Jannis Pohlmann Personal website


I am an open source enthusiast, student and musician from Lübeck, Germany. In my free time I enjoy hacking on Xfce and Lunar Linux. I've been a member of both teams since about 2005. Besides developing software, I love to listen to and play music (Guitar, Bass and Drums) and hang out with friends.

Contact me via jannis@xfce.org. My public PGP key is 0x354AFBA6. You can download it from here.

My CV is also available for download.

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Tuesday, January 26 2010

Xfce 4.8 Schedule Changes

As the Xfce release manager, I’d prefer to be the bringer of good news. Unfortunately, we have to make some adjustments with regards to the Xfce 4.8 release schedule.

You may well remember last year’s chaos with the 4.6 release date. We’re trying our best not to repeat that and if it should happen again, we’ll at least keep you posted about the issues as good as we can.

So, what’s the deal with 4.8?

One thing that hasn’t changed much is that our development team is very small. A hobby project of this size requires a certain amount of time to be invested by each individual developer. Time not everyone has as much has he would like to dedicate to Xfce.

Today, Brian announced his absence for the coming months due to his new job, leaving 2-3 of our core components (xfdesktop, xfconf and xfce4-session) more or less unmaintained (aside from bugfixes). The good news is that Jérôme (who has recently started to improve xfce4-settings and port xfce4-session to libxfce4ui) and Daniel (the maintainer of the thunar-shares-plugin) have offered their help with xfdesktop and xfce4-session.

Brian is not the only one having little time at hand though. I’m preparing myself for my final university exams, so ideally I’d be sticking my nose into lecture notes all day long. I still have the time to write mails like this but there hasn’t been much activity around thunar and related projects lately.

Again, I’m really happy to see people volunteering to help because that’s what we need right now. There’s a lot left to do before we can release 4.8. Let me get to that now.

As some of might have heard, thunar was ported to GIO this summer. Through GVfs, GIO brings new features such as SMB, SFTP, FTP browsing which some people use one a daily basis already. Now, GVfs has turned out to be problematic for us for various reasons. At first it shipped a HAL-based volume monitor with a hard-coded dependency on gnome-mount. Today it ships a volume monitor based on gnome-disk-utility (uses DeviceKit-disks itself) which proves to be inconsistent and somewhat incompatible to the HAL mounting code in exo.

The result: thunar-volman (not part of the core but important for thunar nonetheless) and xfdesktop will have to be ported to udev (the mounting being done with GIO, ideally). I’ve started working on this but this is far from being finished.

Question to the other developers: Didn’t xfce4-session use HAL for logging out and stuff? We might have to look into replacing those portions of code with something based on ConsoleKit, I guess?

HAL/udev is not the only issue however. With Xfce 4.8 we’ll be replacing libxfcegui4 with a new library called libxfce4ui. Not all core applications (again, xfdesktop being one of them, I think) have been ported to it yet. In most cases, this is no big deal and probably could be resolved within a few days though.

Then we have garcon, the much improved menu library that is supposed to replace libxfce4menu. At the time of writing the only feature it is lacking that is crucial for 4.8 is file system monitoring. We’ll probably implement basic monitoring like we had in libxfce4menu. Work on this hasn’t started yet.

Also, xfdesktop needs to be ported not only from ThunarVFS/HAL to GIO/udev but also from libxfce4menu to garcon.

So, as you can see there is quite a lot of work ahead of us. Taking into account the little free time some of us have these days, we’ve decided to postpone the 4.8 release until June 12th instead of April 12th. The entire release phase in our schedule has been moved by two months in time, as you can see on the official schedule wiki page:


To be honest, I wouldn’t consider this new date fixed either. It all depends on how much we can do until the feature freeze on April 1st. I’m optimistic that meeting the deadlines is possible though.

For all of you who can’t wait until June, try out our development releases which are announced on http://identi.ca/xfce. I have at least something good to share: For a few weeks now I’ve been running Fedora 12 with a mixture of Xfce 4.6 packages and development package from the upcoming 4.8 series and the new components have proven to be very stable already.

I’m especially happy about the new panel which works almost flawlessly (except for a few dual head issues) and not only supports real transparency and more comfortable launcher creation based on garcon, but is also compatible to panel plugins written for Xfce 4.6. (Good work, Nick!)

So, I guess this is it. A mixture of good and bad. I hope nobody is too disappointed. As always, we’re doing the best we can.


Friday, February 27 2009

Xfce 4.6 is out!

Hey everyone. As of today, Xfce 4.6 is available to everyone. Let me quote Stephan Arts, our release manager of the 4.6 cycle:

After more than two years of development, Xfce 4.6.0 has just been released.

Xfce 4.6 features a new configuration backend, a new settings manager, a brand new session manager and sound mixer as well as several huge improvements of its core components. A list of all the changes since the last release candidate can be found on this page.

A visual overview of Xfce 4.6 is available here:

Download Xfce 4.6 from the Downloads section of the Xfce website:

The Xfce development team.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this release. Especially Stephan who did an amazing job. Thanks as well to Jerôme without whom the website update would not have been possible. It might not be the most clean and polished release ever and the release process was quite painful, but we can now look back at this and hopefully each learn our lessons.

I'm already looking forward on working on 4.8 with you guys, and thinking of some of the features to come gets me really excited.

Sunday, January 18 2009

FOSDEM schedule and graphical 4.6 installers

The FOSDEM schedule has been published. You can find the Cross Desktop room schedule here. There will be two talks about Xfce. Short descriptions are linked from the schedule. We're also mentioned in the press release.

We will be a fairly large group of people (around at dozen at least, with most of the core developers being present) so it'll definitely rock! On the Xfce mailing list people have been asking about graphical installers for 4.6. I'm currently preparing them and there should be installers for Xfce 4.6 RC1, RC2 and the final release. The main installer is already working except for one thing that's bugging me. Should be able to fix it though.

Tuesday, November 25 2008

December plans and recent Xfce developments

I’m currently planning the last few things for my trip to the UDS Jaunty, taking place in Mountain View, California from December 8th to 12th. It looks like Brian will pick me up at San Francisco International on the day of my arrival. We’ll probably have something to eat before he drops me off at the hotel. What could possibly be more awesome than that? I’m very excited to say at least. I’ve also received my hotel reservation already and it looks like I’ll have a twin room on my own for half of my stay.

Ok, back to some Xfce related topics. Last week I submitted our FOSDEM devroom request. We’ll be notified before 2008-11-30 whether we the request is accepted or not. Five days left until we’ll know more - keep your fingers crossed if you haven’t already!

Nick and I have recently started to fix bugs in Thunar. So far we’ve managed to fix and close about a dozen bugs I think. We’re forced to do this due to Benny’s absence but I have to say it’s actually quite a lot of fun to fix bugs in other people’s code! In the end we’ll both have better understanding of how Thunar works. This will soon give us the possibility to push things forward. Not only am I planning to replace thunar-vfs with GIO/GVfs after 1.0 is released along with Xfce 4.6; there are more things that need to be done: adding support for xfconf might be worth considering as Thunar is now one of the last components that still stores its configuration using XfceRc. Also, we could think about using libxfce4menu for detecting installed applications which was actually one of the most important use cases of it that we had in mind before I started writing that library. And of course the list of possible features and cleanups doesn’t end here …

I also have some bad news. It looks like we’re having a bit of a problem with our 4.6 release schedule again. Due to the delay of the second beta, we were forced to delay the third beta as well. Maybe we can sort of fix that by leaving out the third release candidate but we still have to discuss how to handle this.

Friday, November 7 2008

Second beta, German translations, FOSDEM

Just in case some of you are wondering already - yes, we’re late with releasing the second beta of Xfce 4.6 by a few days. It’ll probably be released this weekend, so we won’t fall behind the schedule too much.

On Wednesday we had a very productive IRC meeting with the most active German translators being present. Plans we made on that evening include to clean up the team’s wiki page so that it only contains rules and hints that are directly useful for everyone. We also decided that we need a better communication channel than private mails or the Xfce i18n mailinglist, so we’re probably going to have a mailinglist focused on German translations. Other teams might have the same need, so we’d like to do it public and encourage other teams to do the same, maybe officially hosted on foo-projects.org.
Another idea was to take a look at some of the distributions shipping Xfce. Do they have a translation system on their own? Are there potential translators among the users/developers of these distributions? How can we motivate more people to take part in the translation process so that everyone is happy with the result?
We’ve decided to have another German team meeting next Wednesday at 21:00 CET (20:00 UTC). Feel free to join if you’re interested and your German is good.

Today, we had a little discussion about the upcoming FOSDEM in February 2009. Several of us have expressed an interest to go there. With 4.6 out of the door and 4.8 ahead February is a pretty interesting date for Xfce as a project. I’m sure we could come up with several nice presentations and discussions about the future if we were to apply for a developer room. Xfce has been part of FOSDEM in 2005 already but since then a lot of things have changed and many new developers have joined the project, so it would be a great opportunity to finally meet everybody and have a few pints together.
We haven’t decided on whether Xfce is going to apply yet as we’re planning to get the second beta released before. Deadline for developer room applications is 11/22, so we still have some time. Even better, the deadline for the schedule itself is three weeks before the actual event. Enough time to prepare some decent speeches.

I’m pretty excited about all this. There’s a quite a lot of movement in the Xfce community at the moment (and also, related to this movement, a lot of exciting things are happening for me, with UDS and all that). I feel that things are improving constantly in terms of development as well as organization and communication. Now all we need is a proper goal - and FOSDEM might be exactly what we need to discuss things like that.

2AM, time for bed. Have a nice day (or night).

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