Kernel hackers and the FSF

A group of kernel hackers came together and wrote a position paper on the current GPL v3 draft. To which
Eben Moglen responds
with a renewed invitation to join the process and the FSF replies by trying to smokescreen the issue by arguing semantics.

Moglen’s invitation is in my opinion pure bullshit. Being invited to partake in a process on terms where the rules are staked against you from the outset is next to valueless. The only thing those kernel developers would accomplish with accepting Eben’s invitation is to have their names used to legitimize the process while in effect not getting any real chance to change the outcome. The FSF have made it very clear in the public statements so far and their reaction to a lot of public feedback on for instance the DRM clauses that they do not intend to change this apart from maybe adjusting the semantics a little.

So Eben if you want to be taken seriously when offering invitations make sure in the future to be invitations to processes which there is realistic give and take possibility. Nobody like getting invitations to use and abuse setups.

Linus Torvalds remark about how explaining the problems with the current draft hit the mark with the FSF. Trying to discuss something with them tend to only lead to the typical FSF way of arguing; trying to derail the debate by arguing about semantics and the words used instead of the issues themselves.

Texas Instruments and GStreamer

Was very happy to see Texas Instruments announce their work
on integrating
GStreamer with the OpenMax acceleration architecture. A big thanks to Texas Instruments for this contribution to GStreamer.

Fluendo hiring

On the topic of GStreamer and embedded systems. We are looking to hire another motivated coder to work on Elisa and join our crazy team here in Barcelona. Anyone interested please Philippe Normand at ‘philippe at fluendo d0t com’ or come into the #elisa channel on IRC channel on freenode. Skills we are looking for is experience with GStreamer, Python, Twisted, OpenGL and uPnP so if you know one or more of these be sure to get in touch.

On Africa

Bob Geldoff recently wrote a
essay
in one of Norway’s major newspapers repeating how we should not forget Africa in the face of other problems in the world. The Norwegian minister for foreign aid comments on the article mentioning his agreement and points out that the number of people killed in Rwanda during the conflict there meant that for every third hour the same mount of people where killed in Rwanda that was killed in total during this summers Israel/Lebanon conflict.

Two points strikes me. First of all its a bit dangerous to in some sense rate conflicts based on number killed. Taken to the extreme it would mean that you basically ignore any conflict/problem until it reaches top 3 in death numbers. Nobody is arguing for doing so of course, but every time you do argue with number of dead you are in some sense promoting that view.

On the other side there also is the moral question about why the big
butcherings in Africa tend to fall from public interest quickly while relatively speaking smaller conflicts like the Israel/Lebanon one don’t.

A lot of possible answers of course, ranging from historic importance of Israel to a world heavily influenced by Judaism and its two spin-off religions Christianity and Islam. Bob Geldoff in his article also points out that there might be a general feeling in Europe that Africa is a hopeless case, that no matter what is done so are there seemingly always new and bigger tragedies transpiring there. So maybe people haven’t given up in the same way on the Middle-east yet. That said I do seem to feel a bit of fatigue creeping into the European population on the problems of the middle-east.

International politics

Been lots of political blogging on Planet GNOME recently, which I don’t mind, but I do feel that the political realism in the blogs seems to be going out the window in favour of slogans and quoting of populists.

First of all are there double standards being applied in the world? Yes, there are. Do the US specifically apply double standards to various issues? Definetly. The sad thing though is that the international leaders who critize the US the hardest for its double standards tend to apply even more extreme double standards themselves. Whats more is that unlike the US they do not tend to allow free critique of their own double standards in their own countries.

Is the US doing thing abroad it probably shouldn’t be? Definetly. But to think the world would be a better place with a US government that totally disenganges from international politics is rather hilarious.

Is the UN security council having permanent members with a veto power ‘unfair’? Sure. But a UN not giving the US, Russia and China at least a veto right would quickly become even more irrelevant and ignored than it is today. Idealism is nice, but sometime one must let a little bit of realism into the picture.

But to end this blog with a little sarcasm in the spirit of the populists quoted on the planet recently. If Ahmedinejad want Israel re-located to the Christian world that is easy to accomplish. Just end the muslim occupation of the Byzantine empire :)

Update: Just discovered that Chavez has made Noam Chomsky the number one bestseller on Amazon. For some reason I find that quite amusing :)

News and tidbits

Realized I hadn’t blogged in a while so I figured I should get back into the groove by highlighting some of the cool developments at Fluendo and around GStreamer.

Elisa is making great strides forward. One of the latest features being worked on is DVB support with Zaheer working on the GStreamer side of things, and it is starting to come together with audio playing yesterday. Hopefully soon we will have video going too. Getting DVB working will not only be useful for Elisa of course, but also be of great use for Flumotion.

On the playback side there are some nice developments as well. Wim committed some changes to GStreamer last week which improves network buffering quite a lot, as soon as Tim updates Totem this will improve Totem/GStreamer as a streaming client. Wim is also working on integrating a series of patches by Lutz Müller which improves our RTSP support and will also give us support for RTSP in playbin/Totem. Combined with the work that has been going on by Bastien and Christian Persch to improve the Totem browser plugin I think web media handling will be greatly improved. Using Fluendo’s Windows Media plugins I am now able to view the videoclips on cnn.com for instance.

Edward is putting final touches on some major GStreamer decodebin changes these days too. The new version will allow decodebin to not only output raw audio and video, but also output compressed data. This is very useful for use with digital output like s/pdif where you want to output AC3 or DTS not raw audio. The changes will also improve our handling of media files which contain more than one audio or video track and last but not least will solve the problem of handling chained oggs we have been seeing for a good while now.

Another cool addition coming soon is a MPEG Transport Stream muxer for GStreamer which Jan is working on. This project is done in collaboration with our friends at the BBC R&D. As part of this Jan is also defining a mapping for Dirac in MPEG TS so that other players and projects can use compatible mapping with ours.

Speaking of Dirac, work is still continuing at full speed on Schroedinger our Dirac implementation. David Schleef is currently polishing up the code to make sure the produced bitstreams are 100% compatible with the ones created by the Dirac library. Once that work is finished we will cut a new release before moving on to a optimisation phase to make sure Schroedinger is a really high performance Dirac implementation.

Another nice GStreamer change we hope to get into upstream GStreamer soon is a binary registry for GStreamer. Matthieu have been working on it for a while and the main advantage is that it improves both performance and of course gives GStreamer one less dependency as it removes the libxml requirement.

Also thanks to the work and support of Nokia, including the hard work of Edgard Lima and Stefan Kost, we will soon be able to move the video4linux2 plugin into -good. This means that we feel confident that the v4l2 plugin has reached a quality level where we can officially support it as part of the GStreamer project.

Another fun development at Fluendo without any direct community effect is that we have been doing a lot of training sessions recently for our customers. Fluendo trainers have been flying of so far to the US and China, but India , Taiwan and Brazil are on the agenda too now. As the adoption of GStreamer in the embedded market is rapidly growing in momentum the need for developers to get trained in how do develop with the GStreamer framework has given us a nice and interesting side business.

Also some long legal negotiations are being rolled up these days, meaning that we expect to launch a big slew of new plugins into our webshop very soon. Been beta-testing the Windows Media ones for quite some time now, but I hope to add MPEG2 and MPEG4 to the beta program this week in preparation for the launch. There has also been some significant fixes done to the MP3 plugin we offer so a new version of that will also be pushed out.

I am also very happy to see all the nice GStreamer developments happening elsewhere, like the OpenOffice and GStreamer integration work reported on by Michael Meeks. The ongoing greatness of Jokosher and the really sweet UI revamp that will happen to Pitivi partly due to having recently hired a graphical designer here at Fluendo who has been working with Edward on coming up with some radical new UI ideas.

Our drug addicted society

Like everyone do sometimes I felt a bit tired today, so I went down to the local shop to buy a bottle of coke and some energy soft drink, both containing Caffeine. For some reason I started thinking about the fact that in the form of Caffeine taken in the form of coffee, tea, cola softdrinks and energy drinks like redbull etc., the world population is on a daily basis drugging itself with what I guess is a form of performance enhancing drug. Combine that with gigantic volumes of weak painkillers based on paracetamol that people are taking to combat headaches and so on I can’t help but feel we have a situation where the world has made itself dependent on drugs to keep going. And while there is of course a big step up to stuff like Amphetamine the principle is the same. Taking drugs to be able to yield/produce more.

Not sure where I am going with this apart from feeling its a bit of a paradox that we have a drug addicted society fighting for ‘clean sports’ and waging a ‘war on drugs’. On the other hand I guess the situation isn’t that different from everyone needing water to survive, yet we still try to help people from drowning :)

The curse of the evil power supply

So one day after returning the power supply of my Dell laptop stopped working. Due to being under warranty I was able to get a new one delivered from Dell, but it took me almost a full week to get the new one, which arrived on Friday. Turned out it was a DOA Power adapter I got…so today I figured I take now chances. I called Dell support, which I am still waiting to call me back to get them to send me yet another one, but I also ordered a new power supply from battery.co.uk based on a recomandation from Jaime. So far it looks good as they sent me a mail saying they shipped it within an hour of my order. Lets see which gets here first, the one from Battery or the one from Dell :)