Things are going very smooth on the GStreamer front atm. in regards to cross-plattform support. Zaheer made a OSX audio sink, David Schleef has commited his Sun Audio sink, and the MSVS port is being polished, only need plugins for Windows audio and video and we should be set. A OSX native video sink would of course also be nice.
It is also nice to note that it seems that fewer and fewer people seem to have problems with the basics, like actually just getting Rhythmbox to play music on their system, which means we are starting to reach a good level of robustness IMHO.
Also upgraded to Fedora 2 last thursday. It was a pleasant use experience, but I am frustrated by the fact that the Wireless driver I need is still not ported to the 2.6 kernel. More troublesome is the fact that it is next to impossible to find a supported wireless cards in shops these days. Wonder how long it will be untill someone has managed to reverse engineer the drivers for the new hi-speed wireless cards so we can actually start using those with Linux. Lack of such drivers (among a lot of other small stuff) is why I basically agree that the Linux desktop is not ready for the consumer market yet. You can tell people that card XY is not (yet) supported, but you can’t tell them that NO card is supported.
Been thinking more about the Mono stuff and I think that my post yesterday probably didn’t really hit the nail on the head in the sense that it didn’t really address the issue that needed addressing.
The basic issue is that we simply shouldn’t be having this argument today. Most of the senior members of the GNOME community has known each other and had a good relationship/been friends for many years know. Based on that there should be a level of trust present that I currently feel is being ignored. But let say there is such a basic trust present behind all the arguments being thrown around, then why are we currently enganging in what can only be described as fence building activities.
If we try looking honestly at the situation I think we can all agree that the community has never been in a better position to actually take these issues of the table. Today we have resourceful companies behind us which allows us to actually sort of such legal issues in a way that would have been impossible just a few years ago. Starting with Mono, Miguel and Nat has repeatedly stated that they are working on doing a patent review, that they have a letter promising RAND+Royalty free and that they will publish this letter and the results of their review when its done. I am also sure they will aim at clearing away any uncertainty about any GPL imcompatible clauses in the RAND agreement. We should remember that it is not only Microsoft who has a hand on the steering wheel here, Intel and HP, two companies which has a clear interest in our success also have a say, which might make it harder to M$ to create a saboting RAND agreement even if they want to. So I think the sane thing to do is simply trust that Migueal and Nat who we have known for a long time and such trust the motivations of to; have Novell work getting us clear answers to the legal uncertainties. Until that happens we try to keep the ‘dark cloud of doom’ editorials to a minimum.
On the Java side I think Red Hat should engange in a dialog to get Sun to write a binding document promising terms on their Java related patents etc., which would protect us from any change of heart on Sun’s side. While I currently don’t think Sun would consider going after us I think we want guarantees that we are legally safe even if Sun gets huge financial problems in the future, and starts looking for new sources of income. It is clear to me that until Sun makes such a document or relicense/dual-license the official implementation under the LGPL there is also a cloud of uncertainty hanging over Java, albeit smaller than the cloud hanging over Mono.
In the meantime I guess we should continue focusing on the stuff we feel confident about, like improving the things we have already and working on partnerships like the one we started exploring with the Mozilla team. GNOME hackers at companies with big wallets should probably also encourage said companies to donate money to efforts like Public Patent Foundation and Public knowledge, because the success of these efforts is the long term fix for these issues.
The Mono/Java patent debate is back it seems. Personally I think I agree with Miguel and Nat. If we let the fear of patents paralyze us we might as well give up right away. Havoc’s argument about Novell trying to force everyone to take a risk doesn’t really hold water. It is the same kind of argument SCO makes about using Red Hat at all, which I assume Havoc thinks we should ignore.
GNOME is a free software project and as such the people involved with active contributions decide where we go next. This meant a lot of changes have been made in GNOME between 1.x and 2.x and it has meant changing the default behaviour of Nautilus simply because the people doing the actual work thought it was the right thing to do. And this is the way it has to be; while I personally is rather lukewarm about spatial Nautilus I also accept that unless I personally is ready to maintain a version of Nautilus functionaling differently my vote on how Nautilus is supposed to work will be abysmally smaller than the votes of Dave and Alexander. The only veto power any developer(s) or companies hold is confined to what they themselves are planing on doing or not doing.
So if developers in general embrace Mono and use it for their development that is their choice and at some point the amount of stuff being done using Mono might get large enough for GNOME to officially start including Mono based technologies. Wether Red Hat or Sun will do so in their versions of GNOME is their choice, but I think the story of open source software is that it is such a strong force that no company can stand against it.
The good thing I think the SCO case has shown us is that when someone tries to strongarm us the open source collaborative model can also work in a legal fight. Groklaw is an open source project, with a maintainer in the form of PJ, which has helped dig up a lot of information truly usefull in the fight against SCO. If the day come where Microsoft or Sun or anyone else tries to go after companies/people for using Mono or Java I think the community will respond by digging up all the prior art we need to bury the case and the company for good.
As a sidenote: If anyone out there has managed to get a atmel based wireless card working with the Fedora 2 2.6 kernel please let me know how :)
So I visited Barcelona this weekend spending some time with my friends Wim, Thomas and Julien (and a tiny amount of time with Johan :). I even got to witness the arrival of the Fluendo office water cooler; which is final proof we are a real company :)
Spent friday with Thomas trying to go over the GPL to figure our what exactly it says and formulating questions on issues we need clarified. Our goal is to have a lawyer approved FAQ for these things to post on the GStreamer webpage and put into the GStreamer Application Writers Guide. This is likely to be some issues in regards to the current batch of GPL licensed applications, but hopefully we can have a good exception text for people to add to their license which makes shipping plugins for patented formats toghether with these applications possible.
On Saturday we had a company meeting to discuss our short and medium terms plans. One of the major things to come out of that for my own part was that I will be starting working for Fluendo sooner than originally planned. Which meant I had to shave of 3 weeks from my planned vacation. Australia and Africa both took some heavy cuts which mean for instance that I know only we stay for one week in Sydney and only for a weekend in Perth.
Anyway spending this week in Barcelona really gave me a boost in regards to Fluendo. For instance working with Thomas on going through the GPL really opened my eyes to how much more fun and interesting it will be to work with really smart people who are at the top of their field. Unlike my current situation where so many of those I meet makes me want to give up any notion that there is something glorius to be found in mankind (sorry for the lack for faith Ayn :)
Speaking of patents. Was sad to see that the European Union took a big step closer to US style software patents. While there is still some hope that the European Parliament can turn it around again, things are looking bad. And while I can envision certain scenarios where Fluendo might profit from such patents I think the long term effect could easily be that the only ones earning any money on software is lawyers, and the only type of small ‘software’ companies viable in the end being the Eolas type.
Tobias sent me a nice SVG version of the Firefox logo, which I think will be a perfect fit for Nuvolla. Think I mail it to David to see what he thinks. I also got a SVG Gtk+ theme last night which I hope to take a closer look at tomorrow. Maybe it is what is needed to make artists aware of what is possible with Dom’s new engine.
Anyway tommorow is set aside to do a lot of GNOME, SVG and Fluendo related tasks so I know more after that. Today I am going to see my local fotball team play against the team who has won the norwegian series for the last 12 years :)
We had a batchelor party yesterday for a friend of mine. Started with some Go-Cart driving, followed by paintball; then to an appartment for a vorspiel including having a nice looking stripper stop by; and then ending the evening out on the town. A fun day, and I am definetly going to try paintball again.
Plan for today is just taking it easy while trying to figure out why no GStreamer applications that use the gstinterface stuff will not link for me (but it seems noone else has this problem) and do some gnome-theme-extras bugfixin.
Ok, so I get a fixed amount at work each year to buy clothes etc., since I am leaving I need to use this money as I will not get it in cash no matter what. So I took along my sister yesterday and went shopping for clothes. When spending a relativly big amount of money quickly is the goal you can easily end up like I have today wearing jeans purchased for 275 Euro, which is definetly the most expensive jeans I have ever bought.
Happy to see so much good work on GStreamer these days. Owen Frasier-Green is back and has been updating the Mono bindings. Our Matroska friends are still hard at work porting GStreamer to Windows, with most of the basics done and Windows specific plugins next on the tasklist. Wim Taymans seems already in full action at Fluendo commiting a Theora encoder just yesterday. Ronald, Benjamin and David is also steadily fixing bugs moving the obscurity level of our bugs upwards. Hopefully we soon have a Ogg muxer ready and the autoplugger code needed to allow Colin to activate tag editing in Rhythmbox before GUADEC along with a GStreamer based Totem working like a charm :)
On Java: I read James Gosling weblog where he says that it would be problematic to put Java under something like the LGPL (putting it under the GPL makes it next to useless IMHO) due to wanting to protect developers from having to worry about the plattform ‘forking’. This is bogus. The Java plattform is already ‘forked’ in the way he describes; mostly due to Sun being slow and incorporating fixes into Java proper. For instance my current employer, Oracle, has been forced to ship its own JRE and browser plugin for the last 4 years since the one available from Sun has had bugs and issues. Only know have the official Sun jdk/plugin incorporated enough of Oracle’s fixes for Oracle to have started looking into certifying our ERP applications with it. And not only have Oracle felt the need to maintain our own ‘branched’ Java for all these years, but as anyone using our software knows we do not support the use of new versions of our own plugin/jre until we certified them for use with the Oracle 11i ERP package. So already today what Goslings ‘fear’ will happen if they make the JVM free software is happening. So basically nothing will change if Sun makes Java free software in regards to API predictability. Small developers will just continue supporting the version released as the official one from Sun as that is all they have resources to do.
jdub, svu: I am not sure I fully buy the ‘proof’ here. The issue is much more complex than one person quiting Debian being the ultimate proof. First of all I need to say that as a singular example the flags are probably without ‘value/meaning’, but as one component in a bigger picture and trend it might be of importance.
What is boils down to is what a free software community is about and what drives its members into action, ties them together and brings in new people. In that context being as edible as possible might not actually be ‘the right solution’.
To explain my thinking I like to use the recent process of choosing the Democratic candidate for their upcoming US Presidental election as an example. To simplify it, you had Howard Dean, the candidate who (dared) speak boldly and hold some relativly controversial standpoints on one side and you had the ‘edible by all’ candidate John Kerry with the typical politician fuzzyness/political correctness on the other side.
The initial reaction would be to say ‘hey, Kerry won so being very round in the edges was once again proven to be the best strategy’. Well I beg to differ, our short term needs is not having as many people as possible like us, but have as many people as possible being enganged enough in what we do to actually help out. And from this point of view Howard Dean ‘won’ over Kerry. He had a order of magnitude more people activly invovled in his campaign.
Or in other words; if you are building a house it is much nicer to have 10 people willing to help out than having a 1000 people giving you applause for taking on such a big task alone.
So back to the flag issue. Yes doing things that might be controversial might turn some people away, like jdub’s URL was an example of, but as my example above was meant to hightlight so taking away all controversy might eventually be more damaging; as some small controvesy is a smaller risk for us than stagnancy caused by lack of engagement from developers would be. So my worry here is not the flags, I was done with them after the last round, but that it will be the first step among many towards diluting the underlaying values that makes contributing to projects for volunteers (like myself) interesting. Free Software is not just about producing a product, if it where then we are nothing more than stupid people working for free, it is as much about promoting some clear values associated with it; like freedom of information, equal access to the basic infrastructure of our society and help bridging the digital divide. These values are much more important for my motivation for working on free software than being able to write my email in a program I can download without paying.
Me and a friend tried playing TripleA yesterday, a clone of the old Axis and Allies boardgame. The graphics and gameplay worked nicely enough, but the network code seemed a bit flakey, after the 7th lost connection during play we decided to wait until the next version before trying again :)
Ok, so there is this book thing people are doing now:
The instructions are: Grab the nearest book, open it to page 23, find the 5th sentence, post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
She moaned in exstacy as Georgio pushed into her hungry and insatiable love nest.
Saw 50 first dates at the cinema yesterday. Not nearly as funny as I thought the Wedding Singer was when it was released. What suprised me the most however was seeing that the US censors had rated it at ‘R’ originally (set down to PG-13 after a complaint). Tells me that US cinema censors need their head examined, sometimes I am wondering if the US is trying to immitate Iranian standards for censorship; here in Norway it was rated ok for 7 years old.
A nice calm Saturday with no special plans. Been going through my mailbox trying to reply to some of the mails and deleting old stuff. Updated my copy of GStreamer and was happy to see that a lot of work has been going on with getting GStreamer working under windows with the Microsoft compiler. Going through my mail I happily noticed that Ronald Bultje has been going over almost all the playback bugs I filed and fixed them. Guess I need to see if I can find any more troublesome files :)
Most things are now up and running only bad item being running my mail, xchat etc. through VNC since I don’t have a keyboard and mouse connected to my old computer anymore and my laptop doesn’t have Linux installed atm due to a harddisk crash.
Now I need to start looking into stuff for GUADEC, like accomodation and the planned rafting trip.