Jannis Pohlmann Personal website

Jannis

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.

Tag - xfce46

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Monday, October 13 2008

Beta release and personal news

For those of you who are eager to test the first Xfce 4.6 beta: We're running a bit late again. At least the delay won't be that big this time. Most packages are prepared already and the release will be rolled out tomorrow or the day after that I suppose. To be able to do this we had to add several feature freeze exceptions. If you keep in mind however that we stil have the option to sacrifice the second release candidate to keep up with the schedule, the final release date is not in danger yet.

There are also some news related to my person. Last week I received the official sponsorship invitation to the Ubuntu Developers Summit for Jaunty. So if things go well, I'll be able to be in Mountain View in December to represent Xfce when the Xubuntu team prepares their next release after Intrepid! This is very exciting and quite a big thing for me. So far I never made it across the pond and I'm not really happy about having to fly 11 hours or more to get there. But then again you just have to take the chances you get otherwise you'll not receive them anymore at some point. I've already turned down the attempts of Google to get me into their internship program last year which was quite frankly stupid. Anyway, I decided to forget about my fear of flying for once and take this great opportunity I'm offered by Canonical. I still need to sort out a few things, get a new passport and prepare for the event itself but I'm quite happy I made this decision.

Thursday, October 2 2008

News and Xubuntu HugDay

There are only ten days left until the first beta release of Xfce 4.6 and we still got a lot of things to do. Over the past week(s) we’ve been working on new features in xfwm4, xfce4-session and xfce4-appfinder mostly.

Olivier added NET_WM_PING support to xfwm4. This means you can now kill applications which are not responding using a dialog that pops up after a few seconds - great! As a funny coincidence I was just browsing the xfce4-dev mailing list archives a few days ago when I found one of my first posts there which was about a similar feature.

About one or two months ago Auke Kok posted a patch for parallel application startup for xfce4-settings on the mailing list. Brian now took the time to implement it and finally committed it yesterday. It notably speeds up the Xfce startup process.

When we tried to fix the main xfdesktop crash which we thought to be related to libxfce4menu a few weeks ago, I tried to reproduce it by adding ThunarVFS monitoring support to xfce4-appfinder and see if it would crash as well. My modifications were pretty rough and I decided to rewrite the appfinder to make its code more readable and flexible. I’ve been working on this for the last two days and comitted it today. I’ve used recordMyDesktop to record a video presenting the new features again, but this time I also recorded my (creepy) voice! It’s awful to hear how long it took me to pronounce “freedesktop.org menu specification compliance” and how I sucked at mentioning the name of the library it’s based on: “libxfce4menu”. Apart from that I’m glad it worked, so I can continue to plan the video series for 4.6.

On to something else: Last week I’ve been announced the official Xubuntu Xfce4 Liaison and I completely forgot to announce that on the mailing lists … anyway, this reminds me of the topic of this post: today is Ubuntu BugDay with special focus on Xubuntu. If you’re interested in getting things fixed in Xfce 4.4.x or Xubuntu in general, you’re welcome to take part by hugging a few bugs!

That’s it! I’ll try to keep you posted on news about the beta release.

Cheers,
Jannis

Edit: I already fixed the categories problem as you can see here.

Saturday, September 20 2008

Weekly news? Nah.

Last weekend we finally released Pinkie. While the reactions on news sites and forums have been quite mixed (as expected) we surprisingly received some very positive feedback from GNOME for xfconf. To me this gives proof that we did the right thing for 4.6. When we discussed the original design proposal for a D-Bus based settings daemon, we also took gconf and dconf into consideration. We decided to write xfconf instead for one reason in particular: Time. We wanted to have this concept in 4.6 and we didn’t want to wait for others to finish their work. Today this sounds reasonable as GNOME still seems to be struggling with dconf. Anyway, we appreciate the feedback and maybe we can cooperate on this one in the future.

So what happened this week, after the long awaited alpha release? The first thing I did was to merge the support for embedded settings dialogs into trunk. Most of the Xfce settings dialogs appear inside the main settings dialog now (as demonstrated in this video). Those which do not support this feature just pop up as usual. We’re using the new X-XfcePluggable key in .desktop files to announce support for this feature. This way it’s pretty easy for third parties to embed their own dialogs.

Stephan continued working on his graphical settings editor for xfconf. He and Brian also moved xfsettingsd into xfce4-settings. From now on xfconf will contain non-UI code only. As always our amazing translators comitted translation updates. I finally added xfconf support to the new mixer. Then, yesterday, Brian fixed our number one bug: xfdesktop used to crash almost everytime the contents of a directory monitored by xfdesktop/libxfce4menu changed and the desktop menu was regenerated. I’m glad this turned out not to be a reference counting bug in libxfce4menu but a very difficult to track down race condition inside xfdesktop. And Brian found it!

Today, I started planning the goodies installer for 4.6. We had different graphical installers for the 4.4 series and I’d like to continue that starting with the first release candidate of 4.6. I asked all maintainers to add their goodies to the list if they are still maintaining them and if they consider their goodies stable. I also wrote down my plans on a video series for 4.6. I recently tested the audio support of recordMyDesktop and it seems to work pretty well, so I thought it would be nice to introduce users and developers to the new release by recording some video presentations and tutorials during the release process.

So, this is it for now. Tomorrow I’ll be visiting my family for a couple days which gives me enough time to fix a few remaining things and get my components in shape for the beta. I’ll keep you posted!

Edit: Oh, what I completely forgot to mention: It’s great that gnomefiles.org is back! But this is even better:

Best Rated:
1. Thunar 9.39
2. catfish 9.38
3. midori 9.37
4. Xfce 9.36

Friday, September 12 2008

News from the Pinkie front

Now that I have an account for this weblog I thought it might be nice to keep everyone informed about what’s going on inside Xfce every now and then. Unlike Erik with the weekly news he wrote some time ago I’ll probably not be that funny (you can tell from the picture in my previous post that I really suck at this) and maybe not even as informative as the weekly news were, but I hope I can at least keep you posted on the latest and hottest news from the Xfce front.

So, let’s first talk about what’s going on right now. For the last two weeks we’ve been busy finishing the new settings dialogs. For those who do not know yet: for Xfce 4.6 we developed a completely new configuration backend based on D-Bus. It’s called xfconf and is really cool. As the name already suggests it’s somewhat similar to GConf - you have a daemon which acts as an abstraction layer for the actual storage backend and you have clients which can read and write their configs from/to the daemon via D-Bus. So why use D-Bus at all? In the case of xfconf it helped us designing a new property change notification mechanism. Applications interested in a property (usually a settings dialog that modifies a property or an application that uses this property) can ask the daemon to be notified whenever this property changes. And this works really well.

Anyway, back to the initial topic: almost all settings dialogs have now been ported to xfconf and we have started to package the alpha. We’ve agreed on preparing the release notes together and hopefully we’ll be able to finish those tomorrow so we can release the alpha named Pinkieon Saturday or Sunday.

We would be lousy developers if we didn’t already make plans for the beta. Alpha doesn’t mean feature freeze, right? So while Stephan has plans to finish work on his editor for xfconf (which makes it possible to skip the settings dialogs and just edit all properties by hand using a GUI) I thought about our settings dialogs again. I’ve always hated how all those dialogs cluttered the screen.

So instead of using dialogs, what about embedding the widgets into the main settings dialog of Xfce? I had only found out about GtkSocket/GtkPlug one or two days before and so I read the reference manual on how to use them and started modifying the new main settings dialog and two of the other dialogs for keyboards and the user interface settings to see whether embedding these into the main dialog was actually possible.

You can see the results of this short hacking session (it still needs some work) in this video. Instead of having dialogs popping up whenever you click on an item in the settings dialog the dialog content is now embedded into the dialog and you’re provided with a back button to return to the overview. The video also shows some of the new features like customizable the DPI value and dialogs designed to aid in resolving keyboard shortcut conflicts.

So, I leave you with this for tonight (damn, 3am already …) and hope we can surprise (ha…ha…) you with the alpha release this weekend.

Cheers,
Jannis

BTW, recordMyDesktop rocks! Creating short videos for demonstrations does no longer require any brain power at all and it doesn’t even require you to have a flash plugin installed!

Edit: New video online!

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