Archive for July, 2007


In the discussion about the future of GTK+, it was suggested that Pigment and Clutter could be used to play with ideas for the 3.0 release. Clutter, like Pigment which was demoed earlier looks very slick and an interesting way to make really cool looking applications. Like Pigment, it is the early stages of development. Before it could have wide-spread use in everyday desktop applications there would need to be a layer on top: “Clutter Widgets” that was highly themeable but incorporated accessibility, i18n etc. Otherwise each application needs to invent the wheel but maybe that’s okay for the occasional, highly graphical UI element.

Alex’s follow on talk about Pyro was interesting (as was his related blog post. Having Google Docs as a first class native app is appealing but HTML/JS aren’t that bling so in order to have the next generation of applications we’d end up running RIAs (or Clutter etc.). The number of layers involved makes it rather mind-bending. It’s a sweet hack. Whether it revolutionizes anything will partly depend on the code – (can the speed and the rendering bugs be fixed?) but also on whether the movers and shakers in the community think this is the way they want to go. I’m still on the fence but it’ll be interesting to see what happens.

The keynotes of Stormy Peters and Doc Searls were both interesting. Stormy had some insights on the differences between OSS and proprietary development that I need to think about more and Doc was talking (amongst other things) about his Vender Relationhip Management (VRM) ideas. I’ve had a look at the VRM stuff before, like most of the things discussed at this conference, it’s fairly blue-sky at the moment.

Finally, I’ve just been in a talk about Anjuta. I’d played with it before but it has changed dramatically. I’ll have another play – if it lives up to the demo we just saw I suspect it’ll become something I use a lot.


Because I’m writing this (early) on Day 5, anything I write about Alex’s Pyro Desktop announcement yesterday will already be slightly out of date because plenty of people have already written about it.

However the ripples that Pyro has caused now will be much bigger over time; like Havoc’s talk it caused a lot of debate and discussion. The criticisms seem to be “Firefox adds an extra layer that’s slow” or “It takes forever to get patches into Firefox – we can’t rely on it”. On the other hand it’s obviously a great feature and dove-tails nicely with Havoc’s direction. I need to have a play with it before I really know what I think about it.

In other news, Stephen O’Grady makes a good argument in favour of the Online Desktop that reinforces Havoc’s argument.

As I write this I’m watching a talk with Glynn Foster from Sun demoing DTrace after Federico had demoed SystemTap. DTrace is still better but SystemTap looks like it is getting good too. It’s cool to see how integrated into the community Sun is. There’s a lot of good natured banter between OpenSolaris and Linux going on in the room but it’s all OSS.


So my post yesterday was written before a number of the most interesting talks. Similarly this post is also written at lunchtime and things from this afternoon will be in tomorrow’s entry.

In chronological order, first Nokia announced a gecko based browser for the N800. This is obviously cool (and has already been noticed outside GUADEC but doesn’t seem to me to be the most important thing happening here.

Next there was quite a clear talk by the Morpheus-esque James Vasile from the Software Freedom Law Center, there was nothing dramatically new but he did talk about some interesting licensing edge cases – should a pace-maker manufacturer be able to prevent you installing Apache on your own (GPL’d) heart?

The Final talk yesterday was the keynote by Havoc Pennington on the Online Desktop (GUADEC slides available at that link and there are also more thoughts from Havoc on his blog). Technical conversation at the free party afterwards (sponsored by Opened Hand and Collabora – thanks!) was dominated by Havoc’s talk. About 50% of people seem to love it and the remainder hate it – but many of the GNOME “rock-stars” are behind it so I think it’ll become a definite future GNOME direction. Personally I’m really excited by it (though before the talk I hadn’t got it at all).

He’s not just talking about about replacing GNOME with Firefox and a series of book marks but about tightly integrating GNOME and its apps into the web services world. For example logging in on any computer and being giving all your IM buddies, access to your flickr pictures (and those of your friends). There are obviously security concerns; data would have to be able to be black/whitelisted for syncing in this way. There was also a lot of discussion about whether we should be trying to integrate with proprietary web services. It looks like some kind of definition of an “Open Service” will be created and they can be used as defaults but users will be able to connect with any web service.

The Open Service definition will be interesting – presumably containing talk about privacy, export of data and access to the source code but that’s a different blog entry.

Then this morning Mirco Muller gave a talk about Lowfat, a sort of replacement for the desktop paradigm. The code he has already is very impressive but his vision is very, very ambitious with viewer apps for each document type all being integrated into his tacile, natural interface. Without a screencast it’s hard to describe but basically to find documents you search. All the results are deplayed as the documents are display as what look like thumbnails but as well as being able to pick them up and move them around you can also zoom in to see the full document (or a detail of it). That’s how it works for pictures/text, how it’ll work for files like audio is less clear – but I advise you to try and see a demo – it’s definitely worth a look.

Right, off for lunch.


I’m really enjoying things here; seeing/speaking to all the “rockstars” whose blogs I’ve read for ages is really inspiring.

Lessons from today:

Computers are really passé: Embedded is the new black. Firstly Nokia’s Maemo people are here in force and lots of people seem to have an N800. The Maemo platform is fairly mature now, in contrast the other embedded devices are much earlier in their evolution. A few of the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) people are here too and John Palmieri has been giving demos in the foyer. It looks very cool but the guys have great ideas and are very passionate but they have much work to do before the device is ready.

Finally on the embedded front, I had a chance to chat to the OpenMoko people (as well as see the talk). They are friendly and passionate, but the software is still in the very, very early stages (as they very clearly explain at any opportunity). I wish all three good luck but I’m only really in the core demographics for one of them – I’ll definitely be buying an OpenMoko

UI Bling: Marco Muller from Fluendo was talking about Pigment. It looks like it might become a neat way to build swish UI into your desktop programs (C or Python at the moment) but the gtk-integration is not done yet. (And the Windows port is also not done yet).

Python vs Java: It’s interesting to talk to geeks from outside IBM for a while. Inside IBM you hear Web 2.0, Java and C, here fewer people are talking about Java and more people talk about Python. Java still beginning its OSS journey, it’ll be interesting to see if it becomes more common once OSS packages come by default in the distributions.

Pronunciation: Most of the hackers here don’t pronounce GNOME as “Nome” or (cool) “genome”, the accepted pronunciation seems to be “guh-NOME”. Similarly GUADEC is not pronounced gar-dec, it’s definitely gwah-dec.


The main lessons I’ve taken from the conference so far:

  • Developing a “Hello World” XUL app looks fairly straight forward and we can do swish UI in SVG. From the talk by Ian from Songbird
  • For profiling memory usage of an application Exmap is the canine testes. Talk by Tomas Frydrych
  • Buying an ATi graphics card is bad if you’re using Linux. There have been a number of example of problems with their drivers on speakers’ laptops. In contrast, Intel have people here explaining the cool stuff they are writing for Linux
  • Goocanvas looks like it’s quick and easy to use and I’ve been writing some code with it in the gaps here

What I suspect I’ll remember most though is realising I’d slept through a very important phone call from my pregnant wife. The first thing I knew about it was waking up for a second phone call, hours afterwards. Em had been experiencing horrible pain and an ambulance had been called. The doctor thinks it was a trapped nerve and the baby is safe though so it could have been so much worse.