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15-Minute Bug Initiative update

Thursday, 8 February 2024 | Nate Graham

A tad over two years ago, I revealed the 15-Minute Bug Initiative–an attempt to improve the out-of-the box user experience for Plasma by focusing on fixing obvious papercut issues. The idea was to crush the meme of “KDE is buggy” the same way we systematically addressed similar complaints like “KDE is ugly” and “KDE is bloated” in years past.

Well, it’s been two years, so how did it go? Let’s talk about it! First some numbers, because we like numbers:

  • Starting number of bugs: 92
  • Current number of bugs: 32
  • Total number of bugs fixed (because more were added over time): 231
  • Percent of all total 15-minute bugs that have been fixed: 87.8%

(note if you’re from the future: if you visit those links, some numbers may be different–hopefully lower for the second one and higher for the third one!)

Wow! That’s quite a few. So this initiative looks like it’s been a real success so far! Nevertheless, 32 bug reports remain open, so we can’t declare victory yet. These are some of the stubbornest, hardest-to-fix bugs that require major re-architecting, working upstream, or similarly challenging efforts. Hopefully the pace of improvement seen over these years has managed to convince you that they’ll eventually be resolved as well.

“Wait a minute, Plasma is still buggy AF you n00b”

Keep in mind these aren’t all the bug reports in the world we can fix (there are over 5000 of them for Plasma and Plasma-aligned software alone), just the ones I and some others have deemed to be most obvious to the average user! If you’re not an average user because you have three monitors arranged in a weird shape, each plugged into a different GPU from a different vendor and its own different DPI, scale factors, and custom Plasma panels, plus 4 activities and 9 virtual desktops and 6 internal disks, only half of which automount, and 12 apps set to autostart, and each of them is installed onto different disks, 15 window rules, and finally a custom theming setup including Kvantum themes and Aurorae window decorations… then yeah, you’re probably going to experience some more bugs compared to a more typical user who doesn’t have such a complex setup!

That’s okay. We care about you too, and we do work on those kinds of more esoteric bugs because many of us also have complex setups! But progress here will be necessarily slower, because the complex setups are more varied, more unusual, and harder to debug. And let’s be honest here: those of us with setups like these are experts capable of working around most bugs we find, who really should be helping to investigate and fix them. Admit it, you know it’s true!

But in a way, this is good: it represents Plasma moving from “It’s generally buggy” to “it’s specifically buggy–buggy with only certain less common combinations of settings, rather than buggy in a way that anyone can find within 15 minutes of using a system with its default settings. Improving on that was the point of this initiative.

Next steps

Up until now we’ve been ignoring Wayland-only bugs here, because the Wayland session was not the default one. Well, with Plasma 6 that changes, so all of those Wayland-only issues that meet the loose criteria to be a 15-minute bug will be promoted. Similarly, current 15-minute bugs that are X11-only will be demoted. So sometime in the next few weeks, expect the list to shift around a bit.

Once the number gets down to 0, it will of course go up again periodically as new bugs are found or introduced. But this is great! It means we can whack them as they appear, rather than letting them pile up over time. In this way the list becomes a “rapid response needed” task list rather than a backlog we’re always behind on.

What happens with those development resources once the 15-minute Plasma bugs are under control? I have a plan, first articulated in the original announcement 2 years ago: extend the program to Frameworks bugs! There are quite a few candidates there too. And because frameworks bugs can affect Plasma and our vast app library, quality will go up overall.

Speaking of those apps, once the 15-minute Frameworks bugs are also down to zero or close to it, we can include app bugs. This will finally give us complete coverage! I have a dream that one day, we’ll have a stable and mostly bug-free UI layer and our limited development resources can be focused more on performance work, sustainably-crafted new features, usability, more standardized styling, etc. I think it’s doubtful we can get there while we’re still battling routine bugs all the time.

How you can help

As always, help work on the existing 15-minute bugs if you can! If not, it’s always useful to work on bug triaging, so that more of those issues that will eventually become 15-minute bugs can get discovered. Another impactful way is to donate to KDE e.V., the nonprofit that support KDE on a ridiculously small budget. We’re still running the Plasma 6 fundraiser which represents a great way to donate!