Giving Spotlight | Meet Tanu Kaskinen, PulseAudio maintainer

Tanu, CCo

We have this week had the pleasure to interview Tanu Kaskinen about his work as PulseAudio maintainer

Do you want to introduce yourself?

Hello, my name is Tanu Kaskinen and I’m a PulseAudio maintainer (and also involved in the OpenEmbedded project a little bit).  I spent my childhood in Järvenpää, Finland, and moved to Tampere when I started my software engineering studies at Tampere University of Technology. I’ve been living here ever since (13 years, if my calculations are correct).

How did you become involved with PulseAudio and why do you think its’ an important project? 

At a time (2007, I think) I had a MIDI keyboard, and I wanted to play along while listening to music in Rhythmbox. That required running software synthesizers with JACK, but I couldn’t make Rhythmbox work properly with JACK. PulseAudio seemed like the future of desktop audio, and Rhythmbox certainly worked with PulseAudio. There was a PulseAudio module for bridging to JACK, but that was glitchy, so I decided to try to fix it (my first open source code contribution attempt!). In the end my fix was not needed after Lennart rewrote big parts of the PulseAudio core.

Why is PulseAudio important? Well, you need some sound server to manage application streams, be that dmix (in ALSA), JACK or PulseAudio. Having an intermediary between the applications and the kernel is required for a lot of flexibility that people expect from their systems.

What are some of the challenges about maintaining PulseAudio? 

I guess all projects have their set of difficult bugs… In case of PulseAudio, hardware specific issues are quite common. Not having the hardware yourself is of course one problem when debugging, but even if the issue can be tracked down to a clear misbehaviour in the kernel driver, the bug may be left unfixed, because I have never learned to work with kernel code, and the ALSA developers may ignore the bug report (I don’t really blame them, I believe ALSA is understaffed too).

Any interesting features that are being worked on right now?

Nothing earth-shattering comes to mind, but here are things that I’m personally excited about: Georg Chini has been working on a long-standing bluetooth bug about bad A/V sync when watching videos.  

I believe the Intel HDMI LPE hardware is becoming pretty widespread on new computers, and the kernel driver for that has certain unusual behaviour that makes PulseAudio enter an infinite loop when the HDMI cable is not plugged in. I’m happy that it will be fixed in the upcoming release.

There have been various small tweaks to automatic routing in recent releases, and those are going to continue. 

What keeps you involved in the PulseAudio community?

I feel a need to do something useful with my life, and maintaining PulseAudio fills that need quite nicely. It’s not always fun, but it’s not so un-fun either that I would feel compelled to quit. PulseAudio has been a significant part of my life for some 10 years, and at this point it’s a pretty big part of my identity.

Can you describe PulseAudio’s role/relevance in a desktop environment such as GNOME?

GNOME tries to make a computer easy to use, and things should “just work”. PulseAudio plays a big role in that when it comes to audio. Also, if the GNOME user interface designers or developers have a vision for how e.g. audio settings should be presented, they have to work within the capabilities of the sound server.

Are you yourself a GNOME user?

Yes I am! I started using Linux when Debian Woody was current, probably in 2003. I don’t remember how I initially chose GNOME, maybe just because it was the default? I’ve sticked with Debian and GNOME pretty much all this time .

Why are you doing a fundraiser?

Because I don’t want a real job :) I like having complete control over how I spend my time, and even if I didn’t feel so strongly about that, not many companies are willing to pay just for PulseAudio maintenance anyway. (Perhaps the number of such companies is even zero, but to be honest I haven’t tried reaching out to Red Hat or similar.)
In 2015 I found myself having enough savings to last at least a few years if I quit from my day job, and so I did. I wanted to spend more time on PulseAudio, because there was a shortage of maintainer resources in the project . In 2016 I launched the Patreon campaign to slow down the rate at which my savings are drained, and this year I started a similar campaign on Liberapay.

Questions for fun 

What is your favorite place on Earth?

Well, there’s a certain quiet spot on the shore of the Näsijärvi lake not too far from where I live. During summertime I sometimes go there to watch the sunset.

Favorite cake?

Hmm, I haven’t pondered this before, but I think the answer is the Swiss roll. Ideally with whipped cream and banana inside. I don’t know if I’ve ever eaten such Swiss roll, but I imagine that would be the optimal filling.

Thanks Tanu for taking time talking with us we wish you continued luck in your efforts!

Mid-June nigth in Tampere. CC0 Tanu Kaskinen

Consider support Tanu through his Patreon or Liberapay campaigns.

Giving spotlight | 3.28 Release Party Report from China

To celebrate the successfully held GNOME Asia Summit 2017 in Chongqing, the Linux Story community saw the 3.28 release as a chance to promote GNOME and Open Source in China.

With its influence in many major cities of China, Linux Story called upon open source enthusiasts to gather in their local cities to hold a 10 cities get-together event to celebrate the new GNOME release.

A set of pictures from the events with pictures follow here to enjoy (received from Linux Story).

In Xian, a speech titled “A Brief History of GNOME” was presented, the presenter Ckj then showed new features of GNOME 3.28
In Guangzhou, the party started with a demonstration of GNOME 3.28. Later Mr Li Ruibin, an experienced Linux user helped explain issues people face when using Linux and then introduced people to Flatpak.
In Beijing, the party did not only offer a GNONME 3.28 demonstration, but also delicious pizzas by sponsors like SUSE and ZhongBiao Software.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Yangzhou and in Shanghai the spotlight was on GNOME 3.28 demonstrations and the excitement was very high.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An excitement exciting gathering happened in the Mozilla sponsored community office place in Taiwan where apart from a demonstration of GNOME 3.28 Mr Zeng Zhengjia a local Translator shared a lot of his experience with translating earlier versions of GNOME. The picture tells a lot about the atmosphere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We want to thank the Linux Story community for the initiative and wish them luck in their continued efforts. Initiatives like this are great to see.

Giving Spotlight | Meet Øyvind Kolås, GEGL maintainer extraordinaire

Last month, we had the pleasure of interviewing Øyvind Kolås, aka “pippin,” about his work on GEGL — a fundamental technology enabling GIMP and GNOME Photos.

GIMP Stickers, CC-BY-SA Michael Natterer

This interview is part of a “Giving Spotlight” series we are doing on some long-time GNOME contributors who have fundraising campaigns. The goal is to help GNOME users understand the importance of the technologies, get to know the maintainers, and learn how to support them.

Without further ado, we invite you to get to know Øyvind and his work on GEGL!


The following interview was conducted over email. 

Getting to know Øyvind

Where are you from and where are you based?

I’m from the town of Ørsta – in the end of a fjord in Norway, but since high-school I’ve been quite migratory. Studying fine art in Oslo and Spain, color science research at a color lab and lecturing multimedia CD-ROM authoring in south-eastern Norway, and working on GNOME technologies like Clutter and cairo for Opened Hand and Intel in London, followed by half a decade of low-budget backpacking. At the moment I am based in Norway – and try to keep in touch with a few people and places – among others England, Germany, and Spain.

Øyvind “pippin” Kolås, CC BY-NC-ND Ross Burton

What do you do and how does it relate to GNOME?

I like tinkering with code – frequently code that involves graphics or UI. This results in sometimes useful, at other times odd, but perhaps interesting, tools, infrastructure, or other software artifacts. Through the years and combined with other interests, this has resulted in contributions to cairo and Clutter, as well as being the maintainer of babl and GEGL, which provide pixel handling and processing machinery for GIMP 2.9, 2.10 and beyond.

How did you first get involved in GNOME?

I attended the second GUADEC which happend in Copenhagen in 2001. This was my first in-person meeting with the people behind nicknames in #gimp as well as meeting in-person GIMP developers and power users, and the wider community around it including the GNOME project.

Why is your fundraising campaign important?

I want GIMP to improve and continue being relevant in the future, as well as
having a powerful graph-based framework for other imaging tasks. I hope that my continued maintainership of babl/GEGL will enable many new and significant workflows in GIMP and related software, as well as provide a foundation for implementing and distributing experimental image processing filters.

Wilber Week 2017, a hackathon for GEGL and GIMP, CC-BY-SA Debarshi Ray

Getting to know GEGL

How did your project originate?

GEGL’s history starts in 1997 with Rythm and Hues studios, a Californian visual effects and animation company. They were experimenting with a 16bit/high bit depth fork of GIMP known as filmgimp/cinepaint. Rythm and Hues succeeded in making GIMP work on high bit depth images, but the internal architecture was found to be lacking – and they started GEGL as a more solid future basis for high bit depth non-destructive editing in GIMP. Their funding/management interest waned, and GEGL development went dormant. GIMP however continued considering GEGL to be its future core.

How did you start working on GEGL?

I’ve been making and using graphics-related software since the early ’90s. In 2003-2004 I made a video editor for my own use in a hobby collaboration music video/short film venture. This video editing project was discontinued and salvaged for spare parts, like babl and a large set of initial operations when I took up maintainership and development of GEGL.

What are some of the greatest challenges that you’ve faced along the way?

When people get to know that I am somehow involved in development of the GIMP project, they expect me to be in control of and responsible for how the UI currently is. I have removed some GIMP menu items in attempts to clean things up and reduce technical debt, but most improvements I can take credit for now, and in the future, are indirect, like how moving to GEGL enables higher bit depths and on-canvas preview instead of using postage stamp-sized previews in dialogs.

What are some of your greatest successes?

Bringing GEGL from a duke-nukem-forever state, where GIMP was waiting on GEGL for all future enhancements, to GEGL waiting for GIMP to adopt it. The current development series of GIMP (2.9.x) is close to be released as 2.10 which will be the new stable; it is a featureful version with feature parity with 2.8 but a new engine under the hood. I am looking forward to seeing where GIMP will take GEGL in the future.

What are you working on right now?

One of the things I am working on – and playing with – at the moment is experiments in color separation. I’m making algorithms that simulate the color mixing behavior of inks and paints. That might be useful in programs like GIMP for tasks ranging from soft-proofing spot-colors to preparing photos or designs for multi-color silk-screening, for instance for textiles.

Which projects depend on your project? What’s the impact so far?

There are GIMP and GNOME Photos, as well as imgflo, which is a visual front-end provided by the visual programming environment noflo. GEGL (and babl, a companion library), are designed to be generally useful and do not have any APIs that could only be considered useful for GIMP. GEGL itself also contains various example and experimental command line and graphical interfaces for image and video processing.

How can I get involved? 

GEGL continues needing, and thankfully getting, contributions, new filters, fixes to old filters, improvements to infrastructure, improved translations, and documentation. Making more projects use GEGL is also a good way of attracting more contributors. With funds raised through Liberapay and Patreon, I find it easier to allocate time and energy towards making the contribution experience of others smoother.

And now a few questions just for fun…

What is your favorite place on Earth?

Tricky, I have traveled a lot and not found a single place that is a definitive favorite. Places I’ve found to be to my liking are near the equator and have little seasonal variation, as well as are sufficiently high altitude to cool down to a comfortable day high temperature of roughly 25 degrees Celsius.

Favorite ice cream?

Could I have two scoops in a waffle cone, one mango sorbet, one coconut please? :)

Finally, our classic question: what do you think cats dream about?

Some cats probably dream about being able to sneak through walls.

Øyvind Kolås, CC BY-NC-ND Ross Burton

 

 

Thank you, Øyvind, for your answers. We look forward to seeing your upcoming work on GEGL this year and beyond!


Please consider supporting Øyvind through his GEGL Liberapay or GEGL Patreon campaigns.