Congratulations Ubuntu and Fedora

Congratulations to Ubuntu and Fedora on their latest releases.

This Fedora 28 release is special because it is believed to be the first release in their long history to release exactly when it was originally scheduled.

The Ubuntu 18.04 LTS release is the biggest release for the Ubuntu Desktop in 5 years as it returns to a lightly customized GNOME desktop. For reference, the biggest changes from vanilla GNOME are the custom Ambiance theme and the inclusion of the popular AppIndicator and Dock extensions (the Dock extension being a simplified version of the famous Dash to Dock). Maybe someday I could do a post about the smaller changes.

I think one of the more interesting occurrences for fans of Linux desktops is that these releases of two of the biggest LInux distributions occurred within days of each other. I expect this alignment to continue (although maybe not quite as dramatically as this time) since the Fedora and Ubuntu beta releases will happen at similar times and I expect Fedora won’t slip far from its intended release dates again.

Posted in Debian, GNOME, Linux, Ubuntu

gksu removed from Ubuntu

Today, gksu was removed from Ubuntu 18.04, four weeks after it was removed from Debian.

Posted in Debian, GNOME, Linux, Ubuntu

gksu is dead. Long live PolicyKit

Today, gksu was removed from Debian unstable. It was already removed 2 months ago from Debian Testing (which will eventually be released as Debian 10 “Buster”).

It’s not been decided yet if gksu will be removed from Ubuntu 18.04 LTS. There is one blocker bug there.

Edit April 18, 2018: See my follow up post about the removal from Ubuntu

 

Posted in Debian, GNOME, Linux, Ubuntu

webkitgtk in Debian Stretch: Report Card

webkitgtk is the GTK+ port of WebKit. webkitgtk provides web functionality for many things including GNOME Online Accounts’ login panels; Evolution’s HTML email editor and viewer; and the engine for the Epiphany web browser (also known as GNOME Web).

Last year, I announced here that Debian 9 “Stretch” included the latest version of webkitgtk (Debian’s package is named webkit2gtk). At the time, I hoped that Debian 9 would get periodic security and bugfix updates. Nine months later, let’s see how we’ve been doing.

Release History

Debian 9.0, released June 17, 2017, included webkit2gtk 2.16.3 (up to date).

Debian 9.1 was released July 22, 2017 with no webkit2gtk update (2.16.5 was the current release at the time).

Debian 9.2, released October 8, 2017, included 2.16.6 (There was a 2.18.0 release available then but for the first stable update, we kept it simple by not taking the brand new series.)

Debian 9.3 was released December 9, 2017 with no webkit2gtk update (2.18.3 was the current release at the time).

Debian 9.4 released March 10, 2018 (today!), includes 2.18.6 (up to date).

Release Schedule

webkitgtk development follows the GNOME release schedule and produces new major updates every March and September. Only the current stable series is supported (although sometimes there can be a short overlap; 2.14.6 was released at the same time as 2.16.1). Distros need to adopt the new series every six months.

Like GNOME, webkitgtk uses even numbers for stable releases (2.16 is a stable series, 2.16.3 is a point release in that series, but 2.17.3 is a development release leading up to 2.18, the next stable series).

There are webkitgtk bugfix releases, approximately monthly. Debian stable point releases happen approximately every two or three months (the first point release was quicker).

In a few days, webkitgtk 2.20 will be released. Debian 9.5 will need to include 2.20.1 (or 2.20.2) to keep users on a supported release.

Report Card

From five Debian 9 releases, we have been up to date in 2 or 3 of them (depending on how you count the 9.2 release).

Using a letter grade scale, I think I’d give Debian a B or B- so far. But this is significantly better than Debian 8 which offered no webkitgtk updates at all except through backports. In my grading, Debian could get a A- if we consistently updated webkitgtk in these point releases.

To get a full A, I think Debian would need to push the new webkitgtk updates (after a brief delay for regression testing) directly as security updates without waiting for point releases. Although that proposal has been rejected for Debian 9, I think it is reasonable for Debian 10 to use this model.

If you are a Debian Developer or Maintainer and would like to help with webkitgtk updates, please get in touch with Berto or me. I, um, actually don’t even run Debian (except briefly in virtual machines for testing), so I’d really like to turn over this responsibility to someone else in Debian.

Appendix

I find the Repology webkitgtk tracker to be fascinating. For one thing, I find it humorous how the same package can have so many different names in different distros.

Posted in Debian, GNOME, Linux, Ubuntu

GNOME Tweaks 3.28 Progress Report 2

GNOME 3.28 has reached its 3.27.90 milestone. This milestone is important because it means that GNOME is now at API Freeze, Feature Freeze, and UI Freeze. From this point on, GNOME shouldn’t change much, but that’s good because it allows for distros, translators, and documentation writers to prepare for the 3.28 release. It also gives time to ensure that new feature are working correctly and as many important bugs as possible are fixed. GNOME 3.28 will be released in approximately one month.

If you haven’t read my last 3.28 post, please read it now. So what else has changed in Tweaks this release cycle?

Desktop

As has been widely discussed, Nautilus itself will no longer manage desktop icons in GNOME 3.28. The intention is for this to be handled in a GNOME Shell extension. Therefore, I had to drop the desktop-related tweaks from GNOME Tweaks since the old methods don’t work.

If your Linux distro will be keeping Nautilus 3.26 a bit longer (like Ubuntu), it’s pretty easy for distro maintainers to re-enable the desktop panel so you’ll still get all the other 3.28 features without losing the convenient desktop tweaks.

As part of this change, the Background tweaks have been moved from the Desktop panel to the Appearance panel.

Touchpad

Historically, laptop touchpads had two or three physical hardware buttons just like mice. Nowadays, it’s common for touchpads to have no buttons. At least on Windows, the historical convention was a click in the bottom left would be treated as a left mouse button click, and a click in the bottom right would be treated as a right mouse button click.

Macs are a bit different in handling right click (or secondary click as it’s also called). To get a right-click on a Mac, just click with two fingers simultaneously. You don’t have to worry about whether you are clicking in the bottom right of the touchpad so things should work a bit better when you get used to it. Therefore, this is even used now in some Windows computers.

My understanding is that GNOME used Windows-style “area” mouse-click emulation on most computers, but there was a manually updated list of computers where the Mac style “fingers” mouse-click emulation was used.

In GNOME 3.28, the default is now the Mac style for everyone. For the past few years, you could change the default behavior in the GNOME Tweaks app, but I’ve redesigned the section now to make it easier to use and understand. I assume there will be some people who prefer the old behavior so we want to make it easy for them!

GNOME Tweaks 3.27.90 Mouse Click Emulation

For more screenshots (before and after), see the GitLab issue.

Other

There is one more feature pending for Tweaks 3.28, but it’s incomplete so I’m not going to discuss it here yet. I’ll be sure to link to a blog post about it when it’s ready though.

For more details about what’s changed, see the NEWS file or the commit log.

Posted in Debian, GNOME, Linux, Ubuntu

logo.png for default avatar for GitLab repos

Debian and GNOME have both recently adopted self-hosted GitLab for their git hosting. GNOME’s service is named simply https://gitlab.gnome.org/ ; Debian’s has the more intriguing name https://salsa.debian.org/ . If you ask the Salsa sysadmins, they’ll explain that they were in a Mexican restaurant when they needed to decide on a name!

There’s a useful under-documented feature I found. If you place a logo.png in the root of your repository, it will be automatically used as the default “avatar” for your project (in other words, the logo that shows up on the web page next to your project).

I added a logo.png to GNOME Tweaks at GNOME and it automatically showed up in Salsa when I imported the new version.

Other Notes

I first tried with a symlink to my app icon, but it didn’t work. I had to actually copy the icon.

The logo.png convention doesn’t seem to be supported at GitHub currently.

Posted in Debian, GNOME, Linux, Ubuntu

GNOME Tweaks 3.28 Progress Report 1

A few days ago, I released GNOME Tweaks 3.27.4, a development snapshot on the way to the next stable version 3.28 which will be released alongside GNOME 3.28 in March. Here are some highlights of what’s changed since 3.26.

New Name (Part 2)

For 3.26, we renamed GNOME Tweak Tool to GNOME Tweaks. It was only a partial rename since many underlying parts still used the gnome-tweak-tool name. For 3.28, we have completed the rename. We have renamed the binary, the source tarball releases, the git repository, the .desktop, and app icons. For upgrade compatibility, the autostart file and helper script for the Suspend on Lid Close inhibitor keeps the old name.

New Home

GNOME Tweaks has moved from the classic GNOME Git and Bugzilla to the new GNOME-hosted gitlab.gnome.org. The new hosting includes git hosting, a bug tracker and merge requests. Much of GNOME Core has moved this cycle, and I expect many more projects will move for the 3.30 cycle later this year.

Dark Theme Switch Removed

As promised, the Global Dark Theme switch has been removed. Read my previous post for more explanation of why it’s removed and a brief mention of how theme developers should adapt (provide a separate Dark theme!).

Improved Theme Handling

The theme chooser has been improved in several small ways. Now that it’s quite possible to have a GNOME desktop without any gtk2 apps, it doesn’t make sense to require that a theme provide a gtk2 version to show up in the theme chooser so that requirement has been dropped.

The theme chooser will no longer show the same theme name multiple times if you have a system-wide installed theme and a theme in your user theme directory with the same name. Additionally, GNOME Tweaks does better at supporting the  XDG_DATA_DIRS standard in case you use custom locations to store your themes or gsettings overrides.

GNOME Tweaks 3.27.4 with the HighContrastInverse theme

Finally, gtk3 still offers a HighContrastInverse theme but most people probably weren’t aware of that since it didn’t show up in Tweaks. It does now! It is much darker than Adwaita Dark.

Several of these theme improvements (including HighContrastInverse) have also been included in 3.26.4.

For more details about what’s changed and who’s done the changing, see the project NEWS file.

Posted in Debian, GNOME, Linux, Ubuntu

GNOME Tweaks 3.25.91

The GNOME 3.26 release cycle is in its final bugfix stage before release.

Here’s a look at what’s new in GNOME Tweaks since my last post.

I’ve heard people say that GNOME likes to remove stuff. If that were true, how would there be anything left in GNOME? But maybe it’s partially true. And maybe it’s possible for removals to be a good thing?

Removal #1: Power Button Settings

The Power page in Tweaks 3.25.91 looks a bit empty. In previous releases, the Tweaks app had a “When the Power button is pressed” setting that nearly duplicated the similar setting in the Settings app (gnome-control-center). I worked to restore support for “Power Off” as one of its options. Since this is now in Settings 3.25.91, there’s no need for it to be in Tweaks any more.

Removal #2: Hi-DPI Settings

GNOME Tweaks offered a basic control to scale windows 2x for Hi-DPI displays. More advanced support is now in the Settings app. I suspect that fractional scaling won’t be supported in GNOME 3.26 but it’s something to look forward to in GNOME 3.28!

Removal #3 Global Dark Theme

I am announcing today that one of the oldest and popular tweaks will be removed from Tweaks 3.28 (to be released next March). Global Dark Theme is being removed because:

  • Changing the Global Dark Theme option required closing any currently running apps and reopening them to get the correct theme.
  • It didn’t work for sandboxed apps (Flatpak and Snap)
  • It only worked for gtk3 apps (it can’t work on gtk2 apps)
  • Some themes never supported a Dark variant. The switch wouldn’t do anything at all with a theme like that.

Adwaita now has a separate Adwaita Dark theme. Arc has 2 different dark variations.

Therefore, if you are a theme developer, you have about 6-7 months to offer a dark version of your theme. The dark version can be distributed the same way as your regular version.

Removal #4 Some letters from our name

In case you haven’t noticed, GNOME Tweak Tool is now GNOME Tweaks. This better matches the GNOME app naming style. Thanks Alberto Fanjul for this improvement!

For other details of what’s changed including a helpful scrollbar fix from António Fernandes, see the NEWS file.

Posted in Debian, GNOME, Linux, Ubuntu

Link: Ubuntu @ GUADEC 2017 and plans for GNOME Shell migration

Since Didier Roche’s blog is not on Planet GNOME or Planet Debian and I think his post is of widespread interest, I’m linking to it here. Enjoy!

Ubuntu @ GUADEC 2017 and plans for GNOME Shell migration

Posted in Debian, GNOME, Linux

GNOME Tweak Tool 3.25.3

Today I released the second development snapshot (3.25.3) of what will be GNOME Tweak Tool 3.26.

I consider the initial User Interface (UI) rework proposed by the GNOME Design Team to be complete now. Every page in Tweak Tool has been updated, either in this snapshot or the previous development snapshot.

The hard part still remains: making the UI look as good as the mockups. Tweak Tool’s backend makes this a bit more complicated than usual for an app like this.

Here are a few visual highlights of this release.

The Typing page has been moved into an Additional Layout Options dialog in the Keyboard & Mouse page. Also, the Compose Key option has been given its own dialog box.

Florian Müllner added content to the Extensions page that is shown if you don’t have any GNOME Shell extensions installed yet.

A hidden feature that GNOME has had for a long time is the ability to move the Application Menu from the GNOME top bar to a button in the app’s title bar. This is easy to enable in Tweak Tool by turning off the Application Menu switch in the Top Bar page. This release improves how well that works, especially for Ubuntu users where the required hidden appmenu window button was probably not pre-configured.

Some of the ComboBoxes have been replaced by ListBoxes. One example is on the Workspaces page where the new design allows for more information about the different options. The ListBoxes are also a lot easier to select than the smaller ComboBoxes were.

For details of these and other changes, see the commit log or the NEWS file.

GNOME Tweak Tool 3.26 will be released alongside GNOME 3.26 in mid-September.

Posted in Debian, GNOME, Linux, Ubuntu

Jeremy Bicha

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