6 July 2002

tromey: I have found automake to be a very useful tool over the years, especially when you take its constraints into account (portable make, shell, etc). Within the GNOME community, my biggest problem has been having to explain myself every time I use a feature not found in 1.4.

Many of the hackers are not even looking at the recent 1.6 releases because their packages break with them. The irony is that the parts of their Makefile.am‘s that break are usually work arounds for bugs or defficiencies in automake 1.4 (many of which have been addressed in 1.6). It is depressing to hear people complaining about bugs in old automake while refusing to upgrade (and this is for bleeding edge gnome development; not maintenance branches of the various packages).

I believe part of the reason for this is the large gap in time between the 1.4 release and 1.5/1.6 (about 2 years, IIRC). People grew too used to all the quirks and bugs in 1.4 that when they got fixed, people started complaining about it. With more frequent releases, these bugs would probably have been recognised as such, rather than features.

Another project that could do with another release is libtool. There are a number of known bugs in the 1.4.2 release (such as not being able to do a buildroot install, which really hurts packaging), and a few more architectures are supported in CVS. Putting out a new maintenance release would be a _really_ good idea.

Overall, the new autoconf and automake releases are a lot nicer to work with, compared to the 2.13/1.4 combo.

28 June 2002


The 2.0 release has come and gone. It managed to take down widget (which serves www.gnome.org, news.gnome.org and bugzilla.gnome.org). Not being able to access my bugs was a bit of a pain.

The new release looks very nice, and GTK 2.0 is a joy to program. I still need to finish off PyGTK 2.0 though. The articles from Dennis E. Powell and Nick Petreley about GNOME 2.0 have been very surprising. DEP’s article was very encouraging and Nick’s one almost promoted GNOME 🙂.


I haven’t done much work on the menu merge code, but have set up gtk-doc to build reference documentation. I configured it to use the new XML support (so gtk-doc generates XML, and xsltproc is used to transform to HTML). Seems to work very nicely.

I also had a small play with conversion to PDF with the xmlto script, which uses the PassiveTeX FO processor. There were only a few minor issues making the conversion difficult. The first was that xmlto wasn’t performing XInclude processing. This was fairly easy to fix (I sent a suggestion to the author to turn this xsltproc option on).

The more serious one was that passivetex didn’t seem to support prortional table column widths, which are used in the gtk-doc output. This shouldn’t be too big a deal, as I could correct this with a stylesheet customisation layer. Lastly, the <synopsis> elements were not being rendered correctly, but I think this was an issue with the (old) version of the XSL stylesheets I was using.


I did a mockup of a “show/hide advanced options” button for the query form in bugzilla (see the second attachment). It is just some simple javascript that uses a cookie to persist its state. In the simple mode, it just shows the summary search field and the product/component/version/milestone lists. While the new query page layout is a lot better, I know a number of people who are simply put off by the number of available query options (even though they only need use the first few in the new layout). By allowing people to hide the majority of the options, hopefully this complaint will go away.

17 June 2002

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Last week, one of the servers died because one of the
sticks of memory died. After pulling it out, the system
booted fine. It would have been a lot easier to test if I
didn’t have to open it up to plug a floppy drive in. I now
have Memtest86 in
the GRUB
boot menu. Was pretty easy to set up:

cp memtest.bin /boot
grubby --add-kernel="/boot/memtest.bin" --title="Memtest86"

This is the second stick of DDR memory we have had that
died; probably due to overheating. As the server has 5 IDE
ribbon cables, I might look at getting rounded cables which
Jaycar is stocking
these days.


The release candidate for GNOME is out. It is looking
very nice, and will be a great release. Still working
towards a 2.0 release of PyGTK and
gnome-python. I did a bit of work on gnome-vfs bindings
(there are a number of annoying inconsistencies in the API,
but overall it is a nice library), and jrb
has been trying to implement a full widget in python (and
reporting bugs for things that prevent him from doing so).


The honey ale I brewed turned out very nice. The first
bottle I tried (two weeks after bottling) was a bit sour,
but subsequent bottles have improved a lot.


Been playing with XSLT a bit recently. It is quite a
nice transformation language. I have been porting the gtk-doc
DocBook -> HTML conversion program
to use xsltproc (with
a customisation layer over Norman Walsh’s XSL stylesheets),
rather than Jade (with a customisation layer over his DSSSL
stylesheets). Took a little while to learn what I needed,
but the end result looked fairly elegant.

While working on the customisation layer, I even found a
simple bug
in the base stylesheets.

26 May 2002


The menu merge code is mostly working now. With some
help from Anders, almost all the menu merge functionality is
working. You can merge and demerge UI files, bind a
particular menu item to a different action, and use

Toolbars are still left to go. I need to work out how to
do the placeholders on toolbars, as the placeholder
implementation for menus makes use of (possibly hidden)
separator menu items before and after the elements within
the placeholder. The separators in GtkToolbar are not
widgets, so I will need to work out some other way to handle it.


Preparation for the conference is going well. We are
still waiting for more submissions for the Call for Papers.
If you want to do a talk, please send in a submission!