November 12, 2009

Some Thoughts on Project Timelord

I would like to comment on Project Timelord a moment as I think there are some very important conclusions drawn by the Kubuntu team as well as a good, concrete call to action for making Kubuntu the best it can be. As a (very related) downstream project, this should be of much interest to users of Linux Mint KDE.

One of the main reasons for this is the challenge that faces the Mint KDE team for balancing out the features that land into Mint KDE. What should be taken from Kubuntu? What should be taken from Mint's Gnome-based Main Edition? In a perfect world, Kubuntu would be the best KDE distribution out there and leave the Linux Mint team to concentrate on Mint-ifying it into the best Mint version out there. Hey, open source competition is good, right?

The bar is set pretty high right now. With Kubuntu 9.10 out now (more on that in a forthcoming post), and both OpenSuse and Mandriva both releasing new KDE versions, the KDE wars are heating up. Congratulations on these fine releases, which seem to be receiving good reviews so far.

All of this push for KDE polish and love (and stability!) is coming at a paramount time in KDE's evolution. That is, with the upcoming release of KDE4.4, the next versions of these "Big Three" KDE distributions should put KDE in the best possible light it can be in. And the drumbeat for KDE4 being "ready for the enterprise" will echo throughout the open source world. This is an exciting time indeed.

If Mint KDE is to "equal" the Main Edition, then the extrapolation is simple: Kubuntu must rival Ubuntu's main edition in terms of performance, appearance (easy to do in Kubuntu / Mint's case), and reliability. If this call to action for Upstream help is not embraced and acted on in a timely manor, then Kubuntu (and subsequently Mint KDE) will remain the perceived "blue-headed step children" to their brother distributions. On the other hand, if handled well, done right, and promoted right, we could see Kubuntu and Mint KDE equal or rival their siblings.

Building and strengthening bridges is what it's all about. Bridges between KDE and Kubuntu. Bridges between Kubuntu and Mint KDE. Even bridges between the main KDE distributions out there. With The Dot keeping everyone tied together. Everyone has their part to play. Even you.

Look at it this way: If we all worked in an automobile factory (why are there always Linux - automobile industry analogies floating around? I guess 'cause they work!?) we would work in a particular department. That could be the engine dep't., body shop, assembly, finishing, etc. etc. So let's say for analogy purposes, Debian / Ubuntu is the "motor" It's up to the "motor" as to the reliability of the car - it just needs to always reliably start. Also it's somewhat responsible for the gas-mileage and how fast the car goes. And of course, the horsepower! Now, Kubuntu is the body - the guts of the car: body style, shape, drag coefficient, visual appeal, etc. That is, just about everything that is not the "motor". Powered by KDE, we have the Hemi of the engine world to play with. Finally, we have Mint. The polish. The accessories. The stereo. The performance tires. The paint job (a Mint speciality I might add). The headers. You get the idea :)

We all have out part, but we don't know what we have built until we see the whole car, and get many people to review our car and drive it. We also need a kick-ass marketing department to correctly position and advertise our car. And of course, a market of buyers ready to "purchase" (read: download!) our car.

Now, we could spend our entire careers just working in our department (sadly, many do). However, if we stay within out little islands and never look at the big picture, our finished product if you will, we'll miss the big picture. And the rewards and satisfaction it can bring.

Of course, you are not obligated to drive any particular car. Or work for this or any auto maker. But actions speak louder than words. Many of us want KDE, Kubuntu, and Mint KDE to assemble into the best car on the planet. And to take pride in knowing we helped build the best, most reliable car you can proudly drive!

Take a look at Project Timelord. Take a look at Mint KDE. See what you can do to help, and get involved. An invaluable way is to just spread the word! Provide feedback. Contribute some artwork. Triage bugs. Find your niche and stick with it, but always keep an eye towards the finished product. Consult the Project Timelord document and decide how you can fit in.

Collectively, we'll keep building those glorious blue cars, and the billboards to tell people: Our cars are free, reliable, fully customizable, and extremely sexy.