KDE Dot News
Last week, the first beta of Applications and Platform 4.13 was released. This week, beta 2 is coming. The openSUSE team has already asked its users to start the testing engines and that request extends to the entire community of KDE users!What's to be tested?
Let's go over a list of major and minor changes in this release, and areas where developers have explicitly asked us for help.Search
A major new improvement is the introduction of KDE’s next generation Semantic Search. This makes search faster, saves memory, improves stability, and generates more reliable search results. And it could use a good testing.
Various applications use the search abilities, most notably Dolphin and KDE PIM (see the next section). Also tagging (Gwenview!) and KRunner (Alt-F2 run command dialog) can use some attention.
Some of your existing data will need to be migrated from the current Nepomuk backend to the new 'Baloo' backend. Running the nepomukbaloomigrator should take care of that. The old Nepomuk support is considered “legacy” (but it is still provided). The programs that have not yet been ported to the new architecture have Nepomuk integration disabled. One significant regression is file-activity linking, which will not work until KDE Applications and Platform 4.14. If you rely on this feature, we recommend not upgrading at this time. For the final release, distributions might choose to optionally have the old search (Nepomuk) available.Kontact
The Kontact Suite (email, calendaring, contacts and more) benefits from the improvements in search; there is also a new quick filter bar and search. IMAP will be more reliable, and performance should be massively improved. There is also a brand new sieve editor and integration with cloud storage functions, where Kontact can automatically put big attachments on Box/DropBox/Hubic/Kolab/ownCloud/UbuntuOne/WebDav/YousendIt and link to them.Okular, Kate and Umbrello
Document viewer Okular has a lot of new features like tabs, media handling and a magnifier, improved Find and Undo/Redo.
Text editor Kate has gotten a lot of attention, so there are many new features in the areas of further VIM style support, bracket matching, highlighting and more. You can read the blogs on the Kate site and test some of that awesome.
The UML modeling application Umbrello received some improvements and bugfixes. If you use it, now is a good time to help out a little and see if it works better! There is new duplication of diagrams and improvements to the context menus (which only shows relevant actions).Education and Games
We received a special request from developer Ian Wadham:
Please give the new version of Palapeli jigsaw puzzling a whirl. This contribution to KDE is my celebration of 50 years as a programmer. I started in April 1964.
If you ever enjoyed jigsaw puzzles, especially those 500 and 1,000 piece boxed puzzles, please take a look at the new version of Palapeli. The main thing is its attempt to make solving large puzzles (300 to 10,000 pieces) possible, realistic and enjoyable on a small screen. You can make your own large puzzle from any photo or picture file you fancy.
So I am very interested in *usability* feedback (look and feel). As well as bugs, of course. I am currently "testing" on a 10,000 piece puzzle ... The Handbook changes should be finished in a few days, but there is already a long help message that appears when you start a large puzzle (> 300 pieces).
The new features are described, but in a technical way, in the usual place.
Have fun, everyone.
Testing follows these steps:
- set up your testing environment
- pick something to test
- test it
- back to 2 until something unexpected/bad happens
- check if what you found is really a bug
- file the bug
In KDE, testing is not only an individual action by our users but it's also coordinated through the KDE Quality team. That does not mean you must work or coordinate with them, but it sure helps! You can reach them on IRC, as well as on their mailing list.
The testing of this beta is also coordinated on this forum page for those more comfortable on forums.
To get testing, you can either build the source of the Beta or RC, or grab packages for your distribution. If your distro is not on that list but you know there are packages, you can add them there!
The second step is to create a testing user account. We recommend this to prevent destroying data on your current account. Many users also use a separate installation of KDE software on a separate partition.
On most flavors of Linux, creating a new user is easy. On the command line, it goes a bit like this (as root):
- useradd -m kde-test
- passwd kde-test
And now you've created a user kde-test and given the account a password. Just switch user accounts (menu - leave - switch user or Alt-F2 - switch) and have fun testing!The real testing
Testing is a matter of trying out some scenarios you decide to test, for example, pairing your Android phone to your computer with KDE Connect. If it works – awesome, move on. If it doesn't, find out as much as you can about why it doesn't and use that for a bug report.
This is the stage where you should see if your issue is already reported by checking on the forum, IRC channel or mailing list. It might even be fixed, sometimes! It can also be fruitful to contact the developers on the relevant mailing list.
Finally, if the issue you bump into is a clear bug and the developers are not aware of it, file it on bugs.kde.org.How else can I help?
Another useful contribution is triaging bugs:
- determine if it's really a bug (it can be reproduced)
- find out which component has the bug and
- assign or cc the maintainer of that component
If you can’t reproduce a bug, the bug might have to be marked as “WORKSFORME” or “NEEDINFO” if you can’t reproduce it due to a lack of information. And in some cases, the bug report is plain wrong (“Plasma doesn’t make coffee“) and must be closed as “INVALID”. You can find more information in the Ultimate Bug Triaging Guide. As long as you can't close bugs on bugzilla, you can just add your information as comments and they will be picked up by a maintainer – it is just as useful!It is a big help!
We're very grateful for your help in this. Not all areas of our many applications receive the same amount of care and attention, and there may not always be an immediate reply to bug reports. However, developers greatly appreciate the attention given to their applications by users and testers.
KDEntomologists rule!Dot Categories:
conf.kde.in 2014 was held at DA-IICT (Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology) in Ghandinagar, India during the weekend of 22nd to 24th February. It was a big mashup of many different cultures with speakers and delegates from Europe, the USA and different parts of India. A platform for the exchange of ideas, and spontaneous discussions about goals and thoughts regarding open source as well as technological advancements. Also how to make paper planes.What came before
Conf.kde.in was first organized in 2011 in Bangalore; last year a KDE India Meetup took place at DA-IICT. Both of those helped bring forth an expanded conf.kde.in 2014. The growing KDE community in India welcomed new, cheerful friends. And the open source community in India welcomed a new generation of stalwarts.
Group discussion Where it was
Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology (DA-IICT), Gandhinagar is an institution of higher learning located in one of the most thriving technological hubs of western India. It has been fostering young minds in the fields of computer science and information technology for many years and features an active local community. It was the perfect location for conf.kde.in to reach out to more young minds. With the conference at the institutional level, KDE and top talent made a solid connection.
Group photo! What it was all about
conf.kde.in 2014 was a fertile environment for getting people started with open source contribution, telling them about KDE technology and the community, introducing them to various applications, answering questions, and appealing to them to make the switch to open source. There were about 260 attendees for the event.
Peter in action Starting
The first day - the 21st of February saw the start of the conference with a talk by Pradeepto Bhattacharya (a member of the KDE e.V. Board) on the essence of the KDE Community. That was followed by a Qt hands-on session, with the students experiencing the power of Qt by fiddling with it, rather than just listening and trying to imagine how to use it. Some people couldn't keep up with the pace, but by the end of the day, almost everyone had a fully functioning Linux system running on their laptop and was beginning to explore the power of Open Source. There was a general level of satisfaction with the learning opportunities, no matter the person's starting skill level. People's willingness to help others made a big difference.Going deeper
The second day - on the 22nd of February there was a huge line up of talks - spread out over different realms of open source. The sessions by Sinny Kumari, Chandan Kumar, Samikshan Bairagya, Smit Shah, Shubham Chaudhary were specific to the projects they are working on—Plasma Media Center, Artikulate (the language trainer application), Localization Team Management tool, KDE Multimedia and others. There was also some informal bug solving. The point of these sessions was to introduce the students to various KDE projects, projects that students have worked on previously as a part of the Google Summer of Code, the Season of KDE and other mentoring programs. This helped them understand real life applications of coding techniques and skills, and the value of direction and guidance from mentors. It also showed them how to get started contributing to open source.
The talks by Nikhil Marathe, Vishesh Handa, Siteshwar Vashisht and Shantanu Tushar Jha went deeper into specifics and covered technical details of various KDE applications. They covered topics such as memory and synchronization management with RAII, the Mer Project, Baloo (dealing with meta data and search indexing). These presentations expanded the attendees' horizons and helped them explore advanced issues and technologies.
The non-technical talks—on various facets of open source and FOSS communities—were given by Kévin Ottens and Jos Poortvliet. They talked about Free and Open Source Software and how its principles operate within the KDE Community. Their presentations emphasized the practical aspects of FOSS on KDE's work and beliefs. Conference participants got a clear view into KDE as an open source organization, further broadening their horizons.
On February 23rd, Bhushan Shah, Sayantan Datta, Rishabh Arora, Punit Mehta and Peter Grasch talked about their KDE projects which are (respectively):
- Plasma Workspace
- Digikam - photo editing
- KStars - astronomical sky guide
- Khipu - mathematical graph plotting
- Simon - speech recognition software
Students could choose a project and experiment with code, documentation and testing. Of course, everyone had the opportunity to use open source technology and experience its power. Kévin Ottens and Prashant Udupa spoke briefly about specific technologies such as C++11 and Generic Component Framework.
Paper planes Closing thoughts
The primary goal of the conference was to encourage people to get involved with open source and to understand its power and its reach. We also wanted to help them get started by teaching them the basics and by getting them to know more about KDE. When the conference was over, it didn't matter how many lines of code anyone could understand or even actually write. If some people were convinced of the magic of open source and of KDE, and are now willing to be contributors to this noble cause even if only slightly, then the event accomplished its aim. Events, speakers and mentors like these add fuel to the fire inside. Students were inspired to reach out and experience the power of free and open source technology.
Be free. Live KDE.
Editors' note: Also, on the last day, a competition in building paper airplanes took place. No correlation was found between C++ coding skills and the distance airplanes flew.Dot Categories:
KDE has released the first beta of the 4.13 versions of Applications and Development Platform. With API, dependency and feature freezes in place, the focus is now on fixing bugs and further polishing. Your assistance with finding and fixing issues is requested!
A partial list of improvements can be found in the 4.13 Feature Plan. A more complete list of the improvements and changes will be available for the final release in the middle of April.
This first beta release needs a thorough testing in order to improve quality and user experience. A variety of actual users is essential to maintaining high KDE quality, because developers cannot possibly test every configuration. User assistance helps find bugs early so they can be squashed before the final release. Please join the 4.13 team's release effort by installing the beta and reporting any bugs.
The official announcement has information about how to install the betas.Dot Categories:
- Artikulate improves filtering, can show phrases containing native speaker recordings
- KDE-PIM adds email filtering and contact auto-completion via Baloo
- Skrooge offers new "responsive" template for monthly reports
- Bug fixes in Calligra, KGet.
The Calligra team is proud and pleased to announce the release of version 2.8 of the Calligra Suite, Calligra Active and the Calligra Office Engine. This version is the result of thousands of commits which provide new features, polishing of the user experience and bug fixes.New in This Release
Major new features in this release are comments support in Author and Words, improved Pivot tables in Sheets, improved stability and the ability to open hyperlinks in Kexi. Flow introduces SVG based stencils and as usual there are many new features in Krita including touch screens support and a wraparound painting mode for the creation of textures and tiles.
You can find more details in the official announcement on the calligra site.Dot Categories:
Today KDE released updates for its Applications and Development Platform, the third in a series of monthly stabilization updates to the 4.12 series. This release also includes an updated Plasma Workspaces 4.11.7. Both releases contain only bugfixes and translation updates, providing a safe and pleasant update for everyone.
More than 30 recorded bugfixes include improvements to Personal Information Management suite Kontact, Umbrello UML Modeller, image viewer Gwenview, web browser Konqueror, file manager Dolphin and others. A more complete list of changes can be found in KDE's issue tracker.
To find out more about the 4.12 versions of KDE Applications and Development Platform, please refer to the 4.12 release notes.Dot Categories:
Frameworks 5 based apps on Wayland
Today KDE released the second alpha of Frameworks 5, part of a series of releases leading up to the final version planned for June 2014. This release includes progress since the previous alpha last month.
KDE PIM sprint Nov 2013
In early 2013, it was established that "Osnabrück is not a place". Meaning that the KDE PIM spring sprint, which traditionally takes place in Osnabrück, could happen at a different location and still be a continuation of the tradition.
KDE PIM's autumn sprint has traditionally been in Berlin, but since the team decided that "Berlin is not a place" applies as well, this year's installment of the sprint took place in Brno in the Czech Republic.
Even people without the exceptional skills of Sherlock Holmes have certainly deduced by now that KDE PIM sprints happen in cities that are not places but coincidentally contain the letters B, R and N.
Unlike with most other sprints, where all but some local people arrive on the first day of the sprint, there had already been a week of intense KDE hacking been going on.
Bob - you remember Bob? - and his merry henchmen from the KDE Barcelona Squad, had already arrived earlier that week and hacked on various pieces of KDE software and had beer delivered to them on trains. Yes, trains! That's the Czech Republic for you.Notes
We're sorry to have to notify you of the fact that nobody worked on KNotes. There were plenty of old school sticky notes though. Because Kevin Ottens likes to draw rectangles on white boards and sticky notes are a natural choice for filling them.
There were also a lot of notes taken, notably on the outcome of the discussions which were scheduled by moving notes on the whiteboard.
This kind of structured handling of topics is a noteworthy improvement over some of the previous sprints and very necessary given the increased number of people who nowadays attend and take note of them.
Back row: Lukas Tinkl, John Layt, Michael Bohlender, David Edmundson, Ingo Klöcker, Daniel Vratil
Middle row: Kevin Krammer, Martin Klapetek, Mark Gaiser
Front row: Christian Mollekopf, Alex Fiestas, Vishesh Handa, Jan Grulich Bugs
As has become tradition, a significant portion of the meeting was dedicated to mercilessly squashing those nasty little buggers. David Faure, a man who certainly needs no further introduction, used the presence of several component maintainers to get issues fixed. "Getting fixed" meaning he did the actual fixing, being aided by the aforementioned component specialists with insight into inner workings and assumptions of the respective code.
The previous and current maintainers of Akonadi had fun with things so deep down in the guts of the system that not even the author of this article would be able to fully understand them. Those people are way smarter than him!
In addition to fixes in the sense of correcting erroneous behavior, this also included several improvements in the area of runtime performance. And a faster KDE PIM makes everybody happy.Progress
One of the other fun aspects of a sprint, aside from the obvious awesomeness of hanging out with great people and doing interesting code work, is to ponder and prototype potential progressive programming pieces.
Big ass pizza!
Mark Gaiser, Michael Bohlender and Thomas Pfeiffer had a closer look at how to get beyond quaint, dare I say boring, user interfaces and enable QtQuick-based applications to tap into the power provided by KDE PIM libraries. Some example code was written, plans were drawn - but much is still to be done.Secrets
Naturally the presence of the KDE Barcelona Squad made secrecy a paramount objective. Not only do we need to hide their identities, a job made easy by several Squad members disguising themselves with enormous fake beards, we are bound by oath—under threat of dragonian punishment—to not talk about rocket science like advances in PIM data search. Well, "rocket science" doesn't even cut it, more likely on the level of warp science!
Editor's note: recent leaks have nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with our ability to keep things, you know, secret. Really!Dot Categories:
- KDevelop gets a new widget for the code assistant, which is more flexible in how it looks and behaves; adds a possibility to (de)serialize problems from/to disk; sees various optimizations
- KDE-PIM adds support for interval refresh of Google calendars and contacts
- In Skrooge, monthly report is now able to display reports on months, quarters, semesters and years
- Baloo adds a plugin for Akonadi
- libmm-qt implements OMA (Open Mobile Alliance) interface
- Umbrello adds additional debug support
- Ktexteditor adds a status bar.
KDE is happy to announce that it has been accepted as a mentoring organization for Google Summer of Code 2014. This will allow students from around the world to work with mentors on KDE software projects. Successful students will receive stipends from Google.
The Google Summer of Code program offers development funding as well as mentors to students who want to work on open source software projects. The program provides students the opportunity to learn more about coding, work within structured software development environments, and push bug fixes and new features into real-world, production software. For Google and the rest of the world, the program provides improvements to the software that millions of people use on a daily basis.
The ideas on what a student entering the GSoC program might work on are offered from developers and users alike. The KDE project has a list of potential projects for 2014 on the Community Wiki. Depending on what students choose to develop, this could mean it will be a big year for popular KDE software such as Amarok, digiKam, Marble, Krita and the PIM suite as well as more niche applications and libraries.Dot Categories:
For years, KDE software has included a semantic (relationship-based) searching infrastructure. KDE's Semantic Search was built around concepts previously developed in a European Union-funded research project NEPOMUK which explored the use of relationships between data to improve search results. Based on these ideas, KDE's implementation of Semantic Search made it possible to search for all pictures - taken in - a particular place. On top of that, it added text search and tagging.Incremental improvements
Since its implementation, our developers received and digested a lot of feedback. Application developers requested and received easier to use APIs (Application Programming Interfaces, glue for integration) and widgets (such as the star rating and tagging user interface). For end users, stability and performance were crucial. Much work was put into improving the speed of indexing, keeping it out of the way of users and making Search more reliable.
Vishesh Handa talking about relationships* at conf.kde.in
(*the technical kind) What is coming
The upcoming release of KDE Applications (version 4.13) will introduce the next step in the effort to improve the performance and stability of search features in KDE software. The improved Semantic Search is lighter on resources and more reliable than it was previously, but, thanks to considerable reuse of existing code, it is mature and offers a complete feature set. Users will find that features such as search are exposed in the same, familiar manner - but searching in a variety of applications will be faster and more reliable.
To accomplish this, developers looked at how Search was being used in practice. The major use-cases they identified are:
- Finding objects (like files) based on their content, requiring a full text index of files on a system
- Storing and retrieving simple objects such as tags, ratings, activities etc.
- Storing and searching through relationships like this file is related to this contact
With a better understanding of use-cases that developed during years of deployment and development, the improved Search technology was specifically designed to do these three things and do them well.Advancements for end users
The improved Semantic Search brings our users a number of tangible benefits. Its design is more robust, delivering search results quicker and with less overhead. The simplicity of the design will not only reduce failures, but will also make it easier for current and new contributors to add and improve functionality.
Improvements that users will notice:
- Faster searching and indexing
- Searching is more accurate
- More reliability
- Faster software development
Applications like the Kontact Suite, Dolphin and Gwenview, as well as the Plasma Desktop itself, already benefit from the changes.For developers
The changes are small enough to make it relatively easy for application developers to move their applications over to the improved Semantic Search, which many have already done for the 4.13 release of KDE Applications. Instead of having a single RDF-based database for all information, Semantic Search now provides separate data stores and search interfaces. This allows it to store and search each type of content in an optimal way. Under the hood, the Semantic Search infrastructure uses SQLite and Xapian to index and retrieve data. More information about the information retrieval architecture can be found on the Community Wiki.
As of today, Semantic Search offers developers:
- An API for searching
- A way of storing relations between entities
- File indexing
- Email and contact indexing
- Timeline KIO slave
Developers can find more information on the Baloo wiki page.KDE Platform 4 and KDE Frameworks 5
When upgrading to KDE Platform 4.13, existing tags, ratings and comments will be transparently migrated to the new storage system. Looking forward even further, Semantic Search is in the process of being ported to Frameworks 5. This Frameworks 5 version will use the same storage system as the version included in Platform 4.13 (and newer) and will be fully compatible with it.
Learn more about Frameworks 5 in the tech preview announcement.Conclusion
The change to Semantic Search in KDE is a natural next step in the process of taking technology that came out of an academic research project and adapting it to real world use cases. KDE's Semantic Search is at a point where it has become a core part of our infrastructure. It is now well positioned to provide the required robustness and functionality.
Article contributed by Vishesh Handa (KDE Search project maintainer), Stuart Jarvis, Aaron Seigo and Jos PoortvlietDot Categories:
- Kate gets new features in the vim mode
- All built-in effects move into a library KWin links against
- KTranscript module for dynamic translation moved from KJS to QtScript
- KDE-PIM starts supporting gdrive and Box.com
- KNavalbattle makes the ship red if it cannot be placed instead of hiding it
- Umbrello makes Enable/Disable Undo option work
- Bug fixes in Okular, Konsole, KDE-PIM, Calligra.
Today we proudly feature an interview with Bernard Gray from De Bortoli Wines, an Australian winemaking company.
Hot and Dry in Australia
We spoke with Bernard Gray who has worked for the company for over 10 years in an IT project management and development role. He is, in his own words: "a tertiary qualified programmer, and has been involved in either core development or supporting development with a few Open Source distros/projects over the years".
De Bortoli Wines is one of Australia's largest family-owned wine makers. Bernard: "The company started in 1928, and is now under the leadership of the third generation of the De Bortoli Family. Our approach as a company is innovative, forward thinking, and sustainable – this is inherent in all areas of our business, not least with our IT approach."
We started by asking him how long they have been using Linux.
"As a company, our first production Linux server was deployed in the mid-late 90s. Personally, I first used Linux in 1999 when I started University – I had very little idea of computing at the time, let alone Operating Systems and their differentiating qualities. It wasn't until 2003 that I really began to get my teeth into Linux when I started developing the Linux based Live CD environment that we've internally branded “GTs” (Graphical Terminals, originally designed to replace our thin-client telnet terminals)."
"The beauty of these devices is that we could purchase commodity PC hardware, outsource hardware support, maintain a single image Live CD based operating system environment with its read-only root filesystem rendering it “unbreakable” so to speak. Combined with the fact that it runs out of a ramdisk and on generously spec'd desktop hardware, we finally managed to nail the trifecta of Cheap, Fast AND Good."
"We deployed our first "GT" in production in April 2004."
The Dot: Could you tell us a bit about the migration, both the reasons for it and the experiences you had with it?
"Our original GT shipped with an early 2.x Gnome release. This had more to do with my general lack of skills with package management and live image building than by design. Since the distro I was using at the time shipped Gnome by default – I went along with it. Since then, we've migrated to KDE 3.5, back to Gnome 2.8 and finally to KDE 4.9 which we've just completed the rollout for, and which now makes up approximately three quarters of our 250+ desktop fleet."
"The key to all smooth migrations we've found is Desktop Environment consistency. Keep the major applications cross-platform where we can (browsers, office suites, assorted tools). Keep the icons where people are expecting them (they're in the same spot on our Windows desktops too)."
"Still on the development side, the KDE techbase site has been an invaluable source of information for me, as has the KDE community–both users and developers. Often large technical communities struggle with a high amount of enthusiastic users but without a lot of knowledge, which make the skilled base hard to find/interact with for solving more difficult issues. With KDE I have had nothing but good experiences - it's worth a special mention for a particular Okular bug we were experiencing which was resolved in record time after I contacted the Okular developers mailing list."
"All these things combine to greatly reduce the development and training load requirement on our small team - which keeps us, and most importantly our users, happy and productive."
That is great to hear! Thank you Bernard for taking the time to answer our questions. We wish you and De Bortoli wines a great time with our software.Dot Categories:
Today KDE released the first alpha of Frameworks 5, part of a series of releases leading up to the final version planned for June 2014. This release includes progress since the Frameworks 5 Tech Preview in the beginning of this year.