Monday Apr 02, 2012

Best thing about the GNOME 3.4 Live CD * ?

It will even boot and run gnome-shell in a VirtualBox VM that doesn't have any Linux guest additions installed.

* Well, apart from the fact it contains GNOME 3.4, of course.

Monday Jun 27, 2011

Oracle VirtualBox 4.0.10

Today's maintenance release of Oracle VirtualBox (4.0.10) spreads the GNOME 3 love a little further -- following the fixes in 4.0.8 for GNOME 3 guests on Linux hosts, GNOME 3 now finally works glitch-free on OS X hosts in 4.0.10.

Small and fuzzy video evidence (.ogv file)

Guess this means I have fewer excuses than ever before for not knuckling down on the GNOME 3 HIG :)

Tuesday Feb 19, 2008

Media at your fingertips

Was just pondering in the shower at the weekend (as you do) about what still makes, say, MacOS X feel like a more cohesive desktop experience than even the latest and greatest GNOME in Indiana/Nevada.

One thing that came to mind was its integrated management of your media-- in pretty much any Mac app where you might want to insert or edit multimedia content, you can immediately access your entire music, photo or video library in a familiar-looking window and drag it over from there. It's built into the file selection dialog, too. media browser PulpMotion media browser iMovie media browser Open File dialog

Of course, Apple only really let you manage your media library with their own software: iTunes, iPhoto, Aperture, iMovie, Final Cut etc. But it did get me wondering if there was a place for a freedesktop 'media library' spec, that would offer our users the same sort of quick, searchable access to their media content (be it local, remote, stored on Flickr, split across three DVDs, or any combination of the above) in any application that required it. And, of course, to do what Apple doesn't, and allow any app to manage that content, if it needs to do so :)

Tuesday Apr 24, 2007

No Sun in Birmingham

Bit disappointing to see there are no Sun speakers in the core GUADEC schedule this year, especially as it's being held just a short hop across the water from the JDS team in Dublin-- first time we haven't featured in the proceedings since we became involved in GNOME nearly seven years ago, I think. They're still looking for lightning talks, though, so hopefully we might still step up to the mark there!

(I have proposed a usability workshop kind of thing that may show up in the non-core days, but it would be sad not to be represented at the main event.)

Tuesday Nov 28, 2006

Themely reminder

Hacked up a quick script today to help me pinpoint which icons were missing from the accessibility themes. As a sideshow, I had it point out which .desktop and .directory files (as installed by Solaris nv_53) had hard-coded pathnames and/or icon filename suffixes, both of which can break themeing.

It found 61 with hard-coded suffixes, and 6 with hard-coded pathnames (although the only non-Sun ones in the latter category came from gksu)... so, if you maintain a .desktop file, please remember to have its Icon line look something like:


rather than


to ensure maximium themability. (And preferably install generic icons in the hicolor theme rather than the deprecated /usr/share/pixmaps anyway.)

Anyway, back to the real work generated by the script-- the 70+ missing High Contrast icons it spotted (not to mention the 120 Low Contrast icons). Oh for the day when this proposal is adopted...

Wednesday Nov 01, 2006

Lost in translation

Spotted this slightly depressing IRC snippet tucked away on the GNOME marketing-list yesterday:

(03:42:26 PM) danilo: qgil: as a matter of fact, other approaches bring results we had with documentation for the past 4 years: no documentation has been translated to any language except for Sun contributed translations, and they were too hard to update because we only had docbook source on them

(03:42:48 PM) danilo: so, basically, we had to dump almost all of sun contributed translations

Could Sun have done more to avoid this? Were we made aware of the problem at the time? We still do sucky things occasionally, especially in the corners of the company (including L10N) who don't yet live and breathe open source in the way most of us do now, but I certainly hope we can learn from any mistakes we made here.

Tuesday Jun 27, 2006


Nice to be in Vilanova i la GeltrĂş for another GUADEC, the GNOME users' and developers' conference. The logistics do leave a little to be desired in places-- we seem to have the smallest chalet in the semi-official conference 'village' (think Butlins without the redcoats or the funfair), and it's about 4km from the conference, with limited public transport and virtually non-existent taxi services linking them. The free shuttle bus that the organisers laid on does seem to be running now, but not before a good few people had to make the hour-long uphill hike back to the village having found themselves stranded in town.

On the plus side, the sessions are a bit more varied and user-focused than has been the case at some previous GUADECs, and the parties are as good as ever :)

Thursday Nov 17, 2005

HIG Nip/Tuck

I fiddled around with the online appearance of the draft GNOME Human Interface Guidelines a bit yesterday... basically created a stylesheet for it, to try and prettify the raw docbook->HTML output somewhat. Here's a comparison of the old and new look.

It's very much work in progress, as I'm kind of learning about stylesheets and docbook customisation as I'm going along, and there are a few obvious bugs and things I haven't got to yet. But I hope you'll already find it a bit easier to read... personally, I'm quite pleased with the tables :)

Hopefully we'll be able to push out a HIG 2.2 release fairly soon, after which I'd like to see us do a bit of an overhaul on the whole document. IMHO it's getting too big and wordy, and isn't really laid out as helpfully as it might be. I'm thinking we might want to focus more on the types of UI that developers are actually trying to create (document editor, applet, desktop preference dialog etc.), rather than have them piece together the information from a chapters about windows, menus, and controls.

But at the end of the day, you're the people who have to use it... let us know what you think!

Thursday Jun 30, 2005

Linux cool, Solaris hot

By now you've probably read the stories that Sun are 'cooling down' their efforts on JDS/Linux. It's unclear exactly what that means for future Linux releases yet, at least to us lowly engineers. But what does it mean for our involvement with the GNOME community?

If anything, I actually think it'll increase our involvement. By focusing so hard on Linux for the past couple of years, we've probably spent the majority of our time on things like branding and other Sun-specific features, because on the whole, the Linux versions of GNOME and the other products we ship with JDS just work. On the other hand, our approach with the Solaris version has often just been to pull out those bits that don't work very well on Solaris-- sometimes substituting them with existing Java apps, which don't necessarily integrate as well as they could with the rest of GNOME; other times just losing the feature altogether.

By concentrating more on the Solaris version, we'll have everyone focused on making those things work properly, not to mention letting loose our cool Solaris 10 tools (like dtrace) on improving performance. We need to make JDS work well on SunRays after all, and that can only benefit everyone.

The engineering team here really seem to be looking forward to this renewed focus... it's almost a throwback to the days when we first got involved with GNOME, and (with the help of Ximian and Wipro) were knocking our socks off to release 2.0 on Solaris 8. Personally I think those days represent the most productive our interactions with the GNOME community over the past five years, and it culminated in one of the most stable releases of GNOME that I've used. Here's hoping we can do the same again.

Monday Jun 13, 2005

And you smell like one too

It's a popular day for birthdays1 among your friendly JDS team today... Laca, our globetrotting release engineer, Robert, our engineering director, and yours truly. Have a good one everybody!

1Although of course most days are, in any modestly-sized group of people... statistics always freaked me out at school.

2That isn't my my birthday cake, it's Jorge's from a while back-- just seemed like an appropriate picture...

Thursday Jun 02, 2005

Another 101 Things...

Since Glynn's much-requested GUADEC slides use a bunch of Sun fonts that you won't have unless you actually work for Sun, here's a PDF version...

Wednesday May 25, 2005


Feels a bit weird not going to GUADEC this year... I blame that guy that we're sending from New Zealand for blowing the travel budget for the rest of us :) Luckily Stuttgart is the first GUADEC host city that I've visited before anyway, so I don't feel like I'm missing out too much on that side of things... and hopefully I'll be able to watch many of the talks via the live video feeds that were so successful last year.

In case any GNOME folks are worried that our low attendance this year are a sign that Sun aren't interested in supporting GNOME any more, though, nothing could be further from the truth... we have as many GNOME/JDS projects on the go at the moment as we've ever had, and with OpenSolaris just around the corner I expect we'll be ramping up even more. So actually it's probably just as well we're not sending so many engineers to GUADEC this year-- we're too darn busy :)

Tuesday Mar 08, 2005

New home for JDS community RPMs

Dave Southern will now be maintaining his unofficial JDS RPM repository over at Ricardo Wagemaker's site. You'll find a large number of useful apps for JDS R2 there, with JDS R3 RPMs ready to go as soon as we get around to shipping it :)

Friday Jan 28, 2005

Step back in time

Gah... spent half the afternoon today trying to work out why all my scripts were suddenly and silently not generating configure scripts any more. Turned out that my Powerbook's clock had reset to January 1 1904 when the battery ran out this morning (pmud doesn't seem to work on my G4, so I can't predict when it's going to happen). But come on guys, some sort of warning message would have been nice...

In other news, the Centra on the business park has finally seen the light, and is now selling both Diet and sugar-stoked regular Irn Bru. Now if only its Daily Record deliveries were a bit more reliable...

Wednesday Dec 01, 2004

gcalctool colours

Spent a little time towards the end of last week working with Rich on bug #157962, to get some colour back into gcalctool. We haven't yet come up with a complete solution, which would involve an option that picked colours from the theme by default (I'm still thinking about that one), but in the meantime you can now copy the cvs-supplied .gcacltoolrc file to your homedir to change this boring old look into something slightly more sexy. (Or, of course, you can invent your own colour scheme to match your GNOME theme du jour.)


I am a Principal UX Engineer in the Systems Experience Design team, working at Oracle (via Sun Microsystems) since the turn of the century. I currently work on sysadmin user experience projects for Solaris. Formerly I worked on open source Solaris desktop projects such as GNOME, NWAM and IPS.


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