The USB soundcard story

So as I have blogged about at an earlier point in time I have a Sound Blaster Audigy NX2 USB soundcard which I bought for the specific purpose of being able to play movies on my laptop with surround sound.

Even though I did google about it beforehand I managed to fool myself into believing this card was actually fully supported under Linux, which it isn’t. The S/PDIF output is not supported at all in fact, due to missing documentation from Creative Labs. Which is really sad, Creative Labs where among the first of the major hardware vendors to hire someone to work on linux support, and if they now don’t even provide proper hardware docs anymore then that is a sad development. Do anyone know if they still have a linux driver developer on their payroll? Anyway, I tried mailing the contact person listed on the website about the docs, hopefully I get a positive reply.

Anyway as I also talked about before the state of USB soundcard handling under linux is not a beautiful chapter in itself, even when just using it in stereo mode with Totem/Xine it reverted back to the internal soundcard just after the DVD menu for some reason. And since I had lost the .asoundrc file I wrote the first time I tried I spent about as much time this time too finding out exactly what to put in it. Most entries I googled out said stuff like ‘here is what my .asoundrc file looks like, not sure what it exactly does, but it works for me’…..

I fear that as the Fluendo DVD player comes closer we end up having to fix up parts of the lower stack a bit to overcome the pains like this.

Anyway, Tired of the whole problem I bought a 60 Euro DVD player yesterday. Was able to watch Hidalgo yesterday using it on my widescreen lcd tv usinig s-video and connecting to my surround system using a optical cable. Neato! Now I only need to figure out how to disable to region checking on the system.

Pirates and Parrots

It is a well known fact that Pirates and Parrots go together. It is kinda like wizards and cats. But how many historical pirates did actually have a parrot? A good question you might say, and one we might never find the true answer too. Yarr!

News on SMIL

Got good news on SMIL today, the LiveSupport
project which is a software package for managing Radio stations (and which uses GStreamer have written some SMIL elements for GStreamer already. And they are willing to relicense them to LGPL for inclusion in GStreamer.

The Ambulant project which I also blogged about earlier also got back to me today saying that the next version of Ambulant will be LGPL, which at least takes away the licensing hindrance for GStreamer intergration.

The advantage of Ambulant of the LiveSupport stuff is that it is much more complete in terms of implementing the SMIL spec, the downside is that its design might be more painful to integrate in a nice way. Anyway Flavio Oliveira is planning on investigating the issue further and working on it, so hopefully a good solution can be found in the end.


Currently having a Asterisk server set up for use by the GNOME board meetings, the current phone setup is costly and unpractical and I can’t help but feel that if such a technical group of people like the GNOME board is not able to switch to using a VOIP conference solution the who is.

GStreamer 0.10 and GNOME 2.14

As the planning for GNOME 2.14 starts we need to gear up in the GStreamer community too. As we want to switch GNOME 2.14 over to using GStreamer 0.10 there is a lot of work that needs to be done. Releasing 0.10.0 being maybe the biggest one :)

We are pursuing an agressive schedule now and 0.10 should be out sometime November, so that part should be ok.

As for other tasks there are of course the obvious things like porting Totem, Rhythmbox, Sound Juicer and gnome-media over to the new version of GStreamer. But maybe this switch is also a good time to finally get rid of the direct esound dependence in GNOME.

Always been a lot of discussion on what would be needed to ditch the esound dependency, but sample caching and sound mixing seems to be the core issues. We have been talking for a long time of implementing a simple local only sound mixer/sample caching system with GStreamer and than add an abstraction layer on top which will use that system if the underlaying output doesn’t support it for you. So if you use esound it will not use it, or if you use dmix with alsa it will only use the sample cachinh part. Problem of course have always been that those who volunteered to take the tasks of doing this on ended up to busy or got dragged into other more urgent things.

Anyway this is definetly the time to start thinking of what needs doing and who will do what. Don’t want to start switching GNOME over 2 weeks before the release of 2.14 :)

Norwegian politics

Not everyone agreeded with my previous post about the Norwegian election. Especially my comment on the vote numbers seemed to hit some tender spots. As some people pointed out, if you add the votes of one of the parties which didn’t get elected to parliament then the figures look differently, but then again if you are going to start adding the votes of the non-represented parties then you can’t stop at one, instead you would need to add up the votes of all the unrepresented parties and assign the to your block of choice (haven’t bothered doing so myself to check what the results then would be).

The fact remains that among the parties represented in parliament you have now a majority in terms of representatives which got fewer votes than people who are the minority in terms of representatives. This is due to two factors, the primary being method for allocating representatives, using Lagües allocation which favour the biggest party. This I have actually little problem with as it do have some good effects, like strenghtening the parliamentary support of any election winner and through that easing governance (although Norways solution is to weak to have a real impact in that regard, unlike for instance the Brittish election system). The other reason and which is the thing which I strongly dislike is the the part which discriminates against central areas like Oslo, treating votes there like secondary citizens whose votes are worth much less than for instance the votes of people in northern Norway.

The justifications for this system looks to me to be made up mostly to defend status quo as it serves the interest of the majority of parliament fine even it if degrades the majority of the electorate. Cause if the arguments used where genuine then Norway would opt to move towards a two chamber system like the US where one chamber is based on population numbers and one chamber is based on geographic units. Such a system gives both fair representation to all and safeguards the interests of the less populated areas. While the current system just gives the less populated areas undue power. And before someone points it out, I am aware that Norway in theory have a two chamber system.

So back to my post from yesterday, my complaint about the vote numbers where mostly based on the frustration with the Norwegian electorate inability to go forward instead of backwards. As it could very well be that even if you remove the geographical discrimination from the Norwegian election system, the Lagües model could still have wielded the a similar outcome (to much work to actually calculate it to find out).

DAAP is all around

Cool things are happening all around. I mentioned the Rhythmbox support for DAAP some days ago and I have know also learned that DAAP support for Maemo and the 770 is under development. Which means you can listen to anything shared from Rhythmbox or iTunes (apart from DRM’ed crap) using your Nokia 770 device.

Flumotion and GStreamer 0.9

Wingo managed to get Flumotion running with GStreamer 0.9 on Friday which means that we hopefully can do a new release of Flumotion soon which runs both with GStreamer 0.8 and GStreamer 0.9/0.10.

Fluendo plugins beta

Also been working on preparing our beta program over the last couple of days as we are preparing to launch our first set of plugins upon an unsuspecting world very soon. Lot of ‘fun’ work writing licensing text and similar, but luckily that is mostly a one time task per plugin.


Got informed of a new GStreamer using project today, LiveSupport which is software for managing a radio station. They also started on a SMIL element for GStreamer as part of that effort which might be a better suited starting point for GStreamer SMIL support than the Ambulant project I mentioned in an earlier blog. Of course some licensing issues involved as usual, but hopefully we can get those sorted out :)

Desktop eyecandy

Been thinking a lot about how to approach the desktop eyecandy issue. Think I will start by fixing up my old Colony theme (which is a dark futuristic theme) and see where it stands today. When I made it (and abandoned it) many months ago it did trigger some ugly bugs which hopefully are fixed by now. I also talked shortly with some of the people in #gnome-art about it the other day, among them Star which hadn’t been around for a long while. Think the idea of asking artists to provide desktop screenshot mockups displaying features they would like to have available when themeing would be a good start. We would also need to get some coders onboard to help file patches against relevant projects as I think just filing bug reports would not be enough to get this moving. So if there are any interested hackers out there please mail me at uraeus(at) or come to the #gnome-art channel on Gimpnet. Helping out with this would probably be a great way to get involved with GNOME hacking in general as it would expose you to a lot of different modules.

Jan and Jaime’s going away party

So Jan and Jaime are organizing a party today as they are returning to Australia in a few days to get married, go on honeymoon and eat vegemite. This means they will not be back in Barcelona until November. Wine and Cheese have been promised, some of it probably even from the Wine and Cheese region of France.

Election in Norway

Yesterday there was a national election back in Norway. Didn’t get around to voting at the consulate here in Barcelona so I guess I have no right to complain, but I will do so anyway…argh the socialists won :(, whats worse is that they won due to how the election system works not because the majority wanted them as they actually got fewer votes than the sitting right wing government.

Free Software and politics

Been getting more and more involved with the political side of software recently. Getting market acceptance is hard work and there are many ‘games’ which have to be played in order to get to the goal. There are of course some standarisation stuff happening in the free software world, through things like Linux Standard Base and But we are still babe’s in the woods compared to the wider world. But who know’s, maybe we can have GNOME declared an ISO standard at some point :)

Hectic week

Was a hectic last week with a visit to Helsinki from Wednesday to Friday. It was Wim and I who traveled from Barcelona up north and it turned out we where not the only ones there. Mikael Hallendal, Richard Hult and Tim Jannick from Imendio had by coincidence also some meetings with Nokia. Since Nokia is gearing up to start selling the 770 soon we discussed areas of cooperation for future software and hardware upgrades. Can’t of course blog about the details, but the meetings where positive and I think some exciting things will come out of it for everyone involved, including the community of course.

Also meet Zeeshan for the first time outside IRC. He seemed to have managed to adjust to life in Finland quite fine and seems happy with his job at Movial. Introduced him to the magic of Guinness beer, which I think he still needs a couple of more months to fully appreciate. It was fun meeting him, and hopefully Wim and I didn’t come of as too boring :)

Talking about boring, the Imendio guys are growing old and tired I think. The first night we didn’t get them to come out at all, and the second night they ran back to their hotel right after dinner. Could of course be my deoderant being bad or Mikael getting nervous after our discussion about the uses of baby oil, but I think its mostly that its natural for Swedes to grow old and frail quickly. In fact I think I noticed Mikael having grey hair above his ears now. I think for GUADEC here in Barcelona next year I will buy both him and Richard a walking chair each, so they can manage to get around and see a little of town.

It seems Michael Meeks will be in town tomorrow. Hopefully Novell Brainshare will not slurp away all his time so we can meet up for some good tapas and catching up. I don’t know about brainshare, but I guess it might be unrelated to Gandhi saying ‘Better with braindrain than brain in the drain’.

Anyone seen the Amulet of Yendor?

Would be interesting to do a poll over how many GNOME hackers have actually managed to get hold of the Amulet of Yendor in netHack. I am not one of them, but I am sure there are some out there :)

Rhythmbox magic

Charles Schmidt checked his DAAP work into Rhythmbox CVS today. This means that if you update to it you should be able to share music between Rhythmbox and iTunes clients on your LAN. Sweet stuff :)
I do have it running now, but since I am the only one in my LAN with it there was a limited amount of sharing. I did however succesfully have my user run RB pick up the sharing of my root run RB :). screenshot provided as proof


So being sick at the end of last week and not fully recovered during the weekend I used the opportunity to watch most of the movies in Jan’s DVD collection which I hadn’t seen before. And for the most part I realized there was a good reason for me not having seen them before.

The best of the pack was probably Legally blonde. While being based on rather well used elements at least it contained a shred of a message and the main character did actually have some development through the movie. And some of the gags where not so overdone they stopped being funny.

On the other hand the sequal was just pure crap. Like it was cute and funny when she had an iBook in the first movie where the rest of the class was using uniform looking black laptops, but the pink colored beast in the followup just went overboard and became stupid instead of silly. And every ‘joke’ in the movie was like that, they took something from the first movie and made it even more of a extreme.

Another movie I had the ‘pleasure’ of seeing was
Two weeks notice with Hugh Grant and Sandra Bullock. A typical weakly scripted romantical comedy, but the main problem here is that it felt like both Hugh and Sandra where both getting rather tired of staring in these kind of movies so both of them where radiating a heavy dose of ‘lack of energy’ and ‘are we done we this scene yet’.

Also got to see 13 Going on 30 starring Jennifer Garner. Seemed to want to be the girlie version of Big, but no matter what angle you play it the movie stunk. The main character was very unconvincing, depicting a level of innocense in relation to sex for instance that only a 13 year old living in an amish boot camp can be believed to possess. Her reactions and those of her surroundings felt so fake that it came across quite clear that they had a plot, but forgot to write a real script to implement it.

Also had a dose of Kevin Smith movies. Saw both Clerks and Mallrats in addition to having seen Chasing Amy earlier in the week with the rest of the guys. Where not to impressed by either Clerks or Mallrats. Both being very similar, with two very unlikeable main characters and frequent appearances by Jay and Silent Bob. At the end of Mallrats I was actually hoping that the father would manage to send his daughter of with someone else and that the second guy would lose his girlfriend to Ben Afflecks character, so worthless was the main characters. I still think that Chasing Amy is a really great movie, but neither Clerks or Mallrats are even in the same ballpark.

Also saw Stepford wives. Not all bad I guess, but the whole storyline felt like it came out 30 years to late.