Zack Rusin

A Short Intro

  • Located in: Philadelphia, USA
  • Occupation: Software Developer
  • Nickname on IRC: zrusin, kawil

The Interview

In what ways do you make a contribution to KDE?

I'd say programming... A lot of it... Lots and lots of it but that's so common. I also attend many conferences and expos promoting KDE. But because that's also a pretty common answer to this question I have to go with the fact that I've got nice abs.

When did you first hear of KDE?

I don't remember to be honest. I know that the first time I tried it was when one of my friends forced me to try Caldera. I think it was either late 1998 or early 1999.

How and when did you get involved in KDE?

About two years later from the time I first tried it I wanted to switch to a GUI from command line with GNU/Emacs since I had to work on some computer graphics projects and was sick of switching between console and the X session. I found KDE to be superior to all other solutions and I really liked it. I switched from gnus to KMail and I started sending patches to the KMail list. Then I started working on some things in kdelibs, kdebase and then I became friends with many KDE hackers and we started working together on very different projects.

Are you being paid to work on KDE?

Currently I'm employed by Automatix Gmbh. and I'm paid to spend 50% of my work time hacking on KDE.

How much time do you usually spend on KDE?

Usually around 20 hours a week. I'm still in school which severely cuts my spare time.

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

There's a few of them. Personally I'd love to see less known applications like KStars, JuK, KMPlayer, KRecipes, QtVision getting a lot more publicity. We need to expose our apps a lot more, especially that they really are amazing.

What do you think is still missing badly in KDE?

We're missing a decent multimedia framework. The strongest candidates right now are NMM and GStreamer.

What are your future plans for KDE?

In no particular order:

  • I need to replace kspell in kdelibs and kospell in koffice with kspell2,
  • I have to release both KConfigEditor and KCFGCreator and figure out where to put libkonfigure,
  • I have finish Gadget which is my web-services app similar to Sherlock and Watson (first KDE app whose name starts with G I guess, but I like the name),
  • I'd like to finish XPath implementation with Rich for KHTML and start working on XSL support for KHTML and then XQuery.
  • I have to finish Komposer which is the new email composing framework we'll be using in KMail, KNode and possibly other apps,
  • I had an auto-magic mailing list handling implemented in KMail. I need to dig up the patch, clean it up and commit it finally.
  • I had the JACK output plugin for aRts which I need to find,
  • I promised George that I'll implement recording in KWinTV,
  • I have a few new KImageEffect's besides bumpmapping which I committed lately, I have to find patches for them,
  • I have a KWin Metacity theme importer. I had some problems with dynamic sizing of the buttons. I need to dig it up, finish it and commit it.
  • Ian told me about the hardware abstraction lib that's being developed by some people from ArkLinux that I'd like to look at,
  • I have a lot of patches that were reducing complexity of many algorithms in KDE, I have to look those up and start committing them before freeze is going to catch me again,
  • bugs, bugs, bugs, a lot of small things, plus features that my friends will ask me for.
  • making KDE the choice of all computer users on this planet.

What motivates/keeps you motivated to work on KDE?

First of all it's fun. Like I said most of KDE developers are my very good friends so working on KDE became almost a social activity for me. Besides there's no doubt in my mind that KDE is hands down the best desktop environment out there and seeing that motivates me to work even harder on it.

A hot item at the moment is software integration, what's your opinion about that subject with regard to KDE?

There's many different kinds of integration. The important thing is to find the right balance between all the parts. Personally I think we already got very far with it, but there are still areas that need improvement.

Essentially there are three levels of integration: feel wise (similar placement of the menu items, similar behavior on mouse clicks, etc), look wise (themes) and technology wise (use of kio,dcop, kparts)

There really isn't anything that would be impossible with KDE. Trust me. We have so many brilliant developers. I wrote QtGTK which integrates the Qt event loop in GTK+ in two hours during a bus trip from Philly to New York.

I'd like to see some kind of configuration framework unity. I'm considering going to GUADEC to talk to GNOME developers about some kind of integration between KConfig and GConf, but unfortunately right now I don't have the financial resources to make the trip.

Which application would you like to see integrated in KDE and how would you achieve that?

Personally I don't have any such application. Every time I have a need to use a specific application I always use the KDE version of it and start working on it, if it doesn't fullfill my needs. I acknowledge the fact that people do want to see OO.o integrated in KDE on all three levels though, but from what I see kde.oo.o project has made substantial progress during the last year.

Novell acquired Ximian in August for about 20 million. Do you regret not starting your own KDE company? If so what's stopping you?

Not at this point. I'm very happy working for Automatix right now and I'm too busy with school to consider another job. Furthermore I'm rather ambitious and "being bought out" could never be the high point of my business plan. If I'll get involved in such a project I'd like my company to stand its own and earn money on the quality of our software and services. The business model would really have to be solid and not be based on the fact that we have X number of core KDE developers working for us (btw KDE doesn't have what would be called a "core team" we just divide ourselves on the good looking and extremely good looking ones).

What is your favorite widget style?

Lately I use Plastik, but my longest used KDE style is Keramik. I think Chris' animated style has potential assuming he'll base it on something more modern then his .net style :)

What does your desktop look like?

Just like the most beautiful Italian-American girl. "Why Italian-American" and "what kind of look is that" you ask. The answer is:

  1. I don't know, I just figured that sticking the word "Italian-American" is cool so I did it,
  2. And I have no idea what kinda a look is that, I mean I'm not sure how the most beautiful American girl looks like, I've seen at most 50% of all of them.

If you were a KDE app, which one would you be? Why?

Dr. Konqy. My grandma always wanted me to be a doctor.

Which of your family members do not use KDE and why not?

My parents unfortunately don't use KDE mainly because I live too far from them. We see each other very rarely and I never have enough time to install either Debian, SuSE or Mandrake for them.

What users do you have in mind when you're developing/contributing for/to KDE?

I try to base everything I do on the lowest possible common denominator. For example I don't want to be removing all the options from applications, I just want to hide them so that while home users don't see them; power users can still access them with KConfigEditor in a typesafe manner. Again it's about the right balance.

Do you socialize with any other KDE contributors?

Yes, all the time. I'm rather outgoing as other KDE contributors can assure you ;) I know personally many of KDE developers and am very good friends with a lot of them in real life. I see Ian at least once a month since he lives pretty close to my place. I talk to Rich, Dirk, Coolo, George, Alex, Daniel, Don, Till, Aaron, Martijn, David and others almost every day.

If you had to be stuck in a lift/elevator with a KDE contributor who would it be?

That's a hard question mainly because it's hard to predict which one of them would take a shower prior to getting on the elevator. Coolo is a pretty good dancer (as our photos from Czech would certainly prove), Ian talks all the time, Alex has an awesome English accent, with Rich I could finish XPath implementation, with David we could again exchange opinions on being the only non-beer-drinking KDE hackers, I haven't talked to George for a while. So I don't know, I think I might go with Dirk though because he's really tall and standing on him I could get out of the elevator through the the entry in its ceiling (don't worry about him, after getting out, getting something to drink, eat and checking my emails I'd definitely notify someone that he's stuck there).

What was/is your most embarrassing KDE moment?

Not really sure. About two years ago me and Ian were representing KDE at LISA in Philly and I went over to the Ximian booth. I grabbed some lady that was representing Ximian there and started hugging her to prove that we have a great relationship. I never really was embarrassed about it though but Ian who was taking pictures of me and her still reminds me of it every time I see him.

What the latest gadget you bought?

I'm a student so unfortunately I don't have money to be buying too many gadgets, the last one I got was a portable firewire drive (160 gigs) which I got from Automatix during the summer. It's been immensely helpful every since :) I dream about GPS lately since I drive a lot, just don't have money for it.

Personal Questions

First things first. Are you married/do you have a partner? Or are you up for adoption?

I'm up for adoption but I've been told that I'm very picky.

If you have a partner, how does he/she copes with a KDE addict?

So far the "coping" part was always a problem.

Do you have children?

I don't have kids, but I once had a cactus. From what I heard the idea is kinda similar.
The cactus died though.

Do you have pets? Names? URL to photos?

I have a laptop. It can't fetch, but I find it laying next to me almost every morning when I wake up. It's still "alive" which is braggable.

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

My place. And if you're coming bring orange juice and cookies (sugar ones) since I just ran out.

Which book is on your bedside table?

3D Math Primer by Dunn and Parberry.

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

I never really thought about it. Parents are always a huge part of it and I have simply amazing parents (and an awesome brother :) ).

Someone once said that there are people who get on our path unexpectedly and change our life's forever. I traveled a lot so I've met quite a few of them.

Who do you admire? Why?

Rambo. He looks like someone who could take care of my really irritating neighbors.

How would you describe yourself?


What do you get passionate about?

Everything I do.

What are three positive things your friends Would Say About You?

"He hasn't killed anyone so far".

What does "success" mean to you?

Being happy.

What two or three accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction? Why?

  1. Learning how to tie my shoes. Mainly because I was sick and tired of having my shoelaces tangling around the gas pedal in my car all the time.
  2. Not once having a car accident... at the age of 6 (it's important to have realistic expectations)

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

I tend to think about the design of whatever I'm working on. I often take out a paper and try to figure out how to optimize or write some algorithm.

Which TV show world would you fit right into?

Looney Tunes.

Which slogan T-shirt' would you most likely wear - if you HAD to wear one that is?

Well, pretty much all my T-Shirts have some weird slogan on them. Lately I like the ones that say "No idols, No heroes - Just pure inner strength", "To "look up to someone else is to look down on yourself".

Among your friends, you are best known for ...?

Being me. So far none of my friends confused me with someone else.

Your favorite place to be is: ......?

Unfortunately I don't have a place where I feel at home. I just like to be with my friends, so my "favorite place" isn't really a place, it's more of a state.

What's your favorite web site at the moment?

Currently it's mainly because I sleep with TR's lately.

What is the most difficult question you could be asked?

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

What's your signature at the moment?

I have an about 8 year old list of quotes from usenet, books, movies... And I have this perl script which randomly picks one. Sometimes people get offended by some of them, since they bind the quote itself to my emails. Which by the way just proves that Perl is a very dangerous language with a mind of its own.