This is my (in)activity log. You might like to visit my employer
Novell which is an amazing company, and also
Dell who in days of yore provided me with a
free laptop for Gnome development / conferences.
Also if you have the time to read this sort of stuff you could enlighten
yourself by going to Unraveling Wittgenstein's net or if
you are feeling objectionable perhaps here.
Stuff Michael Meeks is doing
decadence! Some interesting discussion on planet gnome on the subject. As a hacker who manages
to age without apparently getting wiser - I have to say, I am highly suspicious of
change for it's own sake.
This is particularly true when you take into account the
typical hacker tendency to start things that never get finished. Those
who would deny this tendency, should introspect: how many TeX-like
bug-free & finished programs have they created; vs. how many mouldering
half-finished proof-of-concepts ?. When I cast around for the
programmers I respect most perhaps they have some of these defining
It turns out having 'vision' is easy enough, you don't need any special
(or even programming) skills. What is not easy is having an achievable
vision, articulating it clearly, building consensus and delivering on it.
Hackers that produced libraries or applications that have stood the
test of time: became the canonical solutions in a given area, were cleanly
designed & maintainable - and as such began to be taken for granted &
disappear from view. ie. I love people that finish things.
Alternatively I see giants who took broken unfinished things, and
heaved them upwards into a more usable, polished & consistent state -
eg. getting nautilus from where Eazel left it to today's version.
Those who lead others by example: sheer hard work, determination
and working to include, build and keep a developer community; oh and who
compromise to ally with, and include other people. For example if your
Foo project seeks to revolutionise the desktop - best to join up with
Baa project and Baz project with similar goals, before trying to
persuade everyone to work with you.
Then of course, there is a wonderful (albit brief) paper by Jamie Zawinski on the
development model. I'm personally not so convinced that version 0.8 is always
followed (on re-write) by 0.8, often AFAICS it's 0.7 or 0.5. Having said that
getting to 0.9 is perhaps possible, if the re-write is done by people wiser
after suffering all the original mistakes. Sadly though re-writes are done
by 'fresh blood'. Perhaps the reduction in CADT in GNOME is due (as people
have pointed out) to an increasing proportion of the middle-aged:
with pictures of babies replacing bungee-jumpers on the planet.
Pyro / web-desktop type ideas as a way forward: I used to (somewhat) sneer
at people who describe themselves thus: "I program HTML". Then I tried
to make a web-site look as I wanted it to (ie. not grotesquely ugly), wow - perhaps
they were onto something. Some think there is a pile of broken mess in our desktop,
but at least you know where you are with a GtkHBox.
Then of course - there is the thesis itself: of decadence. If people
want pervasive & noticeable change you can instantly see - it means several
things: potentially huge code changes, new metaphores and lots of experimentation.
Doing that will inevitably screw up lots of the new things: or worse, they will
be an excellent idea (eg. spatial nautilus) that the users will revolt against.
Of course, that is no reason not to try, but the bigger the project, the harder
it becomes, and the more necessary it is to have a clear and substantial benefit
Personally, I think the thesis of slow decay is unconvincing: I look at
the wider Linux desktop of which GNOME is a key part, and see us actually getting
to a place where it works well enough that the positive feedback that entails gets
us yet more users, developers and improvements. Simply because the UI involved in
say draining the package management swamp is small - doesn't mean the effort fixing
the mess is (or would be any easier in a new paradigm). Similarly, when it comes to
resourcing decisions eg. I applaud Soeren, Federico & the X guys for working on the
inglorious draining of the swamp of multi-monitor hot-plug from hardware to end-user.
They could of course have been doing something else: perhaps adding 3D gizmos
that only render properly on ultra-new hardware - would that be time better
spent ? Personally I'm excited about new things like PackageKit, PulseAudio, working
multi-display hot-plug, (finally) pervasive free-software X drivers, the latest
compiz effects, and so on.
I guess, ultimately we should aim at making our libraries and
infrastructure as (apparently) boring as the kernel: which people take for
granted, is just there, and expands incrementally. That might leave us to
move up-stack and make our applications integrate beautifully with all our
new technologies; dunging out the old libraries & APIs to make further
change possible, and adding user functionality people want to use: but then,
I'm always on the look out for more ooo-build hackers I guess.
Got on with reading mail & working instead of pontificating. Spent a
while trying to debug an odd problem with a child of X locking up at 100% in Pclose,
looked like some horrific kernel issue; dug at the results of
echo t > /proc/sysrq-trigger a little but got no-where in the end.
Well pleased with X / drm / radeonhd stability - in comparison with the proprietary
drivers, I spent an hour SIGKILL'ing X, switching consoles, modprobe -r'ing,
starting and killing compiz and so on, and the machine is still alive.
Bit of OO.o code review on the side; poked at xen & xenner some more.
In case it's not painfully obvious: the reflections reflected here are my
own; mine, all mine ! and don't reflect the views of Novell, The
Lithuanian Gov't or Arnold Schwarzenegger. It's also important to
realise that I'm not in on the Swedish Conspiracy.
Occasionally people ask for formal photos for conferences,
Michael Meeks (email@example.com)