It’s all about community

Everyone knows that the obvious difference between proprietary software and free software is the licensing model. What few people know is that free software’s biggest strength is the people that are drawn together to make up a community that is incredibly powerful. I saw this power first-hand in Mountain View, CA, USA at the KDE 4.0 release event. If you use Gnome, XFCE, or even Microsoft Windows, put your bias aside. This is about the community of free software, and to a lesser extent, some of the individuals that make free software what it is – not just KDE.

From across the globe they came; these developers and artists and marketing folks (how else do you get the word out about your product), end-users, and enthusiasts alike. Educators and academics, business executives, students, consultants, scientists, system administrators and more were there as well- for they are one-in-the-same, and all come with an equal voice. Many, having worked together for years, met for the first time face to face, often introducing themselves by IRC nick to one another. Never have I been in a room with such intellectual power all woven together by real humility and a common cause- a truly incredible group. Continue reading

Trolltech’s Qt goes GNU GPL 3

Haavard Nord CEO and co-founder of Trolltech, announced today at the KDE 4.0 Release Event that Trolltech’s cross-platform development framework Qt will be released as GNU GPL 3. While most of the 200 plus people at the event came to their feet with thunderous applause at the news, there where some noteable exceptions to this overwhelming approval including Patrick Volkerding, the maintainer of the Slackware Linux distribution. I asked Pat about his reaction to the announcement and he said essentially that GPL 3 imposes restrictions that he does not believe are in the spirit of Free Software. Read the full press release.

Rock your desktop

Between BoF sessions, Sebastian Kügler of KDE took some time to answer my questions about the recent release of KDE 4.0, and some of the complaints currently making the rounds. Sebas gave me an inside look at some of the things that make this release so much different than previous versions, explaining the containment model that is being used (amongst other things) and, consequently, how easy it is to customize the look and feel of my desktop. We’ll have an in-depth treatment of this topic in the coming weeks. When you try KDE 4, remember that the same functionality and customization is there – as is much more. Be patient – the learning curve is not all that steep – and you’ll soon find your self saying things like “wow!”, and “that’s cool!” For a live CD with KDE 4.0, check out the iso on the kubuntu site. While KDE 4 may have some rough edges, the environment is definitely ready to rock your desktop.

KDE 4.0 Launch Mania!

Today is the day – I have left Wisconsin (USA) to travel all the way across the country to Mountain View California (USA) to attend what is sure to be a blast, as the KDE Team and Google host the the launch of KDE 4.0 at the Googleplex and the Wild Palms Hotel. I leave from the Milwaukee International Airport (it’s really called “General Mitchell”) to the Denver International Airport , and then on to the airport in San Jose, California.

I am really looking forward to speaking with KDE developers to find out what gives with KDE 4.0. When I booted the live kubuntu KDE 4.0 CD to test KDE 4.0, I was a bit disappointed by the seeming lack of granular customization that has been inherent in past versions. There are two explanations for this apparent dearth of configurability:

  1. The significant changes in the presentation of the new environment create a learning curve. The customization capabilities are there, I just don’t know where to find them through the GUI.
  2. The previous flexibility is not yet a part of the 4.0 version but will be forth coming in future minor versions and builds.

I’m really not sure which is the case so I won’t speculate, although I am partial to the learning curve. It’s not very often that a major version release looses previous functionality. The guys at KDE have proven to be quite sharp, as evidenced by some of the answers that I was given on the first day in. Stay tuned…

KDE 4.0 – The Official Release

I’ve been using Kubuntu Linux on my laptop for about three months now. I figured that a really slick GUI and a good package manager would be nice. We’ve been using KDE, Gnome, and XFCE on several computers at home and in the office for a couple of years now, and I’ve always had an affinity for KDE – probably since 2.0 in the late nineties. Even 10 years ago KDE had the cleanest look of all of the available window managers. Graphics hardware has really made advances since then, particularly in the area of dedicated graphics processing. It’s about time that this technology is finally being widely adopted on pc hardware. Mainly driven by the gamer industry, we common folk benefit by cheaper and better GPU’s which allow us to have such video wonders as subpixel rendering and multi-layer compositing.

As I’ve said, the laptop has become one of the workhorses for a small IT and web consultancy. Graphics, the whole office suite, development tools, security tools, you get the idea. Mature programs like KMail and KOrganizer are nicely incorporated into Kontact to provide for email, calendaring, to-do, feed reader, etc. Word processing, spreadsheet, desktop publishing, and the like, are handled with KOffice, KDE’s very own comprehensive office suite. With loads of native tools for web development like Quanta Plus And with KOffice application KPlato, most of the software needs of our small business are met with core KDE applications.
Business aside, I had to install Compiz for all of the eye-candy, manipulations and 3-D rendering of the virtual desktop environment – besides, it adds many functional and useful enhancements that are a must for a system that gets 10 – 14 hours of use daily. I’ve not really had to jump through any hoops to get excellent results, but the integration between the K Desktop Environment version 3.3.8 and the effects rendering through Compiz has not been as tight as I would like. Continue reading