This weekend the Plasma team’s annual sprint took place. Due to the Corona pandemic we had to cancel our original week-long in-person meet up end of April in Augsburg, Germany hosted by our friends at TUXEDO and settled for an online sprint instead. In anticipation of more virtual sprints KDE has set up its own BigBlueButton instance – an open source web conferencing system for online learning.
While a four day online event can’t fully replace an entire week in a room with one of the most talented and dedicated people I know hacking and discussing from 9 till midnight, I was pleasantly surprised how productive it was. Huge thanks to BigBlueButton for creating a great tool to work with and to KDE Sysadmin, and Bhushan Shah in particular, for making this happen! Also check out this lovely unprepared group photo he took.
The meeting notes are being refined a little right now and should arrive on the plasma-devel mailing list in the coming days. This week’s experience made me confident that Akademy 2020 – also happening online – will work out great! Nevertheless I hope that eventually we’ll be able to catch up on our original sprint plans and meet in Augsburg again, physically.
For a change, let’s talk about a topic other than notifications. More than five years ago (can’t believe how time has passed) I took over maintainership of PowerDevil, Plasma’s power management service. While I did a lot of cleanup and feature work in the beginning, there haven’t been many major changes for some time.
One of the first features I added back then was smooth brightness changes. PowerDevil supports three ways of changing screen brightness: through XRandR configuration, through DDC (display data channel, for desktop monitors, experimental and not built by default), and by writing to sysfs (/sys/class/backlight or /sys/class/leds). Since the latter requires privileges and uses a helper binary through KDE’s KAuth framework, I only implemented the animation for the XRandR code path, which was executed in the same process.
Plasma 5.18 LTS Beta has been released, which brings many exciting new features to a computer near you, especially if you’re upgrading from our previous LTS release, Plasma 5.12. Of course for us developers this now means that a stable git branch has been created and we can work on new stuff on master to eventually become Plasma 5.19, scheduled for an early June 2020 release. This blog post is less about KDE code, though.
With the end of the year approaching in some parts of the world and already half a year since I announced the notifications rewrite, I thought I’d give you an update on some of the things I’ve worked on since. While Plasma 5.17 only saw minor changes, most notably automatic do not disturb mode when screens are mirrored during presentations, there are some very exciting new features that will arrive in the upcoming Plasma 5.18 LTS to be released early February next year.
Last month the Plasma team met in Spain for their annual developer sprint. It was kindly hosted by Slimbook in their offices on the outskirts of Valencia. This time it was co-located with the Usability sprint and it was great to meet so many new faces there.