All posts by Nick

Xfce translations moved

For quite some time Xfce used a private installation of Transifex because this “old” version was capable of pushing to git directly and the tools provided by transifex.com were not extremely suitable at the time. But time went by and transifex.com improved to a nice platform, while our installation started to struggle more and more.

So it was about time we moved and since yesterday all translations moved to the Xfce hub project! There are separate projects for the core modules because there we work more active with different branches, and there are “collection” projects for the various goodies, like panel plugins, thunar extensions and applications outside Xfce core.

The platform is (imho) a huge improvement for translators; the interface is very nice, a way better online editor and a translation memory across the components to translate similar string more quickly and consistently. On the developers since everything is still automated since a cron script will pull the translations and submit them to git (if they reached a minimum percentage of 50% and passed all checks).

During the migration a lot of files were removed from git because they did not pass msgfmt –check, so at the same time this was a nice cleanup of broken translations in the repositories.

There are still some things to do; cron script needs some more testing and also more pot files need to be removed from the repositories to avoid broken or incomplete translations, but the largest step is taken.

So in case you were translating Xfce or want to, sign up at transifex.com and joint a translation team in the Xfce project!

Questions after the 4.10 release

A short post to answerer some questions I’ve ready in comments on the 4.10 release news across the internet. If you have more questions, let me know in the comments and I’ll try to answer them.

A new stable release after 16 months? And no 4.8.1 release…

This is because Xfce has a different release model than for example GNOME or KDE when it comes to stable releases. Because of the limited team of developers we want to spend the least time possible on releasing packages. Big stable releases like other desktops do consume a lot of time, even with the small-ish amount of core packages in Xfce.

Therefore after 4.6 the following was decided: we only do 4 big releases (3 preview releases and 1 stable release) and after that only stable releases for individual packages. So the desktop version is 4.10 (notice the lacking micro-number), individual components could have higher 4.10.x numbers.

As an example, the last 4.8 stable release of xfce4-dev-tools is 4.8.0, the same as in the 4.8 fat-tarball release. The latest 4.8 release of xfce4-panel is 4.8.6 (6 stable releases after 4.8.0, which was in the 4.8 fat-tarball).

We know this is harder for starting users, who prefer to grab 1 tarball with all the latest versions, but instead need to crawl through /src/xfce and need to find the latest version. For distributions this is a lot easier: packagers are subscribed to the xfce-announce mailing list or peek identi.ca and once in a while they need to update 1 of the packages.

Nonetheless this is still a point where we can improve so I’ll see if I can provide more information on the website (announcements and links to the latest package versions).

4.10 only had 2 preview releases, because no critical bugs appeared and translations were in a good shape. Enough reasons for me to skip pre3 and release 4.10 instead.

Online Documentation Wiki

Just to be clear about this: we understand online docs are not a solution, but it was the best we could do in a short time. Hopefully the wiki-based setup will attract more contributors (who previously feared docbook or mallard, yes we tried that too) and lead to a complete set of documentation . When we feel satisfied with the content of the wiki we’ll look into a “wiki snapshot” for offline usage and ship that in an xfce4-docs package.

Gtk3

First 2 things: no Xfce 4.10 is not using gtk3, only the gtk-xfce-engine theme engine supports gtk3. Secondly we will discuss if Xfce 4.12 will be ported to gtk3. I’ll explain the latter:

Technically gtk3 is nothing different then gtk2 when it comes to programming. The hard parts are porting of some custom widgets (drawing and size allocation), replacements of some deprecated symbols and link to gtk3 libs. All things a user is not going to notice if we do it right.

Gtk3 is also not faster than gtk2, maybe there are some areas were it got a bit faster, but so there are areas where performance decreased a bit. Nothing shocking here.

An issue I’m aware of is theming issues in gtk3. From what I understand this changed back and forward in gtk 3.0, 3.2 and 3.4. So we need to decide which version we require to get this working consistently, because people will complain if only the Raleigh theme can be used :).

From the Xfce point of view there is (again) the resource problem for porting all plugins, because if for example the panel is ported to gtk3, also the plugins need to be ported. Not all goodies are maintained, but usually they work and distros can compile them. If in 4.12 suddenly 50% of the external plugins are not working that will be another thing users will notice.

At any rate, don’t get overly excited about gtk3, it’s just gtk 2.26 with a huge api break :). Once we decided which version we use in 4.12, I’ll post it on the blog.

LXDE still consumes less memory

*sigh* I’m not going to rant on this because as a user you should choose the desktop that makes you happy, but anyway it annoys me a tiny bit. So just to throw some information:

LXDE and Xfce are both based on the same toolkit and provide roughly the same set of features. That as a start makes it technically almost impossible to be much better or worse regarding memory usage. I think this whole myth started by comparing two distributions (clue: strcmp (distro_a + 1, distro_b + 1) == 0).

I’m sure Xfce consumes a bit more memory, because more processes are started. Especially when external plugins are added to the panel: a design decision to make the panel more stable.

I don’t know or care where this comparison started, but if somebody does this again the the future, please compare the actual memory usage and don’t use free. Or even better: don’t compare memory usage at all because it is pretty useless.
That said: if I start a default LXDE and Xfce 4.10 desktop (default Arch Linux packages) and use ps_mem.py, Xfce consumes 2 MiB more memory (same or desktop-equal applications are started). Do whatever you want this is number, as long as you compare apples and apples.

Not much accomplished in over 1 year

Sorry, I also work the entire week. But I don’t blame myself, Xfce is a fun project for all of us and if people move to another country, have a day job, a life, school/exams or simply don’t feel like working on Xfce not much progress is made.

Personally I don’t have the feeling not much was done in 4.10, we didn’t break anything major and a lot of the todo’s for 4.10 were completed in the release cycle. The focus was polishing and that’s what we did!

Updates:

  • 01-05 13:34: Added “Not much accomplished in over 1 year”.

Xfce 4.10 released!

Today, after 1 year and 4 months of work, we are pleased to announce the release of the Xfce desktop 4.10, a new stable version that supersedes Xfce 4.8.

In the 4.10 cycle we mainly focused on polishing the desktop and improving the user experience in various ways. Highlights of this release are:

  • A new application finder that has been completely rewritten and combines the functionality of the old xfce4-appfinder and xfrun4.
  • The panel now has an alternative vertical display mode (a deskbar). What is more, panel plugins can be arranged in multiple rows, which is particularly useful in the deskbar mode.
  • A new MIME type editor that allows you to easily change applications used for opening different file types. The mouse and touchpad settings dialog and the settings editor were extended in terms of functionality. The former now supports tablets in a much better way.
  • It is now possible to launch applications and open files on the desktop with a single click of the mouse. In addition, the 4.10 desktop can display thumbnails and automatically advance through the wallpaper list.
  • The window manager can be configured to tile windows when dragging them to the screen edges. The tab window (Alt+Tab) supports more flexible theming and cursor key navigation.

An online tour of the changes in Xfce 4.10 can be viewed here:

http://xfce.org/about/tour

A detailed overview of the changes compared to Xfce 4.8 and Xfce 4.10 preview releases can be found on the following page:

http://xfce.org/download/changelogs

This release can be downloaded either as a set of individual packages or as a single fat tarball including all these individual versions:

http://archive.xfce.org/xfce/4.10

Thank you all the contributors, bug reporters, as well as translators and packagers for your efforts in making this release possible.

Best regards,
The Xfce development team

Xfce 4.10pre2 released!

Xfce 4.10pre2 is now available for download.

It includes the following releases of Xfce core components:

  • exo 0.7.3
  • garcon 0.1.12
  • gtk-xfce-engine 2.99.3
  • libxfce4ui 4.9.2
  • libxfce4util 4.9.1
  • thunar 1.3.2
  • thunar-volman 0.7.1
  • tumbler 0.1.24
  • xfce4-appfinder 4.9.5
  • xfce4-dev-tools 4.9.2
  • xfce4-panel 4.9.2
  • xfce4-power-manager 1.1.0
  • xfce4-session 4.9.1
  • xfce4-settings 4.9.5
  • xfconf 4.9.1
  • xfdesktop 4.9.3
  • xfwm4 4.9.1

Individual tarballs are available for download now:
http://archive.xfce.org/xfce/4.10pre2/src

A tarball including all individual releases can be downloaded here:
http://archive.xfce.org/xfce/4.10pre2/fat_tarballs

Release notes for 4.10pre2

The Xfce development team is proud to announce the second preview release for Xfce 4.10. Together with this preview release, the Xfce project announces the string and code (only critical bug fixes or regressions) freeze for the final 4.10 release which is set to be pushed out to the world on April 28th, 2012.

This release incorporates some new features like improved responsiveness of file operations in Thunar and tiling improvements in Xfwm4. Everything else is bug fixes and a _lot_ of translation updates.

A list of all changes is available on:
http://xfce.org/download/changelogs/4.10pre2

We hope you will enjoy this release. Please give us feedback by sharing your thoughts, blogging, tweeting or by filing bug reports! With your help, 4.10 will be the best release ever (at least until 4.12)!

Kind regards and thanks to everyone who has contributed to this release,
The Xfce development team

We’re still looking for mirrors

Since we’re using MirrorBrain to distribute the Xfce packages a number of good mirrors were collected. However, as you can see in the picture below, South America and Asia are not covered with good local mirrors.

So I you have the possibility to become and Xfce mirror located in these continents, please read this page!

Xfce 4.10pre1 released!

Xfce 4.10pre1 is now available for download.

It includes the following releases of Xfce core components:

  • exo 0.7.2
  • garcon 0.1.11
  • gtk-xfce-engine 2.99.2
  • libxfce4ui 4.9.1
  • libxfce4util 4.9.0
  • thunar 1.3.1
  • thunar-volman 0.7.0
  • tumbler 0.1.24
  • xfce4-appfinder 4.9.4
  • xfce4-dev-tools 4.9.1
  • xfce4-panel 4.9.1
  • xfce4-power-manager 1.0.11
  • xfce4-session 4.9.0
  • xfce4-settings 4.9.4
  • xfconf 4.9.0
  • xfdesktop 4.9.2
  • xfwm4 4.9.0

Individual tarballs are available for download now:

http://archive.xfce.org/xfce/4.10pre1/src

A tarball including all individual releases can be downloaded here:

http://archive.xfce.org/xfce/4.10pre1/fat_tarballs

Release notes for 4.10pre1

The Xfce development team is proud to announce the first preview release for Xfce 4.10. Together with this preview release, the Xfce project announces the feature freeze for the final 4.10 release which is set to be pushed out to the world on April 28th, 2012.

This release incorporates major changes to the core of the Xfce desktop environment and hopefully succeeds in fulfilling a number of long time requests. Among the most notable updates is the new application finder that merges the functionality of the old appfinder and xfrun4. The Panel also has a new vertical mode [aka Deskbar] for better space usage on wide-screen monitors and a new actions plugin. On the settings side the settings helper is integrated in xfsettingsd, saving 1 running process. There is also a reworked settings dialog with categories and pluggable dialogs enabled by default. Basic Synaptics and Wacom settings in the Mouse settings and a new MIME-Type editor. Thunar gained a more polished layout to reduce space usage and more responsive interaction with the thumbnail generator. Because we have not decided on how to merge the desktop functionality into Thunar yet, Xfdesktop has instead received various improvements, including single-click support, desktop icon thumbnails and better pasting of files. The Session Manager has improved power management code, tips have been removed and cleanup sessions from the interface. Last but not least, the Window Manager now has support for tiling windows and arrow key navigation in the task switcher.

Another big change for users is the removal of user documentation of the packages and introduction of http://docs.xfce.org. The reason for this change is the limited contribution of documentation since Xfce 4.8, so we hope the wiki will attract more contributors. The help buttons in the interface still work, but you’ll be asked to open the documentation website in your web browser.

Furthermore we dropped xfce-utils. Its content has either been removed or moved to other Xfce packages. All other dependency changes are listed in the 4.10pre1 ChangeLog. The Xfce core also gained a couple of new components because we think they are critical for a minimal desktop: xfce4-power-manager (power management), tumbler (thumbnail generation for Thunar and other components), garcon (menu library, was already a dependency in 4.8), thunar-volman (volume manager for Thunar).

Of course translations also improved a lot, thanks to the amazing work of our translation teams.

A list of all changes is available on:

http://xfce.org/download/changelogs/4.10pre1

We hope you will enjoy this release. Please give us feedback by sharing your thoughts, blogging, tweeting, denting or by filing bug reports. With your help, 4.10 will be the best release ever (at least until 4.12)!

Kind regards and thanks to everyone who has contributed to this release,
The Xfce development team

Documentation Wiki

Over the last years we’ve tried many techniques to make it easier to submit documentation for the Xfce packages. Unfortunately, whatever we’ve tried; hardly any documentation was contributed.

Complete documentation (or close to that) was still a goal for Xfce 4.10, so we’ve decided to drop the package manuals for the next stable release (now GIT master) and focus on a wiki-based setup. This means that the Help buttons in 4.10 will try to open your web browser and redirect you to the correct page on docs.xfce.org.

We understand a small group of people without Internet are affected by this change. However as the situation is right now, clicking the Help button is often not even possible and once the wiki is starting to grow, we’ll look into an xfce4-docs package that contains a snapshot of the wiki data.

We hope with this change the barrier to contribute manuals is low enough for contributors to help us with good documentation, so Xfce 4.10 will be the best documented release we’ve ever made (and that should fairly easy ;-).

Xfce mailing lists moved

The Xfce mailing lists moved from foo-projects.org and are now all hosted at mail.xfce.org. Mail addresses were not changed so nobody should experience problems with this, if you do please contact us at email hidden; JavaScript is required.

We want to thank the foo-projects.org crew (yes you Auke) for excellent support in the last couple of years!

– The Xfce development team.

Looking for mirrors for archive.xfce.org

In the last couple of days we’ve radically changed the server layout for the various Xfce domains. A new server is hosting most of the websites (php/mysql) and archive.xfce.org is now using MirrorBrain to distribute the load across the mirrors using GeoIP.

Although we are very happy with the new mirrors that were kindly made available in the last couple of days; the picture below clearly shows only Europe and North-America are properly covered.

So, if you have a server or know anyone (ask around!) with mirror possibilities in the other continents, please contact us! Because we not only try to write a fast desktop environment, we also want everyone to download it in a blink of an eye.

More information on how to become a mirror: http://wiki.xfce.org/mirror