[GNOME] GUADEC 2013: Talking Heads

I survived my trip through Toronto, Amsterdam, and Prague to Brno.
I'm becoming pretty good at flowing through foreign countries without
saying a word. I'd like to thank the GNOME Foundation for making this possible:

The four days of talks have ended, and it's been honestly amazing.  Here are my thoughts on the ones I attended and liked.  (Let me know if you find any errors.)


The annual general meeting was informative and entertaining, as usual.
It's nice to know we can have fun while getting serious business done.
Some neat things I learnt is that there's a pre-built image for
virtual machines with a complete jhbuild available to download. Also,
there's now HowDoI on the GNOME Wiki. For localisation, 52 languages
have over 80%. Outreach has helped increase participation of women in
the GNOME project. We also got to hear about GNOME Asia and GNOME
India. From the foundation report, the privacy campaign was a good
success. Noted was that this September will be the 30th anniversary
of the GNU Project!


Ethan Lee on gaming in Linux

Ethan works on porting popular indie games to Linux. It's great seeing
more games available on Linux through the Humble Indie Bundle and
Steam for Linux. Game availability is one of the few remaining
barriers, so it was nice to hear from someone working with games on
Linux about challenges there and what we can do to help facilitate it.

Endless Mobile

Endless Mobile wants to get a smartphone and eventually a computer to
most of the world. They're targetting the market segment of people
who can afford to live in their area but can't really afford a
computer, because while many items are priced locally, electronics are
largely priced globally, and a typical device can exceed a potential
customer's annual earnings.

So, simple devices, near Raspberry Pi price levels and capability,
with intelligent, great design built atop free software. The
hardware has a stylised appearance, and a core part of their value is
their app collection, which is embodied not of fun entertainment, but
a lot of practical software, which can help with cooking, farming,
business, education, etc.


ZaReason, proprietor of Linux laptops and desktops, came to discuss
their goals (provide great, open computers that work well), their
challenges (hardware that restricts freedom), and encourage GNOME to
continue to promote a Free ecosystem. They had some of their
hardware, and I was thrilled by its light weight.


Colin Walters on GNOME OSTree

GNOME OSTree is being actively used for continuous integration, on a
32-core, 48GBRAM machine. It's working great for testing patches and
git commits as they happen, resulting in quick detection of errors,
and helping improve the overall stability of the stack it tests. It
focuses mostly on the OS and not so much on apps, though it does have
a concept of profiles (sets of packages) with some including apps, for
development and testing purposes. Could help provide atomic updates
and easy rollback, and help decouple the OS from apps.

Fabiana Simões on how not to report User Experience bugs

Fabiana helped emphasise that UX (User Experience) bugs are important,
even if they don't prevent software from compiling and running.
Evaluating user experience issues can be challenging, and encouraging
good UX bug reporting is helpful. Highlights include not to use the
following useless phrases:

  • "I think X should be Y"

  • "It sucks/it's not user friendly/intuitive"

  • "Most users …" without doing actual research

There were also some recommendations on information users should
provide regarding a user experience bug, including what they were
doing, why they were doing it, what steps they took, what were they
expecting, and what happened. What the user felt, saw, and did are

Meg Ford on GNOME in Open Source communities

I didn't catch this entire talk, but was interested in Meg's points
regarding inclusiveness and exclusive attitudes. It's sad to hear
about issues regarding overt discrimination and sexism. I enjoyed the
activity surrounding small local groups like in Chicago.

Lennart Poettering on Sandboxed Applications for GNOME

This was a delicious talk, touching quite a bit on systemd and the
future of applications in GNOME. Basically, isolation for stability
and security, with support in the kernel and through cgroups to help
control apps. Single files bundling apps from the user's point of
view, actually a compressed multiarch loopback filesystem, optioning
containing their own versions of libraries to avoid library version
dependencies in the OS. App distribution through community stores,
not a single canonical source. Unprivileged installation. kdbus for
controlled IPC of even large data between apps and the system or even
other apps, and Portals, intents-like method of providing interactive
security around this. The need for a stricter hierarchy file system
spec and reduce some distribution differences.

I'm really excited about how this will change my interactions with my

Juan Pablo Ugarte on building UIs in Glade

Juan gave a pretty presentation showing recent work for CCS support in
Glade, with pretty things like gradients, shadows, animations, etc. A
demo of a Baccarat game helped demonstrate just how completely you can
style your windows and widgets. To my great delight, he then revealed
that the presentation was actually built using Glade itself! And was
being run by the new Glade Previewer. (Disclaimer: Glade is not
intended to efficiently build beautiful presentations, though it can.)

Lightning Talks

Some non-comprehensive highlights were that EasyTag, the audio tagger,
has seen some recent activity again. Boxes has had work on copy-paste
between host and guest and usb redirection. The gettext maintainer,
Daiki Ueno, came, and it's seem some exciting new features like
support for GtkBuilder, Vala, Lua, and Javascript, as well as
multiline strings. Work for systemd in the user session advances the
cause of the faster login. Also, the Cantarell font has seem some
refinement. There was a lot more.

Philip Withnall on testing web services

Philip helped address problems with testing against web services, with
the unpredictable nature of dealing with a remote host. The solution
appears to be recording a trace of normal activity for your operation,
and then testing against that rather than the remote server itself.


The future of open source cloud services is growing rapidly and the
cool keeps flowing. Syncing of files, calendars, and contents.
Integration with GNOME Online Accounts. To come is integration with
Documents, Notes, tentatively RSS, Maps, Music, mail, bookmarks, and
more. Syncing should be comprehensive enough to eventually include
settings, dot files, etc, so you could restore a lost installation
from your ownCloud. Vitally, Mines' high scores. For security, the
client could encrypt data before arriving at the server, but if you do
this, some apps won't work well (since they can't read your data).
Right now, I think it's something I'd like to run within my own VPN
for privacy, practically providing me with a 'Google in a box'.

Emmanuelle Bassi on Clutter

The state of Clutter was discussed, along with a proposal to move more
functionality into Gtk+. There was a bit of technical discussion
during the talk and interested parties generally liked the idea.

Tristan van Berkom on Glade and GtkBuilder's UI developer experience

Tristan showed off some long-desired improvements to Glade and
GtkBuilder. He talked about the use in guiding users (here:
developers) on the right path, with the idea of improving the tie-in
between GtkBuilder and actual class code, especially regarding
callbacks and such. Also, you can finally click-and-drag UI elements
onto the graph (whee!) and intelligent grouping of widget properties
by section.

Matthias Clasen's guide through GtkApplication

Matthias led us through a new tutorial of how to build a modern
GtkApplication, emphasing important parts like application-id,
embedding of resources into the binary, using templates and new
macros. Demonstrated was newer candy like GActionMap, GSettings,
templates, GtkStack, GtkSearchEntry and Bar, GtkRevealer, GtkListBox,
GBindings, and more. Wow!


The conference has been really amazing. I'm surrounded by my greatest
programming heroes and have gotten to be immersed in the shared
excitement over GNOME's future.

I'm looking forward to the talks next year in Strasbourg, and the
Boston Summit in Montréal this October.

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