Event sounds in Xfce 4.4 / 4.6

  • October 15, 2008
  • Stephan Arts

The release-process took a little longer then expected, but its getting better. I’ve just send the announcement that Xfce 4.6 Beta1 is ready for download.

Some people have been reporting that they suddenly had event-sounds in their xfce. This is the result of using a distro that upgraded their gtk to 2.14 and installed libcanberra. With this release of xfce (xfce 4.6 beta1), the event-sounds XSETTINGS are managed, and as a result it is now possible to enable / disable these sounds.

It is important to mention that this feature is NOT present in 4.4. As a result you will experience in the default behaviour for gtk when the XSETTINGS are missing. You get event-sounds when you use Xfce 4.4.x with gtk 2.14 + libcanberra. To remove event-sounds you can do 1 of the following 3 things:

  • Remove libcanberra
  • Downgrade gtk to 2.12
  • Upgrade xfce to 4.6

The first option is obviously the least intrusive one ;-)

Weekly news? Nah.

  • September 20, 2008
  • Jannis Pohlmann

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

News from the Pinkie front

  • September 12, 2008
  • Jannis Pohlmann

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.


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!