Thursday, December 12, 2013

ownCloud 6 on openSUSE 13.1


ownCloud and openSUSE are two of my favorite projects. After they both have released major new versions I have updated my ownCloud in a box appliance now, so that it's easy to get the latest and greatest what ownCloud and openSUSE have to offer. The appliance is built with SUSE Studio as usual and comes in a variety of formats to allow installation on physical and virtual systems, running it from live media, or deploying it to the cloud. Check it out on SUSE Studio's gallery.


One of the big new features of ownCloud 6 is ownCloud Documents, a collaborative editor based on ODF. This is a pretty cool feature as it allows groups of people to work together on a document with rich text. The best is that it's all free and open and you can run it on your own server so you have full control about your data.


There is much more. Read on about what's new in ownCloud 6 and what's new in openSUSE 13.1. Congratulations to both projects for two fabulous releases. I'm looking forward to more to come.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

One place to collect all Qt-based libraries

A few weeks ago, during SUSE Hack Week 10 and the Berlin Qt Dev Days 2013, I started to look for Qt-based libraries, set myself the goal of creating one place to collect all Qt-based libraries, and made some good progress. We had come up with this idea when a couple of KDE people came together in the Swiss mountains for some intensive hacking, and where the idea of Inqlude, the Qt library archive was born. We were thinking of something like CPAN for Qt back then. Since then there was a little bit of progress here and there, but my goal for the Hack Week was to complete the data to cover all relevant Qt-based libraries out there.


The mission is accomplished so far. Thanks to the help of lots of people who contributed pointers, meta data, feedback, and help, we have a pretty comprehensive list of Qt libraries now. Some nuts and bolts are still missing in the infrastructure, which are required to put everything on the web site, and I'm sure we'll discover some hidden gems of Qt libraries later, but what is there is useful and up to date. If some pieces are not yet, contributions are more than welcome.

Many thanks as well to the people at the Qt Dev Days, who gave me the opportunity to present the project to the awesome audience of the Qt user and developer community.

Format


The first key component of the project is the format for describing a Qt-based library. It's a JSON format, which is quite straightforward. That makes it easy to be handled programmatically by tools and other software, but is also still quite friendly to the human eye and a text editor.


The schema describes the meta data of a library and its releases, like name, description, release date and version, links to documentation and packages, etc. The data for Inqlude is centrally collected in a git repository using this schema, and the tools and the web site make use of it to provide nice and easy access to users.

Tools


The second key component is the tooling around the format. The big advantage of having a structured format to describe the data is that it makes it easy to write tools to deal with the data. We have a command line client, which currently is mostly used to validate and process the data, for example for generation of the web site, but is also meant to help users with installing and downloading libraries. It's not meant to replace a native package manager, but integrate with whatever your platform provides. This area needs some more work, though.


In the future it would be nice to have some more tools. I would like to see a graphical client for managing libraries, and integration with IDEs, such as Qt Creator or KDevelop would also be awesome.

Web site


The third key component is the web site. This is the central place for users to find and browse libraries, to read about details, and to have all links to what you need to use them in one place.


The web site currently is a simple static site with all its HTML and CSS generated from the meta data by the inqlude command line tool. Contributing data is still quite easy by providing patches to the data in the git repository. With GitHub's web interface you can even do that just using your web browser.

Notes


There are a few things worth pointing out explicitly as I got similar questions about these from various people.

The first thing is that Inqlude is meant to be a collection of pointers to releases, web sites, documentation, packages. It's not meant to host the actual code, tar balls, or any other content belonging to the libraries. There are plenty of ways how to do that in a better way, and all the projects out there already have something. Inqlude is just meant to be the central hub, where to find them all.

Another thing which came up from time to time is the question of dependencies. We don't want to implement yet another package management system, or another dependency resolver. So there we rely on integration with the native tools and mechanisms of the platforms, we run on. Still it would be nice to express dependencies in the meta data somehow, so that you have an easy way to judge, what you will need to run a given library. We will need to find a way how to do that in the best way, maybe a tier concept, like KDE Frameworks 5 is using it, would do the trick.

Finally I would like to stress that Inqlude is open to proprietary libraries as well. The infrastructure and the tooling is all free software, but Inqlude is meant as an open project to collect all libraries which are valuable for users on the same terms. The license is part of the meta data, so it's transparent to users, under which terms the library can be used, and this also allows to categorize libraries on the web site according to these terms. There still is a little bit of work missing to do that in a nice way, but that will be done soon. Free software libraries of course do have the advantage, that all information, code, and packages, is directly available, and can be accessed immediately.

Future


There are a couple of short term goals I have for Inqlude, mostly to clean up loose ends from the work which happened during the last couple of weeks:

  • Collect and accurately present generic information about libraries, which is not tied to a release. This is particularly relevant for providing a place for libraries, which are under development and haven't seen a formal release yet.
  • As said above, the listing of proprietary libraries needs some work to categorize the data according to the license. Then we can display libraries of all licenses nicely on the web site.
  • Currently we have one big entry for the Qt base libraries. It would be nice to split this up and list the main modules of Qt separately, so it's easier to get an overview of their functionality, and use them in a modular way.

There also are a number of longer term goals. Some of them include:

  • Integration with Qt Designer, so that available libraries can be listed from within the IDE, and being used in your own development without having to deal with external tools, separate downloads or stuff like that.
  • Build packages in the Open Build Service, so that ready-to-use binary packages are available for all the major Linux distributions. This possibly could be automated, so that ideally putting up the meta data on Inqlude would be all what it takes to generate native packages for openSUSE, Fedora, Ubuntu, etc.
  • Integration with distributions, so that libraries can be installed from inqlude via the native package management systems. This already works for openSUSE provided the meta data is there, but it would be nice to expand this support to other systems as well.
  • Upstream the meta data, so that it can be maintained where it's most natural. To keep the data up to date it  would be best, if the upstream developers maintain it at the same place and in the same way as they also maintain the library itself. This needs a little bit of thought and tooling to make it convenient and practical, and it's probably something we only want to do when the format has settled down and is stable enough to not change frequently anymore.

There might be more things you would like to see to happen in Inqlude. I'm always happy about feedback, so let me know.

This was and is a fun side project for me. It's amazing what you can achieve with the help of the community and by putting together mostly existing bits and pieces.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Inqlude progress

My Hack Week project is progressing. Qt Dev Days have finished. I presented Inqlude there and got lots of good feedback. I even won a prize for my lightning talk. Thanks a lot for that.



I got a lot of input on which libraries were still missing and have a pretty long list to process now. The patches I got on GitHub I have already merged. Tomorrow I intend to go through the rest of the list and add the missing data. This should get us a lot closer to the goal of having all Qt-based libraries listed in one place.

One question came up a few times. Do we also want to list proprietary libraries, which are not available under a free software license? The answer is: Yes, we do want to also list proprietary libraries. We already are collecting the license information for all libraries, so this would be just another entry in the license field.

Inqlude is meant to be an open system. The goal is to have all libraries listed in one place, which are part of the Qt ecosystem and can be useful for application developers. So it's consequent to list all libraries there, independent of if their source code is available, or if there is a commercial model behind them. We will show the license data and add a separate section on the web site, so that people can easily find what they are looking for according to their preferences in terms of licenses.

I'm looking forward to the next two days of Hack Week. This is a fun project, and it looks like we can reach a state where it actually will be useful for quite a number of people.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

An audacious goal for SUSE Hack Week 10

I have set myself an audacious goal for the tenth SUSE Hack Week: Create a complete collection of all Qt-based libraries which exist.


There are many places where you can find Qt-based libraries. Qt itself already comes with a number of modules. KDE has created a rich set of libraries with additional functionality on top of that, and you can find a lot of other third party libraries on sites like Gitorious, GitHub, Google Code, and more.

Now getting an overview and access to all the Qt library goodness, which is out there, is not particularly easy. To solve that we started Inqlude as a project to create an archive of all available Qt libraries back then at one of the Randa meetings. I worked on it some more at Hack Week 7, and continued to spend a little bit of time here and there. We have reached a state now, where it starts to become useful, and so I thought Hack Week 10 is a great opportunity to fill in the missing bits and pieces, and make it ready for prime time.


We have the web site and a documented format for library meta data. We also have tooling to process the meta data, e.g. for updating the data on new releases or to retrieve packages of libraries for installation. The web site also gets generated with these tools.

One thing which is lacking a bit, is the packaging of libraries, and the integration of the tools with the native package management systems on various platforms. With the help of the Open Build Service the packaging part should be solvable. For the integration on different platforms help of users of these platforms would be greatly appreciated. There is some support for openSUSE, but for other Linux flavors, or non-Linux systems, there is still some work to do.

The other thing is the coverage of the archive. It already has quite a list of libraries, but there are more out there, and I really would like to see it to be as complete as possible. All libraries, which reasonably can be considered useful to developers using Qt, should be on Inqlude. So I'm looking for third party Qt libraries now.

I'll be on the Qt Dev Days in Berlin the next two days, and hope that I can use this opportunity to get some more input and pointers to libraries, we haven't covered yet. If you are there as well and have hints, please talk to me. I'll also give a lightning talk about the current state of Inqlude, so you can learn about where we are first hand.

So this is my project for Hack Week 10. You'll find some more details and updates on the progress on the Hack Week project page. If you want to join the project, don't hesitate to add yourself there and contact me]. We'll use the inqlude mailing list to coordinate work as needed.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Looking for third party Qt libraries

We all know that Qt is great, but we also know that it can't possibly cover all use cases. Fortunately there are plenty of third party libraries based on Qt, which fill a lot of gaps, so you don't have to develop everything yourself.

Finding these third party Qt libraries can be a challenge, though. To address this we started a project to create a curated archive of all relevant Qt-based libraries some time ago (you may want to think of that as CPAN for Qt).

We have reached a state now, where the necessary infrastructure is there, and it's starting to become useful for production use. You can find the web site at inqlude.org.

To make this information more complete, I would like to give this a focused push now. My goal is to get all relevant Qt-based libraries listed by end of the week.

So I'm looking for 3rd party Qt libraries.

Are you releasing a Qt-based library? Do you know of libraries, which aren't listed yet?

If you do, please get in contact with me and let me know what's still missing. You can also create patches for the meta data, which the web site is based on. You'll find instructions on the web site.

If you want to get involved with the project you can also subscribe to our mailing list inqlude@kde.org.

Inqlude is meant to be open to allow everybody to participate on the same level. The infrastructure is free software. It's run by the KDE community, but we intend to cover the full Qt spectrum.

Let's make this a place, where Qt developers can easily find and get access to the full power of the Qt ecosystem.

If you have any comments or suggestions, don't hesitate to contact me.

Friday, June 28, 2013

SUSE Hack Week 9

The results are in. The winners of the awards for SUSE Hack Week 9 have been announced.

The award for the best overall project goes to the heroic effort to kill YCP. The team has made great progress and the plan is to see the results in milestone 4 of openSUSE 13.1. It will be the first SUSE distribution since ages, which will install without requiring YCP, the SUSE in-house developed programming language. This is quite an achievement. It ends an era and starts a new one.

Other awards went to the widely discussed team effort to create a light-weight deskop using KDE technology, to Tim's great performance as individual developer to get support for encrypted web sockets into QEMU's VNC implementation, or to the glorious openSUSE ARM team. There are more awards, and you can find the full goodness of all Hack Week projects on the Hack Week Wiki.


My own project was somewhat meta. Together with Henne I worked on a web app for managing the Hack Week projects. We weren't happy with the current set of tools, because they didn't provide enough support for discovering projects and fostering collaboration. So we set out to change that, took a deep grab into the magic chest of web technology, and wrote a new app. There is a demo and source code.


You can enter and maintain your projects, join and comment on projects of others, and browse projects to see what's going on. We also started to implement a recommendation engine, which hints you at projects, which match your interests. This gives a more structured environment than before, which hopefully makes it easier and more fun to collaborate on common interests. Some more details about what we did you can find on my Hack Week blog.

Our intention is to have this app ready for next Hack Week, so that we can use it for managing the projects then. If you want to help you can find the source code on GitHub.


Another fun project right before Hack Week was to set up the Hack Week web site. Cassio, André, Tom, Ken and me threw together some time and effort and came up with a shiny scrolling front page, complete with magic project lock, and a terminal mode.


And of course we had T-Shirts.


I'm looking forward to next Hack Week.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Konqi

I posted this on the kde-promo mailing list. But it's more fun with proper links, so I'm reposting it here.

Konqi is a part of the KDE family for a long time now. He has not only been part of our software and promotion activities, he has also made several real-life appearances on his own, or with his girlfriend Katie, and as a movie star. He has looked over the shoulders of many KDE developers and the plush version has been part of quite some kid's lifes, including mine.


Konqi has inspired artists, pastry cooks, and needlework. He also has been an excellent member of the family of free software mascots. And of course what would David be without his famous Konqi T-Shirt?

Konqi is part of our home as community, and while not everybody likes him the same, for many of us he is part of the identity of KDE. But he wasn't our first mascot, and he won't be our last one. The new rendition is cute, but still professional, and opening up a number of new interesting ways how to work with our mascot.

It will have to prove itself. I don't think it would be right to do a huge change to our mascot by a vote or a committee. But if there are people behind it, who give it a life, use it to give KDE promotion a fresh touch, make use of the opportunities it provides, it will grow and can become a worthy successor of our current Konqi. Then it will be part of the KDE family as well.