KDE has tea with Stallman

Philippe Fremy
Tea with Stallman

For Linux Solutions 2003 (see my report) , the french KDE team thought that we could take the oppurtunity to improve our relationship with RMS. He seems to accepts KDE as fully free software now. So we invited him for a tea, to show him the latest KDE and discuss. He accepted.

As promised, RMS came to visit us and see KDE after his conference. We thought he would just had a quick look but it turns out that he stayed for an hour! We had tea, we had biscuits, we had chairs, knoppix with KDE 3.1 and a laptop for demonstration.

One question I wanted to ask him for a long time is how often he runs X . The answer was the one I had forcast: "sometimes". Most of the time, he is using emacs in terminal mode for more or less everything.

He asked me what I was doing and I talk about KVim. He said something like: "I can't tell if I am more sorry for vim or for KDE". We then talked a bit about emacs and if an embeddable version could be made for KDE, like for the vimpart.

Gerard ask him if emacs was using gettext and could be translated. It turns out emacs is not using gettext, which is a reason why it can not be translated. There are incompatible API for this but someone can tackle the problem.

He asked whether KDE people were saying "Gnu/Linux" or just "Linux", and Open Source or Free Software. I told him some of us are using KDE/Gnu/Linux which pleased him as an answer.

We told him quickly what was in KDE 3.1 and gave him a Knoppix with KDE 3.1 and OpenOffice, all in french. We thought he would then leave but he was willing to see KDE running. So Sebastien started demonstrating him Konqueror and other stuff. Sebastien was willing to make a quick overview of everything but Richard quickly stopped him, asking him to go very slowly, explaining each key he types and what exactly happens on the screen.

He spotted a bookmark named Linux and asked immediately what was in it, Linux or Gnu software ("Should not that be Gnu/Linux) ? It turns out it was just a list of bookmark related to Free Software (freshmeat, linuxfr, dot.kde.org, ...).

While discussing, we discovered that he was not subscribed to the linux kernel mailing list, he just receives cc: sometimes. He did not know about Kernel Traffic so we showed him (with konqueror of course). He was disappointed not to see his recent thread about Linux and Gnu/Linux mentionned. He receives something like 300 mails every day, and one third of that is spam.

We showed him the konsole embedded into Konqueror. The first thing he did was to run emacs in text mode, which was successful. So we had emacs inside konsole inside konqueror. Fun!

After that, he took the mouse and start wandering throught the control center. He checked a few things and seeemed to find it interesting. He had problems with the french keyboard, so we enabled a dual french/english keyboard.

Since he was mainly a terminal user, I showed him the multi-terminal capability of konsole. This highlighted a bugs in emacs: it does not notice that the konsole window is resized. I told him vim could do that but he did not let the flamewar start :-) . I told him there is a kind of signal emitted by the terminal when it resizes (I don't remember exactly) and he wants me to send him more information on that.

He asked for a C binding that would be used equally with Gnome/Gtk or KDE/Qt. I told him that this was more or less what WxWindows does, and that apart from that, this is not a good idea. First, both toolkits, although they have the same api, are internally very different. Second, it would prevent people from using the real interesting features of KDE or Gnome. He insisted quite a lot on that. This allow him to remind us that KDE is C++ and C++ is still discouraged for Gnu Software. I asked if C was still the recommended language. He just points out that the FSF actually recommends C for programs that want to run fast but do not object other programming languages.

After one hour, he had to leave to visit other booth. All in all, this was a very nice and interesting meeting. He consider now KDE as a fully free desktop and we even discussed the possibility of getting into the Gnu project. He did not oppose the idea although many KDE hackers would probably not accept.

Philippe Fremy

Other reports on Linux Solutions:

Philippe Fremy