Older blog entries for jdub (starting at number 182)

"You agree to take reasonable steps to promote your presentation through means accessible to you. This includes adding your presentation to any public schedule of your teaching engagements that may be published electronically or in print. It also includes adding a link to the O'Reilly conference home page to your public web page if you maintain one."

Fulfilling my contractural agreement (!!!) to co-promote the O'Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON), which I will be speaking at this year. I'll give an updated version of my To The Teeth: Arming GNOME for Desktop Success talk. I think they've put me on at the same time as a Java Desktop System presentation...

Update: I've just been going through the other bios, and found that they are all stunningly serious and boring. rml likes cheese, though. I am glad we are keeping up the GNOME spirit of partying hard in the face of oppression by the politically correct (who seem to be ably represented by the French, these days).  #

serious problems with Mr. Michlmayr

Congratulations Martin, we knew you could do it! Well... Okay, so we had our "doubts". Thank you and good luck for this year!  #

Colin is one of my Greatest Debian Heroes, and has joined a number of my other (sometimes historical) Debian Heroes at Red Hat. I don't like the personal walls some people put up or believe in between Red Hat and Debian, whether or not they like the particular bits shipped. Thing is, Red Hat and Debian's political worldviews are much closer than most of the other "pragmatic" distributions.

Don't diss the people, people. :-)  #

The Language Question

According to Dave, my release hat is "rigid and boring", but it turns out to be quite useful when approaching The Language Question. Thus far, no one seems to have covered use cases or categorisation. So here goes... From my perspective, we have perhaps four major categories:

Developer Platform

This one is super-thorny, because most of us want to keep our language neutral libraries and permit lots of choice on top. This will be the last domino to fall, as any discussion of alternatives down here would involve far-reaching changes up the stack and the "language platform" issues Havoc raised (such as using language-platform-native database APIs and so on).

I think we can safely limit the language discussion to other categories, and not worry about how it affects our platform at the moment.


Lots of people are cottoning on to the fact that I think the Desktop is too important for its own good. But, while that is still true, we have to accept that it's the crown jewel. Everyone ships it and hopefully everyone buys into what we ship (which we can often choose accordingly), so the Desktop is "don't rock the boat" central.

That makes Java and Mono difficult choices in the Desktop for the moment (though they are certainly worth discussing), but there's been very little disagreement with the use of Python as a transient, small-project language. There's been interest in using Python for the Control Center for some time, amongst other places, but it would probably not be appropriate for a large chunk of software such as Nautilus or the Panel. At least for the moment - lots of people are still flinching from the Red Hat Update Agent experience.

To a certain extent - ie. Java and Mono - this leaves the question wide open, and there's no question that we should continue to discuss it. But the Desktop is one area that we must all roughly agree on... Let's not fuck it up by being impatient.

Independent Free Software Hackers

This is Mad Max territory. If bindings exist for any language, hackers will come, and so they should. We shouldn't do anything to discourage this. For one, it's cool, but... it may also open up interesting markets to us in areas such as scientific research. We're not providing solutions or alternatives for this group, we're just helping them along their way.

So we can basically avoid this category with the "use anything!" answer, and it shouldn't harm other messaging.

Custom or Internal Software Developers

These kinds of developers are using C++, Java, VB, Delphi or increasingly, C# and .NET. On one hand, we have to sell platform independence or partial migration, but as more and more internal projects begin on Free Software (OS or development) platforms, there will be greater acceptance of opportunities in our ecosystem.

So it would be hugely advantageous here to have a good story on C++, Java and Mono, along with other alternatives such as Python, Perl and PHP. Will any forward motion here have a detrimental effect on GNOME, via interested stakeholders (the companies)? It doesn't seem so to me, on first inspection. Different companies can support what they will for their own GNOME-based products (Sun, for instance, sells Java as its desktop development answer, and is making sure it integrates into GNOME fairly nicely - it's a bummer they don't support GNOME itself, but hey).

We need to provide (and "sell") great answers to succeed in this market, but there is no harm in having alternatives. The more rigid ISV answer below may help direct some of this morass anyway.

Independent Software Vendors

ISVs will have similar requirements to Custom/Internal developers, but with a more rigid approach, most likely. I'm less familiar with ISV problems than I am with the above categories, so perhaps someone can help fill this in a bit better.

What I do know is that we are probably best off positioning a few select tools for ISVs that we know will integrate well into GNOME. We start with C/C++, add a managed language for rapid development, and toss in a scripting language in for macros and desktop scripting as well as transient apps and prototyping.

This is hard-sell territory, and probably not an area where the community will have much direct impact (or even interest). But can we leave all of this to the major stakeholders, without being sidelined in the process? Not sure, but I'd like to think we can help forge some common answers along the way, and keep our tight crew together.


Is there a conclusion here? Not really. I just want to encourage further thoughts about use cases in this discussion. We don't make these decisions in a vacuum! I certainly don't want to rule Java or Mono out of the equation either, even though we're going to need a lot more discussion to sort those out safely.

But a closing thought on the Java and Mono topic... What I'm seeing out here is a lot of involvement and selling - even carroting - from Novell/Ximian on the Mono front. Supporting f-spot development, the GTK+/GNOME bindings, some plugins for various programs, and the big one - iFolder/Simias. To some, the iFolder/Simias release is a great big Mono-shaped community carrot, giving us a tasty-looking solution to one of our big-interest problems.

Is Sun doing anything to get the community interested in Java? Not that I've seen. Mono may win over the community, not for legal or technical reasons, but simply through lack of attention from the Java camp. I wonder how close the Java and Desktop teams are within Sun...

Update: In reply to Luis, I was definitely talking about the carrot effect, without accusations about a carroting intent.  #

Found an interesting page about fisheye views, applied to XUL menus. If you've seen the OS X dock, you'll know what a fisheye view is, but you may not have thought about the cunning metrics going on behind the scenes to make it feel natural. Exscade uses distance measurement only (as shown in the diagram), but there's a short paragraph covering velocity sensitive approaches. I couldn't get the demo to work... Bummer.

Fisheye views are a way of getting more Fitt's Law bang-for-your-buck, by artificially creating larger areas to aim at. They're especially useful for cramped or small interfaces - but I'm stretching my head to figure out how to apply this to PDA interfaces. There's no such thing as a hovering cursor on a PDA, you see. ;-)

Sadly, I know Mark would have enjoyed sinking his teeth into these problems. :-(  #

Love the Debian HK site, added it to the Planetarium. The description field in their blog feed is: "Unite all Debian users in Hong Kong, dominate the Greater China Linux market, conquer all servers in the world!" As long as Pipka can still speak Mandarin on the mainland, that plan sounds mighty fine to me. :-)  #

There is a great post by 'rkrishnan' on GNOME Bangalore about why blogging is important. It's a fictional conversation between the protagonist and a skeptic, attempting to explain what a blog is, and why it's useful. Various points are made, but the skeptic doesn't seem to understand until the protagonist enthuses, "It is like meditation that comes thru karma."

"Ah, I understand that now."

And with that, I welcome GNOME Bangalore to the Planetarium. :-)  #

Some fascinating stats in the Free/Libre/Open Source Software Asian Developers Online Survey. Marco should be proud, around six percent of respondents knew who he was. Cool!

It certainly gives me pause for thought about the importance of Asia to the Australian economy, how our current government has systematically fucked our good standing in the region, the scaremongering over foreign outsourcing in the local IT industry, and what we have to lose through the bilateral US Trade Agreement (I like Rusty's strategy of dropping the "Free").  #

The GNOME release parties ought to have a slogan, and I think I found a good one on FootNotes: "Will installing it through the night while I am half-dressed and supposed to be finishing homework count as a party?"  #

In case any of the Novell systems administration team read my blog, I just wanted to encourage you to route all important public-facing website decisions through Dave Camp. He's a very smart cookie, loving and huggable. Plus, he would keep Planet Novell alive on the interweb, so everyone could see how much the Novell dudes are rocking.  #

Liiiinkage! Great article on news.com about presence, which links to a bunch of other good articles for people interested in collaboration station ideas. After talking with Gus about the language debates going on at the moment, he suggested I check out RMS's paper on Emacs design and lessons learned. A good read. Why I love the French. Things you never wanted to know about Joe Shaw, who almost redeems himself by having good taste in music. Some quick hacks on install-module produce good results.  #

18 Mar 2004 (updated 29 Apr 2004 at 23:59 UTC) »

I don't have an expressable opinion on the language thing yet. But I'm glad it has been brought up with a fairly sensible analysis, instead of a flamewar. Even so...

Before Havoc's essay: (image)

After: (image)  #

Since Alex Larsson doesn't have a blog, I will have to blog this great article about choice for him: "The ordinary man believes he is free when he is permitted to act arbitrarily, but in this very arbitrariness lies the fact that he is unfree."  #

There'll be an Alan & Telsa moment in our house when Pipka gets up this morning. The Debian Installer folk need testers on weird platforms, so I've been trying to help out with some machines here. Unfortunately, they're hot and noisy, and there is very little room left in the office (which, um, would have nothing to do with the amount of mess)... So sticking them upstairs in the chill-out room with a wireless switch seems to be the best solution. I have the nagging feeling that Pipka won't appreciate them being there for too long, however.  #

Thanks for all the replies about Planet GNOME (already!), lots of food for thought. One particularly humorous response about John's posts: "On some days Planet Gnome is filled with his face and pages of text [...] like that scene in 'Being John Malkovich' where he is inside his own mind and everyone in the room looks like him. In that scene they are all having deep conversations using only the the words 'John Malkovich'." And so, today we offer a tribute to our own John. Malkovich. Malkovich-Malkovich.  #

Today's big thanks go to Wichert. Over the weekend, I finally got fed up with administering the MAC address lists in Craige's Airport. It's not often that I reboot my iBook into OS X, and none of my machines have a JVM on them to run the Java-based admin tool, so I needed another solution. The Airport supports RADIUS...

Enter pyrad, Wichert's pure Python RADIUS client, which also includes a simple server, and an aptly named Twisted module, "curved". Bingo! 10 or 12 lines of Python later, and we have a tiny little RADIUS server that accepts and rejects MAC addresses for the Airport.

Mister RADIUS is a quick hack-job, and doesn't use the Twisted module yet, but I'm sure it will be useful when I start my WRT54G + Twisted hacking in earnest. I wonder if anyone has experience using Twisted in an embedded environment yet...  #

On Planet GNOME

  • Should we have a separate page for interesting GNOME feeds that are not personal or written by human hands? It has been suggested that the FootNotes feed be removed, but it might make sense to aggregate it with similar feeds, such as FTP releases (soon with NEWS love), and other stuff we come up with.
  • What should the guidelines be for inclusion in Planet GNOME? I've been treading lightly on this one, because it's a tough call. My guideline so far has been "positive and mature regular contributor to GNOME". This has worked fairly well, and readers regularly voice their appreciation for this 'passive editing', so it seems to be a feature. I just want to make sure it's on the right track - for instance, so far I have resisted adding people who do packaging only. Obviously, the most important factor is what readers want, not what the egos of contributors want. It sounds a bit backwards, doesn't it? :-)
  • Why do people keep complaining about John Fleck's entries... and what should I do? So, the vast majority of John's posts are not GNOME related, and he does post in quick succession. But John is an upstanding member of the GNOME Old Fogies club, and a longstanding contributor (and one-time esteemed leader) of the GNOME Documentation Project. Funnily enough, a couple of the complaint mails have suggested a new Planet feature: Pooling a particular feed's daily entries into a single block. I'm almost tempted to hack it up, just for the amusement value.

Tell me what you think: jdub at gnome dot org.  #

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