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Alan Pope: KDE Slimbook 2 Review

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The kind folks at Slimbook recently sent me the latest generation of their ultrabook-style laptop line for review, the KDE Slimbook 2. You can hear my thoughts on the latest episode of the Ubuntu Podcast, released on June 7th 2018.

Slimbook are a small laptop vendor based in Spain. All the laptops ship with KDE Neon as the default operating system. In addition to their hardware, they also contribute to and facilitate local Free Software events in their area. I was sent the laptop only for review purposes. There's no other incentive provided, and Slimbook didn't see this blog post before I published it.

Being a small vendor, they don't have the same buying power with OEM vendors as other big name laptop suppliers. This is reflected in the price you pay. You're supporting a company who are themselves supporting Free Software developers and communities.

If you're after the cheapest possible laptop, and don't care about its origin or the people behind the device, then maybe this laptop isn't for you. However, if you like to vote with your wallet, then the KDE Slimbook should absolutely be on your list to seriously consider.

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KDE: System Settings Progress, Building a Bridge from Qt to DDS, Find your way to Plasma Mobile

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  • System Settings Progress – June 2018

    These past few months have been full of work on the KCMs. Our developers have been able to tackle more and more of them for the upcoming version of System Settings.

    In the process, there have been a few changes to note. Many of them deal with work that needed to change as we went through. The overall vision of a more clear and concise settings page is still the same. However, I have learned that through compromise we can move forward. That’s what we have been doing.

  • Building a Bridge from Qt to DDS

    In our previous posts, we looked into various aspects of using Qt in a telemetry scenario. Part one focused on reducing message overhead, while part two was about serialization.

    To demonstrate a typical IoT scenario, we used MQTT as a protocol and the Qt MQTT module available in Qt for Automation. However, the landscape of protocols in the automation world is bigger and different protocols provide different advantages, usually with a cost involved.

  • Find your way to Plasma Mobile

    The Plasma Mobile project was started by the KDE community with the goal of becoming a free, user-friendly, privacy-enabling and customizable platform for mobile devices. We are always on the look out for more contributors to help push Plasma Mobile forward. However contributions to Plasma Mobile has high entry barrier due to various reasons, among which are the lack of documentation and easily available open tasks for Plasma Mobile.


    We realised that for new contributors these tasks can be hard to find and difficult to navigate through. To help with this we created another task to help potential contributors easily find the tasks they can work on. Thanks to Dimitris Kardarakos, we now have a web-page on which provides a set of question-answer nodes and leaf nodes pointing to various phabricator tasks. This system is based on the code used by Mozilla to power similar website.

Plasma Got Tricks – I like big tricks and I cannot lie

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The Plasma desktop is fun. Rich, detailed, with loads of goodies to explore and discover and play with. I haven’t really gotten bored with it even after a couple of years of rigorous daily testing. There’s always something new and exciting and useful to do, and you constantly come across fresh, handy aspects of desktop usage you haven’t really thought about. The discovery is progressive, which also helps navigate the Plasma environment, without getting a sensory overload of too many choices.

This article showcases only a small portion of what Plasma can do. But the best part about it is: you can completely ignore all of the above and just use it like a traditional desktop. On a day you feel adventurous, it will welcome you into its fold and uncover its many cool facets. In general, the desktop should be a background thing, a canvas to let you get things done. But it does not have to be boring. In this regard, Plasma proves that practicality and functionality do not have to come at the price of fun. You do not need to sacrifice. On the contrary. It’s one giant basket of Easter eggs. Happy hunting.

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KDE/Qt: This Week in KDE, Qt Creator, Krita Sprint, GCompris

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  • This Week in KDE, Part 3 : Touchpad KCM, Mouse KCM, Libinput

    The previous days were full with discussions since the changes I’m working on will affect the user experience directly. At last, we decided to ship the changes as it is and apply the other changes part by part. I did a Touchpad KCM UI redesign in Kirigami and I would do it for Mouse KCM too but Mouse KCM had some name changes last time so small problem occurred in my system. (KCM’s are part of the KDE Plasma Desktop so changes may be affected by other things.) The code is ready. After solving the problem, new Mouse KCM will be shipped My first coding phase plan of GSoC is kind of finished, too. My next task will be about Libinput so currently, I’m working on a bug to get used to Libinput hacking and to introduce myself to the Libinput community (actually better to say Wayland community).

  • Qt Creator 4.7 Enters Beta, Uses Clang Code Model By Default

    The Qt Company has issued its first public beta today of the Qt Creator 4.7 Qt/C++ integrated development environment.

    One of the biggest changes for the Qt Creator 4.7 cycle is the Clang Code Model is now enabled by default. This Clang-based C/C++ integration in Qt Creator succeeds the homegrown C/C++ Code Model previously employed by the IDE. Clang is being leveraged due to the C++ standards advancing much quicker in recent years, more flexibility, and greater performance.

  • Qt Creator’s Clang Code Model

    Starting with the upcoming Qt Creator 4.7, the Clang Code Model is enabled by default. That’s a great time to look at the differences between our old code model and the new Clang Code Model. But first things first.

  • Qt Creator 4.7 Beta released

    The greatest improvements were again done for our Clang based C++ support. First of all we made the Clang code model the default for Qt Creator 4.7. That is quite a milestone after years of experimenting and developing, so Nikolai has wrapped up the history and current state in a separate blog post. I’ll just summarize some of the most important changes in 4.7 here.

  • Krita Sprint: long fight with jaggy lines on OSX
  • [GCompris] GSoC 2018: Week 2 & 3

KDE Development: KWin, VDG, an Falkon

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  • Stepping down as maintainer

    After long consideration I decided that I am no longer in a position to
    be a maintainer. I currently do not follow up on reviews and hardly
    contribute any code. Given that I think it's time to pass on the torch.
    KWin is currently in a good position we have new developers working on
    various areas of KWin and my suggestion would be to split the task of
    maintainership on many shoulders, specialized for various areas.

    My lack of work lately was not just the lack of time, but to a larger
    degree a lack of motivation. I searched a lot for the reasons for the
    lack of motivation and I think I identified two core areas where KDE is
    currently heading to and where I just disagree with these directions.
    Please don't take my explanation personal, you are doing awesome work,
    it's just that I don't approve these directions. Lately I had a feeling
    of doing fundamental opposition to changes the community wants to do.
    Granted I think these changes are wrong, but I don't want to stand in
    the way, if that's what the people doing the work want.

    What I identified as the core issues is the way the VDG currently acts
    and the usability project.

  • Martin Flöser Steps Down As Maintainer Of KDE's KWin

    Martin Flöser (nee Gräßlin) who has been the maintainer of KDE's KWin since 2010 is leaving his post.

    Martin Flöser has announced he is stepping down as the maintainer of KWin. He wrote he has not been following up on code reviews and hardly contributes any code recently and so is now passing on the torch. No successor has yet been named but he suggests that it be split amongst several individuals.

  • KDE Developer On Martin Flöser's Departure: VDG Does Not Exist

    KDE developer Alessandro Longo has penned a response about the KDE "Visual Design Group" with Martin Flöser announcing earlier today he is stepping away as KWin maintainer in part due to his frustrations with the VDG.

  • VDG does not exist

    VDG (originally Visual Design Group, now just V Design Group) was created by Jens Reuterberg during the KDE4-Plasma5 transition, it included experts from different areas and they did a great work, with a solid and coherent vision about UI/UX. Since KDE4 times, developers did an awesome work both implementing visual and usability changes and improving Plasma’s performance and stability.

  • Third week of coding phase, GSoC'18

    API consumed a humongous time of both me and my mentor David. This exposes the Falkon c++ methods of TabWidget class as singleton Falkon.Tabs and methods of WebTab class as uncreatable type Falkon.Tab.

    This time I am not including the WebExtension compatibility table as the APIs developed are not similar to the WebExtension APIs. Also, I am very thankful to my mentor David Rosca for always helping me.

KDE and GNOME: This Week in Usability & Productivity, Krita, Pitivi and More

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  • This week in Usability & Productivity, part 21

    Another week, another dose of Usability and Productivity in KDE land! We picked up a lot of great improvements to Discover, a much-requested change to allow Kate and Dolphin to be run with the root user account again, and quite a lot of important bugfixes.

  • A Progression of Drawing Devices

    Some time ago, I compared 2:1 devices, which was a new form factor back then. This time, triggered by an experiment with a Wacom Mobile Studio Pro during the last Krita sprint, I want to look into the various drawing devices I’ve used over the years, and which ones worked well, or not.

  • Other People’s Work

    Most of my writing on this blog is about FreeBSD, KDE, or Calamares. So it gives a bit of a one-sided view of what I do. There’s lots of pictures of rhubarb crumble, for instance, that never see the bloggy light-of-day. But I can build more than just software! Two months ago an unusually heavy storm blew down part of the fence in my back yard, which wasn’t really good for the privacy of that yard.

  • Not just Krita at the 2018 Krita Sprint

    At the 2018 Krita Sprint we had a special guest: Valeriy Malov, the maintainer of the Plasma Wacom tablet settings module. We’ve asked him to write about his experience at the sprint, so over to him!


    This is my Krita 2018 sprint report and general report / pre-release announcement for new version of wacomtablet.

  • Bringing slow motion to Pitivi

    Last year, I worked on the project ‘Pitivi: Color correction interface using three chromatic wheels’ as part of my Google Summer of Code. This year again, I’m working on Pitivi under the GNOME organisation. Mathieu Duponchellle and Thibault Saunier are mentoring my project this time.

  • Input Event Handling in Nautilus

    Gestures like these is now how almost all input is handled in Nautilus. The exception is the stuff that has no event controller counterpart in GTK+ 3.

    This summer I’m working on porting Nautilus to GTK+ 4 as part of Google Summer of Code, and I’ve spent the entirety of the time on getting rid of deprecated 3.x API and obsolete ways of handling events. Despite slightly hack-ish ways of working around deprecations, it’s been smooth sailing so far – No Regressions™! Almost ready to switch†!

Semi-Automatic LaTeX: KDE’s Kile

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One reason that I appreciate KDE is that I am always discovering new applications. In fact, I make a point of regularly searching for them. My most recent discovery is Kile, a graphic editor for LaTeX. Kile is not the first of its kind, but, unlike the better known LyX, whose interface resembles a word processor, it makes no attempt to hide the structure that shapes the output. Instead, like the Bluefish editor, it is what I think of as a semi-automatic editor. Instead, users add markup from a list of options in a display in which tags are visible. With this approach, Kile eliminates the drudgery of typing markup while making both troubleshooting and the learning of LaTeX easier.

LaTeX, of course, is one of free software’s legendary applications, with a history that predates Linux. Before the code for was released, it was the most sophisticated tool on Linux for complex formatting of text. It remains popular today in academia, largely because of its ability to layout formulas. Despite the fact that the principle behind it is similar to any markup language like XML or HTML,X has a reputation for being difficult to learn. The main difficulty, though, is not so much in the basic concept, or even the fact that tags are not in pairs so much as finding the right markup or extension libraries among the dozens that are available. One advantage of Kile is that it displays a thorough (although possibly not exhaustive) list of tags that are always available in the interface, so that users do not have to remember all the available choices.

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Also: Last Month in AtCore / Atelier

Kubuntu 18.04 LTS Review: The Friendly Operating System

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Kubuntu 18.04 LTS is complete and full-featured system ready for all desktop purposes. It's easy to use, really, without experimental changes that frequently happens like what we see on Ubuntu, for both long-time and new Kubuntu users. It's complete with all applications included, and it's full-featured with all conveniences and abilities you get including easy access to available software via Discover and Muon. If you use it, you will have 3 years of support of the KDE components plus 5 years of support (from Kubuntu Team) of the Ubuntu base components (from Canonical). Finally, happy using Kubuntu!

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KDE and GNOME Leftovers

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  • A Quick Look At What's Coming To KDE Connect
  • Second week of coding phase, GSoC'18

    The week was totally involved in developing QML APIs similar to WebExtension APIs.

  • Shadows in Window Screenshots

    Every few months there is a review about Plasma by dedoimedo and one critic point is that screenshots include the shadow. As I’m rather annoyed of these complaints about this I’m now doing a blog post to explain the situation so that in future this can be skipped.

    Shadows in the screenshots are not a bug, but an intended feature. It was implemented by me in 2010 on request by Nuno Pinheiro, our Oxygen god. Before screenshots did not support shadows and looked really, really bad as the window decorations are round and contained black corners. Shadows were part of the design and that was completely lacking. So we came up with a rather decent solution on how to screenshot the window with shadows included. I first mentioned this new effect in this blog post from August 2010.

  • Summary of my first two weeks at GSoC
  • Five or More Modernisation Overview

    Before jumping right into the Five or More implementation plan and details, I would like to keep you updated with the progress made thus far.

    I started working on some project-related tasks during the community bonding period, to cover up for the upcoming exam and research session and any other time frame in which I might not be as active as I would like to. Also, during this period, I had a previously announced one week trip, which kept me from working more on the project.


    Then, I intend to create a basic Vala app and window based on the template generated by GNOME Builder, only using the UI file that already exists in the Five or More repository. If everything goes as planned, I will start adding one component at a time in the short run, starting with the application menu, the callbacks for the UI buttons, the preferences window, the score and the preview widgets, and lastly, the game area.

  • LAS @ GiNA Planning + GNOME 3.26 Release Party in SF

    GNOME in North America (this isn’t official, but it’s the name we’re proposing for the event in North America that is a consolidation of the Boston Summit and the West Coast Summit)

Krita Interview with Răzvan Rădulescu

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Hi! My name’s Răzvan Rădulescu, I’m from Romania. I’ve had an interest in drawing since I was little. Unfortunately Romania is one of those countries that can crush creativity at a very early stage. At the time I was also interested in computers and started learning programming by myself, finally ended up doing physics in college and about three years ago I started playing with the idea of digital drawing and painting. The first two years have been painting on and off different things to get the hang of it, but about a year ago I decided to think about this path as more than just a hobby.

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Also: Krita Manual Updated

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It Turns Out RISC-V Hardware So Far Isn't Entirely Open-Source

While they are trying to make it an open board, as it stands now Minnich just compares this RISC-V board as being no more open than an average ARM SoC and not as open as IBM POWER. Ron further commented that he is hoping for other RISC-V implementations from different vendors be more open. Read more

Perl 5.28.0 released

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Will Microsoft’s Embrace Smother GitHub?

Microsoft has had an adversarial relationship with the open-source community. The company viewed the free Open Office software and the Linux operating system—which compete with Microsoft Office and Windows, respectively—as grave threats. In 2001 Windows chief Jim Allchin said: “Open source is an intellectual-property destroyer.” That same year CEO Steve Ballmer said “Linux is a cancer.” Microsoft attempted to use copyright law to crush open source in the courts. When these tactics failed, Microsoft decided if you can’t beat them, join them. It incorporated Linux and other open-source code into its servers in 2014. By 2016 Microsoft had more programmers contributing code to GitHub than any other company. The GitHub merger might reflect Microsoft’s “embrace, extend and extinguish” strategy for dominating its competitors. After all, GitHub hosts not only open-source software and Microsoft software but also the open-source projects of other companies, including Oracle, IBM, and Amazon Web Services. With GitHub, Microsoft could restrict a crucial platform for its rivals, mine data about competitors’ activities, target ads toward users, or restrict free services. Its control could lead to a sort of surveillance of innovative activity, giving it a unique, macro-scaled insight into software development. Read more