Sebastian Kügler

A Short Intro

  • Age: 29
  • Located in: Nijmegen, the Netherlands
  • Occupation: I'm doing research at the Radboud University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands on a European Software Quality standard. In a second project I'm working on for a living, I'm building a digital schoolyard to motivate secondary education students to become Open Source software developers.
  • Nickname on IRC: sebas
  • Homepage:
  • Blog:

The Interview

In what ways do you make a contribution to KDE?

I'm working on guidance, a set of system administration modules. Three of the four guidance modules have been released in the default installation of KUbuntu Breezy Badger, the latest release. Guidance has entered KDE's subversion repository and might become part of KDE4.

At aKademy 2005 in Malaga, I've begun building a Marketing Team for KDE4. I've just finished my studies business administration, so I should have some serious knowledge of this task, as regarding to the subject.

The Dutch local group of KDE is also becoming a serious player in the Netherlands, this is another thing that I'm working on, together with some of the other guys from the Netherlands, such as Fabrice Mous, Adriaan de Groot (who's also my colleage at the university of Nijmegen), Martijn Klingens, who's participating in the Marketing Working Group, amongst others.

Speaking of which, the Marketing Working Group has become my pet peeve since aKademy2005, where we began translating the idea of a Marketing Working Group into something bearable for the community - bearable because one of my marketing tutors at the university once pointed out that as a successful marketing guy you'd have to be an asshole. (In that wording, yes.) I'm trying not to, that is the participative part of our strategy. :-)

When did you first hear of KDE?

Probably around 2001, when I first installed SuSE Linux 7.2 on a server of my employer at this time, the Nijmegen School of Management, where I worked as webmaster at that time, and where I've studied Business Administration.

How and when did you get involved in KDE?

About one and a half year ago more actively. I had taught myself programming by that time and felt that I was wasting resources that could be used to push Open Souce software. Looking for something that'd fit my skills and interests, I came across guidance, a project started by Simon Edwards, the maintainer of the python bindings in KDE's SVN. Funny detail, Simon being a native Australian after having received the source, I noticed from his sig that he had visited the same U2 concert in 1992 in Nijmegen/NL as I did. It turned out that he lives in Nijmegen as I do – that was a complete coincidence though, but got me involved in the Dutch KDE local group. Back to guidance. Having received the source, I've tried to get those modules working on my system, which was Debian Linux. (Simon had been developing for Mandrake, so I needed to port a couple of things.) He also invited me to the kde-i18n-nl mailinglist and to the #kde-nl IRC channel on freenode. The people there were friendly and shared a lot of my goals. Following that, I've attended a couple of meetings, went to fairs for KDE Nederland and got involved even more. The Dutch community is growing at quite a fast pace, and it seemed I could help some of the work involved with that. And not at least I found friends in the community with who the work is a lot of fun.

Are you being paid to work on KDE?

Not directly, but my job is closely related to Open Source software. As such, my employer has a certain interest of me being in close touch with the Open Source world. But no, no money for KDE stuff.

How much time do you usually spend on KDE?

A couple of hours every week, depending on the work pending and other -external- constraints. I don't own a TV set anymore, which probably is probably a good thing for KDE and my overall productivity.

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

Marketing, I guess (from the not-completely-unbiased-opinions-department).

What do you think is still badly missing in KDE?

A decent office suite. KOffice is developing quite well, and has the greatest potential of all office suites around, but it still needs a lot of work to become usable for the majority of users, to cover most of the needs of users. KOffice would greatly benefit from more developers. Krita looks very promising though, partly due to Boudewijn's great work. It might replace the gimp and provide a graphics applications that fits professional requirements (Hi printing-professional-missing-colorspace-independency-in-gimp!).

Do you have any plans for KDE 4?

Lots! As a part of the Marketing Working Group, KDE4 is a great opportunity to do interesting work for me. Having parts of KDE running natively on the win32 platform poses a lot of opportunities. This will actually be the first time we can evangelize people gradually. Have them first use KMail, then Konqueror, and then more and more applications. Up to the point where you can replace their underlying OS without having them noticing that. That's still quite a long way to go, though, but the first obstacles – licensing Qt mainly and getting people to work on win32 compatibility – are already taken. It might also attract a lot of new developers, which KDE can take great advantage of. More short term, less visionary, I think the Appeal project, Plasma and all the eye-candy and new user experience will make me as a user really happy. And not at least with the API cleanup that's planned for KDE4 we're able to drop a lot of ballast which will make our development more productive.

What motivates/keeps you motivated to work on KDE?

In short: Fun and world domination in sight. The longer version includes the inherent motivation of collaboration and Open Source fitting well into my way of approaching things. Then I want to work on something sustainable, and KDE fits that very well.

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

What is "my country" anyway? Short-term things that might happen are more and more businesses as well as end-users adopting KDE. Long-term goal (Martijn mentioned 3 years, my inital take would be 5) is world-domination, and naturally that'll include the Netherlands anyway.

What is your favourite widget style?

Lipstick, plastik as a close second.

Which text editor do you use? Why?

For simple texts kate and kedit. For Python development eric3, which is a great IDE. For webdevelopment Quanta and KDevelop, for system configuration vim.

Which distribution do you use? Why?

Kubuntu, since I'm an apt addict. I like the release cycles of half a year - it makes it much more predictable than Debian Sid (which was my previous distro of choice). Also the quick releases of KDE packages are a big plus since I usually can't wait (and don't want to compile by hand).

What is KDE's killer app? Why?

Konsole since it offers a very convenient user interface to the commandline which I'm pretty used to work with. Kmail is another candidate, I'm scared like hell of having to use something else.

What makes you develop for KDE instead of the competition?

Kim, my partner. On a more serious note, probably Qt's intuitive API, the community around it and the fact that I use it with great pleasure.

What does your desktop look like?


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

My laptop is a Pentium4 mobile based machine, uses neo as a hostname and runs Kubuntu Linux "Breezy Badger" with a custom kernel that adds some spiffy suspend features. Miro, my desktop machine does also run Breezy. It's a shiny AMD64-based workstation, 1GB or RAM, 10K SATA disk and dual Samsung 173N TFT screens. Lovely.

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

Probably Adriaan, he usually brings cheese.

What is your most brilliant KDE hack?

Ask Simon. Seriously, I don't think there are really brilliant things among my work, I'm quite happy as long as I write decent, well-structured – and occasionally even working – code.

What is your most embarrassing KDE moment?

Ask Simon. (My way of clipping a QPixmap would probably be a good candidate.) :-)

Did you go to Akademy? What did you see/What did you miss?

Yes, I've been there. I saw Konqi naked. But don't tell anyone. What I missed was the cultural stuff. Visiting Andalucia for more than a week and only spending half a day on culture and history is still a plain stupid thing. But then I went there for aKademy, and I might as well come back there to visit a couple of cities in Spain. However, I was quite impressed by the level of productivity (of mostly code-unrelated stuff) you can reach at such an event.

Personal Questions

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

Partner, Kim.

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

I'm not an addict, I just have a very strong preference for doing KDE stuff. :-)

Do you have any pets?

Wikipedia's role-model chinchilla Max and his slightly bitchy mate Sofie. I used to have to parakites, but they died 9 months ago soon after each other at the age of far above ten. Quite old, still missing them sometimes.

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

That question makes me think me of the non-european tourist with a LonelyPlanet "Europe" who has 14 weeks and spends one day in the Netherlands only to be able to claim having visited it. In that case, I'd suggest watching tourists in Kinderdijk or visiting Amsterdam and get incredibly wasted. On a less sarcastical note, if you have some more spare time, the Wadden sea has a couple of beautiful islands, such as Vlieland.

Which book is on your bedside table?

I've recently finished Paul Graham's "Hackers and Painters", interesting, sometimes funny read, all in all a reasonable book. Next candidates are "the DaVinci Code" and "Succeeding with Open Source", the latter being mostly work-related.

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

Probably moving to the Netherlands. I learned that I could just do what I had in mind and that it would work out.

Richard Stallman or Linus Torvalds?

Torvalds, benevolent dictatorship is a working concept. I'm refering to that also as the "dudes concept". A project such as KDE can benefit a lot of people who take the responsibility and have the necessary respect of enough project members to be able to cut discussions short, take a decision and move on. A KDE "dude" would be Stephan Kulow. KDE needs more of those "dudes".

How would you describe yourself?

Slightly drunk at times, a not-so-standard-but-still-very-much-a-geek, maybe.

What do you get passionate about?

Media and social/political issues in general, especially those related to (free) software.

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

Coding, assuming that's a valid answer. Trains increase my coding productivity by a factor of three at least. Otherwise I'd probably curse all the time. Ask Adriaan, Bram or Sander for the exact wording.

What is your favourite t-shirt?

My OpenSSH T-Shirt I bought at FOSDEM in Brussels earlier this year.

What is your favourite place in the world?

My new home, assuming everything works out as expected which it will. :-)