Thursday, June 21, 2012

Cassidy James - When it's ready

The below article is written by Cassidy James

When it's Ready

The number one question on everyone’s mind is, “When is Luna going to be released?” The answer is of course, “When it’s ready.” But how do we know when that is? You’re about to find out.
As you may or may not know, elementary doesn’t have a timed released cycle. Other popular operating systems like Ubuntu have decided to make a release at a certain time every year. But for elementary, we’ve decided that we will choose a set of goals to achieve during the cycle, and we release when all of those goals are met and the related bugs are squashed. We track our goals in the form of Blueprints (see: How to See What’s Up Our Sleeves) and assign bugs to milestones.
The first thing to keep in mind is that Luna is in active development; as soon as you finish reading this article, it’ll probably be out of date. To keep the most up to date with our ever-shrinking To-Do List, you should visit launchpad here. Having said that, let’s get specific.

The Underlying OS


Luna is built on an Ubuntu core. Doing this allows us to inherit a lot of the under-the-hood work that Canonical and the Ubuntu community put in. However, this can also mean that we sometimesinherit their branding on accident.


Our developer framework has a couple of small issues to iron out, including better use of system resources and better translation support.

Booting Up and Logging In

Before you get to the Pantheon desktop, you have to go through the boot and login process. For Luna we needed a nice Plymouth boot screen and LightDM login. We have a design for our boot screen, but it still needs to be coded. However, only a couple of minor cosmetic fixes are required for our Login screen.

The Desktop

Visual Design

The elementary GTK theme has changed a lot since Jupiter, undergoing a complete redesign to take advantage of the powerful new GTK3. We still have some visual tweaks to make, but it's coming along nicely. We plan to have one more major release before Luna.
Our icon theme has also undergone a major overhaul. Some small issues remain around providing icons in the optimal sizes and colors.
Our default set of wallpapers has been decided (stay tuned for an upcoming post).


WingPanel has been pretty stable for a while now, though a couple of bugs related to multi-monitor and handy shortcuts still remain.


Slingshot, our app launcher, has a couple of touch related and keyboard driven issues to sort out.


Our favorite dock Plank is being developed by the folks behind Docky with some special tweaks made for elementary. We need the drag-and-drop work thoroughly tested, and we need to sort out a few other outstanding bugs.


In Contractor, the nifty service that enables apps to seamlessly pass data back and forth, we need to track down any crashers and iron them out. After squashing the remaining bugs we’ll be all set.


Switchboard is our settings app in Luna and an important part of the OS. Our aim for the release of Luna is to make Switchboard rock-solid both visually and functionally.
In addition to the app itself, we have some work yet for the Plugs that are in Switchboard. With all of the major and extensive changes in Luna, we decided it would be best to focus on getting the Switchboard protocol, developer documentation, and core app as solid as possible before we go bananas writing our own plugs for the desktop. Lucas built a compatibility layer between Switchboard and the existing GNOME settings modules, so that they will work nicely within Switchboard itself.
We did write a few plugs ourselves this cycle, for Pantheon, such as Plank and the wallpaper service. These plugs could use some more polishing for Luna.

The Apps


Files, the file manager app for elementary, is coming along incredibly well. Since announcing it just three weeks ago, it’s had over a hundred bug reports and a handful of blueprints filed, making for some exciting and fast-paced development. The remaining issues are mostly small UI tweaks.


Pantheon’s terminal app has been stable development-wise for a while now. The only outstanding bugs are related to shortcuts.


Scratch—the text editor that works—has become quite stable, especially with its recent official release. It only has a few outstanding bugs for the Luna test cycle. Another release is likely to happen soon, in which case we’ll be completely good to go.


Maya is another one of the brand new apps that will make its debut in Luna. It could use some more thorough testing, but as it stands, it only needs better translation support before it’s ready to go.


Noise is a big step for this release. In Jupiter, we didn’t feel any of the existing music players really lived up to the standards of elementary. With Noise, we’re solving that problem at the source. Its developers are still plugging away, and as such it has over a dozen open bugs to be squashed before its next release.


Though Midori’s development cycle is technically independent from elementary OS (like many web browsers, they release every couple months), there are a few things we’d like to see, like a stable GTK3 release.

Public Beta

After all of these issues have been wrapped up and the Luna Beta1 milestone is all clear, we can release our very first public beta of Luna. This means a much wider stage for testing while we march towards our release. If the beta testing goes well and we’ve solved all major issues, we can move to release candidates and then finally the actual release of Luna and the beginning of the Luna +1 cycle.

How You Can Help

Bug Squashing

Since we’re an open-source project, the source code of every app in Luna is available for you to download, change, and redistribute. We’re very open to any help from developers willing to squash any of the bugs blocking beta release.


If you speak more than one language, we could use your help providing localization. We’ve begun to set up teams of translators and it’s never too late to join a translation team.
This post was collaboratively written and edited by Daniel Foré, Cassidy James, and other members of the elementary community.


  1. It is/will be just as good as Mac OS X if not better! The desktop is very sexy.

  2. Oh and it's snappier than Ubuntu 12.04 MUCH FASTER.