It looks like the next major Debian GNU/Linux release will be shipping with the soon to be released Linux 3.16 kernel…
Meson is a new, open-source build system under development showing good results over the likes of SCons…
Last May a group of three Okular developers met for four days at the Blue Systems Barcelona office to hack on the KDE universal document viewer.
The first day the team triaged a lot of bugs resulting in a nice drop of unconfirmed bugs. There are still a lot of UNCONFIRMED items in that chart, almost all of them are wishes that we didn’t know how to omit on the chart.
During the next days there were discussions about ideas and implementations, including:
We decided that when porting to KF5 we will aim to have libokularcore be dependent on QtGui but not on QtWidget.
The most important item we discussed was how Okular saves file data. The proposal is to never autosave, making Okular act more like an editor. This has implications for bringing up old autosaved content if autosave was not used any more. By the end of the last day, we think we developed what seems a good plan. Now we only need time to code it
From the fourth to the sixth of July, the Calligra team got together in sunny Deventer (Netherlands) for the yearly developer sprint at the same location as the last Krita sprint. Apart from seeing the sights and having our group photo in front of one of the main attractions of this quaint old Dutch town in the province of Overijssel, namely the cheese shop (and much cheese was taken home by the Calligra hackers, as well as stroopwafels from the Saturday market) we spent our time planning the future of Calligra and doing some healthy hacking and bug fixing!
Jos van den Oever, Thorsten Zachmann, Arjen Hiemstra, Jigar Raisinghani,
Friedrich Kossebau, Dmitry Kazakov, Jaroslaw Staniek, Boudewijn Rempt (left to right)
For Calligra, we’ve been planning the next release: Calligra 2.9, which is planned for December. It will be the last release based on Qt4. We’re a bit slow in porting to Qt5 and KDE Frameworks 5, because we still have the scars of the port to Qt4, which took years… This release will be pretty much Calligra as you know it, with all the bits intact.
So then, after 2.9, we’re planning to do a proper port to Qt5 and KF5, using Frameworks where appropriate. In early January, we’ll lock down the repo, send everyone on vacation while the porting scripts run. When every script has ran, and everything builds again, we’ll start properly porting Calligra. We expect to be able to release Calligra 3.0 end of March, so that’s a three month release cycle.
We need help!
Here’s a bit of serious news, though: parts of Calligra are essentially unmaintained. Applications like Karbon or Plan, which have a long pedigree and have been around for ages, have not seen any development for over a year — or more. These applications are still unique, have lots and lots of promise… But for Calligra 3.0, this means that we’ll disable those applications from the build after the initial automated port. And it’s up to volunteers to re-enable them, fix all porting issues and take up maintainership!
As for the Calligra libraries, we’ve long felt that some of them could do with a wider exposure. There are libraries for handling property bags and showing them in a gui, there are libraries for loading vector images, for handling OpenDocument. We’ve got a library for handling color management, too. Right now, the libraries are tangled together, and it would be good to split them up again.
We did that once before, but the split was undone during the KOffice 2 development process. Revisiting it right now isn’t an option for lack of manpower. However, especially the vector image library might make a good addition to the KDE Frameworks, with a bit of work on API, documentation and so on. We want to get down to that during the port to Qt5.
Finally, Dmitry has been working with the Russian translation team to iron out some kinks in the translation process. In particular, undo strings are difficult in a language like Russian that uses a different (grammatical) case in different contexts. He has created a version of the undo library that forces developers to provide the proper context. We also discussed more long-term plans to make it easy to see the strings that need to be translated in the context of the gui — as well as trying to create tools that make it easier to add new tooltips and other helpful strings.
All in all, the get-together was very fruitful. We now have a pretty good plan for 2014 and 2015 and know where we want to go. Planning and setting directions matters: it motivates the current developers and makes clear to potential contributors where things are going and where they can chime in.
The seventh release candidate to the Linux 3.16 kernel on this final Sunday of July…
Trine 2: Complete Story, a 2D platformer developed and published by Frozenbyte studio, is now available on Steam for Linux with an 80& discount.This edition of Trine 2: Complete Story is actually comprised of Trine 2, the Goblin Menace DLC and the Dwarven Caverns level“Trine 2: Complete Story fully integrates the Goblin Menace expansion campaign and the all-new unlockable Dwarven Caverns level into one mighty fairytale. All owners of Trine 2: Goblin Menace are automatically… (read more)
Git 2.0.3, a free and open source distributed version control system designed to handle everything from small to very large projects with speed and efficiency, has been officially released.The new Git 2.0.x branch continues the trend of large releases, integrating a big number of changes and fixes. Unlike the previous version, which was quite a hefty one, this new release is actually pretty small. Users have been advised to upgrade nonetheless.According to the changelog, an ancient rewrite pas… (read more)
Salix Openbox, a GNU/Linux distribution based on Slackware that is simple, fast, easy to use, and based on the Openbox window manager, is now at version 14.1.The Openbox version of Salix is one if the lightest in the series and it all has to do with the window manager. Because this is such a light distro it can be installed on systems with older hardware and it should perform without any issues.“Salix Openbox 14.1 brings the Openbox window manager, teamed with fbpanel and SpaceFM to crea… (read more)
The first Beta version of Scientific Linux 7.0, a recompiled Red Hat Enterprise Linux put together by various labs and universities around the world, has been released and it’s now available for testing.The developers of Scientific Linux 7.0 don’t seem to waste any minute and just a few days after the release of the second Alpha in the series, a new Beta version is already available. Quite a few changes have been implemented since the previous version, but it’s still a Beta a… (read more)
CoreOS 367.1.0, a Linux-based server OS built from the scratch for the modern datacenter, has been released and it’s packed with numerous changes and improvements. The CoreOS developers have been working very hard to release a stable version of this new distribution and they managed to do it after a few development versions. “CoreOS delivers supported enterprise Linux OS in a completely new way. It is the world’s first OS as a Service — patches are delivered as a continuous… (read more)
The curtains are up on GUADEC 2014, and the first keynote was delivered by Jim Hall. Jim is the Director of Information Technology at Morris, University of Minnesota, and he presented his work on usability in GNOME. We took some time to talk to Jim about his keynote and about his research on GNOME.
Nowadays many designers are interested in user experience rather than usability. Do you believe that usability alone is still relevant?
Usability and user experience are related, but different. Usability is about getting something done; user experience is about the user’s emotional impression. Lots of things can affect the emotional experience of a graphical desktop like GNOME. Colors, fonts, location of elements, and window decorations are just some of the things that can influence how a person feels about using GNOME. That’s the user experience.
Usability focuses on the user. The general rule about usability is that people use programs to be productive, and they are busy people who are trying to get things done. Through usability testing, the user decides when a product is easy to use. Because if a program is hard to use, no one will want to use it. And if they don’t use the software, then they won’t have an emotional experience about it.
So I believe that usability and user experience go hand-in-hand. Programs need to be pleasant (user experience) but people need to be able to use them, too (usability).
In your experience, what are the biggest difficulties you can incur in arranging an user testing?
It is critical to plan a usability test around the users. Who are the users? Do you only expect programmers to use it, or is it intended for a general audience? With GNOME, that means everyone, so any usability test of GNOME must be designed for “general users with average knowledge.”
The next step is to decide what tasks those users need to do in GNOME. What are these general users trying to get done? In this usability test, we wanted to focus on new design patterns, but we first had to work out a set of tasks that real people would probably do: manage some folders and files, browse the web, take some notes, and so on.
Once you figure out what the usability test should cover, the hardest part is to make sure the tasks are realistic. You want each task to be something a real person would probably do in GNOME. But avoid using words or terms that actually appear in the program. That would only test if the user can match your task description to a menu item. Instead, you want to describe things using general terms. For example: when I asked testers to increase the font size on a website, I didn’t use the word “font.” Instead, the task was:
“You don’t have your glasses with you, so it’s hard to read the text on the website. Please make the text bigger on the website.”
You have done a lot of work on improving usability in GNOME: what was the hardest issue you found and the biggest satisfaction you have got?
I was really glad to see Allan and the other GNOME folks create entries in the GNOME Bugzilla. It’s really satisfying to see GNOME developers taking usability seriously.
In doing the usability test, it is hard to watch someone struggle to complete a task. You can’t give hints; you almost have to sit on your hands to keep from saying “the menu item you’re looking for is right there.” You must let the tester explore for themselves, in order to understand how users interact with your program.
I was surprised by some of the test results. For example: installing a program using Software. When testers searched for the program (“Robots”) they got a list of programs that matched the search, and a convenient “Install” button they could click. But if they navigated through the categories to find the program, the “Install” button was in the upper-right corner, and users didn’t see it. Instead, they clicked on the link to visit the program’s website, which got them totally off track. So testers either completed this task very easily, or they were not able to do it at all.
What do you expect from this GUADEC?
This is my first time at GUADEC, so I really don’t know what to expect. I have attended other similar conferences, so I expect to meet lots of interesting people. I am a very friendly person, so if you see me, please do say hi.
While I’ve visited other countries, this is my first trip to France. Unfortunately, I don’t have any French, so I am hoping someone will help help keep me from getting lost. I also speak conversational Spanish and a little bit of Klingon, but neither will help me in France.
Can you give us a quick introduction to your GUADEC keynote?
My keynote will be a summary of my usability research with GNOME. This is based on my Master’s capstone project, which you can download from my blog: “Usability Themes in Open Source Software.”
The presentation walks through the usability test of GNOME. I think folks will be very interested in the “heat map” of the usability test, which shows how testers fared in the test. It’s a new way to share results of a usability test, and I think it helps to make issues more clear.
I will wrap up with a discussion of five themes from this usability test: how GNOME developers can extend this usability test to help them with other GNOME programs.
Many thanks to Jim for all his work, and for his excellent keynote presentation.
In continuation of the Phoronix article from a few days ago about the open-source AMD Linux driver should finally be working for R9 290 “Hawaii” graphics cards, it is indeed the case but it’s not without some setup challenges and potential bugs…
A new development version of Wine, 1.7.23, has been announced by Alexandre Julliard and it comes with at least one major new features, Android support. The development build of Wine has brought some major improvements and a new feature, which should be very interesting for most of the users out there. According to the changelog, better support for drag and drop has been implemented, the HTTP cookie management has been improved, a number of fixes have been implemented to crypto certificates m… (read more)
George Vlahavas has announced the release of Salix 14.1 “Openbox” edition, a lightweight Slackware-based distribution featuring with Openbox as the default window manager: “Salix Openbox 14.1 brings the Openbox window manager, teamed with fbpanel and SpaceFM to create a fast and flexible desktop environment. This is the most….
Back in March, the digital games distribution site GOG.com (which, believe it or not, is owned by Poland’s CD Projekt RED) announced it would be adding support for Linux. This week, ahead of schedule, 50 games were released on the site with support for Ubuntu and Linux Mint. Most of the games on the list were already released with Linux support, but a few notables are out on Linux for the first time. Check out GamingOnLinux for an interview about the release and be sure to check out the promotional sale before it ends on Monday.
Complementing yesterday’s Radeon, Intel, and Nouveau benchmarks using the very latest open-source driver code, here’s some power consumption, performance-per-Watt, and thermal numbers when using an assortment of graphics processors on the latest open-source drivers.
The first day of this year’s GUADEC conference has wrapped up in Strasbourg, France. As usual, there were lots of fond reunions for long-standing contributors, as well as new faces who got their first chance to meet fellow GNOME contributors face-to-face.
In the morning, Jim Hall gave a well-received keynote on his user testing work on GNOME. Jim has been working closely with the GNOME Design Team, and has been helping to identify usability issues in GNOME’s applications. His presentation described his testing methodology, and presented the results of his tests. There was a positive response to Jim’s talk, and plans are already underway to resolve the issues he found for the next GNOME release, version 3.14.
The schedule also included a range of talks, covering both developments in GNOME, as well as more general issues in Free Software. There were presentations on GNOME’s geolocation framework, the new GObject to SQLite Data Mapper, and GStreamer. There were also talks on ownCloud design, women’s participation in technology, intellectual property, and Free Software business models.
The day ended with the first part of the GNOME Foundation Annual General Meeting. Representatives from each of GNOME’s teams gave a summary of their work over the past year, including accessibility, documentation, design, engagement, the Release Team, system administration, outreach, and GNOME.Asia.
Tomorrow there will be more talks, another keynote, and lightning talks from GNOME’s interns.
Linus Torvalds’ latest tirade is over the GCC 4.9 code compiler…
Last week in Cambridge (UK) was the GNU Tools Cauldron 2014 conference where a number of interesting GCC-related talks took place, including greater collaboration between the GCC and LLVM/Clang compiler crews…