I admire Aaron’s dedication to the cause in suggesting a regular video cast about KDE technology. That’s like teaching regular classes. I was a TA for many years, it’s not something to be undertaken lightly. Tomorrow I’m filling in for a guest class in one of the software engineering classes in Nijmegen; my topic is licensing issues and compliance. I wouldn’t want to do that regularly as a hobby, no sirree.

It strikes me that we (as a project and as an e.V.) have been investing more time and effort into schooling and teaching people how to be part of the community, how to contribute and how to make the most of the software that the KDE project produces. You (in the abstract) need to invest in order to create the contributors of tomorrow; it’s easy to forget sometimes when you can fix bug X in less time than it takes to explain to someone how to fix bug X themselves. Doing the latter repays itself many times over in the long run.

So I’m keen on hearing from Aaron as well, also to fill out my knowledge of the KDE APIs. I tend to struggle in the not-so-visible bits with portability in mind and rarely scull out into the warm seas of user-visible code.

There’s forces conspiring to make me read more Plasma code today, actually: I fired up one of my thin clients and found that KDE4 looks wretched (this is very different from Paul’s experience with LTSP on an Eee 701). Granted, that’s mostly because of poor alpha-blending in my client. But with a plainer widget theme (plastique) and a plainer window decoration scheme (plastik?) get a desktop that looks remarkably KDE3-ish. But the cashew and taskbar remain unreadable. Even the “Plain” Plasma theme (I have never before mentioned that GHNS really rocks, but its ease of use .. um .. rocks) is full of gradients and thingies that render poorly on my machine. I dove into the code and, while it is mostly easy to read and relatively straightforward to understand, I didn’t feel comfortable commenting out huge chunks of code in order to remove all the gradients. Who knows what functionality might be hit as collateral damage.

Suffice to say I’ve got a Plasma theme in mind called “Grey Fog” or “Dead Boring” which does away with all the gradients and blending, even the semi-circle surrounding the desktop cashew.

But, to return via circuitous routes to the title of this blog entry. More and newer specs are now available for the KDE4 stack on (Open)Solaris. I’ve started building on my Ultra45 – this shook out a few bugs again – but has gotten stuck on the kdesupport modules, all of which like to find the wrong libraries (e.g. 32-bit libs in a 64-bit build). I know there must be a libsuffix type thing to fix it (i.e. pull up /opt/foss/lib or /opt/foss/lib/sparcv9) but haven’t found it yet.

On x86 / amd64 the packaging seems to work quite well. We’ve updated Boost to 1.36, fiddled around a bit with stdcxx (it may end up that we’re providing unofficial packages that go into /usr before it is officially integrated). It should be straightforward, given CBE 1.7.0. You can get a complete set of packages up to kdegraphics compiled in about a day. I’ll be switching on hosting of packages sometime in november when things seem really stable and have had enough compile tests run. After that it is enabling IPS support and seeing what happens then.

The other bit of packing that needs doing is my suitcase, as I’m off to London on Wednesday for Linux Expo Live. I’ll be joining the administrative power duo of Claudia and Paul as the main booth staff. Naturally I’ll try to demo OpenSolaris to the folk at the Sun stand 🙂 I have been badgered (possibly foxed and / or wolverined) into giving a talk on software quality checking, so I will have to invent one on the train there. Nonetheless, I’m looking forward to slumming with my Free Software friends again (Claudia has dibs on the couch and I am relegated to the floor). Better pack a sleeping bag and a camp stove – I hear Surrey is a wasteland.