Interview: Harald Sitter about Amarok and KDE 4

Harald Sitter auf dem LinuxTag 2007Apachelogger interviewed by

Note: Das Original in deutsch ist hier zu finden ( The german original could be found here.)

Harald Sitter, also known as apachelogger, was promoted to Kubuntu MOTU not too long ago. He also works as a volunteer project manager for the Amarok project. We spoke with him about Amarok 2 and what can be expected from KDE 4 in Kubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron. Can you briefly describe who you are and in which areas of Kubuntu you are participate?
Harald: My name is Harald Sitter. I am a 19 years old Austrian citizen. I am one of the Kubuntu MOTUs who are responsible for the maintenance of the biggest packets archive for Ubuntu. What is the meaning of MOTU? For which projects are you active?
Harald: MOTU is an abbreviation for Master Of The Universe (these are the VIPs ;-). Additionally, I am the project manager of Amarok and also work on KDE. Amarok is a good subject. What was the reason to develop Amarok 2? Isn't Amarok already one of the best applications in the open source universe?
Harald: Amarok 1 was great. However, we wanted Amarok to be as sexy as its developers. This was not possible with the technologies that are provided by Qt 3/KDE 3 (the foundation layers which Amarok is built on). In particular the areas of graphics and graphics manipulation have been immensely improved in the new version. This is the reason that Amarok 2 is already now, even it is not finished yet, superior to its predecessor. To be honest, the version 2 was due for a long time if all the new features of version 1.4 are considered (pure madness as I see it). In any case, because of the new KDE and the new Qt it is now possible to achieve far more than could be done with Amarok 1. The best examples are the new web services. Due to the newly developed framework, a amazing interaction with and Ampache can be achieved (in reality in such a way that the particular websites are superfluous - which is part of our path to world domination :-D). KDE 4 obviously allows us to publish Amarok 2 on Linux, Mac and Windows. A very important argument because we have often received requests for Amarok on Windows/Mac since I have been in the Amarok team (which is for more than 4 years). Do you have a favourite feature in Amarok 1 and which will be the favourite one in Amarok 2?
Harald: Hmmm. Difficult question. In both cases it would be the context information. Obviously, this has been given far more attention in Amarok 2 and will also be a lot more beautiful regarding the graphical looks than in Amarok 1. You are currently very involved in the development of Kubuntu. We have to thank you for the packages for KDE 4.0.1. What are you doing while you are not working on Kubuntu or Open Source?
Harald: Well, KDE4 is my absolute favourite, there is hardly a day on which I do not tweak at least 2 hours on Kubuntu packages. Otherwise I am very busy partying. If I have learnt one thing while participating on Amarok then it is how you properly party. Sometimes I have been caught studying, but that is rather seldom the case. KDE 4 is not very complete at this time. How will you manage to integrate KDE 3 applications seemlessly into the desktop? In particular when you look at the settings, there is still lots to do. To manage the system settings for KDE 3 and KDE 4 in parallel could not seriously be described as a solution, or can it?
Harald: The concept of the co-existence of KDE 3 and KDE 4 is not easy to explain. In principle, any KDE 3 application can be used for KDE 4 and vice verse. This is in particular important, because there is not a lot of KDE 4 applications available over and above the standard KDE applications. Kontact is still hibernating. Our first rule was that the settings of the different versions do not conflict.
We do not know yet how we will deal with the system settings (I usually have no idea what I am doing at Kubuntu anyway ;-)). However, we will not publish any desktop with the appropriate tools for dealing with the settings (i.e. user management). We have a couple of top secret solutions in our sleeves. In general, it can be said, that currently five people work under great pressure in order to deliver with 8.04 greatest, most genius, and fantastic desktop that can be done. There has been lots of criticism about KDE 4.0 that could not be ignored. What do you think has been the reason for it? Have the expectations of the users been to high?
Harald: Partly this is true. It must always be stressed that KDE 4.0 is only the beginning of a long line of KDE 4 versions. Therefore, the announced features are not all or only partly available in the first release. The full potential of the new platform will not even to 10% used. In my opinion, in the next months and years, KDE 4 will develop to the most advanced desktop environment that has ever been implemented.
On the other hand, part of the criticism was self-made. In particular Plasma, which is a very elemental part of KDE 4, was not ready for publication. In the first weeks, I had to correct about 10 critical bugs in the KDE 4.0.0 packages which made the desktop in big parts unusable. Most of them have been inside Plasma. This should just not happen. In any case, 4.0.1 is already enormously improved. I anticipate that 4.0.3 (which is likely the version to be used in Kubuntu 8.04) will be a fully usable desktop for most users. At the end of this interview, please tell us what your favourite application for KDE 4 is and why you chose it.
Harald: Hm. After thorough thinking, and a look at the taskbar, I must say, that it should be Dolphin. I have always several instances of it opened ;-). On the other hand, to be honest, I think about something that most would not even have in their minds when laborating this question: Oxygen. Only Oxygen makes KDE 4 what it is: A seamlessly beautiful system with a uniform, and very edgy look and feel. Harald, we thank you for this interview and obviously for all your good work for Kubuntu and KDE.
Harald: Thanks for working through my crazy thoughts. FREE SOFTWARE RULEZ! :D