Contributing is more than just code

When thinking about how to contribute to KDE, many people probably still think that you have to write actual code. While it’s true that C++ and QML is at the heart of our applications, it’s just one puzzle piece of many that make up a successful product. Besides donating money to KDE or developers like me individually, there’s much more you can do to support us: promo work, drawing icons, brainstorming ideas, writing documentation, triaging bug reports or writing new ones, or in this case sending the relevant piece of hardware to a developer. Every single contribution counts!

Dolphin Places sidebar listing various drives, among them a "CD-ROM" in the "Removable Devices" section
It’s been at least ten years since I last used an optical drive

A key ingredient to KDE’s cross-platform story is Solid, our device integration framework. It lets applications enumerate devices, such as hard drive partitions, USB thumb drives, but also batteries and peripherals, in a platform-independent way. When it comes to hardware, sometimes emulating its behavior is tough and even a virtual machine might not behave exactly the same as the real thing. Here’s the story of how the donation of a portable DVD drive let me unlock a massive performance boost.

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Plasma 5: The Early Years

With KDE’s 6th Mega Release finally out the door, let’s reflect on the outgoing Plasma 5 that has served us well over the years. Can you believe it has been almost ten years since Plasma 5.0 was released? Join me on a trip down memory lane and let me tell you how it all began. This coincidentally continues pretty much where my previous retrospective blog post concluded.

Plasma 5.1 desktop with pastel colored diamond pattern as wallpaper, white panel at the top, kickoff menu open with various apps in it, and fuzzy lcock widget “quarter past twelve” visible in the background
The earliest clean full-desktop Plasma 5 screenshot I could find in my archives, dated December 2014
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KDE Release Party in Nürnberg

Last night SUSE invited to their new Nürnberg offices at the Franken Campus in the city’s south for a KDE MegaRelease 6 release party. There were around 25 people from KDE, SUSE, and owncloud, with a good portion of non-contributors meeting some of the people behind their favorite desktop environment and suite of applications in-person for the first time.

ThinkPad 600E with a Pentium 2 processor running an old version of SUSE Linux with KDE 1.1
Live demo of the latest and greatest KDE 1.1 on a ThinkPad 600E
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Qt Wayland, Supercharged

One of the key components to using a Plasma Wayland session is obviously the Qt Wayland Client module for running Qt applications in a Wayland environment. While it has been successfully deployed to millions of devices over the years, there’s still a few areas that feel like they haven’t been touched much since its inception as part of the Qt Lighthouse project, what turned into QPA, the Qt Platform Abstraction.

Message dialog popup, asking for confirmation “The document ‘Untitled’ has been modified. Do you want to save your changes or discard them?” with actions “Save”, “Discard”, “Cancel”
WIP: Qt Wayland client-side decoration with a proper drop shadow and all
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On the Road to Plasma 6, Vol. 5

The new year has just begun and we have six weeks left before the final release! The most noticeable change since my last post is obviously that we have decided on the wallpaper to be used in Plasma 6.0! But of course there’s more going on under the hood than just that.

Plasma 6 desktop with custom panel at the top, bottom right corner reads “KDE Plasma 6.1 Dev, visit bugs.kde.or to report issues“. New wallpaper with orange/purple colors, sun, birds, clouds in background, and a tree at the edge of a sloped hill
My desktop isn’t usually that tidy

I actually spent most of my time in Qt Wayland rather than KDE code lately but more on that in an upcoming blog post once all my changes have been integrated. Nevertheless, there are still plenty of Wayland-related and other improvements on the Plasma, Frameworks, and KDE Gear side to talk about here.

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Qt Contributor’s Summit 2023

Earlier this month I traveled to winterly Berlin for the Qt Contributor’s Summit. After having contributed many patches to Qt in the past months in order to make the upcoming Plasma 6 really shine I decided to attend for the first time this year to meet some more of the faces behind our beloved UI toolkit.

A crowd of people sitting in a conference room, looking at the speaker, slides on projector read “Welcome to Qt Contributors Summit 2023”
Welcome to Qt Contributor’s Summit 2023

The event took place over the course of two days adjacent to Qt World Summit at Estrel Hotel in Neukölln – a massive hotel, congress, and entertainment complex, and actually the largest in Europe. It literally took me longer to walk from its main entrance to the venue than getting from Sonnenallee S-Bahn station to the entrance.

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Plasma Browser Integration 1.9

I’m pleased to announce the immediate availability of Plasma Browser Integration version 1.9 on the Chrome Web Store. This is a maintenance release shipping a couple of important changes as well as the usual translation updates. The extension now ships 46 different localizations and will of course continue working just fine under the upcoming Plasma 6!

Dark blue space background with stars, a cute dragon wearing a red bandana with a "K" on it, sitting ontop of the Earth which has a blue network cable plugged in whose lose end is squiggling around the KDE Plasma logo
Konqi surfing the world wide web

Plasma Browser Integration bridges the gap between your browser and the Plasma desktop. It lets you share links, find browser tabs and visited websites in KRunner, monitor download progress in the notification center, and control music and video playback anytime from within Plasma, or even from your phone using KDE Connect!

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Freezing in Style

One of the the less apparent omissions in Plasma’s Wayland session compared to X was the lack of a prompt for terminating an unresponsive app. Of course, you should never see one because any decent app will just crash and quit rather than get stuck. Nevertheless, over the course of three evenings I spent way too much time making the “KWin Killer Helper” work on Wayland and while at it revamped its user interface entirely.

KWrite text editor window, desaturated, reading “Untitled – KWrite (Not Responding)” with a popup ontop of it reading “Untitled of KWrite is not responding. Do you want to terminate this application? Terminating this application will close all of its windows. Any unsaved data will be lost” with actions “Terminate KWrite” and “Wait Longer” (highlighted).
Isn’t it pretty? Of course this is staged using SIGSTOP – KWrite is awesome and never freezes like this!
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On the Road to Plasma 6, Vol. 4

Chill your Champagne bottles – it’s official: the KDE Plasma 6.0 + KDE Frameworks 6.0 + KDE Gear 24.02 Mega Release™ that will take KDE software to the next level is going to happen on 28th February 2024! Let’s have a look at what I’ve been up to in the past two months, again working mostly on either Qt itself or dealing with its behavior changes on the application side.

Empty KDE Plasma 6 desktop with a bluish-gray mountain wallpaper. A yellow sticky note on it reading “Hello!”. Bottom right caption reads “KDE Plasma 6.0 Dev. Visit to report issues”
It feels like every time I take a desktop screenshot for this type of post, the caption has changed slightly. :-)
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