Martin Eisenhardt

Martin Eisenhardt Ever wondered who is behind Want to know what drives a person to provide that service to KDE for years and years? Martin Eisenhardt will tell you in this weeks behindkde's interview. As we speak he is setting up one of the first mirrors, which will be live later this week!

Can you give an introduction of yourself?

Well, I am Martin Eisenhardt, thirty-something years old, married to my lovely wife Claudia. We are living in a small town called Lauf, which is near Nuremberg, Bavaria, Germany. I hold an advanced degree in Computer Science; my favorite pastimes are programming, reading, music, hiking, and photography.

Can you tell us what you do for a living?

Currently, I am working with Senacor Technologies, a medium-sized software consultancy that caters primarily to the financial industry (read: big banking and insurance companies), although we have some other big-time companies as clients. So, you could say that I earn my money by developing enterprisey software.

Can you tell us what you do for KDE?

For several years, I have been running one of the mirrors of KDE's Subversion repository. For those who want to know whose mirror is down again: It's, also known as

While I do no programming for KDE (at least not at the moment), I feel that this is a way to give back to KDE's great community.

You are maintaining an anonsvn server for ages now, who pays for that and why such dedication?

"Ages" does mean several years in my case, and it has always been a great pleasure and satisfaction to provide this service to KDE's developers. The server running my mirror is paid for by me; although the server is not dedicated to only serve Quite to the contrary, the server runs many services but still has resources unused, so initially I simply wanted to donate these unneeded resources to a good cause.

Nowadays, when the server gets upgraded, I always keep in mind to set aside enough resources to allow for anonsvn running with more than acceptable performance.

The dedication for providing a mirror to KDE is easy to explain: KDE has always provided me with a great desktop experience, so it is only natural for me to give something back. Of course, it is not possible to support each and every OSS project in existence, but I tackle that problem one project at a time ... :D

How come when we mail you with a problem, you always react within very short time?

Running an infrastructure service like a Subversion mirror for an active community of developers is something that I take seriously. For that reason - and apart from being mid-air, mountaineering or seriously sick - I always keep on eye on my inbox so that I can react in a timely manner.

The coming months stuff will change due to the transition to git. Can you explain the changes and your role in it?

I expect my role to change from a provider of a Subversion mirror to being the provider of an installation of gitolite, hosting all the git repositories of KDE's various parts, projects, and applications.

On a side node: I am really looking forward to using git; I use it on a lot of my own projects, and I think it is a very good replacement for Subversion.

What are the areas where KDE and its software really shines in your opinion?

IMHO, KDE has several strong advantages:
  1. KDE - as a desktop environment - is very sleek and simply cool-looking. Opening your laptop and having people look at the screen is something that does not get old. At the same time, a fine desktop like KDE is a very good entry point into a discussion about OSS in general, telling people about the alternatives to closed and proprietary software. It is said that you shall not judge a book by its cover; but a good cover makes a book interesting.
  2. KDE is highly configurable - just how I like it. Being able to customize one's desktop experience is something that I do not want to miss; in my opinion, not being able to customize the desktop of the operating system from Redmond is one of its biggest drawbacks, the second one being the miserable scriptablility; and this leads us to ...
  3. KDE's scriptability; being able to automate tasks and to drive the UI from scripts written for example in Ruby or Python is simply great. These script look and feel exactly like native programs but are written in nearly no time at all.
  4. KDE's great software library, spanning productivity tools, office software, games, scientific software and programming tools, makes it a very fun and productive desktop environment. In conjunction with the underlying GNU/Linux OS, it takes usually less than 30 minutes to get from zero to a fully set-up office environment. No commercial OS I know of beats that.

Do you have a vision, like where do you want KDE in general to be in 5 years and sysadmin in particular?

Five years is a very long time in software; just look back to 2005 and remember how things were back then. Therefore, I do not have a clear vision as such, but rather like to envision a path into the future.

I believe and hope that KDE will continue to be on the leading edge of modern desktops, and that it keeps developing the kind of neat little (and bigger!) tools that I really like about KDE right now.

In my expectation, the future looks great for KDE.