Get your free on!

As I already mentioned before I did a session on free culture at FOSSCamp and I promised to write a little more about it. So here we go πŸ™‚

Nikolaj did a great talk at a few events about Amarok 2 and how it lives at the crossroad of free software and free culture. (Check out the video if you want to see his talk. It’s worth it!)
The main point is that the free software movement and free culture movement have very similar goals and ideas that drive them. But they also have similar problems. Both of them want to create something that makes a difference in one way or another and do not want to restrict the user’s freedom. Unfortunately both of them also are not as widespread and popular as they could be. And one of the reasons for that is that a lot of people don’t know (enough) about the great stuff that is out there. (Although it is of course improving.) And here is where the magic is: Collaboration and integration! It will eventually benefit both parties.

Take for example Amarok 2. We have integration for Jamendo and Magnatune (and others). There is a lot of really good music at both of them but they lack the exposure to the user. By integrating them into Amarok we give many people access to both services that would have never had a look at them otherwise. Of course this is also a great thing for Amarok because we have a music store integrated that sells (and a service that lets you download for free ) DRM free music, one of our developers gets paid for work he loves and we get some money for every album that gets sold through Amarok so we can pay for team members to go to conferences and other events. The other big benefit we get from this is example data. New users of Amarok have a whole lot of music at hand without having to think about it. With the infrastructure that Nikolaj worked on (service framework and scripted services) it is as easy as never before for people to get their own or other’s services integrated into Amarok and therefor accessible by a large group of our users. We also hope that this attracts new developers and that really awesome stuff will come out of it.


(free hugs [86/365] Originally uploaded by moonwire.)

But Amarok is surely not the only application that could benefit from a collaboration with free culture. And this is why we did the brainstorming session at FOSSCamp. Some of the ideas we came up with were:

  • Integration of the Creative Commons photo search at Flickr in digiKam
  • Integration of Project Gutenberg in Okular
  • Integration of the Creative Commons music search in Amarok
  • Integration of YouTube/$videoservice in DragonPlayer/Kaffeine

I am perfectly aware that not all of these are feasible for different reasons or might already be worked on. What I want however is developers to think about ways their application could benefit from free culture. A good starting point is search.creativecommons.org.

So what ideas can you come up with? Which project could benefit? And in which way?

rocking hard and swimming upstream

Saturday was the second and last un-conference day at FOSSCamp. There were a lot of interesting sessions, just like the day before.

I attended a few sessions:

  • cross desktop (session 3): Who needs to do what to get the stuff done we talked about in the first two sessions?
  • PackageKit: Introduction and discussion on how to solve some of the remaining issues it has.
  • cross distro: a follow up on some of the discussions on the distro mailinglist at freedesktop.org and the ##distros IRC channel – conclusion: A page/service which lists links to bugtrackers, patches, packages and so on for all distributions would be awesome.
  • OpenSSL: How to deal with it in the near future?
  • upstream bug collaboration: What do upstream projects need? How do they use Launchpad? How can triaging bugs for their projects in Launchpad be made more attractive to them? How can upstream collaboration be improved in general?
  • Ubuntu QA: How can the service be improved to be more valuable for Ubuntu developers and upstream? A weather report page for every package is planned which lists bugs, patches, build status and so on.

At the end of the day we went for some sightseeing again and checked out a few local pubs and restaurants. Prague thanked us with heavy rain and excellent food.
We checked out a karaoke bar that we came across the day before but a private room was way too expensive for only the 3 of us that were left at that point. So no videos of Jonathan, Jos and me doing karaoke this time πŸ™ Let’s see what we can do at Linuxtag πŸ˜‰ The last cafe we went to was the local Hard Rock Cafe including Absinthe, Blue Lagoon, White Russian and a fancy old video recording of a concert with various famous musicians done as a circus show. Rock on! πŸ˜‰

Jonathan and Jos Jonathan and Lydia

The interesting point that came up again and again during the day is how alien the concept of upstream and downstream is to a lot of people. There are a lot of bugreports where the user is not sure if the problem is specific to a certain distro’s package or if it a general problem with the program he is using. He will have to decide at some point where to file the bug and will make the wrong decision in a fair number of cases, which is fine and human. Just as common though are wishlist reports in which the reporter assumes that his distro is developing all the features of the software he is using. A distro is not seen as a product that mainly bundles applications and tweaks them to be sutible for a certain target group and purpose.
So what is my point? Bug triagers and developers should be very careful when closing a bugreport with a comment like “Needs to be implemented upstream.”, simply because the bug reporter is possibly not aware of the whole concept. A sentence or two to clarify might be helpful. (Yes I am guilty of this one as well sometimes when triaging bugs unfortunately.)
The other question is if this is generally a bad thing. Should we expect a user to know about things like upstream and downstream? I certainly doubt that. Why would he care? On the other hand it creates unneeded work and frustration on both sides. Maybe Launchpad needs to show a note before filing a wishlist bug asking if it is really a wish for Ubuntu or if it might be better filed in the upstream bugtracker along with a link to it.
And what would really be interesting for me to know is: Does this only happen for Launchpad/Ubuntu due to its target group? Or is it seen across distros and I just don’t recognise it since I very rarely or even never check bugs there? I would expect Gentoo for example to be different just for the fact that its whole design requires you to have at least a certain understanding of it all. But what about OpenSuse, Fedora, Mandriva and so on? Please leave a comment about your experience.

Sunday was planned to be used for sightseeing but apparently Prague didn’t want us to leave the hotel for that. Heavy rain again πŸ™ (Maybe Prague only wanted us to be productive. If so, it worked. Everyone was busy hacking in the lounge ;-)) When Celeste arrived we went to get something to eat and then I took a taxi to the airport to catch my plane. Right now I am sitting in the train back to Karlsruhe and miss everyone.

To make a long story short: Prague (except for the rain) and the hotel were awesome, the sessions were very productive and I hope to see a lot of the great ideas that were talked about realised and am sure the feedback everyone got was helpful. I had a great time and miss them all already. *sob*

flying high up there

Since a lot of people asked I am going to blog a little bit about FOSSCamp and what we did so far here in Prague.

First of all: It is awesome. The hotel is great, food tastes good and there are a lot of free software people here who are fun to hang out with, including, but not limited to some of my favorite KDE hackers πŸ˜‰

above Prague

Yesterday I took the train to Stuttgart and from there a small plane to Prague. Unfortunately my flight was delayed by over one hour due to bad weather and I was slightly concerned I am going to miss Nicolas who I was supposed to meet at the airport in Prague to share a taxi to the hotel. (My flight was supposed to arrive 30 minutes before his.) So when we finally landed I hurried to get my luggage just to find out that he was waiting there for his luggage and that his flight had been delayed as well. \o/ After checking in at the hotel I went to have a drink at the hotel bar with Jonathan, Jos and Inge.

This morning the actual un-conference started with a short introduction by Jono Bacon and Mark Shuttleworth, followed by deciding on the conference schedule for the day and having photos taken for a wall with pictures of everyone and a short introduction. One thing you were supposed to answer was: “3 things you don’t know about me.” It was quite interesting to read that. For example there is a KDE hacker (whose identity I will not disclose for reasons of confidentiality and his safety) with a certain interest in the Powerpuff Girls πŸ˜›

lots of cable ;-)

The sessions I attended today were:

  • KDE: We discussed release schedules of KDE and different distros.
  • Xesam/Strigi: What is it? How does it work and how can it be integrated into various programs?
  • 2 sessions on KDE/Gnome collaboration: We discussed the why, what and how of sharing of settings, caches, indexes, passwords, bookmarks and so on between the desktops. This was mainly focussed on large appliances where redundancy in these things is often not wanted for reasons like HD space.
  • Ubuntu Brainstorm: The main points that were discussed here was how to improve Ubuntu Brainstorm by getting Ubuntu and upstream developers involved.
  • Free Culture: This one was proposed by me and we discussed how different free software applications can work together with people making free culture to the benefit of both since there is huge potential for collaboration. I will write a separate post about that later.

Then the conference program for today was finished and we went into town for food and drinks and some sightseeing. Back at the hotel we sat down for another short talk with Mark on release cycles and some chilling and hacking.

Let’s see what the second conference day’s schedule will bring up πŸ™‚

GSoC: biased dynamic playlists in Amarok 2 = love

I think it is time to introduce my SoC student to Planet KDE πŸ˜‰
I blogged about dynamic playlists some time ago. Thanks to Google Summer of Code Daniel is going to do some magic work on dynamic playlists in Amarok 2 this summer and make them even more nifty. But let’s hear what he has to say:

My name is Daniel Jones. I study math and computer science at Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA. This summer I will be working on expanding the idea of dynamic playlists in Amarok to allow any number or weights or biases to be applied. This will allow you to set up a random playlist that prefers tracks you haven’t heard in a while, or prefers certain bands or genres. For parties you can set up more complicated biases to get exactly the right mix of fast songs, slow songs, novelty rap, obnoxious dance remixes, and, just to avoid offending him, a couple of tracks from your coworkers awful death metal band.

And from his proposal:

An example of this would be the condition the track is longer than 3 minutes with a weight of 0.6. Such a constraint would enforce that there is a 0.6 (60%) probability that a given track in the list is longer that 3 minutes.

As far as we know Amarok 2 will be the first player with a feature like this. Rock Daniel!

Everyone please welcome Daniel to our community. I want to see KDE-hugs! πŸ™‚

I am also very happy about Moncef, Tobias, Nicholas and Teo who applied for SoC, could not be chosen due to the limited number of slots and who want to work on their projects as part of Season of KDE now. You guys rock! But more about that later.

Gimme your events!

A few of you might have noticed it already. We now have events served by eventy on the dot thanks to some scripting by danimo \o/

We revived events.kde.org a little during the last few days and started by bringing the calendar back to life (which was 2 years out of date πŸ™ ) and integrating it into the dot. This calendar should list all events where KDE will be present be it with a booth, talk or something else.

We already added a few events but of course we cannot know about them all. So please ping me, Claudia or Danimo with name, date, a short description and a link for the KDE related events you will be at.

If you think you should have edit rights on this calendar please ping me as well and I can give them to you.

Let’s make it easier for everyone who wants to get in touch with our community in real life.

And now all together: Thank you, danimo! πŸ˜‰

While we are on the topic of events:
I will be having a busy May. You can find me and other gearheads at FOSSCamp, Ladyfest, OpenSourceExpo and Linuxtag (I’ll be giving talks at some of them). If you are at one of these events say hello and we can have a cup of coffee.

(hug the bugs) * 2


Originally uploaded by Hamed Saber.


Harald, I and a few others killed hugged a lot of Amarok bugs in Kubuntu today, in preperation for Hardy Heron, while having a lot of fun discussing the bugs on IRC, Mumble and Skype. Thanks everyone for participating.

And since this was so much fun we will be doing the same for bugs.kde.org on Saturday.
You can help us find the bugs in Bugzilla that need to be fixed before we can release Amarok 1.4.9. This will be the next stable release, so only bugfixes and no new features will be added.

Join us on Saturday (March 15th) in #amarok.meeting on freenode. We will be there to discuss and give free hugs πŸ˜‰

Kubuntu-de interview with Tobias Kânig

Tobias already talked about it in his last blog entry. Now it is done.
After their interview with Harald Sitter the kubuntu-de folks continue their series of great interviews.

Enjoy the German or English version of the interview.

Damn I’d love to have one of these Konquis. Eckhart made me jealous at Cebit already πŸ˜‰

impressions from Cebit

I am back at home and have time and internet access again so I can finally blog about Cebit \o/ (Nothing beats coming home after a week with barely any internet access to a modem with an LED indicating no connection.)

We had a lot of fun at Cebit and it is always great to meet your favorite KDE people. But boy, the fairground is huge! And now you get to guess how much I saw of it during the week I have been there. πŸ˜‰ Not much, right. I guess about 200m in each direction from the KDE and Amarok booth and a trip to the Novell and Microsoft booth which was in another building quite far away. Yea that’s about all I have seen I think. But who cares. I had fun and was able to show Amarok and KDE to a lot of people. I stopped counting how many times I answered the question “When will Amarok 2 be released?”. I think we will have to release something soon πŸ˜‰

I was particularly impressed by a very clever girl (maybe 13 or 14 years old) who was at the Amarok booth asking questions. Nice to meet the next generation of geek girls.

It was a little sad to see how alien the concept of free software is to a lot of people at an event like this. (“And how do you make money with it?”). Well now they know what it is and why we do it. In the end I think it was a great success though since we were able to show a lot of visitors KDE 4 and Amarok 1.4 and 2, introduce new contributors to the team and got a few offerings that look very promising. Be prepared for some nifty new things in and around Amarok (assuming it all works out).

And of course some photos:

When we arrived and gave back our rented car my guys forced me to take a picture of another car at the car rental. Ladies and gentlemen, I present you the uber geeky car:
liscence plate

Eckhart, me and Franz at one of the booth parties:
Eckhart, Lydia and Franz at a booth party

Harald and me at the Novell and Microsoft party (with free hugs *g*):
Harald and Lydia free hugs

btw: Having internet access at the Amarok booth next time would rock πŸ˜‰ Showing Amarok without it is a pain sometimes and takes away a lot of the wow effect.

distro mailinglist at freedesktop.org and Cebit

A few weeks back I requested a mailinglist at freedesktop.org for cross distro collaboration. (The original purpose was having a list to discuss with other distros how they handle the whole ~/.kde vs. ~/.kde4 thing.) Unfortunately I never got a response and just stumbled upon the now created list at http://lists.freedesktop.org by chance.
It didn´t really get any promo so not a lot of distro people are subscribed yet. Please change that now and make good use of the list!

If you are involved in a distro please ask the appropriate people to subscribe.
http://lists.freedesktop.org/mailman/listinfo/distributions

(@ fd.o people: I am still interested in helping to take care of the list if needed as I think it is important.)

Next week is Cebit time. Say hello to your favorite Amarok and KDE people at their booths or check out some of the talks πŸ™‚

what I learned at FOSDEM

After getting back from FOSDEM and sleeping for 10 hours I am finally back in the land of the living πŸ˜‰

FOSDEM was great, I had a lot of fun and was able to connect some more IRC nicks to their real life faces.

So what did I learn this weekend?

  1. When traveling with Nikolaj always be prepared for something involving a bomb.
  2. Mike looks/is awesome.
  3. There was an awful lot of ambulances in Brussels compared to every other city I have ever been to.
  4. Kriek tastes delicious.
  5. Statistics on KDE commits can tell you a lot about its community. Thanks to Paul for showing me some of his work. It was insightful and will be very useful for me for Amarok.
  6. I need to get started again on packaging for Kubuntu.
  7. KDE people rock! (Ok right. I knew that one long before ;-))

Thanks to the KDE people for letting Amarok have a good share of the booth. We love you πŸ™‚
Sorry I was not able to say goodbye to everyone yesterday. Big KDE-hug to all of you.

PS: Everyone who took pictures please share.