Werner Trobin

A Short Intro

  • Located in: Villach, Austria
  • Occupation: Student
  • Nickname on IRC: werner
  • Claim to Fame: Various KOffice hacks, current maintainer of KPresenter
  • Fav. KDE applications: Konqueror, KNode, KTeaTime
  • Hardware: Athlon @ 1GHz, 384MB RAM

The Interview

What is your role within KDE?

I mainly work on all different kinds of KOffice problems. This starts with maintaining applications for a few months, extending the KOffice Libraries, fixing build system issues, fixing bugs, writing documentation for developers, tutorials,...

How and when did you get involved in KDE?

About three years ago I installed Linux for the first time and started to use KDE. As I already did a lot of programming before on DOS/Windows I tried to play with some toy applications and enjoyed it. After reading Kalle's article in the c't archive (yes, *this* Kalle article) I decided to do some KDE program as my final project on school (with another guy from my class). Fortunately our teachers agreed and so it all started.

How much time do you spend on KDE?

This heavily varies from 2 hours per week up to 80 hours.

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

I really like using Arnt's xemacs c++ mode when programming and for many small tasks I use vim.

Is there a process you follow when you design/write code/translate/write documentation?

First I try to come up with a nice design and I force myself not to start programming, but think about the design a second time. I find going for a walk or biking very inspiring when I face a difficult design problem. Then I implement parts of it till I find out the weak points of the design and rework it. Right after it compiles for the first time I try to test as much of the new code as possible. If this works properly I write more code, test it, redesign, write code, test it, redesign,... till it works. This may not be the fastest way to develop something, but the code you get has quite a high quality and readability (at least from my point of view).

What was your first computer?

I got a IBM PS/2 486DX2 50MHz with 4MB RAM and 256MB diskspace from my parents when I was 14. It still is somewhere at the attic.

Which program would you say every KDE user should have?

kdeinit :-).

If you could add one personal feature to KDE what would that be?

My personal feature would be a nice application to create scientific graphs with, but as you can read below I'm trying to implement that already. The progress is quite slow as I often find myself fixing existing KOffice applications, so a little bit of magic would definitely help.

What application/game would you like to see ported to KDE?

The Incredible Machine. I really like that game and it would certainly be nice for compilation breaks. (see

Is there any unreleased/unrevealed stuff in your pipe? (New applications/technologies for developers, new icon sets/themes for artists, ...)

As you already heard above I'm trying to develop a new KOffice application to draw scientific charts with. Don't hold your breath, though.

If you were going to design desktop themes, what would your themes be like?

I prefer lightweight, slick themes and styles, so it would probably be something pretty simple and bright. You would think about asking this question twice if you knew my abilities as artist, though.

What is the worst thing you ever had to do for KDE?

I'd like to "adapt" that question a little, because I don't have to do something I don't like. The most boring task which comes to my mind first was porting KPresenter from KOML to QDom.

Where do you see yourself and KDE 2 years from now?

For myself I hope that I can keep the current pace at the university, and KDE... hmm.. who knows. We all will be running KDE 4.x and hopefully still have as much fun doing all that.

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

Right now I'm not paid for my work. One year ago I had the opportunity to work for MandrakeSoft for four months. This was great fun.

What is your suggestion for the next KDE meeting? Where should it be held and when? Will you attend?

If you think about it from a purely logistic point of view it should be held in Germany simply because of the mass of KDE people there. Due to the fact that lots of translators/artists/programmers are students I'd say the summer holidays are a good date. Of course I'd try to attend such a meeting. It's simply amazing what happens if people can discuss a topic face-to-face, maybe using a blackboard, and push each other to new continuous-hacking-session records.

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

This is a difficult question. I think KOffice is not underrated, but it's definitely hyped in KDE press releases. Unfortunately we are way too few people working on KOffice to keep that promise. I think this kind of "underrating" (i.e. having too few people who want to work on it) is even worse than not talking about it at all.

If you had to design a banner with a KDE slogan, what would it say?

"KDE - If you still haven't found what you're looking for" (Then we would even have an official song).

Who would you hire to play in a KDE commercial? And what would the scene be like?

I would try to find a Bill Gates and a Steve Jobs lookalike and let both of them praise the usability of their KDE desktop in a Comdex keynote.

Personal Questions

Where and when were you born?

In Villach, Austria on the 10th of January 1980.

How old would you be if you didn't know how old you are?

Right after waking up in the morning probably 60 :-)

Who did you want to be when you grew up?

I can't recall having such wishes at all.

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

Yes, single.

Do you have children?


What is the first hour of your day like?

Breakfast, reading the newspaper, reading email, bathroom.

What that event really made a difference in your life?

Probably that I decided to attend the HTL (that odd kind of school here in Austria) at the age of 15. I was at a grammar school before and the new school was in another town and all my friends were in Villach and so on. It was not easy to decide that, but if I look back I think it was the right decision.

What piece of (real or fantasy) software or electronic equipment would make your life easier?

After long hacking sessions I sometimes find myself thinking of a regular expression how to "egrep" for something I'm looking for in real life. If that would work that would be terribly nice, I think. Maybe a plain "real-life-locate" would also do the trick, but updating the database... :-)

What is your most indispensable possession and why?

I can't think of any "artifact" right now and I hope health is a valid answer.

What is the best birthday present you could receive?

A thing I really want to do in the next few years is parachuting.

What was your favorite trip within your own region?

I call it "Pizza-Runde" which translates to something like "pizza excursion". I live close to the Slovenian and Italian borders, so I take my mountain bike and go to Slovenia first (crossing a steep mountain), then bike on to Italy. In Tarvisio (a small town close to the border) I eat a delicious Italian pizza and slowly bike home again. As I don't take the shortest possible way but a very nice one, partly through the forest, this trip is about 100km long.

What custom in your country, do you wish did not exist?

I'm deeply ashamed that we have that much latent racism here in Austria.

If someone plans on visiting your country, what special spot is a must-be?

I think Vienna is a quite interesting town. If you just want to relax I'd suggest to visit a lake here in Carinthia or the hot springs originating a few km from here.

Of all the places you've lived or visited, which was your favorite? Would you want to live there?

I really enjoy living here in Villach. We have mountains, lakes, forests,... everything I could ask for.

What would you do if you had the time?

I would learn another foreign language (Italian or Spanish) and read more books.

What do you see from your window?

I can see big parts of the city where I live (it's quite small, and I live 2km from the center, slightly elevated) and the surrounding mountains.

If you could have five other lives/careers, what would they be?

I'd probably start studying physics and mathematics too, because these areas are really interesting, but I don't see that much job opportunities after finishing these studies. There are three more personalities left and I think I'd let them do some bugfixing.

What book have you read that was truer than this morning's newspaper?

One book I really enjoyed was "The Little Prince" by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

What would you do if you didn't have to be moral or honest for a day?

I would log into my friend's laptop and delete all his techno, trance, and whatever else he mistakes for music.

If you knew that the world would end tomorrow, what would you do today?

I'd probably try to call the oh-so-amazing Hollywood directors/authors and ask why the US don't safe the world like in their brain dead movies.

If you could only take 3 people with you on a trip around the world, who would you take and why?

I would ask some friends to join me, should be great fun.

We all know the No Smoking signs. If you could put an original "No ........." sign on your door, what would it say?

I don't like these "No ..." signs, but I actually have a sign on my door with a big red spot on it and the text below says: "If this spot is green you're walking too fast."

List 3 of you favorite url's.

Name your favorite quote/saying.

'The last good thing written in C was Franz Schubert's Symphony No. 9.'