I enjoy running my Desktop under Linux. And while I am a long-term KDE supporter, my desktop diverges from the standard KDE setup quite drastically: There are no “Activities”, no noticeable Plasmoids and nothing on the desktop except one folder view. This flexibility is exactly Linux greatest strength, but the average users neither needs nor want this. Wikipedia claims 1.19% desktop market share – a stagnation at best. I do not want it to go down. So who will give Linux Desktop a new push?
Canonical has recently started diverging drastically from other distributions – no KDE, no Gnome, just Unity including intentional AdWare and privacy issues and a built-in Software Shop. This un-unifying does not help Linux.
Now Valve has entered the Scene - providing Steam, developing the Linux based Steam Box, and doing native ports of their game engines and games. While at beta, Valve is already doing things the Linux way: You have desktop files, it integrates into the package system, installs requirements like 32-bit libs and so forth. Valves investment is a good thing. They are tackling many issues that bring Linux forward, for example pushing hardware vendors like NVidia or providing a better fullscreen mode .
So I will be positive and count Valve’s work as a second chance for Linux Desktop and Multimedia. Users are more likely considering Linux if there are well-known games around.
Half Life under Linux requires PulseAudio. In the middle: KMix OSD.
 Fullscreen mode has sometimes quirks:
- Unexpectedly leaving fullscreen. For example some Flashplayer applications or “Trine 2″ may leave fullscreen when you press KMix volume buttons (even w/o OSD)
- Problems with global keyboard shortcuts. Apps can sometimes take away keys from fullscreen applications
- Popups showing up. The image above shows the KMix OSD in Half Life.
Christmas time is always busy – this time another topic kept me even more busy. And that was the release of KDE 4.10 RC1. If you have some spare time you are invited to run a test drive. KDE is running an extra detailed beta-testing program throughout the 4.10 beta and RC releases. For many distributions, updating is quite simple.
If you do, I am happy to read your comments. While you test, I am doing media player compatibility tests, this time with Tomahawk.
Have a nice test drive,
Three weeks have passed since the Multimedia sprint, and KMix keeps happily evolving. The TODO list is melting at the same amazing speed as the bug list. There are about 20 items on my TODO list left, so lets show what we have of today.
Multimedia Control MPRIS2:
The multimedia control “MPRIS2″ is now officially part of KMix. It is activated by default on all systems that support it, for example you get ALSA + MPRIS2 or OSS + MPRIS2. Pulseaudio has its own application stream volume control, so MPRIS2 is disabled to avoid showing the same stream twice.
Sound Menu Setup:
Are you a power user, or do you rather prefer a classical single master control?
Everything is possible – configure your Sound Menu now. See the image on the right – it allows to select which Master Controls you will see, and whether you also want to see the application volumes to get a full Sound Menu.
Six days of talking, redesigning, eating (yum!) and hiking are over. It has been a nice time in the famous and fabulous Mattertal.
It was relaxing and productive, and has again proven why Sprints are so important. They help me to focus and to change perspective. For example I understood that the “communication infrastructure” needed a complete change. Without the Sprint I would have tackled that never-ever.
Also Sprints encourages cross-group work, for example José Millán Soto from the Accessibility team has added Accessibility support for KMix during the Sprint.
So what has been accomplished:
- Redesigned and implemented KMix’s new communication infrastructure
- Finalized the Sound Menu (I updated the screenshot in the former post)
- Fixed 5 bugs
- Closed all 2 Reviewboard task
- Agreed to update http://userbase.kde.org/KMix and use it as source for the handbook
A big “Thank You!” to the local organization team lead by Mario Fux, and the kitchen team for keeping us happy with Swiss food specials, and a never-ending stream of coffee and water.
Screenshot was updated on 2012-09-26 to show the final design.
Today I completely reworked KMix’s communication infrastructure. Changes like Volume level, Master control, and the options from the configuration dialog are now transported consistently to all GUI elements. Main window, Dock, Dock Popup (see image) and OSD all need to be informed, and doing this is now easy and extensible.
Additionally I addressed comments from yesterdays Post about the Sound Menu. I added a screenshot, so you can compare it yourself with the one in yesterdays Post.
The KDE Sprint in Randa is progressing well. Thanks to everybody who contributed on the
KMix’s new Sound Menu was developed on the KDE Multimedia Sprint 2012 in Randa (CH).
funding Pledgie. A lot of topics are being discussed. And I have completed the Sound Menu in KMix. As you see in the screenshot I also implemented the function to restore volumes, which was formerly only available as a mockup picture.
It is midnight here in Randa, so I will postpone the rest of the news . Please be prepared for more news and check back often or subscribe to this Blog.
An exciting period is appraching fast – the KDE Multimedia Sprint in Switzerland:Events like these are important for a multitude of reasons – knowledge transfer, socializing, architectural decsisions and last but not least to keep up the fun and spirit. Its a time to shut off all other activities and devote full time to you, the dear user of our applications. There is a funding pledge at Pledgie, so if you ever wondered if you could help in any way, please visit Pledgie:
Do you still have not the faintest idea what is going on and why supporting it would be a good idea? Read on in the folowing links:
My personal agenda for KMix has always been to provide a full-featured, but extremely simple mixer to all Users. And I sincerely hope I have served you well. Now KMix is nearly adult (16 years since birth ) and quite mature and feature-complete. I am now refining my view of what I want to accomplish:
KMix was always dedicated to simplicity and ease of use – rather not support it than create a usability hazard. Currently I continue to polish the existing features, for example the configuration dialog contains helpful hints and hides options depending on the system setup.
Update: Due to popular demand, I simplified the “Autostart” option, including auto-detecting autostart possibility.
Independent releases from KDE core releases
Nowadays KMix development is independent from KDE core development. With its own GIT repository, I will try to avoid branches and let distributions always ship the newest version. Hopefully it is possible for distributions to follow this scheme. KMix will use Feature Switches to disable unfinished features instead of developing the features in branches.
The long term Milestone plan: A final version: KMix v5 including Plasmoid
I am planning to develop KMix until KMix v5 and then put it on maintenance mode. This means, I will add and complete some features and do a lot of polishing until KMix v5. After that I will do bug fixing only. Features will be a very extraordinary event from then on. Igor Poboiko’s KMix Plasmoid is definitely planned as an included feature.
Recently I needed to update my Operating System. As openSUSE 12.2 got delayed I decided to give Ubuntu a shot – everybody either hates or loves the Unity desktop, so I wanted to find out what’s the buzz about it. Interestingly enough, I got more than I bargained for. I got a glance on todays desktop compatibility.
All in all, Cross-Desktop works fine nowadays, but I found some nasty glitches:
- The mouse wheel does not work at all
Why? The Tray specification does not cover the mouse wheel.
Solutions: Implement protocol in KMix and/or standardize by freedesktop.org
- There is no KMix volume popup
Why? The Unity desktop treats both mouse buttons the same, and pop up the KMix menu.
Solution: Replace menu by volume popup, as the former only duplicates functionality.
- I had to add autostart manually on Ubuntu. On openSUSE you cannot avoid Autostart via GUI
Solution: Implement GUI option for avoiding autostart. Write a user file for autostarting
KMix’s Top Secret Features is a new Mini series about some of the very cool and useful features in KMix. It is targeted at becoming part of KMix’s new official documentation, which is part of my Agenda of the KDE Multimedia Sprint 2012.
KMix Tray with four Volume Preset Buttons (Mockup). You can already use Volume Presets via Keyboard Shortcut.
Can a mere Mixer have any surprising features, you might ask. This “Top Secret Features” article series will tell you – I hope you will be pleasantly surprised. Here is part #1.
Part #1 – Volume Presets
What is the best and fastest way to adapt your computer to your individual Multimedia needs, like music playback, working, recording or softening the volume in the evening?
The best would be let the computer do it automatically – alas it is not feasible for most situations. So the next best thing is to adjust your environment quickly with one mouse press or one keyboard shortcut.
With KMix can do so. Simply press CTRL-1 to restore the first volume preset, and CTRL-Shift-1 to store it. More volume presets are available using 2, 3 and 4 instead of 1. If you want to use it frequently you will want to create a global keyboard shortcut, which is possible from the KMix Main menu. If requested I will add a direct access via mouse like shown in the mockup to the right.