The old one was a manual task of keeping the metadata up to date while this one scans builds from build.kde.org and Git in search of appstream appdata.xml files and converts them into the required info.
If you see mistakes, go and fix them by updating the appstream files. These files are also used in distro packages and appstores and new container packages so a fix there goes a long way. Appstream in KDE guide.
Icons come from Breeze. If you see an issue with an icon I’m sure the Breeze folks would be happy for a fix on the bug report.
Future work is to make the content more pretty and relevant. Adding in non app projects in some way. Adding in version numbers and release notes and other features supported by Appstream. Workboard at Phabricator.
But at last you can browse all of KDE’s applications. KDE needs to up its game for the support it provides for our applications, here’s to a great future for them 🙂
The Linux world has always worked with a develop and deploy model where software gets written by projects such as KDE and then distro projects pick that up, polish it and give it to the user. No other computer environment works like this and it goes against the fashion of DevOps concepts where the people who code are empowered to deploy to the end user going through QA as appropriate. We changed that with KDE neon where we brought the packaging into KDE making .deb packages. That integration allows for blockages and imperfections which get identified to be solved easily through the most efficient channels. Kipi Plugins is a good example of this, KDE dropped the ball here by stopping releases. Nobody noticed until as a packager I wondered where it had gone, realised it was no longer being released and, because I work directly in the project responsible, could easily fix that in the right place. With new containerised formats Linux is changing, and projects like KDE can now package software and send it direct to the user. I’ll discuss this more in a future blog post but for now lets look at Snaps where last week, for the first time, KDE Applications was released with 50-odd apps available directly for all to enjoy direct from the Snap Store.
Give it a Try
First you need to install snapd which comes as default with KDE neon and Ubuntu distros but others will probably need to enable it manually. See the Snap set up guide.
For Plasma Discover integration you should also install the Plasma Discover backend snap package, it is called ‘plasma-discover-backend-snap’ in Debian/Ubuntu/neon but the naming convention in your distro may vary.
You can now install Snap packages directly from the store which uses snap:// URLs to start Discover and install them. You can also install snaps from the command line.
If you look at the KDE page on the Snap Store you can see the 50+ packages we have available today. Most of the packages are fairly simple apps such as games and education apps, future work is to do many more KDE apps.
Snap Store? Channels? Who controls this?
Snaps follow a similar model to other large providers like Android, iPhone, Windows, Steam, etc with a centralised store, in this case run by our friends at Canonical.
There is a KDE publisher account on the Snap Store which is currently controlled by your friendly KDE neon team. Anyone can make their own publisher account, and there’s a nifty feature to mark it as a collaboration between several accounts. For example Kdenlive is made by the Kdenlive Jean-Baptiste but the KDE account also has access.
The Snap Store features channels intended for software in different stages of their development cycle, this mirrors quite closely what we do in KDE neon for our .deb archives. Most users will only care about the Stable channel offering thoroughly tested software.
There is also the Candidate channel for testing builds of released software. The Edge channel is for Git master builds same as Unstable in KDE neon and the Beta channel is for Git beta branch builds same as Beta edition in neon. By default Snap will only install stuff from Stable and you have to ask explicitly for other channels but this is a great way to be testing pre-release software.
When uploading to the Snap Store for the first time there is a manual review package by archive admins which is similar to uploading new stuff to Ubuntu or many other distros, you also need manual review when you first upload a Snap package which asks for special permissions such as talking to DBus. The reviewers are nice people inside Canonical who you can ping on the Snap forums if you need to.
You might notice the KDE publisher page on the Snap store is missing a load of icons and other met data such as screenshots. These should come from AppStream files but AppStream support is still working its way into the Store backend and build tool snapcraft so not all the icons are there yet. It seems we need to work out how to use a newer snapcraft on KDE neon servers to get all these magic features sorted.
Snapd runs on your system and takes care of downloading and installing the packages. It will update Snap packages automatically so you can be confident you’ve got the latest and greatest provided by the publisher.
How’s it Built?
Snap packages are built with a snapcraft.yaml file to define how and what needs to be built by a tool called snapcraft.
Here at KDE neon tower, we have a team of guinea pigs building our .deb packages. , We have repurposed the same guinea pigs to build these snap packages. , The build jobs get created on KDE neon Jenkins servers and when someone triggers them (any KDE dev has access), the build is made on the floating cloud of guinea pigs. If successful, it is uploaded to the Snap Store.
This is nice, but is still not as integrated as it should be. Newly released sources are built and uploaded to the Candidate channel on the Snap Store, which then needs manual review before moving to the Stable channel. Thist should get automated using openQA.
And there’s not really any need for any of it to reside on the KDE neon servers, everything should be even more tightly integrated with the rest of KDE and built as part of the new invent.kde.org CI system, and then uploaded from there. It shouldn’t be the responsibility of KDE neon team to make these, it should be done as part of the app development process. So jump on board and enter a new world for empowered, rapidly released software!
Kipi Plugins is a set of app plugins for manipulating images. They use libkipi which is released as part of KDE Applications. It used to get standalone releases and was then moved to be part of Digikam releases. Since Digikam 6 they have been deprecated by Digikam in favour of their new plugin framework DPlugins. While in KDE Frameworks the Purpose Framework is another newer project covering similar features.
However Kipi Plugins are still supported by KDE apps KPhotoAlbum, Gwenview, Spectacle so they shouldn’t disappear yet.
I’ve made a new release available for download now.
You should also add release data to your appstream files. See the docs for the full details. Not all the data will be very practical to add before the release time but it is useful to at least have a version number and maybe a release date added in.
The UK Open Source Awards will be a day of celebration of all things Free and open with software. Open Source is now essential in how the world works. It creates freedom (that’s the Free Software side), helps education (I only learnt how to program from reading source code to KDE apps), allows cooperation across industries, gives a competitive advantage, encourages sharing and reuse, improves security and builds community. So it’s worth a day of celebration and recognition.
This is the sixth UK Open Source Awards and it takes place in Edinburgh on Wednesday 12 June 2019. There will be talks, a panel, a keynote from Frank Karlitscheck and then the award ceremony.
Nominations are now open for the awards, please consider which people or organisations based in the UK deserve special recognition. The categories are:
A person who has helped improve the world through contributions to free and open source software
A university, college, school student or modern apprentice who has created beautiful and novel software as part of their course (dissertation, thesis etc) which is licensed as free and open source software and has curated participation in an open collaborative manner.
This award comes with a bursary of £1,500 which is to be spent on furthering the recipients education and contributions to open source for example buying a new laptop or expenses for attending conferences.
For an open source project which has successfully encouraged contributions from people in under-represented groups, or a university, organisation or business which has broken the mould in bringing minorities to participate in open source.
No deal Brexit will mean shutting off most of the supply capacity from the EU to Great Britain, as the government says this will be chaotic. Many of the effects are unknown but in the days and weeks that follow food supplies and medicine supplies will start to fail. The rules on moving money about and even making a phone call will be largely undefined. International travel will get unknown new bureaucracies. EU and WTO law means there also needs to be a hard border in Ireland again, restarting terrorist warfare. Inflation will kick in, unemployment will sky rocket and people will die.
Although the UK government has dropped the dangerous saying of “no deal is better than a bad deal” it is astonishing they were allowed to get away with saying that for so long without challenge. There are still many members of the UK government who are perfectly happy with a chaotic no deal Brexit and the Prime Minister, unwilling to change any tactics, is using more and more Populist language to say how everyone should support her and threaten the whole UK society in the greatest game of chicken since the cold war. It would be trivial to revoke the Article 50 process but unless that is chosen a no deal Brexit will happen.
The political process is broken and has been for many years on this topic, there is no campaign from the normal groups I would expect to have one that I can join. The SNP, Greens and Quakers are not doing what they would usually do and enabling their members to have a voice. Religions in general exist to look after their members in times of crisis but so far nobody in Quakers that I’ve spoken to has any interest in many any practical mitigation steps.
Most people in Britain still think it’ll never happen as the politicians will see sense and back down, but they are wrong because the politicians are not acting rationally they are acting very irrationally and all it takes for no deal Brexit to happen is for no other decision to be taken.
So I find myself waving an European flag in Edinburgh each evening for the People’s Vote campaign, a London based campaign with a load of problems but the only one going. I’ll go to London this weekend to take part in the giant protest there.
Most of the stack is part of Qt 5, so nothing to worry about, that’s the part that lets applications expose their UI over DBus for AT-SPI, so they work
nicely with assisitve tools (e.g. Orca). In accessibility language, the applications act as “servers” and the screen reader for example is a client.
This library is for writing clients, so applications that are assistive, such as screen readers. It currently has two users: KMag and Simon with Plasma also taking an interest. KMag can use it to follow the focus (e.g. when editing text, it can automatically magnify the part of the document where the cursor is. For Simon Listens, the use is to be able to let the user trigger menus and buttons by voice input.
KDE and open source in general has used IRC since the 90s but times change and these days people expect more than text with lots of internals exposed to the user. So KDE has set up a Matrix server which talks to other Matrix server and importantly also talks to IRC servers and their channels because some people will never change. The bridging to IRC isn’t perfect but it works much neater than on e.g. Telegram where the IRC user is one bot, here the IRC user is an individual user and you can set it up to use the same nickname you’ve been using since 1995. Unless you use square brackets in your nickname in which case I’ve no sympathy 🙂
But it still requires a bit of understanding and setup. For one thing you need an app to talk to it, and the more common apps seem to be Riot web and Riot Android. KDE has its own setup of Riot web called webchat.kde.org and you can get the Android client from F-Droid or Google Play. Once you make an account you also need to tick some boxes (including one saying you are over 16 which vexes somewhat but it doesn’t be beyond the ability of most 15 year old to work out how to work around it).
Channels are called rooms and you can then search for them on the kde.org server or on the matrix.org server. Or, once you work out the syntax, you can join channels on Freenode IRC or OFTC IRC. You can also bridge IRC channels to Matrix Rooms and make it mostly transparent which works.
There’s voice and video calling too using Jitsu and important features like emojis and stickerpacks, although the Konqi sticker pack is still to be added.
I had some faff getting my nick from Freenode recovered but managed that before long. Remember to set a nice pic so people can recognise you.
I’ve now stopped using my IRC app and don’t tend to look at Telegram unless someone pings me. It’s great that KDE now has modern and open communications. Thanks to the sysadmins and Matrix team and others who worked on this.
Next step: getting forums and mailing lists moving onto Discourse 🙂
Google+ does rather killoff the notion I had of Google as a highly efficient company who always produce top quality work. Even using the takeout website to download the content from Google+ I found a number of obvious bugs and poor features. But I did get my photos in the end so for old times sakes here’s a random selection.
A marketing campaign that failed to take off
Sprints in Munich thanks to the city council’s KDE deployment were always fun.
Launching KDE neon with some pics of my office and local castle.
One day I took a trip with Nim to Wales and woke up in somewhere suspiciously like the Shire from Lord of the Rings
February means FOSDEM, the largest gathering of free software developers in the continent. I drove for two days down the winding roads and even onto a train and out again to take the bits needed to run the stall there. Fortunately my canoeing friend Poppy was there for car karaoke and top Plasma dev David got picked up along the way to give us emotional support watching Black Mirror Bandersnatch with its multiple endings.
The beer flowed freely at Delerium but disaster(!) the venue for Saturday did not exist! So I did some hasty scouting to find a new one before returning for more beer.
Rather than place us next to Gnome the organisers put us next to our bestie friends Nextcloud which was nice and after some setup the people came and kept on coming. Saturday was non stop on the stall but fortunately we had a good number of volunteers to talk to our fans and future fans.
Come Home to KDE in 2019 was the theme. You’ve been distro hopping. Maybe bought a macbook because you got bored of the faff with Linux. But now it’s time to re-evaluate. KDE Plasma is lightweight, full features, simple and beautiful. Our applications are world class. Our integration with mobile via KDE Connect is unique and life changing.
I didn’t go to many talks because I was mostly stuck on the stall but an interesting new spelling library nuspell looks like something we should add into our frameworks, and Tor is helping people evade governments and aiding the selling of the odd recreational drug too.
At 08:30 not many helpers or punters about but the canoeists got the show going.
In full flow on the Saturday Wolthera does a live drawing show of Krita while Boud is on hand for queries and selfies.
The Saturday meal after a quick change of venue was a success where we were joined by our friends Nextcloud and the Lawyers of Freedom.
Staying until the following day turns out to allow a good Sunday evening to actually chat and discuss the merits of KDE, the universe and everything. With waffles.
This week I gave KDE Frameworks a web page after only 4 years of us trying to promote it as the best thing ever since cabogganing without one. I also updated the theme on the KDE Applications 18.12 announcement to this millennium and even made the images in it have a fancy popup effect using the latest in JQuery Bootstrap CSS. But my proudest contribution is making the screenshot for the new release of Konsole showing how it can now display all the cat emojis plus one for a poodle.
So far no comments asking why I named my computer thus.
It’s not uncommon to come across some dusty corner of KDE which hasn’t been touched in ages and has only half implemented features. One of the joys of KDE is being able to plunge in and fix any such problem areas. But it’s quite a surprise when a high profile area of KDE ends up unmaintained. www.kde.org is one such area and it was getting embarrassing. February 2016 we had a sprint where a new theme was rolled out on the main pages making the website look fresh and act responsively on mobiles but since then, for various failures of management, nothing has happened. So while the neon build servers were down for shuffling to a new machine I looked into why Plasma release announcements were updated but not Frameworks or Applications announcments. I’d automated Plasma announcements a while ago but it turns out the other announcements are still done manually, so I updated those and poked the people involved. Then of course I got stuck looking at all the other pages which hadn’t been ported to the new theme. On review there were not actually too many of them, if you ignore the announcements, the website is not very large.
Many of the pages could be just forwarded to more recent equivalents such as getting the history page (last update in 2003) to point to timeline.kde.org or the presentation slides page (last update for KDE 4 release) to point to a more up to date wiki page.
Others are worth reviving such as KDE screenshots page, press contacts, support page. The contents could still do with some pondering on what is useful but while they exist we shouldn’t pretend they don’t so I updated those and added back links to them.
While many of these pages are hard to find or not linked at all from www.kde.org they are still the top hits in Google when you search for “KDE presentation” or “kde history” or “kde support” so it is worth not looking like we are a dead project.
There were also obvious bugs that needed fixed for example the cookie-opt-out banner didn’t let you opt out, the font didn’t get loaded, the favicon was inconsistent.
All of these are easy enough fixes but the technical barrier is too high to get it done easily (you need special permission to have access to www.kde.org reasonably enough) and the social barrier is far too high (you will get complaints when changing something high profile like this, far easier to just let it rot). I’m not sure how to solve this but KDE should work out a way to allow project maintenance tasks like this be more open.
Anyway yay, www.kde.org is now new theme everywhere (except old announcements) and pages have up to date content.
There is a TODO item to track website improvements if you’re interested in helping, although it missed the main one which is the stalled port to WordPress, again a place it just needs someone to plunge in and do the work. It’s satisfying because it’s a high profile improvement but alas it highlights some failings in a mature community project like ours.
In the Configure Feed menu at the top you can select to read blogs in different languages. By default it shows only blogs in English, as well as Dot News, Project News and any User blogs who have asked to be added (only two are listed in our config). You can also show blogs in Chinese (also only 2 listed), Italian (none listed), Polish (one), Portugese (two), Spanish (four but kdeblog by Jose is especially prolific) or French (none). Work to be done includes working out how to make this apply to the RSS feed.
Some years ago I added an embedded Twitter feed to the side of Planet KDE. This replaced the earlier feed manually curated feeds from identi.ca and twitter which people added but had since died out (in the case of identi.ca) and been blocked (in the case of Twitter). That embedded Twitter feed used the #KDE tag and while there was the odd off topic or abusive post for the most part it was an interesting way to browse what the people of the internet were saying about us. However Twitter shut that off a few months ago which you could well argue is what happens with closed proprietary services.
We do now have a Mastodon account but my limited knowledge and web searching on the subject doesn’t give a way to embed a hashtag feed and the critical mass doesn’t seem to be there yet, and maybe it never will due to the federated-with-permissions model just creating more silos.
So now I’ve added a manually curated Twitter feed back to Planet KDE with KDE people and projects. This may not give us an insight into what the wider internet community is thinking but it might be an easy way to engage more about KDE people and projects as a community. Or it might not, I haven’t decided yet and I’m happy to take feedback on whether it should stay.
In the mean time ping me to be added to the list or subscribe a bug on bugs.kde.org to request you or someone you know or or your project be added (or removed). Also volunteers wanted to help curate the feed, ping me to help out.
By a strange coincidence the news broke this morning that RHEL is deprecating KDE. The real surprise here is that RHEL supported KDE all. Back in the 90s they were entirely against KDE and put lots of effort into our friendly rivals Gnome. It made some sense since at the time Qt was under a not-quite-free licence and there’s no reason why a company would want to support another company’s lock in as well as shipping incompatible licences. By the time Qt become fully free they were firmly behind Gnome. Meanwhile Rex and a team of hard working volunteers packaged it anyway and gained many users. When Red Hat was turned into the all open Fedora and the closed RHEL, Fedora was able to embrace KDE as it should but at some point the Fedora Next initiative again put KDE software in second place. Meanwhile RHEL did use Plasma 4 and hired a number of developers to help us in our time of need which was fabulous but all except one have left some time ago and nobody expected it to continue for long.
So the deprecation is not really new or news and being picked up by the news is poor timing for Red Hat, it’s unclear if they want some distraction from the IBM news or just The Register playing around. The community has always been much better at supporting out software for their users, maybe now the community run EPEL archive can include modern Plasma 5 instead of being stuck on the much poorer previous release.
Plasma 5 is now lightweight and feature full. We get new users and people rediscovering us every day who report it as the most usable and pleasant way to run their day. From my recent trip in Barcelona I can see how a range of different users from university to schools to government consider Plasma 5 the best way to support a large user base. We now ship on high end devices such as the KDE Slimbook down to the low spec value device of Pinebook. Our software leads the field in many areas such as video editor Kdenlive, or painting app Krita or educational suite GCompris. Our range of projects is wider than ever before with textbook project WikiToLearn allowing new ways to learn and we ship our own software through KDE Windows, Flatpak builds and KDE neon with Debs, Snaps and Docker images.
It is a pity that RHEL users won’t be there to enjoy it by default. But, then again, they never really were. KDE is collaborative, open, privacy aware and with a vast scope of interesting projects after 22 years we continue to push the boundaries of what is possible and fun.
Every year we take a group photo at Akademy and then me or one of the Kennies manually marks up the faces so people can tag them and we can know who we all are and build community. This is quite old school effort so this year I followed a mangazine tutorial and made Akademy Group Photo Automator to do it. This uses an AI library called face_recognition to do the hard work and Docker to manage the hard work and spits out the necessary HTML. It was a quick attempt and I’m not sure it did much good in the end alas. The group photos tend to be quite disorganised and whoever takes it upon themselves to direct it each year makes basic mistakes like putting everyone on a flat stage or making everyone wave their hands about which means many of the faces are half covered and not recognised. And it seems like the library is not a fan of glasses. It also outputs rect coordinates rather than circle ones which ment Kenny had to do many adjustments. Still it’s an interesting quick dive into a new area for me and maybe next year I’ll get it smoother.
The work to rebase KDE neon on Bionic is progressing. Apologies if it feels slow but it’s keeping our infrastructure busy while continuing with the xenial builds alongside. I’ve just managed to get the package version check to turn green which means all the packages are now built. The installable ISOs are also green on our builders, but we’re keeping them hidden until we’ve ironed out the bugs. The two installers we use have some quirks and hacks that need tidied up but the automated install tests are also turning green. Some of you have already found our preliminary instructions for doing the upgrade and it seems to be working for everyone who has tried it, but “it seems to be working” is not what we want, “it is working” is what we want and while the git-unstable edition is green in the tests the user edition is not so some more tidying up to be done there. We’ll announce the installable ISOs and upgrade more formally for beta testing once the tests are green and turn on the full upgrade shortly after. Hasta pronto.