Gnome Feature Idea: View Output

  2007-08-02


From time to time applications crash (I’m looking at you Pidgin*). To diagnose the crash I usually start the application in a terminal to watch what it outputs. Most Linux applications noisily dump all kinds of information to the terminal (more accurately, to stdout and stderr). Usually I can find the source of the crash and sometimes its even something I can fix (in Firefox’s case it used to mean uninstalling Flash, although thats been quite stable lately too).

What would be nice is if I could easily view the stdout/stderr output of any application. I created a mockup in Gimp of where this feature would be handy:

View Output Mockup

For example if Rhythmbox has been crashing or behaving strangely, you could select View Output and watch its output in a new terminal window. Ideally a small specialized application would handle the output and add useful data like the return status when the process exits.

I’m guessing Metacity would be the ideal implementation point so that all graphical applications could automatically benefit.

Honestly, I’m not sure if a process can redirect or capture another running processes stdout/stderr, so perhaps a session daemon could capture all X applications’ output, send it to ~/.xsession-errors by default, and provide a D-Bus or similar interface to allow for redirection of arbitrary PIDs.

Just a random thought. No clue if it’d be useful to anyone else, but the current method of either sorting through ~/.xsession-errors or starting the application from the terminal seems suboptimal and inappropriate for most end users.

Now to just convince someone else to implement it… :)

* Don’t think you’re innocent Evolution and Firefox. Although the latest versions of each of these applications have been extremely stable. In the past they’ve each caused a fair amount of frustration.