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KDE Interview Questions - Riccardo Iaconelli

Sunday 7th of February 2016 10:36:15 AM

Following his talk at FOSDEM last weekend, we present an interview with WikiToLearn founder Riccardo Iaconelli by Google Code-in student Stanford.

What do you do for a living?

I am a student enrolled in the Master degree of Physics at the University of Milano-Bicocca.

What do you do for KDE?

Currently, I am the maintainer of WikiToLearn, working on all the parts of the project where is needed, but mostly on the promotion/networking side. I deliver talks and presentations, and I am in charge of getting in touch with excellent academic institutions that could partner with us.
In the past... well, I have been doing thousands of things! :-) I have been a core developer of Plasma, writing the first plasmoids, a core developer and a designer of Oxygen (working on the theme, window decoration, cursor theme, icons, wallpapers...) and many more things (from kdelibs to games to PIM). Probably the major work (outside these big projects) I am most proud of the complete UI redesign (and implementation) of Amarok in QML. It was sexy, but unfortunately it was never released, due to a decision of the maintainers.

How did you get into computer programming?

I was 9 and I wanted to build my website about skating. So I started to learn HTML and JavaScript. And then PHP. And then I decided I was going to be an hacker, when I grew up, so I had to study many more languages. I still have to finish that website...

Do you have any advice for people who would like to pursue computer programming as a major?

Definitely. Here's my take: learn by doing, and always get great mentors to review your work. Get your hands dirty and teach yourself code. Try, fail, try harder and iterate. And don't stop until you get perfect. Aim for elegance. Learn everything you can from the world and your peers, and never stop doing that. The challenge is with yourself, not with anyone else. How much better than can you be? :-)

Who is your role model, and why?

This is a tough question :-) There was not a single role model, but I had the luck to find many great mentors within KDE. In general, I try to simply be attentive to other people, trying to find out what I like in what they do, and what I can learn from them. Once I see it, I start to apply those elements in my life, whether it's a personal lifestyle choice, a technical decision or a way to relate to others.

What are some ways you motivate yourself?

I always remind myself why I am doing what I am doing. I believe in a free world; I believe in the power of decentralization. I believe that the sum of our collective minds and efforts is greater than what any of us alone can achieve. And I want to have fun while doing what I am doing.

What are some of your future goals for your involvement with KDE?

I have been a KDE developer for half of my life. I want to continue see this amazing community to flourish, and I want to play my part in the first project that I maintain, by adding yet another global success to our portfolio. And I think that with WikiToLearn we have all the right cards in the hand to achieve that. :-)

KDE Project Br-Print3D at Campus Party Brazil

Thursday 4th of February 2016 05:58:20 PM

Last week, between January 26 and 31, the ninth Campus Party Brazil (promo video on Facebook) was held in Sao Paulo. 8000 people inside an arena, with talks, workshops and hackathons, with the main subject being technology.

The team from KDE project Br-Print3D was invited to participate of this event. To show our work on the Free Software stage and on the tables there are scattered all over of this arena.



Br-Print3D written in Qt

We received sponsorship from Sethi3D, a Brazilian company that makes 3D printers here. They kindly gave us four 3D printers to use, 3 of them with a 20cm3 print area and one with 40cm3. We made a lot of prints, that you can see on our album on Facebook.




Sethi BB - 40cm3 area of printing

Over the five days almost 500 people stopped on our table to talk about 3D printing and to learn about our project.

At the event we are had more access to different printers and we saw how other firmware variations work. Focusing on Repetier we were for the first time able to test formally Sethi’s printers and we detected some particularities of this firmware which probably can be found on others models.

They were five days of challenges, compliments and reviews about our work. I made a talk about C++ and Qt, and how to use Qt to develop user interfaces. What is funny, that only 7 people attending my my talk, out of over 100, knew about Qt and only one really worked with it. That was the same feeling that I had when I started work with Qt. It’s hard do find people that knows Qt here in Brazil, mainly if you don’t have more information or connection to open sources projects.




Lays running the tutorial for Br-Print3D
Hogwarts House Crests printed with Br-Print3D

Luca Toma KDE Interview

Tuesday 2nd of February 2016 12:46:46 PM

Luca Toma

Google Code In is our annual project to give tasks to school pupils to contribute to KDE projects. One task this year is to write a Dot article and top Code In student Stanford L has interviewed WikiToLearn contributor and Sysadmin Luca Toma.

Please tell us a little about yourself
I am a second year physics student studying at the University of Milan Bicocca. I’ve been passionate about computers since the age of 10, especially the part of sysadmin / networking.

What do you do for a living?
Currently, I am a student and I work within an office that deals with management of business systems and website development.

What do you do for KDE?

At this time my contribution in KDE is WikiToLearn, my role is the system administrator. I take care of the maintenance of the infrastructure and server project.

How did you get into computer programming?
I started programming when I was 12 years of age, I was intrigued by a friend working on a GNU/Linux distribution using Bash, just like in the movies. I started with VB6, after which was passed on to C / C ++, in order and PHP.

Do you have any advice for people who would like to pursue computer programming as a major?
My advice is to write the code on what you know to be able to understand what you want and to be able to make the most out of it.

Who is your role model, and why?
I do not have a well-defined role model because I try to take inspiration from the best of all. Einstein created a model for what concerns thinking in their own way and I think it is extremely important to be able to solve problems in the best way.

What are some ways you motivate yourself?
One thing that motivates me is to do my best.
I think if each one of us always did their best in situations, it would be the best for everyone.

Do you have a vision, like where do you want KDE in general to be in 5 years and sysadmin in particular?
I hope that KDE will become a reference point for all those who want to learn computer science.
A community that is able to support projects (e.g. WikiToLearn) while providing all necessary resources, both in terms of computing power, and that of access to the necessary knowledge but also as a community in which to grow.
From the perspective of a sysadmin, to be able to provide the right environment is necessary to continue and pursue their development

FOSDEM: Announcing KDE neon

Saturday 30th of January 2016 05:04:48 PM

At FOSDEM this weekend KDE is announcing our newest project, KDE neon. Neon will provide a way to get the latest KDE software on the day its released.

More than ever people expect a stable desktop with cutting-edge features, all in a package which is easy to use and ready to make their own.

KDE Neon is the intersection of these needs using a stable Ubuntu long-term release as its core, packaging the hottest software fresh from the KDE Community ovens. Compute knowing you have a solid foundation and enjoy the features you experience in the world's most customisable desktop.

You should use KDE neon if you want the latest and greatest from the KDE community but the safety and stability of a Long Term Support release. When you don't want to worry about strange core mechanics and just get things done with the latest features. When you want your computer as your tool, something that belongs to you, that you can trust and that delivers day after day, week after week, year after year. Here it is: now get stuff done.

Neon is a KDE Incubator project and we are still baking it. Currently we have an archive of KDE software built from unstable Git branches which can be installed on top of Ubuntu 15.10 flavours. Coming soon will be an archive built from KDE releases for users and live/installable images to install onto your computer.

While KDE neon is great for casual users, contributors will find KDE neon excels. Whether you are a coder, tester, artist, or do bug triage this is the easiest way to get KDE software as it is developed.

Our developers' archive provides packages of KDE Software built on our continuous integration system directly from Git. Everyone in the KDE community has access to fix or update our packaging.

The KDE neon announce will be at 12:45 in the desktops devroom. Hope to see you there.

cio.com has published an interview with KDE neon team member Jonathan Riddell.

Review KmPlot Application

Wednesday 27th of January 2016 04:59:06 PM

Our series of articles by Google Code In students continues with this review of graphing applications KmPlot by Andrey Cygankov.

Studying maths, I often work with functions and graphs. Graph plotter KmPlot is a great help with this. A list of its features shows it can do enough to solve even the most difficult tasks.


Drawing a function and its derivative.
Finding the area under a graph.

KmPlot can:

  • Draw various graph types: functions, parametric, polar
  • Display on a flexibly configurable grid
  • Draw 1st and 2nd derivative and the integral of a plot function
  • Export in different formats: BMP, JPG, SVG and XML for futher editing
  • Use custom constants and parameters
  • Finding the minimum and maximum point in the function and the y-value of them.

KmPlot has important advantages, importantly it's open source with the opportunity to participate in development. If you have ideas for development - join the community and improve it! It has an easy and intuitive UI so you can start work with it quickly and easily.

The disadvantage of KmPlot is that it has no support on mobile platforms. This type of application is often necessary when there is no access to computer.

Of course, there are applications with greater functionality (Gnuplot, Gri, Grace and others) but all of them require a much greater level of training to work with them and their interface is not as friendly as in KmPlot.

KmPlot helps me in these problems for my homework. With KmPlot I can be sure my answers are correct. It helps with research of functions. KmPlot allows to edit functions as you like, which allows me to understand their properties.

As a student I have KmPlot in the category of "must have" application, and I think it will remain so for a long time. I recommend it to my friends.

App Review of GCompris: Kids' Happiness

Tuesday 26th of January 2016 11:17:22 AM

Our series of articles by Google Code In students continues with a review of educational applications GCompris by Sergey Popov.

If you have children, you know how hard it is to make a child happy and interested in something for a long time. But there is an easy way to do that: show them GCompris. It is a really great game set for children 2-10 years old and they surely will like it. You may ask, if GCompris is really so good, and I would answer you "Yes". And that is not a joke. Here are some proofs of that. But, you know, nothing is ideal, so I will also mention its bad sides (unfortunately, they are present too).


GCompris on Android
GCompris on PC


To start, I will show you some of the advantages:

  • It is totally opensource: What could be better that a huge, excellent, full of cool features and opensource application? Probably nothing.
  • Easily customizable: As result of the previous paragraph, it is a really good feature, which most alternatives doesn't have.
  • A lot of activities: More than 120 of interesting, beautifully drawn and useful games for you child - that is really amazing!
  • Portable: Going on a trip with a little kid? No problems, since you can use GCompris even on Android!
  • Useful for children: GCompris activities train children in arithmetics, drawing, logic, using a computer and so on.

But there are also still some disadvantages:

  • No iOS support: That's it, GCompris currently does not support iOS. But that will be fixed very soon!
  • No administration panel: It existed in the legacy, GTK+ version but in the Qt one it is not implemented yet.
  • No ability to separate users / groups: As result of the previous paragraph, you cannot set two different activity sets for John and Joey, for example.

There are not a lot of alternatives to GCompris. There are Easybits Magic Desktop, Timez Attack and Sebran's ABC. But they are not as cool as GCompris:

  • Easybits Magic Desktop is not as customizable - you cannot change anything in its code.
  • Timez Attack teaches children only arithmetic operations and nothing else.
  • Sebran's ABC's interface is not great and it has much fewer activities.
  • None of them support Linux, Mac OS X and Android but GCompris does.

Recently I added more levels to some activities, fixed a bug, created more bonus characters and updated documentation. And my little brother really likes GCompris - that is his favorite program on my PC :).
So, I think GCompris is one of the best educational application for kids. What's your opinion about that?

Dot Categories:

KDE and Google Summer of Code 2015 Wrapup

Sunday 17th of January 2016 09:42:21 PM
The combination of Google's Summer of Code program and students working on numerous KDE projects during it  has served as a long and successful tradition for KDE. KDE, being a big organization with a large community associated with it and hosting many projects of different facets provides a lot of opportunities for students to participate in this program and to contribute to an open-source project that they are interested in. Hence it is no surprise that this year also many students decided to be a part of the world of KDE.    Be prepared for a long, detailed post about many interesting projects and the great results achieved during the season of GSoC '15.   1. Porting activities Many KDE projects are still in the process of porting the code to the new frameworks Qt5/QtQuick and KDE Frameworks 5 (KF5) - the next generation of KDE libraries, modularized and optimized for easy integration in other applications. This year several students helped to make this transition smoother and complete.   Aroonav Mishra ported a considerable portion of Amarok to Qt5/KF5 and the porting of the media player is in continuation. R. Harish did this for Kopete.   GCompris consists of several activities, wherein each activity is aimed to teach children a different educational lesson. This year Sagar Chand Agarwal and Siddhesh Suthar helped port a couple of GCompris' activities to QtQuick. Almost all the work has been integrated to the master branch and will be available in the next release.  The educational entertainment software GCompris welcomes any form of help to finish this move.

Mohamed Anwer did his project on digiKam. In digiKam, the communication with the database was done in KIO-slaves, running in separate process. To increase the portability of the application and to reduce the serialization of data between different processes, the decision was made to change the architecture and to move it to Qt5's threads. The new thread-based implementation done during this summer resulted in a much better performance. Also, in numerous other segments of the source code a wrapper for all KIO-related stuff was provided.  The implementation behind this wrapper, which optionally doesn't use KIO anymore, now allows compilation of digiKam as a pure Qt-application without any dependency on KIO. For more information,visit: https://mohamedanwer.wordpress.com/tag/gsoc15/

Vyacheslav Matyushin ported KSystemLog,a utility showing different system protocols to KF5.  While porting the code, he also fixed many bugs and memory leaks. In addition to that, many new features were added like the support for local and remote journald,  filtering of the log entries by priority, improved configuration dialog and more. Main window showing log entires colored according to their priority. By default, all priorities are displayed. User can select priorities to be displayed Journald mode configuration widget allows to add remote journals
  A porting project of a different kind was taken up by Gábor Péterffy who ported Marble to Android. Marble Maps is available now in Google Play and provides navigation and routing functionality using OpenStreetMap's content. Distance measurements, interactive route planning  are available in the first version of Marble on Android.   2. KDevelop   KDevelop got a new "checker framework" contributed by Laszlo Kis-Adam who you might also know as dfighter. The idea behind this project was to provide a general framework for different static code analysis tools and profilers that can be used in KDevelop. This framework aims to unify and simplify the code infrastructure and to provide a consistent and user-friendly GUI for using such tools in KDevelop. Some existing plugins for cppcheck, Valgrind and Krazy were ported to this framework. The support for code analysers clang-check and pylint was added. The final report contains a lot of detailed information on this as well as a video demo of this amazingly useful functionality. https://dfighter1985.wordpress.com/2015/05/31/kdevelop-checker-framework/   During GSoC2014 clang was integrated into KDevelop in order to use it for source code indexing, syntax checking and highligting instead of KDevelop's own complex implementations for these tasks. Despite the ginormous progress attained last year, there was and is still a lot to do in the area of kdev-clang plugin for KDevelop - bug fixing, adding features, stabilizing the code. This year Sergey Kalinichev worked on the project "Further Clang integration in KDevelop" and extended the feature-set of this plugin with regard to code parsing, syntax highligting, code completion and refactoring. See his final report with couple of examples on this https://sklin0.wordpress.com/2015/08/23/gsoc-2015-final-status-report/. This plugin is a must try for all KDevelop users!     3. Multimedia   Gurjot Singh worked on extending the animation capabilities of Kdenlive to allow smoother animations as opposed to the traditional keyframes technology. Before this, Kdenlive had support for only linear interpolation of keyframes for few effects and transitions. With the support for animation properties in the open-source multimedia framework MLT, which is used by Kdenlive, and with the integration work done during this GSoC by Gurjot, almost any entity can be now be animated in Kdenlive. Gurjot added configuration widgets for different interpolation types used for animations -  which can be discrete, linear, smooth spline or a mix of them. Read more here: https://kdenlive.org/node/9443    Krita got a new tangent normal brush engine. Read more on Wolthera van Hövell tot Westerflier's blog http://wolthera.info/?p=770 who was the GSoC student working on Krita.  Wolthera also addressed Krita's widget for picking a colourspace (http://wolthera.info/?p=783).   Veaceslav Munteanu continues to contribute to digiKam for the third GSoC-program in row. This year, he implemented Advanced Metadata Hub - a new component that gives the user more control over the metadata management in digiKam. With this component it is possible now to define in addition to digiKam's default namespaces new user-specific namespaces. It is also possible to edit new namespaces, disable them temporarily and to change their order which influences the search results in digiKam. Furthermore, lazy metadata synchronization was introduced to digiKam. When changing the metadata (applying a tag, rating or comment to an image), the synchronization process could slow-down the system for bigger image collections on slower (or remote) hard-disks. With the new lazy method the synchronization can be optionally postponed to a later point and the user doesn't experience any immediate slow-down on metadata changes.       4. Education   KStars, the outstanding open-source astronomy software, is now able to display artistic drawings for all modern constellations (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/88_modern_constellations_by_area) - thanks to the work done by M.S. Adityan during this summer. One of the main parts of the project was to understand how to map the image onto the sky map. The screenshot below shows art images for all 88 modern constellations that can be optionally switched on and off.   Daniel Leu contributed a job scheduler to KStars that will help automate astrophotography sessions. A job is specified as per the information provided by the user such as the object under observation, altitude, angular distance to the moon and the execution starting and finishing times and the job triggered by the scheduler communicates with the teleskop via the Ekos interface (http://api.kde.org/4.x-api/kdeedu-apidocs/kstars/html/namespaceEkos.html) and performes a slewing of the teleskop, loading of the sequence and its execution. To simplify the selection of the object to be observed, the user can now provide a FITS image and the object coordinates are determined out of the information stored in the FITS file.     David Kolozsvari joined the Marble team this summer and implemented a couple of nice features. He improved rendering of labels (street names, building names etc.) that are now drawn along the curved street paths. Before this, the labels were just shown "somewhere" on the map. As a result of his work:

Besides this, some smaller improvements and bug fixes were made by him. He has started working on improving Marble's Print support as an extension to his contribution to Marble during GSoC. Check out his blog for demos and more (http://koldavidgsoc.blogspot.de/2015/08/gsoc-2015-summer-with-marble.html).

  The second Marble-related GSoC-project was about the handling of OpenStreetMap (OSM) files. Marius Stanciu added support for opening OSM-files, viewing, editing and exporting them. The main part of the project was to provide an OSM editor for Marble. Plenty of features can be implemented in such an editor and Marius implemented it for tags and relations. Tags allow annotation of the placemarks to provide information on them beyond the location coordinates. With the help of relations, logical relationships between different points on the map can also be modeled. Take a look at Marius' blogs for more screenshots and examples.http://mariusoc.blogspot.de/2015/08/wrapping-things-up.html     LabPlot, the data plotting and analysis tool for KDE had 3 students this year. Minh Ngo added visualization of 3D-data to LabPlot by utilizing the very powerful library VTK. Different data source sources are supported - external files with 3D-data, LabPlot's spreadsheets with column-based organisation of data and LabPlot's matrices with matrix-like data structure. The data can be visualized as points in 3D-space, curves and surfaces. A lot of options for the 3D-plots are availble and can be adjusted by the user in a user-friendly GUI. Furthermore, several zooming functions were implemented that allow a comfortable navigation through the data. Because of the huge complexity of this topic, not everything could be implemented in such a short period of time. Minh is eager to contribute further to the projects and continues working on 3D-part of LabPlot with the aim to push LabPlot's 3D-functionality to much higher level.   Ankit Wagarde added a very useful tool to LabPlot that allows to extract data from images - the Datapicker. After import of an image and setting the reference points, the user start to select the data points on the image that get automatically converted into numbers. Those numbers can be used in your own plots where you can e.g. combine your own results with results of another work where the imported image was taken from. Different scalings are supported as well as data point with error bars. Arbitrary number of curves on the plot from the imported image is supported whereas different symbol styles can be used to differentiate the appearance of the curves     Currently, LabPlot is lacking any scripting functionality and has a very limited set of features to generate new data. On the other hand, Cantor - another KDE-education software - unifies the usage of different open-source computer algebra systems (CAS) like Maxima, Octave, etc. in a single program. Garvit Khatri integrated Cantor into LabPlot. This allows now to perform calculations, to produce and to analyze data with the CAS of your choice, to plot the generated data and to modify the appearance of the plot directly in LabPlot. The user benefits now from the very powerful CAS languages and from the numerous editing features for plots in LabPlot. The screenshot below shows a simple calculation done in python3 with scipy/numpy and the visualization of the calculated data in LabPlot's manner. All in all - a very nice example for how two open-source projects can collaborate and bundle the man-power and the available features two produce software of much greater value.   5. Misc KDE's universal document viewer Okular was extended by Saheb Preet Singh to support PDF tags, layers and linearized documents. PDF tags allow to add additional description to different structures in a PDF document. Information can be stored on different layers of a PDF file - a feature allowing to make some content visible or invisible in the document. In Okular, tags and layers are shown in a tree-like view and can be searched and filtered for. The third new feature in Okular, the support for linearized PDF documents, make viewing over the internet faster - the document is streamed over the network and the user can start to read the document without the need to wait until the complete file is downloaded.    balooctl, the command line tool to control Baloo, KDE's indexing and search framework, got a lot of useful features allowing to get a better overview of the current state of Baloo. The main part of the project taken by Pinak Ahuja was the Baloo Monitor - a GUI tool showing Baloo's current state, file being indexed, total progress and estimated remaining time and a button to suspend/resume indexing. On the way to these results, Baloo's architecture needed to be partially redesigned and re-factored to make the interaction of this tool with Baloo's back-end possible. This work went far beyond the original proposal and was done in close collaboration and with the help of the project mentor. The monitor has been added as a KCM to KInfoCenter.     Aleksandr Mezin improved the KDE System Settings by adding a new configuration module for pointing devices. This module unifies now the functionality that was previously spread between Mouse and Touchpad KCMs. With the help of KDE's visual designers Aleksandr was able to create a nice looking UI where the pointing devices can be configured at the same place. Currently, all properties of libinput driver can be configured in this new module for X11 as well as for Wayland (with patched version of KWin), whereas a better and more complete support for evdev and synaptics drivers is to be expected in the near feature.    Ranveer Aggarwal worked on the implementation of an interface for installing 3rd party plugins for different KDE applications like additional codecs for k3b, KIPI-plugins for Gwenview, etc. 3rd party plugins can be fetched from the system packages manager, the installation is handled with the help of PackageKit that unifies the handling of different package management systems. Ranveer's final report exemplifies the usage of this new interface for couple of KDE applications: http://ranveeraggarwal.com/blog/2015/08/21/gsoc-15-a-summary/   KDE Connect https://albertvaka.wordpress.com/ is a very useful application for KDE and smartphone users that allows to control your KDE desktop with the smartphone, to receive the phone notifications on your computer or to interchange data between different devices. This year Vineet Garg improved the secure communication over the network and added the support for TLSv1.2 to KDE Connect. By the way, the first version of KDE Connect was written during GSoC2013.   The KDE infrastructure got a new very nice service - KDE Reportshttps://reports.kde.org/. In this web app, contributed by Ahmed AbouElhamayed, graphical reports for KDE related statistics are shown. Charts for the current number of bug reports, total average time taken to resolve a bug, number of commits, review requests, social media activities and for many many other things allow you to get better insights into the ongoing KDE activities.  Check out recent Ahmed's blogs for a number of useful examples https://ahmedabouelhamayed.wordpress.com/2015/07/07/kde-project-activity-reports/ https://ahmedabouelhamayed.wordpress.com/2015/11/02/get-a-report-about-your-activities-in-kde/   Besides the porting activities mentioned above, Kopete got help from two more students this year. Nikolaos Chatzidakis worked (and is still working on it even GSoC is already finished, on a GnuPGP-plugin for Kopete to allow secure encrypting, signing, decrypting and verifying of messages via GnuPGP. Joseph W Joshua contributed to a new history plugin for Kopete based on a SQL-database. The idea behind this plugin is to store the messages in a database and to provide an interface for quick and advanced searching in the history.   Final remarks: For many students participated in this year's GSoC, the contribution to the open-source community and especially to KDE didn't end with the final reports written in August. Many students are still in touch with their mentors, continue to work on their projects or are even looking for new tasks. All in all, a great GSoC season for KDE with remarkable achievements. We're looking forward for GSoC2016!  

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