From the Canyon Edge -- :-Dustin

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"Ubuntu Polishes GNU Screen"

Mathias Gug and I stumbled upon this byobu
in Barcelona during the Ubuntu Developer Summit

More positive press coverage about byobu! This one is from Enterprise Networking Planet, discussing screen-profiles in Ubuntu 9.04:


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

byobu 2.0 released -- the project formerly known as screen-profiles

Releasing 2.0

After 54 mini-releases of screen-profiles-1, I'm pleased to declare a 2.0 release! I believe that the project is more stable, more feature-filled, and better performing than ever. screen-profiles has become much more than a fun little hack... I believe that it is ready for general usage.

Changing the Name of the Project

In conjunction with the 2.0 release, I am also renaming the project. The new name of the project and packages is byobu.

Byobu is a Japanese term for decorative, multi-panel screens that serve as folding room dividers. I think this is a fitting description of this project--an elegant enhancement of otherwise functional, plain, practical screens.
The pronunciation, as I understand it, is something like: beeyo-boo.
Update: A reader, Fumihito YOSHIDA, has provided me with a WAV file of byobu being pronounced by his friend, Nobuto MURATA, under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

Update: Micah Cowan, a GNU Screen developer, also provided a pronunciation of byobu at Thanks!

Explaining the Name Change

So why am I changing the name? I'll enumerate a few reasons...
  1. I have never really liked the term screen-profiles as a permanent project name. It has always been sort of a "working title." (Think Star Wars: Episode VI's original title, Revenge of the Jedi)
  2. Like screen itself, the name screen-profiles is functional and descriptive, but perhaps a little bland.
  3. At the birth of the project, it really did provide simply a static set of profiles. But these are far more dynamic, and configurable now. The vast majority of the code is no longer in the profile itself, but in the configuration utilities and status gathering scripts that customize screen.
  4. The project is in the process of being packaged for at least Debian, Fedora, and OpenSUSE, and Ubuntu's Karmic Koala has not yet entered Alpha1. The timing for a name change is as good as it is going to get.
  5. byobu is such an appropriate name! It expresses elegance, color, multiple panels, and function. Like Ubuntu, it's an interesting word in a foreign tongue. It also rhymes with GNU. Try saying: Byobu is new GNU fu in Ubuntu, 10 times fast :-)

Looking Forward

What's next for byobu?

I believe that GNU Screen can and should be used as a window manager on Linux servers (or at least command-line-only environments) in the same way that Gnome, KDE and XFCE are used on Linux desktops. Following this analogy, you might look at Byobu as providing a functionality similar to a compositing window manager like Compiz or Beryl. Something like Compiz is certainly not for everyone, and is easy to disable. However, it is useful to some people and can certainly enhance the overall desktop experience. And that's really my goal for byobu -- to enhance the experience and usability of screen, and the command line in general.

In the byobu 2.x series, I hope to implement:
  • Additional toggle-able status items in the bottom status panel
  • Detailed callouts for each status item
  • Better interaction with various terminals
  • Additional keybinding sets
  • Configurable support for external notifiers, like notify-osd
  • Internationalization of the text

Updating Links

I've made most of the necessary changes in the source code, though I'm still in the process of updating the various links and documentation. The most important ones are:

I am in touch with both Reinhard Tartler, who is handling the Debian packaging, and David Duffey who is handling the Fedora packaging. I should have the new package uploaded to Karmic later this week, and make packages available for Hardy, Intrepid, and Jaunty in the byobu PPA.


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Building an eCryptfs Community

Most of my eCryptfs posts have been dedicated to my work on Ubuntu's Encrypted Home and Encrypted Private Directories. I'm incredibly proud that we are helping Ubuntu users enjoy confidence in the security of their personal data without requiring sophisticated expertise in cryptographic filesystems and system adminstration.

This post, however, is intended to highlight what I hope is a burgeoning development community around the upstream eCryptfs project.

Minutes ago, I released ecryptfs-utils-75. I believe that this is a landmark release based on the number of contributions from people other than the maintainers, Tyler Hicks (IBM) and myself (Canonical).

Have a look at the changelog, and you should see contributions from:
  • Michal Hlavinka (Red Hat)
  • Daniel Baumann (Debian)
  • Arfrever Frehtes Taifersar Arahesis
  • Frédéric Guihéry
  • Adrian C. (anrxc)
Thank you!

If you have an interest in eCryptfs and a proficiency in C programming, please have a look at our open bugs. We are quite interested in growing our community of developers. You can join us in IRC at #ecryptfs on, and you can grab the source code with:
  • bzr branch lp:ecryptfs

p.s. Several years ago, I was criticized on a mailing list for submitting a "drive-by patch" (some maintainers evidently do not like this model). It scared me away from making minor contributions to projects I was otherwise unaffiliated with for some time. So, for the record, if your code is good, I don't mind "drive-by patches" ;-)