Development Update April 2021

This month has been one of my busiest in quite some time. With Xubuntu 21.04 arriving earlier this week, we’ve been pushing to test and land fixes and translations. Since there weren’t any respins of the final image, we didn’t have to do repeat tests, saving a tremendous amount of time. I also continue to use and hack on elementary, which has been great fun. It’s time for my Xubuntu, elementary, and other projects… development update for April 2021.

Ghost 4.0

Oh, hey, a brand new Ghost release. I was going to write a couple of days sooner, but when I see an update notification, I go for it! Ghost 4.0 is a massive release with tons of new features. The standout features to me are the new dashboard, email newsletters, and performance improvements. Here are my thoughts.

The new dashboard seems to prioritize membership and revenue, so I’m unsure how much use I’ll get from it. I currently have sponsorship platforms on GitHub, Patreon, and PayPal. Would you prefer being able to sponsor me on my website instead? Chime in in the comments!

The new Ghost dashboard. If you’re not monetizing your content, there’s not much here for now.

Email newsletters are now built into Ghost. You may have noticed a few new “Subscribe” buttons and sections on the website… these are that. If you subscribe, you’ll automatically get an email for each new post. With how infrequently I write, I can guarantee that your inbox won’t become cluttered because of me, so go ahead and subscribe. If I start writing more… well, I’m sorry. 😏️

Performance improvements, including automatically responsive and lazy-loading images, improved requests per second, and reduced latency, sound like a nice overall improvement. I have already worked hard at speeding up my site with optimized images and caching, so I’m excited to see just how much faster it will be going forward.

There’s some work to do, but I’ll take it! Source:

Upgrading to Ghost 4.0 was trivially easy. It’s still not as easy as upgrading a WordPress instance–you must use the CLI—but the commands are simple and fast. I upgraded to the latest 3.x release and then on to the 4.x release with no issues whatsoever. I pulled the latest Casper theme changes into the Mouser theme and made a few minor adjustments for the latest theme features. You can pick up Mouser 4.0.4 on GitHub.

As an aside, has Ghost always had integration with Unsplash? I wasn’t quite sure what to do for the feature image this time around, but then saw the Unsplash button and… success. “green grass field sunset scenery photo” by Aniket Bhattacharya captured April… at least in my mind and in the allergies I suffer from.

Xubuntu 21.04 “Hirsute Hippo”

Xubuntu 21.04 is here! This release was one of our largest in quite some time. The latest release includes Xfce 4.16, numerous UX improvements, packageset updates, a new minimal install option on the main image, and many translation updates. Many individual contributors came together to make this release a reality, and it shows. I’m working on a overly descriptive and enthusiastic post for this, you can expect it sometime in the next day or so.

Xubuntu 21.04 “Hirsute Hippo” includes a clean and attractive desktop.

elementary Development Update

I’ve mainly been hacking on the Sound Indicator recently, adding and expanding on the input and output device selectors and improving MPRIS support. Meanwhile, I’ve gained useful knowledge with Vala and more obscure Gtk/GLib components.

Early this month, I finished adding support for selecting audio devices in the Sound Indicator. This was a continuation of a previous attempt by another contributor who laid a solid foundation to build on. After a few adjustments, this was merged in! I’ve been iterating and improving on this integration since, and I think you’ll enjoy it in elementary 6!

Input and output device selection in the Sound Indicator.

I’ve been working on a few other improvements as well. Temporary MPRIS players, such as those created by Chromium and Firefox when playing YouTube content, will no longer stay around once playback is over. Once merged, the Sound Indicator will remember previously used devices while also keeping the list of options tidy. I’ve been chasing an interesting issue where the Sound Indicator doesn’t quite reconnect after it’s updated, and I think I’m close to having it fixed.


I’ll finish the month with some writing about Xubuntu 21.04, planning for Xubuntu 21.10 “Impish Indri,” reviewing some merge requests for Catfish, and doing some additional elementary development! I’m having fun and feeling pretty motivated, so I look forward to more updates soon. Thanks for reading!