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Brian: The “Optimise for GIF” feature basically destroys a bunch of data which doesn’t change from one layer to the next, effectively creating a visual diff between successive layers to have as little as possible information in them, and still have the same animation.

The problem is that the operation destroys a bunch of user data, and this is one of those situations where we assume that the user knows what they’re doing. The GIF plug-in saves what you give it.

We could have an option in the GIF plug-in, have it on by default, and optimise the image as an export operation when someone saves a multi-layer image as GIF, I suppose. But if the user wants to keep all the info, we’re not going to tell him he can’t (we can also unoptimise animated GIFs, by the way). That would need a bugzilla number then…

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Michael: Isn’t it better to use visudo to edit the sudoers file, rather than editing it by hand?

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Christian: I don’t mean to boast (actually, I had very little to do with it), but anwyay…

2 years ago, the GIMP was #3 in the weekly bug report, with somewhere around 500 open bugs. Let’s see how many there are today.

When we dropped out of the top 15 8 months ago, number 15 had 108 open bugs – now it’s 133. Hmmm…

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GUADEC Papers

Congratulations to reknowned author Robert M. Love for becoming the first person to send an abstract for GUADEC 2005!

Waiting patiently for the others now…

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More GNOME deployments

Someone pointed out on IRC that in this occasional series of blog entries, that I had not yet mentioned Spain (except for a comment in passing). So I thought it might be a good idea to correct that.

For those who don’t know, while GUADEC 4 in Dublin was being organised, the education authorities of two of the poorest regions in Spain, Extramadura and Andalucia (where the spaghetti westerns were made) made the brave and historic decision to install computers with GNU/Linux and GNOME on 40,000 computers (servicing 80,000 students) in schools in the regions. The local government also produced 150,000 installation disks for anyone who wanted one. There are plans to extend the project to 240,000 people over time.

Think about those numbers for a second.

The project had two stated goals, and these were their principal reasons for choosing Free Software:

  1. Accessibility for all; internet as a public service
  2. Stimulation of technological literacy

The junta has also created dozens of telecenters where people as old as 99 have learned how to use the internet, send e-mail and type letters on a computer – making GNOME a platform which really is software for everybody.

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GNOME deployment update

I found another interesting GNOME deployment in a surprising
place – on a GNOME mailing list I didn’t know existed,
gnome-deployment-list.

The primary purpose of the list is to help people deploy GNOME, as opposed to tell people about GNOME deployments, but a year ago, this mail arrived on the list.

It tells the story of a medium sized Belgian company who almost completely abandoned Windows in favour of Debian machines running GNOME. The full details of the deployment, including the pre-migration analysis and the complete migration procedure, are available on the website of the Brussels LUG.

Their computing environment now runs over 65% of their desktop machines on GNU/Linux with GNOME, with estimated savings to the company of €22000.

Their main reason for migrating was not cost, however – it was a requirement for document interoperability. OOo solved this problem nicely, and Evolution and a free IMAP server allowed them to completely remove any Microsoft dependencies they had. The company is now (2 years on from their initial migration) running GNOME 2.6, with some GNOME 2.8 machines in testing.

The extraordinary thing about this story is that, as well as some professional consultancy for training and installation, the migration happened with the support and assistance of a local user’s group, acting out of a will to help, showing that user communities and private enterprise can work together.

Update:

A list of GNOME deployments is available in the GNOME wiki and it is getting pretty long (but not long enough! more inspirational stories needed!). It is also worth noting in this story that the external consultancy was provided by a local Belgian company, Beeznest, and not by a big international company. This aspect of Free Software (the fact that the skills are available locally, and profits feed the local economy) is something else which warms the cockles of my heart. Many thanks to Jérôme of Beeznest and BXLUG for putting together this account.

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GNOME deployments worldwide

Following on from Sebastien’s post, I have been doing a little hunter-gathering of some notable GNOME deployments today, so that we have some nice feelgood stories, case studies and quotes of happy GNOME customers when we start writing copy for posters.

I had no problem recalling the bigger ones – Sao Paolo (400,000 users), China (1 million JDS desktops), Extramadura (80,000 desktops although I have seen lots of different figures), and even remembered a couple of smaller but also notable ones (Allied Irish Banks, 7,500 desktops running JDS) and found Largo, Florida with a web search.

I need help though – if you are aware of a sizeable GNOME deployment somewhere around the world, could you add it here? And if you have more resources (interviews, news articles, case studies) for those that I have listed, please add them in too. The first step to telling other people about GNOME’s success is telling ourselves about it.

Thanks for your help.

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Statically linked shared objects

OK – I can use the time to share something I found interesting.

Yesterday someone was asking on a mailing list I’m on whether there is a way to ship a library which uses glib as a shared object, but without depending on glib being installed.

That is, he has an API, and uses (say) GObject for his object structure, glib for his portability level and so on. But on install, he doesn’t want to force the person to install glib.

His choices seemed to be

  • Ship with glib-2.0.so and do some LD_RUN_PATH magic to find the one he ships with
  • Ship statically linked libs, linked statically with glib

and neither of those were particularly attractive.

So I proposed a third solution, which consisted of generating a shared library, but at the linking stage linking in libglib-2.0.a rather than dynamically linking to libglib-2.0.so. And it works!

$ gcc `pkg-config --cflags glib-2.0` -c module.c
$ gcc -shared -Wl,-soname,libtruc.so -o libtruc.so.0.1 module.o /usr/lib/libglib-2.0.a
$ ldd libtruc.so.0.1
        libc.so.6 => /lib/libc.so.6 (0x40008000)
        /lib/ld-linux.so.2 => /lib/ld-linux.so.2 (0x80000000)

Look! No glib!

Yves even improved things by finding a libtoolable solution (kind of) – if he wants to build with the static glib, he runs

$ make GLIB_LIBS="/usr/lib/libglib-2.0.a"

to link glib statically.

It’s a pity that pkg-config doesn’t have a –static-libs flag, actually, since this would be a lot cleaner if it did.

Update: Someone (Owen, can I say it was you?) pointed out that this is a horrible thing to do for a number of reasons – first, it won’t work unless your glib was compiled to generate position independent code (in gcc that means compiling with -fPIC), and secondly (which I knew) this is likely to come back and bite you hard in the ass later on if you ever have your shared library linked to an application which is also sharing another libglib-2.0.so.

Why this is so is left as an excercise for the reader :)

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Luis: How about BROKEN and WORKING?

In other news, the GIMP splash competition has found a sponsor (actually, two). Cameron Gregory over at FlamingText.com (which provides free online logo generation, and commercial support for the GIMP) and Federico Lara at mayopi.com (a Peruvian geek clothing company who have a line in GIMP t-shirts) both offered to sponsor a prize.

In the end, the prize will be a GIMP t-shirt or polo shirt (choice of winner) courtesy of mayopi. You can see their designs on the sourcewear site. They’re a cool company, I like them. And while you’re at it, go and set your name on fire over at FlamingText (they don’t call it FlamingText for nothing).

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GIMP splash competition news

yosh has finally cleared things up for the splash screen competition, by resurrecting the Contest section that he and Carol (and Helvetix) worked on a couple of years ago. Thanks to him (and to Carol and Helvetix for the fact that the contest section existed in the first place), we now have something of a structure for things like this, which can handle a beating from slashdot.

The new contest site is over at the main GIMP site, and there is a gallery of existing entries.

I am amazed at the creativity of some of the entries – even though most of them are cropped photos or plasmas/skies with gradient maps applied, we have some gems in there like this one, this one, or this one.

It’ll be a tough job to choose one, I think…