Sputnick's blog

The Review

Since people keep asking us what our view is on the usability review seele recently did about Quassel IRC, I thought I should blog a little something.

First of all, it didn't hit us as a surprise. We've been in contact with kubuntu about their plans before, and we've ongoing discussions with seele and other kubuntu devs about how to make Quassel suitable for new users, in particular for kubuntu's main target group. Many things seele mentions in her review have been on our TODO list for a while now, but of course, being developers, we tend to put such issues off in favor of new features... now this whole thing shifts our priorities to focus on usability for a change. Sorry guys, this also means scripting support has to wait again...

Meanwhile, apachelogger is busy making the Quassel packages rock on kubuntu, and now provides nightly Quassel builds via Project Neon. And the Quassel developers, of course, are now busy to convert the review into code :)

Read on for some specific points.

Quassel - Coming to a KDE4 near you

As my XMas present to our faithful community, I have merged my branch named "kde" into git master a few days ago. As the name suggests, this brings you the long-awaited optional KDE4 integration! Mostly this means that Quassel, with KDE integration enabled, will use your KDE icon and color theme, it gives you editable shortcuts, and - finally - full support for knotify (the KDE notification system). Some more things will probably follow soon.

Meanwhile, EgS has been busy pimping the core, adding extended backlog features, query merging, proxy support, SSL authentication (e.g. for OFTC) and more cool stuff. We will now focus on usability issues and general UI polishing, thanks to seele's efforts who gratiously took the time to thoroughly review Quassel's UI.

All this will of course be part of the next release, quassel-0.4.0, due early 2009. So that's definitely something to look forward to in the new year ;-)

Update: Just to avoid confusion: KDE integration is an optional feature, and it will stay an optional feature. We do not intend to enforce a KDE dependency, since many Quassel users don't use it (for some bizarr reason ;-)), and it would be a mess on Windows and MacOSX anyway. This does not mean that our KDE4 users should have to miss out on great features like shiny Plasma bubbles though :)

XMas Hickups

As many of you probably have noticed by now, we have had some server trouble right in time for christmas. We are currently in the process of restoring all services, but it will probably take us a few days. So far, we have most of the webpage running again The FAQ is still missing, and we will tweak the theme a bit I guess, as this was just a rather quick hack to make the page work at all with the new Drupal version (yes, we took the opportunity to update that). Git is back too, as are the download pages. The bug tracker is still offline and will be for a few more days probably, as we are evaluating switching to a different software.

Anyway, sorry for the inconvenience.

Merry XMas/Chanukka/Season's Greetings/Weekend and a Happy New Year :)

Let There Be Features - Releasing Quassel IRC 0.3.1

After more than two months, we are finally delivering a shiny new feature release to you! The 0.3.0.x releases were only bugfix releases, based on the "ancient" 0.3.0. In the meantime, we were busy working on new stuff and fixing tons of bugs. In fact, I won't even bother listing all that stuff here, since you can just click on those links and see for yourself :) Among the features users have been waiting for for a long time and now finally get are day change messages and properly clickable URLs with visual feedback. Another highlight certainly are the on-hover previews of linked webpages.

We are quite proud of quassel-0.3.1, as we've put a lot of effort in making it a solid and stable release. So don't hesitate to grab it from our downloads page or get it from a distribution near you!

Urgent: Security Upgrade!

Well, looks like was not the last 0.3.0 release after all. coekie found an issue with CTCP handling in Quassel Core that allows attackers to send arbitrary IRC messages on your behalf. This issue is present in all versions prior to and Git older than October 26th (rev. d7a0381).

This has been fixed in the quassel- release and also in Git and the nightly builds. Gentoo and *buntu already ship the new version, with more distributions hopefully following ASAP. If you still use a 0.2-rc1 core, please consider updating to 0.3.x as soon as possible. Note that we provide unstable, but fixed packages for Debian now, thanks to dileX.

Note that this affects (only) the core, so you'll need to update and restart your core. Clients are not affected. Also, this exploit can not be used to affect anything on your system, including your local account, as it is purely IRC related.

We are sorry for any inconvenience this causes to you, and hope this first will also be our last security fix for a long time to come...

What I took away from Munich

The Quassel development team (yes, in full force) has been at the Trolltech Qt Developer Days in Munich again. As last year, Trolltech Nokia has generously invited us to the conference in the shiny Hilton hotel. We had a great time, met a lot of interesting people and saw several interesting talks. Our thanks go in particular to Knut Yrvin, Qt Software's community manager, for making this possible.

A few random points I took away from that event:

Finalizing 0.3.0

Most people visiting our channel #quassel at Freenode already know that we have tagged the supposedly last bugfix release for the 0.3.0 branch a couple weeks ago. We have shied away from publicly announcing the release since we usually want to have binaries for all platforms ready first. Anyway, since our Linux buildbox is going to be out of service for at least a few more weeks, we are now officially releasing quassel-, available on our download page!

This release only contains the remaining bugfixes based on 0.3.0. Compared to, these are some build system fixes and an issue with the topic widget. There are no new features, as 0.3.0.x expressly is a bugfix branch.

Windows users can be happy, since we now provide a monolithic client again! This means, those of you running a local core can now use the more convenient integrated binary again.
On the other hand, Linux users won't find a static core, but the one from hasn't changed anyway...

Assuming no real blockers surface in the future, this release marks the end of supporting 0.3.0. We are concentrating on getting shiny new features into trunk and the upcoming 0.3.1 release instead :)

Fan Mail

So a couple days ago, I had a nice surprise in my mailbox:

Nice finnish vodka

Sent by jussi01 all the way from Finland to Germany, as a huge Thank You for the development team :) Needless to say that, while it might not increase productivity at our next devmeeting, it surely increases the dev team's motivation to continue to make Quassel rock!

Thanks a bunch jussi01, and we're looking forward to crack that bottle open for reaching the Ballmer Peak soonish :)

On an unrelated note, the Quassel team will be present at the Qt Developer Days in Munich next week, so if you happen to attend those, be sure to have a chat with us :)

Let there be, uhm, 0.3.0...1!

After quite a long while, we finally present to you a new shiny Quassel IRC release! It so happened that we decided to call it, which, as attentive readers will certainly notice in an instant, is not the long-expected 0.2.0 (and not even 0.3.0, for that matter). So, uhm, what's up with those Quassel developers and their versioning scheme?

As some of you know, we have been working on a rewrite of the old ChatWidget for quite some time now, and it was always planned that this rewrite would end up as a 0.3 release, whereas the old ChatWidget would live in 0.2. It turned out that we would not only rewrite the ChatWidget (which is now called ChatView), but also most of the client-side message handling. We have switched to a Model-View-Controller-based architecture now. Other than being much easier to maintain and improve on, this approach also allows maximum resource sharing (for example, a chatline is now only stored once, no matter how many ChatViews display it). This results in a Quassel Client that needs much less RAM than versions from the 0.2 branch. Also, we have been (and still are) working on making things more efficient both time- and space-wise, and the current client is already much leaner and meaner than 0.2.0-rc1.

In addition to that architectural rewrite and the optimizations, with the new ChatView and its new and improved code base we could finally start adding new features and improvements to your chat window. So you'll notice a bunch of new stuff, like visible column handles, a last-seen remember line, in-buffer search and more. I won't give you a comprehensive list of new features this time, since it's just too much - just check it out for yourself!

rc1 will (hopefully) be the last Release Candidate... ever!

Just to give you a heads-up: With the release of 0.2.0 (which we expect during the next few weeks) we'll switch to a versioning scheme that is more consistent to other projects. This means that from then on, we will be releasing new patch-level releases rather than going the alpha/beta/rc cycle. The latter made sense as long as we didn't have a version that we considered complete enough to be a real release. Based on user feedback and our own experience, we feel quite confident about releasing 0.2.0 very soon now.

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