halting problem :: And I’m home

:: ~4 min read

It’s almost the end of the year, so it’s time for a recap of the previous episodes, I guess.

The tl;dr of 2018: started pretty much the same; massive dip in the middle; and, finally, got better at the very end.

The first couple of months of the year were pretty good; had a good time at the GTK hackfest and FOSDEM, and went to the Recipes hackfest in Yogyakarta in February.

In March, my wife Marta was diagnosed with breast cancer; Marta already had (different types of) cancer twice in her life, and had been in full remission for a couple of years, which meant she was able to cope with the mechanics of the process, but it was still a solid blow. Since she had already gone through a round of radiotheraphy 20 years ago—which had likely a hand in the cancer appearing now—her only option was surgery to remove the whole breast tissue and the associated lymph nodes. Not fun, but surgery went well, and she didn’t even need chemotherapy, so all in all it could have been way, way worse.

While Marta and I were dealing with that, I suddenly found myself out of a job, after working five years at Endless.

To be fair, this left me with enough time to help out Marta while she was recovering—which is why I didn’t come to GUADEC. After Marta was back on her feet, and was able to raise her right arm above her head, I took the first vacation in, I think, about four years. I relaxed, read a bunch of books, played some video games, built many, many, many Gundam plastic models, recharged my batteries—and ended up finally having time to spend on a project that I had pushed back for a while, because I really needed to add writing and producing 15 to 20 minutes of audio every week, after perusing thousands of email archives and old web pages on the Wayback Machine. Side note: donate to the Wayback Machine, if you can. They provide a fundamental service for everybody using the Web, and especially for people like me who want to trace the history of things that happen on the Web.

Of course I couldn’t stay home playing video games, recording podcasts, and building gunplas forever, and so I had to figure out where to go to work next, as I do enjoy being able to have a roof above my head, as well as buying food and stuff. By a crazy random happenstance, the GNOME Foundation announced that, thanks to a generous anonymous donation, it would start hiring staff, and that one of the open positions was for a GTK developer. I decided to apply, as, let’s be honest, it’s basically the dream job for me. I’ve been contributing to GNOME components for about 15 years, and to GTK for 12; and while I’ve been paid to contribute to some GNOME-related projects over the years, it was always as part of non-GNOME related work.

The hiring process was really thorough, but in the end I managed to land the most amazing job I could possibly hope for.

If you’re wondering what I’ll be working on, here’s a rough list:

  • improving performance, especially on less powerful devices
  • identify and land new features
  • identify and fix pain points for current consumers of GTK

On top of that, I’ll try to do my best to increase the awareness of the work being done on both the GTK 3.x stable branch, and the 4.x development branch, so expect more content appearing on the development blog.

The overall idea is to ensure that GTK gets more exposure and mindshare in the next 5 years as the main toolkit for Linux and Unix-like operating systems, as well better functionality for application developers that want to make sure their projects work on other platforms.

Finally, we want to make sure that more people feel confident enough to contribute to the core application development platform; if you have your pet feature or your pet bug inside GTK, and you want guidance, feel free to reach out to me.


Hopefully, the next year will not look like this one, and will be a bit better. Of course, if we in the UK don’t all die in the fiery chaos that is the Brexit circus…

work life gnome

Older posts

  1. , A side episode! Early applications in the GNOME 1.x era
  2. , A side episode! Language bindings in the early GNOME era take the front stage
  3. , A side episode! We’re going to take a look to GTK in its first major API cycle
  4. , GNOME 1.4 gets released, and development work for GNOME 2 being in earnest; but things come crashing down once the Dot com bubble bursts, and GNOME loses an ally
  5. , Exciting times for the GNOME project. The first GUADEC is held in Paris! The Foundation gets founded! Plus: CVS and Bugzilla!
  6. , New companies form around GNOME! Ximian and Eazel work on making GNOME useful for corporate environments and casual users, and start shaping the technology stack with components for applications to use and reuse.
  7. , The desktop wars begin, and competitions heats up. We’re going to see the initial reaction to KDE’s licensing woes in the larger Linux ecosystem, and how that played into GNOME’s adoption. Plus: Red Hat enters the fray, and creates the Red Hat Advanced Development laboratories, and GNOME releases version 1.0
  8. , In which I announce my podcast on the history of the GNOME project
  9. , The GNOME project is announced! We’re going to see what the Linux world looked like, and why the GNOME project was started; what was available at the time, for Unix and Linux users, and the beginning of complex desktop environments on Linux, ending on the first few months of the project

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