[kdepim-users] SURVEY: PDA with Embedded Linux?

Adriaan de Groot groot at kde.org
Wed Jan 30 15:41:14 GMT 2008

On Wednesday 30 January 2008 01:21, Homo ludens wrote:
> On Tuesday 29 January 2008 20:00:32 kdepim-users-request at kde.org wrote:
> > I've been lurking on this list for EIGHT YEARS waiting for consistent PIM
> > Synchronization support in KDE. Yes, there are things that work from time
> > to time, but it's always ebbing and tiding. Some KDE releases things
> > work, and the next one everything is broken and "Oh, we're writing a new
> > framework" or "Oh, yeah, we're waiting on the next KDE Libs release so we
> > can gut the core code and rewrite it".

There was an unpleasant and acrimonious exchange on pretty much this subject 
earlier this month; it concerned KPilot in particular (which *is* always 
playing catch-up). The operative word in the paragraph above is "lurking". 
Near as I can tell, those folk who want this stuff don't care enough to do 
something about it, and those that do something can't cover all the bases. Or 
to put it differently, in those eight years you (Jonathan? >> quote here) 
could have gone to college, learned C++, and implemented it yourself. I could 
have gotten a job in industry, learned Java, and done other stuff. Neither of 
us did so, and there's no use crying over spilt milk.

I bear no particular malice to people who write "I'm waiting for stuff to be 
done"; that is your choice, but it reveals a rather dysfunctional choice in a 
participative project. Waiting for things to just happen is unlikely to make 
those things happen faster.

> > I'm nearly dying for the Synch stuff to be given priority. I mean, realy,
> > dedicated, important priority. Kontact/KMail works great, please, give
> > some attention to these other needs :-)

KDE development has no "steering committee" or corporation that drives it in a 
particular direction; KDE e.V. exists to *supprort* development in whatever 
direction the KDE community takes it, but there is no direction imposed from 
above. That means that the direction of development depends entirely on what 
the developers do; "regular users" become developers in order to drive 
development in the directions they choose (that's why I got started, I wanted 
to change some fonts somewhere).

The upshot is, the trick is creating developer incentive to work on some given 
problem. Unfortunately, the return on working on device syncing is really 
lousy -- however much I would like to shake your hand when you are a happy 
user, that doesn't motivate me to spend years of time and thousands of 
dollars on devices I don't actually need or use. Since device manufacturers 
really actively don't care about the Free Software desktop, it's been 
tail-light chasing and reverse engineering since forever.

O, for a dedicated developer .. I can echo your plaintive cry. We all wish 
that 20 new talented C++ developers would show up with a pressing desire to 
make handheld device syncing in KDE better. We'd cuddle them to death.

> > Oh, that some dedicated developer would make this work for good. And
> > Windows Mobile support too - there are many business people who will use
> > Linux on their workstations that might never get up the gumption to
> > install Linux on their handheld. Also, in some cases they wont' want to -
> > for example I own several PocketPC applications that are wonderful, and
> > there is just no Familiar/OPIE equivalent.

Again, what I mostly see is people who want stuff, but aren't doing anything 
about it except fence-sitting. I've grown pessimistic over the years.

> The reason I was asking about handhelds is simply: I tried a couple of sync
> applications, but am not too happy with them (KPilot works with Kontact but
> has flaws; JPilot works flawless but is not integrated; and I haven't been

Get out there and fix those flaws!

> and switch to a Linux-embedded-based PDA. I suspected that running the same
> applications on both the desktop & the PDA might make synchronization
> simpler.

I don't think so -- I think going to Linux on the HH puts you in the grip of 
SyncML & OpenSync, neither of which have reached the "Just Works" stage (last 
I checked -- again, pessimist at the podium here).

> business users, and would therefore help spread it (most people I know are
> hooked on their Blackberry, though, and I don't think there is much work
> done on integrating that, is there?)

Jason and I -- KPilot guys -- were actually talking about exactly that in SFO 
last week. Blackberries are all over the place and kind of shiny and sexy, 
and could probably stand some good integration work. All it takes is .. gee, 
$630 each .. to get one.

> PS: Hm, just wondering: What kind of skills  would you actually need to be
> able to work in development? Familiarity with Qt, C, and Perl, or something
> like that?

C++ and Qt, basically. Perl not needed. We've had people learn C++ and Qt by 
doing as they started developing in KDE-PIM; it is generally a supportive 

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