Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Fear and Loathing in KDE Land?

Full disclosure: My only contributions to KDE project are several bug reports and perhaps a few new users. So my qualifications to comment on the issue is of course almost non-existent. But hey, I've been a faithful KDE user for all these years, and so I think I have some right to make comments at least from a user's perspective.

There's been some discussions on KDE land regarding replacing Nepomuk (or Nepomuk-KDE for the politically correct) with a new project named Baloo.

The Baloo project is headed by KDE developer Vishesh Handa, who apparently was very much involved in Nepomuk as well. Baloo wasn't announced officially to the 'public' till now, but thanks to recent Phoronix articles, it's been gaining some attention. The article titled "KDE's Nepomuk Doesn't Seem To Have A Future" went on to say:

"It appears there isn't much of a future left to KDE's Nepomuk framework that was developed at a cost of 17 million Euros... It's going to be replaced going forward in the KDE land."

The tone of the article hasn't pleased everybody. Now there's some storm on KDE promo mailing list with KDE guru Aaron Seigo suggesting that the new project should've been branded as just another version of Nepomuk. Many members, and especially Vishesh Handa, the project maintainer are opposed to this idea and want Baloo to remain as a new project, one that replaces Nepomuk.

I've been a moderate fan of Seigo, but reading through the mailing list, I couldn't stand the stink of his PR bullshit.

Some things that everybody (even Seigo) seem to agree on:
  • Nepomuk wasn't the greatest piece of software
  • It hasn't got any love from users
  • The 'semantic features' introduced by Nepomuk had few users
  • Baloo is significantly better and faster than Nepomuk ever was

As for me, the very news that Nepomuk is going to be removed is reason to rejoice. Nepomuk was a f**ked-up useless piece of bloat-ware. For some reason, its proponents were pushing the idea that 'rating and tagging your files' was the next big thing that users want to do. Then there was this desktop indexing/search that would suck the juice out of your desktop experience - something Java does to your online experience.
In fact, disabling desktop search and Nepomuk is the first thing I do after a fresh installation of Fedora. I wonder if Nepomuk had as many happy users as it had developers and PR dudes!

Seigo seems to think that Nepomuk-KDE (and KDE's association with Europian Union project) is something to boast about and he apparently fears that the PR team would lose this if they are to switch to Baloo. He proposes to brand Baloo as Nepomuk v2 (or v3 or whatever) so that the awkward situation of accepting Nepomuk's failure can be avoided or at least soothed.

I'd say that a press release announcing the death of Nepomuk-KDE would only evoke positive emotions from users. One may hide behind euphemisms and other PR tricks, but the facts of the case are undisputed.

Read the mailing list entries:


  1. Nepomuk's replacement, Baloo, also sucks. I don't want what it's offering and, most importantly, I don't appreciate that this useless (to me) garbage is stifling the performance of everything else. If it had the decency to operate invisibly in the background, without impacting anything else, then even if I didn't use it, at least I wouldn't be reminded of its existence.

    1. Oops.. sorry to hear that Baloo isn't working too well for you. I'll probably give it a go once it's available from official Fedora distribution. Anyway, at least you can disable it if you don't want to use it. That's what I always do.

      I don't think there'll be any performance impact once you disable indexing and desktop search from system settings. Am I wrong here?

    2. Could you please report bugs regarding how it was 'stifling your performance'? Also, considering that we still don't have a release until another week, you cannot really say it "sucks". You're trying out the beta version of a software.

      Baloo can be disabled just like everything else.

    3. As explained in Vishesh's blog, the KCM module no longer has an option to disable semantic search :-(
      It can still be disabled if you add your home directory to the list of excluded folders.

      I don't think the situation is optimal and in line with KDE's general philosophy of allowing the user to tweak everything while providing sane defaults.

  2. Siego -> Seigo.

    On the subject. I hope at least baloo will be possible to uninstall. As for now it doesn't even have a setting to turn it off.

    1. Thanks. It's corrected now.

      No setting to turn it off? Huh? That is indeed disastrous. The only good thing about nepomuk-kde/strigi was that one could turn it off.

    2. It seems that if you add your home directory to the list of excluded folders, baloo will be disabled.

  3. Did not work for me... I disabled my home directory and it still churned away...even after a reboot. So, I just moved all the binaries in the /usr/bin/ for baloo to a dummy folder. I DO NOT WANT THAT on my system and yes those were yelling all caps for a reason.... If you are not a guru user, then maybe baloo is for you. But for the sake of all hard drives, battery life, etc... make an option to completely disable it. Or I suppose we can all go back to using Gnome...

    1. and the akonadi_file_indexer ... and possibly all the other akonadi_binaries... Hmmm, gnome is looking pretty good about now.

    2. Hmm.. Which distro do you use? Do they have a separete package for Baloo/kde-semantic-search that can be uninstalled?

    3. Arch ...
      when attempting removal of baloo, this is the result:

      error: failed to prepare transaction (could not satisfy dependencies)
      :: baloo-widgets: requires baloo
      :: kactivities: requires baloo
      :: kdegraphics-gwenview: requires baloo
      :: kdepim-libkdepim: requires baloo

      and going further to issue the "pacman -Rsc baloo" which cascades down all dependencies, we get this result:

      So the root of the matter is that KDE depends on baloo now it seems.

      My renaming the files has worked for now, but it should be corrected Time to switch to Gentoo or recompile KDE without the baloo. It really does suck down far too many resources on a system.

    4. Posted blurb / rant on Arch forum... we'll see what comes of it.

  4. Frankly, I don't really give a rat's behind what these "tools" do, as far as I'm concerned they are useless bloatware. I just wish the distros would stop installing them by default. I've been driving *nix systems for 35 years, and never once have I had a need or a desire for such a thing, and don't, quite frankly see one. Fine, if people want to punish themselves with this rubish, then then can feel free to install the package, but please let's don't punish people up front!...sheesh!