Arun and the other FOSS.in organizers have been pestering me to upload my slides to the site, so instead I will blog an overview of the week. Like I wrote yesterday, it has been an exhausting and exhilarating week.
Sunday Walked through the snow (probably the only snow in .nl this year) to the train station, laden with T-shirts from Akademy (kindly provided through Claudia) for the KDE team in Bangalore. Flight to London boring; flight to Bangalore better, because I could watch Bollywood movies. After 10 hours of that I’ve had enough, but I think I understand the appeal of the genre a little.
Monday Was met at the airport by Gaurav Vaz, who kindly bought me a coffee and drove me through the grey pre-dawn of Bangalore traffic (summary: not horribly scary, the unlit trucks are a bit of an inconvenience, though). We had to wake up James Morris, my roomie, because there was no other key to be found for the room. Slept a fair chunk of the day and had a pre-conference briefing from Atul Chitnis. Much of that focused on the approach to the WorkOuts in the rest of the week.
Tuesday Opening day of the conference, keynote by Harald Welte. I had missed his talk at the NLUUG conference and this was largely the same. It’s a topic valid the world over: how do you (as a company) interact with Free Software communities? It’s hard to say what else I did that day and the next. I didn’t attend any talks, but spent literally from morning till night talking to people about KDE technologies, community processes, Solaris, licensing and about having fun in the Free Software world. Headed out into Fraser Town to look for food and we ended up at the Mangalore Pearl, which was quite nice.
Wednesday Another day of talk, talk, talk. Prepwork for my talk on KDE4-Solaris filled the morning, then I covered a lot of ground in the talk itself, both in terms of the history of KDE on Solaris, reasons for using that platform at all (it’s all about developer tools and Free Software) and possible forms of cooperation with the efforts in India to bring KDE to the Solaris desktop. Belenix is the big example there. I made a horrific mistake in labeling Belenix from Bombay while it is actually Bangalorean, for which I apologized later to Moinak when he pointed it out to me.
The kind of cooperation I envision is a Linux-distro like one, where the upstream (that is KDE) handles the basic OS portability and receives patches for that quickly and integrates them; the downstream maintains OS integration and branding. It’s not a hard unshakable line, but one approach that might speed up adoption and reduce maintainence efforts. I’ve also received patches from Kunal for gcc-based compilation on Solaris; these are generally applicable and by upstreaming them we make KDE4 compilation easier for all the non-Linux platforms.
In the evening, back at the hotel, Lokshi joined us with his guitar and we made the hotel atrium unsafe; as our session wore on we received notice of the attacks on Bombay which left us all shaken and disturbed.
Thursday KDE was project of the day and filled the hall with a wide variety of talks. There was good cross-talking as well, with the speaker of one talk adding things to another talk and filling out details. It was good fun, all crowded together in the auditorium. I would say we started the day with 80 people in the audience, dwindling to about 40 at the end of the day at 5:30pm. They got a special treat, though, in the form of a KDE song written by Lokshi (and someone else: Pradeepto will correct me here). With me on lead vocals, you can count on a succession of flats and sharps. The considerable Bollywood hip-shaking skills of Shashank and Piyush were put on display as well.
Oh dear, we do have a reputation by now.
Friday Was my WorkOut day. A WorkOut is a three hour session looking to solve a particular problem. It’s supposed to be strongly organized. I’m afraid I somewhat failed on that count, as I could not a priori think of a good new concept to implement. Instead, I had in mind a 30 minute session on getting plasmoids to build (at all) and then go for a brainstorm session, pick some problems, and hack from there. It was not to be, as “KDE4 development environment” turns out to be a very ambiguous prerequisite. I had forgotten things like: Fedora and Debian ship very different -devel packages; that there are -devel packages at all; that not every distro enables the C++ compiler by default; that cmake versions have been bumped in the last two months; that automoc versions have been bumped, too. Lots of stuff to sort out and catalogue. We will be updating the documentation a bit.
One of the most frustrating little bugs was one guy had KDE4 in /usr but the default cmake . would subsequently install things in /usr/local – very odd, and hard to spot. KDEDIRS then helps, or setting the install prefix explicitly.
After about two hours of dealing with build system misery, we went for the brainstorming and planning session. I demoed some small plasmoids and the kind of things you can do in the paint event. Simple stuff, mostly, and I was quickly overwhelmed by the questions out of the audience, on font sizing and bindings and everything. We got through, planned some plasmoids, discovered some already existed (and the EBN one does not) and then in a remarkable display folk planned future work, paired off to hack together and afterwards one corner of the FOSS expo at FOSS.in was filled with Plasma hackers crowing at each other. It was truly inspiring. I slunk back into a corner, watched a little of Manish’s KDE Dtrace WorkOut and ended up the evening with an upset tummy and the entire KDE team at RR’s (a restaurant).
Saturday is today, rounding out and closing out. Talked with more people; wrapped up some conversations started earlier in the week. Stood out in the sunshine because I didn’t want to say I went to India and stayed inside all week.
It’s been a good conference.