Category Archives: Collabora

New PiTiVi release getting a lot of positive attention

I am really happy to see how the new 0.14 version of PiTiVi is garnering so much positive attention. A lot of tweets seen and quite a few people blogging about this recent release, like this entry on omgUbuntu or this entry on Ubuntu corner or this little blurb on Phoronix.

A lot of people here at Collabora are involved with PiTiVi development as time allows and while we for a long while felt that we had a forest of features we could enable in PiTiVi, we seemed to be stuck with a certain feature set for a long while, as we kept going back to maturing the under laying GStreamer plugins and features that we wanted for PiTiVi. I think we have rounded a corner and with a total of 4 Google Summer of Code projects underway around PiTiVi we should be ensured that PiTiVi continues to develop quickly, as the PiTiVi team continue to both stabilize the current feature set and add new ones.
My hope is that PiTiVi will soon be packaged by every major distribution and be seen as a core part of the linux desktop and something that everyone uses when they need to edit their holiday movies or make small projects for school or work.

Hmm, remdinds me need to make sure we got a nice PiTiVi talk at the GStreamer Conference this year :)

Btw, for those interested in getting involved with PiTiVi, the best place to meet the community and get involved in joining the #pitivi channel on irc.freenode.net.

GNOME 3 and Fedora 15

Updated my own and my wifes computers yesterday to latest Fedora version, which included an upgrade to GNOME 3. Have to say I am quite impressed with it so far, I mean it is definitely a .0 release with a lot of little issues (like not remembering how to deal with my dual screen setup at work). But apart from that it feels pretty sweet, especially like the messaging integration into the desktop. It still got quite a few issues though, but here at Collabora we now have Jonny Lamb and Guillame Desmottes helping out with trying to polish it up.

The biggest change I found that was that of the attitude of my wife, she went from “linux sucks, why do I have to use this stuff” to “this is actually quite cool”.

So a big congrats to the GNOME 3 team for a wonderful release! I am looking forward to seeing how it develops in the coming Months.

I am generally impressed by all the nice work being done across a lot of projects these days, helping to make sure we have a really powerful and nicely integrated platform. It wasn’t that long ago the linux desktop (and server for that matter) felt like a taped together collection of stuff, but for each new release it seems the ease of use and polish increase, with good integration happening between all major layers. Efforts to drain the swamp, like systemd, does make a huge difference over time and draws us ever closer to the goal set when GNOME 2 was being created, remove the need to have configure options in the user interface to make the system ‘work’. If you need to enter a configuration menu to have basic functionality work, then that is a bug, not a feature.

I think there has been a general change in philosophy happening over the last 5-6 years, where we moved from everyone trying to fix the world in their own corner, to people instead trying to work together. For instance in GStreamer we have moved from trying to fix the problem by supporting every sound system under the sun, and instead try to work closely with the best solution out there to actually solve the problems people have, which is why people like GStreamer maintainer Wim Taymans have also been contributing to Pulse Audio over the last year. Enabling people to switch backends between ALSA, OSS, Sun Audio or Pulse Audio isn’t a solution, is it exposing a bug. So while the plugins supporting all those systems are still there of course, as they are useful for people in various situations, I think our thinking now is that when we find an issue that is best solved in Pulse Audio, as opposed to GStreamer, we solve it in Pulse Audio, instead of trying to make a second rate solution in GStreamer itself. And if there is a feature missing in Pulse Audio the solution is not to add an option in the user interface to ALSA, it is to add the feature to Pulse Audio. There are of course still cases where we need to support multiple plugins offering the same functionality of course, codecs being the best example, but if we want to make the open source ecosystem better we need to all focus on making things work well without needing the user to reconfigure which libraries and backends they use for a given task.

Seeing all this other great efforts move forward to plug the remaining holes I am also happy to say that by the end of the year we should have GStreamer 1.0 out the door, Wim Taymans is putting the foundations together as we speak. It should provide a lot of great improvements to GStreamer, like good solutions for handling 3D video for instance, but also provide a lot of speed improvements which will be especially useful for embedded setups (allthough I haven’t met a desktop user so far who hates getting faster software either.)

GStreamer Conference 2011 website up

The website announcing this years GStreamer Conference 2011 is up. I am really looking forward to this years event due to the great fun last years event in Cambridge was. This year we will host the conference in Prague in the Czech Republic, a city I long wanted to visit and now I finally got a great excuse to do so.

For those who missed out on last years conference I think it is safe to say it turned out to be a wonderful place to learn about latest developments in the GStreamer community and hear about some of the challenges and solutions being used when using GStreamer in various devices and projects. This year Wim Taymans will be able to present on all the progress being made on GStreamer 1.0 and let us all know how things are looking in terms of setting a final release date :)

I moved last years conference page to a new permanent GStreamer Conference 2010 site, I recommend checking out that site for links to videos of all of the talks last year if you are unsure about if the GStreamer Conference is for you. This year we are co-hosting with 3 other conferences, the Linux Kernel Summit, the Embedded Linux Conference Europe and finally LinuxCon Europe, so there should be something for everyone.

Updates on cool GStreamer happenings

Axis and GStreamer

Axis got a new camera out these days called the Axis P3301. Axis is well known for having what are probably the best network cameras on the market and this new beauty is especially nice as it uses GStreamer internally. It also supports Avahi, so you can get access to its services through avahi enabled applications, hopefully a feature we can get supported in Totem so you get access to these kind of cameras in your network very easily. Wim got gifted one of these by Axis while at their office in Sweden, which we got up and running at the Collabora Multimedia office now. Axis also got a video server, the AXIS Q7401 which also use GStreamer internally.

Jokosher

Jokosher is making great strides forward currently too. They did their 0.10 release a little over a Month ago and today Peteris Krisjanis told me that they just landed support for multichannel soundcards, which has been a major missing feature for a lot of potential Jokosher users. The mutichanel code is currently hosted in this branch on launchpad, but it will of course move into head once it gets stabilized.

Pitivi

Things are also moving forward with the Pitivi video editor these days. Edward recently merged the two Google Summer of Code projects that had been happening over the summer and also switched to the so called advanced timeline view to be the default in Pitivi. Thanks to Serat’s work there is now a structure in place in Pitivi for handling live sources, like webcams or DV cameras for instance. The simple timeline feature has also been dropped now as it turned out to be a lot less useful than we originally envisioned. So going forward the focus will be on making the previously named ‘advanced’ timeline userfriendly and easy to use instead. We will have some further cool Pitivi related announcements coming soon :)

Collabora Multimedia

We had our first ever full meeting of the Collabora Multimedia division over the last few days in Barcelona. It was the first time Wim, Edward, Tim, Mark, Sebastian and myself where all together. It was both a social event to get to know eachother, but also a good chance to discuss various technical issues. For instance Tim and Edward managed to solve a painful python threading issue we have been experiencing in a current project we have been doing together with Canonical and the BBC, which is writing a Totem plugin to enable viewing of various BBC content easily through Totem (as mentioned in the Ubuntu beta release notes. The plan is to push this plug-in upstream also, so that everyone using Totem can get it.

One year anniversary

So on Saturday Wim, Edward, Tim and myself had the one year anniversary of leaving our old jobs in Barcelona and embarking on the journey that has lead us to where we are today working with Collabora. Thinking back it feels strange to see how things has come together over the course of this year. At the point of leaving we only had a vague idea about what we wanted to do going forward, as the decision to leave came about more as a result of deciding that staying was not an option, more than having a clear vision of wanting to do something different.

The deciding factor I guess was getting a message from Robert and Philippe on the day of announcing that we where leaving saying ‘ don’t do anything before we have talked together’, with Rob and Philippe arriving in Barcelona a few days later. After discussing back and forth what we and they wanted to do for a while, we finally arrived a basic agreement during GUADEC in Birmingham. A couple of Months later we where up and running and here we are today, with Collabora Multimedia being a quickly growing part of the Collabora family. Its been an incredible experience so far and we had a lot of fun. And having moved to Cambridge I have even expanded my vocabulary with terms such as ‘utter loss’,’bonghits’, ‘Oxford stinks’,’punting’ and ‘chavs’ :). So I want to thank Rob, Philippe, Wim, Edward and Tim for making this such an incredible time and I am really looking forward to getting the whole team together in GUADEC in Istanbul next week.

And on that note I would also like to welcome a new member to the Collabora Multimedia family; Mark Nauwelaerts who starts tomorrow. I don’t think to many people outside the GStreamer community knows Mark, but he has contributed quite a few great patches to GStreamer. In fact when asking Tim, who outside the current team contributed the best patches to GStreamer, he listed Mark on top of the list being someone whose patches tended to tackle the most technically challenging issues.

So once again a big welcome to Collabora Multimedia Mark, we are really happy to have you on board!

Jokosher fixes inbound

As I mentioned in my blog entry about Sebastian Dröge joining Collabora he would among other things work on some low level GStreamer issues which has held Jokosher back. Thanks to Sebastian working on improving the GStreamer audioconvert and deinterlave elements things are now looking very good for Jokosher, a big thanks to Peteris Krisjanis of the Jokosher community for testing the fixes so quickly for us. I have now even challenged Jono and Stuart about recording a LUGRadio episode using Jokosher as that was in some sense the original reason for Jokosher being created so I feel it would be a good milestone on progress :)

Sebastian still has some work on the interleave element left before he will switch over to focusing on some improvements for Pitivi mostly improving our Matroska and MPEG support.

Personal life

Starting to settle pretty good into Cambridge life I think.  My ongoing golf lessons are starting to pay off and I can now go to the driving range and feel pretty happy at what I do there. Not to claim I am at a useful level yet, but at least some of the basics are starting to fall into place. I also finally got myself moving on starting up a second activity, in addition to the golf,  so I had my second riding lesson this morning.  I am so far enjoying the riding quite a lot, apart from the dorky looking helmet and the new boots giving me blisters. Still working on finding a good timeslot for the riding though, seems the horses do not enjoy an early morning as much as my golf instructor.

The Cambridge Beer Festival is currently underway and yesterday I got to try the cutely named Norwegian Blue. Not named after the country with the fjords as much as after a parrot in a Monty Python clip :)

We are heading back there this evening with Michael Meeks joining us for some further beer sampling, travelling from the distant planet of Newmarket. We tried getting Edward Hervey also to join us, as he is actually in London currently, valiantly helping one of our customers, but even the famous beer festival cheese selection was enough to lure him away from his task :)

Heading up to Norway tomorrow evening for a long weekend in conjunction with my cousins daughters confirmation. I tried to get her to take a valiant stance for atheism instead, but the lure of presents and a big party strangely enough won out :) Its also my mothers birthday early next week and while I normally do not travel up to Norway I felt it was the right thing to do this year considering my mothers recent brain surgery with the (small) stroke that caused.

Sebastian Dröge joins Collabora Multimedia

Thought I should let the world now we have a new employee at Collabora Multimedia. I think most of you know him already as Sebastian Dröge is one of the biggest patch reviews and bug fixers in the GStreamer community already. While Sebastian will be helping out with some of our internal projects we also plan on letting Sebastian continue his great community work. In fact the first assignment we have given him is simply to try to help out with some hard bugs thats been troubling Jokosher for a long time. So a big welcome to Collabora Sebastian, and an especially big thanks for starting your new job by taking GStreamer once again out of the top 10 bugzilla list :)

Last day in the US

Currently sitting at the X Developers Summit at the Googleplex waiting for some time to pass before getting on the airplane this evening. X Development isn’t exactly what interests me mostly, but there has been some movements in terms of thinking about multimedia support issues. David Schleef did a talk here yesterday where he talked about colour handling. For a lot of Linux users, especially in the content creation industry, the lack of good colourspace correction support is a big issue.

Earlier this week I was at the CE Linux Forum meeting doing a talk about GStreamer. Talk ended up taking quite a lot less time than what I had expected it would, but still got a lot of nice feedback on it afterwards.

Bought myself one of these noise reduction headsets while here, so I am looking forward to testing out how well they actually work on my flight back to the UK.

Only thing I wish now is that I could blog about the two little ‘secret’ GStreamer projects that Edward and David Schleef are working on :)

Visiting the United States of America

Been in the US for about a week now together with Wim. Our first stop was the Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit in Austin, Texas. It was a nice conference and I got to talk to a lot of people in and around the linux desktop and embedded linux. Was happy to learn how many people, especially in the embedded sector, who where aware of Collabora and our expertise around GStreamer and Telepathy.

Once the collaboration summit was over Wim and I flew up to San Fransisco and attended a meeting at Mozilla Corporation discussing how to improve the story of embedding the Mozilla engine on embedded devices. With the improvements done for Firefox 3 the current Mozilla engine kicks ass in terms of speed and memory usage, the stats they showed for running Firefox on ARM where absolutely amazing. So if their plans for a reasonably stable embedding API comes together I can see great things for mozilla/firefox in the embedded space. At Collabora we have already been helping customers with both Webkit and Mozilla work so far and it will be interesting to see which of these two engines we will end up helping our business partners integrate on their devices the most going forward.

Currently attending LUGRadio Live USA, which is an attempt at moving the LUGRadio conference concept to the US. Working out pretty well so far, although troublesome US regulations have cut away the customary beer sale at the venue. David Schleef did a lightning talk here yesterday about Dirac and the room was packed full with people, so I was very happy to see the interest around Dirac. The early buzz is just amazing. David’s Dirac talk wasn’t the only GStreamer related talk at the conference, Aaron Bockover did a nice presentation about Banshee which is progressing really nicely. I need to grab latest SVN when I get back home to test out the new video support and the super fast song database. Later today there will be a Songbird talk which I am also looking forward too. With their recent switch to GStreamer across all platforms and Mike Smith starting work there on Monday, to be their resident GStreamer expert, I think Songbird is going to be absolutely rocking.

Wim will be travelling back to Europe this afternoon as he is needed onsite at a customer site, personally I will stay another 5 days here in the bay area as there are some more open source conferences being organized which I wanted to attend. For instance I hope to be able to stop by the X Developers summit before I leave to hear about the plans Keith Packard talked about in Austin in regards to XvMC for instance. Seems media playback is a growing concern for the X hackers in terms of their priorities.