December 3rd, 2010
So, Jef Spaleta apparently has an unfortunately precise and quite possibly malicious memory. He remembered a post I allegedly made on some blog or other a few months back (though I will maintain in front of any court that it wasn’t me, or if it was, I was probably drunk) volunteering to package Unity for Fedora. He reminded me of this yesterday, in the context that most of the non-upstreamed patches needed for Unity have now gone away, and maybe I should get started.
So since I woke up this morning at 5am and couldn’t get back to sleep I thought I may as well do that very thing. It’s quite a big project, but I’m just started at the bottom of the dependency pile and seeing how far I can get. So far, I have review requests in for libindicator and dee. I need to do nux, and after libindicator goes in, the actual indicators. The remaining dependencies are a bit trickier: right now Unity needs a patched Compiz, which will become the upstream Compiz eventually but isn’t yet. I’m asking our Compiz maintainer if we can ship the ‘experimental’ branch for F15. bamf depends on a change to glib which hasn’t made it upstream yet; I’m trying to poke the appropriate people to get consensus on getting the change upstream. If we can clear those two, I’m hopeful it should be possible to have Unity available in the Fedora repos. Hell, we could make a spin of it.
Why? Well, a few reasons. Mainly, Unity’s an interesting project. I want to look at it and compare it to GNOME Shell and I think quite a few others do too, so it seems nice to package it so you can run both on Fedora. I don’t really want to maintain an Ubuntu install just to test Unity (can’t do it in a KVM VM as it requires compositing support). Also, though, I think it’ll do a bit to help keep everyone honest: if other projects show interest in providing Unity as an option for people to use, it increases the motivation for Unity’s developers to make sure it can be easily built without non-upstreamed changes. Hopefully it also increases the motivation for upstream projects to work with the Unity developers to get their changes merged. It’s the same for any project, really – if you have a wide base of users of a project across many distributions, it gives everyone involved a reason to work to make sure it’s easy to maintain the project across distributions.
I’m not promising anything and I’m not proposing this as a Fedora feature or anything, but it’d be cool if it works out. If anyone would like to help out, please let me know. I know Bochecha started on the same project several months ago, but as far as I can tell he didn’t get very far with it – Mathieu, if you’re still interested, let me know and we can try to combine efforts