Category Archives: GNOME

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!

Going to GUADEC? Want to go cheap?

Found this nice site today which lists all the low cost airlines going to Barcelona and which cities they connect to. A perfect guide for finding cheap tickets to go to Barcelona. GUADEC is starting on the 24th of June so its time to start making arrangements!

Also a good time to get moving on submitting your abstract if you want to do a talk or a presentation at this GUADEC.

Be sure to get here as this GUADEC looks to promise more GNOME and more beer than any GUADEC before it :)

It’s A Long Way To Tipperary

Bought myself a USB DVD burner on Saturday. Trying to get it working on Sunday I learned that we are not 100% there yet in terms of DVD burning and handling. There where multiple things that did anything but just work. The first issue was that HAL and gnome-device-manager was rather flakey when it comes to handling the device. For instance if I booted my laptop with it connected nautilus etc., seemed unaware of its existence. Also if I plugged it in while having a blank DVD already in then my system also failed to deal with it. Only if I waited until the desktop was running, plugged the USB dvd writer in with an empty slot, then put in a empty DVD, only then did a ‘DVD+R blank disc’ icon appear on my desktop.

Trying to burn a myself DVD Nautilus complained that I needed to put in a supported media for example DVD+R disc. Problem was that a DVD+R disc was exactly what I had in the burner. Turned out that was a bogus error message and the real issue was lacking diskspace to store the temporary ISO image.

At this point I tried switching to GNOME Baker instead to create my DVD’s. At this point I also realized that handling two burners on the system was not something that worked two well. During my period of testing (which included a couple fo reboots) only my internal cdwriter was the only one recognized, only the USB dvd writer being recognized or in a few rare cases both where. That said even in the best of cases there seemed to be some permission issues when trying to burn as a normal user onto the usb dvd burner. In the end I tried running GNOME Baker as root, which did sorta work until I got error messages which I think where from cdrecord. At this point I decided to try out K3B hoping that since its been around a little longer it might have some workarounds or something for my issues. K3B seemed unable to handle the two drives also, but removing my internal writer physically eventually solved that problem. K3B did actually have a workaround or rather it didn’t use cdrecord, dvdrecord but growisofs to create DVD+R’s and some googling seemed to indicate that growisofs is the only linux library capable of doing so.

So to sum up there is still some work needed in the detection area and probably some library side work as well. At least ideally I guess we would want one intergrated set of libraries handling all kinds of cd and dvd burning. I will try to follow up on my problems by filing more bug reports, just need to figure out against what to file them, where to file them and how to find the information needed to file them first :)

As a sidenote I also tried Nero Linux. Since my burner supports ‘lightscribe‘ I figured the Linux version of Nero might have that as it was Nero for Windows that came bundled with the USB writer.
Discovered it didn’t and I also discovered that FC5 no longer is able to provide GTK1 based applications with any fonts it seems. Anyway know if there is any work being done on Linux ‘lightscribe’ support?


There was some complaints not long ago on Planet GNOME about projects using Werror as default for their compile and the value/cost of it. I am currently using latest Fedora Development which comes with an updated GCC version. This is causing the GStreamer build to fail from CVS (and we haven’t gotten around to fixing all the issues yet), but it has actually also shown why having it is a good idea. Cause atm GStreamer is the only multimedia project I am able to compile at all (by turning off werror) using GCC 4.1. Xine, mplayer and VLC are all failing to build for me. So by fixing all these things for previous versions of GCC and other compilers made GStreamer compileable with this latest incarnation. My point is that unless werror is turned on by default nobody is going to bother fixing those warnings, which means that the code is less likely to be compileable as is with other compilers or future versions of your current compiler. Also since the GStreamer community has done this for a long while now, incrementally fixing outr build with new versions of GCC etc., the job of removing the warnings isn’t overwhelming. I think that for some GNOME modules (and most software in general) the job of making them warning free has at this point become so big that nobody can manage to build up the energy to even try.

vmware server

We are planning on supporting Solaris with our plugins. Thanks to Sun we now have a SPARC box in our office to build and test our plugins on for the SPARC platform. Also to have a Solaris Intel build available I looked into the recently announced free vmware server product. Struggled a little to get it going on my Fedora development system as the config problem had some problems finding/using the kernel headers, but a patch called vmware-any-any-update97 sorted me out. One thing I have to say about vmware is that is it a very nice product. When using it you get the feeling of using something very polished and the GUI feels (and is) something actually made for running on your linux system, not an afterthough or sidejob of a GUI meant for a windows system.

GStreamer and GTK on embedded systems

I mentioned earlier some of the things that happened at 3GSM in
regards to GStreamer and GTK+. By combining that information with our current engagements at Fluendo and the dealings we have had at Fluendo in wake of 3GSM I think we are now in a situation where almost every major chipmaker in the embedded sector plans to or is already offering a SDK for their boards and chips using GStreamer for the multimedia handling and GTK+ for the GUI. And what is maybe even more interesting is that these efforts have come about due to the customers of these companies asking not only for a ‘linux SDK’, but for an SDK including GStreamer and GTK+. I don’t know the exact reasons for why our mindshare suddenly have exploded, but apart from the endorsement of GNOME and GTK+ from the major distributions I think we owe a lot of this to Nokia and the Maemo environment. Currently I know of hardware products under development using GStreamer and GTK+ such as TV’s, PVR’s, Media Center solutions, set-top boxes, portable music players, web tablets and mobile phones. It will be a year or two before these products starts hitting the market, but the current development is nothing short of amazing. The chipmakers seems believe that for embedded market will be focus on two major stacks going forward, WinCE and the Linux/GStreamer/GTK+ combo. Pretty cool stuff in my book :)

Dependence on non-free drivers

The effort to create a more beautiful effort is moving us quickly into a situation where the future desktop depends on hardware acceleration provided from the graphics card. The problem is that while 2D drivers are available as free software for the most part, the major graphics cards makers keep their 3D drivers closed. If you wanted good 3D acceleration under Linux the non-free NVidia and ATI drivers has been the way to go for a long time now.

So adding a ‘hard’ dependency on 3d hardware acceleration will implicitly mean we are basing our free desktop on non-free drivers feels like a step backwards. On the other side I don’t feel not going down the route of making our solution more visually appealing and hopefully also more usable is a viable option either, so I am not suggesting that these efforts gets rejected or stopped.

Hopefully the increased use of 3D will also lead to increased interest among free software developers to actually make free 3D drivers (and thus finding enough resources to overcome the difficulty of reverse engineering current cards) or that the increased use of 3d will increase the pressure from distribution makers and consumers to get ATI and NVidia to open their drivers. Anyway I hope I am wrong to be a bit worried about how this ends up and instead this leads to a big increase in contributions to things like MesaGL

Icon removal issue

It seems that some icons got removed from the gnome-icon-theme recently which has caused both problems and some debate. To me there are two issues here. The first is that I think we should start seeing our collection of icons as part of our ABI stability promise. Removing and changing icons names at regular intervals have been the norm for some time now, and as someone who has worked on maintaining themes its been a pain. Application developers and users also have a right to be upset if icons they IMHO rightly could expect to be there suddenly are gone and their applications breaks due to it.

The issue of wether we should have those icons displayed in Nautilus is another separate issue. I don’t have any strong feelings on it, but I think it would have been a better approach to at least add an option of getting those textual descriptions back through a gconf key enabling emblems. So that the people who wanted to keep textual descriptions could do so by enabling one gconf key and emblems would appear where before ‘hardcoded’ images where used. That solution would also allow for a more i18n friendly setup.

GNOME Webshop available or ?

One thing that was worked on by the board last year, or mostly by David Neary, was getting a GNOME webshop going.
Well it seems we got beaten to the punch
. Well at least we know what the Gnome looks like now :)

Good wine experience

I used to play the Magic the Gathering card game a lot some years ago. I came across an advertisement for a MtG computer game the other day which made me remember that there used to be a computer version of the original card game. I found the demo online of the original game and tried running it under Wine. Worked like a charm, I was almost suprised when both the installation and running of the game worked perfectly. Only minus was that sound support didn’t seem to work, but still I had some fun hours playing with the simple demo decks :) Good going Wine hackers.

Virgin Radio UK

Usually when you contact a media company through their public communication channels you feel you are sending stuff into the void.
I have had a very positive experience with
Virgin Radio UK
in this regard as they have updated their streams page fixing all the issues we have pointed out with them, randing from playlist problems to misnamed stream naming. Anyway now their streams
have perfect playlists and correct naming. A few bugs to sort out on our side still to handle everything, but I am sure we get there. Thanks to James at Virgin Radio for his help and assistance.

Emusic followup

Also Edward at the office signed up for emusic now. He tends to download whole albums more than me so the lack of a nicely working Linux client came up. Found the open source EmusicJ created by Robin Sheat. Works very nicely.

Good progress on 0.10 items for 2.14

Just noticed that Ross closed the port GStreamer to 0.10 bug as resolved. Things are also looking good on the GNOME Media side with the planed release for today making sure everything is ported and working nicely.

Julien and Tim have also been making very good progress on getting Totem up to speed, with Julien commiting first stage support for .sub subtitle files to CVS yesterday. And now working on polishing it up with proper seeking support.

Another long standing issue now getting some attention is that of multiple soundcards and USB soundcards. Jürg Billeter is now hacking on the problem and hopefully this will give us a really sweet solution for this problem. Go Go Jürg!

Travelling in Barcelona

So I got of my lazy ass yesterday and onto my bike. I biked all the way up to Tibidabo which is a church and ammusement park located on a mountain behind the city. It was heavy going getting up there, especially as I had no clue on how to get there I just biked straight ahead, which meant making my way through some residential areas and also through narrow forrested paths climbing the mountain. Going down as easier as I just followed the main road, although I thought I where to freeze my fingers off :)

Pain in multimedia keyboard land

After my latest update of Rawhide I suddenly noticed my multimedia keys had stopped working. It turned out the feature had been removed as it didn’t work as expected. Instead one is supposed to use the keyboard layout settings now to choose the keyboard one have and it will contain mappings for any multimedia keys on your keyboard. A couple of things strike me, the first is that we should be very clear on communicating this switch, to many people assume or like to foster the assumation that we remove features for the fun of it. So it should be made clear that the feature is not removed, but moved. That said I am not sure our new solution is good enough, problem is that multimedia keys are horribly unstandarized and I fear the keyboard layout list might grow very long and ungainly with this approach. Part of the problem is that even with the same hardware maker the keys don’t seem to have a standard mapping. For instance in the layout menu there is a Inspiron 8xxx option, but they key-mappings for it doesn’t seem to match with my inspiron 8600 keyboard. Anyway, Bastien and Crispin is working on a Wiki page with some explanations on how to add your keyboard to the system so maybe it will at not be all bad.