Fri, 03 Dec 2004

GNOME 2.8 about to land in Sarge

While we've been a bit quiet and haven't reported about the status of GNOME 2.8 as it entered unstable, things have been moving in the background at an incredible pace.

This has been the smoothest transition to testing since GNOME 2.0, and unless something unexpected happens today, most of the important GNOME bits will hit sarge during tonight's testing run. During the short life that these packages have had in unstable, we've had to deal with just two release critical bugs, a very unusual mark given how many source packages are involved in a full GNOME upload.

A few bits like gedit, gnome-utils or gnumeric will have to wait some more days before they can enter testing, due to missing builds or dependencies, but the core of the desktop is now ready.

In the end, we've decided to include GNOME Volume Manager by default, even if sarge's default kernel is 2.4. It wasn't trivial to take this decision, as there's quite a few factors that will make it not "Just Work".

gvm depends on HAL, which in turn depends on Linux 2.6. This means that Debian GNOME users will likely want to upgrade to kernel 2.6 if they aren't already using it to get a completely functional desktop, with superb automounting of cameras, USB memory sticks and removable media.

Additionally, we've chosen to enable pmount support in gnome-vfs for sarge, so hal won't be doing scary business with your /etc/fstab. The drawback is that for users to benefit of pmount, they need to be added to the plugdev group, or the won't be able to mount stuff automatically using gvm.

This sucks, but we have no way of handling this in a sane way, while pmount isn't part of Debian's base system or the plugdev group isn't added to base-passwd. People suggested that base-config added the user that is created when Debian is installed to the group, as it does with cdrom, audio and video, but this was rejected by joeyh for a good reason.

In short, we'll have to find a way of pointing our GNOME users that this stuff doesn't work because they lack permissions, but it's hard to do it in a non-intrusive way. I'm inclined to think that this will end up as a well known FAQ, just as the need to add people to the audio group so they can use their sound hardware has been in the past. But of course, the GNOME team would like this to Just Work.

Going back to the testing transition, it's been a fun one, although admittedly it wasn't as complicated as 2.2->2.4 or 2.4->2.6, but still, it's wonderful to see that everything went ok. Go, GNOME team!

(And now, Murphy will come out of his hiding place. He was probably waiting for this post...)