Sunday, 5 October 2008


As per usual, I'll start off by apologising about not writing enough blog posts and how I'll be better in the future. Although, this time there may actually be a chance of me sticking by my word as I've got a few posts lined up with talk about Ubuntu Netbook Remix, specifically the individual apps that make up the conversion of Gnome from desktop->netbook. There's been quite a few articles and reviews about UNR, but there seems to be some features that people have missed so I thought I'd be nice to get those code-paths tested out :-).

Currently I'm in Boston for the UI hackfest, which should be really cool and hopefully very fruitful. I'm here to pimp Awn and I guess Clutter too (although I doubt it needs pimping anymore :-). It will be nice to meet up and chat with other people who've worked on panels/docks/sidebars/applet server etc, and try and figure out how we can combine our work into something great for Gnome.

As you may have guessed, the planned hiatus from working on Awn didn't quite pan out. Actually, the very opposite happened and I've been busy rewriting Awn in a private branch to add all the features and fix all the bugs people having been asking for since the begining. To sum up the work, I'd say that the rewrite makes Awn a panel rather than a dock, and that's an important distinction. Some of the features that are beingworked on are not currently available in any other panel/dock and I hope will really push things forward in desktop experience.

You can follow the work on the rewrite in #awn on, it's not usable just yet as there's been a lot of breakage, but we're getting there and things have recently started to come together. I'll write a post detailing whats changed and the new features as soon as it's ready to be tested. It's funny,suddenly all my ideas for the desktop revolve around making Awn absolutely great :-).

Friday, 9 May 2008

Bits & Pieces

As usual, I'm leaving far too long between each blog post, but I thought I'd make a small update until I get a chance to write up everything that's been going on:

  • Canonical - The first couple of months have been awesome! Lots of cool things are happening here, everyone's very busy and there are some really exiting projects which will hopefully be in public very soon.
  • UDS Prague - I'll be attending UDS this year, so ping me if your attending and would like to discuss various bling on desktop/mobile environments! Extra points if you support Manchester United, and want to go watch the Champions League final on the wednesday that week :-).
  • Awn - Not much happening at the moment from my side. Hopefully this will change in a couple of weeks, at which point I hope to finish the remainder of non-composite support in trunk, and make a beta release for 0.4
  • Random Hacking - Since late last year, most of my spare hacking time has been spent on Awn, which is great, but it means some of my other ideas/projects got left behind. So, I've been trying to remedy this by picking up these projects and starting to work on them once again. The two I'm concentrating on at the moment are Nautilus and Affinity. I hope to get some code out soon, so stay tuned!

Monday, 10 March 2008

We don't discriminate baby

The awn-core team released Awn & Awn-Extras 0.2.6 couple of weeks ago!

These releases bring with them more stability, a lots of bugfixes, and some interesting new features which include Vala bindings, an updated UI for Awn Manager, new applets, more documentation and support for non-gnome desktop environments.

Desktop Agnostic

Mark Lees (malept) long-standing desktop-agnostic branch was finally merged into trunk. What it does is separate three 'desktop-specific' parts of Awn and provides multiple implementations of them, suiting your current desktop set-up:
  • Configuration: Either a GConf (default) or GKeyFile settings backend.
  • VFS: Three VFS backends, GnomeVFS (currently-default), ThunarVFS and GIO.
  • Desktop File Reading: Either libgnome-desktop (default) or EggDesktop.
As you can see, by default Awn uses Gnome libs, however, it's now possible to compile it specifically for Xfce4 or just Glib/GIO.

This abstraction also spreads to the applets in Awn-extras, and most of them have been ported to the new style, with the goal of porting all of them by the next release.


Speaking of the next release, there have been some changes to the Awn versioning system & the roadmap. The new roadmap looks like this:
  • 0.4 - Non-composited WM support; Better handling of multi-monitor setups; GtkTheme support; Awn-curves;
  • 0.6 - Rewrite the launcher/task-manager, adding support for window grouping, window sorting, window-thumbnails-as-icons, easier plugin writing, and a more extensive DBus backend.
  • 0.8 - Allow Awn to reside on any edge of the screen; TBD
  • 1.0 - Multiple Awn panels; TBD
More details available here.

As you can see, the 'major-rewrite' of Awn has been split-up into sizeable chucks, which allows for more releases and allows us to introduce the new code a bit at a time.


If you need help installing Awn, are having problems, or just want to chat about development & features, please check out the forums, wiki or stop by #awn on, where there's always someone willing to help!

I'd also like to welcome Julien Lavergne, Mark Lee and Rodney Cryderman to the core team. They have done a lot (most) of the work for this release, and have kept the Awn boat floating.

Finally, once you've installed the Awn and feel like trying out something new, set /apps/avant-window-navigator/bar/bar_angle t0 -1, and see what happens (this is courtesy of ;-).

Friday, 22 February 2008

To continue the trend

today was my last day with OpenedHand. I'd just like to take this opportunity to say "thank you" to everyone at OH. I've had a great time working there, and learnt so much while working with people like Matthew/Emmanuele/Ross/Thomas on some of the coolest projects around.

Looking forward, I'm excited to say that on Monday I'll be starting at Canonical as a "User Interface and Applications Engineer for Mobile Internet Devices". I'll be doing the same type of work as before, with continuing work with creating/adapting Gtk & Clutter applications for mobile systems & touch-based UIs. The goal being to make sure that Ubuntu Mobile is as usable & pretty as any other mobile platform out there :-).