Gran Canaria Desktop Summit 2009 – The Nepomuk Perspective


Now I can look back and say: “I have been there. I have witnessed the first joint conference of the two biggest players in open-source desktop software: KDE and Gnome.” And I can tell you: it was good. I personally think it makes a lot of sense to have the conference together. After all it helps a lot in creating inter-desktop relationships and projects. A topic that is especially interesting to me since the Tracker project is also going towards the semantic desktop these days (and dare I say it is as a result of our work?) and carries in its wake projects like Beagle or Zeitgeist. Thus, the GCDS was an opportunity to meet with people from Tracker to discuss some of the many topics we deal with every day. I also had the opportunity to meet some KDE newbies, eager youngsters wanting to work on KDE and also Nepomuk. I was, of course, delighted. One idea floting around at a party in the evening was the smarter caching of thumbnails using Nepomuk information.

Anyway, I am a technical blogger, a geek struggling to deliver the cold facts (and failing later down this very page). So let’s look at the GCDS from a more technical point of view:

Shared/Desktop/Nepomuk Ontologies – In Agreement

I meantioned already that I met with a bunch of the Tracker guys and had some nice chats (this is really not a cold hard fact now, is it?). We discussed a possible shared D-Bus API for metadata storage on the desktop which looks like a project for next year and we also discussed and agreed on the shared ontologies project. Now, the ontologies have been a problem for a long time. I already blogged about how the Nepomuk vs. Xesam discussion was settled. We discussed the problem in length on the Xesam mailing list. We created the OSCAF project on sourceforge and even moved over the Nepomuk ontologies from the Nepomuk dev server. But there was no consensus so far. No real development took place. At the GCDS we fixed that. We agreed on a layout for the subversion repository, on a packaging structure, on a file format, and even on a name for the package (we will call it shared-ontologies to match the already existing shared-mimetypes package). After we settle the last tidbits we can start tackling those problems we already have in the bug tracker and get the Nepomuk ontologies ready for shared usage in KDE and Gnome.

A Talk About Practical Nepomuk

At Monday evening I had my talk about Nepomuk. I tried to give a more practical talk which followed a simple outline of three main points:

  1. Why should I use Nepomuk?
  2. What should I use Nepomuk for?
  3. How should I use Nepomuk?

I think this went quite well except for the fact that I am pretty sure that I was robbed of a couple of minutes. I don’t think that I spoke for half an hour. So we did not have much time for questions in the end which was a pity. I am pretty sure we could have had a nice discussion. Well, there will be more possibilities for that soon (see below). Apart from my talk Laura Dragan gave two lightning talks about Konduit and Semnotes and a talk on her new project: semantic context menus in KDE.

The Place of Nepomuk in KDE’s Future

Nepomuk was mentioned in quite a few talks. It seems people are slowly adapting to the ideas and wanting to integrate Nepomuk features (not only the almighty Akonadi-front). This was also backed by Sebastian Kügler’s keynote on The Momentum of KDE. He talked about the achievements of the KDE project in the last year and what is targeted for the coming year. He mentioned a survey Aaron made and which included that roughly half of the KDE projects he interviewed have plans to integrate Nepomuk in some form. And then suddenly there was one slide which had only two things on it: 1. the Nepomuk logo and 2. the words “Semantic Desktop”. And as if that was not already enough of a booster for my ego he asked me to stand up so everyone could see me. Now this is the part where I derive from my righteous path of hard cold facts and wander into a realm of egomania: it felt good.

Well, come back down here brain. Let us tell the nice readers the really good part: there is funding for one or two more Nepomuk workshops this year! I am very excited about that and cannot wait to get started with the planning for the next one (probably sometime in September taking place in Paris). So if you missed the first workshop or thought it was not for you, maybe the second one is!

And finally: the social aspect

I told you I would fail. I simply have to tell you how nice it has been to see so many familiar faces, to meet so many new people and to finally have a face connected to an irc nick or an email address. I am sorry that I could not properly say goodbye to all I would have liked to. So please know that I was happy I was to see you and hope to see you again soon. Maybe at the next Nepomuk workshop.

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12 thoughts on “Gran Canaria Desktop Summit 2009 – The Nepomuk Perspective

  1. Congrats. Sure if you ask users the two most wanted things in KDE4 currently is a solid k3b and nepomuk. Speaking of projects loosley affiliated with you. What’s konduit? I see your name on the project page can you blog about it and it’s intended use/audience at some point?

    Nothing special just cold hard facts :)

    • Hm, didn’t I blog about that already at some point? Hm, apparently I did not. Well, maybe I should. But the basic idea is that you have a lot of small boxes that create, modify, or consume data. You then plug these boxes together to create more complex data flows. It is build on plasma. Thus, the end goal is to have it on the desktop. But development is more or less stalled. I wrote the core system for DERI Galway, they improved it a bit and made it publishable, won a price for best something with it, and now I think it just sits there and waits for a kind soul to finish it.

  2. Nepomuk has a dangerously high potential of being a trainwreck in my opinon. Right now all eggs are being put into virtuoso backend out of what looks like necessity because of performance.

    After actually using Nepomuk in daily use as a user, anyone can quickly realize the problems.. the sesame2 database and index can get large in size but that is the least of the problems. Programs stall for up to half a minute after instigating nepomuk tagging, after only just 5GB database and good performance computer just a year old.. dolphin can get very sluggish just navigating with the informtion panel open, etc.

    If virtuoso isn’t a miracle solution I don’t know how it’s going to pass the end user first impressions smell test.. even worse the thought Nepomuk gets pushed out too early..

    I assume people are working hard doing great work and recognize the bottleneck too..I’m just worried about Nepomuk right now.. I don’t want to see it fail

    • Yeah virtuoso seems to be the best solution. At least it seems to be able to handle large RDF datasets such as dbpedia.org. Also tracker guys are trying to implement a light-weight RDF backend over sqlite. So it’s not as bad as it may appear ;)

  3. Hi !

    I’m absolutely thrilled about nepomuk : this is what, IMO, will make KDE innovate and a next-generation desktop. No other desktop currently propose similar features, including the proprietary ones. I hope the work can continue and that future version of KDE includes more and more KDE integration.

    That said, I agree with namby. I’ve been using nepomuk as a user for several months now and, unfortunately, I gave up only because of the poor performances. I had to disable it, I could not stand anymore the sluggish dolphin and computer because of indexing and tag/comments fetching in dolphin (indeed freezing for more than a minute sometimes). It’s really a shame because tagging files is really useful. And I have a powerful computer.

    So, in the end, in order for Nepomuk to succeed I really think it needs to focus on performance improvement, otherwise nobody will be able to use it, regardless of how cool and useful it it.

    I hope I don’t sound rude. I know you are aware of that. I’m hoping to add value to the cause of performance :)

    Thank you for all what you’re doing for free software, it’s greatly appreciated !

  4. “I had my talk about Nepomuk”

    Is it online somewhere? Neither Google nor the somewhat busted GCDS site can find it.

  5. Everything is getting really exciting!
    And, by the way, if the next meeting will be after the first half of september, well, then I may be there too!

  6. Pingback: Links 23/07/2009: Sony Ericsson Dumps Windows for Linux, US Free Software Coalition Formed | Boycott Novell

  7. Pingback: What We Did Last Summer (And the Rest of 2009) – A Look Back Onto the Nepomuk Development Year With an Obscenely Long Title « Trueg's Blog

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