Using git while working on KDE 5
Even though I caught a bad cold (luckily, it was not the flu as I feared at first) I managed to do a lot of prepping for new KDE 5 packages (Frameworks, Plasma, Applications) since last week.
The way I tackled KDE updates in the past, was to update the sources, check the continued need of patches used for prior releases, and then start compiling and checking the build logs for errors – and responding to errors with fixes to the scripts, new patches or even new or updated dependencies. The core of the KDE.SlackBuild framework would remain largely unchanged, and it never took lots of going back and forth to recompile packages and get rid of errors or missing dependencies. KDE 4 has always been very easy to update (well, easy – experience helps a lot, plus the fact that I wrote the KDE.SlackBuild framework and know its ins and outs).
Working with the first test release of KDE 5, last summer, was a bit of a challenge, but I took it like I did with every change to a new release cycle of KDE 4 (4.11 -> 4.12 etc…): finding all available documentation on the available sources, their inter-dependencies as well as their other needs, and reading the comments and patch proposals on the KDE packagers mailing list. Going from KDE 4 to 5 was a heck of a lot more work than I initially anticipated (the hardest part was figuring out the tiering concept of the Frameworks, and of course there was a lot of cursing at the immaturity of the Plasma sources) but I considered that first release for Slackware as nothing more than a play-test. The preview packages were designed not to mess up your existing KDE 4 configuration, and easily un-installable. For me the important thing with this proof of concept was to convince myself that the updates to the KDE.SlackBuild framework were sound and I understood and was able to respond to the new reality of fragmented release cycles.
This last week, I have been targeting a more serious outcome. The upcoming KDE 5 packages for Slackware which I will be releasing sometime later this month, are meant to replace your good old KDE 4 installment, and therefore I need to deliver something that you can work with on a daily basis – a full set of applications in a functional Desktop Environment.
For that reason, I decided to call upon git to guide me through the process of making changes to the build framework. I needed to be able to reproduce my previous build environments in order to back-track after encountering errors or dead ends, and take a fork from there and try again. Putting the whole KDE.SlackBuild tree in a git repository was something I did in advance – see my previous post on KDE 5 – and since then, I have been pushing my changes to the repository continuously.
Definitely, this has saved me from finding myself in a dead end. What sometimes happened was that some application would compile into a package one time, and fail to compile the next iteration. Usually the cause would be an update of a dependency, the introduction of a patch to another package and more of that vague stuff. My git updates enabled me to inspect all updates I had done since a previous compilation attempt, and revert or adapt some of the changes I had made. In some other cases, the changes I could track graphically in the ktown cgit web interface showed cause and effect with more ease than back in the time when I would keep multiple directory trees of past attempts. A time saver!
I am currently compiling the last couple of packages that are part of the Applications. If they succeed, it means that the KDE.SlackBuild is ready and I have a full set of packages. If you ask whether they produce a wonderful Desktop Environment… I do not know yet 🙂 That will be the next step: when all packages are conceptually OK, I will fire up an X session in the virtual machine and see if the stuff I compiled works at all. If I get into a functional KDE 5 environment, that will be cause for celebration. But I expect that I will have issues in the VM (with sddm and/or kwin). If I see failure, I will try installing the packages on a real computer and see how it fares there.
I won’t release any packages until I am fully satisfied, but feel free to tinker with the KDE.SlackBuild in advance.