Felipe Borges and me recently went to Akademy after a conversation between the two of us three days before the KDE conference that went like:
- “Ugh, seems there is no GNOMEr going to Akademy…”
- “Let’s go?”
- “Let’s go”
And so three days later we traveled to Wien to meet with the KDE community. On arrival, we were pleased by a friendly and joyful ambient on the pre-registration party, which had no registration at all! We were happy to know these issues don’t happen only at GUADEC.
I only knew from before Aleix Pol, the vice-president, Lydia Pintscher, the president, and Alex Fiestas, a KDE dev I would have paid to had him as flatmate when I was at university 😜. Fortunately, we started meeting all the people around in no time .
Shortly after revealing I was part of GNOME I was tagged widely as the “GNOME spy”, and that is not far from the reality! I was there to learn what they do better, and of course finding ways that we can collaborate.
What KDE & Akademy does better
- CoC and photo policy. They have all of this already sorted out, we are being a little late at GNOME. However, with my board hat on, we (mostly others at the board) have worked a lot to make this a reality and I’m confident the online CoC will be created relatively soon.
- Non tech talks. I felt Akademy had some more interested talks than GUADEC, at least for someone that is already more or less aware of the technical happenings at GNOME. Things like 2 talks on newcomers experience, a talk on running events locally, privacy software, different board/community reports, etc.
- Trainings. They had training in public speech and also training on how to behave constructively in a community. Both sound like excellent ideas to be done at GNOME.
- A process to include 3rd party software. It’s called “Incubator” and it’s being handled by Aleix Pol. This is something we lack, and there is no easy way to convert a 3rd party project to be a GNOME project, therefore losing potential new GNOME developers on the way. The “World” group at GitLab partially alleviates this, but doesn’t fix it.
- Marketing contractors. They now have marketing people available for the community. It’s something we lack, although the engagement team does a lot of work to improve that I have the feeling it would be useful to have someone with this background working on certain things at GNOME.
- Board turnover. They have a 3 year 1/3 turnover of the board. This is quite good to build long term goals.
- Compartmentalization of projects. Not sure how useful it would be for us, they have separated plasma apps, rest of apps, etc. So they have a defined product called Plasma and can be provided as is to OEMs as a branded product done by KDE.
- Gender and age diversity. I was gladly surprised by the amount of women and age diversity at KDE. Things like the LGBT dinner are good ways to help the situation, and I hope it keeps improving at GNOME.
There are other areas KDE does better because of not-easily-fixable handicaps at GNOME such as QT documentation being better than gtk+, etc. But! I also realized how much GNOME does better in some other areas, something you don’t realize until you see what other projects are doing.
What GNOME does better
There are three main areas that struck me as game changers.
- Newcomers experience. Seriously, the difference is huge. Thanks to Flatpak, Builder, GitLab and GitLab CI we stepped up the game massively. Not only compared to KDE but also compared to any other complex software or software organization I have seen so far.
- GitLab. KDE uses a mix of tools such as Phabricator, Bugzilla, CLI tools, Travis for CI, etc. For us, switching to GitLab (or any tool that would integrate everything into a single tool as good as GitLab) has been a massive win both in sysadmin maintenance and in development workflows.
- Focus. Historically KDE has had a quite broad focus, several projects with a variety of designs and technical practices has been part of the product. GNOME puts a lot of effort in making a clear focus in order to improve quality, reduce the UX variety and make sure we walk more or less in the same design direction, technical practices, etc. Seems KDE is trying to improve this now too, which is nice to hear.
There are other areas that GNOME does better just because of handicaps KDE might has such as not being default in most of well known distributions or being less enterprise-ready (work we do a lot at Red Hat for GNOME in order to comply with US regulations, etc.).
I tried to give my advice and offered my help on these areas from now on, as I believe what GNOME uses would benefit KDE and in the same way would benefit GNOME by using the same tooling as our colleagues at KDE.
What KDE wants to work on
Flatpak. Yes! Looks like KDE has a wide interest on use more and more Flatpak. Some aspects I could gather from them is that the community driven nature and FOSS stack of Flatpak aligns with the values of the KDE community. Seems they also appreciate the technical thought and technology behind that was put into Flatpak. Alex Larsson is truly an amazing dev.
However, they would appreciate the Flatpak community to proactively approaching KDE to help use Flatpak more, and it’s something I would like to see more too. I proposed to do a hackfest together to collaborate improving the usage of Flatpak and collaborate with the community as a first step. So hopefully there will be one soon!
Wayland. They really want to improve the Wayland status at KDE. At GNOME we have some (1.5?) developers working on it and at KDE they have one working on it. So I proposed to meet with the GNOME developers to share advice and see how the collaboration in Wayland freedesktop for new APIs such as screenshot, screen sharing, color picking, etc. can be improved. Hopefully soon we can all meet to discuss these out.
And yes, it was pretty interesting
I also met and chat with Albert Vaca, the creator of KDE connect. He actually uses GNOME but only attends KDE events because he loves the community, which is quite interesting to me.
KWin maintainer Roman Gilg who I chatted with about Wayland and further collaboration between GNOME and KDE. Roman also tried to save me on Saturday for the lack of parties (I hope next Akademy there is a party on Saturday. GUADEC social events were amazing this year thanks to Ismael).
Slimbook CEO Alejandro López who I chatted with about hardware, OEMs and opportunities around that. Excellent and fun as always.
Ben Cooksley who is this amazing free time sysadmin contributor that runs the whole KDE infrastructure and we chatted about CI setup and funding.
The newcomers experience leader Neofytos Kolokotronis who is passionate about improving the newcomers on-boarding.
And last but not least, I interchanged with Aleix and Lydia valuable advice on how the board, community and funding is ran in both GNOME and KDE. I also ended having a passionate argument with Aleix (as always 😜) that ended up with a hug.
We have already some email threads and discussion on these ideas on the work, going to the conference is already paying off.
Overall, nice conference, nice people, and I’m thankful to all of you at KDE!
Thanks the GNOME Foundation for sponsoring both Felipe’s and my trip.