Thursday, December 22, 2011

Help needed for Debian and Ubuntu

If you read any of my previous blog entries, you must be now familiar with this 'express installation' concept we have in Boxes. Its pretty neat actually, you just set a few options at the beginning and then you can leave Boxes (or your machine) and when you are back, everything is setup for you automatically in a new box.

I have invested a lot of time/efforts on this already and will be spending a lot more time in future as well but I am just one man so can not possibly cover all operating systems out there. That is why I am asking for help from anyone who will be interested in adding express installation support for Ubuntu and Debian while I focus on Fedora and Windows variants. Oh and if you are interested in adding support for some other distribution/OS, that contribution will also be more than welcomed.

In any case, happy hacking!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Another awesome release of Boxes

Yesterday we rolled out the second release of Boxes for upcoming GNOME 3.3.3. There are many fixes/improvements in this release to list them all here but the most significant ones in my opinion are:

  • A nicer UI for deletion of Boxes designed for protecting the user from accidental deletion of boxes. Here is a video demo of it in action.
  • Special handling of 'live' and unknown media: Quick launch of a temporary box for it, which is made permanent automatically (only) if anything is installed on the box by the media. Here is a video demo of this behaviour in action.
  • Express installation for Windows XP now works, thanks to important clues provided by Lucas Meneghel Rodrigues. Don't believe me? I have video footage that proves it.
  • UI for setting user and administrator password and in case of older Windows, ability to set product key as part preparation for express installation. Please check out the videos above for demo of this feature in action.
Apart from changes in Boxes itself, there were some note-worthy changes in our dependencies that helps us directly.
  • Christophe Fergeau added a big bunch of new APIs to libvirt-glib (libvirt-gconfig to be precise) for dealing with libvirt's configuration XML. Now Boxes uses that instead of manually writing/editing XML strings.
  • A Google Code-In participant, Mateusz Kaplon added a lot of data about various different operating systems to libosinfo. For Boxes that means more complete and reliable detection and default resource allocation for various operating systems.

For a detailed list of changes in Boxes 3.3.3, please refer to the release notes.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Behold the Boxes!


Dear readers! If you recall, in a blog post not so long ago I introduced you to the wonderful virtual world I now live in.  Now around the same time I wrote that post, some of the GNOME designers and developers (myself included) felt the need for having a UI as an integral part of GNOME that lets users easily manage (create and destroy) virtual machines and at the same time lets them connect to remote machines.

Two of our awesome designers, Jon McCann and Jakub Steiner) started creating design for this UI. We (as in Jon McCann) named it 'Boxes' as its something that deals with..hm.. boxes. At the same time, we (me, Marc-Andre and Christophe) kept working on the foundations for Boxes, mainly in the form of lots of improvements to libvirt, libvirt-glib, libosinfo and spice-gtk.

About less than a month ago we started implementing the design when the design stabilized a bit. The implementation actually started as a "proof of concept" from Marc-Andre over a weekend. The result was already so good that we decided to move it to git.gnome as the bases for Boxes' implementation. While most of the credit for the UI goes to Marc-Andre, I think he will agree that it wouldn't have been so easy to get this started so quickly if we hadn't chosen to write this in Vala.

Since by now you have read a lot of blah blah already, I'll stop boring you more and show you some screenshots of what we have already:








And if that gets you excited, you'd want to see this screencast where I show Boxes in action.

After a few days of tiring work on fixing critical issues in Boxes and its dependencies we finally managed to roll-out our first release. You are more than welcome to try it out already and report any issues you find but please keep in mind that at the moment we require the latest (unstable in many cases) releases of our dependencies to be able to make use of their latest features. If you happen to be a jhbuild user, you are in luck as building boxes is as easy as typing `jhbuild build gnome-boxes`.

Why not virt-manager?

 

virt-manager is an awesome tool and I myself use it everyday. I am sure other Boxes hackers are using it on daily bases as well. However we must keep in mind that the UI we were looking for in GNOME is not meant for enterprise-level system-administrators who have hundreds of mission-critical virtual-machines on an array of super computers but rather a typical end-user who just wants to connect from his laptop to his work machine(s) and/or try different operating systems. While virt-manager is undoubtedly the best choice for the former, its not at all tailored for the latter.

It should be noted that while we decided not to use virt-manager for the UI, we still are trying our best to share as much code base/efforts with virt-manager as possible in terms of infrastructure, mainly in the form of libvirt, libosinfo, qemu and spice-gtk.

Known issues


Boxes is still in its infancy so you might find a lot of issues in Boxes and its dependencies but one issue that is a big show-stopper at the moment is the breakage of floppy support in recent Qemu. Boxes depends on floppy-support for making automated/express install possible for both Linux and Windows. Fortunately the issue is already fixed in git master of Qemu and its just a matter of releasing and packaging by distributions.

How to help?


Seems many people are already very excited about this little project of ours and I'm hoping this blog entry will attract more contributors so I wanted to point out some things we need help with. If you are interested in UI work, Marc-Andre has written down a TODO for Boxes that you can pick some tasks from. Other than that, we still need a lot of help with two of our main dependencies:

  • libosinfo: This library is our store for information on operating systems and means to detect operating systems from installation media.
  • libvirt-glib: libvirt-glib wraps libvirt to provide a high-level object-oriented API better suited for glib-based applications.
While Boxes is written in Vala, these libraries are completely written in C so if you are a C hacker and want to contribute, these would be good places to start with. While most of the work needed on libosinfo is that of populating its database with information on all kinds of operating systems out there, libvirt-glib still lacks a lot of needed API. One particular part of libvirt-glib that needs the most work and is of highest priority to us is its API to deal with libvirt's configuration XML.

We all love boxes, don't we?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

libvirt-glib 0.0.1 is out!

The first public release of libvirt-glib is out! libvirt-glib wraps libvirt to provide a high-level object-oriented API better suited for glib-based applications. Daniel wrote nice release notes so I'll save myself some time and quote it for more details:

I am pleased to announce the first release of the libvirt-glib package,
version 0.0.1 is now available from

  ftp://libvirt.org/libvirt/glib/
The packages are GPG signed with

    Key ID: 15104FDF  Daniel P. Berrange 
    Key fingerprint: DAF3 A6FD B26B 6291 2D0E  8E3F BE86 EBB4 1510 4FDF

libvirt-glib comprises three distinct libraries:

   - libvirt-glib    - Integrate with the GLib event loop and error handling
   - libvirt-gconfig - Representation of libvirt XML documents as GObjects
   - libvirt-gobject - Mapping of libvirt APIs into the GObject type system

As of this release only the event loop integration and some basic APIs for
managing domains are provided. The representation of XML as GObjects is a
major work item that is just beginning.

The libvirt-gconfig library can be used without linking to the main libvirt.so
library, so it is suitable for consumption by applications which use libvirt
indirectly via AMQP, CIM or another API transport which accepts XML documents.

All the libraries support GObject introspection to enable immediate usage
from any language which can dynamically import objects via introspection.
There are also Vala bindings which are automatically generated from the
introspection data.

NB: While libvirt aims to be API/ABI stable, for the first few releases,
we are *NOT* guaranteeing that libvirt-glib libraries are API/ABI stable.
ABI stability will only be guaranteed once the bulk of the APIs have been
fleshed out and proved in non-trivial application usage. We anticipate
this will be within the next 6 months in order to line up with Fedora 17.

Follow up comments about libvirt-glib should be directed to the regular
libvir-list@redhat.com developmenht list.

Thanks to all the people involved in contributing to this release.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Introducing libosinfo

The first release of libosinfo is out!

What is libosinfo?

libosinfo is a GObject based library API for managing information about
operating systems, hypervisors and the (virtual) hardware devices they can
support. It includes a database containing device metadata and provides APIs
to match/identify optimal devices for deploying an operating system on a
hypervisor. Via the magic of GObject Introspection, the API is available in all
common programming languages with demos for javascript (GJS/Seed) and python
(PyGObject). Also provided are Vala bindings.

libosinfo is Free Software and licenced under LGPLv2+.

Dependencies

  • Required:
    • gobject-2.0
    • gio-2.0
    • libxml-2.0
  • Optional:
    • gobject-introspection
    • Vala (build-time only)

Download

http://fedorahosted.org/releases/l/i/libosinfo/

Homepage

http://fedorahosted.org/libosinfo/

Thursday, October 6, 2011

GNOME 3.2 party in Helsinki!

The party turned out to be a lot more successful than I thought. I thought only a few people will show-up since there aren't that many gnomies around that I know of. We had lots of nice discussions on various topics especially the future of GNOME and Free SW in general. One of the participants was very interested in having some way to write UIs that work for both big screens and tiny screen of his Openmoko mobile phone, which turned out to be quite an interesting discussion.

Taking the EXOPC running Fedora 16 with me was indeed a good idea since almost every participant wanted to see how it works. Although I had to keep telling/reminding everyone that on-screen-keyboard in gnome-shell is not exactly finished, I noticed that people were pretty much already able to use GNOME 3.2 with a touch-only interface. The biggest issue people encountered wasn't the OSK though but the bad touch-screen on the tablet.

Some pictures from the event:











Monday, October 3, 2011

Helsinki GNOME 3.2 release party

If you happen to be in Helsinki tomorrow (Wednesday) evening, don't forget to drop-by at Kaisla to celebrate the awesome GNOME 3.2 release with us. Not only you will get to hang-out and have beers with other cool people in town but also get to try out GNOME 3.2 on a tablet. If you have never been to Kaisla before, this is one bar you must visit if you are interested in beers as they have a rather decent collection of beers from different countries.

See you tomorrow at 8pm there!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Got a red hat? Check!

I finally got my (long awaited) hat!







Now back to work...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

See you in Berlin!






I have a talk where I'll attempt to brain-wash educate the masses about the awesomeness of Vala language. If you are even slightly interested, please do attend. I also have arranged a BoF together with KDE's Friedrich Kossebau to discuss about the possibility of SSDP (discovery protocol used by UPnP) as a system service.

See you in Berlin soon!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Slightly more on virtual world..

Forgot to mention in my last blog post that SPICE is not just more efficient at network bandwidth utilization but is also much more faster/responsive. Also, Jon Nordby pointed out that the screenshots of virt-manager I copied from virt-manager website are several years outdated. Here is how the main UI looks like now a days.

P.S. I was going to inline this screenshot but blogger.com is not letting me do that. :(

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Welcome to the virtual world!


About two months ago I informed the followers of this blog that I will now be working on SPICE project for Red Hat. Judging from the questions I was asked after that, I realized that not many people know about SPICE so I thought I write at least one blog entry dedicated to explaining what SPICE is all about. Before I get to SPICE itself, let me first introduce you to the world SPICE lives in.

Virtualization and Virtual Machines (VMs)


For some reason, I feel that I should leave the definitions to wikipedia and only quote it so that is what I am going to do:
"Virtualization, in computing, is the creation of a virtual (rather than actual) version of something, such as a hardware platform, operating system, a storage device or network resources."
"A virtual machine (VM) is a "completely isolated operating system installation within your normal operating system".Today, this is implemented by either software emulation or hardware virtualization".

Virtualization (of software and hardware platforms) is really nothing new and has been around since..well the the real thing itself: computers. There has been several implementations of different kind ever since and I are two main reason they exist and grow:
  1. Developing/testing software for hardware that you do not have. This makes virtualization softwares were attractive for consumer product manufacturers to be able to start the development of software soon after the plans for a particular product are finalized since it takes some time before they can manufacture enough prototypes for every developer and tester involved.
  2. Portability: In a typically VM setup, installation is done on drive images (files) rather than actual drives/partitions, which means you can carry or send your (virtual) machine anywhere you like.
  3. Ability to use multiple operating systems at the same time: Many Linux and Mac OS X users often need to run applications that are only available for windows and vice versa. Dual-boot is one solution to this issue but that implies you will only be able to use one OS at a time.
  4. Partitioning of a single host to multiple servers: Consolidation of many servers to a single host is a popular use case these days, done internally in many companies and also by hosting services. aka “The Cloud”.
Despite its big drawback, traditionally dual-boot has remained to be the preferred solution for many for a long time. The reason for that has mainly been the limitations of virtualization solutions, especially in terms of performance. However due to significant improvements in both hardware (built-in virtualization support and multi-core) and software, virtualization solutions have been gaining a lot of popularity lately.

Tools

Qemu + KVM


There are many such solutions out there, both Free and non-Free out there but the solution of our choice is Qemu. This awesome virtual-machine manager (a.k.a hypervisor) combined with Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) and built-in virtualization extensions in modern CPUs is capable of providing such a virtual environment that puts the real thing to shame.

Qemu+kvm might be a very powerful tool, its still very much a power-user tool. For example you have to use long commandlines with different switches to use Qemu effectively. Worry not! There is another set of tools to help there:

libvirt


While Qemu+KVM might be an awesome solution, its still one of the many hypervisors out there and with some many people pouring into the virtualization industry, you can be assured that there will be a better alternative available sooner or later. libvirt not only abstracts you from hypervisors but also adds some really nice features on top of that:
  1. Manipulation (creation, deletion and modification etc) and monitoring etc of virtual machines on remote hosts, securely.
  2. Live migration of virtual machine(s) from one host to another.
Apart from the libvirt library itself, the libvirt package also comes with a very nice commandline tool called virsh that exposes libvirt API as convenient arguments. As you can probably guess from its name, virsh is a shell so if you can launch it without (command) arguments it will launch an interactive shell, awaiting your commands.

virt-manager


Neither libvirt, not virsh are tools that an end-user could be expected to use. Thats where virt-manager comes into picture. It basically provides the same functionality as virsh but unlike virsh, its designed for end-users and hence has a very user-friendly graphical user-interface. Here is some screenshots that should give you a good idea:



While virt-manager has nice UIs for everything related to VM management, it still leaves the remote access of virtualized (guest) OS/desktop to tools that are tailored for that, such as VNC and SPICE.

SPICE


SPICE in simple words can be described as very smart remote-access enabler for virtual machines. Oh wait, I was supposed to leave definitions to wikipedia:
"In computing, SPICE (the Simple Protocol for Independent Computing Environments) is a remote-display system built for virtual environments which allows users to view a computing "desktop" environment - not only on its compute-server machine, but also from anywhere on the Internet and using a wide variety of machine architectures."

SPICE was originally developed by Qumranet as a proprietary solution. Red Hat acquired Qumranet in 2008 and in December 2009 Red Hat open-sourced the protocol.

Now with definition and history lesson taken care of, lets talk about the real thing: tools. SPICE, the implementation is divided into 3 main parts:

Server

 

The SPICE server that runs inside the Qemu binary as a library. Its mainly responsible for authentication of client connections, relaying of graphics output of guest OS to the client using a Qemu feature called QXL and relaying of user input (mouse and keyboard) from client to the guest.

 

Client(s)


This is the tool that end-user should be concerned with. It provides a view into the guest OS (very much like the popular VNC).In the past there was only one SPICE client called, spicec. Due to various reasons (not embeddable, too low-level etc), it was deemed necessary to create a better client-tool. So for the past some months, our team has been working on a SPICE client Gtk+ widget called (surprise suprice) spice-gtk and helped in integration of it in vinagre (the GNOME remote-desktop client). I still haven’t used (or even built) spicec but from what I’ve been told, vinagre+spice-gtk are already much better than spicec in functionality so I guess I haven’t missed anything. Wait! Why am I telling you all this when I can just show you?

Just to be very clear here, spice-gtk is nothing specific to vinagre so if you want to have SPICE integration in your UI(s), you can do it very easily using spice-gtk. Apart from the C API, it also provides gobject-introspection and Vala bindings.

 

vdagent:


There are certain important tasks that spice-server needs to perform that it can not do so itself as it runs on the host rather than guest. A good example is copy/cut and paste between client’s host and guest desktop. For this reason, vdagent exists. Its a helper that runs inside the guest (and as such is installed from the guest). So making the copy&paste possible, it proxies the appropriate events to/from the SPICE client from/to guest windowing system through spice-server.

 

Whats wrong with VNC?


VNC has been around for a while now and in modern unix world, its considered as the remote desktop solution so its natural for people to ask: why create yet another solution for the same problem? The reason is that SPICE protocol has been designed to be very efficient on bandwidth usage and to satisfy the needs of a virtualized environment [1]. Recall QXL I mentioned above? QXL is handled/implemented as something called paravirtual devices in SPICE. Its probably appropriate to quote the related wikipedia definition here first:
In computing, paravirtualization is a virtualization technique that presents a software interface to virtual machines that is similar but not identical to that of the underlying hardware. 
So while a VNC server reads frames from video memory and sends (compressed though) the updated areas (if any) to the client, spice-server on the other hand presents the guest windowing system with an X driver that captures X protocol operations directly. That is what makes SPICE a lot more efficient at network usage compared to RFB protocol that VNC uses.

The end


I am really not good at explaining things so I’m sure I must have left-out some necessary details but worry not! We have a team of awesome hackers who can always help you with any issues related to SPICE. You can reach us either through our IRC channel or mailing-list. If you are attending the Desktop Summit 2011 in Berlin, you are in luck cause not only there is a talk about ‘Integrating virtualization into the desktop’ but also some of us will be attending the full duration of the conference so you can come and discuss with us in person.
If you are interested in readily available products based on these awesome virtualization tools, I suggest you have a look here.

[1] Actually, currently SPICE can only be used to access virtualized desktops, though one of our team members is actively working to make it possible to connect to normal/real desktops.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Release logs are important!

Turns out that not many Free Software maintainers follow the practice of writing proper release logs targetted for packagers/end-users. To justify their laziness, they come-up with lame excuses like "Oh, the user never sees the release log" etc and at the very most copy&paste the (developer oriented) VCS changelog since the last release. Here is how it actually affects a user:


Now if you click on the URL provided, you will be taken to a page where there is a lot of information but the one you are looking for: What exactly changed? In this particular case, its just an bugfix release but many times new features are added and users can't know that unless you put that nicely in your release log.

So please stop justifying your laziness and take the efforts to write the release log if you are a maintainer of a Free Software project. OTOH, if you are a downstream packager, please copy or link to the upstream release log in your package's changelog that upstream maintainer has put his/her time/efforts into. Thanks!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Canon Pixma MP560 printer and Linux

When I bought this printer, I failed to find any Linux drivers for it. I must admit I didn't try hard to find them either since I was very much in a hurry at that time. Since then I had just assumed that drivers for Linux just don't exist.

But today I decided to search/try harder to get it working against my fedora laptop. The result was that I found the drivers very easily and after several minutes of efforts, I finally got it working! So I thought it blog about it and provide some pointers so process gets easier for others:

  1. Ensure you have 'DefaultLanguage en_GB' line in your /etc/cups/cupsd.conf and your firewall isn't blocking Port 8611 for TCP/UDP.
  2. Get the drivers from here. The drivers are available as rpm and deb packages.
  3. Once you have the packages downloaded and installed on your system, find out the mac address of your printer somehow. The method I used was to watch for packets in wireshark and pinging the broadcast address of the network.
  4. Once you have the mac address, Run this command as root:

    /usr/sbin/lpadmin -p MP560LAN -m canonmp560.ppd -v cnijnet:/${MAC_ADDRESS} -E

    Note that mac address bytes must be separated by '-' here rather than ':'.
  5. Your printer should now be installed and working!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Rygel 0.10 is here!

We just made our first stable releases of Rygel after many months of active development. I used to post a blog entry after each release with the full-log but I stopped doing that because some people didn't like it going to planet GNOME and I thought chances are high that other viewer might also be getting annoyed by it.

Anways, I would like to highlight some of the changes since 0.8.3:

  • Lots of improvements to our interoperability with other DLNA devices in the market.
  • Many optimizations to search, browse and streaming.
  • More efficient and correct use of Tracker APIs.
  • Richer media hierarchies.
  • Simplified transcoding by use of new 'encodebin' GStreamer element.
  • Preferences UI has been trimmed down to only provide a few options that users actually need. The plan is for this UI to disappear completely in GNOME 3.2 in favor of better (more integrated with rest of the desktop) alternatives.
  • More configurability (through config files, commandline and environment) for power users.
  • Ability to use Rygel as only a streaming server (without advertising it on the network).
  • Ability to bind Rygel to specific networks by their ESSID or network IP address.
  • Loads of random bug fixes.
  • Port to more modern APIs. For example port from dbus-glib and GValue usage to GDBus and GVariant.
For a full list of changes, please refer to our NEWS file. Hopefully this release is in time to make it to upcoming releases of all major GNU/Linux distributions along with awesome GNOME 3. Which reminds me:
I am GNOME

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Future Perfect

Ever since I blogged about me looking for opportunities outside Nokia, I was contacted by quite some companies. Some of them ended-up giving me nice offers but in the end the offer that stood out amongst all was from Red Hat. So last evening, I accepted their offer to join the awesome Spice team.

The reasons I chose Red Hat over others were:
  1. Red Hat being undoubtedly the leader in Open Source technologies for more than a decade has always been on my 'awesome places to work at some day' list.
  2. The Spice project that I'm being hired to work on is simply awesome.
  3. They offer good working conditions.
I'll be staying in Finland and most likely working from home (unless I'm asked to work at the Espoo office). I will be officially joining Red Hat on May 2 and my last day at Nokia will be on April 21.

Before you ask, nothing disastrous is going to happen to GUPnP and Rygel. Of course I won't be spending as many hours on these projects as now but keeping in mind that my first 2 years of work on both these projects was purely in my spare time, I think I'll still be able to keep these projects running. Perhaps now I'll be able to better focus on upstream needs rather than that of my employers (more like working around DLNA conformance test tool issues).

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Yet another git history visualization

Here is a decade of GStreamer hacking squeezed into 5 minute visualization using gource.

I used the following commandline to create this:

gource -1280x720 -s 0.05 --stop-at-end --hide filenames  --highlight-all-users \
--file-filter po -a 5 --camera-mode track  --user-image-dir ~/hackergotchies \
--disable-progress --disable-bloom  --output-ppm-stream - --output-framerate 30 \
| gst-launch-0.10 fdsrc fd=0 !  'image/ppm,width=1280,height=720,framerate=(fraction)30/1' \
! ffdec_ppm !  ffmpegcolorspace ! x264enc speed-preset=10 ! avimux ! \
filesink  location=gst-dev-history.avi

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Rygel Development History Visualization (part II)

Here is yet another version thats twice slower (and therefore longer), has the gloom off and filenames disabled and is in H264+AVI format. Oh and this time I managed to use GStreamer to record the video, rather than ffmpeg.

In case anyone is interested, I used this commandline to create it:

gource  -1280x720 -s 0.1 --stop-at-end --hide filenames \
--highlight-all-users  --file-filter po -a 5 --camera-mode track \
--user-image-dir  ~/hackergotchies --disable-progress \
--disable-bloom --output-ppm-stream -  |gst-launch-0.10 fdsrc fd=0 \
! 'image/ppm,width=1280,height=720,framerate=(fraction)60/1' ! \
ffdec_ppm !  ffmpegcolorspace ! x264enc speed-preset=10 ! \
avimux ! filesink  location=rygel-dev-history.avi

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Rygel Development History Visualization

I recently discovered this awesome tool called, gource. Using that I created a visualization of rygel's development history and uploaded here.

Note that translation commits are missing. That doesn't mean I do not acknowledge or value those contributions but I had to exclude them because otherwise the screen was too crowded for viewer to actually see anything at all.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Futures

Now that my company has decided to join forces with Microsoft, I am no longer certain of my future at Nokia. Although I would really like to stay until our MeeGo product is out at least since I hate leaving things unfinished but I don't see any harm in starting to look for other opportunities already.

So like my colleague and friend, Alberto I have put my updated CV here. Feel free to send job offers or suggest any good open job positions to my inbox.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

FOSDEM

I'm going to FOSDEM, the Free and Open Source Software Developers' European Meeting

Not only that, I am also delivering a talk on one of my favorite programming languages, Vala. My other favorite language is always nicely presented by his awesomeness, Andy Wingo so I don't need to talk about that. :)

Yes, I'm not doing a rygel or gupnp talk this time. My apologies if that disappoints anyone. :)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Rygel needs your help!

While it is a well known fact that Rygel is as awesome as this new Intrepid class ship of mine in Star Trek Online



unfortunately its preferences UI looks as ugly as this



Apart from being ugly, it also doesn't really integrate well in GNOME as there is already a UI that lets you easily specify your file sharing preferences: gnome-user-share. I had some discussions with Bastien on how to fix this and we had agreed on a plan to kill this UI while merging the relevant parts of it into gnome-user-share in July 2010:

  • Rygel:
    • always starts as part of the session.
    • times-out and exits if there is nothing to share.
    • (MediaExport backend) doesn't share anything by default.
  • gnome-user-share
    • uses the MediaExport's DBus API to add/remove folders.

While the Rygel parts are mostly in place, Bastien (being a very busy developer) didn't manage to get any time to do the gnome-user-share part and neither did I. :(

GNOME 3.0 is happening very soon and Rygel might not get its due fame in release notes (again) if there is no nice UI to impress the end users with. So if you want to help either Rygel or GNOME 3.0 project, here is you chance!