On the brighter side of things.. (Kubuntu 9.04, i18n)

While Kubuntu 9.04 will have the best l10n of any Kubuntu release in a long while, (and that’s not saying much) things are still far from optimal. While my second language, Spanish (which I don’t profess to know that proficiently) looks at least decent, other languages such as German are hit somewhat harder due to the fact that we scared all the German doods away with crappy l10n in past releases, so there is nobody to translate the string changes/new strings that we make when we add patches.

Anyways, on to the brighter side of things ™. One thing that had bugged me since KDE 4.0.0 (and probably a bit before) was that I always had to set my clock to am/pm from its default of military time, and from the default of metric measurement to the imperial measurement system. At first I assumed (In the KDE 4.0 betas/RCs) that it was just one of those little bugs. Then I forgot about it until I installed KDE4 on another computer. Eventually I got used to it, sorta. But every once and a while you’d encounter someone on IRC who couldn’t figure out how to switch to a 12 hour clock, so I guess it wasn’t entirely obvious how to do that manually. It is a bit of a pain.

In Kubuntu 9.04, however, startkde detects your country based on what you set the system to at the time you installed linux, and sets that as KDE’s county in kdeglobals (as long as you haven’t set it or other locale settings manually). This is thanks to the efforts of Harald (apachelogger) The result? Now you do not have to worry about manually setting time/money/first day of the week/measurement systems.

Even if translations are still somewhat buggered, this neat little enhancement tickled me pink. :-)

I also received some encouraging words on IRC today:

[canesalato] Hi jonathan, I just wanted to thank you for your hard work on jaunty. You helped in almost every bugreport I’ve opened and backported a lot of fixes…I think jaunty is really a polished distro compared to intrepid and not only because 4.2 > 4.1. Thank you again :)
[JontheEchidna] Thank you :)
[JontheEchidna] I’m glad I could help
[canesalato] If you ever come to Italy (i live in pisa) I’ll offer you beer and pizzas till you are full :D
[canesalato] have a nice day :)
[JontheEchidna] you too

I must say that I do not really know who this was. Apparently I’ve triaged/fixed a lot of his bugs, but I do not recognize his IRC name from any bugs I’ve triaged. Still, it’s nice to see that even though Kubuntu has received a lot of flack in the past about it’s KDE packaging (I seem to remember the early KDE 4.0.x packages being perpetually late/buggy) that, at least, I am making a noticeable difference in somebody’s computing experience. That is really the best reward I could ask for. Making the Linux desktop better for myself and others is my main motivation.

On a related note to early KDE 4.0.x packages, I really think that Kubuntu 9.04 will be a chance to redeem itself, so to speak. The early KDE 4.x packages from Kubuntu were buggy, yes. The situation got a lot better in KDE 4.1/Kubuntu 8.10, but the stigma still remained. Looking back at KDE 4.1, I believe I know why this happened. KDE 4.1 was better than KDE 4.0. Worlds better. But still, being only the second major incarnation of KDE 4, it was still lacking something in the sense of maturity, and still had its fair share of bugs.

Then when one of the first (Not the first, mind you) KDE4-based distributions get released (Kubuntu 8.10 in case you were wondering), lots of people upgrade. When a userbase the size of Kubuntu was exposed to the not-quite-as-mature-as-it-is-today codebase of KDE 4.1.2, problems were bound to be found. Those for which everything worked mostly okay usually stayed quiet, unless they were vocal Kubuntu fans. ;-) Those who inevitably ran in to problems usually did report them, albeit usually not in the preferred method. (details bug reports…) Since those who have problems tend to be more vocal than those for which everything works fine, people were able to find a lot of people online with who were also having problems, regardless of whether or not they were actually the same problems. (Once again, there’s no way to tell without bug reports…) Couple this with KDE4-haters who are vocal against KDE4, and suddenly you have people murmuring over the internet that Kubuntu, does in fact, suck.

People who have problems take a quick look on the internet and see other vocal users having problems. (Usually generically blaming “the packaging”) Then, without taking the time to report a bug so it can be determined where in the software stack the bug lies, people who see other people complaining also complain while citing poor packaging as the problem, often without even describing their problem in their “kubuntu sucks” post at all. You can see a cycle here…

This really wasn’t fair to Kubuntu/its developers, but I suppose a stigma of things going badly in the past can tend to stick around.

But, again, onwards to the brighter side of things. I am quite confident that Kubuntu 9.04 could be the “redeeming release”. The packaging is pretty solid this time around. The whole experience is polished, too. KDE 4.2 itself brings loads of polish. (Though you know KDE 4.3 will make it pale in comparison) GTK applications no longer look like they’ve come out of a blender. Amarok and Dragon Player now prompt you to install missing codecs. When KDE detects flash content in Konqueror, the “do you want to download flash from macromedia so that you can go through all the steps of installing it yourself” prompt that used to be there has been replaced with a dialog where one needs to merely press “install” and enter their password to let the computer do all the work for them. The device notifier gives you things to do when you insert audio CDs. The update/reboot notifier now uses KNofication instead of those ugly KPassivePopup bubbles. All in all it’s years ahead on Kubuntu 8.10, contained in a quick-booting, generally snappy package.

So that’s me, trying to look on the brighter side of things. Hopefully I’m not being delusional, and I hope you enjoy Kubuntu 9.04 tomorrow. (Or today, if you’re in the right timezone) ;-)

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21 Responses to On the brighter side of things.. (Kubuntu 9.04, i18n)

  1. Socceroos says:

    Hey mate,

    Just wanted to say, I’ve been testing Kubuntu 9.04 2009-04-20 RC on my lappy and I’m very impressed!

    I agree that Kubuntu 9.04 is a great release.

    Keep up the good work mate.

  2. Dread Knight says:

    When i checked it out yesterday, all GTK+ apps looked like shit so i got rid of KDE4 (again)….now you’re tempting me again. I’m always in a love-hate relationship when it comes to GNOME and KDE.

  3. Ethan Anderson says:

    “Now you do not have to worry about manually setting time/money/first day of the week/measurement systems.”

    I am an American. I was born in Omaha, Nebraska and have lived here almost all of my life. My parents were born in America. My grandparents were born in America.

    ‘american standard’ is the MS Windows of measurement systems. Stop using it. Even if american standard was half as decent a system as metric, the world is, contrary to popular american belief, BIGGER than the US, and the standard measurement system on this rock is metric. Get over it. Make the switch.

  4. Dread Knight says:

    Seems that GTK+ apps displayed very nice in VM (virtual box), but when i switched my install from ubuntu to kubuntu, they display ugly. I guess i have to delete some setting files, any suggestions? :D
    I’ll back up and try a few things on my own i guess…

  5. lure says:

    Jonathan, you rock!

    I really appreciate your work on bugs – this area of Kubuntu development always needs a lot of energy and drive and that is what you have given into Jaunty cycle.

    And because of your tight working with upstream b.k.o, KDE 4.2 is better for all users, not just Kubuntu.

  6. Dread Knight says:

    Fixed my issue deleting .kde folder. I’m a happy KDE4 user again :)(now i should get back to working on those gnome-shell mock-ups…)

  7. Alexander van Loon says:

    I’d like to use the opportunity to thank you for your work as well, but I’m rather disappointed with Kubuntu 9.04. I don’t think it’s polished at all.

    There are some smaller mistakes like this bug:
    https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/kdebase-workspace/+bug/340206

    And this more serious bug:
    https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/jockey/+bug/357134

    Both have not been fixed yet as we speak, so I assume they will still be present in the final release.

    I also reported this bug:
    https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/ubiquity/+bug/363113

    And this one:
    https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/language-selector/+bug/363749

    So far those bugs haven’t even been triaged. I realize the Kubuntu developers might be busy people, but I’m disappointed that after heeding the call to test the Release Candidate these rather serious bugs I reported haven’t received any attention at all.

    If you are responsible for Kubuntu’s localization and internationalization, could you please take a look at bug #363749? It’s rather annoying that Thunderbird gets installed without asking if you install the Dutch language pack.

  8. nospam1234 says:

    I just switched my desktop machine over from a littled aged Debian Sarge to Kubuntu Jaunty, my laptop is running Hardy KDE4 remix. And for me I can say, using Kubuntu has been disillusioning and frustrating, too. While I clearly want to say that I don’t blame the Kubuntu folks for most of the problems! With the given manpower they are doing mostly a good job.

    It’s so partially … in the face bugs, where I wonder: How can these be in a final release?! E.g. in Hardy X locks up when I use OpenGL, in Jaunty X often crashes with more than one parallel X session. Or things which worked fine for ages are broken now e.g. in Hardy my ethernet driver doesn’t resume properly from hibernation, in Jaunty my TV driver is slow and drops frames. Or I had the impression that in the recent years a lot has been done in the kernel and Xorg to make it more responsive, unfortunately as soon as there’s a little load on the system things get rather jerky. It’s way worse than my stone aged Sarge+XFree86 4.3!

    Added to this comes the insight that those things won’t ever be fixed, not even in an LTS.

    Also as far as KDE4 is concerned, it isn’t the new stuff not working properly (e.g. compositing) or missing features I have problems with. It’s things like broken and unusable flash support in Konqueror (even with the exact same flash version that worked fine in KDE3), just crashing and thus completely unusable bookmark editor, or on every KDE startup I have to sort out 10-20 Konqueror windows, as Konqueror apparently doesn’t shutdown properly and the crash restore is rather stupid (and a bit buggy too) …

    So I don’t know … I’m a Linux and KDE fan for 15 years or so now… and this probably won’t change in the near future … but quality hasn’t exactly improved over the years …

  9. LXj says:

    > Amarok and Dragon Player now prompt you to install missing codecs.

    Is it also true for SMPlayer and VLC? Let's be honest, Dragon Player is very simplistic

  10. Dread Knight says:

    @nospam1234: Hardy KDE4 remix sucks hard! It’s the future now man, get out the cave, stop whining and upgrade to jaunty (if you can manage).

  11. nospam1234 says:

    @Dread Knight: Man, if you look at my comment you’d see, that I upgraded one machine to exactly Jaunty! The examples of annoying KDE problems are exactly with Jaunty! Non KDE problems with both, Hardy and Jaunty. Interestingly Flash even works a lot better with Hardy KDE4 remix. And for an experimental remix the KDE4 Hardy remix was actually not that bad. … So the bottom line was kinda like: Normal *ubuntu releases are dissapointing, and even LTS releases are not really better from my experience (yes I know, there are other distros out there). … oh, and yes, I can manage, obviously.

  12. Dread Knight says:

    I think linux is several releases away from actually being ‘nice’. Most updates/upgrades make a lot of regressions for me….

  13. mutlu says:

    @ Dread Knight:
    “I think linux is several releases away from actually being ‘nice’. Most updates/upgrades make a lot of regressions for me….”

    I don’t know what you think “Linux” is, but bad distribution releases due to wrong decisions about what to release have nothing to do with “Linux”. If you make such sweeping statements, you should make them about what you actually experience as bad, in this case Kubuntu.

  14. die-nmi says:

    Man, you make me nervous! Being a bit disappointed in Kubuntu 8.10 I decided to (don’t hit me) convert back to fedora (upcoming v.11), when it’s out, coze of the more up to date packages there in general also in terms of dependencies (i.e. getting KDE 4.2 from the PDA repository on Kubuntu 8.10 doesn’t allow me to use kipi-plugins which seem to relate on kde 4.1).
    On the other side, fedora is not really known for being kickass in KDE related things (that is clearly up for Suse, but I have serious political concerns with their business tactics, so Suse is no option for me).
    Now that I am quiete satisfied with kde 4.2 and also reading your quiet wise remarks about package quality in the past and in the future… I dunno – It’s all about up to date software without involved KDE experts (fedora) vs a progressing Kubuntu team doing nothing else than KDE… Tough!
    It also appeared to me that you, J., were involved in almost every Kubuntu thing, which must be quiet maddening :) but I appreciate it – also the bug reports you at least tried to understand :) (including mine)…
    So thanks for your work so far – maybe I’ll stay here…
    Regards,
    Herr Irrtum

  15. Dread Knight says:

    @mutlu the issues i have: the video drivers for intel FUCKING SUCK! i see garbage in blender.
    And now wacom tablets (im using a tablet pc) have support out of the box, but i can’t make the stylus button to right click and i can’t even set that up, so for now the ‘out of the box’ support sucks hard as well, since it makes things worse. So they’re jaunty issues, not especially kubuntu’s.

  16. Pan, Shi Zhu says:

    Well, at kubuntu 6.06 time I really was disappointed but it was getting better and better till kubuntu 8.04, undoubtedly the best kubuntu ever.

    At kubuntu 8.10 I was disappointed more than kubuntu 6.06.

    However, after trying a bunch of distributions (arch, opensuse, mandriva, pclos, fedora, etc.) I realised that “most KDE4-based distribution sucks, kubuntu is the one which sucks less”, so the problem lies in Qt and KDE upstream, the kubuntu developers really have nothing to blame (except the “remove kde3 packages” strategy).

    I’m impressed by Kubuntu 9.04 and I think I’ll see a quite satisfactory Kubuntu 10.04LTS, which “sucks less than all other distributions” and being ready for my production use. ;-)

    I like kubuntu, because the team is much responsive to bug reports than KDE upstream does, kudos for developers!

  17. mutlu says:

    @ Dread Knight:

    I may be splitting hairs, but, again, Jaunty does not equal Linux. The decisions to ship the new X stack is simply ridiculous. They should have stuck with an older X server. New features are a nice thing, but if it breaks for such a big group of people (probably most pre-i965 Intel chipsets), it is simply not acceptable. This should, then, be blamed on the Ubuntu guys, not Linux per se. That’s all I wanted to say.

  18. Dread Knight says:

    @mutlu you're probably right. Perhaps Karmic Koala will be in good shape and i won't have to upgrade for a fucking while after if everything is good. Indeed, the problem is with all those intel chips, slow and damn buggy video acceleration >_< 'If it's not broken, don't fix it'.

    Still, i like Kubuntu the best…

  19. nasrullah says:

    Kubuntu 9.04 shows the way to freedom ……………………………………………………..

  20. Keith Z-G says:

    Unfortunately I really can’t say I’m loving KDE 4.2 yet…. there’s still show-stopping bugs with Nvidia TwinView on my main computer, and more importantly the multi-monitor support still has a long way to go to catch up with KDE 3.5 (although it’s come a long way from 4.0!). That and a lot of other regressions have me convinced to stay with 8.04 on my rather important main PC (which is also a server to the rest of my household).

    I love playing around with KDE4, though. Still….on my laptop, which runs an Intel GMA945, if I leave it running for longer than half an hour Plasma and Xorg start battling over using 100% of the CPU. I’m typing this right now in Konqueror, sure, but I’m relegated to LXDE…on top of that I have Amarok Nightly playing music, and Kontact running, with a Konsole window open…..

    Or in other words, I really wish KDE 3.5 packages were kept around, since I love the KDE 4.2 apps but the desktop environment remains unusable for me :( Luckily LXDE/OpenBox gets the job done.

  21. Keith Z-G says:

    Oh, and P.S: I’m really not a conservative, I’m actually rather obsessed with using whatever the most rationally superior methods/approaches are for any given thing…which is why I was disappointed in the “regression” in the defaults for localization! There’s no excuse for people not using Metric, and one of these days people will have to join the 21st century (or at least the 20th) and use the 24-hour clock :P

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