my blog

Wednesday 26 March 2008

About this Summer of Code thing...

There are some events that make you quite happy. On Monday, I pinged my favorite brazilian hacker to start triaging our list of project ideas for the Google Summer of Code. I didn't want to do this alone, and it was time to do it since the student application period was about to start. Lucas then appeared on IRC. But we were not only two: Adam, Daniel (who is really German, don't listen to him trying to argue that he's not), Marco and Sandy decided to step up and join the discussion. The amazing thing is that all this process was quite long (something like four hours) but everybody took the time to contribute. That's cool. Really cool.

Since I'm talking about GSoC, I might as well go on and try to get more people involved as mentors :-) Everybody potentially willing to mentor for GNOME should register in the web application as soon as possible, since we're already receiving some applications. And we need to start looking at them and discussing with students now. Also, make sure to subscribe to the soc-mentors-list mailing list, since this is the private place where mentors and administrators can talk about proposals, students, problems, good things, etc. If you're interested in being part of the small team (around 10 people) that will have the last word about which applications we accept, make sure to contact Behdad, Christian, Lucas or me. The easiest way is probably to send a mail to soc-mentors-list.

Oh, maybe some students are also reading this blog? Well, now it's time for you to apply. Go read the small documentation that Clare and Marco (who participated to WSOP and GSoC in the past) wrote. You can also look at those notes from Buddhika who also was a GSoC student. I'm sure every student can find a project he wants to work on. There are so many mentoring organizations that I can't imagine that someone will fail to find something of interest to him. There's GNOME, of course, but if you're interested in GNOME, you might also be interested in Abiword, cairo, the GIMP, Gnumeric, GStreamer, Inkscape or But that's not all, I'm sure there will be some cool projects being mentored by vim, the XMPP Foundation, or our friends at KDE. Also check out the openSUSE ideas! Woo, maybe there are too many good projects? :-)


I discussed with Baris at the end of last week, and he told me he can't create some buzz around GUADEC because he doesn't have a blog yet. So let me be his slave for a few minutes :-)

First, and that's important, there's the deadline for paper submission which is really soon now: it's on March 30th. In case you don't have a calendar right in front of you, it means this week is the last week to submit your talk. So if you're thinking of talking about your latest great idea at GUADEC, don't wait and send your talk proposal now!

The GUADEC team also worked hard on getting sponsors. This is still a work in progress, but here's a the beginning of the results of this work with a preliminary list of sponsors:

  • Gold sponsors: Linux Foundation, Novell
  • Silver sponsors: Igalia, Mozilla Corporation, Opened Hand

More are of course coming soon and will be announced in a near future. Many thanks to those five organizations, and congratulations for being the first sponsors! This event wouldn't be so successful without all the sponsors that help us each year, so it's great to see them continue their support of our community.

I think I'm done with my slave status and I can be free again! First, I'm really happy to see that Novell is among the first sponsors to support GUADEC ;-) While it probably doesn't mean anything for a lot of people, it's important to me to see that the company I work for is responsive when it comes to supporting a project I love. Anyway. Don't know about you, but I'm quite excited about this GUADEC. I mean, I can't wait to go to Istanbul, and I'm confident the conference will rock as usual. Why am I so confident? Well, there are so many reasons: lots of great people (and friends!), interesting topics to discuss, lots of fun, a beautiful town, etc. And hopefully, Diego will be there and we'll be able to meet for one of the most important event of all times: our second round of the epic ice cream battle.

Saturday 22 March 2008

What I've been doing today...

vuntz@buildmachine ~/>./bin/create-summaries --output-database ~/data.db
vuntz@buildmachine ~/>python
Python 2.5.1 (r251:54863, Sep 21 2007, 22:46:31)
[GCC 4.2.1 (SUSE Linux)] on linux2
Type "help", "copyright", "credits" or "license" for more information.
>>> import sqlite3
>>> db=sqlite3.connect('/suse/vuntz/data.db')
>>> c=db.cursor()
>>> c.execute('select count(*) from patch where srcpackage = (select id from srcpackage where name = "gnome-panel")').fetchone()[0]
>>> c.execute('select count(*) from rpmlint').fetchone()[0]
>>> c.execute('select count(*) from rpmlint where type="not-listed-as-documentation"').fetchone()[0]
>>> c.execute('select count(*) from srcpackage where version < upstream_version').fetchone()[0]

Quick answers to some FAQ:

  • yes, I know, the UI isn't really user-friendly ;-)
  • this demo is really short, more can be done right now. And after a bit more work, there'll be some more data in there to query.
  • there are certainly bugs when collecting the data, so I wouldn't trust the returned values. It still gives a rough idea of how things are.
  • it's only working on packages where upstream is hosted on the GNOME FTP server. That's mainly for convenience reasons; adding other packages later shouldn't be hard.
  • yes, there are lots of gnome-panel patches in our package. I'll look at them in a not too distant future.
  • most of the rpmlint warnings (6388 out of 7120 -- this includes some false positives, but still) seem to be related to this bug. The good news is that I attached a simple patch earlier today.

I love my job :-)

Thursday 20 March 2008

Fixing packaging conventions/guidelines

I fixed the openSUSE package conventions about .desktop files a few minutes ago. No big change there (see the details of the changes), but it contained some outdated information and some errors. I was especially annoyed by the fact that it was talking about the GenericName key for tooltips instead of the Comment key: because of this, there are some patches in our packages to change the .desktop files to use the GenericName key instead of the Comment one. The page can probably do with some more work to clarify things, and I guess I'll do this in the future.

It reminded me that last year, I contacted someone to change the Fedora packaging guidelines because the example was not a valid .desktop file. Do other distributions have packaging guidelines or conventions related to .desktop files? If yes, please tell me where I can look at them so I can check that they're fine :-)

Tuesday 18 March 2008 & Google Summer of Code

GNOME and KDE both use a lot of technologies and projects which often falls under the umbrella (hmm, umbrella, that's a topic for yet another blog post I have to write; or you can read a french post I wrote last year) , and it totally makes sense for our pojects to help those projects whenever we can. For example, in the past, we've been open about Google Summer of Code projects that were not stricly related to GNOME (or KDE, although I can't speak for the KDE administrators). But for some reason, it never crossed our minds to go a step further and really announce this and cooperate on this. Well, after a brief mail exchange with Thiago, now it's fixed.

So all avahi, ConsoleKit, D-Bus, hal, HarfBuzz, NetworkManager, poppler, etc. (I'm sure I'm forgetting tons of projects) people out there, make sure to read Thiago's mail and to help us improve your projects! You just need ideas for Google Summer of Code projects and also time to mentors students.

Friday 14 March 2008

Reading comments about GNOME 2.22.0

After a GNOME release, I generally spend some time reading the comments about the release on various websites. I'm generally quite passive, since I don't reply to any of them, but it's always interesting. After reading a lot of comments, it's quite easy to find out that there are some standard categories for the comments:

  • comments from happy users who are excited about this release, either because they love GNOME in general, or because some feature they were waiting for got added or a long-standing bug finally got fixed.
  • comment raising some valid concerns in a constructive way. Even if it's saying something bad about our project, even if I disagree, it's still a constructive comment, and therefore it's useful.
  • comments from people who seem to just have some irrational hate for GNOME. Those ones always make me a bit sad since, to me, it sounds like "what you're doing is crap".
  • comments that are good or bad, but really subjective, often because it's about something which is a matter of taste, like the default theme or background.
  • comments from users that are a bit sad that some bug wasn't fixed yet. We should really have people gathering those kind of comments, since it gives an idea of what people care about and so it's some feedback we should consider.
  • mmh, I forgot at least one category ;-)

And quite often, there's one comment that just makes me happy. For 2.22.0, this comment made my day, especially the last paragraph:

Software development ain't easy, especially not in the decentralized volunteer world of free software, but the Gnome guys seem to have it down pretty well. Kudos to them.

I can think of many things that could be improved in what I'd call our "release management process" (this name is a bit too restrictive in this context, but I can't think of a better one), but let's not forget that it doesn't mean we're doing bad. And seeing people noticing this makes me feel good :-)

Wednesday 12 March 2008

The new version of GNOME is out!

Six months of work. Here's the result:

GNOME 2.22

I'm happy to be part of our community. And proud. Because we're rocking, and GNOME 2.22 is the best proof of this! Congratulations everybody, and don't forget to eat ice cream to celebrate this release!

GNOME Foundation happenings

A bit later than expected, but they're finally here: the GNOME Foundation annual report for 2007 and the GNOME Foundation budget for 2008.

I won't write too much about the annual report since Lucas, Federico and others already blogged about them. It's really nice to have such a document that summarizes many of the things that happened last year. Congratulations to Lucas for leading this effort and to everybody who contributed some text, photos, design and proofreading time! For the 2008 report, I guess we'll probably try to start the work a bit earlier so that it can be released earlier too (December/January).

Also, at the end of last year, I started working on a budget for 2008. Not that I'm good at this kind of job, but I was treasurer at this time. Dave helped me write a first version, and it got reworked a few times until mid-January. So, it's released two months too late, according to me, but I can only blame myself for not pushing harder and for not finding more time :-) What's in this budget? Well, here are some highlights, related to things that are important to me:

  • we've allocated money for hackfests. The GTK+ hackfest is going strong, with lots of action happening right now in Berlin, and so I'm even more convinced now that we need to do more small hackfests on specific topics. More news to come on this topic, hopefully.
  • there's quite some money allocated for some local groups and events. It's been hard to prepare the budget there since it's hard for local groups to know how much money they'll need during the whole year. Still good, though: I think we'll be spending more money on this than any year before, which is good.
  • we're planning to support the Latin America tour that Diego proposed last year. It's still in the planning stages, but it should get more attention in the next few months :-)
  • there's the sysadmin job in there. Right now, we're trying to not go crazy and we're thinking of starting small, with a part-time job. It's still a work in progress, but I really hope we'll make it happen.

Of course, there are other interesting things in this budget, but I'll let you have a look at it!

Tuesday 11 March 2008

Getting ready for releasing GNOME 2.22.0

I was going to write a post about how everybody can help with smoketesting GNOME 2.22.0, but Olav has been faster. Yeah, this guy can be annoying, he's always doing things a few minutes before you ;-) Fortunately, he didn't explain what smoketesting is, so I still have something to talk about. And if you're a maintainer of a GNOME module, read on too: we need your help to check at least one thing.

The smoketesting step is one of the last steps before the actual release: we build the whole GNOME stack from scratch and play with it for a while to be sure that there's no big last-minute bug or crasher. It should help catch the major problems in a release. We're doing this step for all stable and unstable release, but it's of course more important to do it right for stable releases, especially the .0 releases since we're trying hard to make crash-free and regression-free releases. The good thing here is that everybody can help with smoketesting. We have some smoketesting documentation if you want to help. This documentation should guide you through all the steps needed to smoketest GNOME 2.22.0. It was a bit outdated so I quickly updated it, so if there's some error, tell the release team about it, or leave a comment here. Alternatively, if you're an expert, you can simply read Olav's post which should be just what you need.

We also need help from maintainers: all of you should make sure that the versions file for 2.22.0 contains the right version for your modules. You'll notice that a few modules still have a 2.21 release as the latest one: evolution-webcal, file-roller, gnome-icon-theme, libgnomekbd and sabayon. We might still be able to use a 2.22.0 release for those modules if it doesn't come out too late. Contact the release team by mail or on IRC if you need help to release them.

Tuesday 4 March 2008

MoFo and GNOME

Our friends at Mozilla love us and we also love them. It's been a really good relationship for years now. So, at the end of last year, when Chris started working at the Mozilla Corporation, we quickly started talking about what we can do together. Mozilla and GNOME have lots of things in common. Technical things, of course, but also, and that's way more important, our communities both share some values, like freedom and innovation. Therefore the GNOME Foundation invited the Mozilla Foundation to join our advisory board, and we also discussed various cooperation ideas. One of the result of those discussions is the GNOME Outreach Program: Accessibility (which Google, Canonical and Novell later joined as sponsors), something we're really proud of.

As a summary, we've been making our collaboration a bit more official, and we're playing with new ideas! And we've finally announced all this. Okay, this was not a secret since quite some time (Chris talked about it back in January, eg) ;-) Welcome to the advisory board, MoFo, and I'm glad we'll be able to do a lot of cool things together!

Two planets, two mailing lists

Woohoo, I've progressed in my quest to rule the world. Oh, those are secret plans, I shouldn't talk about them here, I guess. Anyway, I got added to Planet and Planet SUSE. Hi there! Since I still didn't enter the aggressive mode for another secret plan (you know, the one about making french the only true language), only the english posts should show there. Yeah, I know, it's a bit sad... Did I hear someone say "yay, less blog entries from this guy?" ;-)

So, today, I want to tell you about two new mailing lists which should be of interest to at least some people: ftp-release and distributions.

The goal of the first one is to be the place where announces of new releases for projects hosted by should go. It seems a good idea since, for example, nobody knows when a new desktop-file-utils release is out and so it doesn't get packaged anywhere. I'd love to see some Xorg announces there, and also some telepathy, poppler, swfdec, etc. announces. You can simply cc the list if you still want to send the announces to your development mailing list. It would help make the world a better place, at least for some packagers, I guess. Sure, tt's not perfect since right now, maintainers need to write the mail themselves, but maybe at some point in the future, we'll be able to improve the infrastructure and get this done automatically in some way.

The distributions list is an interesting project to get some cross-distribution collaboration. It's not about which one is better? or some other totally cool debate, but really about some low-level topics that could help improve the overall quality of distributions. Oh, and it's distributions as in free software distributions, not as in Linux or GNU/Linux distributions, so everybody is welcome, including our friends working on OpenSolariis, *BSD, etc. Lucas, who pushed for the creation of this list, has more details about it. I'm happy because this mailing list will make it possible for me to start working on another (small) secret plan that could be interesting to many distributions.

Hrm, maybe I have too many secret plans? I guess I'll just postpone a bit the one about ruling the world... Anyway, everybody, go subscribe to those two lists. I know you'll feel empty if you don't do so now.

by Vincent