Summer of Code 2007 (1/4)
his is the first of four interviews with Summer of Code 2007 students in KDE.
What is your Summer of Code project for KDE?
Aleix Pol Gonzàlez: CMake Support for KDevelop. I have been very interested in KDevelop and followed its development since the end of last year (2006) and I wanted to contribute in some way. I talked with some people about the different ideas I had for applying to the Summer of Code (in KDevelop and KDE-Edu) and finally submitted the proposal that was accepted, I only submitted one proposal actually. My mentor is Matt Rogers, we have talked only about things related to the project and I don't know him very much, but seems to be a nice guy. :)
Piyush Verma: Python support for KDevelop 4 mentored by Andreas Pakulat. I came across KDevelop in my early days of college. Over at my internship, I was working on Python and missed a good IDE for it, I hadn't heard of Eric then and wondered what if I make it work in KDevelop. It clicked, and here I am working towards it.
Mike Arthur: Kontact Journal/Blog Support. My project is implementing support to post blogs using the existing journalling framework in Kontact/KOrganizer. My mentor is Cornelius Schumacher. This consists of an implementation and design of the KBlog blogging API in kdepimlibs and a richer journal interface.
Nick Shaforostoff: I'm working on computer-aided translation system called KAider. I have been engaged in KDE translation for almost 4 years (that was the way to learn English), and I also worked as a software translator for some time and so have hands-on experience with commercial localization tools. So, I got some ideas on improving the translation process by myself, other ideas were taken from these commercial tools directly or thoughts gained during using these tools. First, I wanted to improve KBabel for KDE 4, but it crashed a lot and didn't use many technology parts introduced in KDE and Qt 4 recently. So I took the opportunity and applied for GSoC. My mentor is Adriaan de Groot. I talk rarely to him as I like to do things silently on my own (including solving the problems).
Is the Summer of Code your first experience of KDE development, or are you a longer-term KDE contributor?
Aleix Pol Gonzàlez: I have been working with KAlgebra since 2005 but it was in kde-apps.org, it was not in KDE. KAlgebra entered KDE this March then I became a kdeveloper actually. Besides KAlgebra, I've sent some patches to some KDevelop and Kopete developers but they where all small commitments without any importance.
Piyush Verma: Yes, I am developing for the first time for KDE, but I am here for the long term; at least util 2.5 is integrated as well. No promises beyond that.
Mike Arthur: The only previous involvement I've had with KDE was filing bugs and as a user.
Nick Shaforostoff: I've started KAider during winter holidays, and before that I contributed mainly as a translator/translation editor (one of my first relatively major code commits is replacing hacky char-by-char string difference visualization with longest-common-sequence based word-by-word one in kbabel/KDE 3.5.6).
What was your most recent commit to KDE? How has your project progressed so far?
Aleix Pol Gonzàlez: It has been quite regular until recently I think. I had some problems the last days because my laptop's hard drive broke down and, without losing any data, it has been quite troublesome. For the moment I've been solving some CMake parsing issues in order to be able to retrieve information properly. I am currently working on making it possible to parse CMakeLists.txt files as CMake does.
Piyush Verma: The most recent commit included changing the Python language plugin to adapt to the changes made to the backgroundparser structure in KDevelop, and working towards the building of contexts for a definition use chain. The project has progressed so far quite well, but the past one week has been slogging and I seemed to struggle a bit, but the days are bright hence forth and expect me to be back in the commit logs. Luckily Andreas is very helpful and its been a real good experience working with him.
Mike Arthur: My most recent commit was making the KDE blogging library use inheritance for it's private classes to try and maximise the code shared between APIs. My project is going pretty well. The kresource is pretty much completed and I'm recently mostly working on the blogging library. The next big part is working on revamping KOrganizer's journal GUI code.
Nick Shaforostoff: I've added a new class into kdelibs (adapted from Dolphin code). It sorts KDirModel contents. I will use it for ProjectView in KAider. I'm on schedule. I have done all things in my TODO except for the 'perfection/polishing/small improvements and xliff+qt-linguist support'. There are plenty of small features that need to be 'copied' from KBabel, and there are things to ease initial learning for new translators (my mentor calls it 'usability').
How much time do you usually spend on KDE?
Aleix Pol Gonzàlez: I try to work on it about 3 or 4 hours on weekdays, weekends are dedicated to my girlfriend usually :P.
Piyush Verma: If we are talking of playing + working its 10-12 hours a day, and if we speak of development its roughly 35-40 hours a week.
Mike Arthur: Varies hugely day-to-day. I'd say the last few weeks has been about 8 hours a day, four days a week.
Nick Shaforostoff: I tend to spend whole day on KDE (not worrying about outside world), if at all.
When did you first hear of KDE?
Aleix Pol Gonzàlez: I decided to move to GNU/Linux 4 or 5 years ago, then I installed Red Hat into my computer along with Windows. I did not like it, then I moved to Mandrake (back then ;) which used KDE and I liked it. I had used KDE some years before in a Corel Linux instalation but I did not even know that it was KDE :). Some time later I looked for some alternatives but nothing convinced me enough.
Piyush Verma: When my GNOME installation crashed in 2001.
Mike Arthur: I first heard of it when I first installed Fedora, my first Linux distribution, and saw it was another possible desktop environment back in 2003! I started using it as my main desktop two years ago and haven't looked back since. It blows all the competition, proprietary and Open Source, out the water.
Nick Shaforostoff: Didn't hear, but saw it in Red Hat 7.3.
Which section of KDE is underrated and could get more publicity?
Aleix Pol Gonzàlez: I think that KDE has lots of tools for Free software (or Open Source) developers to create applications and they are rarely used. I mean KDevelop, Kate, Umbrello, KDBG, KCacheGrind...
Piyush Verma: Kontact... I just keep losing things and information very easily, now I no longer need to call up my freinds and store information with them. :D
Mike Arthur: I think the most underrated parts are little applications that aren't technically part of KDE but use kdelibs, such as Katapult and KRename.
Nick Shaforostoff: Hard to answer. Did you know that typing e.g. '~/*.txt' in Konqueror Location bar will show you appropriately filtered file list of your home directory?
What do you think is still badly missing in KDE?
Aleix Pol Gonzàlez: Documentation - in the sense of "what can I do with a tool?" instead of "how can I do things with a tool?" (which is also needed).
Piyush Verma: I think we need a good photo manager, with features like posting to blogs, mailing, reworking the pics, tagging... apologies if it already exists and I never encountered it.
Mike Arthur: I think the main thing missing is just compatibility within Konqueror. KHTML not being a major player makes it pretty irritating to use sometimes and I think the possible move to WebKit will help with support of the increasing number of AJAX web apps I need to use.
Nick Shaforostoff: Actually, KDE has the right direction, so I'm for overall polishing (and automatization/customization possibilities). There are many small things here and there that, when taken together, may prevent the average Windows user from switching to UNIX (of course, there are apps like Photoshop and FineReader left, but they're out of the scope of KDE).
Do you have any plans for KDE 4?
Aleix Pol Gonzàlez: Yes, of course. I would like to keep working with KDevelop to make it a comfortable development tool and I will work continue to work on KAlgebra. I will keep working on making a calculator ready for students and math users.
Piyush Verma: Yep, as I said I am working on KDevelop 4, which is a part of KDE 4. And if we are talking of installing it, i already have it built on my system.
Mike Arthur: I hope to continue working on the journal to make it a useful feature, adding rich-text and closing some (or all!) of the wishes filed on the bugtracker for it. Also I hope to make a few Plasmoids to scratch some itches of mine.
Nick Shaforostoff: Use it, implement ideas that come to mind (I think it will be small improvements here and there).
What motivates/keeps you motivated to work on KDE (apart from the SoC money!)?
Aleix Pol Gonzàlez: I use KDE and I love to see that I'm providing features to something I can benefit from. Also it is very gratifying to see that there is people interested on what you are doing and they push you to do more interesting things.
Piyush Verma: This might sound weird, but back in college we always used to search our name on Google and compare the first and the number of links associated with us, I never went past the third page but now I seem to be improving on my scores :P Jokes aside, since I have taken up the job, and Kdevelop 4 needs be released I would like to see Python be a part of the Release and I am trying work towrads it.
Mike Arthur: I want to make a blogging client that I find easier to use and more efficient than the existing Ajax or HTML frontends. Also I believe that KDE is the best desktop environment not just compared to GNOME but also to OS X and Windows and that it will help bring an F/OSS OS to the masses.
Nick Shaforostoff: Interest (conscious), faith (unconscious).
What chances do you see in your country (and educational institution) for KDE as a desktop platform?
Aleix Pol Gonzàlez: My educational institution is already using KDE (and Microsoft Windows, in dual boot) and they use it to teach quite often. It is very interesting to be able to learn computer science using GNU/Linux. In Catalunya there is not much free software use but I would really like to see a spreading usage of it and I hope that we are on the way.
Piyush Verma: It's quite bright, considering the fact the Police Department of New Delhi (national capital) already uses KDE.
Mike Arthur: In my Informatics department at University it is already used as a possible DE, (sadly GNOME is the default). I think first step is getting KDE as the default DE in more distributions. Sadly my country has one of the lowest acceptance rates of OSS in the world and I think the only thing that will change this is Linux being used more around the world and compatibility being forced upon local businesses, schools and governments.
Nick Shaforostoff: In university it all depends on teachers. My impression is that administration only cares for money (and Ukrainian universities use pirated version of Windows almost exclusively).
Which text editor do you use? Why?
Aleix Pol Gonzàlez: I use KatePart for most things. Usually I use Kate for reading and writing large text files, to modify files from console (configuration files and small changes) I use vim, to program I use KDevelop (with KatePart obviously :).
Piyush Verma: Vi, no specific reason - just that i've been using it for quite a while now.
Mike Arthur: The KPart embedded into KWrite, KDevelop and Quanta. It's easy to use, quick and the indentation and highlighting is both useful and configurable. I feel it works with rather than against me. On the console I use nano but I try to use Vim sporadially.
Nick Shaforostoff: Kate. I'm too lazy to learn Vim...
Which distribution do you use? Why?
Aleix Pol Gonzàlez: I have Kubuntu in my laptop and Debian in my desktop computer. I prefer Debian usually but I had some problems with my laptop and I needed a fast recovery and I thought that Kubuntu would be just fine.
Piyush Verma: I used to use Fedora, but recently I had to shift to Kubuntu since buliding KDE 4 was required for my work and it was easy to build it over that.
Mike Arthur: I use Debian Stable on my server and Kubuntu on my laptop. From my experiences I've found these to be the best "just work" systems for the server/laptop. On my desktop I use Gentoo as I want to be on the bleeding edge and require very configurable package system; no-one else meets these needs as well as Gentoo.
Nick Shaforostoff: Debian Unstable. Because it's stable :)
What is KDE's killer app? Why?
Aleix Pol Gonzàlez: I don't know if there is a KDE killer app, but KDE killer feature is integration and I am sure of it. :) A killer application might be something that I use always and that could be Konqueror (as a web browser mainly).
Piyush Verma: K3B and Amarok will be the best among the multimedia apps. the interface is just so good and with real cool features. Kontact overall is way too appealing for me.
Mike Arthur: KDE's killer app is Kontact. The way you can have unified contacts between Kopete, KMail, Konversation and KOrganizer which are stored on an IMAP server and synced using Opensync to your mobile phone, as well as have the best RSS reader and mail client I have used on any platform.
Nick Shaforostoff: Amarok. Because it is being copied by GNOME people. It is the most innovative app that I use.
What does your desktop look like?
Aleix Pol Gonzàlez: I generally like to have every window maximized and a yakuake ready to work with.
Piyush Verma: Pretty simple with a kiddish Linux wallpaper, no scattered icons, and a menubar at top. I don't like putting up themes.
Mike Arthur: I tend to always use my desktop and laptop to work and for everyday use as the laptop doesn't use much more power and allows me more power than simply using multiple monitors and with Synergy switching between machines is completely painless.
Nick Shaforostoff: It's just default icons and Freddie Mercury statue on the wallpaper. Ok, my room extremely needs doing out, but I prefer order in my thoughts over the order on my table (and there is so much ideas that there is no time left for the table :))
What attracts you to Open Source? What makes you contribute to KDE instead of the competition?
Aleix Pol Gonzàlez: I like it because it is free as in Freedom, Libre in Spanish :). Freedom is something very important ethically and very useful if you are a programmer and we are talking about software. In Free software you are never stuck because you need a feature because you can provide it yourself.
Piyush Verma: Honest confession is, Open Source gave a geeky impression back in early days of college, and then me and my pals started liking it, we tried learn the basics with LinuxFromScratch, and it lured us enough to be a part of it. One of them moved on with closed source and other day asked me if I would still like to be a part of the Open Source, and I said: I need some money to sustain :), but that does leaves me with some time for Open Source as well. There's development after SoC as well.
Mike Arthur: As a Christian, I think F/OSS matches the spirit of community and using your skills to help others more than the traditional commercial model. I also think, from experience, it produces more innovation and higher quality code than most proprietary products. I use KDE because I think it does everything the competition does and more. I think it is easy to use but feature-rich and attractive without being gaudy. I think the only way in which any other DE is fundamentally superior is if you need a lower memory footprint than KDE.
Nick Shaforostoff: Integration and re-inventing the wheel in (much) less cases. Are you talking about GNOME as a competitor? I don't think C should be used to write GUI apps.
Are you planning on continuing your work in KDE after the Summer of Code concludes?
Aleix Pol Gonzàlez: Yes, as I said I would really like to keep working on KDE. I will not left KAlgebra alone because it is a project that I begun and kept for a couple of years and I like it :), I have some cool ideas for it also. I will keep working on KDevelop also because I want KDevelop 4 to be a great useful development tool and I would like to help this to happen. I would like to contribute on different areas also but it depend on how much time I have.
Piyush Verma: Aah, didn't read this one coming :P... Anyways I already answered that in the previous question!
Mike Arthur: Yes, I plan to continue working on journal support and then move onto general work on KDE-PIM.
Nick Shaforostoff: Of course. Specifically, I plan to polish KAider (as I am also its user) and continue translation work as time permits.
If you could be any part of the KDE platform, what would you be? Why?
Aleix Pol Gonzàlez: Maybe KWin, doesn't do the work for you but makes your life easier :).
Mike Arthur: I'd probably be Kopete because I never shut up :)
Nick Shaforostoff: Not Phonon, because I don't like to speak, not Plasma, because I don't care for own beauty that much. I guess that leaves me with Solid, because it isn't emotional and does a lot of abstraction.
What is your most brilliant KDE hack?
Aleix Pol Gonzàlez: I suppose it is KAlgebra itself, it has been my biggest contribution to KDE actually.
Piyush Verma: When I integrated the Python parser and saw it working to produce the results, it was a delight.
Mike Arthur: I haven't contributed much yet but I think my favourite thing is allowing title/category support for Blogger, not formally stated in the API but provided by some implementations of Blogger.
Nick Shaforostoff: Don't have one. There are several little solutions that are nice but I don't consider anything "brilliant".
What is your most embarrassing KDE moment?
Aleix Pol Gonzàlez: I do not think that it has arrived yet :P.
Piyush Verma: It took me half hour to answer the above question :-(
Mike Arthur: I haven't been involved long so don't really have any but almost every time I ask for help I immediately work out the problem just before they reply :)
Nick Shaforostoff: This interview!
Were you at Akademy in Glasgow this year? Will you go to the conference next year?
Aleix Pol Gonzàlez: Yes, I was in Glasgow and I really enjoyed it! I would really like to be able to go to the next Akademy!!!
Piyush Verma: Unfortunately I was refused the visa, and so I couldn't be there, but I would definitely like to have been there.
Mike Arthur: I was there this year as it was pretty local. Whether I go next year or not depends on the location and if I can get the time off work.
Nick Shaforostoff: No. Language barrier comes to mind (though I plan to overcome it by attending some English courses this Autumn...)
What course do you do, and what educational institution do you attend?
Aleix Pol Gonzàlez: I am studying Computer Science in the FIB (Facultat d'Informàtica de Barcelona) which is actually called Informatics Engineering there.
Piyush Verma: I have just finished my Computer Engineering from an institute named the YMCA Institute of Engineering.
Mike Arthur: Just graduated from a degree in Computer Science and Management Science at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.
Nick Shaforostoff: Computer Engineering/System Programming at the National Technical University of Ukraine (KPI).
Tell us about your educational institution...
Aleix Pol Gonzàlez: My university, the UPC (Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya) and it is somewhere in Barcelona where computer, telecomunications and civil engineering students apply for their course. That means 0 girls around :P. Anyway, it is a great place to study and meet interesting people.
Piyush Verma: It's an institution near New Delhi, which was started and run with the assistance of the German government until 1999, when it became a national institution.
Mike Arthur: Great university full of great people. We came top in the Guardian newspaper's ranking of computer science departments in the UK this year, hardly suprising as I graduated with a bunch of pros!
Nick Shaforostoff: My university is considered to be the funniest in Ukraine (partially because it is technical).
Who or what in your life would you say influenced you most?
Aleix Pol Gonzàlez: The Internet has changed my point of view on life, I think it is the thing that has influenced me the most along with computers themselves.
Piyush Verma: My parents, My elder brother for things too large to be mentioned, my boss Sirtaj Singh Kang, when it comes to calmness and art of seeing things work, My Girlfriend (name disclosed) when it comes to support... and finally my pal Ankur (I can see him dancing after this) who inspired me to be a programmer and Open Source. I find myself learning from others always.
Mike Arthur: I wasn't raised in a religious household but five years ago I became a Christian and it completely turned my life around. I've found it a huge strength and a huge challenge to the way I live and the way I think. Feel free to talk to me about it, I love sharing my faith with others :)
Nick Shaforostoff: My uncle. He is very cheerful and kind. And he passed me his love to the music. Also I have to admit that reading Dostoevky has changed me a lot.
Is your best friend from the physical or online world?
Aleix Pol Gonzàlez: Physical world.
Piyush Verma: From the online world, who became in real life as well. :-)
Mike Arthur: Uh, unless your best friend is an AI I'd imagine they are from the physical world although you maybe communicate mostly online ;) </pedantic> My best friend is my girlfriend, Lindsay, of five years this month and I met her offline shortly after I became a Christian.
Nick Shaforostoff: Physical.
What is the best birthday present you could receive?
Aleix Pol Gonzàlez: Being with the people that matters to me in a quiet and nice place.
Piyush Verma: Aah, just now I realised no-one gifted me anything for quite a number of years :-(
Mike Arthur: The best birthday present I could receive is a guaranteed job for my girlfriend when she graduates. The job situation for physiotherapists (which she is studying) in the UK is a bit dire currently and it would be a huge weight off both our minds. If you meant some sort of cool gadget, probably a new electric upright bass as I've been wanting one for ages but lacked the finances and haven't had a chance to play an upright since High School.
Nick Shaforostoff: Sincerity.
Richard Stallman or Linus Torvalds?
Aleix Pol Gonzàlez: I know that both have important roles in the Free software world, but the important contribution has been the RMS one. I really like his vision and the way of defending freedom that Stallman has. People say that he is much too strict with his thoughts, but I think that there has to be someone defending freedom in this way.
Piyush Verma: I could pick Stallman, as every good thing in life came for a fee before this. Reminds me of a small event: On my first day at internship I asked a guy: Why is Open Source popular? And he gave me an answer I still remember: "What if Newton had patented the Law of Gravity?" Or, I could pick Linus, as he is the one who puts words into action. I reckon computer developers are more to development than marketing. Choosing between the two is a tough call. But in the end I would reckon Stallman is just going too far for freedom with the GPL v3. GPL v2 furnished the needs of Open Source and Free software quite well. Someone please call it a "No Contest".
Mike Arthur: Richard Stallman. I think Linus is a fantastic programmer and leader but his attitude to the GPL v3 I feel is short-sighted and a little disappointing. I think Richard Stallman has proved himself both as a programmer and also able to accurately predict future events and desires to protect our freedom, something many people will not care about until it is gone.
Nick Shaforostoff: Linus.
How would you describe yourself?
Aleix Pol Gonzàlez: I am someone who likes to overthink everything, computers and to argue with people about everything. I am an introvert person, I do not have lots of friends but those I have are very nice people.
Piyush Verma: Tall, slim, intelligent...Hate modesty (Not always :D).
Mike Arthur: A good-looking nerd who never shuts up and is always the joker ;)
Nick Shaforostoff: Hard to answer. My type is INTJ, so some of the info you can find on the Internet about this type may also relate to me :)
What would you do more of if you had the time?
Aleix Pol Gonzàlez: I would like to develop more software and to spend more time with my girlfriend and my friends.
Piyush Verma: Sleep and eat, that's real something I have been missing for quite a long while.
Mike Arthur: Working on F/OSS, compose music, see my girlfriend more and read more books about 20th Century history and Christian theology.
Nick Shaforostoff: I don't know. There are so many possibilities...
What do you see from your window?
Aleix Pol Gonzàlez: These days I am not working on the Google Summer of Code at home but in a home near the Mediterranean sea that my family has, of course I live in an ugly city building in Barcelona during the year.
Piyush Verma: I just realized I barely open it :-(
Mike Arthur: I mostly just see Marchmont, a nice little part of Edinburgh mostly filled with students. Pretty much all you can see is the houses and local shops but I get a fair amount of sun. I _just_ miss being able to see Edinburgh Castle, but you can see it from 100m down the road and the fireworks at New Year.
Nick Shaforostoff: Just a bunch of trees and a big building. There's also a forest across the road where I like to wander (alone).
What do you get passionate about?
Aleix Pol Gonzàlez: I get passionate about intelligence! Intelligence makes things always better.
Piyush Verma: The computer: Seeing my code work, finding myself stuck in my code and desperately finding a solution, YouTube! Real Life: pizzas, visiting my girlfriend, Need for Speed Undergorund 2.
Mike Arthur: Jesus and my faith in him, efficient code, object-orientation, politics, F/OSS and helping friends through hard times.
Nick Shaforostoff: Everything and nothing at the same time (ok, a more specific answer would be "music of Bjork and music in general").
What does "success" mean to you? What do you want to do after you graduate?
Aleix Pol Gonzàlez: Success is happiness in all its flavours :) After graduate I would like to find a good job (not necessarily in Spain) that lets me contribute to Free software.
Piyush Verma: "Success"... is something that's realtive to me, and as far as I know, its been dynamically changing every year. On the funny side, the day I develop something my girlfriend says "It's so good & easy to use" should be the first benchmark :P. Since my college has just finished, I am waiting for my degree, meanwhile I continue working on my SoC project, and as soon as its completed, I will resume my Office where I did my internship.
Mike Arthur: Success to me means serving others and living my life as closely to that of Jesus as possible. I hope to die content that I have made others more satisfied and content than they would be if I had never met them.
What do you do in your spare time?
Aleix Pol Gonzàlez: I dedicate time to my girlfriend and some time to my projects.
Mike Arthur: Kickboxing, play bass-guitar, listen to music, read about modern history, go to church, talk to my friends, see my girlfriend and watch cinema and television.
Nick Shaforostoff: Listen to music, read, meet with people.
What is your favourite place in the world?
Aleix Pol Gonzàlez: I don't really have a favourite place I think but...
Piyush Verma: New Delhi, Jaipur. I have never travelled out of country yet.
Mike Arthur: Edinburgh. I've been to some amazing places but every time I come back here I'm just blown away by how lucky I am to live in such a modern but historic, safe and attractive city.
Nick Shaforostoff: Don't have a preference.
Aleix Pol Gonzàlez: Didn't you have anything better to read?
Piyush Verma: It's long before I sleep...
Mike Arthur: If anything I have said has intrigued or annoyed you please give me a shout! I'm always up for talking about stuff I believe in and meeting new people.