Lars Knoll

A Short Intro

  • Located in: Oslo, Norway
  • Occupation: Studied physics, now working as software developer for Trolltech.
  • Claim to Fame: Konqueror's HTML engine, Qt developer
  • Fav. KDE applications: Konqueror and KMail
  • Hardware: Dual PIII-650, 128Mb, running Linux

The Interview

What is your role within KDE?

At the moment, I'm the maintainer of the HTML library used in Konqueror for rendering web pages, and I'm trying to care about support for writing systems different from western european scripts. Support for these scripts is also my main work at Trolltech at the moment.

How and when did you get involved in KDE?

I first heard of KDE a bit more than three years ago, when Kalle wrote an article in the german Ct (a computer magazine). I had already used Linux since about beginning of '93 (some Kernel version below 1.0 for those wondering), and thought that a good desktop is really something still missing on Unix. So I downloaded the sources at that time and started to play around with them. It was at that time when I first started doing programming in C++ (I only had done Fortran and C before during my studies). The first thing I did was a small KDE program as a stand alone application (some sort of answering machine for your computer), which I stopped maintaining about 2 1/2 years ago. The funny thing is that I still get mails about it from time to time.

Then I started doing some patches to kmail (adding pgp support), and at some point send in a patch for the HTML engine in KDE-1. It turned out that this one patch caused me quite a lot of work in the next years, as this was the way I got involved into fixing the KDE-1 HTML widget, and took over development for that library after the release of 1.1.2.

At some point about 15 months ago, I decided, that the old design of the KDE-1 library was not flexible enough to support all the buzzwords one hears nowadays when one talks about the web. So I started a complete rewrite of the lib (I think only one class survived the time from KDE-1 without a complete rewrite). After a while some other people started helping on the new design, and you can see the result when using Konqueror to browse the web.

How much time do you spend on KDE?

Sometimes I think too much :)

What is your favorite tool? (for developers; what is your favorite editor?)

Even though I hate Lisp (and never learned how to do things in it, it always takes me 20 tries to get something working), my favorite editor is xemacs.

Is there a process you follow when you code?

Often it is an iterative process. I start out with a design I have in mind, do a first rough implementation of it, you discuss with other people about it or find some problems, modify the design to fit the needs and start from the beginning. I usually write the documentation at some point after the first or second iteration, because it helps you detect flaws in your design.

What was your first computer?

A commodore VIC-64 my parents bought me when I was about 13 or 14.

Which program would you say every KDE user should have?

Konqueror of course :)

Where do you see yourself and KDE 5 years from now?

To be honest, I have no idea.

Are you being paid to work for KDE and if yes by who?

No, I was always doing KDE development in my free time, and that didn't change with my new job. But I'm paid by Trolltech to do development on Qt, and this also benefits KDE.

Personal Questions

Where and when were you born?

I was born 23. of April 1971 in Freiburg/Germany

Which University/School did you go to?

I studied physics, the first two years at the University in Darmstadt, then moved over to Heidelberg, where I stayed until I finished my PhD. I spend one year of my PhD in the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot/Israel, which perhaps explains my interest in different writing systems and getting them supported in KDE and Qt.

What's your status, are you single and up for adoption?

I'm single.

Do you have children?


Do you have pets?


What is your favorite food?

Indian and Thai.

What is your favorite vacation spot?

The massif central in Southern France. I used to go there for camping almost every year when I was a child and even nowadays I'm going back to this area at least every two years. It's a great place with not too many tourists around, beautiful landscapes and just perfect for relaxing.

What do you (and your s.o) like to do in your sparetime?

Lots of different things. I like to do sports. In the summer everything thats related to water, especially kayaking and diving. I like squash and badminton, and I'm sure I will have lots of possibilities doing some skiing in Norway this winter. Otherwise, I love going to the movies, reading books or just hanging out with friends somewhere.

What was the last movie you have seen?

Woyzeck, by Werner Herzog. It's a German movie from the end of the seventies or beginning of the eighties.

What was the last fiction book that your have read?

John Irving, Setting free the bears.

What songs do you sing in the shower?

I seldom sing in the shower, but if I sing, it's usually one of the last songs I heard in the radio that is still sticking in my ear.

You are having a BBQ in your backyard and you're allowed to invite 3 famous people who would you invite and why?

Ghandi, Beethoven and Richard Feynman. Unfortunately all of them are already dead. Ghandi, because he and his history always interested me, Beethoven because I can't really understand how someone couldn't hear anymore could still write the music he wrote and Feynman because he is one of the greatest and most interesting physicists that existed and I would have loved to meet him once.

Is your best friend (no family) a real person or an on-line one?

A person in real life.

Did you ever met a fellow KDE'r in person, when and where?

A lot of them at the KDE-2 meeting one year ago in Erlangen, on different trade shows and at the hacking session in Trysil this summer.

Name your favorite quote/saying.

Albert Einstein: "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."