2008-02-18: the journal becomes a little more manageable

You know, I miss the little photographs of pubs we used to have when I did it by hand. I will look into adding those into the script.

Thomas closed a ton of bugs. The script has not yet been fixed to make the output beautiful and it would take ages to write it all up, so your chronicler is not including this section today. You can see some of it in the checkins section.

Checkins on trunk

(Things I need to fix in the journal script: we need to stop including ChangeLog in all the commits. Also it’s interesting that newly-added files don’t show up; they should.)


  • On branches/gnome-2-22: nl by wbolster
  • On trunk: be@latin by iharh, nl by wbolster

2008-02-17: just as much of a journey of discovery for me as it is for you

Over the last few months we’ve had a recurring feature called the Metacity Journal. Every day or so we listed bug activity, checkins, and mentions in the press and other people’s blogs. However, it took about half an hour or more for your chronicler to collate all this information every morning, and it became apparent that it could more easily be done by a script.

What we have here is the first version of the results of that script. This run retrieved several months’ worth of information, but later runs will only show new changes since last time. The results were collated by the script and automatically posted as a draft, then scribbled on and had parts removed by the human editor. The script will become available within the next few days once it has been generalised and tidied up a little. Your comments are, as always, very welcome.

The script created a lot of information because it was the first run; I’ve cut it down to just the last few lines.

In the future we need to collapse all comments for the same bug onto the same line.

Checkins on trunk
This is simpler because it’s only been tracking since Metacity was branched.

In the future we should pick up bug numbers from the checkin message and display them there.

Again, a ton of them, and I have only shown the last few.

In the future we need to drop any link containing the word “theme”, since we never link to posts about themes here.


  • On branches/gnome-2-22: fi by ituohela
  • On trunk: LINGUAS by runab, fi by ituohela, gl by icq, ne by pachimho

I think that wasn’t bad for a first try. “After a while, the style settles down a bit, and it starts telling you things you actually wanted to know…”

2008-01-28: the Metacity Journal strikes back

Good evening and welcome back to the Metacity Journal. Tonight’s roundup of all things metacitous includes:

Recent bugs:

  • GNOME bug 333548: Alex Turner’s patch is going in tonight just as soon as I’ve rebuilt absolutely everything because my glib build was out of date.
  • GNOME bug 358674 (as previously discussed on these pages) continues to be a major discussion area. There seem to be three major attitudes about unidirectional maximisation (i.e. the ability to jump a window to full width or height but not vice versa). Currently we support it but only by a keybinding that’s difficult to find. The options are:
    1. Don’t support it at all (even as a keybinding)
    2. Support it as an extra action which can happen on double/middle/left click, which would cause the least risk of instability
    3. Support middle and right click on the maximise button, as kwin does.

    Your thoughtful and considered opinion is welcome.

  • GNOME bug 511826: Window decorations don’t change colour: needs confirming
  • GNOME bug 509165: we should allow a “separator” element in /apps/metacity/general/button_layout; nobody has yet provided a patch. Could be an interesting one to play with.
  • GNOME bug 512676: alt+right mouse button should resize; I believe this is dealt with already using alt+middle mouse button
  • GNOME bug 512561: G_GNUC_FUNCTION (which gets you the name of the current function, and doesn’t work in many cases) replaced with G_STRFUNC (which is much more reliable).

Blog activity:
It’s been a bit quiet, really.

In the meantime, do check out Devil’s Pie, an add-on to Metacity which lets you do things like start all terminals on one particular workspace.

Image: was The Cricketers, now a curry house called Devdas, St Albans. Photo by Gary Houston, public domain. I always feel things are going well when blog entries are organised enough to have photos. :)

2008-01-19: minimal journal

A very, very brief journal entry. Metacity allows you to bind keys to horizontal and vertical maximisation of a window. Should this exist, since it’s so rarely used? Should there be a more easily-discoverable way of working? How would it work– right and middle and left click doing different things, as kwin does, or double-clicking the titlebar, or new buttons? There has been a lot of discussion about this on Bugzilla. Today your chronicler summarised the debate so far. Your two cents on the question are welcome; especially, I’m not sure how to gauge what proportion of people would actually use such a feature. (Lots of people will often tell you that they will use a feature, but you can hardly tell from that how many people don’t care.)

2008-01-12: For, indeed, the best medicine in life is a friend

AelredWelcome back to the Metacity Journal; it’s been a month, and Christmas got in the way a little, so this will be rather a highlights reel.

Havoc has sorted all source files into subdirectories by purpose, which makes the structure of the program a lot cleaner.

Iain has fixed some bugs in the compositor about drawing shadows and other things.

Thomas has made a start on documenting every function using Doxygen. The current state of things is already quite useful for debugging, because you can use it to see which functions call which other functions. For examples of parts which are fully filled in, see:

There is an unstable release (2.21.8) due tomorrow. Also, is there anyone out there who would like to lend a hand with triage? As always, we love to hear from you about this or anything else.

(Post title thanks to Aelred of Rievaulx, who died on this day in 1167.)

2007-12-11: just a quick roundup

A quick overview of where the action’s at in Metacity today. Not even a picture of a pub. As ever, dive in and discuss where you like, here or on bugzilla or on your own blog: we thrive on audience participation and we love to hear from you.

  • GNOME bug 502644: a lot of people think the minimise/restore, and drag/resize wireframe animations are ugly, and ask to be able to turn them off in various combinations (other than the combinations you can already use).

    It would be better to fix the animations, really: do any of you have any suggestions how they could look better?

    Also, would anyone who doesn’t like the wireframe applications be happier once we have a working compositor anyway?

  • GNOME bug 115584 (yeah, an old one): Someone wanted a way to name, and bind keystrokes to, a large number of workspaces. At the moment you can bind up to a dozen with gconf, although there’s no reason it shouldn’t be more. Thomas proposed a scheme to let users bind n instead. Havoc said it would be crazy to have 64 workspaces each with its own keybinding. Thomas conceded this point. I think this is heading towards WONTFIX territory.
  • GNOME bug 436257: when you cancel a keyboard resize the arrows should be consistent whichever side you end on. We have a patch for this now.
  • GNOME bug 430198: theme preview should have the theme’s name in the titlebar, shouldn’t it?
  • GNOME bug 333548: Alex’s patch reviewed and is basically good; some fixups suggested
  • GNOME bug 439749: someone supplies a patch to add “maximise vertically” and “maximise horizontally” to the list of things that can happen when you double-click a window; it is their first patch, and Thomas attempts to be friendly while also asking whether it’s worth adding in new code for a feature that probably nobody has ever wanted yet
  • GNOME bug 501365: dead code removed; fixed
  • GNOME bug 403148: looking for some memory leaks
  • GNOME bug 499301: refactor which probably isn’t interesting to any of you
  • GNOME bug 133896: handle some X errors more gracefully

Elijah and Iain: I am thinking of making this entire blog licensed cc-by-sa. What say you? Anyone else?

2007-12-09: at last the 1948 show

The Metacity Journal bounds back to your screens! It’s been a busy couple of days; I think we’re about due an unstable release. Here’s a quick roundup of life around these parts:

Actual fixes:

  • GNOME bug 474889 LONG KEY IS LONG: There is a particular GConf key which contained a small novel in the long description, and some of the translators asked for it to be shorter. We agreed on this in principle months ago, and then never actually did it. Sorry. Nostra culpa (or indeed mea culpa: Thomas was down to actually make the change).
  • GNOME bug 112560: Sometimes Metacity grabs the keyboard, for example when you’re using alt-Tab, and then you might decide to stop doing that and do something else without actually finishing the alt-Tab. What if you let go of Tab without letting go of alt and then pressed f1? This is a basic fix for that case and, again, it should have gone in months ago but got lost. (Yesterday I did a sort of garbage collection pass over the bug list. I think I should do that more often.)
  • GNOME bug 496054: a reported crash in obscure circumstances in the menu code, when you only have a single workspace; we couldn’t replicate it but it’s no bad thing to check you’re not passing nulls around, which was the obvious fix.
  • GNOME bug 501362: Kjartan Maraas reported a typo where the “y” coordinate was checked twice in themes instead of the “x” and the “y” both once; Martin Meyer provided a patch(!).

Things people are actively talking about (as ever, feel free to jump into the conversation):

  • GNOME bug 480954: random crash, probably not reproducible, dup finder finds nothing; I doubt this is going to lead anywhere
  • GNOME bug 502644: someone wants a way to turn off wireframe as such, rather than minimise and drag wireframes separately.
  • GNOME bug 500279 (the theme parser refactor): Andrea Cimitan says it interacts in bad ways with Iain’s compositor, so we are putting 500279 on hold until the compositor is sorted.
  • GNOME bug 502635: Should it be the responsibility of the window manager to tell your IM client to set you “away” when you make another window fullscreen, since you can’t use the IM client?

Translation: Spanish, Czech, Belarusian, Brazilian Portuguese, and Galician have been worked on recently. Thank you all for contributing and reading and using.


Till next time…

Photo: The Peacock, St Albans. Photo: Gary Houston, public domain.

2007-12-05: still not a journal

Iain’s compositor patch had some glitches and therefore didn’t make it into trunk this weekend, but I’m still hopeful it’ll be in within the week. Digg has picked up the story. And some people used Coverity’s source checking system to find some bugs, which they raised.

Also, a live point of discussion: Some people like to use alt and a mouse button for menu, resize and move. But some people only have two mouse buttons. What should we do about that?

2007-11-28: All our journal entries are busy; please hold

This still isn’t a complete roundup of yesterday, but:

GNOME bug 500279: theme inefficiency: Iain continued to rock on by finding and fixing quite a major inefficiency in the theme code: values which could have been cached weren’t. Thomas began to review the patch last night, but it was a little too much to take in in one go. It’s all rather wonderful: thanks, Iain!

Compositor rewrite: Still on the verge of being able to start making the call about putting it into trunk. If anyone wants to come around and make real life less complicated so there’s more time for patch review during the week…

GNOME bug 150897 has had some dupes recently. The Windows key or whatever you want to call it is a thornier issue than you might suppose. We generally make it a modifier key, perhaps the one which X calls Super— a hangover from the Space Cadet Keyboard— so that you can use it in combination with other keystrokes in the same way you can Ctrl and Shift and Alt. (There’s Super-R for run, and so on.) Some people think that this is a bad idea and that the Windows keys shouldn’t be modifiers (these people never want to do Super-R). Some people want to keep Windows=Super, but also have the key pressed on its own being able to cause an effect (namely to put up the main menu, as it does in Windows). But there is no current case, as far as I know, in which you can make a modifier perform an action without actually modifying something else. (I don’t think, for example, that you can configure Metacity to minimise the window when you press and release Ctrl.) Apparently IceWM does this to some people’s satisfaction, so I expect we should look at how they manage.

GNOME bug 114384 has also had a few dupes. As mentioned yesterday, we need to support startup-notification. Elijah points out that we already link to the relevant library, so this may not be very hard.

2007-11-27’s not-quite-a-journal

Life is still hectic for the maintainers this week, so this will be a short post.

On that theme , GNOME bug 468075, about a problem with vertical maximisation (which has been said to be a simple, reproducible bug, although it’s about a feature that most users don’t know exists) is not yet fixed. Someone complained that it raises the question of whether Metacity is still maintained. We are here, though; we’re just doing the best we can with the resources we have. Help is always welcome.

GNOME bug 500047 was a request to add the “busy cursor” when Metacity starts an application in response to a keystroke. This requires using startup-notification, which makes it a dupe of GNOME bug 114384 (that one’s been around a while; we should bump up the urgency).

Apparently we reached GNOME bug 500000 the other night, though it was actually a dupe of GNOME bug 500002.