All posts by Dominik

Dominik is a PhD student at the Control Theory and Robotics Lab, TU Darmstadt, as part of the Research Training Group GKMM (GRK1362). My research focuses on state estimation in distributed systems. As hobby, I contribute to the KDE project and work on the Kate application and editor component.

Kate in KDE 4.8

About half a year ago, Kate 3.7 was released as part of KDE 4.7. Now that KDE 4.8 is about to be released, let’s have a look at what Kate brings in KDE 4.8.

Bug Fixes

According to KDE’s bug tracker, about 190 issues were solved. Taking a closer look, lots of small issues were fixed, amongst them:

Heavily Reworked Code Folding

As part of the Google Summer of Code (GSoC) 2011, the code folding code was improved. The main goal was to eliminate wrong folding behavior and fix all crashes while making the code more maintainable. We are quite happy with the results: Given the robust behavior, it now was possible to remember code folding state past sessions and during document reload. So folded regions are not lost anymore.

Additionally, the visual appearance was changed to be rather decent.

Improved Vi Mode

Also as part of the GSoC 2011, Kate’s vi input mode was heavily improved.

Search & Replace in Files

The “Find in Files” plugin is now replaced with the new “Search and Replace” plugin: It basically contains all the features of “Find in Files,” but additionally has the following features:

  • either search in files-on-disk, or in all the opened documents
  • all search matches are highlighted
  • replace support: matches can be (selectively) replaced with other text

Line Modification Indicators

Kate has a shiny new line modification system. Read all about it in this dedicated article. Mandatory screenshot:

Document Variable (Modeline) Editor

Kate (and thus all applications use Kate Part) can be configured by using document variables, also known as modelines. Since it’s hard to remember all the available keys and values, a dialog helps out in the config dialog. You can read about all the details in this dedicated post (screenshots).

Documentation Updates

T.C. Hollingworth put a huge amount of work into the Kate and KWrite handbook. Thus, the documentation is much more up-to-date and we hope it helps to learn using Kate effectively more quickly. The official version is available on

Current State & The Road Ahead

Apart from the upcoming KDE 4.8 release, Kate turned 10 years old this summer. All in all, we can proudly say that Kate has a solid code base in its current state. The smart ranges were replaced by the moving ranges. Code folding is more clean with less bugs. Our plugins got a lot of updates. The documentation has improved. Of course, more help is always welcome. So if you are interested in Kate development, you are welcome to build Kate from sources and join our team by sending patches.

Thanks to everyone contributing to this great release πŸ™‚

Plasma Active

At the desktop summit, many contributors got a ExoPC from Intel, but the software on it was quite a disappointment. Meanwhile, there is an official release of Plasma Active that fills the gap. So I sat down and installed it on the ExoPC. It really works quite nice and smooth. Applications like Amarok and a browser make it usable to hear music and do some quick internet surfing. I documented the steps in order to get everything up and running.

Running Plasma Active One from the USB Stick (LIVE version)

To get a quick impression, you can download the file plasma-active-one.iso from Then, plug in a USB stick to your computer and run the comand

sudo dd if=plasma-active-one.iso of=/dev/<DEVICE> bs=1M

where <DEVICE> corresponds to the USB stick (in my case, this is sdc). When finished, plug the USB stick into the upper USB port of your ExoPC and press the power on button. Make sure to tap “BBS” immediately and choose the USB stick as boot device. After this, choose the first entry to start the live version of Plasma Active.

Note: As of 2011-10-15, a installation with this live version is not possible (even though some documentation at some point or the splash screen suggest otherwise).

Installing Plasma Active on the Hard Disk

In order to get Plasma Active on your hard disk, you first have to install openSUSE 11.4. To this end,

  1. download the 4.7 GB DVD image of openSUSE 11.4 (32 bit), and copy it on the USB stick (in my case <DEVICE> = sdc):
    sudo dd if=openSUSE-11.4-DVD-i586.iso of=/dev/<DEVICE> bs=1M
  2. plug the USB stick into the upper USB port of your ExoPC and press the power on button
  3. make sure to tap “BBS” immediately and choose the USB stick as boot device
  4. after this, choose “Installation” to start the install process (you need an external keyboard on the lower USB port)
  5. follow the installation routine, choose the KDE desktop, do the partition setup, create a new user account and finally start the installation
  6. copying files takes some time. After this, the system finally boots to proceed with the automatic configuration.
  7. Finally, the system arrives in KDE. (From now on, the USB stick is not needed anymore.)

The touch screen does not work out of the box. Hence, I restarted X from the console with /etc/init.d/xdm restart. After that, the external mouse and keyboard worked (ignore the fact that you might be greeted by 6 crashed akonadi windows).

Once you have the internet up and running, proceed with 1.5 Installation on Balsam Professional or openSUSE. This updates your kernel to properly support the touchpad and replaces the default Plasma Desktop with Plasma Active.

Kudos to the Plasma Active team and all involved contributors and supporters!

PS: Although a text editor is probably not of much use on a tablet PC, KWrite is available πŸ™‚