Fedora 9 looking good

I upgraded my laptop to the latest Fedora Core 9 test release last night due to having some issues with a broken keyring database. And I have to say it is a very nice experience so far. The major thing I think a lot more people than me has been waiting for is having the GNOME keyring database connected to your gdm login. So now more first login in then providing they keyring manager your password before it logs you onto the wireless or email servers.

Another small bug now fixed is that when you boot with for instance a SD card in the machine it pops up on the desktop right away. in FC8 I had to take it out and put it in again once the desktop was running to get it automounted.

The system monitor is also become very nice, while this is a GNOME improvement more than something Fedora specific it is still something I appreciated when I took at look at it. There are also some improved icons, especially the new SD card icon looks really sweet.

Various bits of polish added to NetworkManager also like a Connection Information item. The power manager has also improved, and it now asked me if I wanted to change my lid down action when connected with mains power to avoid system risking overheating.

Firefox 3 is of course another nice improvement of this release. And it seems Fedora integrated the OpenOffice GStreamer patches created by Novell as I was able to put an Ogg video into a presentation and have it work now.

I also liked the fact that when I had to type in my SSH password in a terminal window the gnome-keyring popped up a dialogue asking if I wanted it to remember this password, very sweet indeed.

Only thing I am not to fond of is the new GDM log in, it feels slow and cumbersome as I first have to pick my name from the list before it ‘slowly’ brings up the password field.

More SoC Pitivi hacking

So it turns out we got 2 Summer of Code projects working on improving the Pitivi non-linear video editor. Sarath Lakshman will be hacking on Pitivi this summer as part of the Fedora Summer of Code. This is in addition to the work that Brandon Lewis will be doing. So hopefully by the end of summer Pitivi will be useful for a lot more people.

Biofuels, how long before the stupidity ends

I always believed that good environmental policies are crucial to the future of this planet, but for every year that goes by my faith in humanity’s ability to enact useful ones diminish. Partly because I think the main environmental issue is human overpopulation and unfortunately faith based organizations have sabotaged every UN attempt at pushing for some global policies and debates on that.

The other thing is that politicians seems unable to react in an intelligent way when faced with new data. And I am not just talking about the American right holding their hands over their ears screaming lalala for many years instead of facing the facts that global warming was real. Or arguments that science will be able to overcome any problems eventually so there is no need for hard hitting policies, the last argument strikes me as the same as encouraging unprotected sex with HIV positive people since science will probably come up with a cure before you die from Aids. While I am a strong believer in what science can accomplish you have to make your plans on what is currently available, not on what you hope is going to happen.

One of my favourite examples of political stupidity from Norway is milk carton recycling. You see, for many years the government did huge campaigns to try to get people to send in their milk cartons for recycling, most of these campaigns especially targeted towards children. Then some years ago a researcher pointed out that recycling these cartons was actually less environmentally friendly than just burning them. The pollution caused by transporting them in for recycling combined with the chemicals they had to use to dissolve the wax protection on the cardboard was a bigger environmental hazard than actually just burning the cartons at the local garbage treatment plants. So what did the government representative say when faced with this? Did the representative say that with this new information the recycling project would be stopped? No, instead the representative managed to say that since stopping the recycling project might undermine the faith in the environmental policies and due to the great symbol value of the project for environmental protection it would continue…… Yep, nothing strengthens policy support and provides greater symbol value than doing something stupid.

These days we are faced we what has turned out to be a similar stupidity on a global scale. Biofuels.

Biofuels has been hailed as a white knight for both energy problems and environmental policies, but recent research has shown that it actually might be a environmental disaster, not to mention its contribution to the rising prices of food will also make it a participant in a humanitarian disaster.

The problem with biofuels is that while the plants involved do photosynthesis like any other plant they do less than a similarly sized field of wild plants and trees. And since current biofuel policies are causing a lot more forest and wild fields to be turned into farmland for biofuels, the amount of CO2 converted to Oxygen lessen. And voila, the push for biofuels manage to accelerate global warming instead of slowing it. Question if how many years it will take for politicians to catch on to this and for instance the EU biofuel goal to get scrapped.

Summer of Code Projects


Seems the slot count for Summer of Code is now as close to set in stone as it will be so I guess its time to announce the four projects that got approved as part of the GStreamer SoC.

First our we got Thiago Sousa Santos who will be writing a mp4/qt/3gpp muxer for GStreamer. This will fill a big hole in our current lineup of muxers. This project will be mentored by Wim Taymans.

Then we got  Brandon Lewis working on Pitivi. He will among other things be adding still image and transitions support to Pitivi. This project is mentored by Edward Hervey.

The third project is Richard Ronald Spiers working on MSN support in Farsight2. This means that any Farsight2 using application will be able to communicate with MSN users. This project is mentored by Olivier Crête.

And last but not least is Roberto Fagá Jr who will be working on a video transcoder using GStreamer. Another critical project as it will help us keep our muxers and encoders well tested and working. This project will be mentored by Stefan Kost.


The Dirac project ended up with two projects in this years Summer of code. Matthias Bolte will be working on OpenGL acceleration for Dirac and  Bart Wiegmans will be working on a Java implementation of Dirac. Both projects to be mentored by David Schleef.


As every year a ton of GNOME projects got approved. Of special interest to the GStreamer community is the DVB Manager to be done by Sebastian Pölsterl, the Cheese OpenGL effects by Filippo Argiolas, Empathy bases IRC client by William Christopher Farrington, speech recording for tomboy notes by Gabriel Geraldo França Marcondes and Corvalan Cornejo Gabriel working on Empathy VoIP support.

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 :)

Norwegian Public administration suddenly a lot more stupid

I learned today that that the Norwegian Equality and Discrimination Ombudsman have decided that public sector workplaces can not pay two groups with the same length of education differently. The specific case where a case where some nurses and some engineers in a small Norwegian community where earning different salaries, even though both groups had four years of higher education.

While the case will be taken to the courts, and hopefully overturned, it is an example of equality thinking having gone horribly wrong. There is so many problems with this decision that I have problems knowing where to start. First of all this decision forgets that the labour market, is in fact a market. Different salary levels come about as a result of supply and demand issues or a range of years. And if this rule is not overturned it means that public sector work places will basically be unable to get qualified employees in high competition parts of the labour market, as it is of course infeasible to increase the salary of every employee in the public sector each time one need to pay more for in demand labour.

The second part is that it makes the already ineffective tuning of the education sector to the needs of the labour market even more ineffective. If you can’t pay people who have been taking math in Uni higher for instance than someone studying other subjects, that means you have very few incentives for driving people towards harder and/or less popular studies which are needed for society to prosper.

If the rule stands it also plays into the already growing problem of education padding, where groups are continuously pushing for longer education periods to increase the standing of their profession. The financial education I took over four years is today actually a five year degree, and even when I did my degree I wondered to myself what knowledge or skill was actually passed to me during those four years which couldn’t been just as effectively transfered over three years.

The Norwegian socialists (communists?) need to wake up and realize that equal pay for equal work is not the same as equal pay for all work. Salary equality need to be aimed for on a macrolevel, not across random professional boundaries and organizations.The government is supposed to be involved in nation building here, not a re-enactment of Animal Farm.

And I am not saying that salary inquality is not something which cant be a problem. I do agree that policies aiming at making sure that women who holds basically the same job as a man should get on average equal pay is correct for instance. (And I repeat that the goal should be to look at that problem in the context of macro level averages as there are of course many cases where paying one person more than another is reasonable, even if they have similar backgrounds. An obvious example here is the world of pro-sports, but that applies just as much to other types of work, ie. Linus Torvalds is of course not comparable with any random person who spent the same amount of years as he doing computer science in Uni.)

And I was also musing while watching the US news and discussion shows on TV here yesterday, that
maybe one of the big issues undermining the US economy and sense of social unity is the enormous gaps in income here. But just like the gender equality issue trying to address that issues through public policy needs to happen gradually on a macro level and not on a micro level. For example are there laws or policies that could be put in place that would strengthen the bargaining position of those earning less and thus over time improve their average income level in relation to the rest of society?

Of course politicians today do not think in such high level terms, instead they prefer buying votes by earmarking money to specific groups.

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.

Monday is final SOC proposal deadline

Ok, so this is my final blog for this year suggesting that people sign up to do a Google Summer of Code projectwith GStreamer. Even with Google extending the deadline on Monday it the gates are closing. We got some good projects proposed for both GStreamer and Dirac (and there are some really nifty GNOME ones also), but more is always welcome.On Tuesday myself and the other SoC administrators for the various projects will start voting over the various Summer of Code proposals we have received, and hopefully yours will be among those getting the most votes.

So for the final time check out our page of instructions for how to create a GStreamer SoC proposal and if you don’t already know what you want to do as a project you can check out some of the ideas GStreamer developers have proposed.

OSSv4 and GStreamer

Not long ago 4Front Technologies open sourced their OSSv4 system. OSSv4 is a much improved version of the old OSS sound system that used to be in the kernel. OSSv4 will also be the official new sound system for OpenSolaris. With OSSv4 being open source it became important to support it well in GStreamer and in GNOME. Due to this we at Collabora Multimedia have been working with 4Front to make sure everything works well. Tim-Philipp Muller has been working on some new OSSv4 elements for GStreamer for some time now with the goal being to make things like the GNOME mixer and so on works perfectly if you install OSSv4 on your linux or FreeBSD system. We are not there yet, but we are getting closer.

These plugins are currently in gst-plugins-bad, but once we get some wider testing of them we hope to move them to gst-plugins-good. A nice feature is that since the OSSv4 plugin doesn’t need OSSv4 installed to build the plugins will build on all linux systems. This means that they are very likely to be shipped as part of the GStreamer plugins coming with your distro and thus all you need to do to enable OSSv4 on your linux box is grab the OSSv4 package from 4Front.

Some things still need a little polish, so no screenshots at this time, but if you are using OSSv4 on your system please grab CVS gst-plugins-bad and report any issues you find to bugzilla.

GStreamer and Firefox = true?

Was just pointed to Chris Double’s blog entry about his work integrating GStreamer with the HTML5 media elements. Really great stuff Chris! I hope the linux distributions pick up these patches as soon as possible as it would be really sweet to have Firefox’s media handling integrated with the rest of the system.

And thanks to the MacOSX and Windows the nice Windows and MacOSX support in GStreamer maybe this could become a cross platform solution for Firefox.