Archive for August, 2006

(not yet another) survey

Wednesday, August 30th, 2006

Some people I know very well from the Spanish free software community,
and which are now involved in university, have asked me to forward the
below announcement, to ask people to participate on a survey. It’s not
yet another survey, it is one in a series of projects from that university to study how free software works, which I think is interesting for GNOME. They have already done some GNOME studies, for
instance:

http://libresoft.urjc.es/Papers/index_html

http://libresoft.dat.escet.urjc.es/cvsanal/gnome2-cvs/

Find below the official announcement, I’d be grateful if you could do
the survey.


Dear FLOSS developer,

MERIT at the University of Maastricht along with the University Rey Juan Carlos (Madrid) are studying how developers contribute code to Free /Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) projects. This is an extension of our previous research projects such as flossproject.org, flosspols.org, flossworld.org, and libresoft.urjc.es.

In this study, we are looking for survey respondents like you, who contribute to at least one of a small number of projects that we have selected for the study.

Therefore, we would like to ask you to participate in a small survey and to fill in our questionnaire, which you will find online at

http://libresoft.urjc.es:9999/Survey/

To fill in the survey takes not more than 10 minutes of your time.

Of course, all personal information will be kept strictly confidential, no personal information will be revealed to third parties, and the information obtained will be properly aggregated and anonymized so that no data about named individuals will be published. We also would like to point out that this study has only academic and no commercial purpose, and the resulting analysis will be freely available.

Rishab Ghosh ,MERIT (Board member, Open Source Initiative)
rishab@dxm.org

Ruediger Glott, MERIT
Ruediger.Glott@INFONOMICS.unimaas.nl

Gregorio Robles, URJC
grex@gsyc.escet.urjc.es

Jesus M. Gonzalez-Barahona, URJC
jgb@gsyc.escet.urjc.es

Mundobasket 2006

Tuesday, August 29th, 2006

It was mostly clear, before the start of the 2006 FIBA World Championship, that Argentina, USA and Spain were superior to the other teams. And so far, that’s what has happened, maybe with the inclusion of Greece. Although happy for the Spain’s way to semifinals, I must confess it hasn’t been as funny as other championships, since Spain has been so superior to the teams they’ve played against that games were without emotion. Fortunately Spain is the real dream team in this championship :-), so there were lots of spectacular plays.

Next Friday, the moment of truth will come, Spain-Argentina. A pity, since a final between Spain and Argentina is what I would have liked. After that, either USA or Greece in the final.

Keyboard control center applet

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2006

We have been discussing about the best way to reduce the overcrowded preferences menu, that is, the number of control center applets. The ideal solution, which we are discussing on the Control Center mailing list, is to have a new control center shell. More news on that soon.

The other things we discussed was about merging some of the applets, since some seem redundant. A good example is the keyboard capplets, which are 3!:

  • Keyboard applet, to set basic settings like layout and cursor blinking, and not so basic things, like the typing break.
  • Keyboard shortcuts.
  • Accessibility keyboard settings.

So this looked like the best candidate for the first merge, so after some discussion, two of them have been merged in the mockups below:


The a11y bits were not merged, mainly because the a11y guys seem to think it is better to keep it separated. And merging it with the already crowded keyboard preferences dialog seems a bad idea, given the a11y capplet has its own tabs, which would be inside the keyboard prefs capplet tab.

Any comments, suggestions, etc, please send it to the Control Center mailing list.

GNOME hackers meeting in Zaragoza

Friday, August 18th, 2006

It is now official: there will be a GNOME hackers meeting in Zaragoza, Spain, September 30th and October 1st. As with previous meetings, the intention is to get more hackers for GNOME and, for the people already involved in GNOME, to meet together and do some collaborative hacking sessions, like the crazy one at Vilanova Park. Thanks go to our friends at Hispalinux, who will be letting us use their venue in Zaragoza for the meeting, and to Dani Baeyens, the man behind the idea.

More info on the wiki.

openSUSE build service

Thursday, August 10th, 2006

While in Boston, I learnt more in detail about openSuSE’s build service. It allows people to build packages for any software they feel like, and is not reduced to support SuSE OS only, but other distributions (like Ubuntu and Fedora right now) also.

So, for testing my brand new account, I added a new package to my Home project, nautilus-actions. It was an easy task because I had the SPEC file already done, and had only to modify a couple of lines to adapt it to latest nautilus-actions release. I didn’t even have to build the packages myself, just adding the needed files to the repository (much like how CVS works) and triggering the builds on the server 2/3 times until it built correctly. Right now, I’ve got packages only for SuSE distributions, but I’ll add shortly Ubuntu and Fedora targets to the repository.

The Linux Desktop

Tuesday, August 1st, 2006

Being last week in Boston, for a Novell desktop team meeting, I met some people from SuSE, including Duncan MacVicar from Chile (hard to know he is from Chile with that name :-). Very nice guy, and while being KDE people, with lots of ideas and plans that mostly matched mine. Mainly, Duncan and I agreed in that KDE and GNOME should be seen as different frontends to the Linux Desktop, and this Linux Desktop should be a complete set of specifications, interfaces and shared storage data for both frontends. We talked about some things that could be shared, like addressbook and calendar data (and concurrent access to it) and Will Stephenson, another of the SuSE guys I met last week, told us about his plans to add an evolution-data-server backend for KDE, for live data sharing.

Things like Freedesktop.org should have more influence on both GNOME and KDE, so we should try to push for more specifications there. Once we have a shared infrastructure, 3rd party developers would choose one or the other based on the same reasons people choose Visual Studio/Java/Borland/.NET/etc to develop Windows applications now, and users would choose one or the other for whatever reason they feel like.

Extremadura Regional Government of Spain switches to Debian and ODF all the computers

Tuesday, August 1st, 2006

Roberto Santos, from Hispalinux, asked me to post this:

All the computers of the Junta of Extremadura (goverment state of Spain) will be running free software within a year. This project makes the Regional Government the first Public Administration to adopt standards upheld by international organizations, that favour “technological innovation and the reduction of user dependency

The councillor for Infrastructures and Technological Development, Luis Millán de Vázquez de Miguel, met the press this Friday to inform about the agreements reached in the last board meeting of the Government held last June 25. In said meeting, it was agreed that all the computers of the Junta of Extremadura would have to be adapted to free software office tools and gnuLinEx (the local flavour of Debian GNU/Linux) within one year.

Thus, as from now on, all workers of the public administration must use open document formats (ISO/IEC DIS 26300) for their office applications for information and creating administrative processes, as well as PDF/A (Portable Document Format ISO 19005-1:2005) for Exchange Documents, when guaranteed unalterable visualization is required.

Vázquez de Miguel has underlined the fact that the Junta de Extremadura “is the first Public Administration to adopt these standards” and that all the international organizations related to ITCs agree that this is the most important step towards “technological innovation, the reduction of user, company and public administration dependency on proprietary, non-compatible applications, and the increment of interoperability between systems and applications on a global scale.”

The councillor explained that a version gnuLinEx, adapted for the public administration, will be established as the obligatory operating system in workplaces of the civil servants of the Junta and that the OS will be gradually introduced to all administrative organizations of the Junta de Extremadura.

The deadline for the plan “is one year counting from the date the agreement is approved”, Vázquez de Miguel said, and he added that at the end of the period, all the computer work carried out by the civil servants of the Junta must be done so on the GnuLinEx operating system and that all additional software must be open source or be distributed under a free license.

“This is an important initiative that the Junta de Extremadura has been working on for a long time, accumulating experience and analysing the impact on our organisation so as to guarantee its success”, the councillor declared. He underlined the fact that the agreement will have “a profound impact”.

According to Millan, there are a number of advantages of switching to free software and even more when used by the Public Administration, with important consequences.

Amongst others, the councillor pointed out the long life of documents, which will guarantee the conservation of all the administrative documents for longer periods of time. It will also improve the relationship with the general public due to the fact that, by conforming to standards and free software, the public is not obliged to acquire proprietary software. According to de Millan, free
software also improves security, autonomy and rationalises public spending.

In this respect, the councillor pointed out that adopting free software will allow the administration to “not be so exposed to the tensions of enforced migrations”, allow the administration to be have a say in the choice of the applications and reduce the economic costs of support.

There is also a plan of migration support that is being prepared at the General Direction of Telecommunications and Networks, which addresses issues for system administrators and computer managers of each Council, that offers a wide range of information and allows to develop communication tasks amongst employees and adaptation training processes.

The Junta has also received collaboration offers, for example from El Corte Inglés through their Expert Center (including a cooperation agreement signed by the Junta de Extremadura and the computing division of El Corte Inglés), Intel, and other large companies, such as Bull España S.A. “with which we have especially interesting agreements” due to the large body of practical knowledge this project is going to generate and its application to other administration and organisations.

For the future, Vázquez de Miguel has announced that at the end of August the project will be presented un New York at the United Nations. A month later, it will also be presented in “The City of Knowledge” of Panama and in other related countries.

The Council of Infrastructure and Technological Development carries out, within its area of competence, The Global Project for the Society of Information and Knowledge of Extremadura, the aim of which is to guarantee the universal access of the citizens of Extremadura to new technologies and communications so as to improve their quality of life.

According to the councillor for Infrastructures and Technological Development, Luis Millán Vázquez de Miguel, the year 2002 signified a change in development of the project when gnuLinEx was created and used as general-purpose operating system for public education in the Autonomous Region of Extremadura. “A software that has evolved the technical aspects and the implementation of computer standards, backed up by European institutions and international standardization organisations”, remarks Vázquez de Miguel.

The councillor highlights the fact that the situation of free software in the region has had “strong influences” in international press, which have been following what has been happening in the region, covering matters related to the application of the information society.

He also points out that, in the area of the public administration, “we in the middle of the development what we call the Modernization, Simplification and Quality Plan for the Administration of the Autonomous Community of Extremadura (2004-2007)”. For this plan, Extremadura relies on the Regional Intranet, “the foundation of the interdepartamental communications of the Junta de Extremadura”.

For Vázquez de Miguel, to make a headway in the integration of the Information Society in modern day Public Administration and in the global society, it is fundamental “guarantee the control and administration of aspects so important as technological independence, interoperability between computer platforms, homogeneous information systems, computer security for information systems, real technological innovation and conformance to open and free standards.”