Meeting the different communities: KDAB, KDE, FSFE, VLC and QT

QtCon is an event that brings together five different communities under one roof. To give everyone a bit of a feeling of the background of those communities, what is going to happen and who is participating in the BCC this weekend, we conducted an interview with the organizer of each community.

First we start with, Lydia Pintscher, who is the president of KDE since 2014 and has been in the board of directors since 2011.

What have been the biggest improvements in the last 5 years?
The KDE community has made great strides over the past 5 years. Plasma, one of our main products has been completely overhauled in the past 5 years. Countless of our applications have gotten new features and other improvements. We have also taken in new projects that were previously outside our core competencies and incubated them. Most notably WikiToLearn - an educational platform that aims to produce free collaborative text books. I am also proud of important projects like GCompris and Kdenlive joining our community. They help us provide
a truly open alternative for our users. In the long run I believe two other steps though will have the biggest impact: The creation of our vision and our move to collaborate with
other organisations more closely. Any community needs a vision to rally around. Our initial vision set out by Matthias Ettrich 20 years ago has served us well for a long time but over the past years it became more and more obvious that we've lost our guiding light in the work we do. So we set out to change that. The first step was formulating our vision. The result of the process is a renewed vision the KDE community stands behind: "A world in which everyone has control over their digital life and enjoys freedom and privacy." We can not realize this vision on our own. We then set out to take steps to collaborate more closely with other organizations in our ecosystem in order to increase the impact of our work for our users. Organizing QtCon with many other partners is just one of them. Stay tuned for an exciting announcement in the next days.

What is special about KDE and its community?
KDE is special for many reasons but to me three stand out most prominently:
* KDE is an amazing community that understands that it matters how we treat each other and that values each other. People come to us for the code but stay for the community.
* KDE is a place where people can truly learn and grow. We give people opportunities that they don't get elsewhere and help them achieve what they set out to do. Our extensive mentoring programs are just one part of that.
* We have technically excellent and pragmatic people who want to provide great free software for you.

What do we expect from this year's Akademy
I have already heard about a few exciting things that I unfortunately can't share yet without spoiling all the fun for you One thing is for sure: We will get together a large number of really bright and dedicated people. Having KDE, VideoLAN, FSFE, The Qt Project and KDAB organize a joined conference will be a unique opportunity to get people to talk about issues that we all face together like the loss of agency of people over their digital life and the consequences this has for Free Software. Oh and of course we have a lot to celebrate with KDE's 20th and VideoLAN's and FSFE's 15th anniversary. Sustaining software projects and communities for so long is a huge achievement.

What do you think KDE and all the other organizing communities have in common in creating this event?
We share a common love for Free Software and enabling people with great software.

Describe the conference in 3 words? collaboration, celebration, community

Next up is Tero Kojo, the Qt community manager.

How do you think the gathering of four communities can create an impact as a whole?
Meeting people from other communities is important, as it creates a place to share ideas and find out what others are working on and doing.

What is special about Qt and its communities?
The Qt community strives to be a friendly and welcoming place. The most impressive thing in my view is that the community members go out of their way to help others with any problems they may run into. No matter how complicated or simple the issue is, someone always steps up to help.

How does Qt feel having all these four communities join in to make this
conference all together?
It feels great! We have on several years been chatting with KDE about doing something together, but getting four different communities to participate and gather in one location is absolutely fantastic. I've been going through the event schedule, and I really hope I get some time off from handling practicalities to listen to some of the sessions. I can't believe how many different and interesting topics there are!

What is in store for Qt after this big conference?
Lots of things coming in the autumn. The biggest one being the Qt World Summit in San Francisco in October. That is the main Qt event of the year! Also developers are hard at work for the next release of Qt, 5.8.

Describe the conference in 3 words?
Meeting place of great communities!

Then we have Frances Tait, who is the event organizer for KDAB and has over 15 years of experience as a scenario based strategy consultant and facilitator.

Do you think this conference will contribute to KDAB?
Our CEO, Kalle Dalheimer was one of the original founders of KDE and KDAB has long been a contributor and supporter of the Qt community, so we have strong links right from the start. KDABians attending QtCon will benefit from the cross-community exchange of knowledge and ideas which can only nourish the core excellence that KDAB is known for. They also count on having fun, which is always good.

What is special about KDAB and its community?
KDAB first and foremost is a learning community and that’s why people like being with us. One of our company principles is that our engineers can work from wherever they want to, and with flexible working hours which gives great freedom. Nonetheless many choose to base themselves around one of our offices, which we have in Germany, France, UK, Sweden and the US so they get social contact as well. We make a point of meeting up, all of us, at least once a year and at other times in team meetings and events, so that everybody feels part of the KDAB family. Our internal communications and ways of working together mean that support is always there when needed and someone is usually able to help solve that tricky problem a client suddenly comes up with when you’re out in the field. We also like cake.. and ice cream. And did I mention the beer?

As an event specialist, what do you think is attractive for attendees in joining this conference?
There’s an enormous range of top talks, unprecedented, really, across commercial, open source and free software. A great opportunity to meet new people and learn new things in a superb venue with great food.

Describe the conference in 3 words?
Awesome, inspiring, enriching.

Felix Paul Kühne is one of VLC’s Lead Developers and their organization is celebrating their 15th year during the conference.

What is in store for VLC after celebrating their 15th year?
In fact, VideoLAN and VLC are a lot older than 15 years, dating back to a student project initiating in 1995. VLC and VideoLAN became fully open source under GPLv2 on Feb 1 2001 thanks to a special permission from the dead of École Centrale Paris. Despite diversification of devices and operating systems, we want to continue to live up to our mission statement “plays everything, everywhere” with recent additions of VLC for Xbox and Apple TV to VLC’s growing cone family. As many “grown-up” open-source projects developed by students and young professionals, we will see a generational shift with new talent moving VideoLAN’s projects to unknown endeavors, potentially leading to an entire VLC ecosystem. Historically, VideoLAN is a home for multimedia enthusiasts to experiment, which we are constantly fostering to keep the dynamics and excitement.

As an organizer of this conference, what are your thoughts on VLC collaborating with other software communities?
VideoLAN is an umbrella for a large number of open source projects and communities. VLC’s unmatched feature set and popularity would not have been possible without thorough integration and interaction with a large number of other software communities. To date, VLC’s depends up to 130 directly used packages contributed by uncountable numbers of volunteers. On the other hand, VLC’s code base serves as the base for an equally large number of communities depending on us. One of the major goals of the VideoLAN non-profit organization is to support both ends of the spectrum through collaboration, stable development processes, common sprints and more.

Describe the QtCon in 3 words?
Qt Con Playground

What is special about VLC and its community?
VLC’s the most popular French software worldwide and the only major open source project without large scale commercial support. All our fiscal needs are met through voluntary donations from our users, we don’t have any employees and no business model.

and finally we have, Erik Albers, the community builder of the FSFE.

What do you think is FSFE's major impact?
We are changing the perception that software is just technology by highlighting the social, political, and economic aspect of software. Together with other organisations we help more people to understand how Free Software contributes to freedom, transparency, and self-determination. We enhance users' rights by abolishing barriers to Free Software adoption. For those areas we provide resources to enable everyone to further promote Free Software in Europe.

What is special about FSFE and its community?
The FSFE is a pan-European organisation and our community is driven by the wish to empower users to control technology. We have different cultural and political backgrounds, but we are united in the idea to fight for users and software freedom - at the local levels, as well as on the European level. This common ground comes with a very friendly and welcoming attitude.

Describe the conference in 3 words?
Business, community, politics.

The FSFE is celebrating 15 years of existence during the conference, what are the popular highlights that you are commemorating?
Oh this list is too long to be reproduced here. But, during my time with the FSFE for sure our Free Your Android campaign was a remarkable public activity to let people realise how important their mobile computers are and how they can regain control over such devices. Lots of Free Software supporters worked with us to get rid of proprietary software advertisement from over 1000 websites of the public administration. In general, we get better in campaigning with every year we do and I remember impressive and community-driven Ask-Your-Candidates campaigns as well as the European Free-Software-Pactthat we ran in collaboration with other political Free Software organisations. Our I love Free Software Day has in the meantime grown into a prominent annual day inside the Free Software community to say thank you to all of us and our commitments.

What is after the conference, for the FSFE?
We will relax a bit so we have enough energy to continue with our long-term work. For example balancing the radio lockdown directive or talking with EU institutions and governments about the dangers of FRAND for Free Software. Beside that we hope to get enough donations so we can intensify our work to make sure that publicly financed software is released under Free Software licenses.