Time for another Unity status report. As you can expect due to holidays around the world not much progress was made other than expanding our waistlines.
Expect a flurry of activity this week as Unity developers spin up for the new year. Next week the Unity team will be sprinting in Dallas, Texas along with other members of the Canonical Platform team so expect a bunch of updates.
New to Unity but not Ubuntu is Shane Fagan, who adds a unity —replace command. Hey, it’s all about the little things. Matthew Rasmus returns with 2 fixes (both committed in trunk but not yet released, expect it on Thursday/Friday):
691765 - When a menu is triggered from Alt+key, app name stays visible on panel
Mathieu Trudel continues to work on the nm-applet port to application indicators. He’s now got wireless icons in the dropdown. (This is a screenshot of it from his laptop, so this is just a tease, nothing landing yet)
Conor Curran has sent along an update on what’s going on with the sound indicator
Auto/intellihide is now on by default in trunk and intial support for using the Super key to invoke the launcher has also landed.
The launcher now supports scroll events (like your mouse wheel).
Here’s something I discovered yesterday as I was tooling around on my home server while using Unity. This is what happens when you maximize a terminal in Unity Alpha in Natty (Assuming you have autohide on, it’s not turned on by default yet but it will be, here’s how):
This is real useful when I’m working on something, I need my desktop to be out of the way. Obviously there’s a lot of work to be done in this area, but it’s coming together, stay tuned for a Unity progress report later today.
I joined Canonical early January 2010 to fill the role of Sound Architect on the DX team. Ever since I have been implementing a redesign of the system sound menu. ‘Indicator Sound’ is part of a core group of system indicators which sit on the top panel of the Ubuntu desktop. Its main purpose is to allow users to control the system’s sound settings (through pulseaudio). PulseAudio which is the sound server generally used on Linux systems ( similar to Apple’s CoreAudio or MS’s WASAPI ).
From Maverick onwards the inidicator was enhanced to allow for popular Media players to be controlled from the menu. This was made possible by the good work of the MPRIS people particularly Mirsal Ennaimem, Alex Merry, Ian Monroe and Lennart Poettering. I feel our immediate use-case really spurred the new version of this MPRIS into fruition. Currently Rhythmbox, Banshee, Amarok, VLC, Xnoise, Media Player Daemon all support complete integration with the menu.
The Natty release uses exclusively the MPRIS2 protocol including the playlist extension. This will enable applications like Spotify (with the MPRIS extension) to integrate seamlessly into the menu as no extra dependency will be needed.
More information on client registration can be found in the spec. The launchpad home for the project is https://launchpad.net/indicator-sound and the source can be fetched from the development trunk at lp:indicator-sound (or alternatively you can grab a tarball of the most recent release).
I hangout on #ayatana, #ubuntu-desktop on #freenode under the alias of ‘ronoc’. Any questions please feel free to ping me any time or ask the developer mailing list.
On my roadmap amongst other indicator concerns will be a focus on the ubuntu user experience for the lightweight audio dabbler to the medium weight MP3 mixer. David Henningsson, Daniel Chen, Luke Yelavich and Rodrigo Moya have been doing great work around this area and as this is something very close to my heart I should really be more involved …
Which was the annoying thing where applications that generated menus like Tomboy had had two two Quit Quit entries entries. See? I told you it was annoying. He’s currently checking out adding quick lists to the Trash Can. Unless of course you are from England, in which case the correct term is Rubbish Bin.
Here’s the interesting ones for the week. Feel free to grab any of these bugs and start hacking.
Reports are coming in about double window widgets and titles, don’t worry, it’s just a transition while we debug the widgets in the top panel (this is mostly fixed in trunk, expect a proper fix end of this week):
This week also includes fixes from Neil Patel and Jason Smith, with some other fixes from Michael Terry (a unity icon and a category in ccsm), along with the return of launcher drag and drop of icons. (Check out the picture)
The team would also like to send a thanks to Omar Akram and Hernando Torque for their ever vigilant bug work and testing.
Jason Smith ran a Unity Ask Me Anything on reddit if you’re interested in some of the gory details of what it’s like to work on Unity. You can also find more information on Unity from the developers by following the Unity tag on Ask Ubuntu.
Lifehacker had an article on pianobar, a command line client for Pandora. I found it nicer to use than the web Flash player, but I just had to have my Last.fm scrobbling.
DoR answered my question on how to set up pianobar to scrobble to last.fm. Not quite user-friendly, but hey, it’s a command line pandora client, you’re not going to give up when you run into CPAN are you?
Matthew however, pointed out Pithos, a GTK client for Pandora with built in last.fm scrobbling. I head-desked myself for not knowing about this app sooner.
There’s a bug report for MPRIS/SoundMenu support, I’ve mailed the author to see if there’s a way we can help. In the meantime, rock out to the AC/DC.
Another week, another set of bitesize bugs! But first off we’d like to welcome Matthew Rasmus to the growing list of new Unity Contributors. Matthew has been working on Bug 686182: “Unity launchers run multiple copies of program if clicked multiple times before the program loads”
I’ve been wanting to contribute to Ubuntu in some way ever since I started using it a year and a half ago, and I finally decided to start doing something about that with Unity. I’m a full time college student working on my major in computer science, and in my spare time I find myself playing playing guitar, or piano, or video games.
This week also sees Jamal Fanaian returning for a nice autohide fix. Here’s some goodies for this week:
Now it’s not deja vu. This happened to me before. My other best friend is now also moving to California this month to work for a large company who is deploying tons of Puppet. It’s a tremendous opportunity for him, just like the last guy.
Best of luck to him, it’s always good to see projects like Puppet flourish and for Ken to have an opportunity like this. So as a goodbye/good luck we went to go see the Wings play the Sharks at the Joe. Unfortunately for him his home team will now be the San Jose Sharks, heh.
Here’s a picture of us at the game. (He’s the abandoner on the left.)
And my dad was in town as well, and hadn’t seen the Wings in like 15 years so he tagged along too.
So there was a seemingly simple bug, the launcher would autohide when the quicklist was open.This was due to the fact that the launcher was entirely unaware of when a quicklist was open.
So I layed out a design to follow in the bug report, essentially I left a stubbed class that someone could implement.
As it ends up Jamal Fanaian has returned for his 2nd straight day of Unity contributions. Jason continues:
The class he created tracks the state of all quicklists in the launcher, then informs the launcher when they show/hide/change. He then made the launcher consume this information and avoid hiding when one was showing. Oh, and he cleaned up a bunch of code while he was doing it, just for giggles.
If you’re interested in helping maintain the gtkmm stack in Ubuntu then please join this team. We could really use a hand as keeping finding people to help with this stack on a regular basis has been a problem for us.
While setting up the team Krzysztof also updated atkmm and gtkmm in Natty to the latest versions so you’ve got that to play with!
As I mentioned last week we’ve started a campaign for helping people get started on fixing bitesize bugs in Unity. Jono blogged about this as well. As it turns up, we’ve got our first bitesize contributor today!
From there he submitted it for review in Launchpad. In this specific example Alex Launi has started the review process. Now we’re cooking. So, how can you get started? First let’s have a look at the list and look at the progress people have made this week.
Now that Alpha 1 is out the door the different bits are starting to come together. We’ve got the compiz-based Unity in people’s hands, now it’s time to start the feature work and testing.
The Desktop Experience team is building the base; but there are plenty of other parts that need to be done. Keep in mind that these parts are just as important and a critical piece of the entire user experience.
When you pick up a Fender Geddy Lee Jazz Bass everything is as It Should Be(tm). The attention to detail is evident in every part of the bass. No one wants a cool looking instrument that sounds like slop, and no one wants an instrument that sounds amazing but can’t stay in tune. The person who does the seemingly unimportant part of polishing the neck takes their job as seriously as the person choosing the wood, or the person wiring the pickups. When you add all that up you get something magical. So what does this have to do with Ubuntu?
For developers we’re kicking off a Bitesize Bug campaign. Over the next few months we will be specifically finding small, easy to digest bugs that are just as important to the experience as the person doing the plumbing. This list will continue to grow and will contain not only fixes, but feature work as well, now’s the time to get involved if you want to get involved. Here’s a sample of some of the type of bugs we’re looking at:
Run Natty. You can either do this by running Alpha 1 on your bare metal or creating a USB key for this purpose. I’ve added documentation to that page so you can install a development environment on it so you can hack on code and keep the entire updated Unity environment on the key itself.
Your work will be reviewed by someone on the DX team, after they review your code they will instruction you on what to do next.
Go to step 1.
Expect regular weekly progress reports from me on the rock star craftspeople working on these bugs. The list of bugs will continually be updated, and now that Alpha 1 is out the door expect a nice steady stream of bitesize bugs that people can contribute fixes to.
The last set of videos from UDS have been posted! This includes my favorite part of UDS, the Lightning Talks. Remember we kick people off after five minutes so they’re kind of high stress. Apparently my crutch word is “ummm”. Aurelien did a Qt Creator demo, but also make sure you see Ryan Paul’s Qt demo, I talk about askubuntu.com with Robert Cartaino, Colin Watson does one on libpipeline. KDE daily builds, and what I call “The Rescue” by Dustin and the rest of the server team.
It can be a real bummer when contributions are ignored so I am glad we’re taking a more proactive stance on the problem and setting aside time for people to do it. You can find out more about the Sponsorship Process here.
Another important element to accepting gifts is Operation Cleansweep. Here’s the stats for the week:
Total bugs with patches: 2395 (+10)
Reviewed patches: 428 (+1)
Bugs with 'patch-needswork': 99 (-1)
Bugs with 'patch-forwarded-upstream': 192 (+5)
Bugs with 'patch-forwarded-debian': 63 (+1)
Bugs with 'indicator-application': 38 (0)
Bugs with 'patch-accepted-upstream': 60 (-1)
Bugs with 'patch-accepted-debian': 10 (0)
Bugs with 'patch-rejected-upstream': 19 (0)
Bugs with 'patch-rejected-debian': 3 (0)
Last updated: Sun, 21 Nov 2010 08:05:42 +0100
Plenty of work for many more people! If you want to dive in hit the Getting Involved page — Cleansweep is a good place to get started, you just need to know how to review code, you don’t have to worry about learning all the Ubuntu Developer-specific workflow to contribute!
Jono Lange has some ideas on how to make bugs easier to fix in Ubuntu.
Right now, when you run the script on your Ubuntu desktop, your cursor becomes a cross-hair. When you click on an application, start-hacking will tell you the source package that the application belongs to and where you can get the source (both Ubuntu source and latest upstream if available.)
There’s plenty of reviews out there on the new Boxee Box, here are my highlights:
The UI is too slow, the thumbnails take forever to refresh (it’s as if they’re not cached?)
It has played every thing I’ve thrown at it, it doesn’t break a sweat with 1080p at all (and all this over powerline ethernet!)
They updated the UI and kind of buried your local content behind the online content, which would be fine if most of the online content wasn’t a browser on your television that you might or might not be able to full screen.
Overall I think it’s great, it’s not quite awesome though. It’s a great value for $200 if you want to get your content to your TV.
Though the UI can be a bit frustrating I mostly care about presenting my media to me, and it does that very well even if it’s not as upfront to get my local media as I’d like. I have a Tivo, so I guess I am used to slow UX.
Hopefully the updates will fix the little details that are missing (little but annoting things like the subtitles always being on on every video and having to turn them off).
Given the quality of the online content I’ll probably throw XBMC on it when someone makes that possible and concentrate on that — the presentation of online content on this thing basically proves how little content providers care about their online presence, which is probably the most bummer part of the experience.
People have no idea (or care) where the problem comes from, they don’t care if it’s “upstream” or “distro”, they just want their software to work, and they don’t care who fixes it.
We’re not the only project to face this challenge.
This person thinks that we can bring pessulus/sabayon fixes to 7.04; a distro that is out of support, and even thought Scott Balneaves is now a contributing upstream; it doesn’t help this person who is stuck in some old version of Ubuntu, how do we help him?
So how do we fix this for plumbing? Those of us who have been around kind of know how this works. “I have a broadcom card, and it worked with foo distro, and then I upgraded, and it broke, so I moved to bar distro, and it worked; amazing, therefore bar distro is the win and foo is crap.”
My experience in this area was at Ohio Linux Fest. I hadn’t gone to a LUG meeting in a long time and I got into the elevator and ran into a guy from the LUG, after initial hellos he was like “Wow, what the /fuck/ happened with Lucid, worst release ever, I can’t even connect!”
I was in a serious state of anxiety. Here I was, pouring my heart into this damn thing. And not just coworkers at Canonical, but our immense community contributors, pouring our heart and souls into this release, and to be slapped in the face with failure, ouch! What was he upset about? Some stupid work around he applied 2 years ago to get his stupid Broadcom wireless card working. And on an upgrade it broke.
As it ends up we’ve reached a new level of what people expect.
My “linux geek correct” answer would have been “Hey bro, you have a broadcom card, it’s a saving throw; each distro release has different set of variables”. If you’re lucky you roll a natural 20 on a certain release of a distro — and if you’re lucky an upgrade is totally easy. I don’t even know what to say to the people to who own these realtek cards. People are still recommending “ndiswrapper” for these cards. That’s basically “Hey, I can’t fix your problem, so here’s a work around”. That’s not sustainable.
And as we know the people with broadcom cards don’t even get to roll the dice, they’re still waiting! It would be nice to reset the board and say “You’ve been hosed for years, but this time we’ll get it right.”
What a mess!
So in conclusion
I don’t think there’s something we can fix here. If someone rolls the ndis20 and gets a working wireless, then … yay? We can perhaps do a better job of explaining to users that they got lucky.
I don’t know much about about how Fedora does bug reports (or Ubuntu for that matter), but I am pretty sure if you have a Broadcom card that it will be a horrible piece of pain for you regardless of what distro you use. (Until the newer drivers are integrated, and even then there’s no guarantee that those will work with both your older distro AND your older hardware.)
Hey, I’ve heard this before.
Of course you have, Dan Williams has been preaching this for years. And, as it ends up, every distro has bugs. Every day I hear people “I am switching from foo to bar, they fix bugs!” … but in reality, we’re all in the same level of doom, as it stands today if you have a broadcom wireless card, you will be doomed; roll the dice. Depending on your video needs, ATI or NVIDIA? Roll the dice. Doomed.
If your hardware works with no workarounds, send the manufacturer a note. If it doesn’t work, then don’t buy it! If you want to make a difference, vote with your dollar!
UNIX is our generation’s fault; let’s not leave this burden with our children, let’s at least leave them a list of things they can fix.
Let’s spend more time rewarding hardware manufacturers who do the right thing than dogpiling manufactures that might not know how to support Linux.
Instead of flaming people who are frustrated that their computer doesn’t work maybe we should suck it up and deal with their bad attitude as long as it fixes the problem — it’s been proven over and over that people will do the right thing if they’re treated right.
As I mentioned in my last screencast; I prefer to have Banshee doing all my hard work for me. A great way to do this is via smart playlists. The problem is that they are very powerful and if you’re not overly clever off the top of your head you might feel stuck.
Luckily there are some handy smart playlists already included! In Banshee do Media -> New Smart Playlist
Go ahead and explore these, and come up with your own!
Here’s a bunch of summaries from the UDS Proceedings. Sorry they’re not more organized.
UPDATE: As many of you have pointed out, these are raw and in some cases don’t even make sense since they’re pasted in from people furiously typing into gobby documents. They’ll be polished as the week progresses.
Unity developers will be advising me best on how to answer your questions and we can continue to develop the answers based on feedback. If you’ve already asked then we’ll keep working on our answers to be better.
(Note: Ask Ubuntu is about asking questions and getting answers, so if you’re going to ask a question make sure you read the guidelines. Argumentative and offtopic questions will be moderated.)
Ralph mentions some of the stats from askubuntu.com. It’s been hectic trying to keep up with the grow, especially as the stack method can be confusing at first. Now that we’re out of beta I can go over some of the tools I’ve been using to help best make use of the site.
The first is George Edison’s StackApplet, a nice appindicator-based reputation tracker with notify-osd support, so that your growing reputation can motivate you throughout the day:
And for those of us on the road there’s DroidStack:
Along with 10.10 here comes askubuntu.com. We’ve had a great beta where many experienced people participated and we had a nice standard of high quality answers and low noise. We’re experiencing a flood of new users and questions, so feel free to help out.
Remember people love to vote on answers with screenshots and easy to use instructions. Go get em!
We’ve got some great sessions lined up. LoCo questions with Laura, Kubuntu, Xubuntu, and yes, the return of Ubuntu Studio to Open Week. As usual you can Ask Mark Shuttleworth about Ubuntu, or maybe you’d dig an Inkscape lesson from Martin Owens.
Ahmed and Dustin will be showing you how to run your first Ubuntu Server in the cloud and how to deploy your applications right on there. We’ve got the alphabet soup handled, with i18n sessions from David Planella and a11y with Charlie Kravetz. duanedesign will be doing a tutorial on screencasting, and don’t miss Belinda Lopez’s education session.
If that’s not enough we’ve got sessions on how to get started, finding your place in Ubuntu, how to find help, and … whew … ALL THAT AND MORE.
So come join us on #ubuntu-classroom and #ubuntu-classroom-chat next week. And don’t forget to bring a towel.
At Ohio LinuxFest I had lunch with Carl from System76 and Chase Douglas, who has been working on bringing multitouch to Ubuntu. Since we’re nerds the subject of hardware came up, and I got a glimpse of the amount of effort S76 puts into getting quality parts that are known-good Linux compatible components and some of the challenges they face. They have a budget box that boots in 6 seconds, if you get the SSD option. So, speaking about SSDs …
I had a first generation Intel SSD, and like most Intel SSD owners there’s really nothing like it. But it can get expensive, especially on a nice home machine where you want lots of room. On a laptop you can compromise with a hybrid drive, like this one, which I put in my new netbook and is a nice middle ground. However if you’ve got room in your PC case there’s a great compromise that I’ve been rolling with at home. Life is too short to worry about partitioning, however, a 40gb SSD is about one hundred bucks and a worthy addition to your existing PC.
"But it’s only 40gb!"
Yes. You will get this, and then put / on it. /home will go on your normal 1tb drive or whatever. So your OS is on the SSD, and all the stuff you need space for will be on the big disk.
"Is it worth the hundred bucks?"
Yes, because instead of spending $250 to get a 200mhz microbump or another 2 cores on the CPU you will get the mid priced CPU option and then buy this and then come out on top, by a mile. Or you will put this in your existing PC and realize that your existing computing needs are just fine once you get rid of the drive bottleneck.
"Aha, but what about stuff in /home, that’s still on spinning platters!"
Login time is about the sameish, since you’re reading a bunch of junk from .gconf, but the rest of the boot is so fast you won’t mind the compromise. Apps will launch very quickly. Your data will still be on disk, so copying stuff around will be normal, etc. You can also make a temporary directory under / and symlink things there that is important to you (like your Firefox profile, trust me on that one). And there’s enough room on the drive to pop into /tmp if you want to build something and want the SSD speed.
On a related note ZaReason does offer the X25-v and dual drive setups, though I have no idea if they partition it for you how you would expect. If anyone is familiar with this leave a comment!
It’s no secret that I am a Banshee fanatic. For all my talk about web apps, there’s just no replacing Banshee for me.
It’s a beautiful thing. We’ve got a sh*t hot Ubuntu/Debian Mono team, a responsive upstream who cares about users, people like Bertrand Lorentz taking care of things like Sound Menu/MPRIS2 support, and we’ve got people like David Nielsen being the bridge between upstream and the distro (Like thesetwo.)
Didier posted a status update of the state of Banshee for UNE. I personally take responsibility for thanking Alex Launi and Nathan McCallum in my own special way, so that leaves Alan…
If you want to thank Alan, get him something from his Amazon wishlist. And as always, thanks to Novell for sponsoring the Banshee project.
PS: Nathan, come find me so I can buy you alcohol even though I know you don’t drink it. I tried to find you at OLF and you were missing.
One of the coolest things we do is Ubuntu Open Week. This is a week long set of IRC tutorial sessions that we do for users. In the past they were heavily development related, but now as we have a Developer Week and Application Developer Week, we can start to use Ubuntu Open Week for something more useful to end users. And since it’s always the week after a release it’s an opportunity for Ubuntu teams to talk to people who might be interested in joining the project.
I’m looking for a few good men and women to do their first ever tutorial sessions. I think it’s about time we got some new blood in here, and it’s pretty low barrier to teach an IRC class. Here’s the schedule if you want to get in on this. Feel free to contact me at jorge at ubuntu dot com or find me on #ubuntu-community-team on freenode.
I’d like to see more participation from derivatives!
I always do my presentations in PDF because it’s a common format. Sometimes however I want to add in a slide or remove a slide when I find out I messed something up but don’t have time to go edit the presentation and re export it.
For Maverick’s Featured Apps we now have PDFMod, for quick an easy manipulation of PDFs.
PDFMod is written by these fine people and packaged up for you by this fine person.