GNOME newcomers love

Two exciting happenings on the GNOME front.

Outsiders’ developers experience

John Stowers is rocking in this front. This is one of my biggest concerns on the GNOME platform, our APIs are pretty cool, and we’re fixing the remaining ugliness pretty fast lately (kudos to Alexander for this).  I have the strong believe that the fact that a user or developer is not using Linux, OpenSolaris, or *BSD, shouldn’t stop him to be able to get into the free software development. Freedom should be pushed for everyone, everywhere possible.

So, how do we rock on the Win32/Mac OS X land? To make it rock we need  to improve the behavior of our libraries on those platforms, which is hard since 99% of GNOME developers are Linux guys, and setting up a familiar development environment on Win32 is pretty painful, and not everyone has access to a Mac box.

We need to attract "native" developers from those platforms, so they can test and provide useful feedback and, hopefully, patches as well. To achieve that we have to improve the bootstrap of the build environment. Requiring a shell to build is being a major blocker here. I’m not suggesting to replace autootools/makefiles for something else, but we need to explore alternative ways for building on Win32 so jhbuild can be used without an MSYS/Cygwin environment.

GNOME Developer Kit

Ken VanDine, our friend from rPath, what could probably become to the easiest way to contribute code to GNOME, the GNOME Developer Kit. We discussed this idea as part of the Patch Squad effort at last Guadec. It’s basically a Foresight based distro with a nightly build of GNOME from svn.

Most people spend 90% of their first patch, dealing with the tools instead of focusing on the problem (jhbuild, installing dependencies…). The risk there is that lots of people give up meanwhile (I gave up several times until my first gnome patch myself).

With the developer kit, newcomers can just use the Conary packaging system tools to modify the source code and create patches against svn, this is, get focused on the problem, instead of the tools.

Kudos to both John and Ken for rocking on bringing love to our toolchain!

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One thought on “GNOME newcomers love

  1. This is really an excellent advancement. Setting up a proper development environment is usually more of a hassle than it needs to be. The second problem facing new outside developers is the lack of developer documentation. Reading the source code isn’t a substitute for having quality manuals written to help outside developers who aren’t familiar with the codebase get started.

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