One of the perks of living just up the road from
Novell is that I was close enough for Luis to drop by yesterday. It
was really cool to meet him over lunch. I’ve talked with him quite a
bit over IRC and the mailing lists over the last few years, and it was
neat to finally meet him in person. I guess meeting another Gnome
developer for real means that I’m not just imagining the whole thing.
You know, I was starting to think that the whole community was imaginary, just like software.


: You want to create a notification framework and rewrite
apps in order to avoid things like GAIM popping up a window while
you’re working? Perhaps I’m misunderstanding, but it sounds like you
want a hack to work around a bug, rather than fixing the bug. Fixing
the bug would mean enabling focus stealing prevention (which has other
uses as well). That can be done in Gnome 2.8 by reverse applying the
patch in comment 56 of
bug 149028
(minus the ChangeLog entry), although there are a few
small bugs with it. That feature will soon be re-enabled on head,
once I can get Havoc to review my startup-notification patch to
implement the new changes to the EWMH.

Valgrinding Gnome

Seeing Daniel
Valgrind Gnome
, I thought I’d give it a try too. It was made
easier by his explicit directions. 🙂 So I went to town on my jhbuild
version of Gnome from last week. But I gotta say, it was
really weird. I’d go to launch an application (like Evolution)
and then see the startup notification busy cursor go away and think it
had crashed (I forgot that it timed out after a while just in case the
app crashed), so then I launched another… evolution-data-server
repeatedly crashed in an automatic loop. By the time bug-buddy came
up, the app had usually quit and restarted (is there a timeout
associated with that too? I thought apps stayed alive for bug-buddy
until bug-buddy was dismissed…).

Now I gotta look through all the
generated files
, see which ones look potentially useful, and file
bugs for each Gnome program. Anyone want to help?

Update: I cleaned them up a little bit.

Fixing Window Focus ("Activation") Bugs

In May, Havoc blogged
about various Metacity tasks
that he’d love to see people hack on.
I tried to tackle the focus related bugs since that was something that
has really bothered me (of course, it turns out that some of the bugs
are actually libwnck problems rather than Metacity ones). I’m really
curious as to whether anyone is aware of some focus bugs that I don’t
know about yet. The ones that I am aware of are:

  • 87531
    – “Sticky” or “On-all-workspace” windows which have
    focus show up as having focus on all workspaces in the pager

  • 101190
    – focus can leave a window when an override redirect
    window (i.e. an application menu, a tab-completion pop-up for an
    entry, etc.) is closed (see also 145387; it
    appears that people typically assume this is a gtk+ bug)

  • 102665
    – unminimizing a window from the tasklist (via the
    right-click menu) doesn’t focus the unminimized window (fixed)

  • 120100
    – focus is left on the panel when using workspace
    switcher (fixed)

  • 124798
    – simultaneous workspace switching with keynav and use
    of the mouse can result in the wrong window being focused (see
    –there is more to this in order to get a more complete
    fix; unfortunately, this has me kind of baffled at the moment)

  • 124981
    – windows clicked in the pager shouldn’t get focus if
    they are on a different workspace (fixed)

  • 128200
    – wrong window focused after minimizing focus window
    via tasklist (see also 107681)

  • 131581
    – race condition for focus choice on window
    minimize/close (fixed)

  • 135810
    – need a focus choice policy that can make things
    consistent for each focus mode (fixed)

  • 136581
    – focus vs. minimize for tasklist click when using
    mouse focus (fixed)

  • 144900
    – wrong window focused after “un-showing” the desktop
    with ctrl-alt-d (fixed)

  • 149543
    – no window focused after “un-showing” the desktop via
    show-desktop applet (fixed)

  • 149589
    – race condition for focus choice when using tasklist
    applet (fixed)


  • Another race condition (window close followed by very rapid mouse
    movement resulting in the wrong window being focused) that I
    haven’t filed a bug about yet. (I’m also a little confused about
    this one as to why the race condition doesn’t appear to also
    affect window minimization; perhaps I’m just not fast enough to
    trigger it?)
  • It also turned out that 147475, a
    rare locking of the keyboard on workspace change, was a focus
    related bug too. (this was also fixed)

(I also tried to help with focus-stealing-prevention (“tried to”,
because I had so many questions and misunderstandings that it probably
took Rob longer to explain to me how to get things to work than it
would have taken for him to do it without my help; but it was very
nice of him to take the time to teach me so much). Unfortunately,
that has been disabled for
because there were still some remaining issues; in particular,
and 151245)

Update: Ken Harris made me aware of 135786 (and
convinced me it was a real bug), about an issue affecting only
click-to-focus when lowering a focused window via a middle-click on
the frame.

Gnome Documentation

Rich had an
interesting blog about a Gnome book
. One of the things I found
interesting about it was that his proposal shares a number of
similarities with the
Developing with Gnome
guide I wrote for gnome-love (and which I
need to get back to and add more info, update, etc.). I thought it
might be fun to compare and contrast. I’d like feedback on whether I
should incorporate more of the things that Rich suggests. Of course,
I’d also love to have volunteers to assist. 🙂

Rich’s first introductory chapter covers basic info about the Gnome
project, guides for users, bug reporting and similar things. I really
don’t cover this kind of information at all. I do have a section in
my guide on
building gnome from CVS
, but what I have is probably much
different in scope since it tries to also provide general methods for
overcoming build obstacles (I think I’ve only once ever had a build
from CVS run to completion without any intervention).

Rich then suggests spending the second chapter on choosing a job, todo
lists that exist, and the gnome-love project. I have a section on
joining the Gnome community
, but it is much smaller in scope. I
basically point to a web page that lists the many projects he covers
individually and then mention a little more detail about the bugsquad
or quality assurance team (simply because that is the one I am the
most familiar with). I don’t cover TODO lists at all; I had thought
of something slightly similar but it definitely isn’t included yet.

Rich suggests spending the third chapter on gnome communication,
finding the right person to contact, and other resources. I believe I
cover most of this stuff in my
joining the Gnome community
important websites
sections. I definitely don’t have IRC or
finding the right contact for a given project covered, though.

Rich suggests a variety of things for the fourth chapter. First he
starts with development tools. I cover cvs and a number of other
important tools (e.g. pkg-config) in my
general tools
section. I do not cover autoconf, automake,
libtool, and popt (command line parsing)
on purpose
, although I do
explain what they are and what they are used for
and provide
links to outside tutorials
. (Update: popt isn’t covered in those
two sections; instead it’s in the overview of Gnome and related libraries–see
below) I have a section on
common filenames and filetypes
which explain some common support
files but I’m not sure if that’s what Rich had in mind. I don’t cover
anything on saving state, and I don’t have anything specific on
usability, i18n, l10n, or a11y.

Rich’s fifth suggested chapter provides an API reference, an overview
of various libraries, language bindings, and glade. I don’t have an
API reference, but I do have an
overview of Gnome and related libraries
, and I cover gtkmm,
gtk2-perl, and pygtk bindings pretty thoroughly (all examples in the
tutorial are provided for each of those bindings). I give
prominent coverage.

Finally, Rich suggests some extra things at the end. I cover
pkg-config and provide links for autoconfig, automake, and libtool,
but I don’t cover any of the other topics.

My tutorial also contains some things Rich doesn’t suggest. Namely a

debugging chapter
that covers gdb, strace, and valgrind, and also
the chapter I have on building Gnome from CVS that I mentioned

So, those who have read this: Which of Rich’s topics would fit well
with my tutorial? Which topics have neither of us thought of that
need to be covered?

Rich: Perhaps we could collaborate? I don’t consider my guide
complete, and you clearly had a number of ideas that didn’t even occur
to me. Even if we have goals that are different enough to warrant
separate projects, it may make sense to share some work in the areas
we have in common.


I feared this information had been lost last week, but I just found
the file where I placed it. That’s very fortunate, because this
information came from one of those truly illuminating moments. Last
week, while I was in the #gnome-hackers IRC channel, I saw one of
those conversations that leaves you pondering the sagacity of the
builders of Gnome. Meditate upon this and you will learn wisdom.

    <ed__> you should put linux on your ibook rml
 <tberman> thats like buying a 400 dollar paperweight and using it as
           a rock
 <Tybstar> Rupert: quote <tberman> thats like buying a 400 dollar
           paperweight and using it as a rock
  <Rupert> done
 <campout> "and using it as a rock" ?
 <campout> what is that supposed to mean?
     <rml> campout: haha
 <tberman> campout: buying a powerbook and using linux on it
<mtgordon> I have a piece of wood I like to use as a rock.
<mtgordon> It's not as heavy as a real rock would be.
 <campout> but "using it as a rock" ?
 <campout> that makes no sense
 <tberman> sure it does
 <tberman> how do you use rocks?
 <tberman> EXACTLY
<mtgordon> And if an ibook... weighs the same... as a duck...
    <ed__> BURN TBERMAN
    <ed__> BURN TBERMAN

…I love the fact that developing on Gnome is kept fun. 🙂


Seeing luis blog
about the
and patch-report
cgis that he wrote, I realize that I forgot to mention to anyone that
I added a “Maintainers” section on the front of bugzilla a few days ago. Two of
the links that I put in this section were these cgi scripts which aid
finding unreviewed patches. The other is a link to some basic
procedure info about things like updating versions or components in

Running out of time for API freeze

I blogged
about some Metacity changes that resulted in newly
launched applications showing up behind other apps and without focus
when that shouldn’t happen (this is only in the unstable version, of
course). As stated in that blog entry, this is (most of the time) due
to a bug in other launchers. In particular, there is a gnome-desktop
about setting the “launch time” (startup TIMESTAMP) for an
application to 0.

As discussed in that bug, the solution seems to be to add a new
function to the API. So, I finally got some time and implemented
that. However,
API freeze
is tomorrow and I don’t know if Mark is going to be
able to review it in time (or if he’ll even notice it in time). So,
now I’m wondering…Does the API freeze occur at the end of the day,
or at the beginning of the day? And if Mark can’t review it in time,
then what do we do? That’s not a bug we really want to ship with…