<div>Akademy 2019 Talks: Here's What You Missed</div>

According to the now traditional schedule, Akademy 2019 started with two days of conference talks. Hosted by unixMIB at the University of Milano-Bicocca in Milan, Italy, the central conference of the KDE community attracted more than a hundred attendees during this past weekend. Many of them were attending Akademy for the first time ever, which is always a reason to celebrate.

For those of you who were not able to join us, we've prepared a recap of all the talks from this year's Akademy. The conference program on both Saturday and Sunday was split into two tracks after the lunch break, and included plenty of time for socializing (and hacking!) in between.

Day 1 - Saturday, September 7: Goals, Reports, and the Future of Qt

Akademy 2019 started in the morning of September 7 with an introductory session by Lydia Pintscher, President of KDE e.V., followed by the first keynote. In the keynote, Lars Knoll from Qt presented the path towards Qt 6 all the way from the very beginning of the project. Lars also spoke of what upcoming changes in Qt 6 may potentially impact the KDE ecosystem.

The next batch of talks was dedicated to the KDE community goals. Ivan Čukić started by presenting the progress of the Privacy and Security goal in his talk "Everything to hide: Helping protect the privacy of our users". Ivan pointed out that security and privacy should come before usability, even if some users hate it, because it's our duty and responsibility to protect them.


Ivan shows how to capture a password from an insecure application.

Eike Hein talked about the Usability and Productivity goal and wondered: "Are we there yet?". Massive improvements have been made to KDE software as part of this goal, and Eike emphasized the importance of communicating this progress (as illustrated in weekly blog posts by Nate Graham). The achievements of the third community goal - Onboarding New Contributors - were presented by Neofytos Kolokotronis, who listed the adoption of Matrix as a communication tool, the on-going adoption of GitLab, and the creation of the KDE Welcome team as some of the major moments.

After looking back at the previous set of goals, it was time to look forward to the new ones. During the panel with Ivan Čukić, Eike Hein, and Neofytos Kolokotronis, Lydia Pintscher announced the three new goals that the KDE community is going to focus on. The creators of the goal proposals spent some time talking about their plans and tasks that will kick off the new goals.

In the afternoon round of quick talks, Adriaan de Groot presented QuatBot, a meeting-managing bot he wrote for the Matrix IM service, and talked about the power and versatility of KDE Frameworks. Attendees also got a chance to hear how Carl Schwan brought in new contributors from Reddit and Aleix Pol dispensing valuable advice on how to organize a sprint.

Over in the Security track, Albert Astals talked about the cool ways developers can use oss-fuzz to test their code, and encouraged KDE developers to use it for projects such as Baloo, kfilemetadata, and PIM-related code. Volker Krause presented parts of the work carried out for the Privacy goal in his talk "Secure HTTP Usage", and warned about the importance of having secure defaults in KDE software.

The Community session included a talk on building developer portals by Ivana Isadora Devcic, followed by Ray Paik's talk on making a difference in the community. As a Community Manager at GitLab, Ray shared his experience with identifying crucial community metrics, attracting new contributors, and improving leadership and inclusivity efforts.

Meanwhile, the tech talk session continued with Marco Martin and Bhushan Shah discussing the future of Plasma on embedded devices. They rightfully pointed out that the assumption your software will only be used on a desktop is not true anymore, and explained how KDE Frameworks enable creating software for different platforms. Aleix Pol talked about the details of optimizing Plasma to run fast on low-end hardware; more specifically, on the Pinebook. Aditya Mehra presented a demo of Plasma and Mycroft being used to voice-control a car, and Kai Uwe Broulik gave an in-depth look into the overhauled notification system shipped with the latest version of Plasma.


Aditya shows us how some day KDE tech may control your car.

The first day of Akademy 2019 closed with reports by Google Summer of Code students developing fresh new code for KDE, and the KDE e.V. Board and Working Group reports that provided an insight into growth and health of the KDE community.

Day 2 - Sunday, September 8: New Technology, FOSS Revolution in Italy, and Akademy Awards

The second day of Akademy 2019 opened with a keynote "Developers Italia and the New Guidelines: Let the Open Source Revolution Start" by Leonardo Favario from the Team Digitale IT. Leonardo presented the work that his team has been doing to establish guidelines for Free and open source software distribution in the Italian administration. Continuing on a similar topic, Michiel Leenaars talked about NGIO (Next Generation Internet Zero); a EU initiative focused on helping non-profit organizations build a better Internet for everyone.

The tech talks on Sunday were fascinating, with new, innovative technology introduced left and right. Cristoph Haag explained how Collabora made Plasma desktop usable in a Virtual Reality environment, and set up demos that the attendees could play with during the day. Trung Thanh Dinh showed how AI face recognition can be used in digiKam, KDE's photo management app, and Eike Hein presented a completely new KDE application called Kirogi, which provides a FLOSS ground control for consumer drones that works on mobile devices.


Eike points to the skies, which is where KDE is going next with Kirogi.

In the afternoon sessions, Katarina Behrens from the Document Foundation talked about integrating LibreOffice products with KDE Plasma, while Timothée Giet and Aiswarya Kaitheri Kandoth told the story of how a single floppy disk with LaTeX on it resulted in schools using GNU/Linux and GCompris in Kerala, India.

Volker Krause gave two more talks - one about the development and usage of KPublicTransport, a framework for interacting with data from public transport operators; and another on how the limitations of the Android development platform impact KDE Frameworks. In another developer-oriented talk, Daniel Vràtil gave his perspective on using C++ to build APIs. Attendees also heard from Caio Jordao Carvalho, who presented the progress on kpmcore, the heart of KDE's partitioning and disk management tools.

Meanwhile, a session on different ways to package and distribute KDE software was chaired by Dan Leinir Turthra Jensen, with participants explaining advantages and shortcomings of different solutions (AppImage, Flatpak, Snap, Steam, Google Play...).

The session was followed by two community-related talks. In "What We Do in the Promos", Paul Brown gave a realistic look into how people outside the FOSS bubble perceive (or do not perceive) KDE software, and explained the reasoning behind activities carried out by KDE Promo. Afterwards, Aniketh Girish explained how code reviews can be toxic and put off new contributors, so he offered some advice to prevent that. Last but not least, Dan Leinir Turthra Jensen presented the "Get Hot New Stuff" project and its development.

Following the lightning talks from Akademy 2019 sponsors, the second day of the conference closed with the announcement of Akademy Awards winners:

  • Best Application: Marco Martin for work on the Kirigami framework
  • Best Non-Application: Nate Graham for persistent work on the "KDE Usability & Productivity" blog
  • Jury Award: Volker Krause for long-term contributions to KDE including KNode, KDE PIM, KDE Itinerary and the UserFeedback framework

The organizers win a special award for an excellent Akademy.

Akademy 2019 continues this week with daily BoF (Birds of a Feather) sessions, meetings, and various activities that help us strengthen the community bonds. The recap video of the first BoF day is already available - stay tuned for more. And for something completely different, take a look at the sketchnotes from Akademy 2019 talks by Kevin Ottens.


Kevin sketches Akademy talks.

About Akademy


Akademy 2019, Milano

For most of the year, KDE - one of the largest free and open software communities in the world - works online by email, IRC, forums and mailing lists. Akademy provides all KDE contributors the opportunity to meet in person to foster social bonds, work on concrete technology issues, consider new ideas, and reinforce the innovative, dynamic culture of KDE. Akademy brings together artists, designers, developers, translators, users, writers, sponsors and many other types of KDE contributors to celebrate the achievements of the past year and help determine the direction for the next year. Hands-on sessions offer the opportunity for intense work bringing those plans to reality. The KDE community welcomes companies building on KDE technology, and those that are looking for opportunities. For more information, please contact the Akademy Team.

Akademy 2019 Tuesday BoF Wrapup

Tuesday continued the Akademy BoFs, group sessions and hacking. There is a wrapup session at the end of the day so that what happened in the different rooms can be shared with everyone including those not present.

Watch Tuesday's wrapup session in the video below

Machine Learning Operations (MLOps): Deploy at Scale

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Akademy 2019 Monday BoF Wrapup

Monday was the first day of Akademy BoFs, group sessions and hacking. There is a wrapup session at the end of the day so that what happened in the different rooms can be shared with everyone including those not present.

Watch Monday's wrapup session in the video below

Updated Debian 9: 9.11 released

The Debian project is pleased to announce the eleventh update of its
oldstable distribution Debian 9 (codename stretch).

KDE Decides the Three New Challenges: Wayland, Consistency, and Apps


Lydia Pintscher, Eike Hein, Ivan Cukic and Neofytos Kolokotronis discuss the results of the past goals.

The KDE Community has spoken! On the first day of Akademy 2019, Lydia Pintscher, President of KDE e.V., announced the three new goals we will prioritize over the next 2 years.

The goals were selected by community vote from a dozen proposals, all created by community members. Read on to learn more details about each of the new goals.

Finalize the transition to Wayland and embrace the future of desktop

Despite its many merits, the X server has become very long in the tooth, and Wayland is poised to become a more modern and dependable alternative. However, KDE's software is still quite far off from being completely implemented on the newer protocol.

"As technology and the needs of modern computer users advance, X server has been proven less and less capable to keep up", says Fanis Bampaloukas, author of the first proposal. "I propose to make our goal to migrate the core of the Plasma desktop, and make X server an optional compile and runtime dependency".

To achieve this goal, Fanis says KDE will have to fix major breakages and implement missing features.


Jonathan Riddell and Niccolò Venerandi explain their ideas for new KDE goals.

Improve consistency across the board

As KDE relies on "volunteers, each with different ideas and "scratching their own itches", there is often a lack of organization and consistency within the app ecosystem" says Niccolò Venerandi, author of the second goal proposal. Niccolò points out that inconsistencies are not only found in the design of applications, but also in their features. Tabs, for example, are implemented differently on Falkon, Konsole, Dolphin and Kate, making them confusing for users and difficult to fix for developers.

To solve inconsistencies, Niccolò suggests the unification of behavior in app elements (such as sidebars, hamburger menus and tabs), ending the fragmentation of apps with overlapping features (like having several multimedia players), and laying down criteria for hosting application websites, among many other things.

KDE is all about the apps

"KDE has over 200 applications and countless add-ons, plugins and Plasmoids" says Jonathan Riddell, author of the third proposal. "But much of the support we offer has fallen short; until recently there wasn't even an up-to-date website listing them all".

The importance of KDE's app ecosystem cannot be stressed enough. Often it is the gateway to other apps, the Plasma desktop, and to becoming a member of the KDE community. In his proposal, Jonathan recommends modernizing the platforms through which KDE developers communicate with users, improving the way each app is packaged, and continuing with reworking to the documentation and metadata supplied with the apps.

Past Goals

The previous three goals were chosen by the community back in 2017.

All goals have had a net positive impact on the community. The Onboarding initiative, for example, has led to a substantial increase in the number of new contributors - especially young students - that has brought a renewed vigor to the community.

The Privacy project has encouraged developers to implement measures for keeping users secure and their data private.

Finally, the Usability project has removed hundreds of design flaws and niggling papercuts. As a result, using Plasma and KDE applications in general is now a much more enjoyable experience.

KDE goals give the community focus and solve problems that otherwise may not be fully addressed. The same way 2017 proposals helped make KDE a better community with better software, this year's goals will help push the project towards a brighter future.


About Akademy


Akademy 2018, Vienna

For most of the year, KDE - one of the largest free and open software communities in the world - works online by email, IRC, forums and mailing lists. Akademy provides all KDE contributors the opportunity to meet in person to foster social bonds, work on concrete technology issues, consider new ideas, and reinforce the innovative, dynamic culture of KDE. Akademy brings together artists, designers, developers, translators, users, writers, sponsors and many other types of KDE contributors to celebrate the achievements of the past year and help determine the direction for the next year. Hands-on sessions offer the opportunity for intense work bringing those plans to reality. The KDE community welcomes companies building on KDE technology, and those that are looking for opportunities. For more information, please contact the Akademy Team.

Updated Debian 9: 9.10 released

The Debian project is pleased to announce the tenth update of its
oldstable distribution Debian 9 (codename stretch).
This point release mainly adds corrections for security issues,
along with a few adjustments for serious problems. Security advisories
have already been published separately and are referenced where available.

Updated Debian 9: 9.10 released

The Debian project is pleased to announce the tenth update of its
oldstable distribution Debian 9 (codename stretch).
This point release mainly adds corrections for security issues,
along with a few adjustments for serious problems. Security advisories
have already been published separately and are referenced where available.

Updated Debian 10: 10.1 released

The Debian project is pleased to announce the first update of its
stable distribution Debian 10 (codename buster).
This point release mainly adds corrections for security issues,
along with a few adjustments for serious problems. Security advisories
have already been published separately and are referenced where available.

Management of snaps in a controlled, enterprise environment

Enterprise management of snaps

Few enterprises want all their computing devices to be fully exposed to the internet. In an environment of ever-growing security threats, isolating internal networks from the wider internet is not simply best practice, but borderline essential.

Google Summer of Code 2019 concludes

After nine weeks, Google Summer of Code 2019 has concluded. During the summer, nine students have worked on a range of projects which will yield great benefits to upcoming versions of GNOME.

There no there is no doubt that this represents a substantial amount of effort and we hope that all of the students will stay as GNOME contributors.

The teleop_tools arrive in ROS 2 Dashing!

Ubuntu & ROS 2

After exploring some ROS 2 subtleties and implementing some CLI tools we felt were missing, the time has come to ge

Developers Italia and the New Guidelines: Let the Open Source Revolution Start! An Interview with Leonardo Favario


Leonardo Favario, Open Source Project Leader at the Italian Digital Transformation Team.

Leonardo Favario is the Open Source Project Leader at the Italian Digital Transformation Team. Italy has an ambitious agenda to move government IT to open source. In principle, all software written by government should be published as open source. This is a big change from the past and requires many changes in how software is being developed.

Leonardo will present this work to the KDE community in an Akademy keynote on Sunday, September 8. We were interested in hearing more about this initiative, and Leonardo kindly sat down with us for an interview.

Jos van den Oever: Hello Leonardo, you’re the speaker of the second keynote at Akademy 2019. Thank you for agreeing to this interview. We’re very happy to have a keynote from our Italian host with such wonderful Free Software developments.

Leonardo Favario: Hello Jos and thanks for contacting us! I can do an interview even though it's been quite hectic lately.

Jos: Your bio on the Team Digitale website is wonderfully written. You have been in software and even Free Software from an early age. Do you contribute to any FOSS communities?

Leonardo: Yes, I must admit that for me the Free Software movement was love-at-first-sight! I immediately felt it was a natural tool to empower people and I really enjoyed the thriving communities that were flourishing around even small pieces of wonderfully written code. As such, as many youngsters do, I jumped from channel to channel trying to fit all the small pieces together and get the complete puzzle in place. Soon I decided that lurking was not my way of being, so I started to create communities around Free Software, getting friends to work together. I am particularly fond of communities striving to improve education by using technology and that’s where I have been active lately, especially in Italy. One example is the Open edX community where it’s possible to find a great combination of actors, ranging from full stack devs to educators, all trying to work together on the future of education. That’s something that I love about FOSS communities.

Jos: You have a background in education and communication, which seems like a good fit for the work that Team Digitale does. How did you get into the team and what is your role there?

Leonardo: I am a computer engineer by training, but I decided to get my PhD in Control and Computer Engineering to dive deeper into the research world and understand the ways we can still improve the world we live in through software.

Well, Team Digitale does exactly that! Formally speaking, its name is the “Italian Digital Transformation Team” and I felt a strong connection with each of those words. I was lucky to join this awesome combination of extremely talented folks at the very beginning of this year as an Open Source Project Leader. My role, as the name suggests, is focused on drafting strategies regarding Free and open source software for everything related to Developers Italia, the community of public service developers.

Jos: Can you tell us more about Team Digitale? How did it come to be and where is it going?

Leonardo: The Italian Digital Transformation Team (from now on Team Digitale) was born at the end of 2016 to build "the Operating System” for the country. We refer to the OS to indicate a series of fundamental components on top of which we can build simpler and more efficient services for the citizens, the Public Administration and businesses, through innovative digital products.

We are now exactly at the end of the third year of operations and a lot has been accomplished so far. First and foremost, the Team consists of around 35 people, generally way younger than the average age of the Italian Public Administration employees. These young people did not have a formal experience in government before joining. This allows us to tackle every issue from a different perspective, and I believe this is a great advantage in order to come up with innovative solutions.


The Digital Transformation Team.

From an organizational standpoint, Team Digitale is divided into subteams, each one focused on different topics ranging from APIs to Data Analytics.

Jos: Your presentation will cover publiccode.yml, a way to describe software projects. Can you give us a bit of background on this project, and tell us where it's headed?

Leonardo: Exactly, I will talk about Developers Italia and the new open source catalog that we have been building during the past months. In fact, in order to make open source software easily discoverable and indexable, the Team created a catalog which is automatically populated by a crawler every night. As such, you may understand that we needed to collect information regarding each piece of software in a standard way to later publish them in our catalog. That’s why we crafted a metadata specification, called publiccode.yml. This helps to achieve exactly that goal. Consequently, by creating a specific publiccode.yml file for the software and inserting it into the source code repository, the government entity that is publishing the software can transparently communicate the metadata. Our crawler can automatically recognize it, extract the information from the file, create the related info page, and show the information in the catalog.

Technically speaking, the specification format is interesting because it can be written and read by non-tech experts as well; for example, by Public Administration (PA) managers. This can help its adoption in wider circles.

Jos: How is this information you collect used by Italians?

Leonardo: Right now, there are packages in the catalog that are already reused by many local administrations. See for example the one for managing a public call or the software to insert and manage events.

The existence of the catalog itself is a big change, because it is necessary to evaluate, study, and test an application before actually reusing it. The absence of a real browsable container makes such tasks difficult to accomplish. Since we started the catalog in late May of this year, we are witnessing a positive spread among different players, and this is reflected in the discussions arising in various communication channels.

Jos: KDE projects have an AppStream description. Is this comparable to publiccode.yml?

Leonardo: Yes and no. As far as I can see, the AppStream description goes into details which are relevant for packaging, managing dependencies, and so on. The publiccode.yml format, instead, is designed for reusability: it contains standard metadata (which may overlap with some of the typical entries of AppStream like, title, description, development state...). However, the publiccode.yml format introduces some information that a PA expects to find, such as the maintenance contracts together with the contractor details, or the information regarding the legal context in which the software has been designed.

Furthermore, it contains information regarding the tree of forks (which is useful for understanding the root that originated the current version) or information regarding the dependencies, which can be open or closed. This is crucial when deciding if a piece software can be reused inside a PA environment.

Additional keys have been specifically crafted to endorse the PA use cases in order to be able to easily fulfill all the possible needs during the selection and validation phase.

Jos: Is the Italian government pushing towards having most off-the-shelf and custom software published in the open? Do you have any insight into the percentage of the tax money that is spent on code that goes public, versus the code that stays closed?

Leonardo: Well, I want to say that the Italian legislation regarding Free and open source software is one of the most advanced in the world (but I’m happy to be proven wrong). In fact, we have the Digital Administration Code which states - in articles 68 and 69 - that PAs must prefer FOSS in the acquisition phase, and must always release their code when developing something from scratch. Team Digitale played a consistent role in this initiative. The new guidelines regarding the acquisition and reuse (which are the topic of my talk) reinforce those statements, and underline how to properly complete the process of releasing software. As such, the Developers Italia catalog is a strong action in this direction - helping PAs find and publish open source software.

Jos: Do you see communities forming around government source code? Are they mostly Italian or also international?

Leonardo: I would say that in the last two to three years, something started happening, and I am not just happy but optimistic about this. In many conferences and events around the world, the phrase “Open Government” has been circulating a lot. If we don’t start to understand that we have to go FOSS-by-default, it will continue to be a just buzzword. So yes, I am excited to see that some communities are starting to form, and I am also proud to state that we are going exactly in this direction with Developers Italia. For example, our chat channel has more than 2600 people subscribed, and the Forum reached nearly 90 000 page views in the last month. This clearly indicates that if we put private citizens, Public Administrators, and small/medium enterprises all together in the same channel, it is possible to start a chain reaction that can lead to positive outcomes. I personally believe that we are still in the very early stages of this sort of community building, but the future looks golden.

Jos: The Government of Belgium is extending the Public Sector Information directive to cover computer programs so even if code is not actively published, citizens can still request it. What is the status of Italy in this regard?

Leonardo: As I already mentioned above, our legislation framework is quite strong when it comes to the ad-hoc designed software, or when dealing with an acquisition of an already existing one. However, a lot of software has not been released yet and this has to change in the future.

There are many reasons why this is happening; we could have a discussion around this for weeks. But, I believe that the freshly published guidelines go exactly in the right direction, since they contain practical down-to-earth guides on how to design, write, and maintain software in the open. This practical approach is starting to pay off: in just a few weeks, we have already collected more than 40 software packages in the catalog, and many more are coming.

I believe it’s a matter of getting things started, and finding a way to provide support where and when it’s needed. Let’s catch up in a year and I’ll let you know if my optimistic view was correct. :)

Jos: I've worked in the Dutch government and that is still mostly a Windows environment. It's impossible to do work when avoiding proprietary software. How does Team Digitale solve this problem?

Leonardo: We prefer Free and open source technologies when they are available, according to our national policy. Our initiative is mainly focused on ensuring that custom software developed by or for the government gets released as open source, since the expense for custom software is huge and its quality is quite low. We push this FOSS route by showing that it’s convenient and it delivers quality.

That said, our team members don’t have particular restrictions regarding the OS or the software they use, and this freedom allows each one of us to pick the tools that best fit our needs.

Jos: Can Team Digitale help reduce the dependency of government on proprietary cloud solutions?

Leonardo: Right now the Italian panorama is highly fragmented with regard to IT infrastructure, and a strong cloud migration strategy is needed to improve the reliability of services and their security. So we have a dedicated team handling such issues, tracing possibilities for different use cases.

Of course, the team’s mission is to facilitate the migration while avoiding the introduction of new vendor lock-in or strong dependencies on proprietary software.

Jos: Do you use any KDE software and if so, what are your impressions? What do you hope to achieve with your presentation and your presence at Akademy?

Leonardo: Personally, yes. I’ve been using KDE for many years and I just can’t live without Kdenlive! Hopefully I’ll be able to contribute to it in the future.

Regarding Akademy I’m excited, it’s a great opportunity to get to know the great KDE community, show what we’re doing for the FOSS ecosystem, and learn a lot! See you there!


About Akademy


Akademy 2018, Vienna

For most of the year, KDE - one of the largest free and open software communities in the world - works online by email, IRC, forums and mailing lists. Akademy provides all KDE contributors the opportunity to meet in person to foster social bonds, work on concrete technology issues, consider new ideas, and reinforce the innovative, dynamic culture of KDE. Akademy brings together artists, designers, developers, translators, users, writers, sponsors and many other types of KDE contributors to celebrate the achievements of the past year and help determine the direction for the next year. Hands-on sessions offer the opportunity for intense work bringing those plans to reality. The KDE community welcomes companies building on KDE technology, and those that are looking for opportunities. For more information, please contact the Akademy Team.

Design and Web team summary – 03 September 2019

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Building a better TurtleBot3

TurtleBot3 was released in 2017 and is positioned as a low-cost, open-source robot kit. For new owners of the TurtleBot3, there are various resources online that will assist you with building your brand new TurtleBot3 out of the box. One such example is the official TurtleBot3 instructional video. While it is a great video to help you with the assembly, there are a few points on practicality that you can take into account. Those few points are the subject of this blog post.

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