Archive for January, 2008

Ubuntu update policy suckage

Saturday, January 26th, 2008

Like Murray I’m getting increasingly annoyed with ubuntu’s update policy. The whole idea of not shipping fixes for current breakage out of fear that this may cause new breakage is just lame IMO. You could at least look at what’s been fixed in the stable releases and do a risk analysis instead of just saying nay to everything.

Gnome-games
Ubuntu is shipping version 2.20.1 of gnome-games in gutsy. Lots of bugs has been fixed since that version and among these some frequent (seemingly ubuntu-specific) crashers. The update policy of ubuntu means that fixes for these does not reach the users. I guess the frequent crashers might fall under the category “severe regression” and I could file a SRU report and convince ubuntu to include that patch though.

For hardy ubuntu is shipping version 2.20.0.1. That’s right, a version older than what you get in gutsy. This is because gnome-games now depend on GGZ and before they can ship a 2.21.x version, GGZ must first be included in main. And for this to happen a MIR report must be filed.

So, the “stable” version is crashing and the unstable is not getting any testing. And unless something happens soon they will either be shipping an old version for hardy or a so-far-untested version – that they will of course _not_ provide fixes for later… Something is clearly broken in this process.

“just file the damn reports and be done with it already” I hear you say. Well, I prodded some people on IRC and things are in motion as far as I know but this is not the real problem. The problem is that ubuntu-outsiders have to file all sorts of elaborate reports to get some common sense actions to happen in this crazy bureaucracy. If you really must have this system please make sure you have the manpower to check your build queues and the bug-reports and take action yourself. Don’t rely on outsiders to come and tell you that something is wrong.

If this no-bugfix-updates policy is to be continued I think we should stop being dishonest to our users and extend the template bugzilla comments like the “dupe+fixed”:

“[...] You may want to check for a software upgrade.”

and add

“Unless you are running ubuntu. Ubuntu deliberately holds back bugfixes out of fear that the fix may introduce new bugs. If you want to see this bug fixed in ubuntu please go fill out an SRU report at bla bla bla”

The role of gnome-games (and broken promisses) :)

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

As Jordi blogs there is a thread on the gnome-games mailing-list where we would like some feedback from users, distributions and game developers. It started with a wish to get gbrainy included in gnome-games but sparked the need to discuss the general role of gnome-games. I promised to blog a about it yesterday but I went out cold after getting back from my exam and slept the rest of the day away. Beers after the exam may have had an impact here… :)

Gnome-games status
Gnome-games currently consists of 17 games and an internal library that is used for common code like high-score, boards, etc. The games are currently coded in C, C++, Scheme and Python. Most games use the library but not all do as e.g. there is no python bindings yet.

Jason and me are the official maintainers of the module but in practice some games have other “real” maintainers. Christian Persch and Vincent Povirk rule aisleriot. Robert Ancell and Thomas M. Hinkle of glchess and gnome-sudoku fame both still maintain and develop their games within gnome-games after the inclusion. For these games I am not much more than a release droid.

The games in gnome-games are automatically included in many distributions as the default game pack. This has attracted many game developers as they hope to get their game into gnome-games in order to get distributed automatically.

Code maintainers or game inclusion judges
This leads to the question of the role as gnome-games maintainers. Is our role to maintain code or is it to judge what games gets to be included? I can maintain code but I am not sure I am the most qualified to be judging the quality of games. What do the distributions want? What about the users?

The case of gbrainy
Jordi wrote a really nice puzzle/memory trainer game called gbrainy. To reach more users he asked to get it included in gnome-games. I really like the game but there are issues to discuss:
– dependencies (mono)
– increasing gnome-games binary/code size
– yet another puzzle game

Who are our users?
Looking at the current games in gnome-games most are puzzle games. This seems obvious as I expect that programmers prefer to play those kinds of games. The question is if our users share this love for brainy-games or if they would prefer more action games like Nibbles and Gnometris. Perhaps we should think about getting a more diverse set of games. More action games, perhaps a game targeted for children, etc.

Flash and the games support library
Now that we have swfdec should we start considering using flash for games in gnome-games? Should/can we add some sort of support for flash based games in the games support library? I am completely clueless about flash so I don’t know what will be possible. There are many great flash based games out there and many good game developers that might be interested in doing some for gnome-games. I do have some fear about how such games will integrate into the GNOME desktop though.

Before we can start to make decisions about all this we need more information from you.

Questions
Distributions:
– Do you want gnome-games to be some sort of meta package including the games we see fit?
– Would you rather customize and mix your game pack and include new games like gbrainy your self?
– Does the binary size of gnome-games matter? Can we expand and include more games?
– Is 17 games too much choice in the menu. (I have to start scrolling the list soon if we add more)
– Would you consider using –enable-games=[only-games-we-like] and be okay with more games added in gnome-games?
– Would you ship flash based games?

Users:
– What kind of games would you like (Are we focusing too much on puzzles?)
– Do you want more games as default? More multiplayer/network support in the games? More bling?
– Is there a need for a child game in the default pack?
– Is it okay with a “static” games list or should there be change from time to time?

Developers, Developers, Developers:
– Should we make the games support library a real library? Is there a demand for it at all? – Opinions about flash based games?
– What can we do to help new games get exposure?

General:
– Does it make sense to have one module with many submodules/submaintainers?
– Do we want to depend on mono for gnome-games?
– Do we want every gnome based game under the sun in one module?
– Would it be responsible to be maintainer of a module that contains code in languages I don’t know (C# and flash)

If you have any input please comment in the thread or here in the comments. Thanks!

Hello planet / Fosdem

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

Jeff added me to planet back in early december (thanks!) but I have not really had the time to blog again until now.

Intro
I’m co-maintaining gnome-games with Jason Clinton. I took over from Andreas Røsdal when he stepped down as maintainer half a year ago. (thankfully Andreas is still doing cool stuff within gnome-games) I was a lot more active with making patches before becoming maintainer. Now I spend much more of my time asking stupid questions about stuff I feel I ought to know as a maintainer :) I’m still feeling rather noobish and have much more to learn but I’m getting more comfortable. Do expect lots of more questions in the future though.

I contributed my first patch 1 year and 10 months ago and GNOME has been one hell of a ride since. There has been a lot of highs: first committed patch, first mention in release notes, first mention on planet, receiving an ubuntu cd in the mail and knowing that code I wrote is on that cd, getting cvs/svn commit rights, becoming GNOME foundation member, obtaining maintainership, and now being added to planet. Yay! It has all happened rather quickly and I never imagined that I would end up as maintainer. But here we are. Unfortunately this also means that I don’t know much about the history of gnome-games and I still have the feeling that I’m messing around in other peoples code. I doubt I’ll ever really feel “ownership” of the code in the way I would if I had written it myself. I constantly feel the urge to consult and ask permission of the former maintainers for big changes in the games. I’m trying to shake this off me and just go with what I think is the best decision, but it’s harder than it sounds. I just don’t have the ego to do so I think. I’m more of a consensus type of guy. Maybe I’ll get better at this with time…

I plan to blog mostly about what is happening in gnome-games and I have a lot of blog posts in my head already. I’ll try to keep it down to one or two a day though. Planet seems like a really good way to reach users, distributors and developers at the same time so I’ll (mis)use this blog a bit to kick start discussions that require feedback from lots of different people.

Boring facts and stuff:
27 years old.
From Esbjerg, Denmark.
Starting on 8th semester of software engineering in Feb.
Bribeable in: Beer, ice cream

Fosdem
I plan to go to fosdem. I have Never been to an OSS conference before so I’m quite excited. It’s not that far but going there will be rather expensive for me as a student anyway. Any advice on a cheap place to stay there is appreciated. If sharing a room with someone is cheaper I’m up for that as well.