Category Archives: GNOME

No Quake3 in my FC6 world

Been running FC6 for a little while now and I am happy with it for the most part. Only irritating regression is that Quake3 don’t want to run anymore, it actually pulls down the whole X server when I try to run it. This is using the non-free Nvidia driver package from livna.org.

The xorg.0.log file doens’t give me much to work with, at least nothing that Google gives me anything on.

Backtrace:
0: /usr/bin/Xorg(xf86SigHandler+0x81) [0x80d4cc1]
1: [0x414420]
2: /usr/lib/xorg/modules/drivers/nvidia_drv.so(_nv001255X+0x38) [0x2ee5dc]
3: [0xa0fb8c0]

Fatal server error:
Caught signal 11.  Server aborting

Anyone seen and fixed this on their own system? I am using the quake3 version from Fedora Extras.

Linux Desktop and Games

Noticed a discussion on Slashdot on the state of Linux for games, spawned by a (not so good) article on Cedega.

One of the main arguments brought up which is probably true is that the PC gaming market is dying/declining, due to the increased popularity of consoles. It rhymes well with my own experience as those of my friends who do game a lot have basically switched from PC gaming to Playstation/Xbox gaming over the last two/three years. If you as a game company is moving your focus from PC’s to consoles anyway I guess looking at adding more ‘PC platforms’ to your supported list is quite far down the todo list.

That said there are still some major titles coming out with primarly the PC platform in mind and I don’t accept all the arguments made for why these don’t have a native linux port.

One argument I noticed cropping up was that of easy of porting between XBox and PC platform while the Linux/OpenGL/SDL/OpenAL port was harder. I doubt this is the real problem. For example I did expect more Linux games to come out when the Playstation 2 came out and used GCC and OpenGL due to ease of porting, but no such ports seemed to happen. Today MacOS X uses OpenGL and OpenAL on a Unix core with gcc, yet few of titles released for Apple also get a GNU/Linux port. So I think the Linux ports gets axed before the difficulty of porting question even arises.

Another question is if there are enough linux users out there to warrant a port, or at least enough linux users interesting in playing games to warrant a port. That is a hard question to answer. Loki Games did go under as many have pointed out, but in the aftermath its hard to say if it was mismanagement or lack of sales killing that company. Claims have been made in both directions. I would also hope that we have managed to grow the overall size of the linux userbase since the days of Loki which might have changed the dynamics if Loki where doing business today. There are other linux porting houses like Linux Games Publishing and Runesoft around and they seem to be surviving, even if they mostly do smaller titles. Transgaming looks like they are doing a healthy business currently, somewhat on the back of the enduring popularity of World Of Warcraft no doubt. So there definetly is a sustainable market for games and games related products on GNU/Linux. Based on some comments I saw from a Epic or Id person a couple of months ago I guess it is more of the ‘we don’t lose money on doing linux ports’ category though as opposed to ‘doing linux ports gives us a nice bundle of extra cash’. We need to get to the second of these two before the major game houses start paying attention I think.

Linux gaming is hampered still by shitty drivers for 3D, yet I am unsure about how direct impact this have on the lack of game ports. At the level the decision is taken at a company about wether to support Linux or not I don’t think there would be awareness of the state of Linux 3D drivers. NVidia’s proprietary drivers are probably the only ones out there that provides the quality and performance you want for playing newer titles. Intel’s drivers are good, but Intel is currently aiming at the low-end graphics market which kills them for a lot of the current games I think. ATI as many have pointed out provide really shitty Linux drivers. I don’t understand fully why they get away with it. I mean according to the grapevine the reason these drivers exist is due to the animation companies wanting them for their renderfarms. Well if that is true I don’t understand how said companies accept drivers which such horrid performance, being about 50% the speed of the same driver for Windows. Losing 50% performance on your renderfarm due to bad drivers would cause a lot of angry customers I would assume?

Anyway for someone contemplating a port, there might be some awareness that 3D accelleration under Linux has some kind of problems, even if the don’t know the details, which wouldn’t be helping their value estimation of the linux market of course. That said it seems to me people in the community are activly trying to buy NVidia or Intel using hardware these days, so hopefully the general image of bad 3D support will lessen over time due to that. It also has to be said in defence of ATI that it do seem like they are trying to improve their drivers currently. The release of AIGXL and XGL seems to have made them decide to put some more resources onto their drivers. Time will tell.

In regards to the general market size, I saw this
article today
which is Red Hat talking about Xen. More importantly to this entry though is that it also reports both Novell and Red Hat seeing rapidly growing interest in deploying GNU/Linux destops. As a digression I wonder how important the major GNU/Linux and Solaris vendors having standarized on GNOME is for this surge in interest. The Windows games market where built on the back of home office PC’s, so maybe that can/will be our path too.

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 http://stream.fluendo.com/archive/guadec/2006/ 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

Mugshot

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 last.fm 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.

Polypaudio

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.

Dirac
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.