Depending on your skills and talents, one or both of these events may be right for you. If you’re neither a programmer nor teacher, but you’re not exactly new to FOSS, I’ve got another idea for you to contribute to (keep reading!), but that’s not really what I’m jawing at you about today.
In my Tuesday post, I mentioned how his hackles were raised by one questioner. The question was on Canonical‘s commitment to pushing more code it develops into the Debian distribution it uses as its code base.
Shuttleworth said Canonical “employs more Debian developers than any other company has ever done,” and that new Canonical coders are strongly encouraged to become Debian developers too. “We have a very strong commitment to move code upstream.”
He noted that the Debian community is debating what to use for an init system, While they have the right to choose anything they like, he said choosing Ubuntu’s new Upstart system would make it a lot easier for Ubuntu to integrate its code with the upstream branch.
More on Ubuntu Touch
A focus for 14.04 development will be making Touch more stable and reliable on the tablet. Devs are asked to expand into the tablet form factor with this release. Canonical will not build its own tablet, based on the Edge project or any other design. Testing will continue to focus on the Google Nexus devices, and other ports will be available.
The most intriguing part, for me at least, is Shuttleworth’s teaser on a critical question for the success of the Touch project:
An interesting set of household names — brands – have been looking at Ubuntu Touch. … You’ll be able to buy (Touch) pre-installed.
I hope he’s right about that, and can announce something more concrete soon.
Happy to report that I’m typing this little missive from my freshly updated Firefox web browser on openSUSE Linux 13.1. While I do that, the YaST Software Management module is busily adding an array of new software from community repositories located all over the globe. As I’ve noted 1000 times before (most recently in this post), YaST stands for Yet another Setup Tool, and remains the most wonderful thing about openSUSE.
While most of the excitement may have surrounded the new openSUSE release, Ubuntu developers gathered around their computers for the November Ubuntu Developers Summit (UDS). I missed most of Mark Shuttleworth’s opening keynote, but hope to catch up with it later. It appears that he took some probing questions from attendees (when I came in to the feed, Shuttleworth was “denying the premise behind your question;” but I don’t know what the question was.) You can see the video (link above) at the UDS site.
I also lurked at the Documentation team round-table, where some planning got done. I will likely have more to report on this in the coming days. The Summit goes through Thursday.
Got questions about openSUSE, or Ubuntu Touch? Always happy to answer them here. Have you attended a developers conference (or hear Shuttleworth ranting)? Feel free to share your experiences!
The good news is that Blue Systems has been sponsoring a variety of KDE projects and distributions in the last few months. They’ve pledged to keep Jonathan Riddell on its payroll working on Kubuntu (or whatever it may be called in the future), and is offering marketing support too. But it’s hard to know from this distance how much money they actually have to back those pledges up. A WhoIs search on the Blue-Systems.com site pointed to a German reseller, http://itwu.de/, as the owner. That’s pretty much all outsiders know.
In some ways, the news is not that different from when Attachmate surfaced last year as the company to buy the SUSE brands from Novell. People rightly questioned what the company had planned for the distribution. So far, it appears that Attachmate has largely left the community alone to make its own plans. Plus openSUSE enthusiasts in the Americas now have their own conference to attend this fall. So I think we can say that up to now, that deal has worked out pretty well.
As I said before, best wishes to Riddell and the Kubuntu community. I’m confident this is good news for my favorite desktop environment, and Linux overall.
If you know anything more about Blue Systems and their work with the community, please let me know. Whatever you think about Kubuntu, KDE and its future, feel free to comment too!
You may have heard that Canonical is formally dropping support of the KDE-based version of the Ubuntu desktop come October. This is kinda old news now, but it seems that at least some folks want to make a big deal of it. So I’m feeling the need to talk about it too.
Today I bring the disappointing news that Canonical will no longer be funding my work on Kubuntu after 12.04. Canonical wants to treat Kubuntu in the same way as the other community flavors such as Edubuntu, Lubuntu, and Xubuntu, and support the projects with infrastructure. This is a big challenge to Kubuntu of course and KDE as well.
A few days later, Riddell’s counterpart at openSUSE, Will Stephenson responded to the situation on the KDE Contributor’s Blog in a way that may seem a little cynical, but struck me as a completely valid response.
After a week had passed, TechRepublic’s open source pundit Jack Wallen said he read Riddell’s announcement “with a heavy heart.” The money quote here:
try to find a major Linux distribution that ships with KDE as the default desktop. You’re going to be hard pressed to do so.
He said the best way for KDE to survive this blow was to develop its own distribution, which he named KOS. In the poll accompanying the story, 51% of his readers agreed with that strategy.
Bruce Byfield at Datamation (a fine writer for a variety of Linux publications) may have overhyped Wallen’s article just a little, and turned it into part of a wave of “KDE Death Watch” commentary. The story does effectively dispute the idea of KDE disappearing, but does again raise the question of “Just what is a major KDE distribution.”
Younger folks in the audience may not remember Rodney Dangerfield, the comic who built his entire career on the theme that he “got no respect at all” (Check out the films Caddyshack or Back to School to learn more about the Dangerfield persona). One of the most striking things about all these stories is how Kubuntu is (allegedly) the last major Linux distribution with a KDE desktop. Perhaps I’m biased, but when did openSUSE cease being a major distribution? While it has never been dominant in terms of mindshare or installations (admittedly both hard to quantify), the little green Geeko with the outstanding system administration tool just chugs along.
The SUSE distro has been famously associated with KDE throughout its life. Some historical notes:
Novell bought the original German company that produced the distribution around the same time that they bought one of the main development teams for the GNOME desktop. When openSUSE planned to make GNOME the default desktop on installation, a massive uproar from the user base left the desktop choice to the person doing the installation.
openSUSE was the first distribution to switch to KDE 4. That was certainly a bad idea or miscalculation, but certainly a commitment to the KDE desktop.
openSUSE is not going away, and will continue to be a “KDE-first” distribution for a long time to come. I’m looking forward to seeing how big our community is at the openSUSE Summit this fall.
Byfield certainly makes an excellent case for why KDE is not dead, and certainly won’t be on life support anytime soon. Even Wallen (who doesn’t really use KDE anymore) concedes that “KDE is one of the most polished, professional desktops available for the Linux operating system and deserves to be made available through some official channel.”
I disagree that KDE needs to put out its own distro to succeed long-term. The world probably does not need many more Linux distributions. Linux users should always have a choice of desktop environments and associated applications. I love that I can run apps designed for GNOME on my KDE desktop, and want to continue to do that.
KDE certainly needs to attract more developers, volunteer or otherwise. More users and platforms will follow. As I noted last week, the Spark tablet is a great way to build pathways to the future.
Things may not be entirely rosy for KDE today, but I can heartily raise both hands when Wallen says “Linux without KDE is simply not the Linux I’ve known and loved since the mid-90s.” May that continue to be true.
A discussion has popped up on the KOffice-Devel list as to whether to discontinue the user-oriented KOffice mailing list. Some developers are wondering whether it’s worth it to keep this admittedly low-traffic list going. The main argument being that if people aren’t using the list now, the few questions that do get asked may not be getting the attention they deserve.
I have an opinion on the subject, but I’m not sure that’s all that important. As a technical communicator, what I’m interested in is how others learn about and solve problems with their software, particularly in the open source arena. KOffice doesn’t have the mind share and user base that other open source productivity suites (OK, I mean OpenOffice.org) have, but are there channels today’s Linux geek and her grandma use to get support for their software. There are lots of choices, and it would be interesting and helpful to me, the KOffice and KDE teams to learn those preferences.
I’m going to try to set up a poll here, but please use the Comments section as well. The official question is “How do you learn about or get help with KOffice and other KDE applications?” Here are the options I’ve thought of:
Share your journey in the comments. Choose as many options in the poll below as you like. Explain what you like and don’t like about getting help. Even if you don’t use KDE specifically, feel free to chime in.
Several years of design, development and testing came together today for the release of KDE 4.0. This is our most significant release in our 11 year history and marks both the end of the long and intensive development cycle leading up to KDE 4.0 and the start of the KDE 4 era.
To give the servers a small break, I’ll wait till tomorrow to pull this up. I’ve been playing with the release candidates for a little while, but I’m looking forward to giving the final release a spin. So far, KDE 4.0 is really pretty, but it hasn’t been especially productive.
There will be much posting here in the coming days as I try things out.
There’s much to consider in a pair of articles on how best to evangelize Linux to the masses. The tech and other cents: There’s more to Linux than Ubuntu argues that too many writers, and users following them, think that Ubuntu IS Linux. He wants to remind people that there are other distributions out there.
Meanwhile, over at the citizen journalism site, Newsvine, Vinnl wants you to believe that telling people you use “Linux” is confusing to new people. When you instead tell people about the distribution you’re using, you endorse “that combination of packages, software availability, and community support that you so appreciate.”
Comments in both pieces also raise the even more touchy subject of calling the whole ball of wax “GNU/Linux,” as Richard Stallman prefers/insists on.
As a writer, words are important to me. As a “Linux guy,” I’ve been committed to bringing my favorite operating system to the masses (some have called it “world domination”) for all of this century. For me, I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all solution for how to win people over–and that’s actually the way I like it.
There’s nothing all that new to the “Ubuntification of Linux.” When I was first coming around the Linux community, Linux = Red Hat, at least in North America. In the corporate world, that’s still largely true. And there was a backlash. I have to admit that at the time, I didn’t want to leave Windows into the waiting arms of the “Microsoft of Linux.” So I first tried SUSE (but didn’t have a good enough machine to install it), and then got (and this will surely date me) Corel Linux. This was a modified Debian desktop distribution with an easy install designed for ordinary users. I guess you can consider it an Ubuntu ahead of its time. There was lots that was wrong with the distro, which I won’t go into here. When it died, I used to tell people that the distro that combined the rock-solid stability of Debian with a simple install would be a killer.
I’m digressing, though. My point is that there’s always been a trendy and/or dominant distribution. After Red Hat, there was Mandrake (another tidbit: until very recently whenever I spoke to a support guy at SBC/AT&T/Yahoo and mentioned that I ran Linux, they’d tell me about their Mandrake experience. Every time!). Then Fedora Core…and now Ubuntu, which combines the rock-solid stability of Debian with a simple install and a very supportive community. Not going to gloat here.
So am I wrong to tell people “I run Linux” instead of openSUSE? Well, my publisher might like it better if I didn’t say “I write Linux books in my spare time” more often than “I wrote openSUSE Linux Unleashed.” (oh, there goes that plug again). But I figure that most people who even care about their operating system know “Linux” better than any distribution–yes, even Ubuntu. So I’ll continue to do that, and say “openSUSE Linux” if there’s some “hint of the geek” in the person I’m talking to.
Besides, now that I have my dual-boot Kubuntu/openSUSE Dell laptop, I couldn’t honestly say what collection of packages and community I like better. to my mind, it’s all Linux. Let’s go with that.