SIL LSDev Linux Development

Language software for Linux and Mac OS X

New release of FieldWorks for Linux

We’re happy to announce that we’ve released a “mature release candidate” for FieldWorks 7.0.6 on Linux. It’s available now from packages.sil.org for Ubuntu Lucid through Precise. (Look for the package version number 7.0.6~rc4.) We believe this is “stable quality”, but we’re looking for more user feedback before giving it that label. By stable quality we mean that it’s ready for everyday work by average users, and does not have any bugs that would block someone from working or cause data corruption.

It should be noted that we’re also working hard at getting out a version that is in step with the Windows FieldWorks version, one that can open databases created by any released FieldWorks version (including the current 7.2.7). (Note that FW 7.0.6 can only open databases created by 7.0.6 or earlier.) With that in mind, there are a number of bugs in this release that we chose not to fix because we know they’re already fixed in the next version. However, we expect that these issues won’t keep users from doing their work.

So please download this version, try it out, and let us know what you find. Our current plan is that if you report issues that are blocking you from working, we’ll try to fix them quickly in a 7.0.6-based version. But if there are workarounds, we will likely fix them in the 7.2.x-compatible version, with the goal of getting that one out to you sooner.

We haven’t released 7.0.6 for Ubuntu Quantal yet. If it turns out to be relatively easy to produce a 7.0.6 for Quantal, we will do that soon. If not, Quantal support will have to wait for the 7.2.x-compatible version, which will target Precise onwards and drop support for Oneiric and earlier.

We also plan to upload a Debian build very soon.

FieldWorks Beta 2 released

Earlier today we issued our first beta release of FieldWorks for Linux. Although this is the first beta for Linux, it’s actually numbered Beta 2 because it’s equivalent to the Beta 2 that has just been released for Windows. We did try to produce a Linux equivalent of the Windows Beta 1 but we encountered some crashing bugs when we integrated the latest changes from the Windows branch of the source code, and by the time we had fixed those, Beta 2 was almost ready. This is the first time that the Linux and Windows versions have come out together, and with the same version numbers. If we find it necessary to issue updates before Windows Beta 3, we will number them Beta 2.1 and so on. Hopefully this will make it much easier for users to know how the different releases match up on the different platforms.

The releases for the two platforms are built from the same source code—almost! The Windows and Linux development teams actually do their work on separate branches, just so they don’t get in each other’s way when a release is imminent, but we usually copy the changes back and forth between the branches a couple of times per week.

We believe this release is much more stable than anything we’ve released previously, and it also has more functionality. For example, it’s now possible to use the full range of data import and exchange possibilities, including opening project files copied from Windows, and opening FW6 backup files.

As always, instructions are on the wiki. Please continue to report bugs, and write comments here to let us know how things are working for you. There is a lot of interest in Linux in SIL right now, but questions are also being raised about whether the cost of doing Linux development continues to be justified. So please let your colleagues and associates know that you are using Linux, and explain how it’s meeting real needs in language development.

Getting ready for FieldWorks beta

We have been issuing new alpha releases over the preceding months, and various people have been installing them from packages.sil.org. Our release schedule hasn’t been the same as for the Windows version, but we have just issued alpha8 packages that correspond to the same point in development as the Windows alpha 3. These will be the last alpha releases for either platform.

The first Windows beta will be issued just before Christmas (we hope) and the Linux beta soon after.

We’re grateful to all the people who have helped us with testing, by trying out each new FieldWorks package as it became available, reporting bugs diligently and giving us general feedback. Thanks!

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FieldWorks alpha release

Finally, we have a publicly-available alpha release of FieldWorks, with packages ready for anyone to use.

However, remember that this is still an alpha release and so there will be bugs, missing functionality, and a general lack of polish and performance. In particular, there’s no guarantee that it won’t lose any data you enter, although it hasn’t done this in any of our internal testing. Read the rest of this post…

FieldWorks Packages made

At 7pm Calgary time on Friday, we produced the first working Linux packages for FieldWorks. These were installed and briefly tested in a fresh virtual machine running Ubuntu 10.04 “Lucid”.

There are a couple of small things that need to happen before we make these available to others, though, and since today’s a public holiday here we won’t finish those until tomorrow. Read the rest of this post…

Getting close!

We are now just a week away from our planned release date of Monday, May 24. Everyone is working hard on fixing bugs, and I’m working hard on putting Ubuntu packages together so that it can be installed through the normal mechanisms. Read the rest of this post…

Progress towards release

We’re all working hard on fixing bugs in readiness for our May 22 release date.

Currently, there are 148 outstanding issues in our bug tracker, of which 46 are classed as “major”, 13 “critical” and 1 “blocker”. In the past 30 days, 35 issues were resolved and 63 created. So we’re feeling the pressure!

These are just Linux bugs, by the way. The main FieldWorks bug database has over 350 issues specifically related to the May release date, and the Linux version is dependent on those being fixed in addition to the Linux-specific ones.

Most of the Linux development work is being done on Ubuntu Karmic, although today we were able to build and run FieldWorks on a pre-release version of Ubuntu Lucid, due out at the end of April, so hopefully we’ll be releasing FieldWorks on both Karmic and Lucid.

A release date for FieldWorks

Finally, after many years of development, and a lot of hard hoeing, we have committed to a release date for a beta-test version of FieldWorks on Linux. This will be simultaneous with a test version of the rearchitected FieldWorks on Windows, and will incorporate the same rearchitected code.

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Linux-first development!

One of our long-standing goals has been that FieldWorks development could eventually be carried out on either platform, and target both platforms. Last month, the very first example of this started to happen.

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FieldWorks rearchitecture

For some time now the entire FieldWorks team has been engaged on a rearchitecture effort. This involves a complete change to the way that FW stores its data. In particular, the tight dependency on the MS SQL Server database is being severed, and replaced with multiple interchangeable back-ends. These new back-ends range from a flat XML file through db4o to MySql.

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