Daniel Molkentin

A Short Intro

The Interview

In what ways do you make a contribution to KDE?

Promotional work: Mostly I help to organize and conduct the KDE presence at fairs and tradeshows, mostly in Germany. Likewise, I give talks about KDE at conferences. I am also an editor for KDE Dot News and write articles for German IT magazines about KDE and Qt. Finally my shameless plug: Last year I finished a German book about Qt 4 which will be available in English soon.

Coding: I started off with small patches, then started KBattleship as my first "big" project along with Niko, ended up maintaining KControl for a while and then found my place within KDE-PIM, where I was working on the Kontact framework. Other than that, I did several assorted hacks throughout the entire KDE repository :-)

When did you first hear of KDE?

In 1997, I bought a Linux special of a computer magazine where two guys named Kalle Dalheimer and Matthias Ettrich wrote articles on KDE 1.0 pre and Qt programming. I was impressed with that "Window manager that allowed icons on the desktop" (my first impression) and about how easy it seemingly was to write Qt applications. I didn't know C++, but the another article in the same magazine was an article about Motif hacking, and it looked a lot more complicated.

How and when did you get involved in KDE?

After hanging around on #kde (there was no #kde-devel back then), my real contributions started after I visited the KDE booth at Linux-Tag 2000 in Stuttgart. I was invited to join the KDE people and I met Ralf Nolden of KDevelop fame, who was on of the major KDE promoters in Germany back then. During dinner and some beer, Ralf convinced me to get my hands dirty and learn C++.

I was still in grammar school back then and worked for an ISP as a Web Application Developer in my spare time. Since Konqueror was my favourite browser and we got the order to filter for IE and Netscape via JavaScript, I introduced the possiblity to fake the UserAgent string in KHTML via the JavaScript properties.

What was your most recent commit to KDE?

I was bored by the fact that we still used asterisks in KDE to shadow characters in password inputs, so I patched KStyle to look a bit niftier. This will be part of KDE 3.5.6 by the way.

Are you being paid to work on KDE?


How much time do you usually spend on KDE?

Totally depends, but the average is about 2-3 hours a day, sometimes a bit more.

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

The small nifty features that make KDE so useful. Many of my fellow students switched to KDE when I showed them the "web shortcuts" functionality (wp:, gg:, imdb:, rfc: and friends) or the power of the Alt+F2 dialog (did you know it can evaluate simple math expressions with double precision since KDE 3.5.5?)

What do you think is still badly missing in KDE?

We need to put a lot more effort into documentation for System Integrators, ISV's and of course developers. But help is on the way: with KDE TechBase, a Wiki-based site which is about to supercede the old development pages and the sysadmin documentation plus some more developer documentation spread throughout our Subversion repository.

Do you have any plans for KDE 4?

World domination, what else? :)
Seriously, I have some ideas for KDE-PIM as soon as Akonadi is fully working, in particular regarding views and representation of PIM data. I hope time will permit me to do more on Kontact and friends then.

What motivates/keeps you motivated to work on KDE?

The feedback I get from users. That's also a reason why I like fairs and tradeshows: talking to users, both private and commerical does not only provide technical feedback but also shows that KDE is being used and really, really liked.

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

Already today, KDE shows how free software can compete with proprietary software on the desktop. Many showcases in the public sector can be found in German community offices or federal agencies.

Which text editor do you use? Why?

Kate, because it rocks for GUI editing, Vim, for remote sysadmin tasks. Along with the KDE developer scripts, it even makes a decent code editor, so I find myself using Vim inside Yakuake instead of Kate.

Which distribution do you use? Why?

Currently I am running Kubuntu, because it was the only distro that worked on my new laptop when I got it. I was formerly a SUSE user, and might return some day. I'm really not religious about it, both have their ups and downs.

What is KDE's killer app? Why?

That's an easy (and heavily biased) one: Kontact, because it's really powerful. But I hope it doesn't actually "kill" anyone ;)

What does your desktop look like?

What makes you contribute to KDE instead of the competition?

First of all it's KDE's awesome community: many people of which have become good friends. I also like the pragmatic way decisions are often made and the commitment to technical excellence. And wherever technical reasons overweighted any other aspects for a decision, we can now see other areas, like usability and artwork, gaining influence resulting in a still technically-excellent, but also visually appealing KDE 4.

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

Aaron. He's funny enough to keep me entertained and he's a good chat partner. Only the dining part would be interesting: We'd have serious issues as he'd probably eat my foods food :-)

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

I pretty much prefer to be myself. thankyouverymuch.

What is your most brilliant KDE hack?

I can't really remember, there are a couple I guess, so I'll go with the aforementioned Konqueror User Agent hack.

What is your most embarrassing KDE moment?

During the PIM meeting in Aachtmaal in 2005, we sat outside late in the evening and I got badly bitten by midges without really taking notice (The discussions were just too interesting ;). Funny enough, they only targeted my feet (photo proof, parental advisory). Of course, the laughs were with the others... After that meeting I had two talks to give in other places in Holland. Just imagine how painful those talks were.

Will you be going to Akademy in Glasgow this year?

Unfortunately not, as it is the exam time at my University. If you want me there, let the complaints come in, I'll gladly forward them to the dean ;-)

Personal Questions

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

Up for adoption.

Do you have any children or pets?


Which book is on your bedside table?

"Filling out Questionaires Made Easy". Seriously, I really haven't had the time for a good book. I just finished a book on Extreme Programming and Agile Development Methods but I am really looking forward to fictional stuff. I'll reserve some in the forthcoming weeks, though, since I really love reading. If you've got a must-read, just tell me.

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

I suppose the major influence in my life has been my family. I bet there are a lot more major influencial factors, but I'd have a hard time naming them all.

Is your best friend from the physical or online world?

I maintain my best friends in the real world. If I get to know someone online that build up a friendship with, I always try to meet him or her in real life sooner or later. I'm an offline guy in this respect :)

What is the best birthday present you could receive?

An automatic questionaire answering machine. Alternatively, also machines capable of inflating time.

Richard Stallman or Linus Torvalds?

Richard Stallman AND Linus Torvalds! Both have their very special positions and both positions need to be claimed.

How would you describe yourself?

This question is NP-complete. Ask my friends, really.

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

Finding a way to free up even more time, patent it and the present it Steve Jobs-style ("booh!").

What do you see from your window?

What do you get passionate about?

Interview questionaires.

What does "success" mean to you?

Leading a life that satisfies me and those I like and love.

What do you do in your spare time?

Filling out interview questionaires.

What is your favourite place in the world?

Really, there's no place like $HOME. The Rhine valley is a beautiful place to live. But if I had to pick a second place, It would probably be Berlin because it's an actual (and awesome) city. That said, I'd wish I had the opportunity to get to know more places outside Germany.

Final Words

I'd like to thank all KDE contributors that are moving the project along so successfully.