Albert Astals Cid

A Short Intro

The Interview

In what ways do you make a contribution to KDE?

I'm KPDF, Blinken and KGeography mantainer. I am the KDE liaison and one of the main developers of the Poppler project (a library for rendering PDF files). I am part of the okular project, that aims to give KDE 4 the best unified document viewer around. I'm working on a few new applications like Kombination (a scrabble game), PDF Transformer (a pdftk frontend) and Kiriki (a Gtali clone). Finally i'm quite active on the KDE-Edu and kdegames projects doing some maintenance work.

When did you first hear of KDE?

It was long ago when I tried to install Mandrake 7.x that came with a PC Magazine. On the first try I destroyed all the contents of the hard drive (thankfully, those times are gone :D) and on the second I got Mandrake (and therefore KDE) up and running.

How and when did you get involved in KDE?

I started translating applications to the Catalan language back in 2003, aproximately one year later I thought "look, I know how to program and some of these applications could need a little love here and there" so I started creating some patches for KGhostView, KJots, KBattleship and any application I could find a small bug or feature to work on.

What was your most recent commit to KDE?

I uploaded some files for one of the translators of the Catalan team.

Are you being paid to work on KDE?


How much time do you usually spend on KDE?

Too much :D

More seriously, about 2 hours per day on weekdays and from 0 to infinite (usually around 5) on Saturdays and Sundays.

Which section of KDE is underrated and could get more publicity?

KDE-Edu has some fantastic applications that are not known by the wider public, also I think that Umbrello is a quite capable UML modeller, yet few people seem to know about it.

What do you think is still badly missing in KDE?

Artificial Intelligence that is able to improve the code without human interaction! Seriously, as a desktop user I don't find that KDE is missing anything crucial.

Do you have any plans for KDE 4?

Lots of plans :D I have the SVG version of Blinken, lots of new maps and a new game mode for KGeography, a new Scrabble game, a pdftk frotend, a Yahtzee! dice game, and the big one, okular, where we still have to finish the big cool features like form support, annotations and so on.

What motivates/keeps you motivated to work on KDE?

There are four things that keep me working on KDE:

  • Scratching my itch: occasionally I find bugs that annoy me and I fix them :-)
  • The community: Being part of the KDE community kind of forces you to continue working even if sometimes you are not in the best mood.
  • The users: The occasional "Your program rocks" mail gives me weeks of motivation, so keep them coming!
  • It's fun!

What chances do you see in your country for KDE as a desktop platform?

Not much really, here each region has its own distribution and most default to GNOME for the desktop. On the other side, most users I know are KDE users so hopefully we can make this change from the bottom up!

Which text editor do you use? Why?

Kate for anything that is more complicated than touching more than a few characters: I use vim for that.

Which distribution do you use? Why?

I use Kubuntu. I was using Mandriva previously but their awful Qt packaging (2 years after I reported it they still have a very important bug (for me)) made me look for alternatives. First I tried SuSE but I was not able to decipher how YAST worked for installing and updating packages. Kubuntu was my next try and seemed to work well enough so I have remained with it ever since.

What is KDE's killer app? Why?

Konqueror: fast HTML, fast file handling, web shortcuts, KParts, what more can you ask for?

What does your desktop look like?

It's completely empty.

What makes you contribute to KDE instead of the competition?

You mean Windows? Well, I don't understand the people that develop Free Software programs for Windows, i'm not against it of course, but it's not something I would do.

If you meant other Free Software projects like GNOME, the answer is clear: why would I develop for a desktop I don't use? As a technical answer, KDE/Qt uses C++ which is a much better tool than C for object-oriented programming and the API is much more simple and intuitive than GTK.

If you were shipwrecked and had to share an island with a KDE contributor who would it be?

Do we have anyone that knows how to build boats? I guess not. So i'd probably choose Pino Toscano, he is a nice guy all round and we seem to work quite well together so we'd probably build a good boat quite fast.

If you could be any part of the KDE platform, what would you be? Why?

I'd like to be KIO so I could know everything of what goes in and out.

What is your most brilliant KDE hack?

Probably the threading implementation of KPDF, although the current one is not by me but from Enrico Ros, it is based on my original work of which i'm quite proud of.

What is your most embarrassing KDE moment?

KCalc from KDE 3.2.1 was able to calculate the tangent of any number thanks to my commit r289447. Does that sound embarrassing enough?

Will you be going to Akademy in Glasgow this year?

Yes I plan to be there to meet all the fantastic KDE community!

Personal Questions

First things first. Married, partner or up for adoption?

I'm up for adoption!

Do you have any children or pets?

No children, no pets.

Which book is on your bedside table?

I have no bedside table, but i'm currently reading "El Quijote" by Miguel de Cervantes.

Who or what in your life would you say influenced you most?

Probably my parents, but i'm usually quite proud of feeling uninfluenced, but that of course only means that I can't see the influences, not that they don't exist.

Is your best friend from the physical or online world?

From the physical world, of course :-) Even if it was a person I knew first online (that it is not) i'd never be able to consider "best friend" a person i've never met, seen and physically talked to.

What is the best birthday present you could receive?

World Peace! But as probably no-one is ever going to give this to me i'd be happy with having people I care about around.

Richard Stallman or Linus Torvalds?

Linus. In my opinion, Richard is less open to change than Linus and being open to change is crucial in life.

How would you describe yourself?

I'm a person you can rely on, not handsome not ugly, quite adult in some things and quite childish in others.

What would you do more of if you had the time?

I'd like to take some language classes and probably do some more sport.

What do you see from your window?

What do you get passionate about?

Friendship, things well done, good movies and good books.

What does "success" mean to you?

Having good friends (quality over quantity all the way) and offering the best of me in all situations.

What do you do in your spare time?

Programming for KDE :-D Besides that i like playing board games with friends (see our online ranking... YES, I'm winning!), going to the cinema and reading books, mostly Sci-Fi and the Terry Pratchett ones. Ook!

What is your favourite place in the world?

There is no place like home.

Final Words

Thanks for reading up to here, now go back to coding to make sure KDE 4 rocks :-)
Now something more poetic: I love you important people, you know who you are.