Category Archives: xfce4-settings

Stable releases!

Last week-end, our awesome Nick released new stable versions for almost all Xfce major components: libxfce4util, tumbler, xfce4-appfinder, xfce4-session, xfce4-panel, xfwm4, xfce4-settings, garcon, thunar, xfce4-terminal and tumbler (this is not amnesia, we got two releases in a single day for this component!).

I still need to release libxfce4ui 4.10.1 which would fix some keyboard shortcut issues: numpad shortcuts, shortcuts with Shift, shortcuts with Alt+Print... I need some testers for this stable branch before releasing. So grab the code on git or from this tarball and please confirm if it works fine after restarting your session. Thanks in advance for your help.

The list of changes which can be found in those stable releases in available on the Xfce Announcement mailing list. I wish you all an improved Xfce experience!

Keyboard shortcut work landed

After a few user interface improvements and some last bug fixes, the work I described in my last post was merged in the master branches. It is thus available for testing to all users of the Xfce development version.

Feedback on this is welcome, file any bug you find on the Xfce Bugzilla. This will of course be available in the next development release of those components.

Work in progress to improve keyboard shortcuts in Xfce

Long time no blog! I started to hack again last week with the goal of improving keyboard shortcuts handling in Xfce. I touched that during the Xfce 4.10 cycle and this unfortunately seem to have introduced a bunch of bugs that I'm now trying to resolve. I also took this opportunity to try to overhaul the UI and make it more understandable.

This code is available in the jeromeg/keyboard-shortcuts branches of xfwm4, libxfce4ui and xfce4-settings on the Xfce Git server. Some improvements are still planned but most of what I was planning is already implemented.

Here is a list of reported bugs which should be fixed once I merge this:

A brief summary: shortcuts now work when Caps Lock is on, shortcuts using Shift or the numeric keypad are handled correctly, a bunch of regressions are fixed, conflict handling is now more reliable and the UI should be better.

Regarding keyboard shortcuts bugs, keyboard shortcuts not working correctly after a reboot or not work working in some other cases seem to occur because of a "wrong" shortcut database often caused by a problem in the migration script in Xfce 4.6. In that case, the easier way to fix this seems to be to revert all keyboard shortcuts to default (in xfwm4-settings and xfce4-keyboard-settings) and to rebind them using the dialogs.

Screenshots

Readable shortcut labels in the UI

Shortcuts view with now with readable labels

Improved dialogs to add and edit shortcuts

Set shortcut command

Set shortcut keys

Improved conflict handling

conflict-dialog.png

Testing is welcome!

If you know what you are doing, it would be useful if you could test those changes and report me by mail any remaining issues. Suggestions for improvements are also welcome.

FOSDEM 2012

This year’s FOSDEM is over and I hope that most of us have by now recovered from an exhausting weekend that was first and foremost exciting and a lot of fun! With about 12 people, the Xfce group was—I think—larger than ever before. Add to that a fairly large number of my colleagues from Codethink, into which I bumped at the beer event and FOSDEM itself from time to time. Despite mostly staying with Xfce, I enjoyed knowing and meeting people all over the place.

Unfortunately, some of us—myself included—missed half of the beer event because our trains and planes arrived late. Snow in Brussels, a cold weekend ahead. When we arrived at the Delirium Café at around midnight, I was glad to see that all the others had already made friends again. Olivier, Stephan, Peter, Nick, Simon, Christoph, everyone was there, some of them sufficiently drunk, I imagine. Although to be be fair, you wouldn’t really notice. Most of us left not to long after that in order to be in a good condition in the morning. Having only caught up half on drinking, Christian, Mike and I ended up staying at the Delirium with a few Codethink colleagues including Sam, Luc and Javier—until they finally kicked us out at around four in the morning.

Food, taxi, 2 1/2 hours of sleep later and we were sitting in the hotel, enjoying a fantastic buffet breakfast. Admittedly, I couldn’t eat that morning, ending the night in the Delirium had lead to quite a strong hangover. After the majority of us had gathered in the hotel lobby, we squeezed ourselves into the 71 bus in two groups and finally arrived at FOSDEM. I do not remember the details of the day, but it was a great mix of talks (including my own one about Tumbler, which I felt was not very special, picture below), chatting and minor hacking (at least on my side; Nick made good progress with the settings editor in the meantime). During the day, Jean-Francois, Jens and Mark joined us and we (or most of us at least) ended the day having food in a Vietnamese restaurant close to the hotel and a beer in the hotel lobby.

Sunday was similar, except that I could finally enjoy the breakfast. Lovely. Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to get everyone together anymore, so our initially large group was now split up into smaller ones for the rest of Sunday. We still managed to have a few technical chats about Xfce that day and made a few decisions (see below). Regards talks, I mostly remember the Wayland Q&A session and a talk about social engineering in free software communities, Most of us left in the afternoon or evening. I met up with Luc, Sam, Javier and a bunch of other people to have food in a very nice restaurant. Got up at six in the morning, walked to the central station, took a plane home from the airport and went back to work in the afternoon. Unlike a few others I seem to have escaped the typical illnesses (cold, broken sleep cycles, general exhaustion) that events like FOSDEM always bring along.

Xfce-Related News — Fresh from FOSDEM

Wayland was big this year. I will spare you the details of how it works. Throughout the weekend, we had various discussions that involved Wayland. While it may take some load of Olivier by eventually making window managers obsolete, there is still a major problem with it: it does not support the XEmbed protocol, and therefor will break pluggable settings dialogs and panel plugins. We have sent mails to the wayland-devel list to find out how they feel about this. For now, I suppose this is all we can do.

Reorganization of the settings dialogs

One thing we decided on Sunday was to reorganize the settings dialogs so that the location of particular types of settings becomes more predictable. This applies to appearance and window manager themeing, and the application keyboard shortcuts and window manager keyboard shortcuts in particular. We will rearrange some of these tabs and merge them so that all related settings are in one place. We will also merge the window manager and window manager tweaks dialogs into one.

Release Schedule for Xfce 4.10

Despite a lack of completed features in Thunar (which are unlikely to get finished before 4.10), there are only a few things that really keep us from releasing Xfce 4.10. We have not decided on a release date, but if things go well, we should be able to roll the first pre-release one month from now, in early March. This would mean that a final release in May or June would be feasible.

Possibility of a hackfest

Meeting up with the team is always great fun. Unfortunately, FOSDEM is a busy event and only lasts two days. Like last year, we discussed the possibility of an Xfce hackfest in the future. I would love to see this idea becoming reality. If half a dozen of the relevant people can make it for at least a couple of days, this could greatly benefit the development of Xfce. Ideally, such a hackfest would span over at least 4-5 days, ideally including a weekend to make it easier to attend for people with jobs. Given a relatively small group, it might even be possible to hold an event like this at someone’s flat. This is definitely something that we will look into soon.

Like every year, FOSDEM 2012 was a great event. And like every year, a few more nicknames have turned into real faces that, unsurprisingly, belong to incredibly friendly human beings! I only wish that we had more time to discuss things face to face and do some serious work on Xfce together. In any case, this calls for another iteration next year. And with that, I shall end this wrap-up.

Xfce 4.8pre2 released!

Xfce 4.8pre2 is now available for download.

It includes the following releases of Xfce core components:

  • exo 0.5.5
  • gtk-xfce-engine 2.6.0
  • libxfce4ui 4.7.5
  • libxfce4util 4.7.4
  • libxfcegui4 4.7.0
  • thunar 1.1.5
  • thunar-vfs 1.1.1
  • xfce-utils 4.7.3
  • xfce4-appfinder 4.7.1
  • xfce4-dev-tools 4.7.3
  • xfce4-panel 4.7.6
  • xfce4-session 4.7.2
  • xfce4-settings 4.7.6
  • xfconf 4.7.4
  • xfdesktop 4.7.4
  • xfwm4 4.7.3

Release tarballs can be retrieved from the following mirrors (please note that it may take a few hours for the mirrors to catch up):

  • http://archive.xfce.org/xfce/4.8pre2/src
  • http://www.tx-us.xfce.org/archive/xfce/4.8pre2/src
  • http://www.p0llux.be/xfce/xfce/4.8pre2/src
  • http://www.ca-us.xfce.org/archive/xfce/4.8pre2/src

A tarball including all individual releases can be downloaded here:

  • http://archive.xfce.org/xfce/4.8pre2/fat_tarballs
  • http://www.tx-us.xfce.org/archive/xfce/4.8pre2/fat_tarballs
  • http://www.p0llux.be/xfce/xfce/4.8pre2/fat_tarballs
  • http://www.ca-us.xfce.org/archive/xfce/4.8pre2/fat_tarballs

Release notes for 4.8pre2

We are pleased to announce the second preview release of Xfce 4.8. This release marks the beginning of the string freeze. From today on until the final release, strings may no longer be changed in the master branch of Xfce core components. This will help translators to prepare their translations for the final release scheduled on January 16th, 2011.

For this release we focused on fixing bugs in all Xfce components. We managed to close a great number of them thanks to all the persons who reported them and tested proposed fixes quickly.

A few minor panel features were added despite feature freeze. We also managed to work on two long time requests: proper support for editing the application menu with menu editors (Alacarte being the one that we tested) and integration with the Compiz viewport. Of course, this release also features a lot of new and improved translations thanks to the amazing work of our translation teams.

A list of all changes is available here.

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, 4.8 will be the best release ever (at least until 4.10)!

Kind regards and thanks to everyone who has contributed to this release,

The Xfce development team

Some Xfce News

Documentation

Nick Schermer is working on the infrastructure for the new documentation. It will be written in Mallard and translatable using Transifex. There are already a few drafts available: Nick made one for Xfce4 Panel (git branch) and Jim Campbell made one for Xfce4 Screenshooter (Bugzilla entry). Once the infrastructure is ready, contributions will be welcome! I will keep you posted.

Xfdesktop4

This is the second BIG thing currently going on: Jannis is porting Xfdesktop4 to GIO. He expects to have it done by the next weekend, the current work is available in a git branch. This is one of the last remaining by tasks for 4.8, so this is a really good news! <bisounours>Rock on!</bisounours>

Xfce Settings Helper

For those of you who care, I implemented two little features last week. First, Xfce now remembers the state of the Numlock when closing the session and restores it on startup. Gone are the days of numlockx \o/. Moreover, for people using xmodmap, the settings helper automatically processes .Xmodmap on start up and when changing the layout/variant using the Xfce settings dialog.

By the way, since my last post about the keyboard settings improvement, I also reviewed/applied a few patches by Martin Pitt and Lionel Le Folgoc which fix some crashes/bugs in the new code.

Xfce Utils

I fixed a bunch of easy bugs/enhancement requests for Xfrun. It can now handle URLs, opens files with the default handlers, folders with the default file manager... I also fixed history loading for the "Run in terminal" check box, fixed handling of command line options and added "#" as a shortcut to read man pages. I now plan to work on auto completion for path and command.

I also reworked an old patch by Mike Massonnet to improve the look of the Xfce documentation, it looks really neat now. I will try to see if we can use it with the new documentation.

Goodies

Florian Rivoal, maintainer of xfce4-cpugraph-plugin, launched a "all your unmaintained goodies are belong to me" operation. Basically he offered to maintain a huge number of unmaintained goodies for which there are a great number of patches waiting for review in the Xfce Bugzilla. You can find more details on this thread. This heroic move should not make you forget that contributors/new maintainers are welcome! Florian will not be able to implement new things (or only a limited number) given the work it represents but only to keep those apps functional which is already awesome!

Recent Xfce Settings work

Keyboard Layouts

  • Use the selected keyboard layout for new sessions. Previously it was only used for the current session.
  • Show full language name / description instead of cryptic codes such as fr alt-oss.
  • Make the user interface consistent with the other dialogs.
  • When editing a layout, the dialog is now prefilled with the layout being edited. This allows the user to change variants quickly.
  • Fixed a bunch of crashes reported by Lionel Le Folgoc.

Appearance and mouse settings

  • Scroll to the selected gtk|icon|mouse theme if there is a list long enough to trigger a scroll bar. That way the user knows easily which theme is active. based on a patch by Skunnyk.

Xfce4 Display Settings status

As promised, here comes the post about recent changes in Xfce4 Display Settings. For those who do not know, Xfce4 Display Settings is the dialog which allows you to set the screen resolution, refresh rate, to activate external monitors, etc.In Xfce 4.6, it only had one problem: it was totally useless and not working.

Then came mr_pouit, who decided it was time to clean that mess! He started to dig in the xrandr code to understand how the kryptic Randr API works and to bring that sweet magic to Xfce. So what do we have at the moment?

Display Settings

The new dialog is at the moment almost similar to the old one, except that every thing should work correctly and that it is rocking simple to use! We also added some goodies such as timed confirmation for critical changes and a simple dialog which can be called with the media keys or with Win + P to quickly configure an external output.

Timed Confirmation

Minimal Display Settings

But there is more to come! First, we are still working on fixing bugs, simplifying the code to make it rocking stable and awesome like Barney's suit. Then, we are planning a lot of UI improvements, the biggest one being a graphical way of setting the screens' layout : it will allow the user to set the relative positions of external monitors. We hope to have that done in the next two weeks, but it could take a little more time. And yes, that'll mean that 4.8 TODO list will have lost one item ;)

Yes, Xfce 4.8 is delayed!

I've seen a lot of people on IRC lately asking why 4.8 was not released on the 12th of June as scheduled. Well, the schedule could not be respected and we currently have no scheduled release date. There is still a lot of work to do and we lost several key contributors and we obviously did not gain new ones...

So if you want to see Xfce 4.8 out, come and help us! We need help to implement the 4.8 features (have a look at the bottom of schedule page, there are links to the goals of each module) and to fix bugs.

A good way to get started is to choose some bugs on the Xfce bugzilla and to submit patches, come and bug us on #xfce to get your patches reviewed (it may take a while but that's definitely useful!). We need a lot more contributors if we want to get things moving forward!

In a post that will follow shortly, I will discuss a merrier topic: the new awesome work of the mighty mr_pouit (his only vice being that he maintains Xubuntu :D) on the display settings dialog (the dialog to set the screen resolution, frequency...). Stay tuned! (Yes, this means we are still active :D)

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:

 http://wiki.xfce.org/releng/4.8/schedule

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.

Cheers!