Xfce 4.8 schedule changes

Jannis Pohlmann jannis at xfce.org
Tue Jan 26 01:28:49 CET 2010

Hey everyone,

as the Xfce release manager, I'd prefer to be the bringer of good news.
Unfortunately, we have to make some adjustments with regards to the Xfce
4.8 release schedule. 

You may well remember last year's chaos with the 4.6 release date.
We're trying our best not to repeat that and if it should happen again,
we'll at least keep you posted about the issues as good as we can.

So, what's the deal with 4.8? 

One thing that hasn't changed much is that our development team is very
small. A hobby project of this size requires a certain amount of time
to be invested by each individual developer. Time not everyone has as
much has he would like to dedicate to Xfce. 

Today, Brian announced his absence for the coming months due to his new
job, leaving 2-3 of our core components (xfdesktop, xfconf and
xfce4-session) more or less unmaintained (aside from bugfixes). The
good news is that Jérôme (who has recently started to improve
xfce4-settings and port xfce4-session to libxfce4ui) and Daniel (the
maintainer of the thunar-shares-plugin) have offered their help with
xfdesktop and xfce4-session.

Brian is not the only one having little time at hand though. I'm
preparing myself for my final university exams, so ideally I'd be
sticking my nose into lecture notes all day long. I still have the time
to write mails like this but there hasn't been much activity around
thunar and related projects lately.

Again, I'm really happy to see people volunteering to help because
that's what we need right now. There's a lot left to do before we can
release 4.8. Let me get to that now.

As some of might have heard, thunar was ported to GIO this summer.
Through GVfs, GIO brings new features such as SMB, SFTP, FTP browsing
which some people use one a daily basis already. Now, GVfs has turned
out to be problematic for us for various reasons. At first it shipped a
HAL-based volume monitor with a hard-coded dependency on gnome-mount.
Today it ships a volume monitor based on gnome-disk-utility (uses
DeviceKit-disks itself) which proves to be inconsistent and somewhat
incompatible to the HAL mounting code in exo. 

The result: thunar-volman (not part of the core but important for
thunar nonetheless) and xfdesktop will have to be ported to udev (the
mounting being done with GIO, ideally). I've started working on this
but this is far from being finished.

(Question to the other developers: Didn't xfce4-session use HAL for
 logging out and stuff? We might have to look into replacing those
 portions of code with something based on ConsoleKit, I guess?)

HAL/udev is not the only issue however. With Xfce 4.8 we'll be
replacing libxfcegui4 with a new library called libxfce4ui. Not all
core applications (again, xfdesktop being one of them, I think) have
been ported to it yet. In most cases, this is no big deal and probably
could be resolved within a few days though.

Then we have garcon, the much improved menu library that is supposed to
replace libxfce4menu. At the time of writing the only feature it is
lacking that is crucial for 4.8 is file system monitoring. We'll
probably implement basic monitoring like we had in libxfce4menu.
Work on this hasn't started yet. 

Also, xfdesktop needs to be ported not only from ThunarVFS/HAL to
GIO/udev but also from libxfce4menu to garcon.

So, as you can see there is quite a lot of work ahead of us. Taking
into account the little free time some of us have these days, we've
decided to postpone the 4.8 release until June 12th instead of April
12th. The entire release phase in our schedule has been moved by two
months in time, as you can see on the official schedule wiki page:


To be honest, I wouldn't consider this new date fixed either. It all
depends on how much we can do until the feature freeze on April 1st.
I'm optimistic that meeting the deadlines is possible though. 

For all of you who can't wait until June, try out our development
releases which are announced on http://identi.ca/xfce. I have at least
*something* good to share: For a few weeks now I've been running Fedora
12 with a mixture of Xfce 4.6 packages and development package from the
upcoming 4.8 series and the new components have proven to be very
stable already. 

I'm especially happy about the new panel which works almost flawlessly
(except for a few dual head issues) and not only supports real
transparency and more comfortable launcher creation based on garcon,
but is also compatible to panel plugins written for Xfce 4.6. (Good
work, Nick!)

So, I guess this is it. A mixture of good and bad. I hope nobody is too
disappointed. As always, we're doing the best we can.

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