Debian at the Google Code-in 2010-11

As you might know, Debian was one of the 20 organizations selected to participate in the first Google Code-in.

We got a moderate success since we started preparing the contest very late (I joined as mentor/admin the very first day of the contest!). Because of this, unlike other organizations, we did not manage to engage interested students from the very beginning of the Code-in. Since we did not have too many Debian tasks the first days, we did not attract many students, and thus did not have very many throughout the contest.

Given Debian tasks were mostly about improving and contributing to Debian, it was quite hard having tasks that did not require having a Debian installation and that made it difficult for many students to get involved. Also, until the last two weeks we did not have any translation task that could have attracted earlier students without too much confidence in their technical and English skills.

Nonetheless, Debian got 39 tasks done:

With about 30 students participating and at least one of the students has keep contributing to Debian after the contest!

The contest was sometimes stressful with several students wanting their tasks to be reviewed at the same time, and the date was problematic due to the winter (or summer!) holidays but still I am quite happy with the final result :D

Debian will be also participating again this year in the Google Summer of Code 2011. Join the soc-coordination mailing list and stay tunned if you want to participate as mentor or student.

KOffice 2.3.0 and future

It took a bit of time due to the holidays, but KOffice 2.3.0 is finally available from Debian experimental (give some hours to your mirror to sync!). If you are unstable user don’t be afraid to fetch it from experimental, it is there only because the Squeeze freeze. Squeeze will ship with KOffice 2.2.1, while not all the applications are so polished as it would be desirable, it clearly offers huge improvements over old KOffice 1.6.3.

I do not know if there will be a KOffice 2.3.1 upload but I know for sure the future is with Calligra :)

Videos de la dudesconf 2010

Los videos de la dudesconf, (la mini-debconf española) están ya disponibles en http://dudesconf.org/2010/programa.html. Una vez más, me gustaría aprovechar estas líneas para darles las gracias a todo el mundo que trabajo para hacer la tercera edición de dudesconf posible.

Poco a poco, empieza a haber mucho material en español sobre Debian, como echaba en falta tener un sitio desde donde enlazarlo todo, he creado una página en el wiki de debian: http://wiki.debian.org/VideoTalks/Spanish. Si sabes de algún video, no dudes en añadirlo :)

Actualización: Hay problemas con los enlaces de los videos de las dudesconf, espero que en unos días estará arreglado.

KOffice 2.2.0 packages for Debian

As some of you might have seen, KOffice 2.2.0 was finally released today. Quoting the release announcement:

“There are still areas in the user interface that we want to work on before stating that KOffice is fit for the general public. We are, however, at a stage where we think that KOffice can be used for real work by some users.”

I agree with this statement and it is still to be decided if KOffice 2.2.0 will make it into Squeeze. I am inclined to do so but I would love some well argumented feedback. Take into consideration some applications are more mature than others.

The packages will be uploaded to the official archive soon, but they still need some minor work and given they include new deb files (kformula shape and kexi), they need to go thru the NEW queue, it might take some time.

Meanwhile, you can find packages for amd64 & i386 from the semi-official repository at: http://qt-kde.debian.net/.
You also have available the localization packages (see the list here) and braindump, an interesting application based in KOffice libraries.

These packages are not in the Debian archive so please *don’t* report bugs against them in the Debian Bug Tracking System. If you see any packaging problem, please report it in the debian-kde mailing list.
If you find a bug, miss a feature or have a wishlist, please file a report in the KDE bugzilla: https://bugs.kde.org/ Include all the information you can about your system (Debian experimental, KOffice 2.2.0) and all the details you are able to give. In the case of crashes, install the package koffice-dbg to get a backtrace. Read more at this techbase article.

KDE 4.4.3 in unstable

Following Qt 4.6.2, uploaded a couple of weeks ago, KDE 4.4.3, has finally found its way to unstable in the last 48 hours.
Given KDE 4.5.0 is not expected until August, it is likely the next point release, 4.4.4, will be the KDE version included in next Debian stable, Squeeze. What this means: go and update to 4.4.3, test, and when you find a bug, please, follow this instructions. If you are lazy to read it: report upstream bugs at the KDE Bugzilla and report the packaging/integration bugs in the Debian BTS. When in doubt, you have the Debian KDE mailing list, that is being successful so far in maintaining a good signal-noise ratio.

I would like highlight the drop in the open bugs in the BTS experimented in the last 2-3 months, I published this graph in February:

Number of bugs reported against KDE in Debian in the last 3 years - February 2010

And look at the situation now:

Number of bugs reported against KDE in Debian in the last 3 years -May 2010

This is mainly due to the great work of Eckhart Wörner. Also there is other people who contributed to it more modestly, a big thank you to all of you!

As you can see in the second graph, there are less than 1000 bugs open now in the BTS, they are still too much and time has taught us it is very easy going over 1000 again, so we still welcome more volunteers looking at bugs.

If you are not the bugsquasher type, you can write HTML and you do some IRC, we also need somebody to help us reorganize a bit the pkg-kde website. I will help you personally on this task, but it is good if you can lurk by IRC and you are not scared to share your doubts with the rest of the team there.

Finally, I promise I will publish something about the status of KOffice pre-2.2 in Debian, but I still can not say whether it will be in Squeeze.

Not the Debian-KDE post you were waiting for

Sorry! I cannot tell you when KDE 4.4 will be uploaded to unstable. I am not working on that. My initial plan was writing about other tasks I am planning to work on and asking for your help. But I realized people would be more interested in knowing about KDE 4.4 packages. Once you know about this, I might trick you into helping in others areas ;)

Debian packages for KDE 4.4 are being worked on, just slowly and of course, keeping on with the quality you are used to. There will be also some changes that have been in some people’s TODO for long time.

The goal is having them in very good shape for Squeeze, that will ship with some point release of 4.4. The doubt is which point release will be: 4.4.2? 4.4.3 ? The schedule for the point releases has not been made yet, so it makes a bit harder trying to predict it. In the same lines, I can not tell you when Squeeze will be released neither, it needs to be frozen first!

If you want to know about the reasons of this delay, it is simple math: KDE has been growing a lot of more than the number of people working in Debian packages of KDE. I am not talking about size in lines of code in KDE, it is more the number of new dependencies that the KDE team have to take care now too: soprano, libutempter, … Have you wondered why some are under the name of Debian Krap maintainers? :) And there are releases much more often than in the KDE 3 times. You might have notice not only 4.3.5 have been skipped, it also was the case with 4.2.3 or 4.1.4.

This is not good or bad, it is just the same number of maintainers (or less) with more work. And what is worse… with more bugs open in the Debian BTS! I think reiterated calls for not to file upstream bugs in the Debian BTS and directly in KDE bugzilla (see my blog post about this here) have helped but still we have a large amount of bugs piled through the years. This graph could give you an estimate how we tried in the past fighting against without too much success:
Number of bugs reported against KDE in Debian in the last 3 years

Olivier Vitrat, we miss you :)

One of the most heavy (and boring) talks that needs to be done for the KDE 4.4 packages is the copyright checking. I am not sure a total newbie can help with this, but if you have knowledge about licenses and you want to try helping, we are waiting for you.

About other areas of the packaging maintenance, if you are interested in start learning and helping with future releases, you are welcome to start lurking in the #debian-qt-kde channel in OFTC and in the mailing lists.

Update February 21th: 4.4.0 is for sure not being uploaded into the archive. Probably KDE SC 4.4.1 to be released 2nd March will be uploaded to unstable or experimental.

En defensa de los derechos fundamentales en Internet

(english: if you want to know what this post is about, read this.)

Ante la inclusión en el Anteproyecto de Ley de Economía sostenible de modificaciones legislativas que afectan al libre ejercicio de las libertades de expresión, información y el derecho de acceso a la cultura a través de Internet, los periodistas, bloggers, usuarios, profesionales y creadores de internet manifestamos nuestra firme oposición al proyecto, y declaramos que:

  1. Los derechos de autor no pueden situarse por encima de los derechos fundamentales de los ciudadanos, como el derecho a la privacidad, a la seguridad, a la presunción de inocencia, a la tutela judicial efectiva y a la libertad de expresión.
  2. La suspensión de derechos fundamentales es y debe seguir siendo competencia exclusiva del poder judicial. Ni un cierre sin sentencia. Este anteproyecto, en contra de lo establecido en el artículo 20.5 de la Constitución, pone en manos de un órgano no judicial -un organismo dependiente del ministerio de Cultura-, la potestad de impedir a los ciudadanos españoles el acceso a cualquier página web.
  3. La nueva legislación creará inseguridad jurídica en todo el sector tecnológico español, perjudicando uno de los pocos campos de desarrollo y futuro de nuestra economía, entorpeciendo la creación de empresas, introduciendo trabas a la libre competencia y ralentizando su proyección internacional.
  4. La nueva legislación propuesta amenaza a los nuevos creadores y entorpece la creación cultural. Con Internet y los sucesivos avances tecnológicos se ha democratizado extraordinariamente la creación y emisión de contenidos de todo tipo, que ya no provienen prevalentemente de las industrias culturales tradicionales, sino de multitud de fuentes diferentes.
  5. Los autores, como todos los trabajadores, tienen derecho a vivir de su trabajo con nuevas ideas creativas, modelos de negocio y actividades asociadas a sus creaciones. Intentar sostener con cambios legislativos a una industria obsoleta que no sabe adaptarse a este nuevo entorno no es ni justo ni realista. Si su modelo de negocio se basaba en el control de las copias de las obras y en Internet no es posible sin vulnerar derechos fundamentales, deberían buscar otro modelo.
  6. Consideramos que las industrias culturales necesitan para sobrevivir alternativas modernas, eficaces, creíbles y asequibles y que se adecuen a los nuevos usos sociales, en lugar de limitaciones tan desproporcionadas como ineficaces para el fin que dicen perseguir.
  7. Internet debe funcionar de forma libre y sin interferencias políticas auspiciadas por sectores que pretenden perpetuar obsoletos modelos de negocio e imposibilitar que el saber humano siga siendo libre.
  8. Exigimos que el Gobierno garantice por ley la neutralidad de la Red, en España ante cualquier presión que pueda producirse, como marco para el desarrollo de una economía sostenible y realista de cara al futuro.
  9. Proponemos una verdadera reforma del derecho de propiedad intelectual orientada a su fin: devolver a la sociedad el conocimiento, promover el dominio público y limitar los abusos de las entidades gestoras.
  10. En democracia las leyes y sus modificaciones deben aprobarse tras el oportuno debate público y habiendo consultado previamente a todas las partes implicadas. No es de recibo que se realicen cambios legislativos que afectan a derechos fundamentales en una ley no orgánica y que versa sobre otra materia.

Este manifiesto, elaborado de forma conjunta por varios autores, es de todos y de ninguno. Se ha publicado en multitud de sitios web. Si estás de acuerdo y quieres sumarte a él, difúndelo por Internet.

How to get your bugs solved in Debian+KDE

Imagine you have found a bug in your Debian running KDE, a nasty one, and you want to get it resolved. What you should do?

This is centered on KDE and Debian but most of it is useful in general.

First Case: You have a problem and you have no idea whether it is a bug or not. Even worse, you don’t know which package to report it to.

This happens more often than you might believe; it even happens to experienced people. Your first step should be to checking user forums and mailing lists [0] to see if someone else has encountered the same issue. You might find that your problem is already known (and maybe easy to solve).

In the case that you do not find your problem there, then you can ask for help and post a mail or message explaining your problem. Pick one mailing list or forum board, the one you think is more appropriate, then post your issue there. The most detailed you are about your problem, the bigger is the likelihood of you obtaining help.

It could happen that:

  • you are told how to solve your problem. yay \o/
  • your problem is not a real bug in Debian/KDE and you learn why.
  • your problem is not solved, but you are at least pointed to the software that is causing it.
  • you do not get any answer.

If you do not get any answer it might be that nobody got into the same problem and they do not how to help you. But it is also possible you were not clear about your problem. Also, you need to be patient; it is unlikely someone will answer your question 2 minutes after you posted it.
If you find out more about your problem, it is a good idea to send another email or post updating your first message. If after 5-7 days you do not get any answer, you can try asking for help in another forum or mailing list.

If you are given pointers to what software is causing the problem you can go to the second case.

[0]
Mailing lists:

Forums:

Second case: You know where the problem is. Where you should report your bug?

First, you should check in both the Debian and the KDE bug tracking systems [1] to see if the bug is already reported. If that is the case, and you are able to give more information about it, update the bug report.

If the bug is not reported, then report it in the KDE bug tracking system if you think it is a problem in the application or in the Debian BTS if it is a packaging problem. If you’re not sure what kind of bug it is, you can go to the first case (in the beginning of this post) and ask in the users forums and mailing lists [0].

However, you won’t always get it right, and in some cases you will be pointed to the other bug tracking system. Do not take it personally; KDE developers can not help you with packaging problems and Debian packagers can’t always help you with the application bugs.

It might be that your problem is solved in the development version, so if possible check what is going on in the development version before report.

When reporting the problem, give all the details you can about your problem. If you can detail the steps to reproduce the bug, even better. Also, if you are asked for more information, reply the best you can. Somebody is trying to help you. Be nice !:)

Also, remember to be patient when reporting bugs or being asked for more information: both KDE and Debian are big projects with a lot of traffic on their respective bug reporting systems (esp. KDE), so sometimes there is not a quick reply from the developers.

[1]

In Debian, a lot of people report upstream issues in the bug tracking system and they think it is good and what they have to do. The truth is that in a very few cases, such as security bugs or data loss bugs, this is a good idea. But most of the time it is not useful to report problems to the people who can not solve them. Do not expect Debian/KDE maintainers to forward your problem upstream (a problem which they may well not be able to reproduce), then back to you when upstream ask for more information, then back with the information to upstream… it is time consuming and we have big (wo)manpower problems.

In any case, if you think the bug is very important and should be in the Debian BTS, you can report it in Debian as well as reporting it to KDE. Make sure you mention the KDE bug in the Debian bug.

Third case: your problem is not a bug, just a feature request.

Until now, I have talked about bugs, when you find something that is clearly not working right in your system. But what about when you want to ask for a new feature in a piece of software?

In very few cases this belongs in a Debian wish list. Most feature requests apply upstream and you should tell the about your idea. If you do not tell them, it is unlikely they will implement it. Still, after reporting, you should accept it if upstream thinks it is not a good idea or it is not interested enough to implement it.

Post updated on the 30th September, thanks to Rupert Swarbrick for grammar fixes.