First of all, I want to thank Haiku, Inc. for giving me the opportunity to concentrate fully for a while on the WebKit port and browser! This is an awesome chance that I intend to make full use of.
At the moment, I have mixed feelings. Not about writing blogs. Not about working on WebKit. But about using the new WebKit browser to write the blog entry, haha! I've seen it crash, although in the last days, it has become pretty stable. After we upgraded to a newer WebKit version as the basis for the port, the frequent random crashes have almost disappeared and I saw only one crash in three days. Compared to one every few minutes before.
In these exciting times, during which Ingo Weinhold is making great progress with some performance optimizations in the Haiku kernel, I felt this strong urge to conduct some benchmark results, even if that caused me great deal of pain in setting up all the test platforms! The results are quite interesting, even though I didn't manage to test all possible combinations of host platforms and file systems.
This time I am very happy to be part of the organization team for BeGeistert, the bi-annual gathering of BeOS and Haiku fans in Düsseldorf, Germany. That's because I get to see who registers, and I can tell you that I am almost bursting with excitement, since this BeGeistert will be a big one! Beside the regular BeGeistert visitors, this time there are people coming whom I've known for years only via the Internet and who I can now finally meet in person. And there are also a bunch of old-timers coming who didn't participate in the event in years. Even new contributors will show up for the first time, like some of this year's Google Summer of Code and Haiku Code Drive students.
After I didn't write the promised report on the last Coding Sprint which took place after BeGeistert in April, I am now trying not build up an even bigger lag. Last week, Axel and his girlfriend Claudia hosted Michael, Ingo and myself at their nice home in Hannover, Germany. Oliver could sadly not attend our small, relatively spontaneous and informal Coding Sprint due to sickness, although he seemed to be with us in spirit considering all his ICU commits. (The ICU libraries are an important foundation of the forthcomming Haiku Locale Kit.)
Wow. What a week. The Coding Sprint is over and I am very excited at what we achieved together! Haiku has become much more usable and polished thanks to all the fixes and improvements. For example, I can now use Beam to read and send my e-mail, which is obviously quite important for me to be able to use Haiku on a day by day basis. But that was certainly not all. Read on for a detailed listing of all the achievements.
We had a lot of fun in the group, the renewed Youth Hostel facilities are great. Like at the BeGeistert in Berlin, there is now a table soccer installation which we used from time to time to dope us with adrenalin and relax a bit from coding. But all in all, the coding absolutely dominated. It was actually quite intensive, on Wednesday, I realized that I had not been outside since Sunday evening. Ingo and Oliver were the most strict with getting up early, even though they stayed up late into the night. Poor Ingo was searching for a bug for a large portion of the sprint. But after the sprint, he was able to finally commit his hard work and now Haiku builds Haiku with twice the speed as before. The bug was actually a missing underscore, so that he used an unnamed auto locker, which then didn't lock at all... Overall, I'd say that this coding sprint was at least as successful as the one in January. And Haiku has taken another great leap towards the first alpha release. I want to thank everyone who was present and also the many developers who could not come, but who intensified their work during the sprint. This was very motivating. Many thanks also to the new contributors who send their patches! One of them, Clemens Zeidler, actually came by on two evenings and worked with us. He has contributed a large patch, which I need to commit ASAP, that enables broad support for Synaptic touch pads, including a preflet and two finger scrolling! Yay!
The "Chemnitzer Linux Tage" (Chemnitzer Linux Days) was actually celebrating it's tenth anniversary. It started out as a kind of Linux install fest, but has since become a general Open Source event where all kinds of projects have a platform to demonstrate themselves. So despite the name, this event was perfect for Haiku.
To be honest, I was a bit desperate in the run up to BeGeistert 018. The fact that most of our core contributors were present gave me high hopes for a good push of Haiku development. Since my laptop was stolen, which was a really solid Haiku machine, I could not run Haiku natively on my main development computer. Even on some older computers I had, I could not run it anymore since the initial changes to the IDE stack. Next was the fact that I bought a new USB based KVM switch. The only USB stack with which I had a working keyboard and mouse was the original Dano stack. And even then I sometimes lost input when switching back to BeOS from another computer. With Haiku, the input devices were not working at all. So I was packing both my computer, monitor and the KVM switch for BeGeistert, all in all, it was quite a load. I was heading towards BeGeistert with a bit of mixed feelings, because Haiku wasn't working so well for me anymore and I didn't know if it was going to be fun only or with some disappointments mixed in.
Whenever I was with Axel and saw Haiku running on his IBM ThinkPad T40p, I was almost convinced, that he must have forgotten to commit a rather effective patch, though he swore that that was not the case. I have never seen the app_server perform so well on any other machine.
My backpack turned out really heavy, because at the moment, I have no mobile computer. Luckily I have one of those "industry embedded" machines, as big as an external CD-ROM drive. But I still had to pack my 17" flat screen. The travelling by train was nice, although I almost got off at the wrong station in Basel. I mean, I did get off, but I got back in in time.