Monday, November 23, 2009

Ubuntu Developer Summit and zombies

Part two of my random selection of photos follows. As for the UDS sessions participation, the rest of the week went in translations, Debian and mobile related discussions. Mostly translations/I18N whenever available, since those were a) primary reason for my sponsorship and b) I've had the most to contribute to Ubuntu in that area in the past, at least considering the visibility / impact.

I was happy to be able to participate to the second gun range visit. Otherwise it would not have felt I actually stepped out of the hotel, since I was too late on Monday for the first round and totally missed the ice skating thing.

The only thing hindering my UDS experience was total lack of good night's sleep. It seems I'm not much of a traveler in that aspect. Mostly the coffee and the pure hecticness of UDS were able to overcome the problem, but from time to time I'd just liked to sleep for 12 hours, which I finally did back home.

Thanks to all, that amount of hugely intelligent people in one place was quite an experience, together with the pace of the sessions. I do hope to see you again, preferably with a little more free time.

I don't know if you noticed it was possible to shoot classical kind of city photos from...

...the roof of our hotel.

Even though I flew away before Friday's Ubuntu Allstars, I was able to get some glimpses of the musical talent available at UDS.

This is just a proof I did see day-light during the trip.

Dell talk.

Zombies got shot... this neat group of zombie hunters.
(note my GIMP skills to include everyone)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ubuntu Developer Summit - days 1 and 2

UDS-Lucid is going strong. Looking back, I've participated in the following sessions so far in addition to corridor/lunch/etc. discussions:
Mainly writing this to post some pics, so here you go:

Sunday evening at the lobby. I was awake for about 24h.

It's the Lynx!


A view from my hotel room window

Monty explaining MariaDB

Plenary sessions room preparations

Huge thanks to Canonical for sponsoring me to come here, mostly because of my I18N/translations work. And of course also thanks to my own employer for still paying my salary for the week ;), which is why I'm following also the mobile track a bit and mentioning us to anyone interested about possible co-operation on ARM/embedded stuff in our "corporation community".

Monday, November 16, 2009

FSCONS over, "gave" a talk (FreeRunner again)

I was at the Free Society Conference and Nordic Summit from Friday evening to ca. Sunday early morning. I would have arrived earlier but the rather cheap Blue1 flew only once a day from Helsinki to Gothenburg. Gothenburg was a very wet place during the time I was there, but the event itself was great! Thanks to all the people met, especially the multitude of FSFE guys. A few pics first:

The first pic is from the Saturday evening social event at Berg211, not the conference place itself :)

The only unfortunate thing was missing the whole Sunday, including my own lightning talk about kernel mode-setting on Neo FreeRunner! Instead of canceling it I decided to make a video to replace my physical presence, so hopefully it got shown there and people enjoyed the shortness of it. I gloriously failed to learn Cinelerra or Kdenlive video editing software quickly (PiTiVi _will_ be both easy and great, but was not yet enough for this purpose), so resorted to a "nice" gedit + mplayer + xvidcap + cat + oggconvert setup ;) Yes, not nice. Actually quite an adventure, maybe next time I really learn some other way. I forgot to include a section to tell what actual benefit KMS could give besides being extremely cool - the thing is that Glamo is quite timing sensitive and user space cannot guarantee certain things so kernel based mode-setting could do better in terms of various things, including CPU usage. And it's a pre-requisite for any possible accelerated 3D support, though I didn't get the famous accelerated triangle up yet (some new fixes in the Thomas's git already, though) The video is distributable under CC-BY-SA, and originally Ogg Theora + Vorbis. Of course YouTube mangles it to non-free format, but too lazy to currently bother with better services.

...right, writing this, YouTube seems to have some serious trouble with my video. Is it because of Theora 1.1? Well, trying Dailymotion next, thanks to its openvideo (HTML5) thing which managed to catch my attention a while ago:

^ click me

The reason for my early departure from FSCONS was the Ubuntu Developer Summit in Dallas, Texas. More on that later, writing this actually from the lobby there.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Openmind at Tampere

Openmind conference is again at Tampere, Finland today. The first keynote talk was from Quim Gil of Nokia, presenting N900 running Linux-based Maemo5. The talk mentioned a lot of openness thing, but I resisted my temptation to ask about ”how about loading the battery” when it was mentioned that you don't need to run Maemo on N900. Kudos again for the most open mass-market phone product on the market, despite there still being various serious shortcomings. Very far from Openmoko of course.

Video about using N900 as the presentation device as well at Youtube.

Openmind continues for today as a kind of prelude to the larger Mindtrek conference.

Update: here's one more photo of Teppo Sulonen, presenting ”City of Tampere IT solutions and Open Architecture”.

Friday, September 11, 2009

0.0% :P

timo@duuni:~$ vrms
Non-free packages installed on duuni

tangerine-icon-theme Tangerine Icon theme

1 non-free packages, 0.0% of 2418 installed packages.

CC-BY-SA used in tangerine-icon-theme is actually free according to RMS/FSF, just not that endorsed. I do know myself that CC-BY and CC-BY-SA are free, but not everyone does - FSF doesn't directly endorse Creative Commons licenses since they have also so severely non-free licenses with the non-commercial and no-derivatives requirements, and it's very easy to mix the non-free licenses with free licenses.

Anyway, it's non-free only according to Debian, since they have concerns about CC-BY-SA anti-drm portions. For me, CC-BY-SA 3.0 is fine enough (tangerine is 2.5) and Free by all means. I also think the (not uniform) anti-drm position within Debian is a bit two-edged. Not allowing drm so that users are not restricted should be ok in the same sense it's not allowed to make free, copyleft (eg. GPL) code non-free. I don't think anti-drm sections are always good, or that's always needed for all software (not all software needs to be copyleft either, it's just means to get freely usable software for the users). But done in the right way it's good to take into account these all kinds of things that can be done to restrict free software's free usage, including drm/patents/etc. GPLv3 got it quite well done, even though not all parties - wanting restrictions - can use it.

See Definition of Free Cultural Works for more about licenses for content.

Additionally to that one package I usually tend to have mplayer, apparently not now. But it's also free software, and it probably should be reworked so that it's in universe in Ubuntu too, since it's in main in Debian nowadays. It was originally put to multiverse because of the patent problems and even possible non-free code, but since a) potential patent problems don't make a software non-free right away (everything is potentially problematic in the current software patents world - it means more if some patent is actively enforced) and b) Debian has worked on the problematic parts, it would be beneficial not to mark mplayer non-free anymore in Ubuntu.

I use OpenJDK for Java without any problems, and Gnash for Flash with a little more problems ;) but I just don't want that Adobe trash on my machine.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

FreeRunner as an audio player ++ (Intone)

Debian just got elementary library from E17. That means Intone is now compilable on Debian, which in turn means I have a lot easier time switching/adding songs than using my old gnome-mplayer when using Neo FreeRunner as a digital audio player! I can easily now browse the web or do other stuff without the audio skipping, as well, as Intone sets the process priorities nicely.

I like the separation of using finger-friendly applications for "basic" stuff and then using applications needing more accuracy (like mtpaint, pypennotes or just terminal) with a stylus.

It would be nice to see also Intone in Debian repositories at one point. Furthermore, I use tremor enabled MPlayer which is not the default and not available in Debian repositories in any form.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Kernel Mode-Setting (KMS) on Neo FreeRunner + Debian

Edit Aug 18th: video available (ogv, also on youtube)

Forget AMD, Intel, NVIDIA! Thomas White's incredible work with Neo FreeRunner's puny graphics dec...accelerator, Smedia Glamo 3362 is starting to bear fruits. Not listening to such comments as ”the chip will never be used anywhere else” and ”why not spend your time doing something more relevant”, he has chosen to actually do what he likes and sees as an interesting challenge. And that's often the spirit of free software, so I don't really agree with the naysayers.

The camera shot on the right, running KMS-enabled driver for the glamo chip on my Debian installation (visible software matchbox-window-manager, fbpanel, zhone), is a bit optimistic looking since Zhone happens to draw correctly. A lot of the drawing is not yet synced correctly, which shows as all text and images in eg. GTK applications being garbled. But as little as two days ago one couldn't yet much launch applications without X crashing, so the newest commits by Thomas were a big step forwards. I'm using Debian, and he's not, so I try to find time to help in debugging even though I really can't much help with the driver code.

The driver is not just one piece of code, but consists of a kernel drm driver (direct rendering manager) using GEM, libdrm support for the kernel driver and finally the driver supporting these other components and offering buzz-words like DRI2. There is also a beginning of a Mesa 3D driver, though it is so far just a skeleton driver since the 2D/KMS/EXA/DRM parts are what should be done first before dwelling into the OpenGL realm.

Openmoko the company is basically nowadays just producing new Neo FreeRunners to resellers, but the community of the so far only Free phone is thriving. The final (Openmoko produced, from where gta02-core continues) version of the phone, with the famous buzzing problem fixed, appeared on store shelves some time ago, offering better out-of-the-box phone functionality in addition to all the ”mini computer” features. It was also offered to Debconf visitors on discount.

It's not only cool to have kernel mode-setting, though it is indeed very cool as well. The reason for much sorrow in the whole OM project has been the graphics chip, and some of the problems with the chip are only finally solvable with the kernel doing the mode-setting. So it's both a very modern thing to use KMS, but there are also clear potential benefits of having accurate control over this very ”sensitive” piece of silicon. The current non-KMS driver for example busy loops in order to try to feed the chip at a correct pace, causing CPU usage every time there is any drawing going on.

This is somehow reminding me about getting the best out of 8-bit computers and other hardware with some specific limitations. The glamo chip is very limited in some ways, but also capable in some other ways like theoretically offering MPEG-4 decoding, OpenGL ES 3D support. It's a mixed bag of things, and I can very well imagine it's indeed an interesting challenge to work on it, if you just have the skills (I don't) and nerves (proper debugging tools help).

It's so nerdy to drool over lines in the log, but I just can help it:
X.Org X Server 1.6.3
Release Date: 2009-7-31
X Protocol Version 11, Revision 0
Build Operating System: Linux 2.6.28 armv5tel Debian
Current Operating System: Linux neo 2.6.29-GTA02_mydrm #2 PREEMPT Mon Aug 17 18:24:39 EEST 2009 armv4tl
II) Using KMS!
(WW) Glamo(0): EXA hardware acceleration initialising
(II) EXA(0): Driver allocated offscreen pixmaps
(II) EXA(0): Driver registered support for the following operations:
(II) Solid
(II) Copy
(II) Glamo(0): Initialized EXA acceleration
(II) Glamo(0): RandR 1.2 enabled, ignore the following RandR disabled message.
(II) Glamo(0): [glamo-dri] Name of DRM device is '/dev/dri/card0'
(WW) Glamo(0): [DRI2] Version 1 API (broken front buffer rendering)
(II) Glamo(0): [DRI2] Setup complete
(II) AIGLX: enabled GLX_MESA_copy_sub_buffer
(II) AIGLX: Loaded and initialized /usr/lib/dri/
(II) GLX: Initialized DRI2 GL provider for screen 0
(II) Glamo(0): Adding framebuffer....!
(II) Glamo(0): 8 480 640 16 16 960
(II) Glamo(0): rootPixmap = 0x1d0a00
(II) Glamo(0): Done

Friday, April 24, 2009

VALO-CD (FLOSS-CD) project

While Ubuntu 9.04 is all the rage (and ubuntu-fi was also updated and we have the neatest distro selector around), I was actually supposed to make a note about the Finnish VALO-CD, a collection of libre software to help people take the first steps to become independent from single software vendors. It is loosely based on The Open Disc Project.

Some funny details include that first of all VALO equals to FLOSS in Finnish, but as Finnish does not have ambiguity between freedom and price, we do not need so many terms in the acronym. That is, we have a proper word for ”libre” (”vapaa”). Secondly ”valo” as a non-acronym means ”light”, which I guess is somewhat proper.

VALO-CD project is also in co-operation with, a community of people specifically interested in the libre aspect of software and content.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Non-technical work should be more important than fixing "small" technical issues like crashes

I thought to write this since a blog is a more correct place for this kind of stuff than arguing about priority issues in bug reports. The title is one way of explaining the need of FLOSS distributions to shift a bit away from just improving on technical aspects. My controversial claim would be that fixing highly visible I18N bugs is more important than fixing random crashers. People are accustomed to seeing application crashes from time to time, but do not want to be disrupted with non-native language in their basic computer usage. Not all people agree, and neither all people should agree.

I'm quite technical kind of person myself, but I think it's not just proper artwork / design teams we are (still) missing on FLOSS distributions, but that in general non-technical people should get more involved. It will mean the usual ”bah, those marketing/artwork guys” vs. ”bah those nerds only tweaking kernels” discussions will raise, but it is IMHO needed to have more heterogenic group of people making contributions to distribution development. Some more technically oriented developers would still not value I18N or artwork issues as much as application crashes, and that's perfectly ok and those guys rock, but the average (statistically) mindset of a contributing person would shift to treat different kind of issues more equally.

As an example let's take Ubuntu, the arguably most John Doe -oriented distribution there is. It is still far from concentrating enough on non-technical issues, but it is already getting a lot of heat from more technically oriented developers and users by doing the amount it does and being successful with it. Ubuntu 9.04 is going to rock I18N-wise , but the people responsible of realizing the need for most of the fixes (and offering a fix for many of them) are a small group of people between the technical developers and the users, who understand when there is a technical mistake somewhere regarding I18N. Currently the average Ubuntu developer is more interested in point number 1 in the Ubuntu philosophy than the numbers 2 and 3, and that would need to change.

What I see as lacking here is that technical developers mostly still use English on their computer even if it would not be their native language. I would hope that some percentage of FLOSS distribution developers would be willing to use their own distro in their own language. It seems currently rare that this happens, since otherwise we would not rely as much on completely other people to file bugs on things that are very visible, annoying and giving a bad impression about a distro to any non-English user. One way to understand the importance of the problems is to discuss more with ordinary users, since at least I've heard a _lot_ about many I18N bugs from various people, but the same people never mention crashes separately even if those would happen (some may say "oh yes it crashes sometimes but not too often").

In addition to Ubuntu, I hope that other distros will offer competition in the field as well, because competition always yields better results. Fedora is doing some stuff very nicely, and their upstream-integrated L10N services is better than Ubuntu's Launchpad in some ways, but probably because so many developers are US-based, some really visible bugs get even less attention than in Ubuntu.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sunday, February 08, 2009


It has been a fast-moving weekend at FOSDEM. It's soon time to leave for the airport, but meanwhile a quick thanks to all the people I have met on this trip. Also there have been several interesting talks in eg. the Debian and Embedded tracks, but I think last year there was more in the form of talks for me. Anyway, I'd say the trip was a success, from the Friday's beer event to the more formal program on Sat/Sun. I tried to reach the GNOME Beer Event, but unfortunately sleeping sounded like a more rational choice after a dinner and having not slept too well after the Friday's beer event.

Here are a couple of quick photos for you.


FOSDEM main entrance

Debian on Neo FreeRunner presentation

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tickets arrived – coming to FOSDEM!

Flights and hotel are booked, so I'm coming to FOSDEM. There are a lot of people to meet, at least some FSFE, Debian, MediaWiki and Ubuntu people. Of course, no boundaries to meeting any amount of intelligent guys and gals.

There will be three of us there, as can be seen, from Friday to Sunday. I will be reachable via e-mail, jabber, IRC or even phone. The first three assuming there is WLAN available for my Aspire One at a given point of time so I can SSH to a server.