I’m doing a quick retrospective on the last seven years (you’ll see why later). In this first part, here’s a short overview of what I did in 2015 (2 to 3 minutes reading time):Continue reading “Year MMXV summarized in 2 ½ minutes”
I went there for the 2016 edition of GUADEC:
I arrived a couple of days early to attend my last GNOME Foundation board meeting, in one of the KIT’s libraries. The building’s uncanny brutalist architecture only added to the nostalgia of a two years adventure coming to an end:
A wild Kat strong-armed me into preparing an "unconference" talk for this year's #GUADEC after all…
— Jeff (@nekohayo) August 10, 2016
And so I made a new talk proposal at the last minute, which was upvoted fairly quickly by attendees:
The conference organizers counter-trolled me by inscribing it exactly like this onto the giant public schedule in the venue’s lobby:
The result was this talk: Laptops & Tablets Manufactured to Run a Pure GNOME. Go watch it now if you missed it. Note: during the talk’s Q&A session, I mistakenly thought that Purism‘s tablets were using an ARM architecture; they’re actually planned to be Intel-based. And to make things clear, for laptop keyboard layouts, Purism is currently offering US/UK, which are different physical layouts (different cutting etc.).
Also relevant to your interests if you’re into that whole privacy thing:
- Cosimo’s unconference session about the earmarked privacy funds
- Federico’s talk about our, ahem, suboptimal key management UX in GNOME. Continue reading “GUADEC 2016, laptops and tablets made to run GNOME, surprise Pitivi meeting”
Hey everyone! It’s time for a new Pitivi release, 0.95. This one packs a lot of bugfixes and architectural work to further stabilize the GES backend. In this blog post, I’ll give you an overview of the new and interesting stuff this release brings, coming out from a year of hard work. It’s pretty epic and you’re in for a few surprises, so I suggest listening to this song while you’re reading this blog post.
Engine rework: completed.
Heads up, citizens of the video editing world! Our war correspondent Alexandru has taken some of my battered notes, done some more research and published a fine report on the second part of Pitivi‘s War Against Deadlocks. Go read it now! 😃
- An update from the 2014 summer battlefront
- The 0.94 release
- The War Against Deadlocks, part 1: The story of our new thread-safe mixing elements reimplementation
- The War Against Deadlocks, part 2: GNonLin's reincarnation
- The 0.95 release, the GTK+ timeline and sink
- Measuring quality/reliability through time (clarifying what gst-validate is)
- Our all-in-one binaries building infrastructure, and why it matters
- Samples, “scenario” files and you: how you can help us reproduce (almost) any bug very easily
- The 1.0 release and closure of the fundraiser
Let me tell you of a story that was lost and forgotten amidst Pitivi’s development battlegrounds last fall, a manuscript that I recovered from a Moldy Tome in a stony field. According to my historical data, the original author was a certain “Dorian Leger”, a French messenger that went missing from the vicinity of Paris.
I am taking the liberty of altering fairly substantially this manuscript to clarify some parts while restoring its intent and style according to the historical context. It will serve as the first part of an epic tale (the second part is yet to be written, it will come in the next blog post, though it will probably have a more “modern” writing style), about our war against deadlocks, vile creatures that have been threatening the stability of our application for much too long. Technically, we’ve always been at war with EastasiaDeadlocks; you can see that even in the noble title of our 0.13.2 release, from a time when a different squad of maintainers roamed this land.
Without further ado, here is my transcription of the report:
Paris, le vingt-huit septembre, MMXIV
Dear supporters of the Video Editing Liberation Front,
Over the last month and a half, we have made major strides debugging and rewriting important backend code that Pitivi depends on. At the edge of the land of Pitivi, we are approaching the 0.94 milestone, which we plan on liberating in the coming weeks. I have been discussing with sieur Duponchelle to enquire about a particular piece of work the Company has been preparing for that purpose. He said, “We have torn out a large chunk of bug-ridden code in GStreamer and replaced it with a brand new videomixing element that we can finally show with pride and confidence. It will be a tremendous help in our battle against the Deadlocks; hopefully, it will give us stable and bug-free seeking in the timeline at last.”
Indeed, I have heard tales of previous Pitivi versions consistently crashing when seeking in a section of cross-faded (overlapped) clips. In other words, when we tried to select a frame that contained a cross-fade from one clip to another, Pitivi would freeze up and need to be put by the sword. Needless to say, this bug was killing not only the user experience, but also the morale of our troops, and needed to be dealt with as swiftly and efficiently as possible.
The technical problem behind this nuisance was a powerful piece of equipment in the GStreamer artillery: the GstElement videomixer. This contraption was trying to deal with threads other elements were throwing at it, which was by design extremely complex and error-prone—to the point where some have said it to be the work of the Devil itself.
When we inspected the machine, we found the diagram above. Transcription of the odd scriptures in that diagram leads to the following interpretation of how it operated: Continue reading “The War Against Deadlocks, part 1: The story of our new thread-safe mixing elements implementation”
As I hinted in my retrospective in February, 2014 has been crazy busy on a personal level. Let’s now take a look at 2014-2015 from a GNOME perspective.
When I offered my candidacy for the GNOME Foundation‘s Board of Directors in May last year, I knew that there would be plenty of issues to tackle if elected. As I was elected president afterwards, I was aware that I was getting into a demanding role that would not only test my resolve but also make use of my ability to set a clear direction and keep us moving forward through tough times. But even if someone tries to describe what’s involved in all this, it remains difficult to truly grasp the amount of work involved before you’ve experienced it yourself.
For one thing, I can say that running a branding & management consulting business at the same time as you’re steering an established public charity like the GNOME Foundation is definitely not easy.
Throughout the year, I went through moments of great joy and periods of deep exhaustion where I cursed Firefox’s bug 60455 — working everyday until 1-2 AM (and waking up 5-6 hours later), for months on end, to get things done. Since 2015, my GTG todo list has consistently been at 4x my normal “healthy” quota. For example, in March, I was at 190 actionable tasks and a total of 520 tasks. Whew! So, in the name of sanity, I had to slow down some of my business activities and withdrew almost all of my involvement in the Pitivi project this term (I’ll be writing a news update blog post soon, I promise!).
I did not compromise on my involvement with the GNOME Foundation because I felt a huge responsibility towards my teammates and towards the Foundation Membership who elected us. Most of the board members, in addition to their daily work, underwent significant personal challenges during the year: relocating, career changes, family matters, all sorts of things that can affect one’s life. And yet, with the limited bandwidth we had, the Board soldiered on and accomplished many feats. I consider myself lucky to have had such a competent and deeply caring team of people to work through one of the busiest years GNOME has had yet!
What also keeps me motivated is the incredible strength of our community, the technical excellence of our platform and the fundamental need for a GNOME “desktop” (or GNOME OS) to exist. More than ever, we need Free and affordable computing for everyone. If proprietary vendors, DRM, the industry shift towards “renting” (rather than owning) software and the Snowden revelations taught us anything over the years, it’s that we need to be the truly free system that people can trust for all their computing needs, online and offline. Many have their heads in the clouds, but we need to keep our feet on the ground and be the bridge between the sky and earth—the safe base where people will come back to.
For that reason, I’m pretty excited by our friends at Endless who are shipping a radically different desktop computer running GNOME and a set of applications that will run offline, designed to make the lives of millions (billions!) of people easier in the developing world. I’m proud of our little cousin, elementary, for shipping a new version of their OS—even as an established project with lots of momentum, we can still learn a lot from what they’re doing, and we certainly appreciate their involvement in our shared technologies. Fedora Workstation, with its refined focus, is something else I’m pretty happy about. With sandboxing, OSTree and Builder in the works, I’m looking forward to GNOME OS becoming a reality. We need something rock solid and for which we can sculpt the user experience from the ground up, something which also serves as a reference and entrypoint for new contributors willing to create applications for the exciting GNOME ecosystem.
We’ve made major strides towards creating a stable and refined platform over the past few years. We have our work cut out for us in a number of areas and I look forward to us tackling them as a community. For example, one thing I’m passionate about is having a “bulletproof” OS that can handle the most demanding creative workloads, without the user needing to worry about the system’s resource usage. I should be able to have Firefox (or Web/Epiphany) running at the same time as GIMP, Inkscape and Pitivi without an exabyte of RAM or having the kernel/graphics subsystem go unresponsive due to one application hoarding resources. I know we can do better in this space. With our unparalleled ability to oversee changes through the whole stack and upcoming technologies like containers & sandboxing, we have the potential to be the most advanced OS in the world—we just need to seize this opportunity.
There are also new fields of computing that we are poised to explore as a free desktop: virtual reality—bringing a new meaning to the term “virtual desktops”—is certainly the next big step in “office computing” (including productivity and creative work, entertainment, etc.—not just gaming). We should investigate VR as the next big evolution of the desktop. Imagine getting rid of the limitations imposed by computer multi-head monitor frames…
We should tackle these things one step at a time, together. It takes many small efforts to steer a ship this big, and the Foundation is there to support the community every step of the way.
Here is a snapshot of what the Foundation’s Board of Directors were up to this year:
- Dealing with over 3700 emails
- Held 25+ regular board meetings, on the phone or in person
Continue reading “President’s Report — The State of the GNOME Foundation”
Dear werepenguins, we’re thrilled to announce the immediate availability of Pitivi 0.94! This is the fourth release for the new version of our video editor based on GES, the GStreamer Editing Services library. Take a look at my previous blog post to understand in what context 0.94 has been brewing. This is mainly a maintenance release, but it does pack a few interesting improvements & features in addition to the bug fixes.
The first thing you will notice is that the main toolbar, menubar and titlebar have been replaced by a unified GTK HeaderBar, saving a ton of precious vertical space and making better use of the horizontal space. Once you try it, you can’t go back. There is beauty in the equilibrium it has now, compared to the previously clunky and unbalanced layout:
The combined screenshot above allows you to get the “complete picture” of how this change affects the main window, but it’s hard to get a sense of scale and it does not really do justice to the awesomeness of client-side decorations like the GTK HeaderBar. So here’s a simplified version where all the “wasted space” is highlighted in red:
Pretty rad, huh?
Beyond that eye-popping novelty, many distro/setup-dependent startup crashes have been investigated and fixed:
- Various Linux distributions have started shipping a broken version of CoGL in recent months, which led to crashes. Technically this is a bug in the CoGL library/packaging, but we found out that the functions we were calling in that particular case were not needed for Pitivi, so we dropped our use of those broken CoGL APIs. Problem solved.
- People running Pitivi outside of GNOME Shell were seeing crashes due to Clutter GStreamer video output, so we ported the viewer widget to use GStreamer’s new GL video output (glimagesink) instead of the ClutterSink. We had to fix various bugs in GStreamer’s glimagesink to raise it to the quality we needed, and our fixes have been integrated in GStreamer 1.4 (this is why we depend on that version). The GL image sink is expected to be a more future-proof solution.
- We found issues related to gobject introspection or the overrides provided by gst-python. Again, make sure you have version 1.4 for things to work properly.
- On avant-garde Linux distributions, you would get a TypeError traceback (“unsupported operand type(s) for /: ‘int’ and ‘NoneType”) preventing startup, which we investigated as bug 735529. This is now fixed in Pitivi.
Hello gentle readers! You may have been wondering what has been going on since the 0.93 release and the Pitivi fundraising campaign. There are a few reasons why we’ve been quiet on the blogging side this summer:
- Mathieu and Thibault have been working hard to bring us towards “1.0 quality”, improving and stabilizing various parts of GStreamer to make the backend of Pitivi more reliable (more details on this further below). They preferred to write code rather than spending their time doing marketing/fundraising. This is understandable, it is a better use of our scarce specialized resources.
- Personally, I have been juggling with many obligations (my daily business, preparing for the conferences season, serving on the board of the GNOME Foundation, and Life in General), which left me with pretty much no time or energy to do development on marketing-related activities on Pitivi, just enough to participate in some discussions and help with administration/co-mentorship a bit. I did not have time to research blogging material about what others were doing, hence the lack of status updates in recent times.
As expected, GUADEC in Strasbourg was a terrific event. Huge props to the local organizing team who managed to make things work regardless of last minute curve balls, such as the venue changing or the video recording team (and their equipment) not being able to attend due to visa restrictions. I went with Alexandre Franke to pick up recording equipment only half an hour before the opening session on the first day, and manned the cameras sporadically, but was glad that other volunteers were able to fill the gaps as I was running all over the place.
Since I am independent this year (I now have my own business, as some of you might have seen from my unusual laptop sticker), I came to GUADEC thinking I would allow myself to really relax for a change:
“This is great! Besides my daily two-hours of contract work obligation, and my Pitivi talk, and my two days of GNOME Foundation board meetings, I’m a free
birdcat! I’ll be able to focus on watching talks, discuss at length with everybody, and get back to making technical contributing to Pitivi this week! \(• ◡ •)/”
Pour la première fois depuis quatorze ans, la conférence GUADEC fait son retour en France. Je vous encourage à venir nombreux à cet événement qui se tiendra à Strasbourg durant la dernière semaine de Juillet. Je dois traverser l’Atlantique (à la nage), prendre plusieurs avions et autobus pour y aller, alors pas d’excuses pour ceux situés à moins de 6000 km!