New Releases

New releases of gtk-engines and gnome-backgrounds, in time for GNOME 2.14.2. Maybe just because it was a bank holiday on Monday, but I actually managed to get these out before the deadline (I suppose it helped that UTC is now an hour behind too…). Nothing too interesting, but these are stable releases after all!

Incidentally, gtk-engines (stable) has only two trivial/enhancement bugs open against it, and gnome-backgrounds has no bugs against it. Does this make gtk-engines the most stable module that has executable code in it? ;-)


Overview of Changes in 2.6.9 (since 2.6.8)

* Fixed bugs:
	Bug 341694 - Crash in d4x (Industrial)
	Bug 334557 - Compile errors with gcc 2.95 (Clearlooks)


Version 2.14.2

* Use po/LINGUAS - based on the new guidelines
* Release for GNOME 2.14.2


Mindu Dorji (dz)
Benoît Dejean (fr)
Åsmund Skjæveland (nn)

Software you can tinker with

It’s always interesting to see how Open Source is depicted in the Press. The Metro this morning had an interesting article (and seemingly well informed too) on the OLPC, in which it mentioned that the laptop would not be running Microsoft or Apple software, but would be using something else instead.

“After discussions with Apple and Microsoft, Negroponte, a professor at Boston’s MIT, rejected both operating systems in favour of the free, ‘open source’ Linux, where users can tinker with the software.”

My first thought was that this completely missed the point of Open Source (not to mention ommitting “Free Software”). My second thought was perhaps this is actually broadly speaking what FOSS is about (if you take “tinkering” to mean being able to change the source code). Lastly I thought maybe it would have been more accurate to say that developers can tinker with the software. After all, could a “normal” PC user expect to be introduced to Linux and suddenly be able to tinker with everything?

Low Res Gnome

I happened to try the Ubuntu live cd on my work laptop this lunch time, which makes for an interesting comparison since it normally runs Windows.

One of the most striking things is how inefficient GNOME’s use of screen space is compared to most Windows applications. The main culprit is the fact that the default icon size is 24×24, but also there is a lot more padding around interface items. I opened up OpenOffice (which is using Gnome icons and themes), and I have two toolbars taking about 20% of the screen…. The same goes for nautilus, not to mention the default icon size is huge compared to Windows. You don’t realise how much space you are wasting until you try making the icons smaller.

The other problem is the default font size on GNOME is 10pt, and one of the first things I do is turn it down to 8pt. Sure, when we have high resolution displays we will want these font sizes, but most people are still living with resolutions less than 1280×1024.

I realise the ideal solution would be to make the icon sizes resolution independant, but I doubt that is going to happen any time soon. Is it time we reduced the toolbar icon size and the amount of padding around buttons?

I understand there are good reasons for these ‘large’ sizes; accessibility and usability being two of them. However, I always get the impression that GNOME looks more ‘childlike’ because of the large icons and excessive padding. We have the large print themes for a reason…

A Bug A Day…

Last week I set myself a challange to resolve one GNOME (or Gnome) bug every day. I mostly concentrated on the theme manager, as Sebastien told me I could be maintainer (I think he was fed up of my persistant nagging of patch reviews!). This is how I did:

  • April 25th Tuesday: [Bug 138795] file dialog forgets last browsed to or installed from location
  • 26th Wednesday: [Bug 139692] Some characters cannot be given as the theme name
  • 26th Wednesday: [Bug 331836] Missing Escape -> Close binding (in Theme Preferences)
  • 27th Thursday: [Bug 317375] theme-manager (saving) sometimes needlessly asks whether to overwrite
  • 28th Friday: [Bug 339157] [Patch] Use po/LINGUAS – based on the new guidelines
  • 28th Friday: [Bug 330302] Saved themes should remember wallpaper
  • 29th Saturday: [Bug 324751] Firefox menu [Simple theme bug]

I also resolved bugs 104210,
81018 and
111356 on Sunday 30th.
So, all in all I managed 6 consecutive days of bug fixing. Not bad I thought. Just imagine if once a month everyone spent a week sorting out and fixing bugs…

For those interested, I’ve also recently fixed these bugs in the theme manager:

  • [Bug 170058] bzip2 location hardcoded
  • [Bug 99535] [ui-review] Theme manager UI issues
  • [Bug 314658] Theme chooser main window too wide for 800×600
    (Same as [Bug 331741]: If the text description for a theme is too long, it stretches out the window to an unusable point.)

Testing and feedback would be very much appreciated. I’d also like to have any suggestions on how to improve the theme manager UI, especially since I would like to implement support for GTK+ colour schemes that will be available once GTK+ 2.10 is out. At last we might have a theme manager that isn’t quite so stale and neglected.