Archive for June, 2008

GCC Summit News

Right now I’m at the GCC Steering Committee Q&A panel at the summit.  There’s a new draft out of the GCC runtime license (used by libgcc, libgcj, etc).  The latest text allows for the development of GCC plugins — folks are already talking about review of the patch and how soon it can be merged (answer: after the license is finalized).

This is great stuff!

F9 Upgrade

A couple weeks ago I upgraded my laptop to Fedora 9. This went mostly smoothly.

I used the new preupgrade tool. This downloads data needed for the upgrade while your system remains functional. Then, after the download is complete, you can reboot into anaconda for an upgrade. I gather the benefit of this is that upgrade-via-anaconda is actually supported, unlike yum upgrade. Also, it means you don’t have to burn a CD — nice.

There was some minor glitch during this process — but minor enough that I forgot what it was when the time came to report it. Whoops.

After upgrading, some programs would not start. For instance, gnome-terminal did, but Emacs didn’t. After a while I found bug #430416 — a bug causing an X server error when certain fonts are requested. Removing xfs is the quick workaround. This problem was a pain.

Next, I found that the cursor in gnome-terminal was blinking again. Argh! I dislike blinking cursors. I find them very distracting.

I had a surprisingly hard time figuring out how to disable this. It used to be available on the gnome-terminal options page, but this was removed. For some reason I did not think to look on the Gnome-wide “keyboard” properties page — what does this have to do with the keyboard? So, in the end, I resorted to searching and ran some obscure gconftool-2 command line. Yay. In the meantime I found this nice page on disabling cursor blinks.

I am disappointed with the Gnome upgrade experience. Almost every time I have upgraded my OS, I’ve had to spend a bit of time fixing my desktop to reassert customizations I’ve already made. This is no good! My changes matter a lot to me!

In this particular case, gnome-terminal could have noticed my earlier setting and offered to upgrade it. Or, Gnome could adopt a friendlier policy — simply accept that some mistakes were made in the past, and choose to value my experience over consistency. After all, we’re talking about the terminal here, a tool unlikely to be used by the inexperienced audience that is the apparent target of this sort of change.

I have become generally skeptical of arguments based on consistency of UI. People seem to have little trouble navigating the web, where no two sites are the same. Also, every desktop release seems to come with a new default theme and plenty of experience-breaking changes — that is, there is no consistency over time.

C++ Standard

I love patches like this one. This is a change to libstdc++ to reflect changes made at the lastest standard committee meeting. I think the meeting ended yesterday… a little slow, perhaps; I think last time I saw commits immediately after a vote concluded.

GCC Summit

Next week is the GCC Summit, in Ottawa. I’ll be giving a talk there about my work on the incremental compiler. That will be fun, but what I’m really looking forward to is seeing all the other GCC hackers I know. There are plenty of interesting talks on the schedule, and some cool BOFs; plus there is an informal gdb meetup (this should be especially interesting, as there are many cool developments in gdb-land).

In keeping with my Emacs mania, this year I wrote a special presentation mode. My presentation is just a text file, in Emacs “outline mode” format; my new mode displays it nicely in a screen-filling frame. I should say, “nicely”, since some kinds of rendering are a pain to do in Emacs, and I couldn’t be bothered.


Someday we’ll write a Buddhist AI who will know that its self-awareness is an illusion.

Lars and the Real Girl

Usually a movie with just one joke gets old halfway through. Not so with Lars — this was a sweet, quiet, funny movie that I enjoyed thoroughly. I recommend it.

GCC Shirt

Thanks to Elyn, my t-shirt design from last year’s GCC Summit is now available.

I made a new GCC t-shirt yesterday, but you’ll have to wait for the summit to see it.