Status update, October 2019

Published 2019-10-15 on Drew DeVault's blog

Last month, I gave you an update at the conclusion of a long series of travels. But, I wasn’t done yet - this month, I spent a week in Montreal for XDC. Simon Ser put up a great write-up which goes over a lot of the important things we discussed there. It was a wonderful conference and well worth the trip - but I truly am sick of travelling. Now, I can enjoy some time at home, working on free and open source software.

I have a video to share today, of a workflow on that I’m very excited about: sending patchsets as emails from the web.

Sourcehut’s development plans can be described in three broad strokes: (1) make a bunch of services (or: primitives for a development hub); (2) rig them all up with APIs and webhooks; and (3) teach them how to talk to each other. Over the past year, (1) and (2) are mostly complete, and (3) is now underway. Teaching and to talk to each other is an important step, because it will give us a web-based code review flow which is backed by emails. This meets an original design goal of Sourcehut: to build user-friendly tools on top of existing systems.

The other end of this work is on, but for now it’s indirect: I’ve also been working on pygit2 fleshing out the Odb backend API, so that I can make a pygit2 repo which is backed by the API. From there, it’ll be easy to teach about - and perhaps other git services as well.

There’s also a fourth stage of Sourcehut: giving back to the free software community. To this end, I intend to spend Sourcehut’s profits on sponsoring motivated and talented free software developers to work on self-directed projects. I’m very excited to announce that there’s progress here as well: Simon Ser is now joining Sourcehut and will be doing just that: self-directed free software projects. He’s written more about this on his blog and I’ll be writing more on later.

Wrapping up Sourcehut news, I’ll leave you with an out-of-context screenshot of a mockup I made this month:

Screenshot of a Sourcehut DNS service showing DNS records managed by zone
files in a git repository

Let’s move on to Wayland news. We’ve started the planning for the next sway release, and it’s shaping up to be really cool. We expect to ship patches which can reduce input latency to as low as 1ms, introduce the foreign toplevel management protocol for better mate-panel support, and introduce damage tracking to our screencopy protocol - which is being used to make a VNC server for sway and other wlroots-based compositors; and proper drawing tablet support. We’re also making strong headway on a long-term project to overhaul rendering and DRM in wlroots, with the long term goal of achieving the holy grail levels of performance on any device.

The Wayland book is also in good shape. A lot of people have purchased the drafts - over a hundred! Thank you for picking it up, and please send your feedback along. I completed chapter 8 this month. I also expect to receive the last few parts for my second POWER9 machine today, and I plan on using this to test Wayland, Mesa, etc - on ppc64le. The first POWER9 machine is now provisioned and humming along in the Sourcehut datacenter, by the way.

VR work has also been chugging along again this month. I’ve started contributing to Monado, which is basically to OpenXR as Mesa is to OpenGL. I’ve seen merged an overhaul to their build system, an overhaul for their dated Wayland backend, and even some deeper work ensuring conformance with the OpenXR specification. A lot of this work has also been in getting to know everyone and planning the future of the project, as it’s still in early stages.

To quickly summarize my other various projects:

  • ctools has seen many small improvements and bug fixes, and has grown the dirname, rmdir, env, and sleep utilities.
  • aerc has also seen small improvements and bug fixes, but has also learned about sorting and will soon grow a threaded message list
  • chopsui is stirring in its sleep, and I’ve been giving some new attention to its design problems in the hopes that the next iteration will be the correct design for a new GUI toolkit.
  • wshowkeys is a new little tool I built to display your keypresses on-screen during a Wayland session, useful for live streaming or video recording
  • 9front has been eating some of my evenings lately, and I’ve been making small improvements to various tools and improving Plan 9 support among some packages in the Go ecosystem. I have more plans for this… stay tuned.

That’s all I’ve got for today. Thank you for your support! Oh, and one last note: I’ve been invited to the Github sponsors program, so if you want to donate through it Github will match your donation for a little while. Cheers!

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