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

#newinstretch : Latest WebKitGTK+

GNOME Web (Epiphany) in Debian 9 "Stretch"

Debian 9 “Stretch”, the latest stable version of the venerable Linux distribution, will be released in a few days. I pushed a last-minute change to get the latest security and feature update of WebKitGTK+ (packaged as webkit2gtk 2.16.3) in before release.

Carlos Garcia Campos discusses what’s new in 2.16, but there are many, many more improvements since the 2.6 version in Debian 8.

Like many things in Debian, this was a team effort from many people. Thank you to the WebKitGTK+ developers, WebKitGTK+ maintainers in Debian, Debian Release Managers, Debian Stable Release Managers, Debian Security Team, Ubuntu Security Team, and testers who all had some part in making this happen.

As with Debian 8, there is no guaranteed security support for webkit2gtk for Debian 9. This time though, there is a chance of periodic security updates without needing to get the updates through backports.

If you would like to help test the next proposed update, please contact me so that I can help coordinate this.

Posted in Debian, GNOME, Ubuntu

GNOME Tweak Tool 3.25.2

Today, I released the first development snapshot (3.25.2) of what will be GNOME Tweak Tool 3.26. Many of the panels have received UI updates. Here are a few highlights.

Before this version, Tweak Tool didn’t report its own version number on its About dialog! Also, as far as I know, there was no visible place in the default GNOME install for you to see what version of GTK+ is on your system. Especially now that GNOME and GTK+ releases don’t share the same version numbers any more, I thought it was useful information to be in a tweak app.

Florian Müllner updated the layout of the GNOME Shell Extensions page:

Rui Matos added a new Disable While Typing tweak to the Touchpad section.

Alberto Fanjul added a Battery Percentage tweak for GNOME Shell’s top bar.

I added a Left/Right Placement tweak for the window buttons (minimize, maximize, close) . This screenshot shows a minimize and close button on the left.

I think it’s well known that Ubuntu’s window buttons have been on the left for years but GNOME has kept the window buttons on the right. In fact, the GNOME 3 default is a single close button (see the other screenshots). For Unity (Ubuntu’s default UI from 2011 until this year), it made sense for the buttons to be on the left because of how Unity’s menu bar worked (the right side was used by the “indicator” system status menus).

I don’t believe the Ubuntu Desktop team has decided yet which side the window buttons will be on or which buttons there will be. I’m ok with either side but I think I have a slight preference towards putting them on the right like Windows does. One reason I’m not too worried about the Ubuntu default is that it’s now very easy to switch them to the other side!

If Ubuntu includes a dock like the excellent Dash to Dock in the default install, I think it makes sense for Ubuntu to add a minimize button by default. My admittedly unusual opinion is that there’s no need for a maximize button.

  1. For one thing, GNOME is thoroughly tested with one window button; adding a second one shouldn’t be too big of a deal, but maybe adding a 3rd button might not work as well with the design of some apps.
  2. When I maximize an app, I either double-click the titlebar or drag the app to the top of the screen so a maximize button just isn’t needed.
  3. A dedicated maximize just doesn’t make as much sense when there is more than one possible maximization state. Besides traditional maximize, there is now left and right semi-maximize. There’s even a goal for GNOME 3.26 to support “quarter-tiling”.

Other Changes and Info

  • Ikey Doherty ported Tweak Tool from python2 to python3.
  • Florian Müllner switched the build system to meson. For an app like Tweak Tool, meson makes the build faster and simpler for developers to maintain.
  • For more details about what’s changed, see the log and the NEWS
  • GNOME Tweak Tool 3.26 will be released alongside GNOME 3.26 in mid-September.
Posted in Debian, GNOME, Linux, Ubuntu

Moving On

While I had been interested in Debian/Ubuntu packaging for a while, it was the release of GNOME 3 two years ago that gave me the opportunity to get involved significantly. As Ubuntu switched to Unity by default instead of a tweaked GNOME desktop, there was a need for contributors who cared about GNOME to step in and help out.

I’m sad to announce that due to immense personal and family responsibilities, I simply won’t have the time or ability to contribute to the Ubuntu GNOME effort much longer. I get a lot of happiness out of participating in a major open source software project. It is my charity work. I am very pleased that my volunteered computer skills can improve the lives of millions of people.

If you’ve been following the Ubuntu GNOME community, you have no doubt seen Tim Lunn’s work. Tim (darkxst) is an Ubuntu member, a GNOME Foundation member, and a Ubuntu Contributing Developer. He has submitted several fixes to gnome-shell, gdm, and other GNOME components. Tim is the clear choice to take over the Technical Lead role for Ubuntu GNOME.

After our first official release last month, this is a great time to pitch in. We can use additional packagers, testers, and more. The Ubuntu GNOME project is especially in need of help with QA — testing the development releases (and our PPAs) to identify problems, triage incoming bug reports, and certify the releases. Thanks!

Posted in GNOME, Ubuntu

Resigning from the Docs Team

I first got involved with Ubuntu docs around the time the Ubuntu 11.04 Beta was released. That was a very busy time as GNOME 3.0 was being finalized and Ubuntu 11.04 was switching to Unity by default. The GNOME Docs team had undertaken a massive rewrite of their user docs using the new Mallard topic-based format. The official Ubuntu documentation then was currently a snapshot of the GNOME docs but it was a bit outdated, missing a lot of the finalization work done by the GNOME volunteers at a recent hackfest.

I had been interested in contributing to docs for a while and seeing the documentation as seriously incomplete was the motivation I needed to step in and figure out what I could do to help. We had to merge in the latest GNOME improvements and rewrite the docs to mention Unity instead of GNOME Shell. We didn’t meet the normal deadlines (which meant the translators didn’t have a chance to do much by release day) but we shipped a nice update to the user docs for Ubuntu 11.04. I provided a lot of help and I wasn’t the only one.

But after 11.04 Jim moved on to contribute to GNOME directly. (Jim bucked the stereotype by switching from XFCE to GNOME when GNOME3 was released.) I would periodically remerge the GNOME work back into the Ubuntu documentation. I ended up being by far the major force keeping the Ubuntu documentation updated. Meanwhile, I was also contributing to the community in other ways by getting involved in packaging (especially GNOME) and contributing back to Debian and to GNOME itself. I also helped get the Ubuntu GNOME project going because of the widespread demand for a GNOME flavor of Ubuntu.

I’m very sad that life and my other responsibilities are pushing me to need to give up some of my responsibilities. I am stepping down from my Docs team responsibilities now. I will still be around for the next few weeks to help pass the torch to anyone who wants to take my place on the Docs team. After that I will be withdrawing my ~ubuntu-core-doc membership as well. This is a very sad moment for me and I’ve been putting it off for a while.

I was able to help Benjamin Kerensa and Kevin Godby today with some of their work to get the 13.04 user documentation out the door. Maybe they’ll help lead the next round of keeping the docs up to date; maybe others will help too. While most of my work involved the Ubuntu user guide, the other flavors of Ubuntu can use help too. I’m happy to see Doug Smythies and Peter Matulis take charge of the Server Guide. Pasi Lallinaho did a major rewrite of the Xubuntu docs last cycle. And the other flavors can use your help too.

If you’re interested in getting involved with Ubuntu documentation, jump in and get involved. Coordination happens in IRC on #ubuntu-doc and on the mailing list. Good English skills and organizational abilities are a must and you have to be willing to work with a format that looks similar to HTML and XML. To coordinate, we use bzr as the revision control system. You’ll need to learn that too but you don’t need to know how to use it from the start. You do not need to be a programmer.

Open Help Conference & SprintsAlso, I strongly recommend you look into attending the Open Help conference in Cincinnati, Ohio, in June. I went last year and it’s a great opportunity to meet the GNOME docs team (and contributors from other projects as well). The accompanying hackfest allows you to work with others and get a lot done in a few days.

Posted in GNOME, Ubuntu

Ubuntu Online Accounts and the Ubuntu GNOME Remix

A defining goal of the Ubuntu GNOME Remix is to bridge the gap between Ubuntu and GNOME. Shipping a pure GNOME flavor  that is part of Ubuntu is a huge challenge as Ubuntu has been patching GNOME for years. We’ve made a good amount of progress for 12.10 and things will be even better in 13.04.

On the other hand, the most frustrating regression in our goal that (to me) appeared out of nowhere this cycle is Ubuntu Online Accounts (UOA). UOA is an alternative to GNOME Online Accounts (GOA was released with GNOME 3.2 a year and a half ago). The first I heard of UOA was when reading the GNOME ftp-release list. What was this Ubuntu Online Accounts thing and why was it in GNOME but not in Ubuntu (until a week or so later)?

Apparently, it was actually discussed in private at UDS Orlando II a year ago. It’s another example of Canonical’s “develop in private” open source strategy….but that’s a blog post for another day.

Now for Ubuntu GNOME 12.10, we are now forced into shipping both GOA and UOA which provides a horrible user experience. The Ubuntu tool is required for Ubuntu’s Empathy package; the GNOME tool is required if we want online account integration with Boxes, Documents, and Evolution. Contacts is just broken (which is especially annoying since 12.10 is the first release where Contacts is included by default in the flagship Ubuntu release).

It’s a headache for GNOME app developers too. Because the two APIs are architectured fairly differently, it’s not clear whether other GNOME modules will accept UOA integration patches. And as Canonical doesn’t ship those apps by default, it’s not clear who’s going to write those patches. So as it stands, the duplicate Online Accounts bug is unlikely to be improved for 13.04 either.

I think part of the problem is that GNOME initially appeared to be rather restrictive on what accounts they were going to let into GOA; now the big problem I see is whether Canonical is willing to work with GNOME to merge these two implementations together or at least invest in cooperating to try to define a common API for app developers. Basically, Canonical was a huge part of creating this mess but what will they do to fix it?

Note the two Online Accounts entries

Debarshi Ray, the GOA maintainer has started a public dialog about the GOA/UOA split on his blog. Check it out!

Posted in Ubuntu

Ubuntu Docs: A Call for Help

What would you do if you were a brand new Ubuntu user and had a problem with your computer or wanted to learn how to use it better? Perhaps you’d try searching on the Internet, but what happens if you don’t have an Internet connection? Also, the Internet isn’t really organized, and if you’re new to Ubuntu it’s probably pretty difficult to tell the difference between wrong information and the right answers.

If you type help into Ubuntu’s dash, you can find the Ubuntu Desktop Guide, which is a really awesome resource. (And it’s also available online at ) A lot of the built-in help comes straight from GNOME documenters who have done amazing work in the past two years. Of course, GNOME uses GNOME Shell by default and Ubuntu uses Unity, so in order for the Ubuntu help to be, well, helpful, we have to make our own derivative version of the GNOME Desktop help.

The Ubuntu Desktop Guide is completely community maintained and that’s why I’m blogging today. We can use more help in finishing the guide for Precise. We just got a freeze extension, but the new deadline to finish writing and editing content is only one week away!

You can see the current version of the guide by running the following commands in a terminal. (If you’ve never used bzr before, you’ll first need to install bzr and set up your SSH key in Launchpad first.)

 bzr branch lp:ubuntu-docs
 cd ubuntu-docs/ubuntu-help/C
 yelp .

Ubuntu-docs are written in Mallard, an XML format. You can edit the .page files in your favorite Text Editor. For more info about Mallard, see the home page or this one page guide.

Some of the topics we’d love to see written include:

  • The new multi-monitor behavior, including how to enable the launcher on all monitors, and how to disable sticky edges
  • How to set the launcher to autohide
  • The HUD
  • Filtering Dash search results
  • How to enable hibernate including the system requirements (how much swap is needed for instance)

For the full list or brainstorming other ideas, see the pad.

Contributing to documentation is not necessarily easy but it is appreciated. It requires the ability to express yourself clearly in English and explain a user interface simply but with enough detail to not confuse readers. It requires skills in version control, problem solving, and a bit of how XML works. It is a great way to get involved in Ubuntu development without needing to be a C guru.

If you’re interested in volunteering, you can express your interest either on the pad, IRC (we’re in #ubuntu-doc ), or the mailing list. Although a bit out of date, you probably want to check out our wiki too.

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Posted in Ubuntu

Ubuntu Classic, Now With Indicators

I’m happy to announce that indicators have been ported to gnome-panel 3, thanks to Jason Conti for the patch and Ted Gould for merging it.  I’ve taken the opportunity to update gnome-panel’s default layout to include the “indicator” status menus and the show desktop button instead of the upstream clock and notification area. I for one really appreciate the Ubuntu design work on the status area and believe it is far better than the classic notification area.

The theming is still broken (see the two different gray backgrounds in the top panel) but I expect that will be fixed in the coming weeks. Patches are appreciated. And the window switcher in the bottom has barely readable light gray on dark gray. I don’t remember if that’s a new problem due to the intense GTK+ theme changes this cycle or has been there for a while. I normally run GNOME Shell or Unity and run Classic just enough to help with its packaging.

Anyway, the Classic desktop had some issues in 11.10 but I’ll be happy to recommend 12.04 for fans of the GNOME 2 style.

Posted in Linux, Ubuntu