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Interview with Kevin Ottens, Akademy Award winner

It is hopefully without question that KDAB loves KDE. We employ many KDE developers, who, as soon as they leave their computer at work, go on their computers again, just to do KDE work. At this years KDE conference in Tallinn one of our employees, Kevin Ottens, was given the Akademy Award for his contribution to KDE. First and foremost we would like to give our congratulations to Kevin for this well deserved award.

We asked Kevin a few questions to help the readers of this newsletter to get some more insight into what KDE involvement means. The interview covers what motivates developers to work on open source projects in their own time, Kevin’s contribition to the KDE project, and what it feels like to receive such an award.

Q: Kevin, again congratulations on your award, how does it feel?
A: I admit it came by surprise, I didn’t really expect that. It was an extremely positive experience though, a kind of “Oh? Looks like some people noticed I exist”. It’s definitely welcome in a volunteer based organization.

Q: What exactly did you get the award for?
A: I got this award for the work I have been doing in the KDE Frameworks effort as it is perceived to have long term value and importance for the future of the KDE community.

This effort is about reshaping the technologies KDE Applications are built upon to make them more modular and easier to reuse to the wider Qt ecosystem. In my opinion it has the potential to create a win-win situation for both communities.

Interestingly the work I’ve been putting in KDE Frameworks is less technical than what one would expect from me. It turns out to be more community driving work, I’m more or less acting like the coach pushing the team forward. When looking back at that work, it’s the culminating point of all my past contributions… it has roots in all of them (kdelibs maintainership, hardware integration, project management, University collaboration you name it).

Q: Can you explain to us why someone sane would spend a huge amount of their sparetime on KDE?
A: Well, there’s plenty of different reasons to spend sparetime with KDE. Depending who you ask you’ll likely get a different answer. For me it started with technical reasons, but if I stay it’s really for the people… in two different ways.

First, over the years I’ve developed friendship with quite a few of the people in the KDE community. Because of such strong bonds, you always get new innovative ideas and enveavors you get to share and pursue with those people. It never seems to dry up, and we came up with new things to try together.

Second, and I realized that rather soon in my involvement, the outcome of such a community is no less than crucial to the progress of mankind. Indeed, lots of people live in countries where free software is necessary… not because of its price, but because it can be adapted to their needs. And those countries being often too small of a market they’re completely ignored by western companies. Through Free Software they can adapt, stay away from vendor lock- in, and effectively fight against computer illiteracy. This way they can get access to knowledge consumption and production which is the base for progress.

I always try to think of those people when working with KDE. It’s what keeps the flame alive for me.




Categories: Interview / News

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