As that more-senior KDE contributor wrote on Reddit, keep looking through the bug reports. Maybe you’ll find one you can fix.

I spent some time going through the day’s bug reports, trying to confirm or replicate the reported error. I ran across a number of interesting problems. Some I could recreate, others I couldn’t.

At the same time, I was teaching myself how to code plasmoids. I made two just for my own use. One changes your screen resolution by querying xrandr, listing the available resolutions, and issuing the command following a mouse click. I needed it because I work by remote, and NoMachine wouldn’t always reconnect at my preferred resolution. I went ahead and added the ability to filter the resolution choices by aspect ratio (16:10, 16:9, etc.) It works pretty well.

The other checks uptime and displays your system uptime in a small horizontal panel widget. While doing this, I learned how to code regular expressions in JavaScript. I wanted the uptime display as condensed as possible, so I had to regex every possible variation that uptime would spit out. At this time, I was still tinkering with my machine a lot, and there was a lot of rebooting.

I ended up polishing them enough to submit them to for the world to download. Each one is sitting at the default 50% enthusiasm score, so ScreenRez and Uptimer didn’t exactly set the world on fire.

But I was learning QML, its quirks and complications.

I continued to work the day’s reported bugs, seeing what I could see. Then I found one. It seemed straightforward enough – a combo box in a plasmoid was too small and the option text was getting cut off. I figured I could fix it.

I spent a day hunting around, trying to figure out if I needed permission to work on it. Or to get it assigned to me, something like that. Finally someone on IRC told me, “You don’t need permission to fix something, just go fix it.”

And so I got to work. It was one of the stock plasmoids, so I made a copy of what was installed on my system and started picking it apart.

QML elements can be tricky to resize and align, at least in my limited experience. Since everything is a child of something else, various properties of the parent dictate how the child is going to behave. Just like real life, I guess. Getting that combo box to accept a size bigger than the default was trickier than I’d assumed.

But I finally got it. And fixed a related problem where the description of the chosen option wasn’t updating like it should. And even changed a default setting to a more sensible and less-random seeming number.

This was Bug 390571, and I fixed it. I got a little education from David Edmundson, one of the Plasma & plasmoid gurus. It’ll be distributed as part of Plasma 5.13.

After years of using and admiring open-source software, I’d realized a small version of a personal goal: contributing something back. It’s a small fix to a minor widget for your desktop. I didn’t reinvent the wheel or cure cancer or radically shake up the world of KDE development. But should you choose to use Media Frame to display photos in a widget on your desktop, I had a hand it making it work right and be user-friendly.

That’s pretty cool.

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