FOSSCamp quick report

Overall, a good unconference. I got to see some old-school Debian developers that I last saw at Debconf 2 and meet in person others. Being in the same location as Colin Watson again was fun, though I don’t have long hair anymore so we’re harder to confuse.

One thing I noticed is that it seemed like everyone wanted to give a talk the first day, and then there were many fewer talks for the second. There was at least one talk the first day that I wanted to go to but had a conflict, whereas on the second day I only saw one talk that sounded compelling, though I had to leave early.

Upstart

Good talk led by Scott on Upstart. One idea was that Upstart could be the backend for D-Bus System Activation, which made a lot of sense to me. Upstart seems like a good choice for a new Fedora init system, though I would like to be sure the API is dead-simple for 3rd party vendors, and Upstart should have an easy way to distinguish between services which have state to save at shutdown and which can just be killed.

PackageKit

The PackageKit discussion was very good; we reached a consensus that it makes a lot of sense to share high level desktop components like an updater applet between distributions, and hopefully share more as time progresses.

Hotwire

Thanks Ryan from Ars Technica for the well written Hotwire article!

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Prism and replacing applications

David – there’s nothing specific to Google in Prism. It’s also confusing in a sense that they mention Adobe AIR and Silverlight in the blog post, because Prism isn’t really competition for them; Prism is saying HTML and JavaScript is an OK platform. You could certainly still use Silverlight or Flash on a web service packaged using Prism though.

Prism is basically the equivalent of a .spec file or debian/ for a web service. In other words, it’s a bit of goo code, not really very complex or platform-like. Now I did raise the idea of possibly elevating some privileges for services packaged using Prism, but it’s likely not to be useful unless IE does something similar, which I doubt Microsoft would be interested in.

But the real thrust of your post is is about non-open services, and I wish I had a good answer here. I can say that I’ve recently removed some Google stuff from the default configuration of the GNOME Online Desktop work. And Havoc is working on a better system for giving the desktop information about which services you use, so we can adjust more sanely rather than having a set of default services.

The fact is, the computing industry is clearly moving in this direction. Ignoring it or stopping work on integrating with different services gives us less control over the future, not more.

Mozilla Prism

Prism looks very cool. It fills in a gap we have in the GNOME Online Desktop project where we didn’t really have a good way to make web applications prominent in the desktop menus. Originally, we tried packaging things as RPMs, but it didn’t work very well because the web changes extremely quickly, and popular pages are can be highly locale-specific; desktop applications are none of these. Concretely, I don’t want to be the one updating spec files every time a new online office suite appears.

Prism starts this process naturally, from the web browser. Right now it’s basically a way to break things out of tabs sanely. Where I think things will get interesting is for example, elevating privileges somewhat for Prism applications, such as allowing web application authors to use the platform’s notification system.

And now – bling in your sidebar

So, I realized yesterday just how important bling is to creating buzz around free software projects. Today then, I decided to finish something that’d been cooking for a while – Google Gadgets in the sidebar:


Google Gadgets in Online Desktop sidebar

It seems that I need to do some gtkmozembed hacking to kill the scrollbar. But otherwise, it looks cool. Once I figure out fun focus issues, you might even be able to type in the todo list. Also in this screenshot you can see the widget manager which landed recently.

Keeping Firefox integrated

Nicu – the question is, who would you rather have as an ally? Mozilla, or Apple? I know which one I’d pick – the people who open-sourced the browser and have been maintaining the very good Firefox experience for Linux (even if there are details to fill in), not the company making a proprietary platform that competes with ours for desktop marketshare.

That said, there is actually work ongoing now to integrate Tango for example. I don’t think it’s going to be easier or make more sense to change rendering engines just for the remaining integration points that could have been done as a Mozilla patch instead.

Stuff I’m Reading