Category Archives: GNOME

The Pain of Directories

As we are preparing for the first alpha release of elisa the question of file locations came up. In a media center solution you have IMHO halfway lost if you have to expose disk directory layout through the userinterface. Cause since the primary tool for using the GUI is a remote navigating directories and choosing files based on it is simply painful. In the set-top box situation this is not to big a problem as we can enforce certain defaults. But since we also want people to be able to run Elisa on their normal server/desktop systems we need to also consider how these are laid out.

There has been some long discussions about this in the GNOME community about defining special ~/Music and ~/Movie directories for instance that all applications default to. If this was the case we could just have Elisa default to parsing those directories too. Unfortunatly the progress on this has stalled due to what I guess is a combination of issues, one is how to handle localizations (on disk or in GUI) and if the especially the first who does the work to make it happen.

For Elisa we will set specific directories for this first alpha release that can be changed in the elisa.conf file. What the long term solution will be will depend on what happens elsewhere in the community. I just hope we don’t need to have a file manager/chooser module in Elisa long term. At least not one many people would need to use.

GUADEC over for this year

So GUADEC is over and I am back again at the office. It was a great week and I guess the 7 day GUADEC worked out fine, although I felt people where maybe a little battleworn on Friday. I know I was.

A lot of cool stuff happened this year. For instance the LugRadio guys where able to record short daily LugRadio episodes from the conference using Jokosher. So be sure to grab the recorded episodes from their archives session. Nokia represented by Makoto Sugano also thought Jokosher was cool and donated a 770 device to the project to help get Jokosher remote going.

The Fluendo party was a great success even if we had a painful time figuring out how to start the slideshow looping in Open Present. To those wondering let me just say that the word ‘loop’ never occurs in any dialog related to it and that there is a non-intuitive timer value that has to be filled in :)

Edward did a great job organizing a GStreamer and gst-python hackfest at GUADEC. It ended up a quite large group with people interested in and working on Pitivi, Jokosher and last but not least Elisa our media center software which we announced at GUADEC.

The response to Elisa was absolutly fantastic and I hope we will be able to get an active community around it. Philippe and Loic will of course be continuing to hack on it to make it a killer solution.

GUADEC next year will be in Birmingham in the United Kingdom. I hope to be involved a bit with the organisation of that as I have some ideas on some cool and interesting tracks and speakers. Anyway I guess I can discuss such things with many of the local people involved when Edward and me head up to Wolverhampton for LugRadio live next month.

With so many companies involved in GNOME these days logowear is an important way to make your mark. Trying to keep the cooperative aspect strong I decided to help the Opened Hand guys out by wearing a t-shirt that surely points people to OpenedHand :). I am also wearing on of the fashionable Fluendo caps in that photo.

For people wondering about the video archive of the talks done at GUADEC you will find it at eventually. Nothing there now, but it is being worked on.

Women’s Summer Outreach Program

Not often I use my blog to say I was wrong about something, but this time I feel its warranted. I have to admit feeling that the Women’s Summer Outreach Program 2006 program, started to try to get more Women involved with Free Software, was destined to fail. To me it seemed like an effort to fish in an empty sea. Well as it turned out I was horribly wrong. There turned out to be a lot of submissions and seven projects are now approved. A big thanks to Chris Ball and Hanna Wallach for organizing this.

Important GUADEC updates

A couple of important updates for GUADEC atendees. The first message is that the France vs Spain world cup football match will be streamed at the Maemo party tonight, so no need to panick for the football fan among us.

The second announcement is that the bus service to the GNOME Village has improved with more departures and also an extra stop. Get the details on the GUADEC news site.
Be aware that now that things have cooled down a little the GUADEC news page will be more frequently updated with updated news.

GUADEC highlights

So GUADEC is now approaching with lightning steps. In that regard I should point out that there is a nice collection of lightning talks being held that you don’t want to miss. The full overview is here. Some of the cool highlights are Stuart Langridge of Jokosher and LugRadio fame presenting his project Jackfield, which will bring Apple’s Dashboard applications to GNOME. According to rumours so will Stuart have 90% of all Dashboard applications working in time for his lightning talk. The cool guys from Fluendo Lyon will present Elisa, the media center solution we have been working on for the last months. And last but not least Edward will present on Pitivi your friendly neighbourhood non-linear video editor. There is also a page listing the various GStreamer related events during GUADEC here: overview of some GStreamer realated events at this years GUADEC.

Also be sure to catch the Jokosher talk by Jono on Monday at 16.00 I think it will be interesting, the speed at which the Jokosher community was assembelded and have made a usable product is simply amazing so I am sure Jono will share some tips on community building as part of his talk.

Fluendo will also have a booth at the conference where you can reach us and get demos of our technologies and solutions, so be sure to stop by.

Mugshot, Jobs, SoC, Polypaudio and more


So there s3cr3t project that Havoc, Colin, Owen and others at Red Hat has been working on for the last months was revealed. Mugshot is now out and available. I don’t really get it. I have read the mugshot blog where there are some attempts at explaining what its about, but it fails to explain why I would find it interesting. And I mean that in a non-negative way, I really miss some explanation linking their technical description of how it works/what it is supposed to be with some examples of why I would find it cool to use. Along the lines of ‘You see this, and you use this feature of mugshot and then you are able to do that thing you never have been able to do before’. Currently my feeling is that linkswarm is supposed to be a continous live version of the ‘slashdot effect’ and Music Radar to be manual version of the group hitlists. Both these descriptions are probably wildly wrong, but they do examplify how incomprehensible the project is to me currently.

Nokia on a hiring spree

Actually impressed by the number of new jobs offered in Carlos latest blog entry. Nokia is really beefing up their development capabilities on the Linux side. I think we will see a lot of great stuff coming out of Nokia and going into GNOME, GStreamer and other related efforts going forward. Their participation in the GStreamer community is much more direct and active now than it was before the initial release, which is a very good thing. So if you are looking for a job doing cool stuff with Linux you should check out the list in Carlos blog.

Summer of Code

One great ideas done for this years GNOME summer of code was setting up a Planet for SoC Students. A lot of students already signed up and more to come. Thanks to Jeff and co for setting up that planet. And if you are a student working on something GNOME/GTK related for any organisation (doesn’t have to be ‘GNOME’, be sure to start blogging about your progress and get your blog listed.


Lennart Poettering released a new version of Polypaudio recently and also updated the GStreamer plugin to GStreamer 0.10. Personally I been feeling lukewarm about soundservers for a long time, but Polypaudio seems to get a lot of people to at least re-visit the sound server debate. Jan Schmidt whose opinion I respect a lot was very excited about polypaudio and even started trying to work with Lennart on getting the updated plugin into gst-plugins-good. Maybe Polypaudio
is the sound server that convince the world that sound servers aren’t such a bad idea after all. (And I hope no one asks ‘but what about JACK?’. JACK is great, but suggesting it for desktop usage makes about as much sense in my mind as suggesting someone should by a formula 1 car as a vehicle to take their family on vacation.)

The battle against bugzilla

The war to keep the GStreamer bugcount down continues without stop. It is paying off in the sense that I think people notice that we respond very quickly to bugs, which motivates people to report more. Luckily a lot of them with patches. But it also gives us a challenge in keeping up with bugzilla. This morning the statistics showed a total of 167 non-enhancement bugs, with +40 being submitted the last 7 days (and -29 closed the last 7 days). This means that over bug open/close traffic is between GTK+ and Evolution in volume, projects with over a 1000 unresolved bug reports compared to our 150+. It of course means we have to keep our eyes on the ball non-stop or our bugcount will start increasing quickly. Luckily we have a good community now with people offering patches (making resolving the bugs much easier), and also people helping us triange and reproduce bug reports. More is always welcome of course, just someone looking through our bug reports trying to reproduce issues reported and then commenting on the bugs is a great help. Especially if you are able to produce more details than the original report. For instance today I found a bug report saying that playing the WMA streams from Rush Limbaugh’s website caused Totem to stutter. After some testing (I downloaded the mms stream into a file using ‘gst-launch mmssrc location=”mms:uri-to.file.wma ! filesink location=rush.wma’) I found that we played the WMA file fine. So the problem is not the WMA/ASF elements, but most likely somewhere in Totem/playbin’s network buffering. Information like that saves time for the developers, enabling them to spend more time on fixing the bugs, and less time on investigating what the actual problem is. So even if you are not a programmer, helping your favourite project with their bugzilla is a good way to help developers and make your favourite project evolve even faster.

GUADEC video

We got some DVD’s with a presentation video of Vilanova de Geltru which I thought it would be nice to transcode to Ogg and share with everyone.

While waiting for Thoggen to get ported to 0.10 I had to make do with gst-launch. The pipeline below is what I managed to put together with the help of Zaheer.

gst-launch-0.10 dvdreadsrc title=”5″ ! decodebin name=”dvd” dvd. ! ffmpegcolorspace ! video/x-raw-yuv,format=\(fourcc\)YUY2 ! videoscale method=1 ! video/x-raw-yuv,format=\(fourcc\)YUY2,width=360,height=288,pixel-aspect-ratio=\(fraction\)16/15 ! videorate ! video/x-raw-yuv,framerate=25/2 ! ffmpegcolorspace ! theoraenc ! queue ! oggmux name=mux ! gnomevfssink location=file:///home/cschalle/vilanova_present.ogg dvd. ! audioconvert ! vorbisenc ! queue ! mux.

What this pipeline basically does is take the mpeg2/ac3 on the DVD, scale it down to 360×288 size, drop the framerate to half of the original and output the result as an Ogg Theora/Vorbis file.

Presentation video of Vilanova i la Geltru, home of GUADEC 2007

Anyway, you can now get a impression of the city of Vilanova i la Geltru by looking at
this presentation video of Vilanova
available in Ogg format and licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license. You can also watch the video online using the Cortado java-applet through this link.

Also been testing the Schrodinger Dirac implementation recently. Thanks to Ralph Giles there is a official Dirac in Ogg specification now and I am able to create Ogg Dirac files using the GStreamer plugins provided by the Schrodinger project. We still have some way to go before this is truly useful, but it is nice to be able to actually encode something and view it in Totem.

svideo and linux continued

So in my previous blog entry I mentioned my intial work to get my xvideo output working with Linux. I did notice thought that there was one remaining issue, which was the problem that there was a black border around the computer screen image on the TV. I ended up spending more time on resolving that than I did on getting the thing working in the first place. Anyway Jan aka thaytan told me (after I had already spent quite some hours on the problem) that there is a option called TVOverScan in my xorg.conf file which can be used to get the image to scale up to get rid of black borders like I had. The problem was that whatever I set the TVOverScan too, my nvidia board seemed to ignore it. Adjusting it using nvidia-settings however worked fine. Seems that the TVOverScan in xorg.conf gets ignored, so what I did instead was set up my system to run ‘/usr/bin/nvidia-settings –load-config-only’ on login to solve it. A bit hackish, but it will have to do for now.

Also rediscovered my old issue of nautilus-cd-burner not being able to deal with both my internal cdwriter and my usb dvd burner at the same time. Ended up having to remove the internal drive and rebooting to ge t it to deal with my usb driver properly.

Enabling SVIDEO from my Dell 8600 laptop

On my Inspiron 8600 Laptop I have a SVIDEO output on the back which I thought would be nice to use for playing back videos etc., on my tv. Although my TV also has SVGA input support, the cable for that is way to short to work nicely for me. Anyway after a lot of googling and testing back and forth I managed to put together this xorg.conf file which does what I want, giving me a separate X screen on the svideo port. Tried playing some movies onto it yesterday and it worked very nicely. In addition to duplicating everything for two screens the magic was in the BusID option and the tvstandard, tvoutformat and connectedmonitor options.

Getting this going though was a very manual process with editing the xorg.conf file, reading the NVIDIA driver README and googling to find answers to some specific questions. (None of the Linux on Dell Inspiron sites seemed to have actually tried testing/using the SVIDEO output port).

I assume part of making this nice that X could do with some HAL/dbus magic in order to be able to handle this in a more automated fashion.
Not sure in the end if xorg or GNOME will be able to offer something to setup these things in a nice GUI’ed way or if we are depending on the hardware vendors to do this due to it being relativly hardware vendor specific? NVidia already have a little GTK+ based setup tool bundled which maybe they could extend (currently it only seems to allow you to adjust stuff not add anything). Anyone know if there are any efforts by anyone in this area currently?

Reminds me of my USB soundcard issues from some time ago. While there is rudimentary support in the drivers, we still have so way to go before its ready for joe average user. And when we do get to the point of trying to make it joe average friendly we will probably find, like they discovered with Network Manager, that the drivers needs a lot of fixes before being ready to work properly in such a scenario. At least for the sound card scenario we should have infrastructure for it in the next release of GNOME thanks to Jürg Billeter‘s work. Hopefully the USB soundcard drivers makers follows suit and improves their linux support.

Java and GNOME

Found a Belle and Sebastian album on emusic today which I was to download with eMusicJ
and I got told there was a new eMusicJ version out. While downloading using that I noticed that with latest stable JRE the GTK+ theme support in Java seems to have improved as eMusicJ was using the same theme that the rest of my GTK+ apps are and the application actually did look like it belong. Nice to see Java provide a native look and feel beyond the 3 hardcoded themes in earlier versions of Java.

Update: Opps, it was not updated theming in Swing that did this, the reason for the nice integration is that eMusicJ uses SWT (like Eclipse) not Swing. Thanks to Michael Sheldon for correcting me. Better GTK+ theme support comes in Swing 1.6 :)

Transcoding to Ogg

Jacub Steiner requested a gst-launch script for transcoding to Ogg, so with a little help from Wim I updated the script I did for 0.8 to 0.10. So you can now transcode2oggt from here and use to to transcode your video files to Ogg Theora using this syntax ‘transcode2oggt /full/path/outputfile.ogg’

Pitivi Non-linear video editor

Continuing my blogging on Pitivi today. After some requestes today from various users Edward switched over to using the GStreamer uri handlers instead on relaying directly on gnome-vfs. This means that even if you don’t have gnomevfs installed Pitivi will work if you have a plugin available that handles the needed uri’s for file reading. So even if you only have filesrc for instance things will keep working.
I kept on updating the Pitivi website a bit today, adding for instance a link to the Python GStreamer API docs written by Gian Mario Tagliaretti.

Any users out there who want to help us test Pitivi and make it really robust be aware that the best way to create a log to attach to a bug report is to run Pitivi like this ‘GST_DEBUG=python:5 pitivi > bugtext.txt 2>&1’. Then reproduce the bug and close Pitivi, bzip up the generated .txt file and attach it to a report in bugzilla.

GStreamer bug count

The GStreamer team is continuing the effort to push the GStreamer bugcount down. Todays search gave me 137 open non-enhancement bugs to GStreamer while the entrypoint to get back on the top 15 buggiest projects in GNOME bugzilla is currently 161 (Galeon). The battle continues!