Archive for August, 2009 Welcome new users.

Monday, August 31st, 2009

The Nokia N900 is more targeted to the mass market than any of the Nokia Internet Tablets before. This means that Maemo will see new users, with different levels of knowledge, and involvement.
Some will just use their device and will not be interested in contact with other users.
Some will ask questions on mailing lists or on Talk (I myself started getting involved in Open Source by asking for a feature on a mailing list back in the days). As most people out there are used to Microsoft Windows this might also bring up some basic Linux questions.
Some people will file a feature request or bug report for their very first time as they have never used a bugtracker or brainstorm before, not knowing the difference between bugtrackers and support forums.
Some people will develop new software for the Maemo platform or port their application.

So, what can we do?

The community should be welcoming by being helpful, friendly and patient. Open-source culture is different compared to “normal”, closed-source corporate companies, both in positive and negative terms.

Nokia should help making the Maemo platform successful by improving working in the community instead of just with the community.
Nokia developers should not only be allowed, but encouraged (keep in mind that many Nokia developers don’t have an open-source background) by their managers to spend a few minutes every day on the public mailing lists, in the forum, in Bugzilla.
At the beginning some might think that this is a waste of time, but sharing technical knowledge that Nokians have, plus talking directly to users and 3rd party developers is crucial for the success of the platform.
And Nokia should provide good public API documentation, of course – in the past, time for this has been missing sometimes due to tight schedules. is a nice vibrant community, ready to grow.
Maemo is a platform with great potential.

Let’s welcome new folks and give them a good reason to stay with us.

Photo credit: mcclouds (Creative Commons)

The N900 & Maemo 5

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

It’s announced.
And I’m proud to be part of it.
See it in action.

Wishlist: Evolution Instant Messaging integration

Friday, August 14th, 2009

Apart from the missing code required to sync evolution-data-server’s contacts with Empathy (Nat once wrote an Evolution plugin for Pidgin but nowadays Empathy and the Telepathy stack are official part of the GNOME platform) I’ve spent an evening a few weeks ago thinking about how I’d expect integration of Instant Messaging in the Contacts User Interface of Evolution while having a beer in my favorite club. Calling the currently available options poor is an euphemism – they simply do not exist. Evolution developers have neither plans nor time to work on such stuff for Evolution 2.30 so I was in the mood to come up with some mockups of what I’d expect.

Sometimes I wish GNOME had a bounty program (either separate or integrated in Bugzilla) so I could say “If you code this as an Evolution Plugin and it gets accepted by maintainers you get xxx EUR”. That idea is obviously still missing mentors that help the coder with implementation issues though.

Evolution Mail Composer

Current Dropdown:

Current Evolution Mail Composer

New Dropdown:

New Evolution Mail Composer

New Context Menu:

New Evolution Mail Composer Context Menu

Evolution Contacts


Current Evolution Contacts

New, with context menus:

New Evolution Contacts with Context Menus

GNOME 3 update + Module proposals welcome now!

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

Propose your module for GNOME now

Module proposal period for the next GNOME release has started!

If you are a maintainer of a module that you want to propose for official inclusion in GNOME: Do it now! See the wiki for the guidelines. Also note that you will receive slightly less negative feedback if you avoid using deprecated modules (libbonobo/ui, libgnome/ui, libgnomecanvas, libart_lpgl, gnome-vfs, libgnomeprint/ui, esound, orbit, libglade) and deprecated Glib and GTK+ symbols. ;-)

And now another (last?) GNOME 3 status update before 2.28 will hit the streets…
See also the cleanup stats and the 2.27/2.29 schedule.

Killing Bonobo

If I got everything right I could create the following categories for the GNOME modules that still depend on Bonobo/Orbit:

  • A11Y

    This seems to cover orca, dasher, gok, mousetweaks, accerciser and gnome-session. At-spi, gnome-mag and gnome-speech might die and get replaced by at-spi2, gnome-shell and speech-dispatcher. libgail-gnome has already died by getting integrated into gtk+ (Orca was the last consumer and got fixed two weeks ago).
    See here for a general overview.
  • gnome-panel

    gnome-panel blocks the Bonobo dependencies of bug-buddy, gnome-applets, seahorse-plugins, pessulus, sabayon, gdm, and empathy. It is likely that gnome-panel will get replaced by gnome-shell for GNOME 3 (but there is no final decision yet).
  • Evolution, Evolution-Data-Server, Evolution-Exchange

    Evolution and friends just branched for GNOME 2.28.x so the kill-bonobo and dbus-hybrid branches now can get merged into (unstable) master. After that it will be a bit easier to see how much work is left.
  • gconf

    Probably very ugly to fix. dconf might be quite ready (but developers a bit too silent in communicating that). Crossing fingers for a status report. It could also make sense to switch to the gconf-dbus branch in the meantime.
  • Legacy
    • gnome-python-desktop (as a binding)
    • glade3 (as a tool to create applications)
  • Other modules that are not officially part of GNOME

    Wondering about atomix, balsa, ghex, gnumeric, gossip and gthumb.
    Bug reports are mostly filed (yes, we also do care about warning the maintainers of modules that use deprecated functionality and are not officially part of GNOME despite of sometimes unfriendly “I don’t care about your GNOME3 stuff, why did you file this at all?” answers).
    Planner has a patch awaiting review/commit.

Killing deprecated GTK+/Glib symbols

  • gnome-games currently looks worst. It depends on the release of a new ggz tarball now that ggz patches have landed.
  • metacity seems to be in need of more love – patches welcome which might be partially shared with mutter.
  • gedit is a bit reluctant to get in the patches too early because it would change UI behaviour. Understandable.

Killing libglade

The aim for August 24 is to have less than 10 modules still depending on libglade. Currently we still have 16 modules left (only very few of them blocked by the gnome-druid migration that has to happen first). If you want to help you should provide a patch. Here’s a how-to.

Killing libgnome and libgnomeui

Apart from the bindings there are not many applications left (yelp, gnome-control-center and gok got ported in the last days), but we all know that the last steps are always the hardest ones, right?

A gnome-shell release

A fresh and cool tarball is now available.

Killing libgnomecanvas

Evolution heavily depends on libgnomecanvas. It is highly unlikely that this code will be rewritten for GNOME 3 so libgnomecanvas can either be kept deprecated but shipped in GNOME 3, or Evolution copies the code to its internal codebase. Note though that libgnomecanvas itself heavily depends on libart_lgpl which is also deprecated.


A rather unknown variable in the current equation as GTK+ does not have everything in place yet, hence it is currently still a moving target. See the wiki for more information and how to compile your module with the GSEAL macro. Maintainers are highly encouraged to try.
In general curious about the GTK+ status with regard to version 3. Hope to see an update about this next week.

Personal opinions on interesting modules

Modules that interest me and that could be interesting for GNOME 3 or later in alphabetic order and without any claim for completeness are:
dconf, gnome-do, gnome-global-menu, gnome-packagekit, gnome-scan, gnome-shell, tracker, vala, zeitgeist.
Just wanted to write this down somewhere as I tend to empty my brain on a weekly basis.

GNOME Bugsquad policy changes

Monday, August 10th, 2009

One week ago the GNOME Bugsquad had an IRC meeting initiated by Javier Jardón. The log can be found here.

To summarize the important decisions:

  • Bug reports in GNOME Bugzilla (not: enhancement requests) with 1 year without any activity will be set to NEEDINFO state and reporters will be asked to update the report’s status by testing again on a recent GNOME version. After 6 weeks without response these reports can be closed as RESOLVED INCOMPLETE. A new stock answer will be made available for this.
  • There are many modules in GNOME Bugzilla that have not seen any code changes for years (except for translation updates). Bugsquad members will try to identify those obsolete/unmaintained modules and contact the maintainers. We expect a response within four weeks from the maintainers. Without a response the remaining reports will probably be closed as WONTFIX while explaining to the reporter that the module is not maintained anymore and will not receive any updates. I must admit that I have done this already before and complaints were fairly low (2 people when I mass-closed open gnome-vfs enhancement requests) or non-existing (e.g. when closing all open Scaffold bugs).
  • The “FIXED” stock answers will kindly ask bug reporters to verify the fix once it has landed in their distribution and if they have some time. The specific stock answers will be updated accordingly.

It was nice to discuss best practices and policies to have a less messy GNOME Bugzilla. Looking forward to our next meeting.

And PS: Hi to the Planet Fedora desktop readers.