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Akademy 2014 Keynotes: Sascha Meinrath and Cornelius Schumacher

Wednesday 30th of July 2014 04:20:35 PM

Akademy 2014 will kick off on September 6 in Brno, Czech Republic; our keynote speakers will be opening the first two days. Continuing a tradition, the first keynote speaker is from outside the KDE community, while the second is somebody you all know. On Saturday, Sascha Meinrath will speak about the dangerous waters he sees our society sailing into, and what is being done to help us steer clear of the cliffs. Outgoing KDE e.V. Board President, Cornelius Schumacher, will open Sunday's sessions with a talk about what it is to be KDE and why it matters.


Sascha Meinrath - photo by Faith Swords Sascha Meinrath on the Internet of Things

Sascha Meinrath is well-known in the broad FOSS community. Wikipedia describes him as an "Internet culture leader and community Internet pioneer". He was a leading voice in the successful opposition to the U.S. SOPA and PIPA legislation, and is the founder of the Open Technology Institute (OTI), a public policy think tank advocating policy and regulations that are healthy for open source, open standards and innovation. OTI also works on lowering the barrier to wireless communication (Commotion Wireless) and advancing network research in the Measurement Lab. Recently, Sascha started the X-Lab, which anticipates technology directions and develops public policy for them, rather than reacting afterward with the risk of being caught off guard.

Sascha looks ahead at potential challenges, aware of the ways governments and companies abuse technology or could do so. With the Akademy program committee, he discussed "digital feudalism—the interlocking system of devices and applications that are reducing us to a serf-like state". Having coined this term, he is in a good position to explain the ways in which private and government forces are undermining the democratic, participatory platform of the Internet. And how this subterfuge has further broad impacts that reduce our freedom.

Resolving this dilemma cannot be solely a technical endeavor. Sascha said, "I see the work with the Commotion Wireless Project or fighting against NSA surveillance or on major spectrum licensure reform as different facets of the same problem, but am most worried about what happens with the so-called 'Internet of Things'—which I view with extreme skepticism". The Internet of Things (IoT) has the potential to transform communication networks massively. Enormous security implications aren't even the biggest concern. Sascha notes that "there are tremendous opportunities for building open ecosystems and privacy-protecting equivalents to mainstream products—but that has to be combined with strong pushes in governmental/policy circles as well as in outreach/PR".

In other words, it is Sascha's intention to ensure that this transition to the Internet of Things—whatever shape it will have—is built on open standards, protocols and strong protection of individual freedom. "And if that disrupts the dominant business model of many major corporations today (who all want to commoditize your private data), so be it".

Sascha Meinrath is one of Time Magazine's "Most Influential Minds in Tech" and Newsweek's "Digital Power Index Top 100 Influencers". KDE is in a strong position to provide technical innovation and has consistently demonstrated the power of community, freedom and openness. At Akademy 2014 in Brno, there is a strong possibility that this partnership will produce outcomes that will benefit people the world over. Anyone who is committed to having technology make a difference owes it to themselves to be part of Akademy.


Cornelius - photo by Helge Heß Cornelius Schumacher on How KDE Makes You a Better Person

A strikingly related subject will be brought to the Akademy audience on Sunday. Cornelius Schumacher, president of KDE e.V., has been a KDE contributor since 1999. He has seen changes in every direction and has been at the heart of several of them. Cornelius will talk about the tremendous opportunity KDE provides to learn and grow, not only technology, but also people. He will show how the community consistently acts as a breeding ground for software and for personal growth as well. "I joined KDE for the technology, but stayed for the community", Cornelius says. "I have never stopped being amazed by the people around me in KDE, the talent, the friendship, the passion to do something for the greater good. I learned so much from these people and owe a big part of my career and personal development to the community."

Over the years Cornelius has seen many people join KDE and grow, and often outgrow the community. Roots for industry-changing technology and for amazing careers can be found in KDE. But what makes this environment so special? What holds it together over the many years where hundreds, even thousands of people contribute and form the KDE community? Cornelius gives a hint: "If the community is the soil, freedom is the fertilizer. The ideals of free software create the foundation that makes KDE possible, and these ideals extend to more than just software. Within KDE, it's a commonly felt responsibility to give everybody access to great technology, retaining individual freedoms and control about not only your computing, but your life."

Cornelius's topic is not just abstract or conceptual; it is something which relates to all of us on a personal level. This is a challenge and a chance. In the end Cornelius will reveal the secret of how KDE makes you a better person.

Akademy 2014 Brno

For most of the year, KDE—one of the largest FOSS communities in the world—works online by email, IRC, forums and mailing lists. Akademy provides all KDE contributors the opportunity to meet in person to foster social bonds, work on concrete technology issues, propose and consider new ideas, and reinforce the innovative, dynamic culture of KDE. Akademy brings together artists, designers, developers, translators, users, writers, sponsors and other types of KDE contributors to celebrate the achievements of the past year and help determine the direction for the following year. Hands-on sessions offer the opportunity for intense work to bring those plans to reality. The KDE Community welcomes companies building on KDE technology, or looking to begin using it.

If you are someone who believes that it's possible for technology to make a difference in the world, Akademy 2014 in Brno, Czech Republic is the place to be.

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First Okular Sprint ever at Barcelona

Sunday 27th of July 2014 09:07:26 PM

In May a group of three Okular developers met for four days at the Blue Systems Barcelona office to hack on the KDE universal document viewer.


Albert Astals Cid, Luigi Toscano and Fabio D'Urso

The first day the team triaged a lot of bugs resulting in a nice drop of unconfirmed bugs. There are still a lot of UNCONFIRMED items in that chart, almost all of them are wishes that we didn't know how to omit on the chart.

During the next days there were discussions about ideas and implementations, including:

  • Mimetype backend priority now that we have a txt backend that can open almost any file
  • Investigation about a printing regression regarding hardware margins in newer versions of CUPS
  • Removal of lots of widget code from backends
  • Idea of creating a command line okular2text application to test libokularcore which can be used in a gui-less environment.

Albert talking about the workflow for saving documents

We decided that when porting to KF5 we will aim to have libokularcore be dependent on QtGui but not on QtWidget.

The most important item we discussed was how Okular saves file data. The proposal is to never autosave, making Okular act more like an editor. This has implications for bringing up old autosaved content if autosave was not used any more. By the end of the last day, we think we developed what seems a good plan. Now we only need time to code it ;)

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2014 Calligra Sprint in Deventer

Sunday 27th of July 2014 09:03:19 PM

From the fourth to the sixth of July, the Calligra team got together in sunny Deventer (Netherlands) for the yearly developer sprint at the same location as the last Krita sprint. Apart from seeing the sights and having our group photo in front of one of the main attractions of this quaint old Dutch town in the province of Overijssel, namely the cheese shop (and much cheese was taken home by the Calligra hackers, as well as stroopwafels from the Saturday market) we spent our time planning the future of Calligra and doing some healthy hacking and bug fixing!


Jos van den Oever, Thorsten Zachmann, Arjen Hiemstra, Jigar Raisinghani,
Friedrich Kossebau, Dmitry Kazakov, Jaroslaw Staniek, Boudewijn Rempt (left to right) What's coming

For Calligra, we've been planning the next release: Calligra 2.9, which is planned for December. It will be the last release based on Qt4. We're a bit slow in porting to Qt5 and KDE Frameworks 5, because we still have the scars of the port to Qt4, which took years... This release will be pretty much Calligra as you know it, with all the bits intact.

So then, after 2.9, we're planning to do a proper port to Qt5 and KF5, using Frameworks where appropriate. In early January, we'll lock down the repo, send everyone on vacation while the porting scripts run. When every script has ran, and everything builds again, we'll start properly porting Calligra. We expect to be able to release Calligra 3.0 end of March, so that's a three month release cycle.

We need help!

Here's a bit of serious news, though: parts of Calligra are essentially unmaintained. Applications like Karbon or Plan, which have a long pedigree and have been around for ages, have not seen any development for over a year -- or more. These applications are still unique, have lots and lots of promise... But for Calligra 3.0, this means that we'll disable those applications from the build after the initial automated port. And it's up to volunteers to re-enable them, fix all porting issues and take up maintainership!

Frameworking

As for the Calligra libraries, we've long felt that some of them could do with a wider exposure. There are libraries for handling property bags and showing them in a gui, there are libraries for loading vector images, for handling OpenDocument. We've got a library for handling color management, too. Right now, the libraries are tangled together, and it would be good to split them up again.

We did that once before, but the split was undone during the KOffice 2 development process. Revisiting it right now isn't an option for lack of manpower. However, especially the vector image library might make a good addition to the KDE Frameworks, with a bit of work on API, documentation and so on. We want to get down to that during the port to Qt5.

Translation

Finally, Dmitry has been working with the Russian translation team to iron out some kinks in the translation process. In particular, undo strings are difficult in a language like Russian that uses a different (grammatical) case in different contexts. He has created a version of the undo library that forces developers to provide the proper context. We also discussed more long-term plans to make it easy to see the strings that need to be translated in the context of the gui -- as well as trying to create tools that make it easier to add new tooltips and other helpful strings.

All in all, the get-together was very fruitful. We now have a pretty good plan for 2014 and 2015 and know where we want to go. Planning and setting directions matters: it motivates the current developers and makes clear to potential contributors where things are going and where they can chime in.

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KDE Ships Third Beta of Applications and Platform 4.14

Friday 25th of July 2014 07:36:01 PM

KDE has released the third beta of the 4.14 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 is requested!

A more detailed list of the improvements and changes will be available for the final release in the middle of August.

This third 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 4.14 team's release effort by installing the beta and reporting any bugs. The official announcement has information about how to install the betas.

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KDE Ships July Updates and Second Beta of Applications and Platform 4.14

Friday 18th of July 2014 08:00:03 PM

This week KDE released updates for its Applications and Development Platform, the third and last in a series of monthly stabilization updates to the 4.13 series. This release also includes an updated Plasma Workspaces 4.11.11. Both releases contain only bugfixes and translation updates, providing a safe and pleasant update for everyone. Beneath these releases KDE announced the second beta of the 4.14 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 is requested!

On the language front Farsi (Persian) reached the essential criteria and thus will be again part of this release. Kopete has some important fixes: formatting messages when OTR plugin is loaded but not used for encrypting messages in the chat window and generating HTML messages with the Jabber protocol.

More than 40 recorded bugfixes include improvements to Personal Information Management suite Kontact, Umbrello UML Modeller, the desktop search functionality, web browser Konqueror and the file manager Dolphin. A more complete list of changes can be found in KDE's issue tracker.

To find out more about the 4.13 versions of KDE Applications and Development Platform, please refer to the 4.13 release notes.

The second beta release needs a thorough testing in order to improve quality and user experience. A variety of user styles 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 4.14 team's release effort by installing the beta and reporting any bugs. The official announcement has information about how to install the betas.

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Plasma 5 Brings a Cleaner Interface on Top of a New Graphics Stack

Tuesday 15th of July 2014 12:46:07 AM


Plasma 5.0

The first release of Plasma 5 is out now. We have worked long and hard over the last three years to tidy up the internals and move to new technologies to bring a solid foundation for KDE's Plasma desktop for years to come. The UI has been tidied up, there is a new Breeze artwork theme starting to take off and high-DPI support has been added. The main design of the desktop and workflows in it have not been altered, we know you like your desktop and have no desire to change it. There is not enough polish in this release to make it mainstream yet, this is only for enthusiasts and people who want to help debug for now.

Many distributions have packages to install or test images to try out although this 5.0 release should not be the default option yet. Plasma 5 is built using Qt 5 and Frameworks 5 and is due to have new releases on a three monthly cycle.

You can discuss your experiences on the Plasma 5 forum on the KDE Community Forums. Please post to social media with the #PlasmaByKDE hashtag.

Major changes in this new version include:

  • An updated and modernized, cleaner visual and interactive user experience
    The new Breeze theme is a high-contrast, flat theme for the workspace. It is available in light and dark variants. Simpler and more monochromatic graphics assets and typography-centered layouts offer a clean and visually clear user experience.
  • Smoother graphics performance thanks to an updated graphics stack
    Plasma's user interfaces are rendered on top of an OpenGL or OpenGL ES scenegraph, offloading many of the computational-intensive rendering tasks. This allows for higher framerates and smoother graphics display while freeing up resources of the main system processor.

Watch the Plasma 5.0 video

Other user-visible changes are:

  • Converged shell
    The "converged Plasma shell" that loads up the desktop in Plasma 5.0 can be extended with other user experiences. This lays the base for a converged user experience bringing up a suitable UI for a given target device. User experiences can be switched dynamically at runtime, allowing, based on hardware events such as plugging in a keyboard and a mouse.
  • Modernized launchers
    The application launchers' user interfaces have been reworked. Among the changes are a visually redesigned Kickoff application launcher, a newly included, more menu-like launcher, called Kicker and a new, QtQuick-based interface for KRunner.
  • Workflow improvements in the notification area
    The notification area has been cleaned up, and sports a more integrated look now. Less popup windows and quicker transitions between for example power management and networks settings lead to a more distraction-free interaction pattern and greater visual coherence.
  • Better support for high-density (high-DPI) displays
    Support for high-density displays has been improved. Many parts of the UI now take the physical size of the display into account. This leads to better usability and display on screens with very small pixels, such as Retina displays.

The Plasma 5.0 Visual Feature Guide provides a video tour around the updated desktop.

Breeze Artwork Improves Visual clarity
Brightness Settings in Plasma 5

The new Breeze theme, which is still in its infancy, welcomes the user with a cleaner, modernized user interface, which improves contrast and reduces visual clutter throughout the workspace. Stronger reliance on typography eases the recognition of UI elements. These changes go together with flatter default theming and improved contrast to improve visual clarity further. Breeze being a new artwork concept, is only starting to show its face. A theme for the workspace components is already available, theming of traditional widgets is under way, and the work on a new icon theme has commenced. The migration to a fully Breeze-themed workspace will be a gradual one, with its first signs showing up in Plasma 5.0.
Plasma 5 brings a greater level of flexibility and consistency to core components of the desktop. The widget explorer, window and activity switcher now share a common interaction scheme. More reliance on vertical instead of horizontal lists provides better usability. Moving the window switcher to the side of the screen shifts the user's focus towards the applications and documents, clearing the stage for the task at hand.

Converging User Experience
Wallpaper Settings

The new-in-Plasma-5 "Look and Feel" mechanism allows swapping out parts like the task and activity switchers, lock and login screen and the "Add Widgets" dialog. This allows for greater consistency across central workflows, improves clarity within similar interaction patterns and changing related interaction patterns across the workspace at once.
On top of that, the Plasma 5 shell is able to load and switch between user experiences for a given target device, introducing a truly convergent workspace shell. The workspace demonstrated in this release is Plasma Desktop. It represents an evolution of known desktop and laptop paradigms. A tablet-centric and mediacenter user experience are under development as alternatives. While Plasma 5.0 will feel familiar, users will notice a more modern and consistent, cleaner workspace experience.

Fully Hardware-Accelerated Graphics Stack
Search in Plasma

Plasma 5 completes the migration of the Plasma workspace to QtQuick. Qt 5's QtQuick 2 uses a hardware-accelerated OpenGL(ES) scenegraph to compose and render graphics on the screen. This allows offloading computationally expensive graphics rendering tasks onto the GPU which frees up resources on the system's main processing unit, is faster and more power-efficient.

Internal changes in the graphics compositor and underlying Frameworks prepare support for running on Wayland, which is planned for an upcoming release.

Suitability and Updates
New Lock Screen

Plasma 5.0 provides a core desktop with a feature set that will suffice for many users. The development team has concentrated on tools that make up the central work flows. As such, not all features from the Plasma 4.x series are available yet, many of them planned to return with a subsequent release. As with any software release of this size, there will be bugs that make a migration to Plasma 5 hard, if not impossible for some users. The development team would like to hear about such issues, so they can be addressed and fixed. We have compiled a list of known issues. Users can expect monthly bugfix updates, and a release bringing new features and more old ones back in the autumn 2014.

With a substantial new toolkit stack below come exciting new crashes and problems that need time to be shaken out. This is to be expected in a first stable release. Especially graphics performance is heavily dependent on specific hardware and software configurations and usage patterns. While it has great potential, it takes time to wrangle this out of it. The underlying stack may not be entirely ready for this either. In many scenarios, Plasma 5.0 will display the buttery smooth performance it is capable of - while at other times, it may be hampered by various shortcomings. These can and will be addressed, however, much is dependent on components like Qt, Mesa and hardware drivers lower in the stack.

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KDE Ships First Beta of Applications and Platform 4.14

Thursday 10th of July 2014 09:05:38 PM

KDE has released the first beta of the 4.14 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 is requested!

A more detailed list of the improvements and changes will be available for the final release in the middle of August.

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 4.14 team's release effort by installing the beta and reporting any bugs. The official announcement has information about how to install the betas.

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KDE Frameworks 5 Makes KDE Software More Accessible for all Qt Developers

Monday 7th of July 2014 08:07:04 PM


Today, the KDE community has made available the first stable release of Frameworks 5. At the Randa Meetings back in 2011, we started work on porting KDE Platform 4 to Qt 5. But as part of this effort, we also began modularizing our libraries, integrating portions into Qt 5 proper and modularizing the rest so applications can just use the functionality they need. Three years later, while a fundraiser for the 2014 Randa Meetings is in progress, Frameworks is out. Today you can save yourself the time and effort of repeating work that others have done, relying on over 50 Frameworks with mature, well tested code. For a full list and technical details coders can read the API documentation.

Highlights

KArchive offers support for many popular compression codecs in a self-contained, featureful and easy-to-use file archiving and extracting library. Just feed it files; there's no need to reinvent an archiving function in your Qt-based application!

ThreadWeaver offers a high-level API to manage threads using job- and queue-based interfaces. It allows easy scheduling of thread execution by specifying dependencies between the threads and executing them satisfying these dependencies, greatly simplifying the use of multiple threads.

KConfig is a Framework to deal with storing and retrieving configuration settings. It features a group-oriented API. It works with INI files and XDG-compliant cascading directories. It generates code based on XML files.

Solid offers hardware detection and can inform an application about storage devices and volumes, CPU, battery status, power management, network status and interfaces, and Bluetooth. For encrypted partitions, power and networking, running daemons are required.

KI18n adds Gettext support to applications, making it easier to integrate the translation workflow of Qt applications in the general translation infrastructure of many projects.

This is just a taste of the many Frameworks made available today.

Getting started

On Linux, using packages for your favorite distribution is the recommended way to get access to KDE Frameworks.

Building from source is possible using the basic cmake .; make; make install commands. For a single Tier 1 framework, this is often the easiest solution. People interested in contributing to Frameworks or tracking progress in development of the entire set are encouraged to use kdesrc-build.

Frameworks 5.0 requires Qt 5.2. It represents the first in a series of planned monthly releases making improvements available to developers in a quick and predictable manner.

Where the code goes

Those interested in following and contributing to the development of Frameworks can check out the git repositories, follow the discussions on the KDE Frameworks development mailing list and send in patches through review board.

KDE is always looking for new volunteers and contributions, whether it is help with coding, bug fixing or reporting, writing documentation, translations, promotion, money, etc. All contributions are gratefully appreciated and eagerly accepted. Please read through the donations page for further information. And as was mentioned above, KDE is currently running a fundraiser to make the Randa Meetings 2014 possible. Your contribution is crucial to make an event like this possible - and with that, projects like KDE Frameworks!

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