This week we interviewed Lucian Langa, the lead developer of gnoduino, a development environment for Arduino projects under Gnome. Arduino is a very popular open source electronic prototyping platform based on a simple microcontroller board and a development environment written in Java. Enjoy the interview!
F4S: Please, give us a brief introduction about yourself.
Lucian: My name is Lucian Langa, I’ve been involved with GNOME for a few years. I’ve been working on a few free software projects over the time:evolution, evolution-plugins (rss,rpsam,tray). Find a more complete list over here: https://www.ohloh.net/accounts/cooly. I also have been involved with electronics, micro-controllers and embedded projects for some time, mostly software related.
F4S: What is gnoduino?
Lucian: Gnoduino is basically an implementation of the arduino IDE in Python. We are trying to emulate upstream as best as we can. However there are things we do differently as the primary target is GNOME desktop integration.
F4S: Why and when did gnoduino came to be?
Lucian: Well as I said before arduino IDE is a great product but we think that Java implementation…., ahh well it could be done better. Jave IDEs generally yield very poor performance, it will probably run ok on modern computers, but on older computers it won’t be that enjoyable an experience. Keep in mind that hobbyists (and most of people interested in Arduino not always have state of the art computers to say the least). Also it is not always easy to get Java setup and run properly on different architectures eg. Loongson MIPS CPU.
Desktop integration, starting up the IDE, you seem to be taken into the past, while main window seems fine (read: familiar with Arduino), menus and dialogs seems like an ancient X application, no icons, no shortcuts, no any decent file open dialog.
F4S: In which language is gnoduino developed?
Lucian: Python. We believe that by using Python (and gtksourceview for that matter) we were able to build an almost 100% functional editor that can emulate current Arduino editor functionalities.
F4S: How important do you think the Arduino platform is for the FLOSS science and engineering community?
Arduino is so popular in the communities that you’d have to live under a rock for the last couple of years if you haven’t heard of it by now. Everybody uses it, I haven’t seen a blog, a project, a community that haven’t deal with Arduino one way or the other. Somebody described Arduino as the 555 timer chip of the future, I couldn’t imagine doing science or engineering projects without Arduino today.
F4S: Does gnoduino have sponsors?
Lucian: Not the case, and also probably not in the near future. This is an entirely personal project.
F4S: How many users you estimate gnoduino have?
Lucian: User base is small mainly because gnoduino is a very young project. People are just finding about this project as we speak.
F4S: Do you know where is gnoduino used?
Lucian: I believe gnoduino is mostly used by the people who have had problems using Arduino IDE: may it be the interface, the desktop integration and lastly the speed and the consumed resources. See Pascal’s presentation about the differences between arduino and gnoduino (see Resources below), very educative content about gnoduino and arduino in general.
F4S: How many team members does gnoduino have?
Lucian: As this is a personal project, I’m the main developer. However through time many people have shown interest in gnoduino, improving and emulating the Arduino IDE as best as possible. Most notable is Pascal de Bruijn, who has shown a real interest and help in driving gnoduino in the right direction. I think of him as part of the main development team.
F4S: In what areas of gnoduino development do you currently need help?
Lucian: Currently we are trying to keep up with upstream (Arduino IDE) I think that’s the most important thing, so we need people to actually test and integrate gnoduino in their daily usage.
F4S: How can people get involved with gnoduino?
Lucian: As any free software project out there. Send your patches, documentation, features requests, anything you might see fit for gnoduino, however as earlier stated our priority is to emulate Arduino IDE as best as possible so that is the most important thing right now.
F4S: What features are in the roadmap?
Lucian: Mainly cover all functions of Arduino IDE, code completition, inline help.
F4S: Which projects, blogs or sites related to open source software for science can you recommend?
Lucian: I do not feel I’m the best man to recommend those but I’m keeping an eye on: (mostly electronics related)
F4S: Where people can contact you?
- Bugzilla, email (firstname.lastname@example.org), irc (gimp or freenode)
F4S: Thanks Lucian for let us know more about you and gnoduino.
Arduino hardware and books