretty sure the KOffice developers are already thinking about for future releases, e.g. collaborative editing.

Topics such as this show how more advanced the KDE framework is. While other office projects have to basically swallow communication tools (probably a full blown PIM suite), KOffice has the option of just interfacing with the respective domain specialists' work.

Amen. The KDE, the Linux, the FOSS way of thinking is so much more advanced, many on the other platforms don't even get it when we try to explain it ;-)

I really hope and expect this to change. Over time, both users and companies will start to understand. And that will benefit FOSS enormously. It's about communication. Explaining how we think and work is incredibly important. Cooperation is so fundamental to how we think and work, even when we 'compete' with other projects, we don't even see it that much anymore. We don't get it when others don't get it, and try to explain the details instead of the big picture (like I did).

Love to ya all,