Jaroslaw Staniek

A Short Intro

  • Age: 30
  • Located in: Warsaw, Poland
  • Occupation: got a Software Engineering MCS degree from the Warsaw University, works as a Software Developer at OpenOffice Polska LLC (
  • Nickname on IRC: jstaniek (formerly js, but people thought I was a fan of JavaScript or I was a bot :))
  • Homepage: (... is for dummies, blog rulz!)
  • Blog:

The Interview

In what ways do you make a contribution to KDE?

I am the person behind the "Qt-KDE Wrapper" project (started in 2003), currently known as KDElibs/win32, and Kexi project's maintainer (a database environment competing with MS Access) since 2004, now part of the KOffice suite. As logical and technological integration between KOffice applications improves, there are increasingly more bits shared between Kexi and KOffice, so there are things I develop for KOffice as well. The KoProperty library, is one of them, as well as the KexiDB high-level database connectivity library (one of the main Kexi selling points,

I also maintain the web site, and the Polish end user oriented Wiki web site. Last year I founded the web site (a Wiki), focused on multiplatform KDE programming with a good prospect at the commercial development.

When did you first hear of KDE?

Back in the winter of 1997, me and other students at Warsaw University were told to develop a game for the Team Programming course, namely a Lemmings game clone. The technology to use was Qt 1.4.x, and that adventure made me sure that object-oriented programming is the right tool for developing GUIs. Then I discovered KDE, and once I realised it was Qt-based, started to use it with SUSE 6.x and I keep the distro on my machines today.
Being familiar with the amount of pain coming from the VB/VBA/MS Access programming, I quickly adopted the Qt-way of developing stuff. This doesn't mean I started to develop for KDE immediately. Instead I started with commercial Qt development in 1998 (embedded / security control systems).

How and when did you get involved in KDE?

In February 2003 I became a part of the OpenOffice Polska team. The company is's supporter in Poland from the very beginning and we were looking for an open source MS Access (desktop database application) replacement for the office suite, not present at the time ( Base has been available only since 2005). Since most of our development is open source, we were looking for an open source project to jump into. There were good candidates and I managed to convince my employer there were the best prospects for the (then) not well known but interesting project Kexi. I joined the project, which is now part of the KOffice suite. After a while I became a core Kexi developer and I maintain it since 2004.

Moreover, you could think that an insane thing happened, because our requirement was that the software should be available for win32 customers, while Kexi was a pure KDE app, from the beginning. So the "Qt-KDE Wrapper" project was born, and after months of work in 2003, all the code ported or rewritten was merged with KDE libraries v. 3.2 in 2004. Since then it is a regular target for KDE libs, even while things like network stuff were not ported. For the KDE 3 branches I've maintained the stuff; in KDE 4 its development is more distributed, what I found a success.

Are you being paid to work on KDE?

Yes, for over three years, as a fulltime developer. Kudos for my employer for his visionary attitude.

How much time do you usually spend on KDE?

That is determined by the way I organize my work. I arranged my home as office, and work remotely. Once a week I have a meeting with the team in the company, in particular with the folks from the technical support team. Thus, I spend 6 to 14 hours a day on KDE-related activities, 5 days a week. What I would say? Designing the stuff for Kexi and development itself is damn time consuming and sometimes quite complex, and it would be hard to do that just in spare time.

What do you think is still badly missing in KDE?

KDE for the enterprise of any size. Frameworks that small companies (especially ISVs) can use to build their solutions in weeks. They need to create prototypes on daily basis and demo them quickly to the decision makers. I think that dealing with this type of KDE users is beyond the area of interest of our volunteers. This is neither simple nor funny business. This is where funds are needed.

Most of my code created within KDE belongs to the office/enterprise departments and I believe KDE can attract enterprise users much easier than home users. I think about gaining a reasonable market share. The average home user is lost for us unless there are regulations in the OEM market, currently locked by the monopoly. Look - larger sharks like Dell and HP seem to be afraid to announce their plans for hardware supporting Linux Desktop, and Lenovo is not sure about its commitment.

Do you have any plans for KDE 4?

Yes, I added some easier stuff to the KDElibs4 TODO list. In the KDElibs/win32 department I think about helping out to make the development environment as easily installable as possible (preferably with a single install package). This target can also gain something thanks to the integration with the underlying native APIs like multimedia (graphics is already well handled by Qt4), but so far I am still an observer, of course due to time constraints. A much easier thing than hacking in KDElibs, is to develop particular apps for KDE 4, as KDElibs requires peer review. I put much of the energy into KexiDB, the database abstraction layer.

What motivates/keeps you motivated to work on KDE?

I detest politics. I encountered this for example in the Polish - a few folks being just users and translators acted like they are gurus and blocked developers (coming from a company) from contributing to the project. Really that was rude and foolish as the 'gurus' forgot the office suite they have is almost entirely developed by Sun Microsystems. Sometimes I call the folks that mostly demand and criticise the "Freeware Generation". Free as in beer is most important to them. (Note that I mentioned the in Poland, not in general).

As far as I am concerned, KDE does not seem to act like that in general. There are problems too, but in micro scale.

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

Well, as I said - it depends on OEMs. For now they are locked. There is nothing different in Poland - specialised or one-task-oriented environments can be "attacked" first, namely: governments, education. Mini-KDE can shine here, really, so I think KDE 4 could adapt it as an option to ease deployments. A marriage with certain hardware distributors could make a difference.

Which text editor do you use? Why?

On Linux for larger editing tasks I use Kate, for smaller - joe (a wordstar-like one). On Windows I use Joe and a proprietary editor similar to Kate. I think I will switch to Kate once it's ported to win32. I am used to these apps.

Which distribution do you use? Why?

SUSE, because the days when I liked to dig into the administering of tasks and tweaks passed away. I let the SUSE folks do all the dirty jobs, thanks guys! Regarding to development environments: on Linux I use the command line and sometimes gdb/kgdb. Under windows 2000 I heavily use and depend on the Cygwin bash shell and the msvc command line and its visual debugger (yeah, it's still 6+ times faster compiler comparing to g++).

What is KDE's killer app? Why?

Being more general: for me, as developer, it's KDElibs. Ah, and Konsole. For me as user: I am not sure, to be strict. A killer app is something that almost forces users to do a switch at any price... If it's about killing other desktop environments, I'd talk about killer features instead, i.e. consistency is such a feature (again, brought by KDE libs). I can see that KDE 4 will go beyond that.

What makes you develop for KDE instead of the competition?

Short answer: because it comes with Qt and KDE libs.

Long answer: Let's think.

  1. Instead of GNOME? I am not fan of C language for GUI development (gtkmm was immature at the time when I stared to look around). And neither am I a fan of the forthcoming .NET/Mono dependency.
  2. Instead of XFCE? It's more resource hungry than a reasonably configured default KDE. I am serious. Funny, but people think it's superior because its lightweight panel+windowmanager plus, say, file manager. But someone who needs to do something more than using bash or drag/drop the files, for example editing a bitmap image, starts GIMP. Huh, enter GTK+. They want to write a letter - runs almost with the entire additional operating system(!). No single app knows about each other.
So, what's left? For me, KDE. Sorry, I tried so hard ;)

What is your favorite widget style?

On Windows I decided to use ThinKeramik and forced my Windows users to use it, by making it the default for my version of kdelibs/win32 that is used for Kexi :) On Linux I switched to Plastik.

What is your favourite colour?

Since recently, I like the KDE 4 color palette. Especially #63B01F green and #0071BC blue, but really, I am bored with too many blue application icons in KDE 3.x (75% or so on my system).

Which of your family members do not use KDE and why not?

My wife uses KDE 3.x (with simplified settings) as the only desktop since mid 2005. My son Michal is a candidate for KDE user, for now he's got an old Apple keyboard as a toy that can be broken ;) My brother knows about the stuff and used it a few times.

What does your desktop look like?

Recently due to using widescreen notebook, on Linux I switched from the almost-default setup to kicker-on-the-right-hand settings:

Jaroslaw's Desktop

What type is your laptop/desktop?

  1. Noname AMD 2k+ (768MB, 80GB HDD) whitebox powered by Windows 2000.
  2. ASUS A6B00VC (512MB, 60GB) notebook without MS tax, powered by SUSE Linux. Its NVidia driver is prepared for KDE4's special effects ;)
  3. Mac G4 Dual 800MHz with OS X 10.3. I turn it on only when necessary.

What is your most brilliant KDE hack?

I guess there are hacks we consider as brilliant, but are really too esotheric and not generating any buzz. So I'd say it would be cleaning the KDElibs for win32 back in 2003 - my local checkout was in a 'non-compilable' state for a few weeks before this became possible: (more history:

What is your most embarrassing KDE moment?

Every time I need to try to recognise people that are known mostly by nick names in various converences. Akademy is one of such places. 'People Behind KDE' page helps to improve that a lot (I've read here it is not only my problem). A printed album with photos could be helpful too :)

Did you go to Akademy in Ireland this year?

Yes I did. I went to Malaga last year and it was interesting meeting. I do this mostly for the atmosphere and people, not for programs, as I prefer to write my code in silence, but run the document-driver design, sometimes with loud discussion.

What do you hope to get out of it?

I expect to come back with tons of ideas, a few of them may be new, other may be refreshed. I wouldn't expect tons of new code. Coding is what most good programmers do _after_ preparing at least a minimal design. So I would expect to get answers to the following questions:

  1. What are our long term goals in particular departments, especially KOffice?
  2. What to do to achieve that?
  3. How to do that? I'd like finally to see the vision or a few visions in worse case...

Personal Questions

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

I am married since 2002.

Do you have children?

I have a son, Michal, who is 14 months old.
Me, with my wife Joanna and my son Michal:

Family picture

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

I guess they need to live with this. Last I checked there was no cure found for this addiction ;)

Do you have any pets?

Currently none. I used to have a chameleon. And dozens of crickets were bred for its meal (a herd of them can be veeery loud). Yes, this is not a joke. And, the choice was not because of SUSE, I swear :)


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

Warsaw, Krakow, the Polish Coast. Mountains are also nice. I'd also recommend Masuria ("land of a thousand lakes").

Which book is on your bedside table?

Currently it is Don Quixote

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

My parents and my son.

Richard Stallman or Linus Torvalds?

Hmm, with my respect for Stallman, I think that too many folks suffered from ideologists in the past century. I'd pick him if he said "All the generic ideas and math should be free". But definitely not "All the software should be free". So, Torvalds.

How would you describe yourself?

Most recent description: a man with so much TODOs.

What does "success" mean to you?

Doing what you like more frequently than doing what you're forced to do.

What do you get passionate about?

Recently - about children. Their ability to learn from the very beginning. I recall a person who consumed much of her life for doing AI research. She didn't look happy with the results, last I checked. Maybe this is not bad.

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

I'd try not to get tired too much. I'd probably read a newspaper or study the landscape a bit and get some rest, unless there's someone willing to chat.

What is your favourite t-shirt?

I liked the one with a crest of Warsaw University. Now these with Kexi logo can be my favourite - I tend send them to core devs, so you know what to do if you want to get one :)

What is your favourite place in the world?

For the longer term it's my country and the city I live in.