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GNOME Summary, June 14-21

Jun 21, 1999, 07:32 (2 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Havoc Pennington)

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By Havoc Pennington

This is the GNOME Summary for June 14-21. Thanks to Josh Baugher for suggesting the new easier-to-read format, which includes... a table of contents! (applause)

Table of Contents

  1. Corel Linux Advisory Council
  2. Thanks, VB hackers!
  3. Multimedia Framework
  4. Help us Close Bug Reports
  5. GNOME For Kids?
  6. New Red Hat 6.0 RPMs
  7. Mail User Agent #3
  8. SVG
  9. Presentation Software?
  10. Hacking Activity
  11. New and Updated Software


1) Corel Linux Advisory Council


I went to the Corel Linux Advisory Council at the beginning of the week. The main interesting thing was the opportunity to talk with Cristian Tiberna from KDE, Dan Quinlan from Linux Standard Base, and Darren Benham from Debian. Cristian and I talked about a *lot* of things that we want to do together; some of the ideas:

  • Common IDL interfaces for apps, and common object activation
  • Window Manager Spec
  • Session management extensions
  • Sharing Raph's libart library with KDE
  • Common style guide (locations of menu items, etc.)
  • Just hang out and be friendly. :-)

Of course, we already have drag-and-drop, a shared "menu entry" format, and I think something else that I can't remember. Also, there were about 50 messages on the new wm-spec-list today, including people from Gnome, KDE, and neither, so things seem to be rolling on that front. I didn't see any flames yet.

It's also possible to write apps with both a Gnome and a KDE frontend, sharing the "hard parts." My Guppi app is designed this way, though it has no K frontend yet (hint, hint).

Cristian and I are planning to post to soon to get discussion started on these issues. We also want to start working on some common IDL on a CVS server somewhere; we'd probably do a read-only mirror to the Gnome and KDE servers for convenience. More details to come on gnome-kde-list.

I talked quite a bit to Dan and Darren as well. The fact is that making free Unix clones easy to use isn't going to be possible without changing some of the lower-level aspects of the system; we can't talk to PPP or the printer properly, for example. A text entry box for your lpr command isn't going to cut it. So, coordination with and standardization across distributions is going to be important. Obviously we were talking about Linux, but ideally some of these things would also be standardized with the BSD and Hurd people.

I begged for CORBA stuff to go in the Linux Standard Base so people could have a real interface to standard services, but I'm not optimistic. :-)


2) Thanks, VB hackers!


Man, there are a lot of people that do Visual Basic coding at their day job. I left for the Corel Linux Advisory Council Monday morning, and when I got back I had 26 emails either telling me how to get the Excel IDL or with the Excel IDL attached. Thanks to: Bernhard Reiter, Steve Geswein, Kevin Conder, Dirk-Jan, Richard Browne, Stefan Elisa Kapus, Martijn van Beers,, Gerard Mason, Geoff Rivell, Michael Lambert, John Frandolig, Barry Hoggard, Ray Deese, Timothy Cook, Eric Lloyd, Rhet Turnbull, Richard Hestilow, Per Winkvist, Craig Oshima, Mark Benvenuto, Don Sime, Dariusz Olszewski, and Ramon Garcia Fernandez.

I owe all of you guys big. Many, many thanks.

There are now two problems:

  • This IDL is freakin' *huge* - 150K of *interface* - pity me guys, I have to implement this beast...
  • We've gotten worried about the legal/copyright implications of this. We have a lawyer examining the issue, and in the meantime I haven't looked at the IDL in order to remain "clean room." So the project is on the back burner for a bit. We'll see what the lawyer has to say.


3) Multimedia Framework


One thing we want to do in the Gnome project is work on a multimedia framework for free Unix systems. Elliot has a new white paper on this, at:

If you've noticed that Gnome has spinoffs in all kinds of non-desktop directions, you noticed correctly. We've realized that what we really want to do is make the free Unix clones a nice platform for desktop use. And it turns out that the GUI isn't the whole picture; we also need lower-level changes and enhancements. The nice thing is that everyone benefits, even if they don't use Gnome the GUI.

Hopefully more people will be getting involved in these kinds of initiatives; even if you're not necessarily interested in GUI programming, there's some fun stuff to do that improves GNU/Linux/BSD/Hurd usability.


4) Help us Close Bug Reports


Michael Zucchi suggested that it would be helpful for bug report submitters to help us close the reports. That is, if you submit a report, and later notice that it's been fixed, please send mail to the bug's email address; this is especially important if the bug is difficult to reproduce - sometimes maintainers aren't sure if the bug is gone.

A bug's email address is the bug number at For example, If you submit a bug, you'll get an automatic reply telling you the bug number; you can also look up the bug on

This would be very helpful; it can take hours to slog through pending bugs and figure out the status of each one. If you can simplify the maintainer's life, they'll have more time for real bugs.

As always, new bugs should go to, following the instructions at Briefly, the first two lines in your mail should be:

Package: hello
Version: 1.3-2

Substituting the appropriate package and version. This keeps us from having to manually file the bug, and forwards the bug to the proper maintainer.


5) GNOME For Kids?


I got the following email; there's an address at the end if you're interested in working with these guys.

"We're looking for people who may be interested in helping us develop GNOME so that it's suited for use by children as young as 4 years. One of the problems we've always had developing software is finding ways to get around the complexity of the OS so that kids can really use our stuff. So the mission is to change the Environment and then that problem will no longer exist!

"We've been developing software for this age group for about 7 years now so have the experience to do this from an educational point of view.

"We would be looking in particular for hackers with the following skills.

"1) Knowledge of security and networking with Linux/Unix so that Teacher/Parent user accounts could control class user accounts.

"Example. Application which has configurable features could be controlled for pupil Billy or configuration changes could be applied to a whole class or members of a class.

"This needs to be well thought out from the start.

"2) People who could help setup themes for Enlightenment and GTK that would appeal to children. We can do artwork if people offer their technical skills.

"3) Obviously keen programmers in GTK and GNOME with all levels of experience.

"4) People who really know their stuff with regards printing, video playback and sound.

"One of the most important goals is to get the whole thing as easy as possible to install and use. Teachers and parents are generally not computing experts and 4 year olds certainly aren't. Maybe people involved in the general GNOME distribution could contribute and vice versa in this department.

"This is of course Open source and has nothing to do with our business. We're commited to seeing this possibly very cool piece of technology through to the end. It would be, as far as I know, the first of its kind on any OS and children deserve something of their own - they're just as important as we are.

"Please announce this. You can Email at"


6) New Red Hat 6.0 RPMs


Dr Mike announced some updates to the RH 6.0 RPMs; these are in their "Rawhide" distribution. The updated RPMs are:


In Dr Mike's words:

"These fix a variety of small issues, and should not be considered urgent updates. Instead if you like to "life on the edge" these RPMS are for you. As they are part of the Rawhide releases, they have not been tested as strenuously as RPMS in the Red Hat Linux product, so your mileage may vary.

"You can get the rawhide updates from and its numerous mirror sites."


7) Mail User Agent #3


We have yet another mail user agent, joining Balsa and the gnome-mailer project. This one is called Pygmy, and it's written in Python. You can find it at:

Screenshots look cool.


8) SVG


Raph's SVG thingy has screenshots and a home page now; man, it looks nice. It looks really nice. It's smooth like butter. You are going to like it:


9) Presentation Software?


Achtung!, the Gnome presentation program, has been stalled forever; in the meantime, a different program called gnome-diagram silently showed up on the software map. There's no source code yet, but some info and screenshots:

I hope we can merge this with Achtung!, or just forget Achtung!, and integrate the single resulting program with Gnome Workshop, Bonobo, etc. It's certainly nice to see people working in this area.


10) Hacking Activity


About 561 commits this week, comparable to last week.

The CVS Module Score-O-Matic this week gives:

109 web-devel-2
  49 gnumeric
  44 gphoto
  43 gnome-libs
  29 gimp
  26 ORBit-C++
  19 gxsnmp
  14 e
  12 gnome-core
  11 gbuild
   9 esound
   9 control-center
   8 mc
   8 gnome-db
   8 gnome-admin
   8 gill
   8 Eterm

I think the web guys commit every 5 minutes so they can look at their changes :-) (there's a script that updates the live site every little bit from CVS).

Gnumeric has made it through that long, hard period at the beginning of every free software project where no one cares; it now has a user base and a fairly large number of people hacking it. The mailing list is pretty active and there are tons of commits. Gnumeric is quite useful; it even imports Excel files well. Check it out.

On to the CVS User Score-O-Matic:

65 sopwith
  37 dcm
  26 scottf
  26 rgarcia
  24 zucchi
  23 pablo
  20 mortenw
  17 gregm
  17 drmike
  16 mawarkus
  13 srust
  13 raph
  13 jrb
  12 mmeeks
  11 mej
  11 mandrake
  11 jaka

Subjective rambling:

Well, basically I was gone the first half of the week and I spent the second half trying to catch up, so I didn't pay any attention. I didn't see anything really new appear, and the Score-O-Matic summarizes nicely what was most active.

It seems notable that ORBit-C++ has been reawakened by rgarcia, and we're finally going to have C++ bindings for ORBit. That'll be nice.


11) New and Updated Software


Lots of new or updated software map entries this week:

POP Checker
Blackbox patch
GNU Photo
RPM Explorer

Whoa, there were a couple more MUA's in there. This is worse than IRC clients. :-) They're proliferating like bunnies.


OK, can't think of anything else. Until next week -