Older blog entries for Jordi (starting at number 122)

GNOME 2.32

Once again, the GNOME project has released a major release on time, to the day. Congrats! While it doesn't feel like a major release, due to the pushing back of GNOME 3.0 another 6 months in the middle of the cycle and the limited changes included, I believe it'll be a good one because it just adds on top of the really solid GNOME 2.30.

GNOME 2.32 is out a bit too late for Debian squeeze, but the Debian GNOME team has a plan™ to incorporate new 2.32 versions for modules which don't include big, intrussive changes like migrations to dconf, or any other dependency on the new versions of GTK or GLib. The result is that Debian 6.0 will ship with most of GNOME 2.30, plus some cherrypicked new versions of 2.32 modules.

Syndicated 2010-09-30 23:49:00 from I still don't have a title

De mar a mar, hiking across the Pyrenees

Two weeks ago, Maria and I completed one of our dreams when we arrived in Cap de Creus, where the Pyrenean range sinks in the Mediterranean. To get there, we walked hundreds of kilometres during a month, crossed dozens of steep valleys and enjoyed one of the richest experiences of our lives.

We managed to complete this challenge without facing major problems or pains, and after the first five our six days, our legs seemed to have gotten used to the daily effort and it started to be easier and easier. Our morale kept growing as days passed and we advanced east. When I started walking on a cold and rainy morning in Hondarribia, after barely no rest in the night bus to Irún, I thought for myself that it was improbable that we'd manage to get anywhere near Catalunya, that one of us would get injuried way before, or we'd just give up and go for the easy beach vacation in the Basque Country.

Biadós refuge, under Posets

But we didn't, and after a somewhat painful start, with our boots soaking wet during the stages that crossed the enchanting Selva de Irati which ended up with me getting the biggest blister I've ever seen, we started to walk farther every day, extending the stages when we felt strong after reaching their official end. When we crossed from Nafarroa to Aragonese territory, the mental wall that I had built over the toughest stages in our quest started to fall apart. Days later, we found ourselves climbing down to Pineta, leaving Ordesa behind and enjoying a feeling that our adventure could not go better. The weather had been perfect for over a week and our legs and back were strong to go all over the way to the sea.

Cañón de Añisclo, on our way to Pineta

When we finally saw that huge blue stain on the horizon, the day before getting to the last mark, we got really excited. We had made it, but as we walked towards the cape, happiness slowly got mixed with melancholy. An unforgettable adventure was about to end, and we didn't want to face our return to the city and our routines. It had been many days surrounded only by awesome landscapes, and living without watches, with only sunlight and weariness marking the time to get in our sleeping bags.

At the very last red and white mark of our journey

We've had plenty of time to meet great people. Starting with the Navarrian brothers we met in the early stage, which provided us with a good pace to follow while our leg muscles were still building up; or Kike and Ana, who drove from Pamplona to visit us during the first Aragonese stages (thanks for the supplies!). Tomàs and Roger, young hikers from Mataró, surprised us with their maturity and experience as mountaineers; we had the pleasure to join forces during four days, walking a really cool variant through the Infiernos and Collado del Letrero which avoided going through the ghost city of Panticosa. Roger and Tomàs, we really hope to meet you soon! Andreu, Manel, Ghandi and Gaŀla visited us at the Vall de Núria and were unlucky to suffer a frightening hail and thunder storm when they left our shelter on their way back to their car. Thanks! All of you have been a very special part of our experience!

This adventure through GR 11 has been incredibly positive for us for several reasons. We've learned a lot about ourselves and strengthened our relation, and now I know how powerful drive can be; to get somewhere, no matter how far, it's really easy if you just believe you can do it and desire to get there.

Maria and I are proud of what we've done, and no wonder we're looking for new challenges. An obvious one would be repeating this experience, going through the French side of the Pyrenees, but for now, the Corsican GR 20 seems the most apealing. We'll see, next summer!

Syndicated 2010-08-31 23:40:00 from I still don't have a title

Hiking through the Pyrenean GR 11

Tomorrow, at this time, I'll probably be unsuccessfully trying to find a comfortable position on a seat of the Bilmanbus to Irun. Very early on Saturday, as soon as we get off the bus, Maria and I will quickly head to Hondarribia's beach in Cape Higer to symbolically wet our feet in the waters of the Cantabrian Sea.

We won't have much time to enjoy the cold waters of the ocean, though. Soon after that, we'll have to take a deep breath, look East, and start walking if we want to achieve our utmost objective: take a bath in the beautiful beaches of the Cap de Creus, in the Mediterranean sea. In between, 30 days and 840 kilometres of thick woods, deep valleys, high peaks and cold waters, all of which shape incredible landscapes.

The Portella de Baiau, during our 2008 trip

For a whole month, we'll be mostly disconnected from everything else that isn't our knee ache, our blisters, the Sun over our heads or where to get food. It's the first time I leave on a hiking trip as long and tough as this one, and I feel both uncertainty and eagerness. We've been so busy during the last few months that we've been unable to train at all for this, and I'm probably in the worst physical condition in a decade. It's too late to take care of that now, so we'll try to take good care of our legs and spine.

In order to get back home in the Mediterranean, we'll have to be fast, some days joining two stages and skipping a few that we know are not that interesting (sections over asphalt, etc.). It's hard to make it in just one month, but we'll try our best. The plan is going to sleep not long after sunset, getting up at dawn, to be able to walk for a decent time before the heat starts being a handicap and just resting at midday, when the Sun is

Of course, this means that I'm missing, yet again, this year's edition of DebConf in New York City, which is really sad because I was looking forward hanging around with Mako, Mika, Biella, micah, Clint and the rest of the NYC/ Boston gang, but when the idea of doing a long trip this summer popped up around January, it was clear DebConf seemed unlikely this year. I hope all of you have a lot of fun, and see you in a few weeks!

Syndicated 2010-07-16 00:14:00 from I still don't have a title

Cinema d'Estiu in Benimaclet 2010

Like other years, Benimaclet's Neighbour Association has organized a new cycle of film projections for the neighbours, by the neighbours, with the intention to get people out of their homes and share a good time with many others. Like in the other two editions, the selected films try to deliver a message to the viewers, and this year the topics are centered about labour and migration social issues. A change in this year's edition is that there will be one more projection, for a total of 5 films, every Sunday of July, at 22:00 in the Plaça de Benimaclet.

Last week, we saw El viaje de Teo, a Mexican film describing the migration dramas going on in the Sonora Desert. This Sunday, we'll see Arcadia, which will be followed by Recursos humanos, Hijos de los hombres and La estrategia del caracol.

Before each film, some local artists will perform live for us. Make yourself a sandwich, bring a chair to Benimaclet and enjoy some good cinema with your neighbours every Sunday in July!

Syndicated 2010-07-04 01:31:00 from I still don't have a title


On Saturday I turned 32. I haven't been able to sit down for ten minutes and scribble the “mandatory” blog entry, a sign that I'm extremely busy (luckily not only due to academic and professional reasons; the social part of the problem is very significant). This year I was gifted with a costumes Festa de l'Horta being held on the very same day as my birthday, and it was memorable (in many ways).

Add an unexpected climbing evening on Friday, and getting to see my fantastic 2 year old niece Vida, who came from Norwich for a visit, made a great birthday weekend. I feel I'm going through a very, very sweet stage of my life; I really can't remember the last time I generally had no big worries or black clouds all over my head. I hope it stays like this for a while...

Syndicated 2010-05-20 20:33:00 from I still don't have a title

GNOME 2.30

Congratulations to everyone involved in what looks like a very good GNOME release!

Interesting times are now ahead for the GNOME project, as on the plate is now a big release like 3.0. That will mean a lot of changes to the desktop we've got used to in the last decade, and I hope it ends up being successful, innovative and useful.

Debian has packages for GNOME Shell, and a special gnome3-session which starts Mutter + Shell. I experimented with it last week at my work place, and had mixed feelings with the current status.

I'm not a big fan of hard dependencies on Direct Rendering. My main computer is an Athlon 800MHz. Compiz crawls on it, and sadly Mutter is basically unusable on it. At the office, I have P4-based system with 1GB of RAM, which runs GNOME 2.28 OK. When I switched to the GNOME 3 session, it showed that it's getting old. I also experienced X crashes and kernel oopses, apparently a classic for ATI users using a composited window manager. This being said, I consider myself lucky because both systems have ATI cards and can do DRI using free software. If I was forced to use nVidia non-free drivers, it'd probably mean I'd stick with the Panel until that wasn't an option at all.

I am aware we'll see improvements both in Xorg/kernel and GNOME before GNOME 3.0 is released next Autumn, and have high hopes for a release that is accepted by our users really fast (avoiding a KDE 4.0 situation). GNOME hackers have done good stuff for ages, and 3.0 will be a new example!

Syndicated 2010-03-31 23:53:00 from I still don't have a title

Tinyproxy 1.8

A while ago, I was asked to recompile Tinyproxy to enable transparent proxying support, which was not being compiled in etch's Debian package. As it tends to happen, once I got the source and looked into doing a quick rebuild with --enable-transparent-proxy, I noticed the package was in such a bad shape, that I couldn't just leave it like that, so I found myself doing a few more changes, which mostly involved updating the packaging so it didn't suck a lot, and splitting the Debian patches so things could be sent upstream or dropped when new versions appeared.

However, even if Ed had ask me to go ahead and take over the package, this was meant to be a one-day effort, and soon I had forgotten about Tinyproxy, except for the ocassional bug mail getting through the PTS. It also didn't help that Tinyproxy had been pretty much dead upstream for years.

So lately, a few bug reports were reporting a ∗gasp∗ new major Tinyproxy release, after 7 years of basically nothing. OMG, what do I see, there's a Git repo! And an upstream Bugzilla! Somehow, feeling I owed Ed a reply to his unanswered request, I went ahead and tagged tinyproxy 1.6.3-3.2 in collab-maint, and started working on the new version. Adding myself to Uploaders, and getting rid of the “make no unnecessary changes” vetto, I rewrote most of the packaging. And for a change, I looked for and found a #tinyproxy channel on IRC and told muks and obnox that the days of Tinyproxy's stay in the Debian/Ubuntu limbo were over.

They were happy to get a few bugs and patches forwareded upstream, and asked me why all of this hadn't happened before. Pitty is that a few longstanding issues were well known in Debian but not so obvious for the new upstream maintainers, and are present in 1.8.0. Hopefully all will be dealt with in 1.8.1 or the next major version. The lesson is: if you work on an apparently abandoned package, after cleaning the mess in your NMU, try to spend 15 more minutes trying to contact upstream (if available), pointing them at the patch tracker and our list of bugs: chances are many are still useful. Also, contact the Debian maintainer, and if they ask you to take over, at least post a RFA so someone else can.

If you're a Tinyproxy user, I'd be happy to hear if the current package in Debian unstable works for you. If you were having weird issues with 1.6.x, chances are 1.8 will fix them. The package can be installed on stable with no extra dependencies, so if you're feeling adventurous, go ahead and upgrade.

Syndicated 2010-02-28 23:44:00 from I still don't have a title


Today, I was glad to attend the biggest demonstration ever in favour of the Cabanyal neighbourhood of València, a traditional district populated by the sea people of the city. After decades of oblivion, the Valencian right-wing government is trying to execute an old plan to “open Valencia to the sea”, which means demolishing around 450 traditional houses, many of them under protection for their cultural and architectural value, to extend a big avenue until the beach. Patrimonial loss aside, neighbours would be forced to other areas in the city (sadly, this has been happening for a decade already), making Cabanyal-Canyamelar the new posh neighbourhood for the richer class, destroying its identity and replacing it with a new set of skyscrapers.

The local government of PP, led by the infamous Rita Barberá, knows that getting the anti-riot police in the neighbourhood and forcing very old men and women out of the houses where they were born isn't what many people like to see in the evening news. They also know time is their ally; this plan is many decades old, and there's no need to hurry now, so it's better to apply silent mafia tactics on the problem. It's very easy.

First, stop investing a single euro in the area and monitor the slow but effective results of the degradation. Have a bit of patience, and after quite a few years, start promoting the illegal occupation of the increasing number of empty houses by marginal collectives which will bring the associated introduction of drug dealing in the area. This will surely make even more people leave or accelerate their decease. Keep repeating this process, until the Cabanyal is really fucked up. Now, start promoting the “rehabilitation plan”, which unavoidably includes splitting the neighbourhood in two pieces, and destroying a substantial part of it. Hopefully, many of the neighbours not directly affected by the demolitions will back the plan, they can't be blamed for being really fed up after all. Do all you can to confront those in favour to those against. In the meanwhile, start harrassing owners, make them end up selling their property at ridiculous prices and as soon as this happens, demolish it very quickly. Don't even bother with cleaning up the rubble: an increasing number of sites like this all over the place may be what makes a few more families give up and leave.

In the end, you either have an empty neighbourhood, or you've managed to demolish all the annoying houses that block your shiny avenue. However, if a Supreme Court argues that the remaining houses still have some cultural value, you might want to consider changing your local law to unprotect those architectural elements.

Today, many thousands of Valencians marched around Cabanyal to say “enough!”. From the street, I saw several old women out on the balconies of their beautiful houses, their eyes wet with tears, while they observed in silence all that many people who were fighting for them. There's still a long way to go in the courts until this is all over, but at least these people have a little more hope today than those in el Carme or La Punta, who ended up losing similar battles, years ago.

Syndicated 2010-01-31 23:52:00 from I still don't have a title

Ten years as a Debian Maintainer

On the 24th of November of 1999, the Debian ftpmasters processed the NEW package wmbiff, which got installed in the potato distribution. This sponsored upload by Fernando Sánchez was the first of my packages to hit the official Debian archive, thus officially making me a Debian maintainer. So, in short, today is my tenth anniversary as a Debian contributor!

I actually started a few days before, and soon after that upload, many other ITPs and uploads followed. I will always be thankful to fer for his patience with my upload sponsoring until I became a Debian developer with full rights and was able to upload myself.

During these years, I've been involved in many teams and different tasks, with my activity and dedication probably peaking around 2001 or 2002, when I apparently was doing a crazy amount of different stuff. I started doing plain packaging work of software packages, some of which also have come a long way (thanks for that, Chris!), but soon started to contribute in other Debian tasks. I think it's safe to say that the task that has ended up having more impact in the people that surround me was bootstrapping the Debian Catalan community and starting the Catalan translation of Debian's website, which soon after triggered the creation of a formal Debian Catalan translation project.

I've also spent a lot of time giving back to the NM team which helped me get a Debian account through the still experimental new New Maintainer process, and the QA team helping as I could with the never ending release cycles of potato and woody.

At some point I got engaged in the GNOME packaging tasks and the creation of the Debian GNOME team, and picked up the Catalan translation of GNOME 1.5.x releases, which eventually opened me the doors of Softcatalà, a Catalan non-profit devoted to the promotion of the Catalan language in technology.

I've believed in Debian's values since my classmate Ulisses Alonso prodded me to install Debian on my desktop back in 1997. Even if getting X up and running on bo was a real pain in the ass, knowing that the system I was running had all been written by people driven by altruism was enlightening; months later it was time to give back.

Of course, I've not been able to keep my motivation or output as high as I'd like. Debian as a collective has sometimes taken some decisions which were not so easy to understand from my point of view. The outcome of the non-free votes was a bit appalling, and having debian-devel becoming more and more a battleground instead of a civilised mailing list certainly did not help at some point (unsubscribing from it made my life a lot simpler!). Joining a triathlon club, having a girlfriend and suddenly rediscovering my neglected social life didn't help either. The result is that my dedication has been wanning noticeably since 2005 or so, but I still do my best to keep up with most of duties, even if I'm aware I'm clearly neglecting a few of them.

I am very proud of having been a part of an incredible project like Debian, and hope to be around for at least ten more years. Not only because I love and believe in Free Software; thanks to my involvement, I've been able to work on Debian-related jobs for all of my professional career, but above all I've been very lucky to make lots of real friends.

Today's has been a nice day full of remembering and mailbox digging. Thank you, Debian!

Syndicated 2009-11-24 23:47:00 from I still don't have a title

Dead PowerBook G4

A few weeks ago I was trying to get GRUB2 for PowerPC back to work on my PowerBook G4 15", and had some problems getting OF doing the right thing. Not being an OF expert at all, I found myself making things a bit worse, ending up with an unbootable laptop and, what a classic, unable to boot my old rescue CD to get yaboot back in its place.

So I googled a bit and ended up deciding that, given the boot parametres and some other stuff like the system's clock were doing strange stuff, reset-nvram would help getting things in a better shape that would at least permit CD booting. So there, reset-nvram, followed by reset-all, as found in all the OpenFirmware cheatsheets I found all over the web, and damn it, nothing changed and I was back into the OpenFirmware prompt. I used the power button to reset the laptop once again, and that was the last time I saw something functional on the PowerBook.

Now, when I start the computer, all I hear is the Apple startup sound, followed by the sound of the CD drive (which has eaten an Ubuntu 5.10 CD) trying to spin up for a pair of seconds, and then nothing. There's nothing displayed on the LCD, or any other sign of “life”. My searches in Google indicate this is a logic board failure and you can imagine that is not cheap to get fixed by Apple support.

I've tried numerous keyboard combo tricks I didn't even know about, and none seem to work. The computer doesn't seem to be responding to the builtin keyboard, an Apple USB keyboard I borrowed, or an external display. I'm annoyed because I've looked after this laptop really well and it was in a really good condition, so I'm going to see if it can be fixed for a reasonable amount.

Apple care in València is not an option. They say a logic board (if this is really what is causing trouble) costs around 500€, so I'll have to explore other ways. The first one is trying to find out if these symptoms (nothing on the display, key combos don't appear to work, etc.) really point to a fried logic board or could be something else. I've tried removing the RAM and replacing it with my old one, but that didn't work either. So, if anyone reading this has some Apple PowerPC hardware experience and can share some of their knowledge and suggestions, I'd be really, really grateful.

Plan B involves hiring a coworker, who I believe is the son of McGyver, to try to get it repaired for me. This would involve buying spare parts in eBay or some other place to try to get the replaced. Again, suggestions, donations and ideas are welcome in this front too. :)

Jose Vicente loves fixing stuff, and right before the Summer he already showed what he can do with a screwdriver and some patience. Some weeks before, I had managed to shatter the LCD screen of my Nokia 6500s when I lost my grip while climbing down a mountain in El Cadí, and the phone in my pocket hit a big rock. The phone worked, but I all I could see in the screen were some cracks in random colours. People suggested I should get a new phone, but I really don't want to generate even more polluting waste when all that was needed was replacing a cheap component.

My phone during its stay in McGyver's hideout

Syndicated 2009-10-30 22:07:00 from I still don't have a title

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