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Interview With Apper Author, KDE Developer Daniel Nicoletti

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Swapnil: Can you tell us more about you? Where are you from and what do you do?
Daniel: I’m from Brazil, working as system analyst in a big company and a software geek in free time.

Swapnil: How did you come in contact with Free Software?
Daniel: I always hated having to re-install windows for every time it started to be slow or didn’t boot up. I also hated the user interface. When I was younger I wanted to build an OS but of course I had no idea of how hard would that be. So in high school I found out about Linux but without Internet (and with dial-up) it wasn’t a good alternative at time, so later at university with high speed Internet I brought a notebook and started to use Linux daily.

Swapnil: Which distribution do you use and why?
Daniel: I started with Conectiva (because I could install stuff from CDs), then used slackware for a long time, then I took a Linux course which explained how to install Debian (without Internet at times it never finished the installation as it tried to download the whole world), so I used it for a while since I loved apt and how Debian managed things. But after I attended UDS I started to see some cool things I’d like in Debian but wouldn’t be possible so soon (like Upstart, some non-free drivers easily available), so now I use Kubuntu.

Swapnil: I don’t think I need to ask but what edge to you think KDE has over other desktop environments?
Daniel: Unfortunately (or fortunately) Gnome on Debian looks like old MS Windows 98 upside down, so I really dislike it, and the K menu concept with a System Settings made me like it a lot more (not to mention it looked nicer). As of today I can say I love to program in Qt and since I also have to read a lot of glib code I have strong feelings about it.

Swapnil: Can you tell our readers more about Colord? What is the purpose of this app? On a lighter note, why Colord and not Kolord 😉
Daniel: colord is a lightweight system daemon, it provides a simple DBus interface to manage device profiles, so it’s like a DB, being simple allowed it to be build in a short time and be used in several places. So instead of writing a whole framework (which there are several already) it just provides an easy way to manage your profiles. Then CUPS, KDE, GNOME, write their piece of code to allow for color correction.

colord-kde for instance detect your monitors and ask colord which profile to use, then colord-kde sets the gamma correction on the X and sets a X atom used to tell applications like Krita, Gimp.. which profile this monitor is using. I started to dislike K names (it’s a bit hard to pronounce some times), and well users don’t need to know they have colord-kde it will just be a “Color” entry in System Settings.

Swapnil: Are you working with Richard Hughes for his ColorHug?
Daniel: No, but  I’ve been working with him for a long time in PackageKit, so we are quite good friends. ColorHug involves some technical stuff that I either don’t know nor have time to learn. He gave me one unit which will help colord-kde in future when we have a shared code to calibrate monitors in KDE. This is in some form ‘my working’ with him, indirectly. I believe I’m working to get his device to a wider audience. But no device hacking.

Swapnil: Can you tell us about print-manager?
Daniel: Print-manager started when I used Debian, which has a different CUPS setup forbidding users to do several actions if not authenticated. Since print-applet was a Kubuntu port of the Gnome tool it doesn’t has the issue I had at time. Now it has several advantages over print-applet including authentication a plasmoid, so hopefully soon it will replace it.

Swapnil: Apple has changed is approach towards CUPS with version 1.6. What challenges does it pose for the GNU/Linux community?
Daniel: CUPS is GPL, if Apple want us off we can simple keep a fork, or either start a new thing from scratch. CUPS is old software, if a new software was created today, we would surely have at least a better API. IMO Apple’s plan is to get rid of free software so no surprise if more strict stuff happens to CUPS.

Swapnil: Can you tell us about what other projects are you working on?
Daniel: Well I’m also the author of Apper, though I’m not coding much of it recently, but I plan a whole new blood for it, QML + applications one, not sure when I’ll be able to start doing this. I’m also starting a new project slowly moving which is a photo organizer application, which right now only index stuff (the QML interface didn’t work so well…).

Swapnil: KDE has been through a lot of criticism but now it has started to get its glory back. 4.x has matured a lot but there are still bugs which are annoying at times. What is the cause of this ‘buggyness’?
Daniel: Lack of man power. We have a bunch of stuff to do, but don’t have people to do that. Apper for instance has a bug since KPackageKit, I don’t want to fix it because I copied the code I didn’t understand and I can’t reproduce it here. Also when I switch to QML the bug will be gone. But if there was someone willing to fix it would be done. I have a lot of projects in mind but no one to help with them, so man power is one of the biggest issues.

Swapnil: What’s in the pipeline for KDE 5.x? Will it go the same path of Gnome/Unity and focus entirely on a phone like interface (KDE already has UIs for tablets, desktops and netbooks)? What, according to you is the UI goal for KDE 5.x?
Daniel: I think we’ll keep the same goals, keeping the same KDE platform with different UI for tablets, netbooks and maybe even phones.

Swapnil: There are so many Linux distributions, as a developer what is your opinion about this diversity? Does it affect the life of a developer as you have to support so many distributions or is it a non issue?
Daniel: I work on Apper so this makes a whole difference, because it has to work for major distros, and I can’t test all the features since apt doesn’t have some specifics that others distros have. I think this diversity is good till some point, IMO it helps to get software well tested, but makes the choose to Linux a bit harder.

Swapnil: Do you think there should be some unified approach to reduce duplication for developer or make it easy to support many distributions without much effort?
Daniel: As of today I don’t have much trouble supporting several distros, thanks to virtualization I can run my apps on each of them so testing is quite easy, and as I said, I find this somehow good because I have some quite different use cases between distros.

Swapnil: As you said lack of manpower is a big issue. How can one contribute to your projects and other KDE projects? Whom should he contact, where should he go?
Daniel: Starting in free software coding isn’t always easy, the learning curve fo Qt is a bit hard at the beginning but once you get the idea it flows very easily since Qt API has the best docs I. I suggest contacting the people who develop the things you are actually interested in, or if you want to start a new thing you can also contact people from KDE who are interested in he same subject.

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