Actually it was a pleasure for me to see the GNOME privacy campaign being announced prior to recent developments of U.S. surveillance has become a rather big success and is heading for the 20.000$ goal quickly. However, I didn’t find much information for a roadmap about the plans to spend the money on.

There was a lot of press coverage in the last days that all the technology for encrypting your data in a way to make it much harder for secret services (and other so-called “security” agencies) is already there and that it is just missing the correct user interface. Some random ideas how I would imaging the next generation privacy desktop:

Infrastructure

GNOME has seahorse, gnome-online-accounts and gnome-keyring – I would consider this mostly done :)

Initial Setup

gnome-initial-setup should ask for your GnuPG-key before it even asks for any accounts and offer the option to create one and/or upload the public key to a popular keyserver and backup the private key somewhere. It should then automatically try to connect other accounts (e.g. Jabber) with the key. This setup step should feel more or less mandatory for the user – of course with the option to skip it.

E-Mail

E-Mail might not be as big for private communication anymore but it is still the way most businesses exchange data and information. For now, e-mail in GNOME is tightly connected to Evolution although, of course, it would be cool to also integrate encryption infrastructure in popular webmail services but I have not much idea if and how that would be possible.

However, lets stick to Evolution for now. Once you compose a mail Evolution would lookup the recipient(s) mail addresses locally and on a key-server probably also querying some information if  PGP/MIME or S/MIME is supported. Once you click on sent and the recipients public key(s) is/are available Evolution will ask you to sent an encrypted mail (with the obvious always/never for this address/don’t bother me options). This should spread the use of encrypted messaging not only for real secrets but for any mail which will avoid the “you wouldn’t encrypt if you didn’t have anything to hide”-problem.

Chat

Empathy is the obvious choice here. All chats should be encrypted by default and I feel that the user shouldn’t even be queried if to encrypt of not because there is absolutely no reason why end-to-end encryption shouldn’t be used. Jabber supports encryption by default, it probably also works for most other jabber-based services if  the client supports it but might run into problems with facebook-chat.

In addition and as a probably more educational use-case it would be cool to have a “Encrypt this chat” button that would give your chat partner hints how to configure his client to support encrypted conversations. As there are various programs for any platform that should be too difficult with a quick link to a wiki page.

Conclusion

The good thing: We are 90% there – all the technology is there, all the applications are there, it is just a matter of good user-interface design and bringing some bits together.

Some personal hint in the end: I won’t be at GUADEC this year because I planned holidays far before the final dates were announced…maybe see you all next year.

From an outside view it might look pretty calm on the Anjuta development side of things but that is basically a wrong impression. There haven’t been many breath-taking feature additions recently but everybody concentrated on polishing:

  • Sébastien Granjoux overhauled gdl completely so the whole docking / undocking is much smoother (not only in anjuta)
  • Carl-Anton Ingmarsson polished uncounted bits including usage of deprecated methods, user-interface issues and small bugs
  • James Liggett took care of all the releases that I missed and on fixing the builds
  • not to forget all the other people that fixed strings, translation and meta-data issues

Of course we might return with some new feature at some point and there is also a hackfest planned so stay tuned.

GUADEC is a tech conference and as such it can be a very lame place to hang out if you are not bound to sitting on your laptop 24/7. Some examples:

  • Horrible location:

awesome...

  • People failing with simplest real-life tasks:

Drink more bear...

  • Beer was banned after the Istanbul boat party:

  • No Beach:
  • And finally still far too many unfixed bugs (waiting for you in the ocean):

Disclaimer: This posts employs irony – it has been checked with interested parties of all sex if this is funny and that was approved. If you disagree that’s ok – I don’t want to make everybody to agree with me. I especially don’t think this discriminated women in any way and I am actually glad to have seen so many female, male and other contributers during this GUADEC.

Following up to Frederico’s talk /session yesterday I created an initial wiki page to help people that want to use parts of the GNOME stack in their project to do the right thing (e.g. not fork!). I am not sure about the title yet but that was the best I could think of.

The content is still very basic – just saying what I hope we as project want and how we want to handle contributions. Feel free to change / extend / kill that page. We were even talking about a GNOME goal yesterday but somehow I think that doesn’t really fit.

Possible things we could add:

  • Examples of GNOME software used elsewhere
  • Best pratices when trying to do so
  • etc.

 

GUADEC…

22. July 2012

But I have one question: What’s the best way to travel from Santiago de compostela’s airport to A Coruna? Help appreciated…there only seems to be one bus / day that I cannot catch because of flight times.

What else am I doing and why didn’t you hear much of me:

  • I am working full-time building trains since a while
  • I feel that life is so much more important than writing code far more often than in the past which makes me hanging around in parks much more often in sunny weather with great people
  • Apart from that, I am still fixing bugs in Anjuta and maintain the whole thing. Other people work much more on this so, Sébastien is fixing a lot of gdl issues and of course of GSoC-Student Moritz does a great job with refactoring and integrating clang.
  • If time permits I am adding a bit more FinTS-Support to GnuCash, esspecially international transfers (mostly ready) and standing orders (planned) because I need it for banking

 

What’s up?

3. February 2012

So as usual I need an excuse for not blogging for so long. This times it’s work, moving to Berlin and some other things.

Anjuta

While I haven’t contributed that much code in that cycle apart from minor bug-fixing there have been a couple of nice contributions:

  • Sébastien Granjoux did amazing work to improve our project management which is now much easier to use and more powerful
  • Marco Diego Aurélio Mesquita (what a name) improved the glade integration by allowing to automatically connect widgets and code
  • But I guess I should cover all this in a “What’s new in Anjuta 3.4″ post pretty soon

Gdl

The often forgotten but still heavily used docking library…Inkscape forked that library into their repository and added some fixes for them that were never magically contributed back and at some point (especially with the gtk+3.0 transition of gdl) I became very hard to merge between the projects. However, lately Alex Valavanis stepped up and ported most of the Inkscape patches back into gdl master and hopefully Inkscape will be able to use stock gdl (or probably better gdlmm) really soon.

Gnucash

As I tried to organize all my banking stuff I made some contribution to the best linux banking software in the area of HBCI/FinTS which is a german standard to securely initiate online transactions with your bank. I hope to find some time to actually implement SEPA (read EU- or international transactions using IBAN and BIC) at least originating from german accounts. But I have to think about how to compute (98 – (x mod 97)) for x being larger than a 64-bit integer and while I found some strategies on the web this was too much math for a late evening. Before you ask, this is part of the way an IBAN checksum is computed and I need this checksum because at least for Germany the IBAN can be generated as a combination of account number and bank-code.

Brno Hackfest

/me will be there saving the world or drinking beer, maybe both.

Laptop

After having been for a couple of hackfests which my much loved white netbook (read: “Oh, it’s so cute…”) I though it’s time for a real (male ;) laptop. It doesn’t seem very easy to get a reasonably priced laptop without a Windows license or preferably with a preinstalled and working Linux. After some searching I ended up buying a ThinkPad Edge 320 from linux-laptop.de which arrived pretty quickly (apart from some problems with the postal service). I ordered it preinstalled with Linux Mint after having only used Fedora for a while.

The installation was complete but the fan was constantly running which annoyed me but can be fixed by installing the thinkfan utility and now things are quite again! I reported this back as I kind of assume things like that installed when I order a laptop with operating system.

Code-In time!

27. October 2011

It is time for Google Code-In again! In short, this is the little sister of Summer of Code for high-school students. Instead of one big task for a student it consists of many small tasks that can be finished in a couple of hours/days. From the experience of the last years we can expect highly motivated and skilled students there, that are eager finishing as many tasks a possible.

This is a great opportunity for GNOME to invite new contributors and it also helps us to fix all these small things we don’t have time for usually.

But…

We need tasks!

In order to participate we need to provide

at least 5 tasks in all of the 8 categories sorted by difficulty level

and therefore we have already setup a wiki page that is slowly filling up with tasks. There are categories for Code, Documentation, Outreach, Q&A, Research, Training, Translation and UI therefore everybody should be able to contribute something.

Deadline is Monday, 2011-10-31!

For more details, please check Andre’s post on DDL and if you have any questions, please ask Andre, me or preferably post on gnome-soc-list.

Montréal – shit…

8. October 2011

So the Boston Summit happens in Montréal between 8th and 10th of October and I arrive in Montréal on…11th of October…

Well, sometimes things just go wrong but I couldn’t change my travel plans easily and when I left home Montréal summit was still in planing stage.

Anyway, if somebody is still around in Montréal, drop me a note…

GNOME 3 and beyond

5. May 2011

Actually I am been pretty busy writing my diploma thesis so after the Toronto hackfest there wasn’t much activity from my side regarding GNOME. However, as I finally unsubscribed from gnome-shell-list it’s time to write something about my personal experience with GNOME 3 and the feedback that was mentioned on the list.

Personally, I use GNOME 3 on my Desktop and Netbook for some weeks now, both with Fedora 15 Alpha/Beta. It took me some minutes to get used to the concept and reorganize my workflow a bit but overall the experience was quite good. I especially like the way multiple monitors work, so I can always have empathy with IRC and chat on my secondary monitor. This is particularly useful as I definitely use much more work-spaces now than before to organize my tasks. There are still some rough edges, especially when it comes to all the “Finding and Reminding” stuff and the chat integration. Actually, I really don’t want to have both empathy and the shell displaying my chat messages and I don’t want to have the “Contact List” around all the time. But luckily some discussion started on desktop-devel-list to improve the situation. The point annoying me most is that I always have to press Alt/Meta key to switch off my computer as I have connected it to a plugbar to save the energy consumed in standby normally by the computer and the monitors and my secondary monitor doesn’t go into sleep mode when connected via HDMI. Another reason for not using standby is that I cannot sleep when the blinking “Standby-LED” of my desktop is lighting the room. I want a “Power Off” menu item – Period!

Besides my personal experience I followed gnome-shell-list for quite a while until the signal-to-noise-ratio became much too low. I would really like to have some kind of gnome-shell-devel-list that just summarizes all the technical discussion that only seems to happen on IRC currently as IRC is hard to follow normally. Anyway, I want to summarize some of the more interesting feedback:

  • Window title bars seems to be too big for many netbook users and are seen as a waste of space. Allan has a blog post explaining the reasoning behind this though but it might not be ideal for small screens. I know that I reduced the font size on my netbook to have more space.
  • Merge title bar of maximized windows into the top panel. This goes in the same direction as the first one and seems to be useful for smaller screens especially as the top panel is quite empty usually in GNOME 3.
  • Dont’ hide stuff in “System Info: Actually this control-center panel groups a lot of stuff like “Favourite Applications”, “Fallback mode” and (guessed?) “System information”. Seems this is poorly labeled and people are actually not finding what they want to change. Things should be grouped differently here.
  • Persistent notifications are difficult for external developers that are used to the old-style notification system. That probably would be that bad if it would be easier to reach developers by mail as it is quite hard for external people to ask on IRC (in the right time-zone). As mentioned before, it would be important to have developers read & answer at least the technical posts on gnome-shell-list which doesn’t seem to happen. (See this thread).

The rest was a lot of noise in the style “I don’t like it”, “Fedora vs. Ubuntu”, “GNOME vs. Unity vs. KDE”, “But *I* want a task bar“, “I still don’t like it”, etc.

Together with the release of GNOME 3 the new GNOME developer center was launched today. This is just the first step to make GNOME 3 a great developer platform but I hope it is already a big step!

There is still a bunch of things missing, like proper API documentation for languages using introspection (Javascript, Python) but things got a lot better with the new platform overview and will certainly improve in the future.

I have to especially thank Fréderic Peters who did all the dirty backend work on the infrastructure in the last days & weeks so everything could be launched on time.

However, this wouldn’t have been possible without many amazing people (in no particular order):  Andreas Nilson, Julie Pichon, Phil Bull, Shaun McCance, Daniel g. Siegel, Patricia Santana Cruz, Ekaterina Gerasimova, David King, Jon Nordby, Chris Kühl, Jonh Wendell, Andre Klapper, Germán Poo and P. F. Chimento, hoping I didn’t forget anyone.  And of course the beautiful cities of Berlin and Toronto!

Thanks!