That's my blog… Life and Linux

I’m going to GUADEC (with Ubuntu Desktop team)!

Hi Folks,

I’m writing these lines while I’m in the flight to Almeria where this year’s GNOME Users And Developers European Conference will take place, typing with my Thinkpad Bluetooth keyboard on my mobile phone (I’ve to admit that the Android physical keyboard usage is getting awesome, allowing proper WM actions) :), as the battery of my T460p was already over after the flight from Florence to Madrid during which I fixed some more shell JS errors.

This will be my first GUADEC ever, and as a fresh Foundation member, I’m quite excited to finally join it.

I’m not coming alone, of course, as this year the ubuntu-desktop team will be quite crowded, as me, Ken VanDine, Sébastien Bacher, Didier Roche, Iain Lane, James Henstridge and Robert Ancell will be part of the conference, to give input and help to get GNOME even better.

Soo, looking forward to meet you all very soon (almost landed – or better – trying to, in the mean time)!

As always, I’ve to thank Canonical for allowing me and the desktop crew to be part of this great community reunion. But also for being one of the silver sponsors of the event.

These are the events that really matter in order to get things done.

What’s that (gitlab) BOT?

Since some time in both some freenode ubuntu-related and gnome channels, people might have been bothered (or not :)), but the presence of this IRC bot (named ubot5-ng in freenode):

Since people asked, as I’ve set in the /whois, I’m the man behind it, and it’s actually running for some time from a snap inside a cloud instance I manage and hosted by Canonical.

This was just a quick-hack (so take it as it is) I did as I was annoyed by  not to getting the bug infos when linking the the always increasing references to GNOME or Debian projects. The source-code is here, while configuration files (can provide samples if curious) are just enabling the minimum necessary for having this joining the channels and disabling all the other plugins.

However, it currently supports parsing issues and merge proposals for Github and various Gitlab instances (gitlab itself, Freedesktop, GNOME, and Debian Salsa)

Yeah, I know:

  • There are other bot options, but I just wanted to hack something quickly
  • It should be moved to git, cleaned up removing the unused bugzilla stuff
  • Supybot should be replaced with its new fork Limnoria
  • I should host the code in a GNOME gitlab project together with the configuration (without the API tokens, of course)
  • Jonas asked for colors 😀

I’ll probably do this once I’ve some free time (hard to find, in between my travels), but in the mean time, in case this bothers you, let me know, if instead want it to join other channels, tell me too 🙂


EDIT 31/05: added Freedesktop gitlab too
EDIT 22/08: project code added to gitlab, bot is now named gitbot in freenode

Hello Planet GNOME!

Hey guys, although I’ve been around for a while hidden in the patches, some months ago (already!?!) I did my application to join the GNOME Foundation, and few days after – thanks to some anonymous votes – I got approved :), and thus I’m officially part of the family!

So, thanks again, and sorry for my late “hello” 🙂

GNOME Fractional (and multi-monitor) Scaling Hackfest, the report

This wasn't a joke!As previously announced, few days ago I attended the GNOME Fractional Scaling Hackfest that me and Red Hat‘s Jonas Ådahl organized at the Canonical office in Taipei 101.
Although the location was chosen mostly because it was the one closest to Jonas and near enough to my temporary place, it turned out to be the best we could use, since the huge amount of hardware that was available there, including some 4k monitors and HiDPI laptops.
Being there also allowed another local Caonical employee (Shih-Yuan Lee) to join our efforts!

As this being said I’ve to thank my employer, for allowing me to do this and for sponsoring the event in order to help making GNOME a better desktop for Ubuntu (and not only).

Going deeper into the event (for which we tracked the various more technical items in a WIP journal), it has been a very though week, hard working till late while trying to look for the various edge cases and discovering bugs that the new “logically sized” framebuffer and actors were causing.

In fact, as I’ve already quickly explained, the whole idea is to paint all the screen actors at the maximum scale value across the displays they intersect and then using scaled framebuffers when painting, so that we can redefine the screen coordinates in logical pixels, more than using pixel units. However, since we want to be able to use any sized element scaled at (potentially any) fractional value, we might incur in problems when eventually we go back to the pixel level, where everything is integer-indexed.

We started by defining the work items for the week and setting up some other HiDPI laptops (Dell XPS 15 and XPS 13 mostly) we got from the office with jhbuild, then as you can see we defined some list of things to care about:

  • Supporting multiple scaling values: allowing to scale up and down (< 1.0) the interface, not only to well-known value, but providing a wider range of floats we support
  • Non-perfect-scaling: covering the cases in which the actor (or the whole monitor) when scaled up/down to a fractional level has not anymore a pixel-friendly size, and thus there are input and outputs issues to handle due to rounding.
  • GNOME Shell UI: the shell StWidget‘s need to be drawn at proper resource scaling value, so that when they’re painted they won’t look blurred.
  • Toolkit supports: there are some Gtk issues when scaling more than 2x, while Qt has support for Fractional scaling.
  • Wayland protocol improvements: related to the point above we might define a way to tell toolkits the actual fractional scaling value, so that they could be scaled at the real value, instead of asking them to scale up to the upper integer scaling level. Also when it comes to games and video players, they should not be scaled up/down at all.
  • X11 clients: supporting XWayland clients

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GNOME Hackfest for Fractional Scaling

As Ubuntu users know, Unity desktop shell had HiDPI displays support since 14.04, however while the unity shell has been able to scale at any fractional value (despite we limited the setting to only 8 values per integer), GTK3 and GNOME Shell just supported integer scaling values.

Although I see the technical reason for that (pixels can’t be divided!), I think that our approach still worked quite well by using proper round functions, as it’s really hard to notice the visual flaws that this introduced at such high resolutions.

At the same time, to get proper scaling for GTK apps, we used the stratagem of mixing the UI scaling with the text scaling factor, so that the multiplication between the two values will match the user-requested scaling level.
This worked pretty well in single-monitor instances, while in multi-monitor environments the idea was to use xrandr scaling to get matching results, but this has not been done, mostly due to an X11 bug which didn’t allow to go further…

Anyway, this is the past and present, but let’s talk about the future… Ubuntu will use GNOME Shell (in Wayland, when possible), and so far there’s no support for multi-monitor scaling or fractional scaling, but things are changing!

Jonas Ådahl is leading this efforts and he started with supporting a new configuration API for monitors, that is a prerequisite for pursuing the GNOME Fractional Scaling initiative.
Basically, the main implementation idea is to make GTK and various toolkits to scale at an higher value, and then using mutter to scale actors down at composition level.
While it might be a little more resource intense, it’s also true that this will work nicely (especially in multi-monitor environments with different scaling values) and that there’s no other option, given that GTK scaling system can’t be changed at this point (too many things now assume it’s an integer).

Ubuntu cares about having a proper HiDPI support in next releases, so the Desktop Team decided to join the upstream initiative, and since I’m currently around asia, we’ve organized a GNOME Hackfest, that will be hosted by Canonical in its Taipei office in Taipei 101 in order to continue the work Jonas is doing and plan how to proceed with future work items.

 

Ubuntu goes GNOME, theming stays. Let’s test (and tune) it!

Hi guys! Again… Long time, no see you :-).

As you surely know, in the past weeks Ubuntu took the hard decision of stopping the development of Unity desktop environment, focusing again in shipping GNOME as default DE, and joining the upstream efforts.

While, in a personal note, after more than 6 years of involvement in the Unity development, this is a little heartbreaking, I also think that given the situation this is the right decision, and I’m quite excited to be able to work even closer to the whole opensource community!

Most of the aspects of the future Ubuntu desktop have to be defined yet, and I guess you know that there’s a survey going on I encourage you to participate in order to make your voice count…

One important aspect of this, is the visual appearance, and the Ubuntu Desktop team has decided that the default themes for Ubuntu 17.10 will continue to be the ones you always loved! Right now some work is being done to make sure Ambiance and Radiance look and work good in GNOME Shell.

In the past days I’ve released a  new version of ‘light-themes‘ to fix several theming problems in GNOME Shell.


This is already quite an improvement, but we can’t fix bugs we don’t know about… So this is where you can help make Ubuntu better!

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