28 December, 2008

Solid coolness

I've been experimenting with phonon, configuring its output soundcard depending on the applications - my audioplayer used the speakers, my games used the headphone. Unfortunately, the games don't understand any of that stuff and it often didn't work properly. So I turned my internal soundcard off. When I booted up again, I was presented with the following dialog:

That's the first time I saw KDE respond to changes in hardware. Configuration of such stuff has always been something the distribution had to take care of. Some distro's let you manage this by hand (like my Arch), others provide tools like Yast. But we're now moving one step further - integrating this functionality into the KDE libraries, making applications aware of what's going on beneath them. Very cool, that's for sure...

Unfortunately this only works for apps using Phonon. I hope in time, when other development frameworks catch up, something can be found to make this work out of the box with other apps as well.

Oh, and I hope everybody enjoyed Christmas or the other holidays they've had. New year in a couple of days, enjoy that as well and be careful with fireworks ;-)

24 December, 2008


The Chackra project is cool.

They're the guys behind KDEmod, a modular set of KDE packages for Arch linux. For those who don't know Arch, the highlights:
- KISS (simplicity and flat config files over graphical point-and-click)
- Vanilla packages (as little deviations from upstream as possible)
- Rolling release schedule (no fixed releases - if a new app comes out, it gets packaged, tested, and put in the repositories. Releases are just snapshots, done when a new kernel becomes available)
- binary packages by default but excellent automatic source building system (ABS)

The KDEmod packages have always been great. Not just because they were modular, but during the KDE 3.5.x series the developers added interesting patches. Apparently, with KDEmod 4.1.x completely vanilla, they turned their attention to writing their own stuff. Meet Chackra, a livecd based on arch & KDEmod. Comes with an installer (which looks incredibly cool) and after using it you have a fully vanilla arch installation. Finally, they also work on package management tools, hardware configuration - really nice stuff.

The guys made great artwork (just check the Chakra logo & its design) and the whole thing looks already quite polished.

Lovely boot messages (they even mention that pagan party we have every year, whatsitcalled, Xmas).

I've been looking for a distro which could be installed on my netbook (Acer Aspire One). Had to be a (live) usb & easy & fast. And I would love KDE 4.2 SVN or something for demoing it at talks I give. I have Kubuntu now, with KDE 4.1.2. Has done great, but I'm looking for easy KDE 4.2 packages. My desktop PC runs Arch with KDE 4.2 SVN packages updated daily (actually, it's often twice a day, the guy doing that is just as nuts as I was when I still compiled SVN myself). But I didn't look forward to installing Arch on the Aspire One - too much work to get wireless working and such. I've been looking at Suse, even Fedora, even though the first of those isn't exactly fast (at least didn't use to be) and the latter comes with all kinds of GTK stuff I would have to remove for performance & diskspace reasons. Couldn't get either with KDE 4.2 on USB anyway.

Tribe installer

Arxin hardware configuration

Shaman package management

So now there's Chackra. And they even said they might do a second alpha with the KDE 4.2 final release, so within a month I can have that stuff on my laptop. If they can actually make the installer work, as it currently refuses to mount my disk thus stops the installation. Yet, it boots, works & looks pretty decent already, so a big Thank You to the developers!

16 December, 2008

kwin screencast

Hi everyone,

For a presentation I gave last saturday I made a KWin screencast showing off KDE beta 2 stuff. Quality in Youtube is rather low, but viewable (with annotations). Here you go.

And here's blib.tv (better quality & oggfile available).


edit: blip.tv is still transcoding the video to a flash-format, so you can now only view the ogg file if your system/OS is capable of viewing that format. I wouldn't know why it wouldn't be as the video format doesn't have any associated costs or royalties and has been around for years. But if it is not available for you, you just have to wait for the flash version to be ready...

13 December, 2008

blog screwup

To those wondering about my blogs on planet.kde.org again: It wasn't me! Serious, I have no idea why everyone is confronted again with sugarcomabunny, weird guys in a hottub, Spanish food etc etc.

Yet I feel sorry for the more fragile among you who probably had a hard time dealing with all that at once.



06 December, 2008

KDE Marketing in Frankfurt

We're planning our evil world-domination plans in the KDE Office. Way cool, we have an office. It even comes with an official logo at the door.

Last night we prepared for this meeting. Had food, drinks, and concluded KDE developers are nuts. And KDE rocks, of course. This morning we've started defining how we want the release announcement and we've discussed some look&feel stuff. Now on to the writing...

03 December, 2008

Eclipse Democamp/Holland Open

Yesterday I’ve had an interesting evening at the combined Eclipse Democamp & Holland Open Network meeting (organized by TSI Industrial). Lots of suits, but interesting technology nonetheless. I was actually surprised at the cool stuff going on in the Eclipse community. Both in terms of development (you MUST have a look at Mylyn - think Nepomuk in KDevelop) and concerning the community. They still depend for some 45 % on IBM to do their development, but there are also 25% individual contributors and hundreds (actually coming up to a thousand) companies officially contributing either money, manpower or both. They have over 800 contributors, many full-time. And they’re growing at a >30% annual rate.

Why? Because they have clear goals and a strong vision about how to accomplish them. Resources make a difference as well, of course – but it’s definitely in the non-coding area where they probably benefit most from IBM’s support. Creating an ecosystem needs more than good code. They have lawyers who check new contributions, they have this partnership thing for companies, all kinds of stuff.

I believe we can learn a lot from Eclipse, how they do things, how it works out. I have no idea as I’m not a developer but I’m also wondering if there could be cooperation in terms of code or design, or just interaction. Cool stuff is going on in the Eclipse camp, really. And having a commercial ecosystem is a huge benefit we would love to have as well. Meanwhile - I suppose you did have a look at that Mylyn thing? No? Go back and do it.

Ok, I’ll explain a bit. Mylyn is a plugin for Eclipse making it aware of activities. It automatically connects files, bugs and other stuff together to create them and hides the rest. It helps taskswitching enormously, making work much more efficient. It works with all kinds of bugtrackers etcetera, and automatic – no tagging and such, it figures things out by itself. I’ve seen it in action, and it’s bloody cool. The first thing a non-developer thinks after seeing it: I want this for my whole desktop!

And now a company is currently working on bringing that stuff to the Windows desktop. Yep, task/activity based computing. We’ll have to light a fire under Nepomuk (-integration) if we want to get there first, as they’re very far already. And at the very least we can learn from Mylyn how to approach many things in the UI and interaction.