File: HACKING

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Hacking the GNOME System Tools
==============================

Hacking the GNOME System Tools is fairly straightforward (if you are a
hacker). However, to get you started quicker, we provide this document. Here,
we give an overview of the existing code, provide pointers to resources and
administrivial procedures, and point out some non-obvious issues.


What's interesting
------------------

We're most interested in work on the backends, porting them to other
distributions and architectures. Our goal is to make them work on whatever
Unix you happen to throw at them, consistently and without reducing neither
themselves nor the system configuration to unidentifiable goop.

If you do good work on this, you can be sure to get our immediate attention
and undying gratitude, as well as seeing your favourite set of workstation
tools succeed in making Linux/Unix accessible to the masses.

Other contributions - particularly any bugfixes you might have - are of
course extremely valuable also.


Package structure
-----------------

The package has two readily identifiable parts: Backends and frontends. The
backends do all the actual configuration work, and communicate with their
invokers using XML and an ad-hoc protocol for runtime errors and progress
reporting.

In addition, a frontend is defined by two parts; a part specifying the static
layout of the interface in Glade XML (made with Glade), and another part
which adds interactive behaviour and communication with the backend.

Breakdown of the tools currently packaged:

Backend                          Frontend              Frontend layout
-------                          --------              ---------------
backend/disks-conf.in           src/disks/*           interfaces/disks.glade
backend/memory-conf.in          src/memory/*          interfaces/memory.glade
backend/nameresolution-conf.in  src/nameresolution/*  interfaces/nameresolution.glade
backend/networking-conf.in      src/networking/*      interfaces/networking.glade
backend/shares-conf.in          src/shares/*          interfaces/shares.glade
backend/time-conf.in            src/time/*            interfaces/time.glade
backend/users-conf.in           src/users/*           interfaces/users.glade

Currently, all the backends are in Perl, all the frontends are in C, and all
the frontend layouts are in Glade XML. We accept backends and frontends in
Python, though.

There are also common libraries in these three categories:

backend/be.pl          - shared Perl code.
src/common/*            - shared C code.
interfaces/common.glade - shared Glade specifications.


Submitting patches
------------------

If you're a new contributor, we appreciate it if you send your patches to the
mailinglist for approval. Once a patch is approved, you can apply it to CVS
HEAD yourself, or we can apply it for you. If you submit patches on a regular
basis, we can come to an agreement where you just apply your changes directly
to the CVS version without needing prior approval. Note that your patch may
still be reverted, or you may be asked to revert (or fix) it if it breaks
something.

When you make significant contributions (e.g. port a backend to a new
distribution or platform, or add another important feature), we welcome you
to add yourself to the authors list (with your e-mail address and a short
description of what you did) at the top of the source. You will always be
credited for your contribution when it's time for a release.

Every CVS commit and patch should contain detailed ChangeLog entries.
Take a look at any ChangeLog file if you are not sure what a ChangeLog
entry is. If you use emacs you can add a ChangeLog entry with "Meta-X +
add-change-log-entry".

Implementing a new tool
-----------------------

When starting work on a new tool, you're best off copying the source from an
existing tool and modifying that. Old backends, frontends and Glade files can
be used efficiently as basis for new ones.

When coding the C frontend, make sure to initialize the tool with
tool_init(). It does most of the traditional GNOME initialization for you,
connects some signals, and loads the configuration from your backend to an
internal XML tree.

We believe existing source is the best documentation in this matter.


Coding style
------------

The backends should be written with two-space indents (_no_ tabs). Try to
follow the comment style from existing frontends, e.g. add liberal
descriptions of the functions so they can be ported and updated with ease.

Frontends must adhere to the GNOME coding standards, which means 8-space tab
intenting. See the GNOME coding guidelines for details.


Copyrights
----------

Copyright assigment is _not_ a requirement, but we'd appreciate it if you
assigned it to Ximian, as this makes the license more easily defendable
(Ximian has lawyers to do this, but if the copyright belongs to many
different parties, they all have to give their consent or even show up in
court to defend their code).


Hands-on
--------

Checking it out (anonymously) from GNOME CVS:

cvs -d :pserver:anonymous@anoncvs.gnome.org:/cvs/gnome login
cvs -d :pserver:anonymous@anoncvs.gnome.org:/cvs/gnome co ximian-setup-tools

Subscribing to the mailing list:

http://mail.gnome.org/mailman/listinfo/system-tools-list

Getting released packages:

ftp://ftp.gnome.org/pub/GNOME/sources/gnome-system-tools/

Contacting the project manager:

Miguel de Icaza <miguel@ximian.com>

Contacting principal developers (you should send patches here):

Hans Petter Jansson <hpj@ximian.com>
Arturo Espinosa     <arturo@ximian.com>
Tambet Ingo         <tambeti@sa.ee>