Stephan Kulow

A Short Intro

  • Located in: Lübeck, Germany
  • Occupation: Student of Med. Computer Science
  • Nickname on IRC: coolo - which is the right pronouncation of my last name, nothing else. My mother calls me Willy, but that's another story ;)
  • Claim to Fame: Being most likely the tallest KDE core developer (I put the core in here, as I don't know every KDE developer :)
  • Fav. KDE applications: kmoon and kpat
  • Hardware: A normal PC fast enough

The Interview

What is your role within KDE?

I guess, I'm one of the most central persons within KDE development. It's hard to develop for KDE and haven't heard of me. It's not that I'm that great, but that I give away CVS accounts, 'moderate' the kde-core-devel mailing list (I decide, who posts and who doesn't), I maintain all the stuff around building KDE. I use to entitle me 'source maintainer' for people that want a simple phrase for what I do in KDE. I haven't written that many applications yet, but I wrote a decent share of code within the libraries and I ported KDE to some compilers and plattforms and fixed quite some bugs - ah, yes! I also maintain the bug system.

How and when did you get involved in KDE?

Well, I wrote a little Qt application to view some audio files I had in hex mode under Solaris (I've heard about xemacs's lisp too late :). When I asked on the Qt mailing list if there is some standard way where to write it's config to, I've heard about KDE. It was in the very beginning of KDE, so KHexEdit (the name I gave it then) was one of the very first 20 KDE applications.

As my main development platform was Solaris at that time (because I could only afford a P66 with 16MB at that time and the machines in the universities were that much faster) I tried to make KDE compilable there too. So I got deeper into the build system thing. We had some quite controversial discussion if we should go with autoconf, but I guess at that time one of the main rules of KDE came up, that you have to do the work if you want it to decide. At that time we didn't have CVS and the applications were maintained by single developers and were released when some new features were ready. Kalle maintained kdelibs and when I had patches for it, I had to send it to Kalle. It happened that Kalle went offline for some weeks as he changed jobs and so he didn't apply my patches. So I took over kdelibs and put some libraries into it you needed to compile it (that part went later into kdesupport) and some applications like kwm and kfm. KDE became easier to compile and install then it was before.

When Kalle came back, we decided to put these tarballs into CVS, so we could share the maintaince. If you know our current development model you wouldn't believe that I put new kfm releases for about a year into CVS when Torben released a new version. The same worked for all the games, utils and so on. Kalle and I were the only CVS users for quite some time, at that time our CVS server was my workstation at the university (where I used to work as part time developer). I could hear if someone checked out KDE from CVS - it seems like ages ago ;-)

How much time do you spend on KDE?

Right now I'm working for my exams (as of this writing) I need to pass the last one, so my studying is almost done. But while I learned the day, my KDE time went down to about one hour a day – sometimes 2. But on some weekends before the exams I'm on the computer for 12 hours and more a day – and then it's all about KDE.

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

I work very much with xemacs, but a lot of the stuff I do I have to do remotly, so I'm also a vi user. But I still prefer xemacs if I have a choice.

Is there a process you follow when you code?

Hmm, as I don't really understand the question I guess no. When I write something, I'm sitting for days and only write things on papers, that I throw away, walk up and down and think of possible ways to solve the problem. If I'm through with this, I sit down and write the code almost in one run. Then I start to debug and implement all features. But I doubt I'm that special in how I write code.

What was your first computer?

Before the wall fell, computers were very expensive and so it took me quite some while to get a computer. I used to read books about Basic and wrote algorithm without being able to test them. Then I got myself a programmable calculator over some strange ways. It was able to run a set of 40 key strokes and I tried for nights to design algorithms that fit into 40 steps. OK, but the first thing you would call a computer was a 8088 which I got fourth hand.

Which program would you say every KDE user should have?

There is nothing I can think of you definitly need. But for me a KDE without kpat is no KDE.

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

If you could tell me where I am at the end of the year I would already know more than I know now. I have no idea if KDE surives the next 5 years or if X still exists at that time at all. But that's part of the fun being part of it.

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

I'm being paid by Caldera at the moment as kind of scholarship agreement so I can do my diploma thesis without having to take another job. But in the end it gives me some spare time for KDE hacking and that's part of the deal.

Personal Questions

Where and when were you born?

I was born in Wismar in the very cold February of '76. Wismar is a very nice city on the baltic sea and I grew up in a village near it.

Which University/School did you go to?

From class 9 to 12 I went to a boarding-school in Rostock, that was funded for special education of talented children (in my case it was mathematics, but on the same school there were also sports men and women and if you watch the olympics in TV, hear of the name Rostock especially when water is involved. Jan Ullrich is also from Rostock, but as the school there didn't have any cycle sport, he went to Berlin to the same kind of school - otherwise... :)

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

I'm happily engaged with a little red haired girl as Charly Brown would name it.

If maried/girlfiend/partner(m/f), how does he/she cope living with a KDE addict?

I have no idea, how she does that. I only know if she would do the same, I would split up ;)

Do you have children?

No, but if I could I would take one or two off the street.

Do you have pets?

No, my flat is too small. And as we can't decide if we want a dog or a cat, we will have to wait til we have a flat big enough for both.

What is your favourite food?

I have a lot of stuff I hate, but I can only name a few I really love enough to list it here. But a life without chocolade would be worthless for me, so ... chocolade.

What is your favourite vacation spot?

I'm no big traveler. I love mountains for vacations and it doesn't really mater where they are. But my favorite spot is still my mother's house, I see it way too seldom.

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

We fight against each other or together in computer games. Currently we fight against all kind of monsters in Diablo II. We also spent a lot of our time discussing what we want to watch at TV. Most of the time we watch both at the same time, so nobody of us knows the complete story :)

What was the last movie you have seen?

As to my exams I don't have too much time for the movies, but I went to the Patriot and I must admit I liked it.

What was the last fiction book that your have read?

I read in the last year about 20 books for boring exams. So I rather spent the other time hacking. But before I got into this exam stress I read Stephen King's 'Bag of Bones' and I'm sure that as soon as I'm paid for hacking I'm going to read more ;)

What songs do you sing in the shower?

None – but any other time I sing almost anything ... in the wrong pitch. I'm one of those people that know almost any song title almost complete – the emphasis being on almost. But my taste varies between Natalie Merchant (her 'Orphelia' is one of the best CDs I've ever listened to) and The Corrs to name two I enjoy.

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

I would really like to meet Montserat Caballé as she is one of the funniest and interesting persons I know. Another person I would really like to see in real is Miguel Indurain - I just have to know if this man is for real. He's a god for me. Someone else I'd like to speak to is Stephen King, but I'm not really sure about that choice. Perhaps a BBQ isn't the right place to talk to him.

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

I guess I have met almost any on-liner I consider a friend already face to face. But I wouldn't go online to talk to someone about the death of my grandmother for example, but call someone to go out for a beer.

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

There were quite some places where we met. At KDE One 15 or so of us met, at KDE Two last year even more met, then there were fairs and last but not least in Caldera's office you can meet quite some KDE developers.

Name your favourite quote/saying.

When I was quite new to KDE I had 'Du musst weiterkämpfen bis zum Umfallen auch wenn die ganze Welt 'nen Arsch offen hat – oder gerade deswegen' in my signature and it still comes into my mind as favorite. It translates to 'you have to fight til the end even if the whole world pisses you off – or exactly for that reason'.