GSoC part 2: community bonding

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Two weeks have now passed since my introductory blog post, so as promised here is part two! The theme of this blog post is probably something along the lines of preparation, as that is what I’ve been doing mostly.

The period between that of announcing the accepted student proposals and phase one is called the community bonding period. In this period students are supposed to get to know their mentors, their organizations, familiarize themselves with their projects (even more) and get everything ready to start off the coding period on May 30th.

Community bonding

My mentor gave me a list of IRC channels I could join and a list of mailing lists I may want to subscribe to. I am now subcribed to four mailing lists and I lurk/participate in five IRC channels. My blog has been added to Planet Freedesktop. I have also joined a GSoC ‘17 group on Telegram, where currently over 600 students participate. Finally, I started watching all the repositories under the libratbag GitHub organisation so that I stay up to date on any issues, pull requests and commits.

Preparing the work on Piper

Probably the most important thing you can do during the community bonding period is preparing your project. This does not just mean getting your development environment setup; it also means that you should familiarize yourself with your project and its dependencies and resolve any open issues that your project depends on. In my case, there were a few such issues that I tackled.

Both libratbag and ratbagd recently switched to Meson. For ratbagd, this meant that its DBus and systemd service files were not installed correctly (#18). This was fixed in #20. Ratbagd’s README also had not been updated to reflect Meson’s way of configuring the build. I fixed this in #21 together with some formatting. Finally, I implemented missing signals for both the Profile and Resolution DBus interfaces (#22). One pull request is still open, which implements a missing method (including DBus signal) to set a default resolution (#24).

As for Piper itself, my mentor suggested I look into Flatpaks as an easy way of deploying Piper for testing. In short, this turned out to be impossible for now because Flatpaks cannot bundle udev. Here I paraphrase Alexander Larsson from #flatpak on Freenode:

You can bundle udev for the API but you can’t rely on it working, because a) it may not have access to every device, etc and b) it will not have access to the system udevd database and we can’t grant it because that is not a stable on-disk format (I asked upstream about it).

Since libratbag and ratbagd rely on udev, a Flatpak will have to wait until a solution to this issue has been found. Nonetheless, a Flatpak manifest remains available in my WIP branch – you just can’t run it 😉

Whilst working on Flatpak’ing Piper, I got more and more convinced that Piper should switch to Meson as opposed to setuptools. Meson brings better integration with the GNOME stack through its GNOME module, allowing us to use GSettings, GResource and other technologies without having to add support for this to setuptools ourselves. I have ported Piper and opened #6 to get this implemented. This is the first activity in Piper’s repository since April 6 last year, so I guess it officially starts GSoC for Piper!

This blog post is part of a series. You can read the next part about the mockups here or the introductory, previous part here.