Archive for April, 2009

GSoC 2009: network transparency in Plasma

April 21, 2009

As you’ll probably have noticed, the accepted proposals for the Google Summer of Code of 2009 have been announced. KDE has a nice selection of projects this summer, and I’m very happy my proposal is one of them.

So what does this ‘network transparency in plasma’ mean? Allow me to copy/paste some stuff from my proposal:

The goal of this project is to make some parts of plasma network transparent with as end goal the ability to:

  • have applets be able to use services and data engines on remote computers
  • move applets and activities over the network
  • share applets and activities between multiple computers

This allows for some innovative new use cases in plasma:

Alice is a teacher on a school where they use computers as a learning aid. She has set up all computers in the classroom to display a single shared activity in plasma. Now Alice can modify this activity on her computer depending on what she teaches that day, and all the children immediately see changes she made on their desktop as well. Because this activity is shared, a lot of applets also sync smoothly: whenever she modifies the text in a certain note applet for example, all children will immediately see this change. Alice can use this mechanism to give children exercises through the blackboard applet, and she can monitor the children’s progress.

Bob’s desktop PC is connected to his stereo, and he often uses that PC to put on some music. He doesn’t want to have to walk to this PC whenever he wants to, for example, skip a song. He publishes the “now playing” applet that is already on the desktop of his main PC. He picks up his wifi enabled smart phone, and in the add widget dialog on his phone (which is of course running plasma) he selects this published applet from the list of  applets and containments that are published on the network. Now the exact same “now playing” applet appears on his phone. He can use this applet to skip songs on his main computer, or to see what song his main computer is playing.

Charlie just got a new notebook. He would like to have some of the same activities he has created on his other PC on his newly installed notebook. He publishes these activities to the network, and adds those activities on his notebook. Note the difference between this use case and the previous one in that in this use case, Charlie will want to use his the local data engines and services of his notebook, instead of being connected to the data engines/services from his main computer.

This will of course all be wrapped in awesome api, so the developer doesn’t need to care if a DataEngine or Service is local, or hosted on another computer.

I hope I made my project a bit more clear to those who were wondering what exactly ‘network transpancy in plasma’ means.


Chakra: my new distro of choice.

April 5, 2009

I’m the type of guy who goes distro-shopping every now and then, but usually ends up with the distro I came from. I’ve been using kubuntu since hoary (5.04) and have been quite pleased. However, last year with KDE 4, I’ve grown a bit frustrated with kubuntu. Packaging has certainly been improved over the course of last year, but still there are quite some little problems I encounter now and then and somehow it’s starting to feel more and more draining on my systems resources. Plus I’m starting to dislike the 6 month release cycle, and rather always stay up to date.
I’ve tried a number of different distros but I’ve never really encountered my ‘dream distro’. There were always some things I didn’t like: slow package manager, hard to use package manager, capable of breaking my system package manager, bloat, wrong choice of packages, broken multimedia stack, too different from debian without good documentation so I couldn’t get used to it… you get the idea…
And then, two days ago I suddenly came across Chakra. It’s basically Arch linux + kdemod, but then with a live cd and quick and easy installer. And it’s amazing. It absolutely FLIES. On avage it consumes about 150-250 MB less memory then my kubuntu installation (?!). Everything works very well out of the box. The kde packaging is very well done. The live cd environment is one of the most response i’ve ever encountered (and uses only 256 MB RAM). It has rolling releases, so it’s easy to always run the bleeding edge. And it’s package manager pacman is really fast and easy to use.
If you are still looking for that fast, robust and well packaged distro for KDE 4, I’d really advice you to give it a try. Even though it’s only alpha2 atm, it’s still the best KDE 4 distro I’ve encountered so far.