Randa Meetings 2016 Part I: Okteta

Last Sunday the full week of Randa Meetings 2016 had passed, and it was time to find a route home, e.g. using KDE’s currently developed Marble Maps (here in the SailfishOS variant):
Planning the route home from Randa with Marble Maps on SailfishOS

Home, that would be for a place somewhere on our planet, like Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, or South America, where the 40-50 people who had got together that week had come from. They came into the Swiss Alps, traveling through space (not sure if also time, but at least quite many for quite some time) to collaborate in a valley deep between mountains covered by glaciers. To collaborate on bringing more of the set of applications developed in the KDE community also to other, even non-libre operating systems.

Getting Dirty With Other Operating Systems

The KDE community these days creates a large set of applications, and many of these are not bound to the one workspace for unixoid operating systems created by KDE, which is Plasma. No, these applications also run more or less fine in other (unixoid) workspaces, thanks to all the shared specifications of the freedesktop.org movement and other shared stacks/technologies (like D-Bus, X11 & soon Wayland).

Unixoid operating systems, that does not only mean Linux, but also all the BSD derivats. Sadly the *BSD subcommunity in KDE had become quite inactive the last years. So it was good to see that with Adriaan some *BSD veteran reactivated himself and is now working hard to get current versions of KDE applications and also Plasma to first class positions in the official software supply system. Next to that he also showed his real-world server acting abilities, as kitchen demon for Saturday, to everybody’s pleasure.

While now the big majority of KDE developers develop their applications with FLOSS unixoid workspaces/operating systems in mind, they often also find themselves and their target groups being bound to devices controlled by non-libre operating systems, due to some key apps or infrastructure in work or other parts of life only available with those. Operating systems like Microsoft’s Windows or Apple’s OSX/macOS. Still, people needing to use these devices can liberate themselves a little by at least using FLOSS applications on them. Like Firefox as their Web browser, in place of the non-libre Internet Explorer or the non-libre Safari.

As almost all current KDE applications are based on the cross-platform library Qt and the cross-platform build system tool CMake, which include support for the platforms Windows, OSX, the extra development work needed to get KDE applications running also on those platforms should be relatively small. And indeed since many years some people have been doing that needed extra work, with more or less success (see wiki pages on Windows and Mac). And since using Qt5 work has started to also extend this for Android.

Still there are many things that need more work to create serious products on release day for the average enduser. From documentation for application developers what to care for, integration into the KDE CI with platform specific builds, organized pre-release testing of packages, to providing the software products to end-users via proper distribution channels. All these are areas which had been talked about and worked on during this year’s Randa Meetings (see also Kevin’s post with a KDE on Windows status update).

Okteta on Windows: built out of the source box

Already when Okteta was started many years ago, using CMake, Qt4 & kdelibs4 made it possible to have builds of Okteta for Windows (XP) and OSX done by mainly pointing some generic build and packaging scripts at its source code, as shown with Okteta 0.1 in 2008.

Today, with CMake, ECM, Qt5, KF5, it is still the same. When asking for a Windows build, just to see what the state is, it again was just a matter of pointing the generic scripts at the sources, and there was Okteta 0.19 running on Windows 10 (thanks Kevin for builds and screenshot):
Okteta 0.19 on Windows 10

One nice sideeffect of cross-testing on different platforms is that forgotten issues get into the spotlight again, like visible in the screenshot:

  • Accelerator syntax shown verbatim in docker widget title bars: KAcceleratorManager from the KWidgetAddons module needs to get an idea how to properly handle QDockWidgets
  • Bad initial size of window and set of initially shown dockers: the current hack to work-around improper API control in Qt needs adaption to Qt5 and perhaps also other platforms

Running the unit tests showed a few issues, half of them due to not using platform-neutral access to the filesystem (quickly fixed), the other half because of tricks with XDG env vars which need some platform-neutral solution (still to be solved). As a result Okteta’s source code will be more clean, which is also a win for the version for the libre operating systems.

So if somebody would want Okteta on Windows (I had a few people asking for that by the years) and/or OSX, you are welcome to help out in the packaging and testing area. I myself do not have any of those operating systems and also would not invest into that, given my own priorities. Still happy to work together.

Support us

The Randa Meetings and other sprints bring our software forward, and also to more people and more platforms. Please check out the fundraiser for the Randa Meetings, and consider to do your little contribution to get things going:

Notes on other activites of mine at Randa Meetings 2016 in a following post.


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