András Mantia

A Short Intro

The Interview

In what ways do you make a contribution to KDE?

In general my biggest contribution is C++ code and some documentation. Ideas and discussions might also be considered as a contribution.

The main area where I work is the kdewebdev module in general and Quanta Plus especially. Together with Eric Laffoon we are the heart of Quanta and its current maintainers. Outside of kdewebdev, I contributed to some extends to the KDE libraries, to KDevelop, kdetv and some patches here and there which I don't count.

When did you first hear of KDE?

I think I read about it in a CHIP magazine before 1.0 came out. As it was on the CD that came with the magazine, I tried it. During that time I just experienced with Linux, but did not use it full-time. But I tried to get the newer releases of KDE from the internet (slow connection at the university) or from magazine CDs.

The real breakthrough was around the 2.0 beta releases when at my workplace I got sick of using CDE on Solaris and I installed KDE and updated every time a new beta came out. I did the same at home, learned the KDE libraries and since then I'm almost exclusively (99%) a KDE user. The 1% is when I'm not at home or want to try out a Windows-only application.

Yeah, my first contribution to KDE as a project was a tutorial about how to install KDE 2 on Solaris 2.6 as a user. It is still accessible from the KDE website. :-)

How and when did you get involved in KDE?

This happened in 2001. I wanted to learn something new and my choice was writing a KDE application. This became Kallery, and the version you can download now is almost the same as I wrote then, it is just ported to KDE3 and has some extra features. But the codebase is the old one, so you can see how small my KDE knowledge was at that time.

Eric was interested in Kallery and after some time he asked me to work on Quanta if I'd like, which was abandoned at that time. I did, and the rest I think is known for all those following the evolution of Quanta and KDE.

Are you being paid to work on KDE?

Yes, I am, thanks to Eric and the generous supporters from all around the world. Without donations the progress would not be so big in Quanta as I would have to look for a job, and working on Quanta/KDE would be restricted to my free time.

How much time do you usually spend on KDE?

I never counted, but a lot. I'm sure that many times it is more than 8 hours/day, although this is not continuous working. Other times it's less.

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

The question is where should we have more publicity? Do we want to show some "cool" parts to other desktop environment users on Linux/Unix or do we want to get people attracted from the other side? I think the latter is more important and in that case the whole KDE is underrated and needs more publicity. First it needs to be shown how easy is to use, second how configurable is and third how much time you can save both as a user or as a developer with the help of the powerful KDE technologies like the kioslaves, KParts and DCOP (important for an user as well) and the Qt/KDE API.

What do you think is still badly missing in KDE?

I still miss a general and easy to use collection manager for books, CDs, MCs, LPs and so. There are good ideas and applications that do part of what I want, but they are not doing everything what and how I want. I wrote such an application for myself before starting to work on Linux and still use it through Wine. It is very old, doesn't deal with compressed music file collections or does not read CD text or freedb information, so it's also not complete. But I have a fairly large database for that which should be converted as I don't want to type in again. KMusicDB is one of the promising applications, but it's development slowed down. Tellico is also promising, but I had some problems with the last release (before 1.0 came out) I tried. I should try the latest one as well.

All in all, I think KDE as a desktop is quite good today, but more and better applications are needed.

Do you have any plans for KDE 4?

Sure I do. The biggest is related to Quanta and kdewebdev. First, we want to port Quanta to the KDevelop framework. Partly we already did, but against KDevelop 3. As soon as KDE 3.5 is released, I would like to continue with this porting, now against the KDE4 and KDevelop4 libraries. Aside of porting we - and especially Eric - have a lots of ideas how to improve Quanta and Kommander as well.

Unfourtunately Kommander is still underrated, although in many cases it can be the best choice for a non-developer to create an application for their own needs.

There are plans to improve KFileReplace and move it to KDEUtilis, where it belongs, but I would not mind if somebody would help with this, as the last maintainer does not have time for it anymore.

I would also like to contribute and work more on the base KDE libraries, for example in KNewStuff.

And of course as we will use the KDevelop framework, helping and improving KDevelop is inevitable. ;-)

What motivates/keeps you motivated to work on KDE?

Many things, in no particular order:

  • it is fun. I like it, and this is alone enough.
  • the community. I like the developers, I like the style of the discussions on the mailing lists, I like to see that people like KDE and care about it.
  • the quality of the KDE and Qt libraries. They are amazing and easy to work with. Some extra documentation in some areas would not hurt, but overall they are very good.
  • openness and open source. I believe in open source and this is a way how I can support. If I'd have the financial possibility, I'd support in other way as well.

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

I am not up-to-date about KDE's and Linux' status in Romania. I know that some people are using it, but I think Linux is not yet present on the desktop here. Almost every server runs Linux though. But I'm working on it, and installed several computers with KDE in the city library which can be accessed both by the visitors of the library and the workers there. We also have an internet cafe here using PCs with Linux, but I'm not sure if they use KDE or not as I wasn't there yet. And big supermarkets sell PCs with Linux as well (I think I saw one running KDE). But as software piracy is still high in the country and people don't care about it, they did not discover yet the free as in beer side of Linux and KDE. I'm sure once they do, we will see a bigger share in the desktop market.

What is your favourite widget style?

I cannot say it is my favourite, but I'm using Plastik now. I used Keramik before and I liked it as well.

Which text editor do you use? Why?

Kate(part). It is not too complicated and still powerful.

Which distribution do you use? Why?

SuSE. One reason is YaST. Another reason is that I use it since 5.3, and I'm used to it. And it was always nice to have lots of software packages on the CD/DVD. I even managed to buy a version from the store when I had a chance. Now I'm waiting to get 10.0 somehow (on a very slow connection which is not even in my house).

What is KDE's killer app? Why?

For me it was KDevelop as it made my life very easy to enter the world of KDE developers. Other favourite applications are KMail, Krusader, Konqueror (mainly as a browser), K3B and many others. I liked kdetv as well, but I don't use anymore as I have an old, but real TV.

Really, there are so many good KDE applications, that it is unfair to pick up only some.

What makes you develop for KDE instead of the competition?

Who is the competition? ;-) I usually don't care about competitors and I don't look at them as to somebody which I have to compete or fight with. This is true for Quanta and KDE as well. I downloaded many times the other applications, yet I never really tried to discover them. Sometimes I even forget to install them.

But back to the question: this might be pure luck as I discovered KDE before and wanted to learn programming for KDE. But if you ask now, the answer is just like to the "What motivates/keeps you motivated to work on KDE?" question.

What does your desktop look like?

I usually run applications maximized, so either KDevelop, Konqueror or KMail is occupying the whole desktop except the panels. I used to use multiple desktops some years ago, but somehow I don't use them anymore.
Andras' desktop

What type is your laptop/desktop? What is it named?

I have an AthlonXP2000+, 768MB RAM, 40GB HDD (I always run out of disc space), home assembled system with a 17" CRT monitor as my main developing computer and I have an old PIII500Mhz, 192MB RAM, 6GB HDD laptop that I use when traveling to conferences. It is also good to prove that KDE is usable on that system, altough developing on it (compiling and debugging) is extremely hard since g++ 3.x. But it was very usable when I learned to develop for KDE as it was my main computer at that time.

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

I would make my wife a KDE contributor before.

What is your most brilliant KDE hack?


What is your most embarrassing KDE moment?

Well, in the beginning of my contributions I managed to broke the admin dir on the CVS. Coolo told me something like you f*cked up the CVS. ;-) I'm not sure if this was the reason or not, but as I remember since then admin is read-only for regular users. I also feel embarassed when I post/ask something on a list which I find the answer alone after several minutes and I have to post again a response to my mail. But sometimes I need to write the mail itself to realize what is the answer. :-)

Did you go to akademy 2005?

I was there. :-) It was very nice, with nice organizers and participants.

Personal Questions

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

Yes, I am married since 2002. Her name is Zsófia (but we call her Zsófi).

If you have a partner or children, how do they cope with a KDE addict?

She has nothing against KDE and supports me, but has problems if I stay too long in front of the computer. Some KDE contributors know her as she was with me at Kastle and aKademy 2004. But she is not interested in computers aside of using them as a regular user.

Do you have any pets?

We have a cat since this spring, called "Cica" (tsitsa). We like it a lot, he is fun. He is still young (5 months old) and a very good mice catcher (I counted until 27, but I'm sure he caught more, but we just haven't seen them). Unfourtunately recently he caught a bird as well and I'm not happy.

If someone visits your country, which spot is a must-see?

Romania has very nice and unique places. To be a local-patriot, I would suggest to visit the unique mineral water springs, gas caves and the St. Ann volcanic lake in my county. Some other interesting places to see are:

  • the mountains all around and inside Transylvania
  • the Danube delta (I wasn't there yet, though)
  • the villages in every historical region of Romania to see the diversity of people, belonging to different ethnic groups and having different lifestyles. In some cases you will discover things that are already forgotten in cities or western countries.
  • the old buildings (especially castles and fortified churches)

Which book is on your bedside table?

I like to read mostly science-fiction, but not only. During the last months I read some Hungarian literature and some scientific books (written by Isaac Asimov, but they were not sci-fis.)

The last very touching and interesting book I read was during aKademy 2005, about a szekler/székely (hungarian ethnic persons living in the eastern Transylvania - I belong to them as well) boy who started to learn how is to stand on your own in your village, in the country and in the world (in the US, here). The main question he tries to answer is "Why do we exist in this world?". He finds the answer in the US: "To be somewhere at home." And he comes back home. The title of the book is "Abel", written by Áron Tamási. It is a trilogy, and I'm sure it was translated to many languages, altough I cannot imagine how as the translations as the most important thing in the book is the "szekler" language and way of thinking.

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

My parents.

Richard Stallman or Linus Torvalds?


How would you describe yourself?

Quiet, but bull-headed, who tries to live correctly and peacifully, altough sometimes miserably fails to do so.

What do you get passionate about?

Music, mountains, children.

You're stuck on a train for 6 hours and are bored out of your skull. What do you do to amuse yourself?

Read a book or watch out of the window to see the landscape and the people out there.

What is your favourite t-shirt?

I usually wear simple black or white t-shirts. But I have a Blind Guardian t-shirt with a Tolkien theme on it that I like, and the aKademy 2005 t-shirt is also cool. And I just got a Quanta t-shirt from Eric!

What is your favourite place in the world?

Home. The best is if home is in my homeland area, like now. I am a local-patriot if you could not find out yet. ;-)