Open source desktop developers meet at freedesktop Summit
KDE developer David Faure has written a report on the firstfreedesktop Summit, which took place from 11 to 16 April at the SUSE offices in Nuremberg, Germany. At the summit, developers from GNOME, KDE, Unity and Razor-qt discussed how to improve collaboration between their respective projects by creating new, and refining existing, cross-desktop specifications. The developers reached an agreement on how D-Bus will be implemented by applications across different desktops, talked about modifications to the trash specification and defined a new file format to cache and index .desktop files. The future of the accountsservice D-Bus interface was also discussed.
The attending developers have agreed on a specification that will allow applications to be launched directly from D-Bus. Changes to the desktop entry specifications will then allow applications to advertise this capability to the desktop environment. Furthermore, thekernel-level D-Bus implementation that is currently in development was presented at the meeting and the developers made suggestions as to how the kernel API could be improved to help with the implementation of libraries in this context. The accountsservice feature in D-Bus will get the ability to store the user locale as well as an extension mechanism that will allow the storing of arbitrary values without needing to patch the service. These changes are designed to make accountsservice usable to more desktops than just GNOME.
The freedesktop.org trash specification was also changed and now allows for an efficient means of determining how much is stored in the trash and warning the user when the size of the trash grows too large. A new file format will enable developers to cache and index .desktop files within a particular directory. This will enable more efficient full-text searches of applications registered with .desktop files and lookups of metadata, such as finding out which applications support which file types. This will improve performance by reducing seek operations on spinning disks and will reduce memory consumption as it can be shared between processes using mmap.
Among other initial discussions, the attending developers have also agreed to a concrete plan for improving the maintenance of freedesktop.org specifications. One representative from each of the GNOME, KDE and Unity projects will together form a team that will monitor discussions on the freedesktop.org (xdg) mailing list and decide when the developers reach a consensus on a given topic. Faure says that “the intention is to revive the usefulness of the xdg list as the primary point of communication between desktop projects.”