Akademy 2023 arrived, was intense (and hot) and then sped off again. It’s been three weeks already! Here’s my notes (but no photos) from the event.
This year there were a bunch of travel options. The existence of KDE-Eco means that we consider the enviornmental impact of travel more than we would previously – and that said, KDE e.V.’s travel policy .. huh, I was going to say “has said for years to prefer train over flying” but can’t find that text now. Regardless of policy, we prefer train over flying.
There are two feasible train(-ish) routes from the Netherlands to Thessaloniki in Greece:
- to Bari, in Italy, then ferry to Greece, then train to Thessaloniki
- to Sofia in Bulgaria or Skopje in North Macedonia, then bus to Thessaloniki
Both options take multiple days of travel. A handful of attendees took them. I wasn’t one of them. Here’s to an Akademy 2024 that is reachable by train for me.
Once I was in Greece anyway I attached my summer vacation to Akademy – no additional travel for me, although also no bicycle-vacation this year.
Conference Part (Saturday)
There were lots of interesting talks; I can remember Akademys that I thought were kind of boring (maybe too many “here is Plasma5” talks back then), not the case this year at all. As a board member of KDE e.V. there’s handful of (boring? I don’t know) talks that the e.V. supplies which put me on stage a couple of times. I’ll refrain from commenting on those, and here’s my highlights:
Eleftherios Kosmas gave the opening keynote about Libre Space which showed us whole new places to go with Free Software. I particularly liked what he had to say about testing and QA, since “turn it off and on again” isn’t really an option. Sure, the machine is only 400km away (sometimes, briefly) but it’s still unreachable.
SatNOGS is a Libre Space project with modest hardware needs to help track things in space, which is one way everyone can help out.
Thiago is KDE e.V.’s documentation-writing contractor, who has been diligently improving KDE’s documentation – both introductory things like the Kirigami tutorial and internal API documentation for KDE Frameworks. He gave a talk on the technical documentation process, what kinds of things he does. There’s lots of opportunity to work together on improving documentation, and there’s a KDE Documentation Matrix channel.
Thago’s talk also gave us audio of the local (in Brasil) street fair, which blew in through the windows at times.
Slint is a different UI toolkit – perhaps surprising to see it at a KDE conference. It has a strong QML heritage, works well with C++ and Rust, and has lots of Free Software experience behind it. It was fun to see Tobias put together a basic UI during a live-coding talk (daring!) with some Rust-promo, some Slint-promo and also general “go out and do cool stuff” promo.
Andreas gave an overview of what kinds of targets we currently have for KDE on “embedded” systems. After successes with the Pinebook and other Arm64-based SBCs, the community now looks at different devices. Current-generation “neat-o” embedded hardware is RISC-V based, like the VisionFive V2 and the Pine Star64. It’s all yocto-based which Andreas assures is less scary than it seems.
Conference Part (Sunday)
Sunday I must have had other things – perhaps preparation for KDE e.V. things? getting some more sleep? – on my mind, because I can only remember attending one talk and the lightning sessions at the end of the day. What jumped out at me from the sponsors talks was that everyone is hiring – KDE is a great place to hone your C++ skills, your design, devops, collaboration, Rust, Python, what-have-you skills.
Visualizing Large Codebases
Tarcisio, working for Codethink or Bloomberg or both, has a visualization tool that will chew through a huge codebase in a matter of minutes and allow navigating through logical and physical paths in the codebase. Logical like “class A has a data member of class B”, physical like “library A links to library B”. The work is inspired by the design tenets of John Lakos, who has written a hefty book on the subject of large project design.
I’m still in the process of getting the visualization tool to build on FreeBSD, and have been reading bits and pieces of the book with the idea of applying it to my work-work codebase, which could definitely use another round of architectural-layering.
The unconference (Birds-of-a-Feather sessions) part of Akademy consists of hallway-track stuff and a handful of rooms that can be spontaneously booked for sessions. I went to one on embedded (again, lots of RISC-V intentions) and one on code visualization (to talk about the Bloomberg C++ libraries).
Infrastructure was a bit hit-or-miss on the unconference days, and while I think remote attendees had a slightly better experience than in 2022, it still wasn’t great. Let’s iterate on the hybrid remote experience again.
Results of the two BoFs I attended will show up on my blog soon-ish.
After Akademy I stuck around in Greece for another week, and walked up and down Mount Olympus (not to the top, that’s a 2-day trek to do safely if you’re untrained) following the trails in the national park. There are deer (Demeter) and tortoises and squirrels and lizards on the mountain, as well as a huge amount of quiet and away-from-tourists as soon as you go off the popular E4 trail.
Thanks to the University of Macedonia for hosting us, to Mariët for leading the charge, Dina for coordinating, the Greek team for telling me a joke, Sune for chocolate, the sponsors of the event and all of the KDE Community that made this happen.