Jes Hall

A Short Intro

The Interview

In what ways do you make a contribution to KDE?

I'm a member of the KDE documentation team and the maintainer of the FAQ. I've also done some work on kicker and kopete, and I do a bit of promotional writing. I also spend a fair bit of time supporting users on IRC, mailing lists and other forums. I tend to be one of the people who puts their hand up for little odd jobs like smoothing out translated strings or testing a bug fix.

When did you first hear of KDE?

When I first was able to get my hands on a full install of Slackware Linux by ordering CDs off the internet about 5 years ago. Previously to that I'd been downloading only a very base installation that didn't include KDE.

How and when did you get involved in KDE?

Philip Rodrigues noticed me answering the same questions over and over again on IRC and told me I should submit some patches for the FAQ to save answering them yet again. At that time the FAQ had been without someone to look after it for some time, and after a little while I took over its maintainership. I've had a CVS/SVN account for 10 months now. In fact, the anniversary of that first patch was just last week.

Are you being paid to work on KDE?

Not at the moment. I've had some paying work come to me through KDE channels and I'm very glad for that. I'd love to be able to find more of it and spend more time working on KDE =)

How much time do you usually spend on KDE?

It varies greatly. Sometimes as much as 40 hours a week, sometimes as little as 5.

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

KDE as a complete package. There are many people who are unaware of the quality of our product and how many places it's used in a professional environment. I'm trying to interview some local businesses using KDE in large deployments for the dot to let more people know about KDE being used in the 'real world'. We have a fantastic product and should shout it from the rooftops =)

What do you think is still badly missing in KDE?

I'd love to see some journal/diary software. Not for the web, but for one's personal thoughts. I'd also like to see Koffice reach maturity to be used in a corporate environment. It's a very nice software package already, but exporting to other more widely used formats is still a weakness of it.

Do you have any plans for KDE 4?

I'll be heading up the documentation effort for plasma and working on other docs. I'm also keen to track KDE4 development all the way up to release with my 'This Month in SVN' series. I also have some other marketing/promotion/documentation ideas that are still in the planning state. Apart from that, I'll do what I usually do – keep saying yes to other developers when they say 'I have a little job for you ...'

What motivates/keeps you motivated to work on KDE?

Seeing the amazing progress in the time I've used KDE, and a sense of pride and achievement that I can be a part of it. I feel strongly that the open source culture in general is putting life-changing knowledge and tools into the hands of many people. Feeling that I can be a part of this, however small my part may be, is very satisfying.

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

I know of quite a few businesses who already use KDE on the desktop. My local university has something like 250 machines running BSD and KDE, and I know of other places. Open source software has really taken off in New Zealand.

What is your favourite widget style?


Which text editor do you use? Why?

Kate. I really love it's xml tools for docbook. I also like how I can load up all the html files for my website over fish and save that as a session so that it can be loaded again with one click next time. My checkout of KDE SVN is on another computer, so fish rocks my world.

Which distribution do you use? Why?

Slackware Linux. I've used it longer than most other distributions have existed and I can't be bothered changing to anything else. I've tried many others, and worked with others at various jobs. They all have their quirks and Slackware annoys me the least.

What is KDE's killer app? Why?

For me and my 7GB and growing collection of digital photographs, that would have to be digikam. I could write a whole page on what is so fantastic about digikam... in fact, I have =D

What makes you develop for KDE instead of the competition?

When I first switched to KDE it took me a while to get used to, and I used to get annoyed with it for not being like the WM I was used to. Now I can't use anything else. The KDE way of doing things has completely spoiled me – if it doesn't work as well as KDE, I can't use it! There are no other choices for me – I couldn't develop for anything else.

What does your desktop look like?


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

  • hal – home built Intel 2.4Ghz/1024MB running Slackware + KDE
  • iMac – green iMac DV running OSX
  • baby-dell – ultraportable Dell L400 running Slackware + KDE
See this image.

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

That's an easy choice. Lauri Watts. Is there any chance we could also get shipwrecked with the ships alcohol supplies?

What is your most brilliant KDE hack?

I'm not sure that I have one, if so it could only be following what passes for instructions in aseigo's universe doing small jobs for him, and somehow managing to do them even though I don't understand what it is I'm to do =)

What is your most embarrassing KDE moment?

Probably typing something crass into the wrong IRC channel – unfortunately this happens every week so I can't think of a specific instance *blush*

Did you come to akademy 2005 this year?

I could'nt make it this year due to family commitments. I'm already planning for next year!

Personal Questions

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


How does your partner cope with your KDE addict?

He's very tolerant. He's an open source hacker as well, working on the Dylan programming language (http://www.gwydiondylan.org/). He's primarily a mac guy but he has a linux box running KDE he uses from time to time. We have been known to discuss KDE just about every place.

Do you have any pets?

My cute green iMac, he looks like a pet frog =)

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

As an Australian who moved here 2 years ago, I've found Mt Ruapehu most amazing. I'd never really seen snow that much before.

Which book is on your bedside table?

"Fire In The Valley" (Paul Freiberger and Michael Swaine).

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

The internet. Being able to meet other 'geeks' and be inspired by them.

Richard Stallman or Linus Torvalds?

Linus. He's cuter.

How would you describe yourself?

An artistic dreamer who sees beauty in the symmetry of mutually recursive functions.

What do you get passionate about?

KDE, open source, friends, life and love.

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

Stare out the window, daydream, read a book. Take strange macro shots of my shoes.

What is your favourite t-shirt?

Until I get my hands on some KDE merchandise, my South Park shirt!

What is your favourite place in the world?

Beside my partner.