KDE Project History/KDE Two (Developer Meeting)
KDE Two in Erlangen, Germany
The KDE Two developers conference help in Erlangen Germany this Oct 7 - 10 was a resounding success! This page will try to organize some of the results as they get written up.
The report below is a summary of the major topics addressed at the conference.
Enjoy! Major Topics Covered at KDE Two
Torben Weis, the chief architect for the KDE Object Model (KOM) and OpenParts, announced the "new and improved" next generation OpenParts. The new approach to application or component embedding, code named "Kanossa", uses shared libraries rather than CORBA. The framework is only a few days old but has already shown itself to be quite fast, very memory efficient, and more stable than the previous version.
The distributed nature of CORBA presented a few problems related to concurrency, reliability, and performance. It was decided that for application/GUI embedding, it made much more sense to use local components. This embedding approach is similar to how ActiveX and COM components are implemented in the Windows world and is likewise as seamless to the user.
This approach will make embedding components in KDE much easier to do. It should be possible, for instance, to embed an entire Konqueror browser into an application with only a few lines of code. The resulting embedded component will also be quite fast -- the user will not be able to tell the difference between it and a "native" widget. In addition, its efficient use of memory should prove popular to developer and user alike. Developers will appreciate the fact that Kanossa uses much less resources while compiling and users will love the fact that Kanossa based applications are comparable in size to non-component apps.
The main consumer of OpenParts is the KDE office suite, KOffice. Torben, Reginald Stadblauer, Matthias Elter, and others worked to convert the entire suite to the new framework. KPresenter, KSpread, KImageShop, and KChart are already ported with impressive gains in speed and stability.
Matthias Ettrich and Preston Brown also worked feverishly through the weekend to develop a lightweight message based IPC/RPC mechanism for KDE -- one that can be used in addition to the powerful KOM. The result was the Desktop Communication Protocol (DCOP), based on the X11R6 standard library LibICE. It's goals were:
1. Very small memory footprint, enabling it to be linked to all KDE applications with no performance hit 2. Fast, simple communication between distributed objects 3. Easy implementation 4. Authentication
but most of all
5. Unify existing KDE 1.x IPC protocols like kwmcom and hacks using Xatoms and pid files in a consistent and intuitive manner
Initial benchmarks seem to indicate that DCOP will be a hit. Comparisons between DCOP and MICO show an improvement of 40 - 100% for speed and over 50% for memory. One test of 10,000 synchronous RPC calls between distributed objects took 4.5 seconds in DCOP and over 8 seconds using MICO. The DCOP result shows how efficient it is: the practical limit for IPC/RPC calls between objects is often shown to be about 3000 discrete calls per second. This performance means that there should be no noticeable speed difference between this protocol and the previous IPC hacks.
Rich Moore introduced the very impressive work he has done with Java. He and Lars Knoll worked through the weekend to extend his work. The result was two-fold:
1. Lars' new DOM-based HTML library (khtml-dom) now has support for Java applets! 2. Any KDE application may now embed a Java applet with only a few lines of code.
Rich's work is absolutely phenomenal! This means that KDE 2.0 will have a web browser with full Java capabilities. As a side note, Rich also started a Java implementation of DCOP.
Check out this screenshot. It is the KDE home page with a java applet showing a animated reflected image.
Stefan Westerfeld demonstrated aRts -- his next generation network multimedia framework. aRts uses a very modular system of CORBA components to achieve nearly limitless potential for multimedia playing and manipulation. KDE 2.0 will use an optimized subset of aRts to handle all audio playing. Future releases of KDE will then use the more advanced video and audio/video manipulation abilities available in aRts.
The aRts server is incredible. It's synthesis and filtering abilities are leagues ahead of anything yet found on Unix. It will offer capabilities to KDE that have so far been found only on OSes like Windows, BeOS, etc.
Waldo Bastian and David Faure headed up a design study on a new system configuration storage mechanism called the System Configuration Cache (Sycoca). It is a lightweight database optimized for looking up static system information. It permits concurrent read-only access to multiple clients at once. This means that the lookup can be very fast (in linear time) since no locking or transaction operations are needed. The database will be created and updated from human readable configuration files.
Sycoca will be used for "static" system information only. Examples include the mimetype bindings and the .desktop/servicetypes. Application specific data will not be stored here as that data is subject to regular change.
Eric Bischoff, the KDE documentation project leader, detailed some of the changes taking place with the documentation group. One of the biggest changes is the move of all docs from the old LinuxDoc format to the industry standard DocBook format. This should allow for much greater control over the presentation of the information. He also mentioned how there will soon be automatically generated printable versions of KDE documents in postscript and/or PDF. Finally, there is work between the documentation project and many Linux distributions to ensure that all of the copious results of their efforts be properly included in the distributions.
The meeting also made possible a change in the board for KDE e.V. KDE e.V. is a non-profit legal entity (a "corporation") that can act in the interests of KDE as well as maintain a bank account. It was originally founded as a means for KDE to enter into a legal agreement with Troll Tech with the FreeQt Foundation. It has since taken on a further role as a place were donated monies could be accepted and distributed.
Members of KDE e.V. met for a few hours for an annual meeting to provide some direction to the board as well as elect a new board. The new board is:
President: Kurt Granroth Vice President: Chris Schl�ger Treasurer: Mirko Sucker Board Member: Preston Brown
Expect to see quite a bit from KDE e.V. in the coming months.
There were a number of other sessions that were of great interest to KDE developers if not to general users. They included such topics as user interface design, applications scripting, session management, packaging, relations with Corel, and effects of a KDE library cleanup. Information concerning these topics will doubtlessly be filtering out as time goes by.
Kalle Dalheimer's Report
6-10-1999 The KDE Team is happy to welcome IBM as sponsor of KDE-Two: "IBM and its ViaVoice team thanks the KDE team for the opportunity to help sponsor its second developers conference and congratulates KDE's efforts to produce a great leading GUI for Linux."
4-10-1999 The KDE Team thanks Corel and Red Hat for their sponsorship of KDE-Two.
29-9-1999 The KDE Team thanks Markt & Technik and Addison - Wesley for their sponsorship of KDE-Two.
24-9-1999 The KDE Team wishes to thank Fujitsu Siemens Computers, for their sponsorship of KDE-Two.
According to Fujitsu Siemens Computers:
"Fujitsu Siemens Computers, one of the main Linux supporters worldwide, is proud to sponsor the KDE-Two developer meeting. Fujitsu Siemens Computers strongly supports open source projects like KDE as one of the leading GUIs for Linux. The GUI is of particular importance with regard to further enhancing the acceptance of Linux in different environments from Desktop to Server."
15-9-1999 It took somewhat longer than expected but finally KDE-Two, the second KDE developer meeting, has become reality! Here is our press release:
KDE Developer Meeting supported by SuSE and Caldera
The KDE Team is happy to announce that the second KDE developer meeting will take place from 7th to 10th of October 1999 at the University of Erlangen, Germany. Thanks to the main sponsors, Caldera Systems Inc. and SuSE GmbH, about 50 KDE core developers from all over the world will be able to come together and work on the future development of KDE.
According to Waldo Bastian, KDE core developer, "KDE is being developed by a large group of volunteers from all over the world. This event is a unique opportunity to meet the other developers. Although we are in constant contact via Internet, most of us have never met each other in person. During the meeting we hope to define the roadmap for the next major release of KDE which is planned for the first half of the next year. Besides that, it will be great fun!"
The event has been made possible with the financial help of Linux distributors SuSE and Caldera. SuSE Chairman Roland Dyroff about SuSE's involvement "SuSE is very commited to the development of KDE. Thanks to KDE, Linux is quickly becoming a viable alternative on the Desktop market. By supporting events like this we make sure that the KDE Team can continue its marvelous work in an even faster pace."
"Caldera Systems is proud to have the opportunity to sponsor this event in order to show our appreciation to the KDE team for their effort. We are pleased with the progress the team has made in the latest releases and look forward to being able to provide KDE 2.0 to our customers in the future." says Drew Spencer, Vice President of Engineering at Caldera Systems Inc.
KDE is a collaborative project by hundreds of developers worldwide to create a sophisticated, customizable and stable desktop environment employing a network-transparent, intuitive user interface. In addition, many KDE users have assisted in the preparation of new releases by providing constructive feedback, suggestions and software patches. KDE is working proof of the power of the open source software development model. More information on KDE can be found at www.kde.org.
Caldera Systems, Inc. is the Linux for Business technology leader in designing, developing and marketing Linux-based business solutions including OpenLinux, NetWare for Linux, Linux technical training, certification and support. Caldera Systems can be reached at 888-GO-Linux (888-465-4689) or via E-mail at [email protected]
SuSE, with a workforce of over 160 people, is one of the leading Linux companies worldwide. The SuSE Linux distribution is used by more than 50,000 business customers worldwide due to its stability and high quality. For an efficient use of Linux in a business environment SuSE offers an extensive palette of qualified consulting and support services, as well as commercial Linux software and complete Linux systems. SuSE is contributing considerably to the development of Linux for projects such as the Linux kernel, glibc, XFree86[tm], KDE, ISDN4Linux, ALSA (AdvancedLinux Sound Architecture) and USB (Universal Serial Bus). Get further information at www.suse.com or reach SuSE via E-mail to [email protected]