Retrospection

It’s now almost one year since I started my job at BlueSystem to work full time on KDE software. It’s a perfect time to look back and do some retrospection as well as trying to look into the future.

Of course my focus of work was on KWin, but especially over the last months I worked all over the KDE workspaces. Overall we have achieved a great result. KWin is running in near production-ready quality after the port to Qt 5 and the Plasma workspaces are also in a very good shape already. I tend to mentially compare the experience with the state of Plasma 1 six years ago which was just a few weeks before the first release. We are in a better state and there is still lots of time till we will do our Plasma 2 release.

Without the possibility to work full time on KWin we would not yet have a ready port and I fear the quality would have to suffer. There were many issues which just needed lots of time to break through. Sometimes I had the feeling that I run all day long with the head against a wall just to end up in front of the next wall once I broke through. Luckily such problems are behind us and I’m also kind of proud to have solved those problems.

But not everything this year had been fun. There was one event which seriously affected my work in a negative way. It demotivated me, I needed to spend time on it, it made me spent time on useless issues instead of the important porting. I was attacked and insulted for my opinion – an experience I had never made before and I don’t want to make. Of course it affected me personally and I can see the impact of it. In retrospection it is clear that I nearly got burnt by it and that it affected the way how I worked in the free software ecosystem. I notice that I don’t have any interest in collaboration with other projects any more, that I feel attacked whenever someone disagrees with me on a technical level, I am answering questions in a short and blunt way with tendency to arrogance. I try to avoid discussions, stopped caring for bug reports and are lacking on code reviews. To a certain degree I tried to be on my small island where I can just hack and ignore everything else.

I am wondering how I would have taken the whole situation if I were just a spare time developer. Maybe it would not have affected me at all because the pure thought that I am supposed to add support in my spare time would have been even more ridiculous as it is. Maybe I would not have had the time to do an analysis for the Kubuntu team as I did which then would not have resulted in me getting attacked for it. On the other hand if the attacks and insults would have also happened if I were a spare time developer I don’t think I would still be a KDE developer. For a hobby I would not have endured that.

One of the conclusions is that if it would ever happen that someone submits a patch for Mir support in KWin, I would immediately step down as maintainer. After what happened I am no longer in a position to judge that imperial and objective. I would either accept the patch out of appeasement or reject it due to what has happened. In any way I would not be in a position where I can be sure to do the right decision for the KDE community. Even on a technical level I would not be sure whether I would be able to review it. Being nitpicky about small issues can be done subconsciously and also moving around code just to prove the point is easily done.

Please do not read this as a threat to block any patches as there’s more into it. I do not expect that the area of conflict will go away. I expect that the issue will come up again and again and I expect that those lobbying us will continue to do so. The next time will probably be the preparation for 14.10 where I’m quite sure that we (and probably also GNOME) will be attacked again for our decision. As I explained above this is affecting me and it’s something I do not want. The logical consequence is that I will have to reduce my involvement in KWin and the kde-workspaces and focus on other areas. After having worked for six years on KWin it might anyway be a good point to look for new challenges, especially given that I decided years ago to re focus once the Wayland port is done.

Of course Wayland will be the big item for 2014. It’s one of our internal aims for the next few months and given that I had focused mostly on porting of all kind of workspace applications I’m looking forward to work on it again. Given that the number of applications ported to Qt 5 is increasing each day it will also be a nice thing to work on with hopefully soon switching to a dog-foodable environment having real-world Wayland enabled applications and not just the Wayland demo apps.

35 thoughts on “Retrospection

  1. I always enjoy to read your blog posts, as well as using kwin. I hope you will be around in the KDE community in the future. For now, I just wish you a happy year 2014!

    Thank for your great job!

  2. I too always enjoy reading your posts, and really appreciate all your contributions to help make kde and kwin what they are.
    I wish you and your loved ones a happy new year 2014!

  3. Martin thank you for your hard work. Please do not get distracted by petty arguments, especially since you know justice is on your side and let’s hope Kwin/Wayland will work flawlessly so that you can pursuit other hobbies, otherwise someone would have to really dive into KWin in your stead. It is hard to imagine anybody replacing your work in short term.

    1. It is hard to imagine anybody replacing your work in short term.

      Luckily I can disagree on that point ;-) I’m just the only KWin dev to blog about the work.

      1. Which you should not underestimate the value or appreciation of! As a lapsed developer, it is nice to hear about the progress made without having to break my system or do battle with a half-working desktop because I upgraded to the bleeding edge too soon.

      2. ;-)

        Dear Martin,

        As much as I respect the proverb that “noone is irreplaceable”, I also do believe, that any kind of absence from the broader kwin area design/development-wise, would most certainly render the entire exceptional smooth sailing experience we all luckily enjoy, through the tough waters of window management/compositing/etc, into a rather unpleasant nightmare!

        Our everyday experience has been lifted to higher, unbelievable grounds by your expertise and, above all, your personality.

        Happy new and prosperous 2014.

  4. Hi Martin

    Quick reply from a happy user of kwin.
    Just wanted to tell you that I am very happy that we can enjoy such a stable kde due to your work.
    In the past, stability was always the problem for me.
    I am quite fearfull that stability will suffer with yet another big rework of KDE.
    I truly hope that you will remain involved in kwin / wayland so it will work at least
    as good as the current implementation.
    KDE needs people like you!

    1. I’m using the new version already in a productive environment and for KWin stability is no problem :-)

  5. Dear Martin

    Thanks for all Your (great) work on Kwin! This very work makes the experience of KDE unique among other DEs!

    And don’t care for people attacking You in public — You are a very prominent public voice of KDE developers, so it is (unfortunately) bound to happen. Just ignore voices of non-constructive critique as we all should ignore trolls ;-)

    I’m sure that whatever project You join, it is going to spring to live!
    I wish You a Happy New Year!

  6. Hi Martin
    first of all i wish you a happy new year!
    I’m really grateful for your hard work on kde-workspace and especially kwin. Hope you’ll choose the right way for yourself and hope you still got involved in kde projects in future.
    Thanks also for your great blogposts , keeping us up to date and sharing your opinion with us. I really enjoyed them.

    Greets Christian

  7. 1. The success of Mir depends on platforms using it. The same goes for the success of Wayland. Ubuntu Touch right now is a mess and a pre-beta effort, while Jolla Sailfish is a product shipping right now. Let’s hope at least Fedora ships a production quality Wayland desktop in October 2014 or before that date. That will destroy Ubuntu’s plans.

    2. Please, set the filter on, and ignore personal attacks.

  8. Thank you for you hard work on kwin. As long as you keep enjoying hacking, don’t let other peoples actions & words affect you this hard. You have the right to your own opinion as we all do.
    In my opinion, the debate regarding mir vs wayland shouldn’t take place here. If Mir want to be supported by any software in the world, it should have take this into consideration in the past, and should have at least worked on a compatibility layer.

    I (and i believe most of your readers) enjoy your blog because you write some nice, well written articles about KDE, and that what I care about, not some non-related debate on whats the best & most modern way to send pixels from source code to the users screen.

  9. Martin, thank you for your endless devotion and your hard work and that of the entire Kwin team is being silently appreciated by thousands, not realizing who exactly is behind it. If KDE stays as rock-solid stable as it is and has been in recent years, we’ll realize world domination on that sudden extinct stability-factor alone.

    Wayland is the right thing and the way to go, every technician following the KDE blogs know that: and yes, once deployed the coming years, it’ll win. Mir is a total waste of time and commercially pushed technology with a closed-governed model won’t last long, luckily.

    Don’t allow yourselves to get distracted by these attacks, the fact they’re insults proves the point of them realizing a battle is being lost.

  10. I’m a massive fan of your work and no Canonical supporter, but find it a bit odd that you are still moaning about being “attacked”. Maybe it is from a feeling of being sheltered in the open source community, but in any competitive environment (which open source still is) “attacks” occur all the time and are a part of life, and often rather than them being “attacks” they are simply healthy heated debate. Stop taking things so damn personally, man up, argue your points, and don’t let emotion cloud your judgement (e.g. all this stuff about ruling out Mir patches entirely seems petty emotional stuff to me).

    1. there is a huge difference between technical debate and personal attacks. I’m complaining about attacks on a personal and not on a technical level. In a professional and also in a competitve environment nobody attacks the engineers on a personal level.

    2. all this stuff about ruling out Mir patches entirely seems petty emotional stuff to me

      Actually it isn’t. It’s extremely technical to say that we don’t allow such patches due to being distro specific. And I haven’t said anything else yet to rule out Mir patches. As you can see in this blog post I see the problem in that point and concluded that I would have to step down as maintainer if the day comes that there are patches to judge.

  11. Think when it comes to personal things and attacks, people react completely different. I’m a person who does not really care a lot about others opinion about myself, if they attack me personally (not professionally, everyone is welcome for constructive critism on my work) I stamp them as idiots and go on with my life :D .

    Anyway, keep on the good work. Glad you came over this and are still part of KDE, though, even if you were stepping back a bit on community things – most important is that you work together good with othes in the workspace team and have fun there. And decisions like that (accepting such a “critical” patch or not) could be discussed internally in workspaces as well if you feel uncomfortable doing the decision on your own. In the end – it’s them and you who maintain it (since seriously, even at other oss projects, most people put a patch and the maintainers / developers have to maintain it after it’s upstreamed since the people disappear).

  12. Thanks for all your work! I hope that you’ll continue working on KWin. Please ignore all attacks of the Mir proponents and if you feel Mir support should not be integrated in KWin – state so freely, stand your ground and don’t feel that you aren’t objective. Consider that your quitting on the basis of such patch proposals can only hurt KDE and help detractors, rather than do anything good for it.

    On the Wayland side, I hope that Nvidia will add support for it next year, since if they won’t, switching to using it won’t be possible with their driver.

  13. I, too, would like to thank you for your outstanding work and dedication. You are a very valuable member of the KDE community and we are very happy to have you. I wish you a happy new year and all the best in your endeavors, wherever they may take you. Although, I have to admit, I hope you don’t venture too far from KDE, so we get to see you around. :)

  14. Hello Martin and a happy new year. Thanks for all your hard work. Please stop taking it personaly even if it was directed to you. Regardless of the motives of those who attacked you if you step down now they will have scored a substantial victory.

  15. Thanks for your work and please go on!!!
    IMHO, the people who are attacking you (on the personal level) they want you to stop working on kwin… then the best answer is that you ignore them and go on working on kwin!!

    Paolo Milani

      1. ((The following is my personal opinion and not necessarily the opinion of any one else.))

        No, the agenda is to use the community to pressure you into doing what they want. They have put you on the defensive, defending your position to the community and to other maintainers. (That, you are doing wonderfully.)

        This alone, whether purposeful or not, should be grounds for a public and written apology from Mark S.

        You were mugged, accosted, challenged to a fight then accused of being barbaric.

        This is emotionally draining. It leaves you wondering why, trying to make sense of all of the little details. Wondering what could have been said and/or done to deflect the shit storm. That eats at you. Try not to let it.

        This is the tool of the bully. They will not back down because to do so would mean that they may have been wrong, and that is just not in their world view.

        This is all because of ignorance and arrogance and I doubt it can be explained in any other way.

        I thank you and the Kwin team as well as the KDESC team as a whole.
        You have opened my eyes as to how a collaboration should work both internally and with outside projects.

  16. Hi Martin,

    I’m really looking forward to the upcoming version of KDE integrated with Wayland. As you wrote in your older posts, Wayland is your decision. I support your decision, because correctness of the API is really important if it’s used for very long time. Please do not be distressed by personal attacks.

  17. Haters gonna hate. Just ignore them. Yes I know it’s easy to say. But, really don’t treat take crits seriously. Especially those that have no more than 2 lines.. I know it’s matter of growing thick skin, but hey! Everyone who make any creative work need thick skin. Preferably made of carbon-titanium materials…

  18. Hello Martin from Venezuela!
    I has been reading your blog thru Planet KDE for quite a while and I think you are a nice and intelligent person.
    I agreed with all the previous post is special with @mutlu and @quamis. Thank you for your outstanding work in the kwin team, KDE Workspaces and be a prominent KDE community member.
    When I read this post I was worried about how much the issue wayland vs mir affected you personally. I really, really understand your situation but please consider this facts, in my opinion, very importants:
    1. You and the Kwin team has more than six years of expertice in Windowing and composition management, X11 OpenGL Wayland, C++, QT framwork, linux unix programming and design on non trivial software, probably other technologies too. It is equivalent time to a Computer Science (CS) bachellor degree plus a Msc in CS. Therefore I must consider you as an experts in those areas. So, for me, there is no question about your technical abilities.Greater yet, you only have one year in Blue System, this neans to me it is not a “hobby” in free time but your work passion.
    2. Canonical corporation is a newcomer in the Windowing system in linux. Unity is based on technical work and methods on Gnome and KDE. IMO, they have a lot of money and developers resouces and yet Unity is inferior technologically. They prefer this way instead of support GNOME or KDE SC.
    3, Canonical open source contributions are not friendly. For me, they dismiss wayland in favor of mir not on technical reason but in a business/corporate one. You know it more than probably anyone on planet Earth.
    4. How you said in this same post, you are the only developer who blog about Kwin work, so you are the “visible” leader of the team and one “prominent” the KDE community to.
    5. Canonical business manners are questionables (Include here point 2. and 3.). They “marketing/community relations” about their products “inverse mirroring”, i.e. saying about competitors what really they are. KDE SC is a Canonical competitor in a lot of products (KDE SC vs Unity, Plasma Active vs Ubuntu touch, Kubuntu vs Ubuntu, waylan vs mir, Vivaldi vs Ubuntu touch for instance).
    6. Human stupidity. Those people who support or not Canonical and believe what Canonical said, not investigating the facts, and are capable of attack “visible” members of the KDE community for the sake of it without any benefit for them. They prejudice others and do not get any benefit. This is the definition of human stupidity. Believe Martin, anyone, anyone “visible” in open source comunity who gave their opinion about Canonical, with or without reason, will receive attack from those stupid people. I think it is part of nature like gravity or sunlight.
    7. You will not win against human stupidity. You could be more affected if you do not ignore them. I think your contributions to Kwin team and the KDE SC community are very outstandind and important all this years and a lot of users including me benefit from it. Than you. For me this is human intelligence, benefit others while benefit yourself.

    In conclusion, Thank you for the high technical level and importante work you contribute fot the KDE community and their users. Keep going, lead your team and give example with dignity in this uneasy situation. You will gain in experience and be a better person!

    I hope you a Happy new year 2014!
    Rafael Gonzalez (Computer Engineer USB Caracas 1998)

    PD: Please delete my post in reply of @quamis. The post is directed to you not quamis. Thanks.

  19. The next issue will not be Mir/Wayland, but Ubuntu 14.10, because I wouldn’t count on an actual 14.10 release as we know if. The attacks this year were not nice, but you really seem to have issues just ignoring the hate. I know you often bring up how it’s not just this or that person, but that you feel pressured because some people misunderstood Canonical and expected you to support Mir etc., but this is still a minority of the users who are idiots and don’t really know what’s going on anyway.

    Remember that nice little driver you love so much? fglrx aka AMD Catalyst? Yeah, its developers don’t give a fuck about anything :D Learn from them.

  20. Hi Martin,

    I’m not deeply familiar with the history of the personal attacks, but could you not simply establish an unwavering policy that no Mir patches will be accepted, period, just on the simple grounds that even reviewing them is a distraction, and your time is better spent with implementing other things, especially when Canonical already have their own desktop shell? Then, don’t even respond thereafter to any questions about it, the policy would speak for itself, don’t get dragged into debates.

    As Canonical already has there own desktop shell and distro, it doesn’t even make sense for them to even care whether other shells run atop their own display server, so surely they would evetually tire of seeking Mir support in KDE or anything else other than Unity. They already have their own brand and stack to maintain, so just ignore them totally.

    Even if they have a large user base, Ubuntu is still just one distro, versus the rest of the community. KDE is just one *nix ecoystem component that doesn’t exist merely to appease Canonical. KDE users by definition use KDE, rather than Unity (although it’s possible some may use both of course), so it’s only logical for KDE development to focus on KDE users, while Canonical development should focus on Unity users and not interfere with KDE development.

    Incidentally I was a long time Ubuntu user who switched last year to Arch, and even though I liked aspects of Unity*, since it was not in the official Arch repos I decided to give KDE another try, and I am very glad I did. KDE is just so empowering and flexible, even if what I might want to do may seem pointless to a Gnome or Unity user! I would hate to think KDE (and KWin in particular) got to this wonderful state just in time for me to find it and appreciate it, only to have someone with your passion potentially reduce their involvement in it.

    As someone who only recently finally found my way here, I do truly appreciate all that you do and have done. I was already excited about the transition to Frameworks 5. Now you are scaring me with this talk of stepping down! :)

    Best wishes to you in this ongoing new year!

    * There were other non-Canonical things to get used to on Arch, like systemd, but I don’t regret making the change, I feel better using technologies that are more broadly supported rather than one vendor’s attempt to brand and market itself via its entire stack.

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