Looking forward to 2012

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[From the better-late-than-never department. Interviews originally conducted in early November, 2011]

While working on the cover feature for Linux Format magazine (LXF 153 to be precise), I asked some of the people who toil down in the trenches for us to enjoy the vibrant Linux desktop, about their wishlist for the new year -- things that they would like from other projects that'll help them do their job better.

Better collaboration

Andreas Jaeger, Program Manager for openSUSE would like to see better collaboration between the projects and distributions when either is introducing major changes. "Lennart did a great job with systemd and talking with distributors and getting them on board. Quite often I see changes done in one component that is used in several places. When we take this updated component because one of these pieces needs the new version, it might break all other pieces since nobody talked with all the other projects. As a distributor, we need all software adapted to such changes in a timely manner."

Stuart Jarvis from the KDE project agrees that there needs to be more communication and collaboration between the projects: "I'd love to see better collaboration between ourselves, GNOME and the other free software players. It's daft to have different standards for desktop notifications, password storage, etc. There's been some great work on this recently, such as the work around telepathy, but there's plenty more to do."

Stop duplication

Jos Poortvliet, Community Manager of openSUSE doesn't mince words and asks projects building infrastructure for the Linux desktop to "take responsibility" for what they do. He says openSUSE gives equal attention to GNOME, KDE, Xfce, and LXDE, which can sometimes be a pain because "some projects developing infrastructure used in several desktops (like NetworkManager) fail frequently in making sure things don't break for one or the other desktop."

He adds: "You get things like GNOME depending on a specific version of a library which we can't ship 'cuz it will break KDE and the other way around. We also see people building something new and cool (things like color management) and then only caring about one desktop, so we get two competing, duplicating projects for no reason other than that they don't care "about the other desktop"....very frustrating."

Poortvliet isn't against duplication as long as it's done for a valid reason: "I'm fine with duplication if it is because people disagree about implementation or think they can do better - that's why freedom is good. But duplication because you "don't care for the other desktop"? If the Linux kernel developers would all stop working on anything which their employer doesn't care about or they are not immediately interested in, the whole development would come to a screeching halt, wouldn't it? So my call: if you build infrastructure, take responsibility for it."

Get Linux on multiple devices

Jaeger points out that with the new changes to their open build service they have "made it easier for upstream developers to build their projects for multiple architectures and distributions." He's interested to see new projects using the build service and is curious as to how they use it.

Poortvliet, on the other hand, hopes the latest interface developments like Plasma Active and Gnome Shell will lead to something interesting: "As in, devices available with such interfaces, a real uptake in the industry."

KDE's Aaron Seigo informs us that the KDE project is "working on getting Plasma Active pre-installed on tablets that people will be able to purchase directly via retail." [Seigo announced the Spark tablet, a couple of months later on January 28, 2012]

Because of this one of things on Seigo's wishlist is to see "a reliable, community-driven Linux-based effort for a core device OS that reaches as many devices as possible. Essentially, I'm looking for the promise of MeeGo but in an open format. Mer is trying to be that, and I'd love to see them succeed wildly in doing so!"

The Wayland display server will be playing a huge role in getting Linux on to devices with limited resources. Seigo would like to see Plasma Active Three running on Wayland. But he points out that for this to happen though "we need Wayland to be mature enough for production usage, Qt to have reasonable Wayland support and the necessary work done in KDE's platform libraries as well as KWin and other parts of Plasma Workspace", which he adds is already under-way. "Being able to do devices on Linux without X11 using an open project like Wayland is a huge dream that is slowly becoming a reality and which we could very well achieve in 2012!"

Seigo is also looking forward to a solid Qt 5.0 release in 2012: "I have high expectations for the new QtQuick, Javascript and OpenGL graphics implementations."

Speaking of OpenGL, Jarvis would also like to see better accelerated graphics drivers from all vendors: "We want less changes in the Intel drivers from release to release as these sometimes make breaks in KWin's compositing. nVidia collaborating on Nouveau would also be great."

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