by havoc

Thought I’d pile on and help announce an experimental new project… even though I’ve had nothing to do with designing or building it. ☠ has been in GNOME CVS for a while now, but few have seen it in action.

Besides testing the Unicode support of every program that tries to display its name, the ☠ project is an experiment in combining chat with building a persistent document, plus random cool features such as a web-based shared whiteboard.
FAQ links to
(Those with broken Unicode or a need to use verbal communication can call the project Yarrr, btw.)

For the nerds in the audience, ☠ combines Java, PHP/MediaWiki, and AJAX in order to offend as many developers as possible in a single go.

Red Hat people involved in building this include Jonathan Blandford, Bryan Clark, Diana Fong, Marco Gritti, Alex Larsson, David Malcolm, Seth Nickell, and Colin Walters. (Hopefully I didn’t miss someone.)

Polish, usability engineering, bug-freeness, and all that good stuff are still to come; as I understand it the current version is intended to discover any interesting interaction properties that improve on existing stuff such as chat, wiki, or email. No point dotting the i’s until we know which aspects are worthwhile.

The shiny new ☠ server is a special MediaWiki instance that supports a <yarrr></yarrr> tag. This tag inserts a ☠ discussion into the page. We seem to have a wiki-free edition as well, if you only want to see the discussion aspect or marvel at the wrongness of the JavaScript hacks. Also, an example meeting conducted by the marketing team.

Part of the idea here is that it could eventually be a desktop feature or application; but as the FAQ says, priority one was to iteratively figure out what the software should be like. An in-flux desktop application would require everyone to keep downloading and installing the same latest version. So we started with the web.

If you think this looks exciting, join the mailing list, or grab the code.

(This post was originally found at

My Twitter account is @havocp.
Interested in becoming a better software developer? Sign up for my email list and I'll let you know when I write something new.