Cyrille Berger

A Short Intro

  • Age: 24
  • Located in: Toulouse, France
  • Occupation: PhD student
  • Nickname on IRC: CyrilleB
  • Claim to Fame: One of the Krita developers
  • Fav. KDE applications: KDE (it's not an application, is it?)
  • Hardware: One desktop computer with an AMD 3500+ and an ATI card, and my work laptop which a MacBook pro with a Core 2 Duo. Both have 2GB of memory.
  • Homepage: http://cberger.net/
  • Blog: http://cyrilleberger.blogspot.com/

The Interview

In what ways do you make a contribution to KDE?

Up until now, I have been mostly working on Krita, and more specially on its plugins. Either on code or other stuff, like releasing KOffice 1.6. And currently, beside hacking on Krita version 2.0, I am also playing quite a lot with Qt4Ruby, but I don't know yet if something interesting will come out of this.

When did you first hear of KDE?

A long time ago, I think I first heard of Linux around 1996, in a computer magazine, then my brother got his own computer and installed Linux on it, and he gave me an account on it. First I wanted something that looked really different from Windows, so I used WindowMaker or AfterStep, can't remember exactly which, but it was complicated to use, so sometime later I started to use KDE, must have been version 1.0, but it's so long ago, and I didn't use it a lot at that time.

So I really started to use it only in 2002, when I got my own computer on which I could spare the disk space for installing Linux.

How and when did you get involved in KDE?

In February 2004, I sent my first patch to Krita's mailing list, for its first filter! In fact, I wanted to join earlier, but I was only used to small projects, and contributing to KDE seemed at that time a huge task, I think it's still a limiting factor for developer who want to contribute. So, why Krita? In fact, I have always had a certain interest in graphics (most of my lecture notes are covered with little drawings), and also because there are a lot of challenging graphics algorithms to understand and implement.

What was your most recent commit to KDE?

My most recent commit to KDE was on the dynamic brush plugin for Krita. The dynamic brush plugin aims to let the user choose how the various tablet events (pressure, speed, tilt...) affect the shape, color, darkness, etc. properties of the brush.

Are you being paid to work on KDE?

No. But I am doing a PhD, and when I get too bored to work on it, I can spare some time for Krita, all depending on my motivation.

How much time do you usually spend on KDE?

Either nearly zero hours a week or a lot, it mostly depends on my motivation and my mood.

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

I think KDE is lacking a good strategy for recruitment of contributors, especially non-coders. Most of the people outside of the project think that the only way to contribute is to be a developer. But there are plenty of other tasks that need to be done and for which KDE lacks manpower. I am thinking about manuals, or translations (except for mainstream languages, the level of translation is really low, especially for documentation), and even testing, it would be really nice to have a bunch of testers before the release, who would check that there are no big regressions within KDE. There are graphics too, even if we now have an artist team, I am sure we can do with more of them.

What do you think is still badly missing in KDE?

Polishing. I think that KDE is one of the desktop with the most features, but they don't necessarily interacts well with one other, or are hidden, or are packed together. If you take for instance KDevelop3, it has all the features one need for developing, but it looks more like a collection of tools packed together, which makes it hard to find the tool you need among all the others one. UI is not the only part of KDE that needs polishing, most of the applications of kdebase have reached a quiet good level of stability, but it's quiet a bit of a problem in other modules, especially in KOffice.

Do you have any plans for KDE 4?

Nothing breathtaking, Krita 2.0's core libraries won't change much, so we can focus on writting the missing features, on usuability, on stability and speed.

What motivates/keeps you motivated to work on KDE?

My KDE investment is primarily selfish. I hack on Krita because I need and want to use it. And also of course because it's fun.

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

A lot of things are happening lately, but it's difficult to know exactly in which direction the wind is going. For instance, on one hand, the French Parliament has voted for one of the most pro-DRM laws in Europe, but they have also decided to switch all their computers to use Linux and OpenOffice.org. And there is a government workgroup on inter-operability, which currently seems to favour the adoption of the OpenDocument format.

And, in my opinion, more than graphics, eyecandy and other gadgets, what prevents the adoption of the Free Desktop is the lack of adoption of open standards - whenever you need to share a document with someone you are tied down to using MS Office, or for complex images you need to use Adobe Photoshop PSD, and so on. Once it is possible to freely choose the applications you want, it should help the adoption of Free Desktop solutions.

As for KDE, it has a strong advantage in France, as it is the desktop of choice of Mandriva's enterprise products, and Mandriva being a French company gives them a good position in the country.

Which text editor do you use? Why?

katepart! Because, it is integrated in KDesktop, Kile and Kate (and even KWrite when editing a single document like this interview). And that is just great! The same text editor, but a different interface for different use cases.

Which distribution do you use? Why?

Kubuntu. I have tried quite a lot of distributions, and I am never satisfied by any, there was always something that didn't work, whether hardware or software, not that Kubuntu is perfect, and anyway, the improvement on that area is generic to Linux. But, it is the first distribution I have tested that just works and give me a good experience.

What is KDE's killer app? Why?

KDE. It still isn't an application, is it? But no application is worth it without the others. Think about my answer to the "text editor" question, if there was only Kate which used katepart, it is very likely that I would have to learn to use vim or emacs more often, which both have more advanced features for programming or LaTeX editing, but with the sharing of key components between applications, each time I launch a KDE application with a text editor, I feel at home.

What does your desktop look like?

I often change the background image, and most of the time I have a blue color scheme, but when I get bored (like currently!) I switch to a black and white one.

What makes you contribute to KDE instead of the competition?

Qt. It says it all, but it's really one of the best GUI programming framework in the world: it is well designed, has fewer bugs than most and really good documentation. And I have used quite a lot of them (mostly Borland, WXwindows, Swing and AWT). Then, there is the community, I honestly don't know how it happens elsewhere, but I like the KDE community, sometimes there are some difficulties, but most of the time people are really nice, and it makes developing and interacting with people a real pleasure.

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

Very good suggestion! We should put all KDE developers in a ship, sink it, and hope we will end up on an island and not at the bottom of the sea - this way we could be undisturbed to hack on KDE 4/KOffice 2!

But just to be sure to survive, I will need to take Robinson Crusoe with me.

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

Konqueror, I think, it works quite like me, a little messy, but in the end it does the job well enough.

What is your most brilliant KDE hack?

I don't think I have ever made one brillant hack for KDE. There is some stuff that I am very happy (and maybe proud) to have written, like the TIFF import/export filter (TIFF is a very complex file format if you want to correctly handle everything it supports). And also some of the Krita filters, like the wavelet noise reduction filter.

What is your most embarrassing KDE moment?

None yet. Hopefully, there will never be one :)

Will you be going to Akademy in Glasgow this year?

Yes, it will be my first Akademy, so I hope to have a great time there.

Personal Questions

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

Up for adoption.

Do you have any children or pets?

Neither. And when I see how much trouble I have to correctly take care of the few plants I have, I think it's a good idea to have neither ;)

Which book is on your bedside table?

Quite a lot of comics, fantasy books, and political and recent history books. I guess I have a huge bedside table!

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

No single event has really influenced me massively...

Is your best friend from the physical or online world?

I don't really have a "best friend", but my closest friends are from the real world, even if I talk to them a lot using IRC, I met them outside originally.

What is the best birthday present you could receive?

A big surprise!

Richard Stallman or Linus Torvalds?

Linus Torvalds - while I have appreciate what Richard Stallman has done for Free Software, I do believe that freedom includes the freedom to choose the licence of his own software, even if it is closed source, it is up to the author to choose the licence, and then it is up to the user to choose the software. Same goes for DRM, if the author chooses that kind of protection, well, I decide that his music is not worth being bought.

How would you describe yourself?

Enters self.introspect ...

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

It's difficult to say, if I want to do something I take the time to do it. Then, there is the never-ending task like hacking on Krita, so I guess, if days were lasting 48 hours, I could spend more time on KDE ;)

What do you see from your window?

It sucks completely (especially that it is the night now, and currently, I am mostly home when it's night), but it is quiet.

What do you get passionate about?

Football sometimes, a book at other times, or perhaps a video game as well.

What does "success" mean to you?

Being happy at what I do, I think. Hakuna matata!

What do you do in your spare time?

If you don't consider hacking on KDE being on my "spare time", I do the usual stuff, like reading books, watching movies, visiting a museum. And a little bit of sports. And also video games.

What is your favourite place in the world?

Everywhere but in a big city. I am claustrophobic, and basically when I am in the middle of a crowd, at some point I just want to flee. And then, I think, any place is as good as any other, with its bad side and good side.

Final Words