It’s been two years since the last time I went to FOSDEM, but it seems that this year I’m going to be there again and, after having traveled to Brussels a few times already by plane and train, this year I’m going by car!: from Staines to the Euro tunnel and then all the way up to Brussels. Let’s see how it goes.
As you might expect, I will have my Endless laptop with me while in the conference, so feel free to come and say “hi” in case you’re curious or want to talk about that if you see me around.
At the moment, I’m mainly focused on developing and improving our flatpak story, how we deliver apps to our users via this wonderful piece of technology and how the overall user experience ends up being, so I’d be more than happy to chat/hack around this topic and/or about how we integrate flatpak in EndlessOS, the challenges we found, the solutions we implemented… and so forth.
That said, flatpak is one of my many development hats in Endless, so be sure I’m open to talk about many other things, including not work-related ones, of course.
Now, if you excuse me, I have a bag to prepare, an English car to “adapt” for the journey ahead and, more importantly, quite some hours to sleep. Tomorrow it will be a long day, but it will be worth it.
I haven’t blogged in a while -mostly due to lack of time, as usual- but I thought I’d write something today to let the world know about one of the things I’ve worked on a bit during this week, while remotely attending the Web Engines Hackfest from home:
Setting up an environment for cross-compiling WebKit2GTK+ for ARM
I know this is not new, nor ground-breaking news, but the truth is that I could not find any up-to-date documentation on the topic in a any public forum (the only one I found was this pretty old post from the time WebKitGTK+ used autotools), so I thought I would devote some time to it now, so that I could save more in the future.
Of course, I know for a fact that many people use local recipes to cross-compile WebKit2GTK+ for ARM (or simply build in the target machine, which usually takes a looong time), but those are usually ad-hoc things and hard to reproduce environments locally (or at least hard for me) and, even worse, often bound to downstream projects, so I thought it would be nice to try to have something tested with upstream WebKit2GTK+ and publish it on trac.webkit.org,
In my fast desktop machine I can now get a full build of WebKit2GTK+ 2.14 (or trunk) in less than 1 hour, which is pretty much a productivity bump if you compare it to the approximately 18h that takes if I build it natively in the target ARM device I have 🙂
Note that I’m not a CMake expert (nor even close) so the toolchain file is far from perfect, but it definitely does the job with both the 2.12.x and 2.14.x releases as well as with the trunk, so hopefully it will be useful as well for someone else out there.
While this might not seem to be an immediate need for Endless right now (we currently ship a Chromium-based browser as part of our OSTree based system), this was definitely something worth exploring as we are now implementing the next version of our App Center (which will be based on GNOME Software and xdg-app). Chromium updates very frequently with fixes and new features, and so being able to update it separately and more quickly than the OS is very valuable.
Screenshot of Endless OS’s current App Center
So, while Joaquim and Rob were working on the GNOME Software related bits and discussing aspects related to Continuous Integration with the rest of the crowd, I spent some time learning about xdg-app and trying to get Chromium to build that way which, unsurprisingly, was not an easy task.
Fortunately, the base documentation about xdg-app together with Alex Larsson’s blog post series about this topic (which I wholeheartedly recommend reading) and some experimentation from my side was enough to get started with the whole thing, and I was quickly on my way to fixing build issues, adding missing deps and the like.
Note that my goal at this time was not to get a fully featured Chromium browser running, but to get something running based on the version that we use use in Endless (Chromium 48.0.2564.82), with a couple of things disabled for now (e.g. chromium’s own sandbox, udev integration…) and putting, of course, some holes in the xdg-app configuration so that Chromium can access the system’s parts that are needed for it to function (e.g. network, X11, shared memory, pulseaudio…).
Of course, the long term goal is to close as many of those holes as possible using Portals instead, as well as not giving up on Chromium’s own sandbox right away (some work will be needed here, since `setuid` binaries are a no-go in xdg-app’s world), but for the time being I’m pretty satisfied (and kind of surprised, even) that I managed to get the whole beast built and running after 4 days of work since I started :-).
But, as Alberto usually says… “screencast or it didn’t happen!”, so I recorded a video yesterday to properly share my excitement with the world. Here you have it:
As mentioned above, this is work-in-progress stuff, so please hold your horses and manage your expectations wisely. It’s not quite there yet in terms of what I’d like to see, but definitely a step forward in the right direction, and something I hope will be useful not only for us, but for the entire Linux community as a whole. Should you were curious about the current status of the whole thing, feel free to check the relevant files at its git repository here.
Last, I would like to finish this blog post saying thanks specially to Richard Hughes for organizing this event, as well as the GNOME Foundation and Red Hat for their support in the development of GNOME Software and xdg-app. Finally, I’d also like to thank my employer Endless for supporting me to attend this hackfest. It’s been a terrific week indeed… thank you all!
It will be different for me this time, though, as now my main focus won’t be on accessibility (yet I’m happy to help with that, too), but on fixing a few issues related to the WebKit2GTK+ API layer that I found while working on our platform (Endless OS), mostly related to its implementation of accelerated compositing.
Besides that, I’m particularly curious about seeing how the hackfest looks like now that it has broaden its scope to include other web engines, and I’m also quite happy to know that I’ll be visiting my home town and meeting my old colleagues and friends from Igalia for a few days, once again.
This was my very first GStreamer hackfest ever and it was definitely a great experience, although at the beginning I was really not convinced to attend since, after all, why bother attending an event about something I have no clue about?
But the answer turned out to be easy in the end, once I actually thought a bit about it: it would be a good opportunity both to learn more about the project and to meet people in real life (oldfriends included), making the most of it happening 15min away from my house. So, I went there.
And in the end it was a quite productive and useful weekend: I might not be an expert by now, but at least I broke the barrier of getting started with the project, which is already a good thing.
And even better, I managed to move forward a patch to fix a bug in PulseAudio I found on last December while fixing an downstream issue as part of my job at Endless. Back then, I did not have the time nor the knowledge to write a proper patch that could really go upstream, so I focused on fixing the problem at hand in our platform. But I always felt the need to sit down and cook a proper patch, and this event proved to be the perfect time and place to do that.
I know I haven’t blogged for a while, and definitely not as much as I would like, but that was partially because I was quite busy during my last days in Samsung (left on the 25th of July), where I wanted to make sure I did not leave any loose end before departure, and that everything was properly handed over to the right people there.
But that was one month ago… so what did I do since then? Many many things, and most of them away from a keyboard, at least until the past week. Main highlights:
One week travelling by car with my family all the way down to Spain from the UK, through France, visiting all the nice places we could (and could afford) in the way, which was a lot of fun and an incredible experience.
The goal of taking the car to Spain was to sell it once we were there and, surprisingly enough, we did it in record time, so one thing less to worry about…
2 weeks in Spain having proper “relaxing holidays” to get some quality time off in between the two jobs, to properly recharge batteries. Not that the previous week was not holidays, but travelling 2200 km by car with two young kids on the back can be amazing and exhausting at the same time 🙂
1 week in the UK to make sure I had everything ready by the time I officially started in the new company, where I will initially be working from home: assemble a home office in my spare bedroom, and prepare my new laptop mainly. In the end, we (my wife helped me a lot) finished by Wednesday, so on Thursday we went for a last 2-day getaway to Wales (what a beautiful place!) by car, making the most that we were kids-free.
Therefore, as you can imagine, I didn’t have much time for blogging lately, but still I would like to share with the world my “change of affiliation” so here it is: since yesterday I’m officially part of the amazing team at Endless, an awesome start up from San Francisco committed to break the digital divide in the developing world by taking GNOME-based technology to the end users in ways that were not imaginable before. And I have to say that’s a vision I fell in love with since the very first time I heard about it (last year in Brno, during Matt’s keynote at GUADEC).
But just in case that was not awesome enough by itself, the other thing that made me fall in love with the company was precisely the team they have assembled, because even if I’m mostly a technical guy, I still value a lot the human side of the places I work in. And in this regard Endless seems to be perfect, or even better!
So, I’m extremely happy these days because of this new challenge I’m seeing in front of me, and because of the opportunity I’m being given to have a real positive impact in the lives of millions of people who still can’t access to technology as they should be able to do it. Also, I feel blessed and privileged for having been given the chance to be part of such an amazing team of people. Could not be happier at this time! 🙂
Last to finish this post, I would like to say thanks to my friend Joaquim, since he was who introduced me to Matt in the first place and “created” this opportunity for me. Thank you!