GNOME Summit 2012 – Friday & Saturday

Friday: Newcomers pre-event

The Newcomers pre-event on Friday evening was very successful! A number of students came from nearby universities like Tufts and MIT, and were able to dive straight in to tools for GNOME development like Git, Jhbuild, and of course GTK+ and Gjs.

You can see the bugs they reported (with patches!) in bugzilla. Not everyone reported a bug – creating an account was a hurdle. Still though, the event was a success and likely something to replicate in the future.

Saturday opening

Saturday morning started with coffee and bagels – thanks to SUSE for sponsoring! As the summit is an “un-conference”, we made up a schedule on the fly, which you can see here.


Benjamin Otte demoed some new CSS features that are implemented in GTK+ – notably a use of animated transition for background of active menu items. He also started a discussion on the challenges in maintaining the 750,000 lines of code in GTK+. We brainstormed about how we can attract more contributors to infrastructure such as GTK+.

Owen Taylor repeated his demo of client-compositor synchronization, covered by LWN previously.

GObject Introspection

Colin Walters discussed the state of introspection and the goals for the 3.7 development cycle – in particular, generating documentation from GIR files is the primary goal. There was an obligatory debate about which programming languages to use/promote in GNOME, along with some questions about how we can improve “bindability” of APIs in GNOME.


This was a followup from GUADEC, and ended up taking up several hours. It opened with a status update on OSTree, also on LWN previously. The system has been doing successful continuous integration on over 200 git repositories, and notably all of GNOME up to gnome-shell, plus some application dependencies like gtksourceview.

While the current OSTree builder is automated, there was a lot of interest around making it better, and ensuring that when the build does break, that both the responsible party knows about it, as well as other people. This led into some comparisons with the WebKitGtk+ development process. Concrete action items resulting from this were an IRC bot and an improved web page.

There was general consensus that the composition of the modulesets is best handled by the release-team. A lot of time was spent on the topic of Jhbuild, and its strengths and weaknesses for application authors, GTK+ developers, and core OS hackers. Ryan Lortie described how we could make jhbuild better by having GNOME builders provide distribution-specific binaries, and later in the day could be seen furiously hacking on implementing it.

After lunch, the topic of applications came up. Allan discussed application stores, and how that can provide a good experience around things like centralized updates, and generating revenue for authors.

Following application stores, the topic of application sandboxes came up. Chris Ball mentioned difficulties OLPC had encountered in getting application authors to adapt to their sandboxing scheme. Strengths and weaknesses of the Android model came up, and at this
point we agreed to break out sandboxing as a standalone topic for the next day.

Developer toolset

Benjamin Otte started a discussion about our developer tools, and we talked about different kinds of application authors:

  • ourselves (GNOME Documents, Rhythmbox, etc.)
  • iphone/android type app
  • libreoffice-size application
  • enterprise apps (e.g. proprietary creative apps)
  • sysadmin apps

There are challenges in meeting the needs of all of these different
kinds of authors.


Piñeiro started with a summary of the state of accessibility. 3.6 was a significant achievement in that a11y is always-on by default, and only impacts the system when an accessibilty tool is running.

He then talked about 3.7 features, such as improving the mangifier. There was also some plans to improve configurability, and improve discoverability of existing options.

The ongoing cost of maintaining fallback mode was mentioned briefly. Then he talked about allowing third parties to extend accessibility support when using custom widgets in GTK+.

Finally, two other points that were touched on were that some new applications (Documents, Clocks) have inaccessible features. Second, touch accessibility (for blind users).

3.7 planning

While there are a few features listed for GNOME 3.7 development, pretty much the entire hour of discussion was on fallback mode. As the feature page says, dropping fallback mode would allow us to significantly clean up some GNOME internals, it turned out on the other hand that Ubuntu Unity is likely relying on some of those as well.

The fallback mode users fall into two general categories; those who wanted a more GNOME 2 like experience, and those who were unable to run GNOME 3.

In general, the discussion seemed to follow along with what the feature page had already, and opinions varied. No hard decisions were made now; this will be an ongoing discussion.


  1. Pingback: My first Boston Summit « Fabiana Simões

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s