One thing about having a boring dayjob is that it tend to give you a lot of time to think about the state of the world. As most of you probably now the Israeli government is building a great wall and in the process of that doing a major landgrab into the Westbank. So I was thinking that we needed a name for those areas that the Israeli government here is taking. Since I am a firm believer in learning form history I thought ok, what examples do we have in history of a country stealing someone else’s land under the pretext of protecting the population. And there it was, the perfect name for the parts of the Westbank that the Israli government is stealing in this way would be: Sudetenbank

All we need know is for George Bush to say; ‘Peace in our time’ and things have come full circle.

Seth: So you are looking for more religion in GNOME. Well I think part of the trouble to the degree that there is a real problem (not sure there is) is that people who come up with really new ideas has a tendency to not stick around to complete them, or actually they tend to stick around, but they move their attention to their next grand vision before completing the first. Examples of such in my mind are medusa, dashboard and GPF (gpf in gnome cvs).

Even in the cases where the originator sticks around or a strong enough development team evolves to keep the project going so do innovation also tend to demand a lot of trial and error which has a tendency to demotivate people. I am probably biased, but I think that GStreamer deserves the label innovative. That said it has taken an enourmous effort with each subcomponent being rewritten numerous times, some still need an iteration or two before getting there. Keeping developers happy during these phases have not been easy, which is why we have had some people abandoning ship by implementing alternative backends to their applications etc.

As for grand visions, well I think the HIG do qualify as a grand vision altough maybe not innovative in the sense that HIG’s is an old Apple concept.

I also think Havoc makes a good point in regards to the kernel. There needs to be something to build upon before grand vision stage is plausible. An example would be that for someone to pursue a dream of building an multimedia centric network media system where every machine on the network shares things like music playlists, you exchange files and collaborate using video confercing with built in whiteboards etc., and on and on. Well that vision gets a bit overboard to get anyone else involved in if the system doesn’t even have a basic music playback system.

The flag creation effort we are doing at is continuing at a brisk pace. Seeing the overwhelmingly positive response it has gotten and the large number of contributors has been an eye-opening experience. Given the opportunity there are a lot of people out there who wants to contribute.

This has started me thinking about the never ending problem that major projects face in recruiting new contributors, and how some projects seem to have a much easier time than others in getting new contributors.

One successfactor of the flag project in my mind is probably that fact that helping with it is open to people with a lot of different skill levels when it comes to vector drawing. If you are relativly new you could make flags like the French, Japense or German. For the people with a little experience there are flags such as the US, Chinese or Indian. And for the higly experienced we had flags like the East German or Croatian flags. Each flag is also a standalone entity so people can work on it without thinking to much about people working on other flags.

Another successfactor was that the target is clearly and easily defined. People could easily identify a flag that needed doing that was within their skill level and they had a good resource like flagspot to get information on apsect ratio’s and colors.

Based on this I started to think about the projects that I am familiar with. Mono seems to be an example of a project that has had relative ease at attracting new developers. While a part of this of course is attributed to the energetic style of Miguel, which clearly helps to both bring in new people and motivate excisting ones, so do Mono share many traits with my flag project. You have a clearly defined list of classes that needs implementing with some classes perfect for someone new and some classes a good challenge for someone experienced. Each class is to some extenxt also a standalone entity which you can work on as a separate project.

For GNOME there are a lot of people doing stuff around it, but inflow of new developers to work on the core is relativly slow. But then again GNOME is very much the opposite of the Flag project or Mono. First of all it doesn’t have something predefined to implement, which means there are no good list of tasks needing doing. Secondly as things gets more and more integrated many of the tasks have ramifications for other parts of the project, which means doing something tends to mean you might need to relate to a lot of different stakeholders which can be both frustrating and hard, especially for someone new to the project.

If you go into #gnome on IRC and say ‘hi, I want to help with GNOME’ the standard reply is often something along the lines of ‘cool, go look in bugzilla and find a bug you can work on, that is a good way to get started’. This is really a sucky and stupid reply I realized today. The problem is that while bugzilla theoretically could be the GNOME version of the list world flags or the C# ECMA specification, it is next to useless for that task today.
For instance if I wanted to help out with Nautilus and was sent into bugzilla looking for a task I would a) have quite the job of actually finding a bug with a clear enough scope to work on. ‘Started Nautilus and it crashed’ is not a good work description for a hacking newbie. b) If I did found a bug I could work on I would have no idea if that fix is still wanted. Could be that since that bug was filed the design goals of Nautilus has changed to make it obsolete. c) bugzilla does not tell me anything of how to implement it, so even if I did manage to make a patch it could be refused due to not implementing the solution in an acceptable manner.

So my conclusion to todays ‘thinking in public session’ is that if we really want to be able to say ‘go look in bugzilla for a task’ then we need to make sure no module has more open bugs than the maintainer(s) are able to handle/keep control over. For some modules that would mean getting though on some bugs that are not really bugs but design discussions, loose plans for the future, trivial behaviour changes etc. It would also mean that when a new bug arrives the maintainers should probably add a comment on how/where to fix it. That way if they don’t get to it and this new developer comes along he/she can actually be productive.

That said, GNOME is a much more complex project than the flag project, so no matter how much we alter structures and systems to make things easier it will always have to pay some efficency price for being a large and compex project.

Me, Ronald Bultje and Ted Gould has conspired to bring
the new gst-mixer into gnome-media. I spent the evening working on the migration so Ronald and Ted can focus on the hacking that needs doing. Felt kinda like a hacker myself as I strugled with auto*. Still some love needed from me, but it is ready to be commited I think.

Ok, so I had a few files I needed to get burned onto a cdrom. And I thought, ok lets give that cdburner thing in nautilus a try. So I put in a blank cdrom in my cdburner and nautilus pops up with a ‘burn:’ view. I drag&drop my files over, press burn, and a dialog asking some basic questions appear, like burn speed etc. I press continue, my cdrom gets made and I am happy.

I guess ‘just works’ is possible with free software too :)

Thanks to everyone involved!

We had a small discussion about Sun at work today. Seems people at work are convinced that Sun is going down. The argument is that Sun has locked itself in a proprietary corner and is unable to see that the market is heading the opposite direction.

Personally I am not so sure, but I do agree that Sun needs to do something to get back on track, and that none of the options they have available can be considered easy.

I mean Sun has lots of good things going for them, question is if they can convert it into something they can earn money on.

For instance Sun do have a strong stack on the desktop with their Java desktop, SunRay technology and StarOffice they could become a big player in the Linux desktop space. Question however is if that market will come quick enough and if the competitive situation will let a big company like Sun earn enough per unit. If they provided SunRay for Linux servers I think it could be a winner thinclient product, but I do think they will let themselves be locked into some sort of Solaris & Sparc loyalty program to let that happen.

On the CPU side, well they do have a ton of good CPU engineers, but the question is if they are able to get something usefull out of it. Having SPARC keep up with Intel
CPU’s isn’t enough. If SPARC is to have a future then SPARC needs to outperform Intel CPU’s with a great margin, yet the price needs to be cheaper, meaning I could buy a SPARC with double the performance of an Intel CPU for the same ammount of money. Not sure Sun will be able to do that. An alternative would be for Sun to buy/merge with AMD and use their SPARC technologies to make a killer IA64 CPU with AMD. But I am not sure how technologically feasible this is.

When it comes to server sales in general I am not sure what to say. For instance their latest effort to evangelize Solaris on Intel is doomed to fail. When a market behemot like Microsoft is unable to keep linux at bay, then no way a niche player (like Sun is on Intel) will be able to.

One more weekend spent at work, this one semi-voluntary also known as trying to avoid greater pains later on. Of course doing upgrades of Oracle systems tend to give me time for other pursuits while the system does its thing. This time I found a really interesting article in the Economist (I am really starting to love that magazine) about a research project which has managed to get monkeys to manipulate a robotic arm with their thoughts. While the target of the research was to help disabled people, I personally started thinking that it might be a great step towards truly immersive gaming experience and in the next instance even be the first step towards immortality through digitalization.
Anyway the research papers are available from Public Library of Science, a website that aims to make scientific papers freely available. I guess open source’s idea of freely exchanging ideas is making the idea make a comeback in other scientific circles as well.

Did some testbuilds of GStreamer CVS head last few days. GStreamer builds well know, but my main test app Rhythmbox have had some build issues in its CVS version, luckily waters is on the ball fixing stuff as I report them.
Hopefully we can get GStreamer 0.7.1 released tommorow or early next week.

Boring weekend at work, much waiting for sql jobs to complete.
Luckily the firewall at the customers place don’t block IRC. Talked a long while with sdodji last night and I think we made a good roadmap for world domination for
mlview+, details to be revealed later.

Also tested latest RPMS of Red Hat Eclipse, which is compiled with gcj. It is really quite fast and I can absolutly see that it might become a major IDE tool for GTK+, GNOME and Unix/Linux hacking in general.

Me and some friends walked into the forest yesterday to find my Uncle’s cabin. He has offered me to buy it from him,
since his daughter don’t really want it and he wants to keep it in the family. So we walked in to take a look at the place since it has been quite some years since I last was there.

The idea of buying the cabin awakes conflicting emotions in me. Part of me wants to buy it since it was built by my great grandfather and there is actually a large area of forest and part of lake that belongs to it, including some nice hunting rights. Basically the idea of owning a large piece of forest appeals to me, partly I guess since it is a resource that is in steady decline globally, and owning a piece of it would enable me in a small way to contribute to the preservation of this beautiful resource, and it would be something lasting to pass on to my own offspring.

On the other side so is investing a large sum of money in Norway now not really a good mix with any of my other plans, expecially those related to moving abroad. For instance if I move to Australia so would having a cabin in Oslo be rather silly. The buy would also increase the amount of money I would need to set aside each month to pay for my loans, at a time when I have been looking hard at reducing the amount of money I owe the bank.

Hmm, think I need a girlfriend with a steady income. That would solve all my financials worries :)

thomasvs have been merging patches and fixing bugs in the stable branch of GStreamer. A new release is imminent, and even more pressure from me on me to get moving on the development branch release :)