10 Years in KDE – A Retrospective

(or: “Accidental Autobiography”)

Can you believe how time flies? Today, ten years ago my first ever KDE patch was merged. A little while later I was granted KDE developer rights with write access to all of KDE’s git repositories. This power was somewhat frightening, after having submitted not even a hand full of patches at that time, and it actually took many years for the thrill of hitting Return on a “git push” to abate. Let me take this decennial as an opportunity to tell you stories from back in the days™ and how I ended up where I did, where I surely would not be without KDE!

A box cake with blue icing, in its tin, "20 years of KDE" written on it
Let’s have some cake, too!

I actually started writing on this blog post last December, to have plenty of time for collecting trivia and ideas, never before seen prototype screenshots, and more. I surely wouldn’t have thought this to turn into half an autobiography. Mind that I’ll try my best to verify the statements that follow but they can still be inaccurate or skewed from being just memories. Now grab a cup of your favorite beverage, sit back, and join me on this trip down memory lane.

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Virtual Plasma Sprint 2020

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.

Plasma logo, at sign, house icon, in front of the colorful Plasma 5.19 wallpaper (hexagonal patterns with green, orange, black)
Plasma @ Home

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.

Shaping the Future of KDE Frameworks

(or: “KDE Frameworks 6 Planning Sprint in Berlin”)

Only two weeks after my previous Berlin visit I came back for the KDE Frameworks 6 planning sprint, kindly hosted by MBition in their posh offices near Spree river and Landwehrkanal.

A whiteboard with a more than 50 sticky notes, mostly orange, some blue, with various KDE Frameworks written on them
Three days’ worth of discussions in a nutshell

Already during this year’s Akademy we started discussing our strategies for a Qt 6 transition and created a giant work board of tasks for our next major release of Frameworks. Overall our goal is to keep API breakages to a minimum while still cleaning up some cruft that might have built up over the years. We kicked off the sprint Friday morning with discussions mostly around policies and guidelines.

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Akademy 2019 in Milan

Last month I attended KDE’s annual gathering Akademy, which took place at the University of Bicocca in Milan, Italy. Never before had I been to an Akademy where I was interested in so many workshops and discussions that I hardly wrote any actual code.

It’s important to stay healthy during a conference – a bunch of KDE developers taking a swim in Lake Como
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Privacy Sprint in Leipzig

Fernsprechamt
Entrance to the sprint location

Our three main goals for the general direction we want to take KDE in the next couple of years are: Top-notch Usability and Productivity for Basic Software, Streamlined Onboarding of New Contributors, as well as Privacy Software. The first sprint dedicated to one of our goals, Privacy Software, took place in March in the City of Leipzig. It took place in the former “Fernsprechamt” (telephone exchange), quite a fitting location when it comes to privacy, isn’t it?

Microphone Indicator

One of the features I worked on was a microphone tray icon indicating when the microphone is in use with an easy way to mute/unmute it by middle clicking as well as change the recording volume using the mouse wheel, just like you can with the volume icon.

Microphone indicator tooltip, "Microphone: Chrome input is using the microphone"
Microphone indicator showing that Chrome is recording
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I was at Akademy 2018!

It was a very productive week of intense discussion and hacking. This year it was hosted by the Technical University of the beautiful City of Vienna.

View from university roof terrace to Peterskirche

After my arrival at the airport on Friday I attended the welcoming event on the top floor at the university, with beautiful city scenery in the background. It was a great opportunity to meet new faces, of which there were many at this year’s Akademy; some of them have been valuable members of the community for years with nobody having them actually seen in person, up until now.

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