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Say hello to the new Wi-Fi panel

The new Wi-Fi panel

Hello my GNOME friends 🙂

Y’all know that we’re taking big steps to move Settings (a.k.a Control Center) to a brand-new, super shiny layout. As a courtesy of our beloved designer, Allan Day, we have mockups of a new Settings layout that is both modern and preserves (most of) the functionality we already have. He blogged about it in the past.

I found those mockups quite nice, so I decided to work on them!

As YouTube people say nowadays: I’m a simple man. I see a good mockup, I implement it.

Before switching to the new layout, though, we needed to get rid of the panels with a sidebar. Namely: Online Accounts, Keyboard, Network, Printers and User Accounts. Thanks to Felipe Borges, who reimplemented a few panels himself, we were able to progress faster than expected!

This time, I added the new Wi-Fi panel. Check this out:

The new Wi-Fi panel
The new Wi-Fi panel

 

Compare this with the current Network panel, which still has a sidebar:

The current Network panel
The current Network panel. Notice that the panel sidebar looks bad with the new Settings shell (that already contains a sidebar).

 

With the new Wi-Fi panel, we’re close to making the new Settings shell the default one; the biggest blocker now is the Network panel, which I’m already working on. And finally, after more than a year working on the new Settings layout – and with the help of many super awsome contributors! – we’re almost there 🙂

And our traditional sequence of pictures:

 

Oh, and did you notice? The connection editor dialog was also redesigned! It’s much simpler and saner now, do try it out and let me know what you think.

The new Wi-Fi panel has a few advantages:

  • It’s beautiful 🙂
  • It handles multiple Wi-Fi adapters slightly better
  • It’s just easier to use
  • (Future) When the host doesn’t have a Wi-Fi adapter, the panel won’t be visible

Afterword

I’d like to say a big and warm thank you to all contributors that made this possible, and specially to Bastien Nocera and Rui Matos for reviewing all this work and many other patches.

There’s still quite a lot of work to do, and it won’t be easy, but we’ll eventually make it 🙂

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Improving productivity with GNOME Builder

Hello community,

as you can guess, I’m a heavy user of GNOME Builder. I use it every day to build various things, most of which you guys know of already 🙂

Because I spend so much time on it, it is essential that Builder simply Just Works ®, and perfectly. Builder sometimes shows a rough edge here and there, but all in all, it’s a masterpiece. It’s awsome in many aspects! Christian Hergert really deserves our respect (and, why not?, many free beers too!)

However, it wasn’t enough.

I like to focus on my tasks, and I usually do it by making the window fullscreen. Even if Builder is already great, it doesn’t support fullscreen.

So that’s what I did.

Let the work speak for itself:

 

Thanks to Christian’s quick fingers, it is already in master. From now on, this will only get better.

Enjoy!

Even faster GNOME Music

Hello my GNOMEish friends!

This afternoon, I felt an urge to hear some classical music. Perhaps because I’m overworking a lot these days, I wanted to grab a good hot tea, and listen to relaxing music, and rest for a few minutes.

My player of choice is GNOME Music.

In the past, I couldn’t use it. It was way too slow to be usable. After a round of improvements in a sleepless night, however, Music was usable again to me.

But it was not fast enough for me.

It was taking 15~20 seconds just to show the albums. That’s unacceptable!

The Investigation

Thanks to Christian Hergert we have a beautiful and super useful Sysprof app! After running Music under Sysprof, I got this:

Sysprof result of GNOME Music
Sysprof result of GNOME Music

Clearly, there’s an area where Music hits the CPU (the area that is selected in the picture above). And, check it out, in this area, the biggest offenders were libjpeg, libpixman and libavcodec. After digging the code, there it was.

The performance issue was caused by the Album Art loading code.

The Solution

Looking at the code, I made a simple experiement: tried to see how many parallel lookups (i.e. asynchronous calls) Music was performing.

The number is shocking: Music was running almost 1200 asynchronous operations in parallel.

These operations would be fired almost at the same time, would load Zeus knows how many album covers, and return almost at the same time. Precisely when these lookups finished, Music had that performance hit.

The solution, however, was quite simple: limit the number of active lookups, and queue them if needed. But, limit to what? 64 parallel lookups? Or perhaps 32?

I needed data.

The Research

DISCLAIMER: I know very well that the information below is not scientific data, nor a robust benchmark. It’s just a simple comparison.

I decided to try out a few lookup limits, and see what works best. I have a huge collection, big enough to squeeze Music. I’m on an i7 with 8GB of RAM, 7200RPM spinning hard drive.

It was measured (i) the time it took for the album list to show, (ii) the time for all album covers to be loaded, and (iii) a quick score I made up on the fly. All of them are of the type lower is better. I ran each limit 10 times, and used the average of the results.

Time comparison
Comparison of various lookup limits

The “No Limits” columns represent what Music does now. It takes a long time to show up, but the album covers are visible almost immediately after.

First conclusion: limiting the number of lookups always performs better than not. That said, the problem was just a matter of finding the optimal value.

After some trial and error, I found that 24 is an excellent limit.

The Result

In general, the initial loading of albums with the performance improvement is around 73% faster than without it. That’s quite a gain!

But words cannot express the satisfaction of seeing this:

Enjoy!!

Smarter half tiling in GNOME Shell/Mutter

Hello GNOMErs,

I think that, at this point, at least a good part of the community is aware of the many new features that are planned to arrive with GNOME 3.26.

I’m particularly looking forward a better tiling story in GNOME Shell and Mutter.

And, y’know, I’m not exactly a referrence in being passive about my own personal technological wishes. Heck, I love hacking stuff so much that it naturally happens even when I’m sleepless and under headache. Perhaps we can call that organic hacking? 🙂

Anyway, I can’t just sit down and keep waiting for something I could work on, right?

And that’s why this happened:

This is obviously a work in progress. You can track the progress of this smarter half tiling in bug 645153. But, sssshhh don’t tell anyone, this is actually part of the future quarter tiling feature!

Have a wonderful night! o/

GNOME To Do 3.24 release, and it’s shining

startup notification

GNOME To Do is a personal task manager for GNOME. It uses GNOME technologies and integrates very well with the desktop. And now, it’s finally being released!

The 3.24 version comes with a few nice features and, most importantly, whole load of bugfixes. Let’s get started!

Autostart & notifications

GNOME To Do now (optionally) autostarts once you log in and keeps track of your tasks! This is what I see now when I log into my laptop:

startup notification
Thanks for letting me know, To Do!

To Do also detects when you put your machine to suspend, and if you resume in the next day, another notification is triggered. Isn’t it nice when your task management tool allows you to focus more on actually working on your tasks than in managing them? I certainly love not having to worry about the tasks for the next day 🙂

This behavior, of course, is optional and configurable. There is a new “Run in background” plugin that allows you to fine-tune this behavior:

Editing plugin options
Editing “Run in background” plugin options

Improved panels

A lot of bugfixes landed for Today, Scheduled and Unscheduled panels. The most important one in my opinion is the ability to select which tasklist the new task will be added. Check this out:

selecting the tasklist
Selecting the tasklist in Today panel

These panels also don’t show the date anymore. It’s not very useful to show “Today” in every task, when you’re already in Today panel, right? The same logic applies to the Scheduled panel, where you can see the date already:

scheduled panel
It looks very nice!

Todo.txt integration

Thanks to our awsome new contributor, Rohit Kaushik, we now have Todo.txt integration! This is disabled by default (it still need some polishing) but you can easily test it by running the autogen script like:

$ ./autogen.sh --enable-todo-txt-plugin

Now you can just enable it in the Extensions dialog:

Captura de tela de 2017-04-24 09-33-32
Enabling the Todo.txt plugin

Select a Todo.txt file (you have to create on manually if you don’t have one):

Selecting a Todo.txt file
Select a Todo.txt file

And you can use it just like a regular tasklist!

Todo.txt + GNOME To Do
It works 🙂

Thanks Rohit!

A few considerings

A few new features were showcased in this blog post, but to me, the topmost important change is the stability of GNOME To Do. I’ve been using it regularly for the past couple of weeks and it’s pretty stable, but I know that bugs are there, just waiting for someone to trigger them.

If you see To Do crashing or behaving oddly, please file a bug at the gnome-todo product in GNOME Bugzilla. And make sure to join #gnome-todo room at GNOME IRC and say hi. With your help, we can make GNOME To Do the best personal task manager out there!

I’m not looking forward 3.24

If you’re reading this post, please also read the one about GNOME 3.26. I’ll leave this post here for historical purposes, but you should disconsider what I say here.

Not until it’s fixed.

Those who follow my work are used to read my “Looking forward ” posts, and they appear to be quite popular. This cycle, however, I’m not looking forward the next GNOME release.

That’s because I’m disappointed.

Very disappointed.

😦

#1 – GNOME Shell

UPDATE: I was told this is an Arch-specific issue.

UPDATE 2: This is not an Arch-specific issue. This is now fixed in bug 781194, and will be available in the next GNOME stable release.

Let’s start with GNOME Shell, which is the single topmost important piece of software for end users. I was super excited with the new Night Lights mode, because as you may know, I suffer from insomnia (and fixed many bugs when I couldn’t sleep!).

When it landed on Arch Linux’s gnome-unstable repos, I’m pretty sure I was one of the first ones to test it.

But Shell keeps crashing every ~4 minutes. After 5 or 6 crashes, it logs me out. Needless to say, I lost work multiple times. That’s incredibly annoying.

If anyone is experiencing that, please join us in bug 781194 for we’re trying to find out why those crashes are happening. Fortunately, Philip Chimento is super nice and is working day and night to find out what’s going on.

But that’s still disappointing.

#2 – WebKit2GTK+

UPDATE: This was a regression in WebKit2GTK+.

I try to use Epiphany. I really try. But no matter how much I try, it fails me every time.

Looks like I can’t use keyboard to handle my Google Inbox mails. That’s a show-stopper to me.

#3 – Calendar

UPDATE: Thanks Debarshi for explaining this. He states:

There is a reason why crashes reported by ABRT are marked as ‘private’. Like all backtraces, the ones on those bugs often have passwords and private data in them. I have seen a few over the years. Hence those bugs are only accessible to Fedora contributors by default. Which makes sense, because, as you pointed out, they are Fedora bugs, and users already trust the Fedora community to ship secure software.

Why am I disappointed with my own piece of software? Well, I’m not disappointed with Calendar itself, but with the bugs around it.

It all started with bug 778419.

As you might know, I’m very urgent when it comes to crashes on Calendar. Sometimes I stop urgent tasks to fix crashers as quick as possible. Recently, I received many complaints that Calendar was crashing, but I couldn’t reproduce any one of them and worse, the debug logs weren’t helpful.

Here enters bug 778419.

Appearently, there is a issue management thing called FAF in Fedora. Nice. And looks like it catches many bugs. Super nice! But then, why am I disappointed?

Well, it starts out with me not being a Fedora user, nor watching Red Hat’s bug tracker. GNOME is agnostic to distros, and should stay that way. That’s why we have GNOME Bugzilla instance running, right? So people can report GNOME bugs, in… well, GNOME bug tracker.

But that’s ok – I can eventually see FAF and have some downstream feedback. But here is the catch: appearently, some bugs are private. Isn’t is nice when you can’t see the issues of your own app? Even nicer when appearently downstream doesn’t really care to report those issues upstream. This is clearly stated in the bug.

Let me restate this: GNOME is agnostic to distros. I refuse to watch Red Hat’s bug tracker.

#4 – Software

I was super, super excited to try GNOME Software’s Flatpak integration. I never really used Software since it (i) does not behaves super great in Arch, and (ii) isn’t better than Arch’s pacman.

But I thought Flatpak would change this scenario. Flatpak is not great at command line, building a Flatpak repo is still way too hard for humans, and OSTree’s progress reports don’t really report the progress, but throw random numbers for you to figure out what’s going on. But I was hopeful that all we needed was a good UI for it.

Do I have to say how disappointed I was to see Software falling apart when installing and updating Flatpaks?

I won’t waste any paragraph describing how it fails. You just need to have Software, Flatpak and a repository to see the action.

At Last

Some of you might think this is a rage post. It is not. I use GNOME every day, and I am fixing GNOME every single day of the past 3 or 4 years. I wouldn’t use it if I didn’t love it. It’s indeed the best desktop environment for Linux to me. And I of course will fix every single issue I described here.

But I think we can do better. Much better. Of course, everyone can come here and say “well, you can fix that by yourself until I don’t”, but is that a good approach to this situation? We’re failing in maintaining and improving the platform, and that’s a serious, collective issue. We have unbelievably good hackers around, it’s not the lack of skilled people, nor resources, that is cracking us.

What can we do to improve?

I’ll leave this question broad and open like that, and I’d like to hear the opinions of the community. Let’s just try to keep the level of the respect acceptable.

By the way: Shell crashed 11 times, and I was kicked out of my session twice, until I could finish this article

3.24 Release Party – Back in time

So, this Saturday 15th, we got together in São Paulo, Brazil, to celebrate another GNOME release. And what a fun time!

We went to a very nice place called “Taverna Medieval” (Medieval Tavern), an almost-real tavern with nice drinks, huge burgers (including the vegan one called “Elven of the Woods”! what a nice burger) and of course a super awsome tavern keeper.

IMG_2319
My juice is no more :/

Of course, we did what normal people does: bow and arrow!

IMG_2337
And I actually shot the middle point!

And the night couldn’t finish without a totally legit sword duel:

IMG_2340
My honor didn’t allow me to finish him

These were some good times!

GNOME Music: the road to 3.24

(Disclaimer: this is a guest post from Marinus Schraal, the maintainer of Music)

GNOME Music 3.24.1.1 has just been released, a good time to reflect on what has happened last development cycle.

A goal for Music is to make it an exemplary application of GNOME/GTK+ Python programming and make it an entry-level project for new contributors. However the codebase was a mixture of coding styles and oversized multi-functional classes. Python is a powerful and easily accessible language, but the downside is that it can quickly get out of control if not some constraints are set on how to use it. So we started a rework to split up some of the bigger source files and enforce PEP-8 (code-style) & PEP-257 (docstrings) on new commits and bring existing code in line with it. We are not quite there yet on the clean-up front, but we have come a long way and going forward it is gonna get better.

This effort also entailed that we put off some feature additions and mainly worked on core issues, like grouping albums correctly. Album grouping has always been a sore point for Music and is usually mainly visible with for example ‘Greatest Hits’ albums being all presented as one album or with the wrong artist. Over time Music has had a lot of bug reports of this and similar issues. The underlying reason is that Music is purely metadata driven and is actually completely dependant on the data that is provided by Grilo and in turn (for local media) Tracker. If this metadata is incomplete or incorrect then Music cannot correctly display it.

So that is why we worked with the Tracker folks – in particular Garnacho – to get some indexing issues fixed and I think we did come a long way. However, to get the right experience you need to re-index your music files with a recent enough Tracker (at least 1.12) to get the metadata correctly indexed. Music can’t (understandably) force re-indexing and it’s only available via the following command line command.

$ tracker index -m audio/mpeg -m audio/flac -m audio/x-vorbis+ogg -m audio/mp4

It re-indexes the most common audio mime-types. Of course, this is based on the assumption that your music is tagged correctly to begin with. Note that tagging is prone to be taste/ripper/format specific and is often incomplete, we had to make some informed decisions here what we consider ‘correct’.

We also reworked the album art code, which in most places now supports HiDPI art. Because of changes in Tracker security policies we were forced to add some code to do local art retrieval in Music itself. It is ultimately not what we want, but it has to do for now. This also caused some stability issues in the 3.24.0 release, which should hopefully be resolved in the current release.

Part of the clean-up meant we wanted to get rid of libgd as much as possible this cycle as most of it is superseded by regular GTK+ widgets. We made some good progress, replacing (and speeding up) the albums view significantly, reworked the single album view and notifications. Kudos to Feaneron who did some heavy lifting here. There’s still more work left here coming cycle(s).

Despite the focus on making Music future ready code-wise, there were many user-visible improvements all over the place. To list a few:

  • smooth progress bar movement
  • smoother seeking
  • an empty state for the playlist dialog
  • new playlist entry for the playlist dialog
  • a shortcuts window
  • addition of composer information to the album view
  • the ability to search by composer
  • album disc separation
Captura de tela de 2017-04-12 12-27-07
Keyboard Shortcuts for GNOME Music

The most satisfying about this is that most of these contributions were made by a number of different new contributors, so a big thanks to everyone who made Music better this cycle.

Onward to 3.26

The rewrite has brought to the surface some rough edges in Music. There are some things that used to work and might not at this point, maybe because they were held together with band-aids and actually need more work to get right. There are things we want (remote sources/live updating/proper indication of played tracks/etcetera), but we can’t do yet. The core infrastructure is lacking.

The one big thing we want this cycle -besides finishing what we started last cycle- is doing the rework Feaneron blogged about earlier: having a single core model that drives the different views. This would solve a plethora of currently hard to tackle issues, some of which I just mentioned. From there we would be able to land bigger new features, like the GSoC work done on tagging & webdav sources. The Core Apps hackfest was a big part of crystallizing what needs to be done here.

Of course we cannot do this without help and we hope to see you soon on IRC (#gnome-music), on Bugzilla or check the Wiki for more info.

A final note on Tracker

In the past we used to ask people to hard reset their Tracker database if something went wrong or seemed out of whack, meaning it would be fully cleared and rebuilt. A lot of effort has gone into Tracker to make it more robust and stable. At this point we strongly suggest to not do a hard reset lightly; Music is using the tracker database for keeping track of things like playlists, favourites and played count. This might extend even further in the future.

If you have a problem with Tracker, don’t wipe it and the exclusive data that might live in it’s database: file a bug, seek help on IRC (#tracker) and we can work from there.

3.24 Release Party in São Paulo

(English version after the Portuguese one)

Fala galera!

Nesse sábado, dia 15 / abril, teremos uma festinha de lançamento do GNOME 3.24! Sei que está um pouco atrasado, mas é melhor ter uma festa do que nenhuma 🙂

O local: Taverna Medieval, na Vila Mariana. Além de ser um lugar muito divertido (poucos lugares tem hamburgeres chamados e.g. Elfo da Floresta, ou Skyrim) , lá tem opções vegetarianas e veganas – ninguém fica de fora da celebração!

Se você quiser participar: comente aqui e me mande um email (georges.stavracas at gmail.com) com seu nome, para que possamos reservar a mesa com antecedência. Teremos um limite de até 20 pessoas, dado que o lugar não é muito grande.

Se você não puder participar, mas conhecer alguém que possa se interessar, compartilhe a informação 🙂

Este evento também está marcado no Meetup: https://www.meetup.com/pt-BR/GNOME-Hacking-em-Sao-Paulo/

(English version)

Greetings, people!

This Saturday, April 15th, we’re having a GNOME 3.24 Release Party in São Paulo! I know, I know, we’re late, but better late then never 🙂

The place: Medieval Tavern, at Vila Mariana. Not only it’s very funny and cool (few places have burgers called e.g. Elf of the Woods, or Skyrim in Brazil) but it also has strict and ovolacto vegetarian options – nobody will miss the celebration!

If you’re attending: drop a comment here and send me an email (georges.stavracas at gmail.com) with your name, so we can book a table in advance. There is a 20-person limit, since the place isn’t that big.

If you can’t attend, but know someone who might be interested in, share the news 🙂

This event is also available in Meetup: https://www.meetup.com/pt-BR/GNOME-Hacking-em-Sao-Paulo/

How I became a GNOME contributor

Recently, I was asked by my fellow GNOME friends to write how did I transitioned from nothing to a GNOME contributor. The intention is to motivate people to engage. I don’t think my story is that exciting, but, well, why not? If someone gets motivated and start contributing, goal achieved. But beware: there ain’t any TL;DR here. it’s just a long story.

So, where should I start?

From Childhood to Early Contributions

My relationship with computers began at early age, since I was literate by my parents using an old computer we gained from a relative. I remember searching “how to create exe files” around 2004, and that search result yelled me a Yahoo! Answers question with “you need to learn a programming language. Start with C”.

And so I did.

My first app was a command line calculator. Moving to Linux was a natural step. And that introduced me to GNOME, and Gtk+. By that time, Gtk+ was still 2.6. I did some small apps for personal use, like an app to track new habits. Unfortunately, those apps are long gone.

And that’s how it all started.

Translations…

Fast forward some years and, one day, while using a GNOME app (can’t remember which one!), I saw an unstranslated string! I researched a bit and found out that I could translate and contribute to the Brazilian Portuguese translation team. This was 2012, GNOME 3 was just released, everybody were still very angry, things were very confusing.

My first upstream contributions back to the end of 2012, fixing and adding some missing translations.

At that time, there was one project that draw my attention: a new, unreleased app called GNOME Calendar. It was under heavy development in a branch called ui-review, no packages were available… and yet, I simply loved it. The developer, Erick Perez, is highly skilled. This app was a hidden gem.

Unfortunately, development of Calendar stalled and I spent more than 1 year checking the logs almost every day, waiting for changes.

They never came.

… and GNOME Calendar

“This project was too good to die”, I thought. “I have to do somthing.” First, I tried to finish the design specs of Calendar. You can still find it in my DeviantArt page (click here to check it out).

Then I ran Gedit, opened some files and started hacking Calendar. My very first work was on the Week view prototype we had in there. The video of this new feature is still available:

Notice that the second article of this blog talks about that 🙂

Erick saw that, sent me an email, I attached some patches to Bugzilla, and this is how I officially started contributing to GNOME. At the same year, GNOME Calendar had its first release ever – and this makes the third article of this blog.

GNOME Foundation and Google Summer of Code

After increasing my contribution rate at GNOME Calendar, Erick suggested me to get a Foundation membership. In Januray 2015, I applied and was accepted (yay!!). At the same year, I decided to apply for a Google Summer of Code project at Nautilus. The mentor was Carlos Soriano.

The GSoC project was very successfull, and not only Nautilus received the improvements, but also Gtk+ itself. This is when the “Other Locations” view was introduced, and a big code refactor landed (and allowed Nautilus to improve much more!)

Captura de tela de 2015-12-11 02-45-11
The results of that Summer of Code project

Fun fact: while organizing the tasks of the GSoC, I couldn’t find any personal task manager for GNOME that satisfied me. I took one week and create GNOME To Do to organize my tasks.

With that done, the only step left was presenting that work at GUADEC.

GUADEC and Endless

The presentation at GUADEC was good enough, and meeting the people behind GNOME was one of the most remarkable experiences in my life. At that GUADEC, I met Cosimo, who works at Endless. I remember he downloading the new Gtk+ version and saying “look at this cute ‘Other Locations’ button!” (!!!) 🙂

A few weeks after that, I was contacted by Endless, where I am up to this day. Here at Endless, I’m lucky enough to be able to work upstream almost by default. I’m also happy to be able to make GNOME (through Endless OS) reach more people around the world.

What’s next?

New Control Center, more features in Calendar and To Do, and some other surprises I’ll write about in the future 🙂