Older blog entries for Uraeus (starting at number 465)

GUADEC postponed by a week
Ok, since we are leaving for GUADEC on friday I am getting a bit stressed about getting everything ready for GUADEC that I want to. So is it ok for everyone if we postpone GUADEC for one week?

Wingo's welcome home party

We had a big barbeque at Wim's place yesterday to celebrate Wingo's return from the US. Unfortunatly Wingo didn't arrive until today.

Project Olivine
Started writing on my Project Olivine document for what GNOME 3 should be about. The general ideas are not written down, but unless the document is to be just another opinion piece on a already widely debated subject I need to make it much more detailed and implementation roadmap styled. Not being a hacker there is of course some limitations to my level of technical details, so at some point I guess I need to find some hackers to co-conspire with :)

Electrical screwdrivers
For some tasks an electrical screwdriver is close to essential, it is not being lazy. Ceiling tropical fans are one such area.

glib love
Wim's patch to get glib to use GAtomic for refcounting was added today by Zaheer to the Gentoo glib ebuild. Hopefully this means we get wider testing of it in order to push it forward in terms of getting it included upstream. This patch is really important for GStreamer to get included. Tim Janik had some objections to it, so hopefully he will be at GUADEC so he and Wim can discuss it and hopefully resolve his objections.

Flumotion 0.1.8 release
We did a new release of everyones favourite streaming server today. Most noticeable new feature is a little docklet which displays the current stream status. That means that if you have the admin tool running on your machine you don't need to check the admin gui itself to verify that your stream are still behaving nicely. A quick peak down at the panel is enough. A big thanks to Zaheer for making this.

Oracle
- Got an email from my boss at Oracle asking me what my plans where yesterday. My one year unpaid leave is up at the end of June so she needed to know if I where planing on coming back or not. I had almost forgotten about the whole thing, so I need to send her my official letter of resignation now. Can't quit Fluendo now that we are standing on the brink of world domination :)

Patents
Saw a link on Lawrence Lessig's blog today to some organisation calling itself 'International Intellectual Property Institute' (a fancy name for some bought lobbyists), who had published an article on why software patents in Europe would make the world a better place. The main argument seemed to be that the main reason some people and politicians might not want such patents is because the issues involved are to complex for these people to understand. Brilliant argumentation... I am sure they will get a lot of goodwill with the European members of parlament with the argument that said members of parliament are to stupid to decide on this issue.

GUADEC
Got the first volunteer for maning the cameras at GUADEC yesterday. As he pointed out though there was little information about the talks listed in the schedule so I ended up spending quite some adding a page with some short abstracts and linking to that page and the Multimedia Track page which already had descriptions of the multimedia track. So if you click on the talk title in the GUADEC schedule you should now be taken to a page which contains a description of that talk.

That said a lot of the descriptions are not really that good, I ask that all people doing talks check it out and if their talk is missing, have a less than optimal description that you write something down and either commit it yourself to the guadec-web cvs module or send it to me and I will update the page with the text. I also ask that everyone makes sure that co-workers and friends who do a talk are aware that a small abstract is needed for that page.

Free from debt
Also decided over the last few days to get rid of my student loan. While studying I had borrowed money from the Norwegian government to pay tuition fees, books and living costs while studying. Its generally considered a very favourable loan with good terms, but after moving here to Barcelona having those bills trickling in from Norway have become to much of an annoyance. So I now in the process of selling some of my shares to be able to pay the remainder of the loan in one go. Might not be the best financial move I ever made as I still expect the shares to increase in value faster than the cost of interest on the loan, but it will make my life less complicated which has a value in itself.

Flumotion
Wim is working hard on getting everything up and running to do RTP streaming with Flumotion. amr and h263 encoding and decoding is starting to work nicely together so mobile phone streaming is approaching fast.

World of Warcraft
I decided yesterday to let my World of Warcraft subscription lapse, so 6 days from now my account gets closed. So when I logged in yesterday I thought, only 6 days left, need to make sure I use them. What I realized just after logging in however was that the game is completely uninteresting when you don't plan on playing it for a long/undefined amount of time. As all my long term plans for character development where suddenly invalidated by only having 6 days left, there was really nothing of interest to do in the game. So I ended up logging out again after 30 minutes. So I guess without the 'builder' aspect the game is just a huge chat channel mostly consisting about complaints about people speaking Spanish and insults about the use of that language flying back and forth.

Help needed!

We are streaming this years GUADEC as we have been streaming last years. That said we are asking for volunteers to help man the cameras this year. You don't have to make a large commitment, but I would like to have a list of people (preferably which I have an idea who is) who are willing to man the cameras for the talks they attend. If we get like 15 people saying yes to this we should be able to find a division of talks where you man the cameras for talks you where planing on attending anyway. So I ask that those of you who would be willing to help out with this mail me, preferably with a short list of talks you plan on attending anyway, so that I can try to make a list of people who will be maning the cameras for the different talks. mail me at 'uraeus-at-gnome-dot-org'

Maning the cameras is not hard work, its mostly about making sure the speaker is within the image at all times. Apart from Miguels talk this should mean moving the camera 2-3 times during the talk on average :)

LUG Radio

So I guess its official that I will be attending/speaking at the Live LUG Radio event in Wolverhampton. I also will be participating in the Paintball event afterwards so if there are people in the community who feels I should be shot on sight, this is your opportunity.

Fluendo

We are working on some rather cool announcements which will come out during GUADEC. It is rather nice to see that all our hard work over the last year is coming together like this.

GStreamer 0.9

Work is 0.9 is continuing briskly, David Schleef, made his first major commit this weekend and the community as a whole is starting to get in on the game. Wim did a demo today with simultanious playback using aalib and cacalib next to eachother. Fun stuff. If you are checking out 0.9 CVS here is the pipeline to test:

gst-launch-0.9 -v gnomevfssrc location=~/data/JB_FF9_TheGravityOfLove.ogg ! oggdemux ! theoradec ! tee name=tee ! ffmpegcolorspace ! cacasink preroll-queue-len=1 tee. ! ffmpegcolorspace ! aasink preroll-queue-len=1

GUADEC

Getting really psyched up about GUADEC this year. Was a bit of a slow start, but now that I am getting lots of feedback from people doing Multimedia on Linux saying they are coming. Think this year GUADEC will be a major gathering of whose who in free software multimedia. Which is especially great as my main vision for GNOME 3 is to make it about Multimedia. I think we have now reached a point where we can make GNOME into a media handling desktop blowing even Apple out of the water. Technologies such as GStreamer, HAL, librsvg and Cairo tied together and integrated deeply into the desktop will enable us to offer a kick ass solution. Hopefully I will be able to sit down an evening soon and write down my ideas for what we can do. I want to make a list of all the things we can do which would make GNOME 'the multimedia desktop' and then see how we can pull in technologies to make these visions come through.

PiTiVi

Talking about Multimedia I think people will be blown away by PiTiVi at GUADEC this year. Go and see Edward's talk if you are interested in video editing and multimedia in general. Not only is PiTiVi an example of how you can make really great applications very quickly with the GStreamer Python bindings, but it also shows that with the library foundation provided by GStreamer and Gnonlin you can hack up your own video editor very quickly. This means that 2005 will be the year when everyone is writing their own video editor to suit the different needs and GUI tastes out there :)

Old GNOME hackers

Discovered what must be the the oldest gnome hackers in the world, I mean they where around when black and white was the only thing around :)

Devolution

Noticed Zeenix assigning me a rather bastardized version of a theory. First of all I did tell him about it, but I was refering to a danish professor who was the originator. Secondly the represenation of the professor's theory was oversimplified a bit by Zeenix presentation of it. What the professor said (and considering this was two years ago even my memory of it is vague) was that since most people survive today due to medicines, social support etc., there was little natural selection going on anymore. If you combine that with the assumption that people who are successful are smart in some way (not necesarilly IQ) also tend to have few children, compared to people who are not very successful tending to have more children (Poor people having more children than rich) then the conclusion would be that we the human race where now devolving as a whole.

Wether I personally subscribe to the idea or not; I don't know. There are some plausability with the concept, but then again there are still a lot of stuff about the process of evolution we don't know yet. The professor did get shouted at a lot for being very politically incorrect with his idea, but I think that was going to far considering it did not target any specific race or group of people; of course the concept of successful people being smarter than less successful is a very broad generalization and a bit touchy.

The language debate - Don't forget Python has gotten the nod

One thing that people seem to be missing, and I had to some degree put into the forgotten drawer myself until Murray reminded me, is that there was a decision reached that Python is valid language to use for all GNOME development. This means that if you want to write something to go into the official GNOME you can write it in Python as long as the owner of the module you want to check it into is ok with it. This means that if you write something which is supposed to go into gnome-media or gnome-games or Nautilus for intance you CAN write that it Python as long as the gnome-media, gnome-games or Nautilus maintainer(s) are ok with it.

So while the fate of Java and C# is still not finalized in regards to GNOME you can start hacking with Python today if using C is not your cup of tea.

That said there where some good reasons for GNOME choosing to go with C when the project started up, and those reasons are still valid. C is highly portable, You can compile C code with almost any compiler and expect to to work with a library compiled with another C compiler or another version of the compiler (unlike C++ for instance). It is very easy to use C libraries in applications using other languages as most languages and compilers have taken into account that your probably want to interface with some C stuff at some level. The basic building blocs of GNOME will be done in C for the forseeable future, just like many of the other major components of free software; like glibc, the GNU/Linux kernel, gcc, X Windows and many many more. Python, Java, C#, Perl, Ruby, C++ and others are great tools for many kinds of applications and tools, but there is still no better choice than C for something like libraries.

11 May 2005 (updated 11 May 2005 at 15:07 UTC) »
Java continued

Ok, got some responses to my Java rant which deserves some replies. First of all I guess there are two discussions going on. The first is where should something new be added to GNOME, and the answer to this have consequences for which discussion we are actually having. One of my reasons for prefering Mono (and be aware that I say Mono and not C# on purpose) apart from the lack of mindshare for Java is that it seems a more natural replacement/evolvement of C as a language neutral core. Because I think that a logical step after allowing core applications to be written/extended with a non-c language would be to allow non-c code also in the platform at some point (but maybe limited to some specific languages due to maintainability concerns). This might be a question where I disagree a bit with Mikael.

People will say that there are possible to also use other languages with the java vm's and point to stuff like Jython as proof. And yes this is true, any maybe its just marketing that the difference here, but for Mono being multilanguage seems to be a core issue while for the Java camp it seems more like research/fun hacks. I have for instance yet to see any official encouragement from Sun towards efforts to make the JVM a multi-language vm.

Of course the multilanguage issue is non-important if going into the core is out of the question and not what most of us want. If the discussion is about just adding a second official language to the stack for applications in gnome-utils, gnome-media, gnome-applets etc., then of course its more a choice of which language again, and at which point Python and Java (or even Ruby) is a more real alternative from a technical standpoint.

But even so apart from the multilanguage issue my initial rant was not about the technical qualities or characteristics of the languages in question, but about mindshare and developer interest.

Mark Wielaard, classpath maintainer, said I am taking the fun out their achievements and I am sorry for that, it was not my goal. First of all I am sure Harmony, Classpath and so on will have an important impact serverside, but I am highly sceptical about its future of dominance on the desktop side. And if you are willing to relicense classpath to the Apache license to be able to work with the Apache crew then I appologize for assuming that this will cause even further splintering of the free Java community and instead will say thank you for taking the high road.

I am not beyond convincing that Java do have such a future, but for it to happen the Java camp needs to get their ass moving on the issue. Havoc in his post did some good Java advocacy mentioning some nice stuff, but the question is why nobody else is doing it and why its so rare. I mean Havoc posting some nice things in his blog about Eclipse every 9 months is not enough to create interest and buzz about whats happening in the free Java community. And to reply to an old post of Havoc's, I am not asking him or Red Hat to 'outcode' Novell in terms of amount of code produced, but I think it should be obvious to everyone involved that when Mono hackers including Novell use every opportunity to talk about cool stuff from their side, while the Java side keeps their claptrap shut, it can only be interpreted as a negative for the Java side. Interpretations could be that either nothing cool is happening on the Java side for the desktop or those on the Java side is there on a forced march. And I am not saying this is the truth, it is meant as a clear message to those in the Java community out there who want to see more GNOME and Java interaction; start promoting whats happening to the communtiy, don't let Jeffrey Morgan and Havoc been the only ones who ever mention the words Java and GNOME together in public.

If Mark and others in the Java community is working on GNOME and Java related stuff please start mentioning it in your blogs and ask that your blogs gets syndicated onto planet.gnome.org. Start announcing stuff onto the gnome-announce mailing list, start posting stories to gnomedesktop.org when something cool appear. The same goes to other people at Red Hat and Sun who obviously should be excited about Java on the desktop, start telling us why you are excited instead of expecting magic to happen by itself.

Havoc also mentioned the reasons for Mono's non-inclusion by Red Hat. As someone working for a company where I know or hear about things I would love to tell the community about, but which I can't due to NDA's etc, I understand the problem you have. On the other side Havoc, you place the community in an impossible situation here asking us to take your word for it that there is a problem. I mean we have on one side Miguel saying there is no problem and on the other side we have you saying there is a problem. Knowing you both, I trust you both and feel confident that none of you are lying, so there is obviously some information I don't have yet to understand the issue fully. Question is what am I or anyone else to do? Let these issues paralyze us? And I think here we have the essence of the 'fun' killing part for many, to go back to an earlier discussion. We have this big dark unknown hanging over us hindering us from doing what we want. Our trust in your integrity Havoc is such that if you say that something is a problem we are willing to put things on hold to have the issue be resolved, but without knowing and understanding the reasons for this decision it doesn't provide any motivation for going in another direction. Which creates a situation of stalemate. And here is a point where I think the GNOME community as a community needs to figure out how we resolve this issues on a general basis. How do we balance the needs our of partners like Red Hat, Sun, Novell, Imendio, Fluendo etc., against our needs as a community. If every company who have have GNOME hackers employed gets an implicit veto on future development we have a problem, on the other side some sensitivity on the side of the community for these kind of issues is probably not a bad thing. Question is just how do we balance these things out in a way that keeps the will and interest of the community at front without completely trampling our commerical partners.

That said where we are currently is not a bad place and we can easily continue working from our current situation for quite some time without it being a real problem technically or competitivly. I don't want to crisis maximize, as there is not a real short term crisis here, just a feeling that we are not able to scratch all the itches we want they way we want to scratch them. And itches you can't scratch tend to be rather annoying (of course there is the claim that scratching and itch makes it itch even more so maybe its a good thing ;)

10 May 2005 (updated 10 May 2005 at 13:17 UTC) »
Time to stop kidding ourselves about Java?
Warning: rant mode

Reading some discussion on the latest move by Apache about the proposal for yet another open source jvm implementation I got a rude awakening to the fact that the idea that Java offers a credible option for GNOME is a joke. When it comes down to it the only reason Java has been put onto the table have been due to worries about Microsoft holding submarine patents on Mono. Java's mindshare in the wider GNOME community is close to non-existant today and there aren't really anything on the horizon that could plausibly alter that.

While Red Hat's work on gcj and Eclipse is interesting its a far step from being something anyone is excited about. I mean considering that both Red Hat and Sun are failing to make even their own desktop developers excited about Java says a lot. There is a big difference between something fitting corporate vision and policy and something actually being attractive to developers.

The real question facing the GNOME community is not a choice between Java or Mono. If that is the choice then Mono have already won. The question is wether we should allow Mono into the platform or not. Personaly I have come to the conclusion that we should, and I have yet to see a convincing argument why we shouldn't apart from some rather foggy arguments about Microsoft threats. The showdown between Microsoft and free software in the field of patents is coming no matter what; when that day comes we need to have the financial, legal and political clout to carry the day. I don't see that Mono is a more likely candidate for being at the heart of that battle than a lot of other things.

GStreamer 0.9
Seems we have managed to kick of 0.9 GStreamer hacking now. Getting the build system cleaned up and Wim and I sending out mails with some information in addition to a little IRC pimping and kicked of some good effort. Ronald is working on porting playbin now, Zaheer is working on lame and the libshout2 plugins, Zeshan ported the libcaca color asci art plugin, Wingo implemented the new query system and gcc4 cleaned the modules, Tim cleaned up some of the core docs, David Schleef cleaned up the videotestsrc plugin and updated plugins-base to use latest version of liboil. Arwed have started looking into oss and nas plugins porting. And Stefan is continuing hos work on getting dparams improved for 0.10.x All in all good stuff happening now, if we manage to keep up progress for the coming weeks I think 0.9.0 will be a very good preview.

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