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GParted News Item 180

26 August 2014: Ten Years of GParted

The GParted team is happy to announce the tenth anniversary of GParted.

The first public release of GParted was version 0.0.3 on August 26th, 2004. Over the past 10 years, much has happened. Following are some statistics:
  • Over 300 people have contributed to GParted
  • Many GNU/Linux distributions now include GParted
  • Translators have worked to make GParted available in over 50 different languages
  • GParted is used in over 220 countries around the world
  • There have been over 17 million downloads from Sourceforge alone
To mark the occasion, questions were posed, and following are responses shared by some key contributors.

When did you first get the idea for GParted?

Bart Hakvoort - I was trying to do some partitioning and realized there was no convenient way to do that using Linux. There was of course QTParted, but as a dedicated GNOME user I didn't like the idea of having to install QT as a dependency. I also was a bit more strident those days and didn't want to use win32 based applications like PartitionMagic. This was when I first realized there existed an actual niche for this particular application.

Who was involved in the project early on?

Bart Hakvoort - Lots of people actually, in the beginning mostly early testers who crashed a few disks for the greater good. Too many to name, but my friend Mario comes to mind, the guys from the Dutch I18n team helped me a lot. Especially Tino and Vincent did lots of testing during the alpha stage and reported numerous issues. Vincent also provided the template for the website that's still mostly in use. After the first releases LarryT came on board to help, initially with the docs and later on with almost anything. A couple of months after the first public release Patrick Verner came with the brilliant idea of building a small livecd to run GParted from. This way you could manage partitions on systems without having Linux installed or manipulate the root partition of a system. Then JanC supplied and looked after the forum and all of a sudden we had a small team :-)

Why did you choose some of the languages and libraries (gtkmm, libparted, etc)?

Bart Hakvoort - I honestly can't remember why I chose libparted over e.g. fdisk. Maybe because Andrew Clausen was so helpful and enthusiastic about the idea of a GUI or maybe because the 'parted' command structure and the library itself offered more flexibility. With regard to gtkmm, I was most comfortable with C++ and as an avid GNOME user Gtkmm made sense. It also had an active, helpful community and a lot of great examples, so that wasn't a hard choice back then.

How was the project name "GParted" selected?

Bart Hakvoort - It stands for GNOME PARTition EDitor and also refers to the fact it was at first a Gtk frontend to Parted. I also think the fact it was a GNOME version of QTParted had something to do with it, the 'G' simply had to be in there. ;-)

Mike Fleetwood - Almost everything in GNOME is named GSomething. What else would you name the GNOME UI for parted!

What inspired you to contribute to GParted?

Bart Hakvoort - Partly since I wanted to write something useful after using Linux for years without contributing anything back to the community. Partly because I just wanted to create something 'real' after all the little hobby and study projects.

LarryT - I met Bart Hakvoort when looking for documentation about GParted at its very beginning. Bart offered me the opportunity to participate in the documentation of the project. I thought this was funny and useful by the way.

Curtis Gedak - All through my career I have used and benefited from a wide variety of free software projects. I felt a debt to the Free Software community and I wanted to give back. About this time I ran into limitations with a proprietary partitioning tool. In my search for a solution I came across GParted which coincidentally was looking for a developer.

Mike Fleetwood - I have occasionally made small contributions to a few pieces of open source software as I use them and come across a bug or see an opportunity for a small enhancement. GParted was no different. I'd used GParted to re-organise my hard drive and saw a small enhancement I could make. My first few small patches to GParted were well received so I continued contributing. Quickly I had a new hobby on my hands.

When did you first get involved with the project?

LarryT - I think it was around 2006. At this time I created the first documentation. In 2007 I maintained the live CD as best I could. In 2007 Bart left the project because of his work. He asked me if I would become the project admin. Only Jan Claeys was still in the team (if my memory is good). During less than one year, I maintained this project just to prevent it from disappearing. After some months I looked for C++ dev, and found Curtis....

Curtis Gedak - In late 2007 while searching for a project to help, I came across LarryT's request for a C++ developer. At the time I did not know C++, but thought I'd give it a try. Back then GParted did not have the ability to set volume labels. After reviewing the code and liking what I saw, I started to add the missing volume label functionality. And the rest they say is history. :-)

Mike Fleetwood - I sent my first small code fix in August 2010 and started contributing regularly from November 2011.

What memorable challenges or humorous situations have you encountered?

Bart Hakvoort - Hmm... I didn't know all that much about partitions and file systems back then. So once people started to use it for real and began to report issues I had a lot of homework to do. Luckily I got a lot of help from people with far more experience in this area. Andrew Clausen from libparted comes to mind, he really helped me in these early days of building a GUI around libparted.

LarryT - Well the best one is still to become admin of this project without knowing any line of C++ :D   I had to learn how to build a live CD from scratch, and thanks to Fran├žois Dupoux it was possible. We spent hours on IRC chat over many days for this.

Curtis Gedak - When I started I didn't know C++ and my knowledge of GNU autotools was minimal. Fortunately, LarryT handled all the administrative stuff while Francois Dupoux helped me get up to speed on autotools and with collecting outstanding patches to build an initial 0.3.5 release. During this time I read and practiced the exercises in "Thinking in C++" by Bruce Eckel.

Mike Fleetwood - As a developer the challenge with an existing program is always to understand how it works, and why it works the way it does, well enough to change it. My initial step was how GParted executed external commands to query and manipulate the various file systems it supports. All the time I am extending my understanding of the user interface and the Gtk+ library used to implement it.

Which areas are you involved with?

LarryT - Currently I'm busy with studies, but I hope to come back and offer help with testing.

Curtis Gedak - While I started out as a developer only, I've grown to work in all areas of the project with the exception of building the Live images and translating to different languages.

Mike Fleetwood - I primarily develop code and review patches for the GParted application. Occasionally I assist users in the forum and via bug reports.

What distro did you use as the base for the Live image and why?

Patrick Verner created and maintained the first Live CD images for GParted. The Live image was based on Slackware Current starting with GParted LiveCD 0.2.5.

LarryT - When I maintained the live CD I used Gentoo, just because my teacher (Fran├žois Dupoux) did and taught me to do so.

Steven Shiau now maintains the Live image. Steven is actively involved in other projects, such as Clonezilla. For ease of maintenance GParted Live is based on Debian Live similar to Clonezilla Live.

Is there something additional that would be interesting or useful to mention?

LarryT - Though my English is poor, I am always happy to share with others, and I think this project was/is a good opportunity! I forgot to say one thing: I am a catholic monk.

Looking back, are there things you might do differently now that you have 10 more years of experience?

Barted Hakvoort - Well... being a bit older and more experienced I probably should've more seriously considered contributing to QTParted instead of developing a new application. Apart from that... hmm... I've never liked the wrapping of CLI commands to perform the filesystem specific tasks. If I needed to do something like that today I would try harder to use the backend libraries of these tools instead.


This wraps up the responses provided by past and present GParted contributors. Please note that many others, not listed here, have made significant contributions. GParted is made possible by the users, the contributors, and by the greater Free Software community.

In conclusion the GParted team is pleased to celebrate 10 years of providing an easy-to-use graphical partition editor as free software that all can share and use. :-)

Curtis
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