Sunday, June 26, 2005

Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn


Went out to Franklin Park Zoo this morning and took a bunch of pictures.

Waterfall in the Tropical Forest

Most of them ended up pretty bad due to lack of light (thanks to the somewhat hazy weather here in Boston). I’ve uploaded some of the better ones in this gallery.

Volume handling

Been spending quite some time on a rather large gnome-vfs patch (it’s about 80k now) that enables gnome-vfs-daemon to recognize drives without having them in the /etc/fstab file.

Look mom! No /etc/fstab entries!

There’s a bunch of other benefits including the fact that we actually show drive icons even when no media is in the drive and, of course, that we stop using /usr/sbin/fstab-sync in Fedora and instead use mount/umount/eject programs that can integrate nicely with the GNOME desktop. The latter is quite important, actually the point of this whole exercise.

The main benefit is that we can move all policy into the desktop - this means that we can write a GNOME-based mount wrapper that queries your settings from gconf about where to mount volumes (the mount point) and what mount options to use (e.g. iocharset comes mind). Of course, we have to be extremely careful in what options and mounts point we’ll allow. It will be almost trivial to write a Nautilus extension so this can be edited in a tab per drive/volume. This is planned too. While this sounds like a super-31337 geek feature it’s actually something that both Fedora and upstream HAL has gotten a lot of bug reports about. Another benefit is that we can actually put up meaningful dialogs if the mount/umount/eject fails. For instance, we may put up a dialog with a list of the applications that is blocking the unmount (of course, applications like these needs to be fixed so maybe not worth the effort).

Finally, we’ll be able to do lock-down much more effectively - for instance, administrators should be able to say “Require root password to mount external storage device read/write” (which is done by setting a mandatory gconf key) and we pop a dialog telling the user that we can only mount read-only unless the user authenticates (using the root password or other mechanishms is another discussion). While this sounds like a stupid feature check this out (search for “solder”) and also take a look at some of the discussion regarding what Sarbanes-Oxley is requiring from businesses.

Implementation-wise, I’m planning to use pmount as the backend for the GNOME-specific mount/umount/eject wrapper but right now I’m running into some issues with the privileged parts (that should trust nobody) insofar that they have to check things in gconf / HAL. Have to think a bit more about that and also email Martin.


So, this female Asian coworker (who has requested anonymity when I told her I was going to blog this, so can’t be specific :-) gave me a set of chopsticks last week. They’re supposed to be easier to use than what they give you at restaurants.

Chopsticks. In orange. They even match my sleeping sofa.

I’m still undecided whether it’s something I should bring to a fancy restaurant, so I carry them around with me until that matter is resolved :-)

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