It used to be that taking advantage of Bluetooth on your system could be fiddly, and for the non-power user pretty intimidating; Fedora 8 hopes to change this with improvements to the interface and better integration of existing systems. To find out a bit more I spoke to Bastien Nocera, and had a play with the packages in Fedora 8 Test 2: read on to find out more and find a screencast of Bluetooth done right in Fedora!
Profession: Red Hat Engineering, Fedora Project member.
Interviewed by: JonathanRoberts
Firstly, if you could tell us a bit about the state of Bluetooth in F7 and earlier, and perhaps other GNU/Linux distros? What was good (if anything!)/what was terrible?
I wouldn't call it terrible, but the lack of integration was definitely hampering use from people other than power users. We had a solid architecture, in BlueZ and over the past year or so, a D-Bus daemon to ease front-end development.
What particular improvements are you hoping to make Re: the state of Bluetooth in Fedora? Are you aiming to add better hardware support for various Bluetooth dongles etc or are your improvements aimed more at the user experience, once the hardware is working and recognised?
Marcel and the whole BlueZ team are doing a great work in supporting the large majority of Bluetooth dongles in use today. As a concrete example, I recently bought a cheap (£0.99, about 2 USD) Bluetooth dongle for testing without doing any research as to whether the dongle would be supported. The fact that there's 2 makers (CSR and Broadcom) that handle the majority of the Bluetooth chipset manufacturing definitely helps.
The Fedora work was on the front-ends, and the applications using this framework. Most of the things that could be done before by hand, we would want to support in a graphical and simple manner.
My favourite enhancement was the work I did on gnokii and gnome-phone-manager. I added the ability for gnokii to receive out-of-band notifications for new SMSes within the AT driver. This means that people with Samsung or Sony Ericsson phones can finally use gnome-phone-manager, and that it will use less power and be faster to show those on your desktop.
How much of this work will benefit upstream developers, and as a result users of all flavours of GNU/Linux?
All of it. All of the work was done upstream, and backported/integrated into Fedora. That was only possible because I know upstream for most of the projects I worked on (including knowing myself for some parts of it :)
The fact that other distributions can pick up on the work we've done means that we'll get feedback upstream on bugs, new features, and in the long-term ease our maintenance burdens. And with a bit of luck we'll receive some patches!
How successful have your efforts been so far? Are you still hoping to make the F8 release with this feature?
That was a sticking point with FESco. Bluetooth support in the desktop is not a simple task. There's plenty of Bluetooth devices, and plenty of different ways to interact with them. I hope to have more Bluetooth work done for Fedora 9.
Once the work for this release is out of the way, are there more improvements you'd like to see added wrt to the Bluetooth stack in Fedora?
As mentioned above, it's not out of the way yet. I have plans on finishing the gnome-phone-manager D-Bus interface and integration into Conduit for address book and calendar synchronisation, helping finish the new device wizard, and plenty more.
And to finish, would you like to tell us a bit about your self? Free software background, general every day things you love to do!
I'm a French-born engineer in the Red Hat Desktop team, based in England. I've been contributing to GNOME for the past 7 years, and working for Red Hat for 5 years. And as readers of Fedora People or Planet GNOME will know, I'm a film and football nut (that would be soccer for our American, Irish or Aussie friends).
The screencast of this feature being demoed is available to download from here , as an OGG Theora file .
Want to try out some of these enhancements? Download Fedora 8 Test 2 and follow the advice given at the bottom of the Releases/FeatureBluetoothFedora8 page.