Manchester is a puzzling city. On one hand you have lots of abandonned buildings, with black painted facades and big chains with locks on the doors. Some old brick buildings seem to fall to pieces.

On the other hand you have lots of new development. Many skyscrapers are being built. Sam told me that the city was thriving, especially with the economic situation in London making Manchester an attractive alternative.

Even though we had a greaty party at the Museum of Science and Industry, we didn’t really get to visit it. It’s a bit sad, as Manchester is a significant place in the history of Computer science, with inventions such as the Baby and dwellers such as Alan Turing.

Manchester prides itself with the importance music has for it, and if you dig a bit you’ll find a plethora of bands coming from there. It is a bit unfortunate that I didn’t get to be more exposed to the local musical heritage.

Of course this is England, you’ll be reminded of it by its black cabs and double deckers, but also by a few silly things. As another French dude said a while back:

Go and boil your bottoms, you sons of a silly person! I blow my nose at you, so-called “Arthur King,” you and all your silly English K-nig-hts.

Some places have two taps! Cold and hot water are separated. All power outlets also have individual switches. Foreigners can be deceived into thinking their laptop or phone is charging when it’s not.

Food was good, albeit expensive, even though I didn’t have that many “typical” dishes. The only ones that comes to mind, apart from the awesome full English breakfasts at the venue, are the black pudding with lentils I had on the first day and the fish and chips I had with some friends before I had to leave for the airport.

Posted 2017-08-11 17:29:11 CEST


Monday morning started with the engagement BoF. We covered a lot of ground and all have many things to work on for the next few months.

I spent most of the remaining time with the friendly bunch, giving my opinion on various documentation related topics, but not actually doing much documentation work apart from fixing a few wiki pages. Instead, I played around with the new glade UI, pondering how far along one can go with it and close to no code when working on the wireframe for an application.

Unfortunately I had to leave by the end of the second day as I needed to go back home to save the world.

GUADEC organization

The conference seemed to run flawlessly. There is usually quite a bunch of last minute hiccups and you see organizers quite stressed, but I haven’t noticed it this year. Granted I was not following as closely as I was during the three previous editions, so some things may have escaped my attention. Kudos to the organization team, the standing ovation during the closing session was well deserved.

Posted 2017-08-09 21:29:11 CEST

After the first two days of hard work, I was already feeling kind of burnt out by the start of GUADEC. This year I was only vaguely involved with the organization, way less than the 2016 and obviously 2014 instances of the event, so I could afford to stand back a bit and enjoy the conference like a regular attendee. The only help I provided was by volunteering to record some of the videos and that simply means attending talks, which I planned to do anyway.

During the opening we were told about an ongoing game for the duration of the conference. Attendees had been secretly assigned to four different houses and could be rewarded with points for asking questions during talks or on other such occasions. I learnt that I had been designated as Turquoise House lead. My guess was that meant I had been officially stamped as an old fart and sure enough, I was handed my “Old farts club” sticker by Bastien a bit later.

By the way, did you know you can adopt me?

Talks I attended

Michael asked us to “Please use GNOME Web”. I have to confess I am only using it part time and I am very slowly converting from Firefox. I like my overall experience with Web more, but it’s not up to the task for everything yet. My main blockers for now are the lack of WebRTC support (which is coming… eventually), the way large numbers of tabs are handled (I have almost 400 tabs currently open in my Firefox window, neatly separated with Tab groups), and the ease with which I can remove noise from my history via the address bar (when a non relevant suggestion like diff views of a wiki page or old blog articles shows up I can just highlight it and press the Del key). We’re getting there though!

Christian told us about the “State of the Builder”. No big surprise for me here as I follow development quite closely, building and using master regularly and of course hanging out with the development team in the chatroom. It was nice seeing the reactions from the audience though.

In her keynote, Karen explored the way we fight “The battle over our technology”. My main takeaway was that we all have our personal reasons to fight for free software and we should each take some time to think about what those are to find more energy to keep fighting.

In “Progressive Web Apps: an opportunity for GNOME”, Stephen explained how with a few tweaks in Epiphany we could get said PWA integrated and feel more at home in our environment. Michael was in the audience and reacted positively. The two will probably be working together in the near future to make this happen. This echoes with Michael saying hacking on Epiphany was relatively easy, and with the friendliness to newcomers we claim.

The “Atomic workstation” presentation by Kalev gave details on their plan and current status for the post-distro world Owen already hinted at last year. I like how he showed GNOME Software integration and said:

For people who have been using GNOME Software, it doesn’t look anything special… and that’s the whole idea.

The timeline for it to be production ready seems quite long, but it’s good to see progress happening.

Day 2 started with Martin’s “Fantastic layouts and where to find them”. He demonstrated Emeus and constraints based layout for user interfaces. I discovered Apple’s Visual Format Language (one of the two ways to defined constraints with Emeus) and was quite impressed by it. I am looking forward to seeing how having that in GTK+ 4 will spark new designs in upcoming applications, and how this will help achieve responsive design in desktop applications.

Although the GNOME part of Michael’s “LibreOffice and GNOME” was smaller than I expected, it was good to see the current state of LibreOffice Online and I’m looking forward to having it integrated with the GNOME Nextcloud instance.

Despite being under the weather and the hardware throwing a tantrum, Matthew did a good job at introducing the audience to “Decentralised open communication with”. Matrix has replaced Jabber and IRC for me since early June and I’m very happy with it.

As GNOME turns 20, Jonathan recounted “The History of GNOME”. This hour long talk felt too short! Even for someone who’s been around in the community, there were gems one may not have known about. I am very thankful this was put together and I had a great time. The fact that he didn’t talk about it conforted me in knowing that there is no Swedish conspiracy. The most important milestone to me was the release of GNOME 1.4 as that’s when we established one of our core traditions:

From here on out, GNOME only removes features.

Not convinced? Just read our release notes!

That history lesson was followed by Neil’s forecast. Our recently hired Executive director shared his vision for “GNOME to 2020 and beyond”.

We took a quick break and came back for the Foundation’s Annual General Meeting.

We had our usual team reports, I gave the translation one.

Then we went out to shoot the traditional group photo.

And it was time for a Q&A session with the Board.

No talk for me on the morning of day 3 which I spent here and there, talking to various people about various things.

I went to the session where our transition to GitLab was discussed. I feel good about the direction this is taking and the way GitLab treats communities like ours.

The open talk about Pipewire by Wim was quite short. I’m not sure what to think of it yet, I guess I’ll have to wait and see.

“How to get better mileage out of Glade” is a question I’ve been asking myself from time to time, so I was glad that Juan Pablo talked about it. He’s done some good work to make it more modern and the future looks bright. I need to spend some time playing with it.

The lightning talks were good and covered lots of topics. My favorite ones are the ones that could be deemed off-topic, like Kat’s about keeping chickens, or the one where Neil fights Zeeshan’s helicopters with his airplanes. I wish we had more. I would actually enjoy attending a day full of lightning talks!

Posted 2017-08-07 18:29:11 CEST

This article is part one of four, each focusing on a different aspect of my trip to Manchester, United Kingdom, for the 2017 edition of the GUADEC conference. Sponsorship from the GNOME Foundation has made it possible for me to attend, thanks a lot!

This one is about the days before the conference. Part 2 is about the talks. Part 3 is about the unconference days and the overall conference experience. Part 4 is about my touristic experience in the country.

Early arrival

My travel experience was unusual as my journeys generally have a first trip from Strasbourg airport to Amsterdam if there is no direct flight to my destination, but this time I flew with Air France via the Charles de Gaulle airport. The first leg was on a TGV from Strasbourg central train station to CDG. Air France was taking care of the whole trip, which means my train had a flight number! I checked in and left my luggage at the Air France desk located in the train station. It felt weird hopping on the train without my suitcase but it’s nice not to have to carry it around. I was handed my plane boarding pass at the train station as well, thus when I arrived at the airport I could just head straight to security check and then to my gate. I reckon this is the first time taking a plane felt that straightforward, so big kudos to Air France. Oh and I was also handed a voucher to redeem a drink on the train, which was definitely appreciated. The only minor let down was the lack of Wi-Fi on the train, but I was still able to hack so all was good.

Then to contrast with the excellent service of Air France I was confronted with that of the British railway companies, as one has to take the train to get from the airport to the city of Manchester. I was welcomed by a few non working ticket vending machines, and a line to the working ones. Next I had to figure out what train would take me to my destination, Manchester Oxford Road. I couldn’t find that information from the displays as the only info they had about each train was the final destination. Not super useful when one doesn’t know the various routes (and given this train station is at an airport, I’m willing to bet a large proportion of the people there are in that situation). I could get a few seconds of attention from a person who was busy checking tickets from people heading to the platforms and they told me which train to look for. While I was waiting on the corresponding platform, I could hear the announcements for the cancellation of three trains I should have taken. A local told us tourists on the pier that it was “typical and expected of British railway companies” and we should just wait for the announcements as eventually there would be a train for us. After an hour at the train station, I finally caught a train and headed to my hotel where I chilled out for a bit and then crashed.

On Wednesday we had a full day board meeting at MadLab. It was productive, but felt too short as we had many items on our agenda we didn’t have time to cover. The board usually meets in person once a year (at GUADEC) and we think it would be good to do it more often, as we get much more done in such a focused event than we do when we have to accommodate other bits of our respective schedules during a standard week. That’s why we hope we can hold a hackfest sometime soon to work on some of our pending tasks.

Amongst the tasks we did do was the election of officers. Nuritzi and Allan retain their positions as Chair and Vice chair. Cosimo and I switched seats, I am now Secretary and he’s Vice secretary. Carlos is taking on the Treasurer role and our outgoing board member Shaun very kindly accepted the position of Assistant treasurer to share his valuable experience with him.

We met on Tuesday at the same location but with our Advisory board this time. This is an opportunity for us to keep them up to date on what the community has been busy with in the past year, and for them to tell us about their work and expectations, but also to discuss amongst themselves ways they could work together towards common goals. If your organization wants to be part of these exchanges and support GNOME, get in touch with us!

As the day ended, I went to check in at the accommodation and then headed to the early bird party at Kro bar. As usual, it was good to see so many familiar faces, but quite a few new ones too!

I collected my badge, grabbed a local beer, chatted with and hugged people as I met them, and even did a really quick interview for our social media. That night was a lot of fun and a good conclusion to those two pre-conference days!

Posted 2017-08-02 08:09:11 CEST

Last Saturday was the 20th birthday of Sympa, the mailing list management software.

Marc, who recently took over leadership of the community, organized a hackathon to help define the future of the product. I went there as an external observer and Free Software cheerleader, met a few new people and chatted with the attendees.

Sympa is quite a complex beast because it provides a huge number of features and the codebase is rather old. The interface shows its age too. The team laid plans to rework both the front and backend. I’m particularly looking forward to seeing the mockups from Quentin implemented.

Posted 2017-04-04 14:41:17 CEST


I spent a large part of the conference sitting at the info desk, being annoying to Patrick about stuff that didn’t work as I wanted them to in regcfp. He’s such a gem, accommodating our demands without complaints, but he’s also quite overworked. Did you know you can help and become one of our lovely sysadmins? We have an apprenticeship programme!

I’ve also been giving a hand here and there with the organization. Considering I live really close and had prior experience, I was part of the team, albeit less involved than the locals. When the time came to actually run the conference, I tried to be generally useful and made myself available.


I didn’t attend that many talks.

I was obviously part of the Foundation AGM, first because I gave the translation team report, then as a member of the board in our Q&A session.

“Reworking the desktop distribution” on the second day was my first talk. Owen shared with us the plans for an ostree-ification of Fedora Workstation to turn it into Atomic workstation. That looks very much like the post-distribution world I’m waiting for, so I was happy to see someone working on this.

The “Documentation: state of the union” is that some work was done writing and fixing documentation, but we really need new contributors to compensate for established ones moving on to other things. The topic of automated screenshots came up again. This is something I would like to see happening, but we need someone to implement it. As Kat said at the end of her talk, the documentation people are a friendly bunch, so come talk to us if you think you can help (tihihi).

Shaun invited us to “Build all the docs in Pintail”. The generator is able to fetch sources in various places and formats to build a single website. The only thing missing for GNOME to adopt it for its documentation website is translation support.

BoF sessions

For the next three days I mostly sat with the friendly bunch.

I also joined the discussion around upcoming changes in Nautilus and was rather impressed with the mockups Allan showed us.


Jeff the Canadian cat accompanied me to Schlosslichtspiele (castle light show). Several short projections (roughly 15 minutes each) were shown. These were made by international groups as part of a contest. My favorite one was the one hinting at the collection contained inside the castle and showing where each piece was stored.

Karlsruhe Light Show Karlsruhe light show by Debarshi Ray , CC BY SA.

One of the social events brought us to Fasanengarten, a nice and large park that is part of the University campus.

KANG_3964 Picture of the picnic by Jonathan Kang, CC BY NC SA.

The city sits at the bottom of a 28m high hill called Turmberg (“tower hill”). The locals took a few of us to a hike there. The weather was clear and we had a nice view of the Rhine Valley.

DSC01107 Picture of our hiking party by Jakub Steiner, CC BY SA.

If you ever stay in the city, I recommend taking the time to get up there. If you are not able or willing to walk, there’s even a train that you can take.

Turmbergbahn Turmbergbahn by Debarshi Ray , CC BY SA.

Heading back home and on my way to the train station, I walked across the Tiergarten (zoo) which was on the way. I went on a bridge that allows one to get straight from one side to the other without having to pay admission, useful if you don’t have time for a real visit and just want to wave goodbye to the elephants before you leave the city.

As usual GUADEC was good fun and I already miss everyone.

Posted 2016-08-19 17:41:23 CEST

This year again, I will be attending the GUADEC conference. I wouldn't have been able to attend without the sponsorship from the GNOME Foundation.

This time it is happening in the neighbouring city of Karlsruhe, less than 100km away from home, which means that it took me a bit under two hours from door to door. I came two days before the actual start of the conference to attend board and advisory board meetings.

I have been on the board of directors for nine months now, first appointed as a replacement to Christian Hergert when he resigned, more recently elected by the membership for a new term. I have attended our weekly phone meetings, but this was my first in person meeting and I was looking forward to it, as it allows for more high bandwidth discussion and the remote ones usually feel a little bit rushed —it's rather tough to squeeze all the topics we have to cover in a one hour phone call.

GNOME Board 2016-2017 at GUADEC 2016 GNOME Board 2016-2017 at GUADEC 2016 by Nuritzi Sanchez, CC BY SA.

It was also time for the handover from the previous board to the newly elected board, even if the new directors have already been running the meetings and voting for about a month. That mostly consists in filling in the new members on ongoing tasks, and electing the new officers. We also get a fresh start by reviewing the old list of tasks, deciding whether or not they are still worth pursuing, and reassigning them if needed.

But before all that, we did a few team building exercices following an excellent suggestion from Nuritzi. Those were not something I had ever done and even if they felt silly at first, they clearly helped setting us on the right track for the work we had to do. I'll have to investigate and I may run some similar exercices next time I am in a similar situation of a group of people new to each other having to work together.

GUADEC starts tomorrow, and I'll be there! I hope to see you around.

Posted 2016-08-11 23:41:23 CEST

As some of you know, I'm a musician. My friend Manu has been telling me for a long time about a convention called Musikmesse that happens every year in Frankfurt (merely 2 hours away by car), so this time we decided to go together and that's where I was today.

Rock & Pop hall (guitars, amps & drums)

This was my first time at such an event. I was expecting a European version of NAMM with all the major manufacturers having a booth. While there was a gigantic one with 50 shades of Gibson/Epiphone Les Paul, some other obvious names such as Fender or Marshall were completely missing from the show. That was really surprising. Manu told me they had been there in the past and that the event had scaled down compared to previous years. I was also looking forward to finally try some Mayones and Strandberg guitars, maybe even a Chapman but, alas, there were none.

A large corner of the hall was dedicated to Chinese manufacturers. Most of the Chinese salesmen showed disappointed when we told them were not trade visitors. It seems they were all told they would meet potential distributors, and weren't expecting random consumer encounters. The quality of their offering varied greatly. There were some crappy (but dirt cheap, to be fair) pedals that looked like they would be crushed at their first gig, but there were also amazing looking and sounding amps like the Joyo ones.

Later we discovered that for some reason there were also electric guitars in the hall that was supposed to have only acoustic instruments (with a classical music theme). We saw some nice ones, as well as cool acoustic guitars. Some very expensive ones too, of course. :-)

This latter hall also had a ukulele section. That made me ponder having one for when I travel.

Yamaha, Line6

Yamaha had an entire floor for their products. That seems fair as they cover an extremely wide range of grounds, including grand pianos, percussions, drums, wood instruments, strings, electronics, and more of interest to me guitars and amps. They also acquired Line6 in late 2013 —I wasn't aware of that— and so the Line6 gear was on the same floor.

That gave me an opportunity to try out their new Helix line. The testing booth had a Rack unit and a Control floorboard. It's difficult to do a full review in such a short amount of time, but the overall feeling was great. The controls were quite intuitive, the sound was good, the number and quality of available effects was high, and the material used felt sturdy. It's definitely high end.

The guitar that was plugged in on the booth was obviously a Variax. I had never tried one before and I was bluffed, especially by the ability to switch to a dropped or open tuning by turning a button. Note that this is not like the Gibson robot guitar that can physically change the tuning by mechanically operating the machine heads. The guitar will physically remain in standard tuning and acoustically sound in standard, but the guitar will correct the sound coming from individual strings to adjust it and produce a sound matching another tuning. Now pitch shifting the whole sound of the guitar is quite easy and can be achieved with an external effect like my Digitech Whammy DT (or any pitch shifter). Altering the sound coming from each string separately on the other hand is very impressive.

They had a small museum with their most iconic products, it was a nice touch. My Spider III 75W was amongst them and it was interesting to see how the design evolved accross time, putting things into perspective.

The rest

Before we left, we wandered around in the electronics hall, with keyboards, synthesizers, software and studio equipment. It was fun trying out those old school Moog synths that require you to physically connect the outputs and inputs with patch cables, even if the results were not always that great. One has to spend time learning the outcome of various effects to be able to use them properly, but the possibilities seem limitless.

I was able to test a Seaboard and it was nothing like what I expected it to be. I thought my fingers would glide along the surface, making it easy to slide from one note to another. Instead the surface is a grippy rubber and when you try to slide you feel a drag. The experience didn't really feel that great. Maybe the Haken Continuum is more like what I'd want from such a device, but sadly I haven't been able to play with one yet.

Finally there was a playground area and it was awesome. It had plenty of small workshops and experiments aimed at teaching children many aspects of music. They were open to adults as well and everyone was having tons of fun.

Posted 2016-04-08 18:08:17 CEST

GNOME 3.20 was released today.

This release marks the fifth anniversary of GNOME 3, so a proper celebration was due. Therefore I called for a local meetup and we went to Brasserie le Scala to have dinner. Alongside the dozen of local LUG members was my Belgian friend Frédéric Peters who happened to be in the capital of Europe for a couple of days.

Posted 2016-03-23 23:37:52 CET

This video embodies everything that makes me love Casey Neistat. I thought I'd share it as it makes a good introduction to him and his work.

In case you don't know him yet, here are the traits you'll discover.

(Almost) everything you need to know about Casey Neistat

First of all, he's a hard worker. He has a few videos dedicated to this topic. One of them details his daily schedule, with 11 14 hours of work, 3 hours of family time, 3 hours of sports… yes, that means he sleeps about 7 4 hours (not something I'd recommend though).

His clumsyness shows here too. You may think he does that on purpose, but if you watch his vlogs for a while you'll see that it's genuine and not premeditated. Of course he could edit those parts out to present a better image of himself, he doesn't do it because he's honest.

Making fun of himself also shows his sense of humor. Humor is sprayed all over his work (look at what the little plate he builds to cover the button spells). Even when he touches on a sensitive topic or goes on a heartfelt rant, he manages to add tasteful and subtle comedic hints.

Speaking of rants, they are quite common in his videos. He always has something to complain about… and everytime he offers fixes. That is a special case of building stuff, which he does a lot as seen here with the hack on his camera. He's a very constructive person.

He lives in New-York and likes to show his beautiful city, so if you want to discover it there's something for you too.

His (primary) job is as a film director. From his experience in this line of work, he developed a skill for quality storytelling, which he achieves through his efficient editing. This video was shot over the course of a day. It was not scripted. Yet he manages to make something out of it, and he's been doing it daily since March 25th 2015 (his 34th birthday).

Finally he accepts failure (as you'll see in the end credits if you have annotations enabled). Again, constructive person. We all happen to mess up sometimes, we just need to learn from it.

Posted 2016-02-16 21:59:02 CET

DX hackfest, day 3

DX hackfest, day 2

DX hackfest, day 1

GUADEC organization hackfest in Karlsruhe

GUADEC 2015, part 4: Göteborg, Svenska

GUADEC 2015, part 3: the BoF sessions

GUADEC 2015, part 2: the talks

GUADEC 2015, part 1: the conference

GNOME.Asia 2015, part 3: Indonesia

GNOME.Asia 2015, part 2: the talks

GNOME.Asia 2015, part 1: the conference