Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Announcing gnome-contacts

Monday, June 13th, 2011

For the last few weeks we’ve been working on the new Gnome contacts applications. Allan day has done most of the design for this and blogged about this recently. Today I did the first release of the code for the Gnome 3.1.2 release.

The code is still at an early state, but most non-editing functionality works, even if its not fully polished. Here are some screenshots to show the current state:

While Allans post showed how the UI looks I’d like to go a bit deeper into the technical side.

Gnome contacts uses libfolks for all access to contacts information. Folks then aggregates multiple sources of contact data, linking pieces of contacts into a whole. For instance, via telepathy it gets IM contacts and information about them, including presence status. Traditional addressbook information is taken from evolution-data-server (currently in progress) It can also connect to social websites such as facebook or twitter via libsocialweb.

The social website integration at first seemed like a very interesting source of information for contacts, but it turns out that there are some non-technical problems with it. All these sites require an application specific key for API access that is generally not distributable, which is not very compatible with open source. Furthermore they have really harsh terms of service that limit what you can do with the service data and how you are able to present it (for instance twitter recently did some very harsh changes for 3rd party apps).

So, while libsocialweb support is still available in Gnome 3.2 if you manage to set it up we’re primary focusing on IM integration (telepathy) and regular vcard style contacts.

The default contacts store for libfolks will be evolution-data-server, which supports several backends including local databases and google contacts. These two will be the primary focus initially so that people can use local databases or easy sync with e.g. android devices via google contacts.

Tomorrow I’m leaving for the IM, social and contacts hackfest in Cambridge where I hope to continue working on the contacts application and the frameworks its using. Also, we want to work on integrating contacts with other applications, including the gnome shell. For instance, it would be very nice if contacts appeared in the gnome-shell overview search.

Broadway update 3

Monday, April 18th, 2011

This week saw some new updates of the broadway backend. We now have a in-browser window manager for the non-toplevel window mode, and the backend now support a bunch more features.

I don’t want to bore you with technical mumbo jumbo though. Lets see some video instead! (Original source availible here)

YouTube Preview Image
This will be the last update in a while, as I need to spend time on other things. The code is in a pretty good shape though. There are still things to do, but most things work.

Update: Tested this with safari on OSX, and it worked too. Also we now have nicer browser-side window decorations.

Broadway update 2

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

With Gnome 3.0 being released I had some time to spend on the broadway Gtk+ backend.

I managed to get rid of all roundtrips, which should make remote access snappier. I also fixed a bunch of bugs and added some missing features (including in-process cut and paste).

All that stuff  is nice, but not really all that interesting to show off.

However, I also implemented a cool idea I’ve had for a while about using chromeless browser windows with a canvas inside to get real toplevel windows. It turns out that this works pretty well. Although you have to disable the dom.disable_window_feature_open.location config option to get rid of the location bar at the top of each window.

Here is a short video showing how this looks: (original webm source here)

Cool, eh? Its all in git, go play with it.

PS: I have no idea why google thinks I’m in france…

Gnome 3.0 released!

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

I can’t believe we finally released 3.0! The last months have been crazy with energy. The whole project feels revitalized.

Also, I’ve been using gnome-shell now for some time, and I’m really liking it. Going back to gnome 2 now feels clumsy and painful. You should all try it out and make up your own mind, but please try to avoid immediately tweaking it to your old ways, instead try the new defaults for a while, you might like it more than you expect.

Make sure to read the cheat sheet to learn all the new tricks. I really like the new alt-<key over tab> feature!

I am GNOME

Multimonitor support in gnome shell

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

I recently switched to using gnome-shell in my day to day work, and so far I like it a lot. However, I use a dual monitor setup, and the gnome-shell support for multihead was very rudimentary.

Here is an example desktop with a 1920×1080 primary monitor and a 1280×1024 monitor on the left:

And the corresponding overview:

There are a number of issues here:

  • All previews are on a single monitor. So, while we have a lot of space for normal windows with two monitors we need to cram them all into part of a single monitor in overview mode. This makes the windows way to small to be usable.
  • Due to internal issues the part of the overview that shows the windows is always the same aspect ratio as the screen (i.e. the total size of all monitors). This is fine in the case of one monitor, but with two monitors it doesn’t match the monitor aspect ratio making windows even smaller.
  • During the overview switch the windows on the extra monitor fly a long way, making the animation not work really well, as well as breaking the natural grouping of related windows being on the same monitor.
  • The extra monitor space is unused
  • The thumbnails that normally slide in from the side in a slick way instead overlap the other monitor and its hard to make slide in since the mouse enters the other monitor instead.
  • The thumbnails include the “dead” area due to the different sized monitors and generally look weird.

Additionally, but not visible here:

  • Its hard to hit the hot corner on the primary monitor if there is a monitor to the left. (And to hit the menu in the right corner if there is a monitor to the right.)
  • If the top-left monitor is not the primary there is no hot corner in the easy to reach corner, instead you have to mouse into the primary and then try to hit the corner.
  • If another monitor is taller than the primary, its very hard to hit the message tray on the bottom of the primary monitor, as the pointer passed over to the dead area.
  • In most typical cases the external monitor is used to show something static, like always visible information, a presentation on a projector, or a movie on a TV. However, the extra monitors are connected to the same virtual workspaces as the primary, so when you switch workspace the apps on the extra monitors switch around too.

The last few weeks I’ve been working on this, and these changes have now landed in git.

Here is how it looks now:

And the overview:

We can see here:

  • There is a window overview on each monitor, showing the windows on that monitor.
  • The window overview area is not artificially constrained by aspect ratios but as large as it can be, so the windows are larger in the overview.
  • The thumbnails are always slided in if there is a monitor to the right of the primary monitor.
  • The thumbnails only show the primary monitor. This is because the whole workspace feature only affects the primary monitor. Windows on extra monitors stay in place when switching workspaces, only the primary monitor changes.

Additionally some things we can’t see:

  • Every monitor with a natural top-left corner (i.e. the top left monitor, or a monitor to the right that is taller but aligned at the bottom) gets a hot corner that activates the overview.
  • The ever-rocking ajax has added pointer barrier support to the Xserver for us. If this is available (he backported it to Fedora 15, yay!) we add one-sided barriers in the panel and the message tray so that its easier to hit these, even if there are monitors on the sides.
  • Additionally, as part of the pointer barrier support the Xserver now automatically blocks the mouse from entering the dead areas that are not shown on any monitor. This is great if monitors have different resolutions.

These are not enormous changes, but the difference in day to day use in a multimonitor setup is like day and night. These should be in the next release which is out soon, so if you’re a multimonitor user, do try it out!

Yo Dawg!

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

Yo dawg! I herd you like browsers, so i put a browser in your browser so you can browse while you browse.

Gtk3 vs HTML5

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

The last few weeks I’ve been working on an interesting new idea, hacking out a prototype.

The code is not really clean enough for public consumption yet, and a bunch of features are missing. However, its now at the stage where it can be demoed and evaluated.

I think the best way to introduce it is via a video: (original theora file)

Basically, its a backend for Gtk+ 3 that renders in a browser.

A more techincal description for the web geeks among us:

Each toplevel window is mapped to a canvas element, and the content in the windows is updated by streaming commands over a multipart/x-mixed-replace XMLHttpRequest that uses gzip Content-Encoding to compress the data. Window data is pushed as region copies (for scrolling) and image diffs. Images are sent as data: uris of uncompressed png data.

Input is gathered via dom events and sent to the server using websockets.

Right now this is Firefox 4 only, but it could be made to work in any browser with websockets.

Now, I want to know, Is this useful?

There are two basic ways to use this, you can either run your own apps on your own server and access it from anywhere (kinda like screen). Or you can put it on a public server that spawns a new instance of the app for every user (gimp on a webpage!).

If you had this technology, what cool stuff would you do with it? What apps would you run, and how would you use them?

Tracing glib

Monday, January 4th, 2010

I saw a blog entry where Krishnan Parthasarathi at sun played with static dtrace probes in glib and it seemed like a really nice thing. Also, the systemtap developers at Red Hat continue to kick ass, and I’ve long wanted to play around with their work. This seemed like a great thing to try it out on.

I’m running Fedora 12 here, and it includes systemtap 1.0 and utrace, so it support the same kind of static probes that dtrace does (in fact, the markers are source compatible with dtrace). So, I wrote an initial set of dtrace/systemtap probes and a systemtap tapset (a library for easier using the probes in systemtap) for glib and gobject.

Its kind of limited atm, but it lets you trace memory allocation in glib, gobject lifecycle issues and signal emissions. Already this lets you do some pretty cool things, like this alive.stp:

global alive
probe gobject.object_new {
 alive[type]++
}
probe gobject.object_finalize {
 alive[type]--
}
probe end {
  printf ("Alive objects: \n")
  foreach (a in alive) {
   if (alive[a] > 0)
     printf ("%d\t%s\n", alive[a], a)
  }
}

Which you can run like this:

stap alive.stp -c "gedit /etc/passwd"

Giving something that starts:

Alive objects: 
72   GParamObject
1    GdkDisplayManager
1    GdkDisplayX11
7    GParamPointer
17   GParamDouble
1    GdkScreenX11
...

Another example is signals.stp which is a simple example to look at signal emissions:

probe gobject.signal_emit {
 printf("%s --> %p[%s]::%s\n", thread_indent(1),  object, type, signal);
}
probe gobject.signal_emit_end {
 printf("%s <-- %p[%s]::%s\n", thread_indent(-1),  object, type, signal);
}

Some example output (again from gedit), shows how size allocation works for the main window:

14406 gedit(7492):  --> 0x00000000021c2040[GeditWindow]::realize
 14862 gedit(7492):  <-- 0x00000000021c2040[GeditWindow]::realize
 14872 gedit(7492):  --> 0x00000000021c2040[GeditWindow]::check-resize
 14881 gedit(7492):   --> 0x00000000021c2040[GeditWindow]::size-request
 14890 gedit(7492):    --> 0x00000000021a2950[GtkVBox]::size-request
 14899 gedit(7492):     --> 0x000000000236f090[GtkHPaned]::size-request
 14907 gedit(7492):      --> 0x000000000236f190[GtkVPaned]::size-request
 14915 gedit(7492):       --> 0x0000000002378010[GeditNotebook]::size-request
 14927 gedit(7492):        --> 0x000000000235ac30[GeditTab]::size-request
 14935 gedit(7492):         --> 0x00000000023b79f0[GtkScrolledWindow]::size-request
 14944 gedit(7492):          --> 0x00000000023825c0[GtkHScrollbar]::size-request
 14954 gedit(7492):          <-- 0x00000000023825c0[GtkHScrollbar]::size-request
 14963 gedit(7492):          --> 0x0000000002382730[GtkVScrollbar]::size-request
 14973 gedit(7492):          <-- 0x0000000002382730[GtkVScrollbar]::size-request
 14980 gedit(7492):         <-- 0x00000000023b79f0[GtkScrolledWindow]::size-request
 14987 gedit(7492):        <-- 0x000000000235ac30[GeditTab]::size-request
 14995 gedit(7492):        --> 0x00000000023b9df0[GtkHBox]::size-request
 15002 gedit(7492):        <-- 0x00000000023b9df0[GtkHBox]::size-request
 15009 gedit(7492):       <-- 0x0000000002378010[GeditNotebook]::size-request
 15015 gedit(7492):      <-- 0x000000000236f190[GtkVPaned]::size-request
 15021 gedit(7492):     <-- 0x000000000236f090[GtkHPaned]::size-request
 15028 gedit(7492):    <-- 0x00000000021a2950[GtkVBox]::size-request
 15034 gedit(7492):   <-- 0x00000000021c2040[GeditWindow]::size-request
 15044 gedit(7492):   --> 0x00000000021c2040[GeditWindow]::size-allocate
 15051 gedit(7492):    --> 0x00000000021a2950[GtkVBox]::size-allocate
 15060 gedit(7492):     --> 0x000000000236f090[GtkHPaned]::size-allocate
 15067 gedit(7492):      --> 0x000000000236f190[GtkVPaned]::size-allocate
 15075 gedit(7492):       --> 0x0000000002378010[GeditNotebook]::size-allocate
 15084 gedit(7492):        --> 0x000000000235ac30[GeditTab]::size-allocate
 15092 gedit(7492):         --> 0x00000000023b79f0[GtkScrolledWindow]::size-allocate
 15101 gedit(7492):         <-- 0x00000000023b79f0[GtkScrolledWindow]::size-allocate
 15107 gedit(7492):        <-- 0x000000000235ac30[GeditTab]::size-allocate
 15119 gedit(7492):        --> 0x00000000023b9df0[GtkHBox]::size-allocate
 15128 gedit(7492):        <-- 0x00000000023b9df0[GtkHBox]::size-allocate
 15134 gedit(7492):       <-- 0x0000000002378010[GeditNotebook]::size-allocate
 15140 gedit(7492):      <-- 0x000000000236f190[GtkVPaned]::size-allocate
 15146 gedit(7492):     <-- 0x000000000236f090[GtkHPaned]::size-allocate
 15153 gedit(7492):    <-- 0x00000000021a2950[GtkVBox]::size-allocate
 15159 gedit(7492):   <-- 0x00000000021c2040[GeditWindow]::size-allocate
 15165 gedit(7492):  <-- 0x00000000021c2040[GeditWindow]::check-resize

This is really cool and useful stuff.

Unfortunately the current systemtap static marker implementation is a bit inefficient, so I wouldn’t at the moment enable this for a shipping production glib. However, this can and will be fixed (I even proposed some ideas of how to do this in the systemtap bugzilla).

New member in the family

Friday, October 16th, 2009

On wednesday 19:13 (CET) my wife gave birth to a boy of 4.1 kg. Both mother and son are well.

So, I’ll be rather busy with non-computing things in the near future. Don’t expect replies or feedback from me.

GObject performance on 64bit arches

Monday, October 12th, 2009

I just ran pahole on a Nautilus and got this:

struct _GObject {
 GTypeInstance              g_type_instance;      /*     0     8 */
 volatile guint             ref_count;            /*     8     4 */

 /* XXX 4 bytes hole, try to pack */

 GData *                    qdata;                /*    16     8 */

 /* size: 24, cachelines: 1, members: 3 */
 /* sum members: 20, holes: 1, sum holes: 4 */
 /* last cacheline: 24 bytes */
};      /* definitions: 138 */

Obviously this is a 64bit machine, so the qdata has to be 64bit aligned, but the ref_counter is only 32 bit. This leaves us with 32 bit of unused space. And at the same time we do all sort of bad-ass slow atomic hacks to extract the low two bits of the qdata pointer.

We could easily use two of these bits instead of the qdata bits on 64bit machines, and avoid lots of unnecessary atomic complex handling of qdata. And we might be able to use these extra bits for other (non-mandatory) performance tricks.