Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Some reflections related with the KDE 4.2 release

Please take this as a reflection. When you try to express delicate messages, feelings, the language barrier becomes bigger. I felt it was the time to say this, now that I feel the arrival is so close that I'm sure all the KDE crew feel the power of the big release, so hopefully people get the positive part of the message I want to point out.

I'm not a KDE developer but definitely a KDE user. I have KDE 3.5 on my everyday laptop and KDE 4.0 first and KDE 4.1 now on other machines I have around (my netbook, for example). I've been one of those that have been following the project in general and the tough decision made by the KDE crew a couple of years ago (and the previous discussions). I am not at first line obviously, but hey, that is also a cool stuff about free software community projects, you can watch and learn from the core people... I really respect what the KDE project does. There is no doubt about it.

I understood the decisions made then. I supported and got happy with it. I obviously am now. As a dev told me once, it's like life itself. Sometimes you reach a limit and it is a smart decision to stop, think and change instead of keep pushing on the same direction. This is an idea some other free software projects will follow after KDE success (we knew it from the very beginning ;) ).

Now that KDE 4.2 is here, many of you that have been working hard to make this happen have reasons to be proud of the job done and the risk taken. I am, and haven't done a single line of code. I've never imagined to get such an empathy with a few million lines of codes and the people that create it everyday.

The Linus case has made me decide to write about what I've seen around me the last few months. I've read many comments about it and the explanations given from many tech people in general and KDE people in particular. I want to add my personal experience.

I've seen some frustration around, related with KDE 4.0 and 4.1 lately. The regular free software user is one of those who likes to try what it comes in a magazine, in a distro. They wait for the next version like Christmas. In some sense, they (we) are like kids (love to play with toys). But most of them (that is part of our success), have no idea about how to deal with critical problems. I've been explaining to them so many times the past months that kde 4.0 and 4.1 were not an everyday OS...well, the regular arguments you already know... . But this installation...uninstallation process some people have gone through with previous versions has been unstopable (the people around me at least).

So I've failed. Why?

I don't know yet, but what I know now is that I cannot compete anymore against distros, magazines, that cool aura free software has these days, etc.. That is supposed to be one of our victories. This is not a "mouth to mouth" system anymore (I mean installations based on personal trust). My friends don't call me to try a linux distro. They don't need me for that anymore (thanks God). They just call me when they have critical problems. Since they know I'm a KDE fan, they have called me quiet frequently the past months.

KDE has built a reputation through the past years that have not finished drastically the past few months. Some of the lost credit will be soon recovered with today's release...but not all. We (I insist in including myself) will have to put an extra amount of energy for a longer time. Some people maybe won't want to try KDE 4.2. We should be prepare for that. Probably Linus won't. He has a new toy and it make sense to think he will give it a try for some time. That is a well known marketing law.

Once again, I totally assume and support the decision made to build a totally new system and I understand the decision taken about the KDE 4.0 release. I've been supporting it. But now that I have faced the consequence, my hope is that this kde 4.2 great release, all the happiness and the attention that the developers and the project itself deserve (and will have, I'm sure), will be followed by a general reflexion about how to deal in the future with decisions like this one. The KDE 4.0 release have shadows, do not have a single point of failure so it won't have a single solution. It also have shown many good points, of course. I just want to point out that despite all the coming success, experience tells me we were not totally right.

I hope that all the good energy we have around this (and future) release don't avoid the discussion to get to some conclusions future devs, deployers and user can learn from. If we do this, we probably will get even more credit in the long term than we will the following months. KDE 4.0 was necessary but has had consequences we must face and learn from.

Today is a good day. KDE 4.2 is out and I'm really happy since I've been waiting for it so bad ... Congratulations.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Gran Canaria Desktop Summit keep going

Last Monday 15th, Tuesday 16th and Wednesday 17th of December several GNOME and KDE boards members were in Gran Canaria to prepare the Gran Canaria Desktop Summit: GUADEC + Akademy 2009. This is not great news only from the organisation of the event point of view, but also because it is a working meeting between two relevant community projects with huge impact worldwide. We will have another meeting during FOSDEM. When I think about this, I realise that events like the GCDS'09 should happen once in a while between different free software projects in order to open new and different ways of collaboration. Many community have great relations with IT companies so improving relation between them will also improve the relation between these companies, which is something positive.

We are used to collaboration between developers but this event can be seen as the first big step toward a more global relation between projects. A new step forward in the software libre path to world domination :)

Just stop and think about the companies involved in GNOME and KDE, the technologies used, the number of users, not just right now but also during the following years, that will be affected or influenced by discussions and decisions taken during that week in Gran Canaria, it is amazing, isn't it?

This event can be a good chance for distros to really raise their voice and discuss with both projects about a variety of hot stuff that affect them. Desktop developers need to hear the opinions from the people that deploy and give support to companies and users. The opposite is also a must. But also it is a chance for them to talk to each other and join efforts or simply discuss about whatever they want to. Translators, artists, usability experts, app developers, etc. will have their space too. Opening new collaboration links with the other desktop project and with distros, IT companies, etc. can also be done during the event.

It looks like some nice cross-project discussions will take place, in addition of what GUADEC and Akademy already are. But, if the people that comes to Gran Canaria wants to, the event can be a lot more. Of course that means to work in advance and to make an additional effort during those days in July, but maybe it is worth it. This is a big opportunity, that's for sure. I feel both boards perfectly understand this. The local team definitely do. But we are only a small part. You, reader, should be the front man.

We understand that, for many developers, coming to Gran Canaria in July is an unfordable effort because of economic reasons. We are looking for cheap places to stay or eat and, of course, both projects will sponsor trips and hotels like they've done in the past. For those who have family, let me tell you that we are organising a parallel track so they can come and enjoy while daddy or mum, boyfriend or girlfriend, is attending to the event. This has been a demand from many of you and we are taking care of it. Also those who are vegetarians will have special menus.

If you don't like nice weather and the beach... well, probably you will suffer a little, but hey, you still can sit and watch your friends' white bodies and laugh at them while having a beer and doing some hacking... Is up to you.

Remember to buy tickets as soon as possible. By the way, we have a twitter account: http://twitter.com/gcds_2009

Friday, January 16, 2009

GCDS'09 news

Both boards (GNOME and KDE) along with the local team keep working on the organization of the Gran Canaria Desktop Summit:GUADEC + Akademy 2009. After the visit of representatives from both staffs to Gran Canaria, last december, we will celebrate another meeting during FOSDEM. In a few weeks an open mailing list and a community tool (a wiki or something like that) will be configurated so people can help us to make something special out of this event.

The local team has a strong recommendation: buy the tickets as soon as possible. A parallel program for families will be offered so don't be afraid of bringing them with you (little kids included).

Stay tuned for news and recommendations through the website of the event or by reading the twitter account we have for minor announces: gcds_2009.

Please, spread this recommendation.