[kde-community] KDE Mission - let's do this!

Alexander Neundorf neundorf at kde.org
Sat Apr 30 22:22:40 BST 2016

On Friday, April 29, 2016 17:01:27 Thomas Pfeiffer wrote:
> On Donnerstag, 28. April 2016 22:43:02 CEST Alexander Neundorf wrote:
> > > - be at the forefront of emerging trends like mobile/desktop convergence
> > 
> > Boring engineer speaking:  Nice goal. Not sure how realistic this is.
> > We have only a very limited number of full-time developers, so aiming for
> > very advanced, complex solutions can quickly require more resources
> > (developer time, for new devices also actual money) than we have.
> "Be at the forefront" may be a bit marketing-speech, but currently,
> convergence is clearly a goal for us, for Plasma as well as applications.
> Kirigami is all about convergence, and there are several convergence-ready
> applications currently in development.
> I think it KDE would be in a much better place right now if we had embraced
> emerging trends like cloud, mobile and now convergence earlier. Especially
> young developers want to do things which are hip and cool _now_, not things
> that were hip and cool five years ago.
> If we don't even aim to embrace emerging trends due to our limited
> man-power, we create a nice little self-fulfilling prophecy / vicious
> circle for ourselves.

Yes, sure, no objections, I just consider it unrealistic.
> > > - integrate well with other Free products to complete the experience
> > > 
> > > To reach users where they are, KDE
> > > - strives to make our products available on major Free but also
> > > proprietary
> > > operating systems and platforms, mostly by applying Qt as a technology
> > > that
> > > allows easy portability
> > 
> > I'd simply put "Free and propriety" instead of "Free but also
> > proprietary",
> > so they both sound like equally first class target platforms.
> We obviously have different opinions here. While I agree with you that
> proprietary platforms should get much more attention from us than they do
> now, I'd still like to give Free platforms a higher priority, because
> according to our vision, that's where we want people to end up eventually.

I fully agree that the ideal target state is that the user runs fully on free 
software, on his systems and on the remote servers he connects to.

The question is how to get there.
I have several thoughts regarding this.

1.) Is the OS so important ? Is it the "holy grail" to make the user switch 
his *OS kernel* to a free one (Linux) ?
In the meantime my opinion has changed in this regard. If the user can benefit 
from the freedom and privacy let's say Calligra, kdepim and kdeedu offer, even 
if his OS is still e.g. OSX, then we as KDE have done him a great service, and 
that's a very worthwhile goal.

2.) Our strategy has always been to put free systems first, and make support 
for proprietary systems second class at best. Looking at the success of "Linux 
on the desktop", it seems this is not the way to go in the future, if we want 
our applications to become more relevant.

3.) Should we focus our efforts on the stuff we are doing and leave other 
areas to those who work on them ?
I think so.
Let's split the software a user has contact with into categories: the software 
stack could be simplified for our purposes to OS, user shell, applications.
The systems could be split into remote systems (servers) and local systems 
(PCs, laptops, tablets, smartphones, ...).
This would give a matrix, and which cells in this matrix are our business ?
I think the OS is not, neither on the local nor the remote systems.

The "user shell" is on desktop Linux, not on Windows and OSX, on mobile 
Linux/Android it's up for discussion.

The applications, that's what we do for the user's local systems, all of them. 
For the servers, well, not in general. We shouldn't try to build the better 
Facebook. Let's simply leave that to others. But, there are cases where the 
differences are blurry, like running an application on the server and make it 
available though the browser. Or a hypothetical web office suite using KDE- or 
Calligra libraries internally.

So, I'd say let's concentrate on what we are really doing, and strive for 
world domination ("everyone" as the vision says) in these areas (yes, I do 
consider this realistically achievable), and leave the other fields to others. 
We should simply try to serve our users best, offer top support for what they 
are working with, be it file formats, online services, etc.

> > Do we aim for embedded ?
> > IMO with KF5 and Plasma we can, I don't know how much that POV is shared.
> That one is still up for discussion. I think we should. It's also a matter
> of the definition of "embedded". For me (and at least the "Linux on
> embedded systems" article on Wikipedia [1]), e.g. in-vehicle entertainment
> systems are "embedded systems". For Aleix, they are more like tablets
> inserted into a car.
> So if we count things like IVIs and TVs under embedded, then yes, I think
> they should definitely be our goal.

For me, yes, those count. For the user the device is not a computer (but just 
contains one).

Beside those examples, which are often mentioned here, there are many other 
embedded devices too, which are IMO also good targets for us:

On all of them running Linux with KF5 or Plasma should be technically an 
option. And not all of them are developed by huge corporations who develop 
their stuff from scratch. Many are small engineer-based companies, this is 
e.g. one strong point of the industry of Germany. What I want to say: if we 
have interest, those may be easier to approach than giants like Google, 
Samsung, etc.

> > It does not mention providing libraries explicitely, but focuses only on
> > applications (if I didn't miss it).
> > Is that something which should be added ?
> You didn't miss it. I simply forgot to mention them, probably because
> 1) I'm not a developer so I don't come into contact with them that often
> 2) I worked backwards from our vision, which focuses clearly on end-users
> That said, I think they should be part of our mission, because they are an
> important part of our work. The question for me is:
> How exactly do they bring us closer to our vision? Are they mostly a tool
> for _us_ to create consistent, high-quality desktops and applications more
> easily, and the fact that others can use them as well is mostly a nice
> side-effect? Or do we also want to help others outside of KDE create
> applications in line with our values? In that case: Do we care more about
> those using our frameworks in Free software then those using them in
> proprietary software?
> So, with our vision in mind, we should really ask ourselves: Why are we
> doing KF5? What is our motive?

for me, this is very pragmatic: libraries are for developers, so the more 
developers (including for proprietary software) use our libraries, the more 
contributors (or at least developers sending patches) we should get, which 
benefits us in general.


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