Over the last months I got the feeling that lately my mail folders related to “user issues” are not getting flooded any more. Now feelings are always very subjective, so I wanted to check whether there is some truth in my feeling. Over the same time I noticed that there is much more trolling against KDE for example on the dot.
One of my mail folders is for new threads about KDE in the German ubuntuusers forum. I have received notifications for new threads for quite some time, but the mails get deleted automatically. So I asked Christopher Grebs whether he could provide me the required information. So here is a plot showing the number of new threads per month over the last few years. As it is an (k)ubuntu related forum we can expect higher number of threads in April and October.
I included the year 2007 as it was the last year with only KDE 3.5 which many users seem to praise as the best desktop environment ever without any problems. What we can see here is that the number of new threads in 2007 (average 154) is similar to the one of 2009 (average 168) while 2008 was clearly a year causing trouble to our users. Kubuntu shipped 4.1 with 08.10 and there is a huge increase in November.
But what is really impressive is the decrease in 2010 and even more in 2011. So my feeling was right, there are less new threads. In fact in 2011 (please note that there is still half a month to go) the average new threads are just 63, which is less than half of what we had in 2007.
There can of course be many reasons for that. Maybe ubuntuusers is not any more so popular, maybe users go to forum.kde.org which did not yet exist in 2007, maybe Kubuntu is no longer a popular distribution for KDE users.
But it could also show that either KDE lost many users recently or that our software became much better, much better even than KDE 3.5 has ever been.
Now I thought how can I verify that this is not related to the forum in question and for that I wanted to look at our bug database and wrote a small tool to generate some statistics (if anyone is interested in the raw data please send me a mail). So here I present the number of opened bugs per month for KWin. As opened bugs I mean bugs which are either still open or have been fixed. Duplicates, invalid bugs, etc. are ignored.
Here we have a slightly different picture. Given our release schedule we expect higher numbers at end of year and mid of year. 2007 with KDE 3.5 hardly had seen any new opened bugs till the beta of 4.0 came around. Unlike in the forum 2008 is not the year with most reported bugs. KWin did not enable compositing till 4.2 (January 2009), so it was for most early adopters just the same as the 3.5 version. We can clearly see the enabling of compositing starting at end of 2008 with the high peak after the release in February 2009 and constant high values throughout the year. But already 2010 showed less newly reported bugs and in 2011 again my feeling is correct. Currently the curve is below the one of 2007 and the average is close to 2008 again (16 compared to 17 reported bugs per month).
Now this are two datasets validating my assumption. So let’s have a look at a third one: the number of opened bugs per month for Plasma. Here it is important to know that Plasma’s bugs are not as nicely triaged as KWin bugs, so it is likely that the number of bugs is just too high.
Here we can see the same as in the KWin case: 2009 was the high bug year and 2010 and 2011 much less new bugs. In 2011 we have an average of about 82 bugs/month compared to 80 bugs/month in 2008. This is an even more impressive trend than for KWin given that Plasma is much bigger and new concepts such as Netbook shell and many more applets were added.
Now given these datasets we can clearly say that our users find less bugs in our software. The only remaining question is whether this is caused by less problems or less users. For a source-code only distribution project such as KDE it is difficult to know how many users we have and we have to notice that very often the only feedback we get is the negative one. So it is difficult to say whether there are users with no problems or no users. But also for that question we can ask bugzilla:
This graph shows us all reported bugs against KWin including duplicates. The interesting value is the “Intel Peak” in May 2011. This driver bug affected Kubuntu users with Intel GPU and enabled unredirection of fullscreen windows. So although it only affected a subset of users and DrKonqui recognized the duplicates it’s the fourth highest value for the complete data set resulting in 2011 seeing almost as many bugs reported as in 2010 (832 vs 806) with still a big chance of 2011 surpassing 2011 as in each year more bugs have been reported in December than in November. We also see the problem of the Intel bug going away with the Kubuntu release of 11.10.
Now I generated some more graphs which show us some more data. Here we have a complete graph for all bug data of KWin over the time.
Again we clearly see the Intel Peak both in the reported Bugs and Reported Crashes. In general we see very nicely the DrKonqui induced bug reports. Whenever there is a peak in the reported bugs, there is also a peak in the reported crashes.
This we can also see in Plasma. It is quite clear that very few crashes affect a large userbase. As with the case in KWin these can be upstream. E.g. I’m quite sure that the last peak in the graph has been caused by a change in Qt 4.8.
Impressive is the beginning with all bugs being more or less fixed instantly during the development. There is one more interesting thing to be seen. Twice a year Aaron starts to panic about the number of opened bugs in Plasma and I think we can see this here as well. Let’s have a closer look at the fixed bugs:
Quite an impressing work the Plasma devs are doing there. Overall I think these graphs validate that there are less bugs and it shows how our software has matured over the years.