Luboš Luňák

Luboš is a non-native English speaker, and I have tried to strike a balance between preserving his charming syntax and readability. [Luboš - I'm offended and flattered at the same time. :)]

A Short Intro

  • Age: I always run out of fingers, and I already have my shoes off...
  • Located in: Prague, Czech Republic, my chair at home at the moment
  • Occupation: Developer at Novell/SUSE CZ
  • Nickname on IRC: Seli
  • Claim to Fame: I maintain some core KDE components like: the KWin window/compositing manager, the session manager (ksmserver), some mostly X11-related classes in kdelibs, and I wrote KhotKeys (please be careful when looking at its sources. Those were my experimental coding times and I managed to write some really weird things there, like overloading the comma operator. Yes, comma). I've also worked on optimizations, various fixes who knows where, voodoo magic stuff here and there, and possibly more things I don't remember anymore.
  • Hardware: Home: AMD Sempron 2200+ machine with 1.5 GiB RAM
    Work: something slightly faster with two monitors; nothing fancy though.
    The home machine is called 'seli' (selfish times, I guess), the work machine is called 'magic' (it had some initial problems when I got it, so I had to exorcise it and as you know part of that is renaming the thing ... also, you know the story about the 'magic''/ 'more magic' button :) ?)
    I also have a work laptop called 'silver' (quite obvious name after looking at it), but I use that only when traveling, as I don't like laptops very much because of the keyboard and touchpad.
  • Blog:

The Interview

Your early interview seems to be lost to the sands of time, do you think that's good? [Ed. - Some earlier interviews are listed as awaiting "conversion", and are not online].

I don't really remember it anymore.
I think the only thing I remember from it was that I mentioned my place of birth was in Slovakia, which made some people here think I am Slovak [Ed. - He's Czech], and then I also think I answered to the 'Children?' question that I don't have any, but I have a plushy lion if that counts. :)

So using my magic powers, I managed to find an archive of your old interview:

  • Is there a certain application/set of applications in KDE you are responsible for?
    Lubos: The only utility i'm responsible for is KHotKeys, which is definitely going to rank high in this year's 'Vaporware of the year'.

So why did you call KHotKeys vaporware? ;) And what does it do?

KHotKeys was my first KDE creation (I can't quite say application, since to my knowledge I have never actually written a KDE application). In KDE1 times it was simply a 'run this command when I press this key' daemon. Then, of course, I got this idea that I should rewrite KHotKeys from scratch for KDE2 and make it perfect (which is why people should be careful when looking at its sources, I was still naive in those times). It also got more features, like running dcop commands, reacting on active window changes, and so on. IIRC The vapourware part refers to it not being ready for KDE 2.0.

It used to be in kdebase until recently, when it was replaced by a new rewrite for KDE 4.2. I've also handed over the maintainership to Michael Jansen, as I haven't really touched KHotKeys for ages, being busy with other stuff.

O.K. So KHotKeys is historic, and it isn't what you mostly do now. That seems to be KWin? And X stuff?


Given that my primary job is making sure KDE works well in openSUSE/SLED, most of my work is bugfixing or doing whatever needs to be done for KDE+SUSE, and then I also do KWin.

So bugclosing actually is part of your job?

It's kind of a relaxation, in breaks between fixing the hard ones. :)

And you're paid to work on KDE?

Yes, i'm a member of the KDE team at Novell.

Do you do KWin work as part of your job?

I don't really work on KWin that much.

Really? That seems to be one of your main claims to fame, I thought.

I actually do mostly bugfixing i'd say; that applies to both Novell and KWin.

Are those the bugs that have put you in the Commit-Digest in the past?

I really don't know ... I've just fixed a lot it seems. I don't bugfix just KWin, I fix whatever seems necessary - we also get KDE bug reports in the Novell bugzilla, for example. Then i'm also stuck in the somewhat stupid situation that there are areas in KDE which nobody except for me seems to understand, such as some X11-relevant parts. I guess people who are used to Qt APIs don't want to suffer the libX11 APIs.

*laughs* Tell me about this bet you made regarding blue hair...

Well, I've spent quite some time just reviewing incoming bugs, and there are many where I have to say "the error description is insufficient, I cannot fix anything in KWin with this" or something similar. So when there was a discussion on kde-core-devel, which I don't remember that well anymore, but it had something to do with bug reports, I pointed out in response to somebody that we can't even process the bug reports we get now.

That was grundleborg. ;)

...and I also mentioned the fact that i'm a developer, and should be fixing bugs and working on features, rather than processing bug reports, and that my repeated appearance in b.k.o stats was the proof.

And the (then starting IIRC) BugSquad felt somewhat offended by that. It eventually ended with me saying that I'll believe in the BugSquad when I see a difference. Namely, not seeing my name in the Commit-Digest bug statistics so often. Since, you know, I've always wanted blue hair, and never had a good reason, and blauzahl said that I must make my hair blue for akademy if they made that happen by then, you surely understand I could not refuse that challenge. :)

OK, seriously, currently I'm keeping at the tail of the top 10, so they have not won yet, and it looks like I may or may not save my hair. But not being entirely sure is part of betting, right? :)

[Ed. - The bet was that BugSquad could knock him out of the top ten list of bug-closers (i.e. what is listed in the Commit-Digest), then he would dye his hair blue for Akademy. Indeed, he showed up with blue hair].

Yeah. *g*

I believe the lines in question that started it were (from IRC):

Luboš: I'll believe it when I see it.
(me): I'll make it my personal goal [to get you off the Commit-Digest].
Luboš: Deal.

So do you think BugSquad is making a difference? Even if you're still borderline #10?

The number of resolved bugs in the statistics generally look higher, so I guess the answer is yes...
It'd probably be pretty bad without, since the numbers of incoming reports are still rising, as more people start to use KDE 4.x.

Well, we haven't poached your KWin bugs yet. :) Do you think that's against the rules?

I try to keep them nice and tidy, so maybe you wouldn't find that many things to do there. Feel free to have a look.

Are there any other developers for KWin or the X stuffs?

KWin was a one-man show for ages (I guess nobody else wanted to make the mistake of fixing a small glitch in KWin and then being stuck with doing what else needs to be done there too. *g*), although there have been several people helping with the compositing part. There are people who develop the various KWin decorations, which i'm bad at (and generally anything related to art), so i'm grateful to those too.

I suppose most KDE developers are scared of Xlib (which kind of is scary compared to the nice Qt/KDE APIs), but many things in KWin don't really need that and there are quite some relatively simple things waiting at that I just don't have time for.

However, it looks like the compositing stuff actually helps to get people working on the other parts, somewhat ironically. For example, Lucas Murray has recently written some nice patches for various things, so I hope he stays around for a while :).

If somebody else would like to get thank you emails for various nice features in KWin, you know who to talk to ;).
Not everybody needs to write effects.

When did you first hear of KDE?

I think I probably first saw it, before hearing about it. That was at KDE 1.0 times. :)

I was still on Win95 back in those days, and I occasionally used Linux, because I played a MUD and wanted to help code it too. So I actually started with Linux because of games, as absurd as it may sound. RedHat 5.0 I think. I must have installed it about 50 times, since I didn't know how to change configuration when it was installed.

I found it to be pretty bad for normal usage. ...That is, until the day I saw KDE. It actually made me think "Hey, this looks like I could actually use Linux for everyday work."

How did you become the KWin maintainer?

I became KWin maintainer since I didn't like a flash that was there when switching between two virtual desktops when each of them were showing Konsole maximized. It wasn't that difficult to fix, but people somehow noticed and then started coming to me and asking me to fix things there. Well, who'd have guessed that?

That was your first KWin contribution?

If memory serves me well, my very first KDE patch was adding a new mode for showing wallpaper - I had a random wallpaper every hour (I turned it on just for the fun of it and then found out I couldn't go back), and it either scaled up too small images or cut larger ones so I made a new mode which scaled only down, and only if necessary.

Then I did few small things elsewhere and my biggest KDE1 thing was KHotKeys - it seemed like a really good idea to be able to run applications just by pressing a shortcut.

And then, I think, there was the KWin accident. :)

Is it true that you don't like eye candy?

I don't like it when it gets in the way.

And yet, you are now the KWin maintainer... kinda ironic that, no?

Well, yes. Additionally, I'm bad at graphics.

Random changing wallpapers don't count as eye candy?

It's not getting in the way.

What was your most recent commit to KDE?

I fixed a wrong slot name in Netscape plugins code. I noticed it while checking why plugin loading on-demand doesn't work now. (But you know, flash still sucks.)

How much time a week do you usually spend on KDE? How much upstream vs. downstream?

My work is KDE-related, so a lot :). As a member of the KDE team at SUSE/Novell I spend almost all of my work time on KDE. I try to limit that in my spare time so that I can try those other things like having a life - I often don't quite succeed though. :)

I cannot quite make a distinction between upstream and downstream.
Most of the work I do eventually ends up upstream.

So can you estimate how much time outside of work you spend on KDE?

Not really.

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

Probably the underlying technologies, although I understand not everybody would be interested in that.

Like KIO? kdelibs? How do you publicize that? Or do you mean it could use more developers?

Outside developers could use it... It's sometimes surprising how many interesting "new" things some people invent that we'd had already for years.

What do you think is still badly missing in KDE?

More people working on it? ;)

Well, how many people work on kdelibs? Enough?

No idea. I don't think so. It's rather simple to start your KFooapp, but people rarely get as far as kdelibs.

What are your future development plans in KDE4?

Do whatever turns up. Which is not really the same as my TODO file, that one is hopelessly full and neglected.

`wc -l` ?


What motivates you to work on KDE?

It's interesting, I use the result, and it also pays the rent.
Not a bad combination. It's quite difficult for me to imagine a better job.

Well, how do you keep that motivation and not get burnt out?

Well that's simple, I wouldn't want to live under a bridge :)

So if you weren't working at SUSE would we lose you as a contributer?

I don't know, I've never tried it. I would like to still do a little work, but it would be only that, a little. I'm only human.

Well, even working at SUSE you can't do it 24/7... But most people aren't paid. Do you think that free software developers are taken for granted?

Depends on by whom. Some people seem to act like if people doing this in their spare time had some obligations to them.

There have been lots of flamewars and attacks lately on the Dot and in the greater press... Do you think that harms the community?

Yes, but it's a question whether that hasn't always been a part of it.
I learned a long time ago to just try to shrug it off, so I don't really pay that much attention.
Apparently some people don't have anything better to do than spend their time flaming.

What makes you contribute to KDE instead of another project?

Well, if I remember correctly KDE was the first one I tried and I kind of stuck with it :).
I've never really thought about contributing to something else. i'm not sure how of an big influence was seeing the source code of some of those something else's though.

Does that mean you did look at the source code to other projects?

Working on lower parts of KDE, or optimizations occasionally lead to even lower than KDE, for example to libraries KDE uses. So yes.

And, of course, I also sometimes look elsewhere to find something worth stealing... er, borrowing :). As long as the license allows, of course.

Which text editor do you use?

mcedit - The internal editor from Midnight Commander, with a few personal patches (and those are the reason i'm stuck at version 4.1.36, that should teach me for not pushing them upstream).

I guess starting in Borland's DOS IDE is guilty there. :)

What does your desktop look like?

Always running: mcedit, KMail, most of the time. Licq. xmms.

What is KDE's killer app? Why?

Well, from my point of view, KDE's killer "app" is the libraries, since that's what everything else is built on. You cannot build great things on feet of clay.

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

Somebody capable of building ships or homing devices.

So no special preference? I thought you'd met lots of KDE developers? You certainly seem to go to enough conferences and give infamous talks involving kittens.

I go to Akademy every year, and I occasionally go to see the other SuSE KDE people, but that's it.

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

I'd be KWin (what a surprise): not seen that much, but people would notice quickly if something breaks that i'm responsible for.

You mean that you aren't seen?

It's not that much about being or not being seen, it's rather that some parts of KDE have a bus number equal to one, and that one is me.

[Definition: The number of developers who all have to get HitByBus to lose some important skill or information from the team]

What is your most brilliant KDE hack?

I think you need to ask others. I keep forgetting things after i'm done with them. Leads to quite interesting surprises when checking SVN history sometimes.

Have you ever broken trunk?

Silly question. Of course. :)

What's your advice to newcomers?

If you want to get involved in KDE, the best way to go about it is to find something you'd like to see changed (like, a bug fixed or a favourite feature implemented), and try to do that.

(And note that it may need a bit of pushing to get your work in, KDE people tend to be quite busy).

Personal Questions

You knew this was coming: Are you single and up for adoption?

Single and up for adoption.

Do you still have your plushy lion and a pink elephant?

Sure. :)

Do you have any live pets by now?

No, I think they'd be really bored with me coming home so late, so often.
So I think I wouldn't want to do that to them.

Do you do much in the way of Linux advocacy? Do your family members all use Linux now?

Yes, but only some of them. I haven't been completely lucky yet. ;)

Others in the community who don't work on KDE for their job, have it take a large chunk of their free time. What about you? What do you do when you aren't working? Do you do much KDE stuff?

I try not to spend much time with KDE work in my spare time. KDE in spare time and KDE as work are slightly different things, and there are also some limits. I'd be afraid of going insane if I did too much of it. So, in order to compensate, I try to do non-technical things, mostly sports - inline skating, bouldering, and so on.

Bouldering = rock climbing?

Yes, without rope, usually indoors in small heights (up to ~5m). I'm a bit afraid of heights, you know. :)

Wait a second, then what are you doing in this picture:

Being quite fine, actually. You don't really have that many options at that point anymore.

But how were you convinced to do whatever you are doing there?

It took about half one hour of persuading oneself :).
Well, that's how long it took before it was my turn.

What other hobbies do you have?

I think sports is the main one now, that's what I do most in the time I consider fun.
Then there's the usual one, reading, and then there are occasional things I wouldn't really consider hobbies.

Who is your favorite author?


I've seen you quote from him rather often. Do you have the entire annotated Pratchett memorized or something?

No, the good ones just pop up at convenient times.

How would you describe yourself?

Tall, slim, dark hair.

Did you know that is a stereotypical phrase used in personal ads in the United States? :D


At least, "tall, dark, and handsome" but that's pretty close.

Ah, yeah, I forgot handsome. :)

What about developers? Who in KDE-land has inspired you and helped you start out? Is there anyone surprising?

I think I was a self-made-man; I was still in that age in which every developer thinks he's the best one. I guess I somehow ended up with things which others are afraid of or something.

What are you most bribable with? Or what birthday present would you like?

Most bribable with... hmm... I'd like to say 'Anything for one Magnum White...' (i.e. ice cream).

As for the birthday present, I think i'd simply like it to be a surprise. I'm not the kind of person who needs to get a present just so that one is given.

Do you have any tattoos? If you got a tattoo, what would it be of?

No, and I wouldn't.

Richard Stallman or Linus Torvalds?

Linus - common sense first (although I admit we wouldn't be where we are now without Stallman being Stallman).

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

Somebody, I think it was our first president Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, said that everybody has a lot of time, 24 hours a day, so if somebody says they don't have time, it just means they don't want to spend it on something.

So I think just more time, without more will to do things, doesn't really make that of a big difference. Or, to put it more in line with KDE, there would be always more things to do, but there's never enough time.

Do you often have watergun fights?

No, sadly only very rarely.

Do you wish you had more?

Sure :)

Careful! you might get fan mail offering!

Pour them in ;)

What do you see from your window?

What is your favourite place in the world? Do you like traveling?

I don't think I have one. Places alone are not very interesting to me.

Well, what do you like to do when you travel? What's the first thing you'll go see?

I prefer defined purposes, even it is just lying on the beach, and going sightseeing one day.

What do you get passionate about?

...having fun? I think you'd have to ask others.
They can see it better when it happens. :)

Do you have a favorite movie? If so, what?

I don't have just one favourite, but I like movies from Pixar and the Terminator movies (that is, not the joke called Terminator 3: Rise of more money).

How old were you when you first started coding?

Depends on the definition of 'coding', but I guess the answer is about 10.

In what? and did you keep coding on a consistent basis? (i.e. are you one of those scary people that learned C++ at age ten and then just kept using it?)

Sinclair BASIC and no, I definitely didn't do that regularly. I was 10, for my sake.
("I cannot blaspheme, i'm a god, for my sake!" - Pratchett reference)

What machine were you using at age 10? It must have been something odd.

A local clone of the ZX Spectrum.

When you sleep, do you ever have dreams about KDE? If so, can you describe them?

I rarely have dreams (which I guess actually means 'I usually don't remember them after I wake up'), so sorry. :)

football or hockey?

Neither - I don't find it that interesting to watch, and I don't get to play it.

So is there any sport you find interesting to watch?

Ice skating, so that I can envy their gracefulness.

Most guys would not go and watch ice/figure skating, I suspect. At least, it is against the stereotype here.

Oh, I didn't either until I started trying to do that myself on inline skates.
Besides, getting blue hair is probably against the stereotype too, isn't it?

You tried to do figure skating type stuff on inline skates? Is that even possible? Wouldn't you ... ouch.

Well, nothing so fancy, far from that.

So you skate something like this?

But i'm not that good.
I can do only 180-degree jumps myself.

Daniel Molkentin and Scott Wheeler are responsible for this, since they took me skating while I was in Germany a couple of years ago. :)

And blue hair is normal around here. Will it be a problem for you there?

I expect to get a load of chuckles.

Hmm, how many bones have you broken?

None, so far.

Keep it that way! What's your favorite drink? Do you drink alcohol?

My favourite drink is fruit syrup (mixed with water). And I don't drink alcohol, only rum. They got me when I was young (you know, rum truffles and so on).

How about other KDE stereotypes; music: metal or classical?

Neither - rock, pop, dance from the 80's and 90's.

How many non-computer languages do you know?

2.81 (rounded to 2 decimal places).
Czech, Slovak, quite good English (I hope :), really pathetic German (I can ask for a way to the train station and then maybe even get the answer).

What's your .sig?

Lubos Lunak
KDE developer
SUSE LINUX, s.r.o. e-mail: ,
Lihovarska 1060/12 tel: +420 284 028 972
190 00 Prague 9 fax: +420 284 028 951
Czech Republic


So what was it like to have blue hair?

Quite interesting, apparently more interesting than making somebody else have blue hair. :)

Really? So I missed out?

Definitely. I was surprised the color wears out so quickly though.

You said you had it redone better after you got back, what are your long-term plans for it, and do we get a photo of the new dye job? :)

Well, I look really bad as blonde, and what's the difference between coloring it to my natural color or to blue besides the latter being more fun and having that color handy?
No photos i'm afraid.

Does BugSquad exist?

If memory serves me well, we closed about 100-200 reports a week at the time the bet was made, according to the statistics. Now it's much more, often exceeding the number of new bugreports, and I've seen even more than 500 reports done per week. So yes, apparently somebody does this :)

Were you a celebrity?

Guessing from the fact that people hailed me like 'hello, my favourite rock star!', I think yes.

Do you think we'll be able to pull off Ossi's bet, or will my hair be blue next?

Enjoy your hair next year. :)

[Ed. - Ossi's bet is that BugSquad can't knock Seli from not just the top 10, but the top 20. And for three months running. Loser gets blue hair. My hair was never involved in the bet with Seli].

I don't see how I can possibly win Ossi's bet. Unless we completely decimate bugzilla. And add 10-15 people. (Plus the fact that I think people would rather see me with blue hair...)

I don't see it either - I said, enjoy your hair :)
But consider it a win, as I said, it's much more fun to make yourself get strange hair than somebody else - the fun lasts longer :)

I'm glad you're enjoying it! You've been really cool about all this!