Petr Rockai

A Short Intro

The Interview

In what ways do you make a contribution to KDE?

Hacking Adept package manager. Some small things in Konsole (kdelibs TerminalInterface). I have done some bugfixing for Red Hat (in KDE), but planning to do far more. Obviously the fixes will go to upstream as well. And I hang out in #kde-devel all the time and even try to help at times.

There is a missing question about anti-contribution. I anti-contribute to KDE by keeping some hackers off the code, playing Wesnoth or Freeciv with me. Yeah, evil.

When did you first hear of KDE?

Long time ago. My (as in running on my own machine) first useful desktop was one of the first KDE betas. After I found out how one can run X I used AfterStep for a while, but in a very limited way. When I got at CDs of a distro with KDE, I started to use it. The only Internet access around at the time was ultra-expensive dialup here. So I had to get things off CDs. Later I got to use some less-expensive dialup and I downloaded tarballs of early 2.0 alphas. Then CVS. It used to be fun... When I got access to flatrate, things changed a lot.

How and when did you get involved in KDE?

Involved in KDE. I started writing for KDE around Qt 1.44 or so, IIRC. Maybe sooner, but first working app was probably 1.44. It was a genealogy program for my mother. It even worked, which was fairly surprising. I fixed a few problems with KFilter a bit later (which was a Qt 1 program too), when we used it to design loudspeakers with my father. More real code came with Kapture, my first attempt at an apt frontend.

Are you being paid to work on KDE?

Partially, if you count having an OK to fix bugs in KDE during working hours. Ah, and I am a bounty hunter as far as Adept goes.

How much time do you usually spend on KDE?

Depends. Sometimes whole weekend and several evenings in one week, sometimes a hour in whole week. Depends on time, mood, motivation and phase of moon.

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

I don't think we need more publicity. Maybe more hackers, but I don't think publicity is exactly the thing that attracts bright minds. And even if it is, publicity alone is not enough :).

What do you think is still badly missing in KDE?

I would like to see more modern C++ code in KDE. But that's hard, since we have to support many compilers.

Do you have any plans for KDE 4?

I don't know yet. Will depend on how I get along with real life and other uninteresting topics. I will also have to write bachelor's thesis, so that further limits my time. Would be nice to do some real work in kdelibs or so. Maybe just taking care of Konsole. I'll see.

What motivates/keeps you motivated to work on KDE?

I don't know. I experience times of great motivation and of great demotivation. It's like a sine wave. I tend to blame all code I haven't written (but should have) on it. Motivation is among my greatest problems. Or maybe I like to think that and I'm just lazy. Who knows. I feel I should have done much more than I have done. I will try to fix that though.

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

Many people here use KDE. Many as in, many of those I know. Many use GNOME and many use some sort of minimalistic desktop (fluxbox and friends). Very few use Windows. But then, I work for a Linux company and most machines at school run Linux or BSD.

Which text editor do you use? Why?

Emacs. Because I like Lisp and Vim was getting on my nerves. I am happier now. I set up viper (vi-style keybindings) for Emacs to save my fingers. But without the escape-goes-to-vi-state atrocity, using ctrl+g. And dvorak layout. And ctrl-on-capslock.

Which distribution do you use? Why?

Debian, Fedora, RHEL, (K)Ubuntu. Mostly Debian (or Fedora) as main system and a bunch of chroot environments for development.

What is KDE's killer app? Why?

KWin for (easy, per-app/per-window) configurability. I should also mention Konsole and Konqueror. Konqueror got so good it is my primary browser for ages now. And kdelibs-level integration of everything (kio, toolbar editor, shortcut configuration, ...).

What makes you develop for KDE instead of the competition?

I like my sanity. And C++. Well, that almost contradicts, but no matter. I also use KDE as my desktop, so it would make little sense to code for GNOME. And all the cool folks hack KDE right? ;-)

What does your desktop look like?

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

My machines:

  • lorien (pc): HT P4, 3GHz, 2G RAM, intel board, assembled from components
  • eriador (laptop): Dell Latitude D410 (12"), Centrino, 1.8GHz, 1G RAM
  • ithilien (X terminal): siemens scenic xS, P3 666MHz, 256M RAM
  • sirion (old smartbook): Celeron 1.1GHz, 256M RAM, SiS chipset (real pain)
I also have an athlon xp 1.4GHz (so that amd fans don't crucify me), but its (gigabyte, via chipset) board has a blown up capacitor. It used to be lorien's. If I find a board for it I would revive it, it wasn't a bad machine.

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

Only one? I would probably have hard time choosing between Kévin Ottens, Bart Coppens and Maksim Orlovich :). However I only met Kévin in reality (and that for fairly short time), so it may be a catastrophic choice... I have no idea how good they are at building ships without tools. Hope better than me.

What is your most brilliant KDE hack?

The one that didn't happen yet. I hope.

What is your most embarrassing KDE moment?

Probably flaming coolo after misunderstanding him (so it was not his fault). Damn. Well, let's forget it :-).

Are you going to Akademy in Ireland this year?

No idea. I will have a busy summer. I will try to be there though.

What do you hope to get out of it?

Fun! What else?

Personal Questions

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


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

Fairly well I guess. Jitka is very supportive and everything. I have always coffee or tea in a good supply when hacking. She also studies on same faculty as me. Works for same company even. She uses KDE daily.

Do you have any pets?

I don't have pets here in Brno, but my parents in Dolany, Slovakia do have two: a (tom)cat Mortimer and a dog Max. You should be able to tell them apart on the photos.

Which book is on your bedside table?

Right now Slovak translation of E. T. A. Hoffmann's "Lebensansichten des Katers Murr".

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

This is a hard one. I am liberal in being influenced. I change often and lot. Maybe because I am still fairly young. I like to read and keep pieces of the book inside. I am not ashamed to steal from the great.

I probably make up for this liberality in being conservative on other things. Like clothing, you usually have to threaten me before I throw away a dear piece of clothing. Or machine. Or a piece of paper. Basically, I keep everything I can. You could say I am obsessed with collecting things. I keep code that doesn't compile for years I once wrote. I probably have most of my hacks stored somewhere.

Richard Stallman or Linus Torvalds?

Stallman for ideals. And emacs. Linus for kernel that works (sometimes ;).

How would you describe yourself?

Someone who tries to have a good life. Who wants to have family, friends and be happy, together with them. Someone who will try his best to contribute something useful to mankind. Someone who often cares and sometimes becomes angry and uncaring. Someone who can hurt others and self. Someone who can comfort others and self.

Someone who wants to collect all knowledge he can. Someone who wants to be very good at everything and fails. Someone who craves for respect of others but often forgets to respect them in return. Someone who wants to share his knowledge but lacks the patience.

Someone who is scared of life. Someone who is scared of being hurt, but cannot live without hurting. Someone who is barely sane.

Eh, I am not a good person. But that knowledge is a first step of a change, no? Sometimes I wish it was easier to be good.

What do you get passionate about?

Beauty, elegance. Technical excellence. Poetry. Music. Bad code. Good code. Love and hate. I am a passionate person, I just tend to look cold on the outside.

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

No laptop, no books I presume. Well, I could try talking to strangers. Or just let my mind wander. Or if I had paper and pen (I almost always have), I could write something.

What is your favourite t-shirt?

The Opeth one. And the KDE one I have from aKademy 2004.

What is your favourite place in the world?