Tag Archives: KDE

OTR encryption denied widespread acceptance

It is so sad to see that many clients do not support OTR enryption, still. It is supported by some, like Pidgin, Adium, Kopete. But other big clients like Psi and Gajim will not support it. Gajim states ” won’t support OTR because it hasn’t a XEP.

OTR is not a clean and perfect standard, thats right. But its the only encryption available that support deniability and is usable for instant messaging. Therefore it would have been nice if all clients would have included it ASAP.

I mean if you think OTR is bad create something new that is actually better. But jabber users now wait since many years to encrypt sessions between different clients. At least GNOME, Windows and KDE user can select Kopete and Pidgin as prefered clients. and Adium for MacOs does it also.

What the programmers of the other clients do not seem to see is that as long as there is no encryption people are forced to communicate in plain text. That should be an absolute NO in 2009. And they forget that OTR is not a XMPP standard. So if there is no XEP that might be bad, but still I use OTR every day, it works very nice with Pidgin – but if I have to communicate with other clients that people prefer I am forced to not encrypt. And that makes me angry.

So this is not about how good OTR is – its about what you give users to communicate. The Telepathy people also think encryption should be a very important thing. For me encryption is second important just behind the fact that a client can handle Jabber. Right now there is no Jabber only client that can handle otr also besides Mcabber (console client). I dont even conside using a client that does not support Jabber and OTR.

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How free desktops like GNOME and KDE could improve marketing

As I have decided to become a bit more engaged in GNOME marketing by contributing ideas, working on the wiki and providing patches for the web pages I have rethought how marketing can be done by a free desktop like GNOME or KDE:

I found that there is often an important miscalculation made. Like in the GNOME live wiki there is a page TargetMarkets – but then the question “Who are we talking to?” The assumption seems to be that the target markets and the audience are the same. What is the problem with that? Well its like in some families decisions of buying a product like cars are made by women, while the buy is done by their husbands. I mean: If ISVs are one primary target group that does not mean at all that our marketing should target them! So I think often if not always one needs to talk to the end users if you want to convince other target groups.

Look at TV spots: Bridgestone runs tv ads to convince car owners to buy their tyres. But you can not buy a tyre at Bridgestone, really. The same is true for nearly all products. Sure there are the intermediaries who sell softare or install operating systems. But I think talking to all possible groups is too hard. We can even not think of all possibilities of how GNOME comes to desktops. So I now would say thinking about target markets is really a distraction. The only thing GNOME should do is to talk to everybody who is interested and try to provide them with what they need to know and want.

Actually I would also put the arguments upside down and would say that distributions are rather the ones who should go after different groups. They make the software collection that makes up their distros and they should better know their end users.

So where does this all end up?

I would recommend to drastically reduce the complexity of how marketing is thought about by focusing on the end users. In the end ever decisions to use GNOME is done by people who look at GNOME and decide that its worth using. So if GNOME is convincing to them it might be for their group as well.

OTOH I also think that thinking about target groups is something that should be more important for the development of GNOME than for marketing.Why? Because the development of GNOME should meet the needs of the actual target group. The marketing could say what they want – but it can not change GNOME to meet the needs.

So I suggest to GNOME and other free desktops like KDE that they simplify the marketing by getting in contact with the user. Both desktops absolutely fail to do so. They fail to really show how they can help the user to get productive, they fail in providing noticeable information on how to get the free desktop on their computer or to give answers to other user questions.

What are they doing? Essentially they focus 98% on developers and companies. on web sites and other marketing. But I would argue that this is development and not marketing. Also the whole approach into designing and updating websites is focusing on mere technical aspects.

I dont think what I discovered and write here is anything special or new. Its more that it dawned on me how all problems are interrelated. If you create a web site for a project it is often not the best idea to ask yourself what you have and how you can put all that on the front page. It is often better to rethink what you need to communicate on the root page – and do not forget that users are highly impatient and will simply leave the site if they do not find the information they are seeking in a short period of time.

So you can do the test and maybe pretend to be an interested GNOME user who likes to see or test GNOME. you got to www.gnome.org and then give yourself only maybe 10 seconds to find the information. You will fail here and you will fail at www.kde.org. But try it yourself. Then go to some bug commercial site and try the same and you will see that they often provide answers to the questions visitors may have in mind on their front pages. You do not need to provide actual releases – you can also point to where people can find out more or get what they want. This does not even need to be a link.

It could really be that simple. But from my perspective the problem is often rather that only few people do care about presenting this information and then the team of those who can work on the content is small – and then also the mechanism to provide changes is not straightforward. And technical discussions often are not there to help volunteers but rather to steer them away or distract from the essential idea.

I am not saying anything against development. Its one core of free software – its the product – but development should never get in the way of the message! Think from a users perspective – and if you do not want to rather stay away from marketing and web site development. This could benefit everybody.

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SFD and 25 years GNU @ KDE & GNOME

GNU software exists since 25 years. Also there was the 4th Software Freedom Day at Sept. 20th. And what did we see at www.gnome.org and www.kde.org ? Not a word! This is very unfortunate. Its not that there aren’t people who say that this should or could have been mentioned – I think what it shows is a deeper disconnection between users and developers in the open source community. The event on http://www.gnome.org are 100% developer related. Maybe GUADEC want primarily if you look at the name “GNOME USERS and developers conference” – but in fact it is developer oriented. And what is “25 years” of GNU – or “Software Freedom Day” – these are celebration events – something everybody could join. There is not a development talk focus in any sense. But both big desktops seemed to think that this isnt imporant enough to mention at all. it shows exactly that and not more. It shows that new releases and developer talks seem to be more important than communicating with the users or celebrate what has been accomplished.

BTW. same is true for fedoraproject.org or  redhat.com. And thats exactly what Ubuntu seems to distinguish to other distros. Ok the are also sponsor, but SUN was, too. Other distros seem to let Ubuntu alone define what Linux and Linux community are. So … should we all use Ubuntu then? I am also an OpenBSD user because I think many things are more mature there – but when it comes to Linux I can only often shake my head about the ignorance to users of many free software projects like distriobutions or free desktops.

Come on guys, tis not that hard – like: You all deliver GNU software – why not have one word all 25 years about that fact? And there is only ONE free software day every year – why shoudl this be Ubuntus day only?

As long as other distros dont support community efforts like Canonical does, I only support Ubuntu – simple as that. I do not say Ubuntu is technically better – in fact I think that theoretically Fedora is nmore advanced in many ways – but their community is still broken and they do not tseem to be willing to learn from Ubuntu. They way to go is encourage community efforts and support it.  Novell makes 930 million dolalar, Red Hat makes 400 million revenue, Canonical Ltd. just 10 million. Nonetheless Canonical likes to sponsor free Linux CDs while Red Hat and Novell seem to think that is too expensive. And all along Ubuntu roles up the market from the bottom up. You dont see Fedora or OpenSuSE on the ground. You dont get CDs in the hand – at Fedora they even do not want you to promote it unless you are an official ambassador.

To summarize: If you are a Linux community activist you either burn your own CDs and tell your own stories – or you stick with Ubuntu who support a grassroots Linux movement – although they are for sure not less capitalistic than Novell or Red Hat. At OpenBSD this choice is not really there. There is no OpenBSD company – so they finance development mainly through presales of upcoming releases, Tshirts and donations AFAIK? I think this is absolutely Ok – but still this means that there wont be much free CDs of OpenBSD out there – marketing is not their philosophy.

Personally I like to do a little Linux promotion – and as I dont like burning my own CDs and spending my money I welcome the Ubuntu CDs – as I said I dont necessarily want to promote Ubuntu – but I do, because they give me the tools. And of people like Ubuntu they might choose to switch to any other distro if they like. Ubuntu is for breaking the ice – if they stick with Ubuntu its ok – if not – same. I just care about promoting usage of free software – and so I think Ubuntu also does work for other distros. So here Ubuntu also means “for no costs”.

If Canonical can do it the others could, too – but they feel too powerful to see the need to. I hope they will regret, because they have more money and could do even more. Lets assume the SFD would be sponsored by all major distributions and so teams would get 4 different CD types – or even could select what they want. More CDs can mean a lot more users, really. I always tell people to pass it own if they think they do not need it.

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Googles Chrome looks good

I have read the comic about Googles new chrome browser and I must day I am impressed. It targets some points I like to see in browsers:

  1. They call it “omnibar” – others say Opera was the first – personally I know it from Epiphany for ages – and Epi still is ahead in the implementation because it includes search engines also.
  2. Google Chrome also has tab completion for search engines. Personally I think this is smarter than Epiphanys solution – also Chrome fetches the search engines automatically if you visit a site. That may be difficult if there is more than one search box, isnt it?
  3. Starting with last visited pages is not nice. I dont want anybody tht I show my browser to see exactly which pages I visit most often and so give him an insight about my preferences. This is a privacy issue in my view. I think organizing that in some kind of menu or my recalling adresses also in respect of how often they are visited would be smarter.
  4. The ‘incognito window’ allows me that everything I browse in that window not being saved (no history, etc.). Good idea!
  5. Popups banned to the tabs they come from – yeah. nice.
  6. The security model is smarter than what we had before
  7. A crashing plugin not being able to crash the whole browser would be a great accomplishment. As this is one reason i cant use Epiphany nowadays – because Adobes closed source flash player constantly crashes it. You know that flash nowadays really is on nearly every page – so that happens quite often – how I would love open source flash plugins to become a perfect alternative. Then bugs would be fixed finally.
  8. Chrome downloads malware sites. So this is kind like the adblock lists available? If so, thank you and this can be incorporated into other browsers, too

All in all I think this is a nice thing. There are some other important points, too such as a focus on stability and a fast javscript engine – but thats not really my focus. Why does Google do that? I think that Google has hoped that other browsers would become more capable and that this did not happen fast enough and so they decided o take WebKit and make it even better, just like Apple did with Safari. Again a lesson in Free Software. Where this will end up is that these browsers will gain something:

  • Konqueror uses KHTML, WebKit comes from KHTML. I guess it will use webkit as default in the future, also.
  • Safari as it uses Webkit from beginning or better Apple forked KHTML to do WebKit.
  • Epiphany as it will switch to WebKit
  • Some mobile browsers like for Google Android and Nokia stuff (Nokia bought Trolltech who build Qt. And Qt is used to make WebKit)

Mozilla has lost the support of many projects who were using the Gecko engine or where evaluating it. As far as I understand those projects felt that Mozilla cared more about Firefox and Thunderbird and so they had some bugs open in the rendering engine which they then handled in the interfaces rather in the engine itself – and that Gecko was more complex to use.

I have seen that myself – when you try to build Epiphany and have a constant problem with the XULRunner component (compatibility issues).

So I am seldom critical to what Google does, because I always thought what they did had a good quality. I now have tested Yahoo search for a while because it is default for firefox search in address bar – but the results are essentially worse. And I dont know of any other viable alternative.  And this has been going on for years. Google also has made some smart moves in business like Gmail, etc. where they essentiall daid that disk space should not be an issue and invested some time to make the interface smarter than general web based mailers. In the end Google often wins because their results or products are better.

I agree that they are too dominent now and I would love to see more competitors – but those now are just too greedy and too silly. Google can be beaten for sure – they are also humans (at least I think so, LOL) . There is a lot potential in the web – Some years ago, before Google hit the search engin scene there were actually different search engines you could select from. Today i still only use Google, because I like to get the best result of what I intend for my search. if other search engines would try to do that they would become better, also. But essentially most others try harder in selling ads first and funnily thats why Google earns more money than those others. I think that only Open Source can stop Google -and I even think that Google would not see this as competition. Google already has moved into different fields and soon the search technology will not be the heart of their business. It was just the one thing they were the best in the world and what everybody needed and wanted. So I see the point where Google might even open up the code of their search engines – not soon though. I dont have an overview of where they earn the most but think that still the search engine is too essential for them to share much of the knowledge?

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Mobile Confusion

In the last months and weeks we have seen increasing amount of announcements of Linux or Open Source projekts for mobile devices. Even GNOME announced such support. Now Nokia overtook Trolltech, the supporters of KDE. And now the scene looks different. It is true that mobile devices are interesting. But its also true that the whole technology industry tries to get a stake of this market. I havent counted all the projects that want to be a common basis for mobile Open Source (including somehow also Googles initiative) – but one thing should be clear: If you think you can get all the free coders by creating yet another mobile initiative you will likely not be successful. Its just plain stupid. All those companies that even decided to lay of smart guys like Dave Neary and think they will make profit at no cost for developers in the future.

Sure, basing on Open Source is a smart move – but sometimes I tend to like those companies more who are willing to pay their developers a fair amount to develop good apps instead of waiting fpr the community to fix and sell crappy devices with customers as beta testers. I think a good mix is possible: Pay Open Source developers and let other companies have somebenefit from your work. But somehow I also like that the increase of projects only leaves the one way open and which is that the mobile initiatives must agree on some more common base than just the Linux kernel. maybe this also means KDE and GNOME have to stick their heads together now that Nokia controls both of them (maybe thats too harsh but still funny 😉 ).

From you Open Source guys I would expect some similar smart move as the kernel developers did with virtualisation – dont support one single mobile initiative – you must keep independent and not make again such fatal choice as GNOME did to endorse Nokias initative so early. The real grassroots Open Source projects have to organize a more non-commercial base which leads to more freedom for the customers. We would not dont want to see developers and users locked in to a specific platform.

I like to see what Nokia will do and I really hope that neither KDE nor GNOME will be hurt by their power – if we are lucky this could lead to more cooperation between the free desktop projects and mayne Nokia is smart enough not to misuse their power but open up more. I wont bet that – the sure need some pressure from the base.And the base needs to organize themselves. It now seems to get more clear that GNOME and KDE not cooperating more made them more vulnerable and potentially also make them irrelevant if they just become part of one commercial initiative of many. And maybe, maybe it would be time to start of a new desktop initiative from scratch who can again collect attention and support from many projects without being attached too much to only one specific company?

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