Older blog entries for Jordi (starting at number 126)

New project to discuss

Reading Scott's recent announcement on his move to Google was both surprising and a pleasure. Surprising, because it'll take time to stop associating his name to Ubuntu, Canonical, and the nice experiences I had while I worked with them. A pleasure, because his blog post was full of reminiscences of the very early days of a project that ended up being way more successful in just a few years than probably anyone in the Oxford conference could imagine. Scott, best of luck for this new adventure!

Scott's write-up includes a sentence that made me remember I had been wanting to write a blog post related to all of this, but was pending Mark Shuttleworth's permission for posting:

Ok, Mark wasn’t really a Nigerian 419 scammer, but some people did discard his e-mail as spam!

― Scott James Remnant

Many know the story of how I ended not being part of the “Super-Secret-Debian-Startup” Scott mentions. I even wrote about it in a blog post, 3 years ago:

[...] nothing beats the next email which sat for some dramatic 6 months in my messy inbox until I found out in the worst of the possible scenarios. Let's go back to late February, 2004, when I had no job, and I didn't have a clue on what to do with my life.

From: Mark Shuttleworth <mark@hbd.com>
Subject: New project to discuss
To: Jordi Mallach <jordi@debian.org>
Date: Sun, 29 Feb 2004 18:33:51 +0000

[...]
I'm hiring a team of debian developers to work full time on a new
distribution based on Debian. We're making internationalisation a prime
focus, together with Python and regular release management. I've discussed
it with a number of Debian leaders and they're all very positive about it.
[...]

I'm not sure if I totally missed it as it came in, or I skimmed through it and thought “WTF?! Dude on crack” or I just forgot “I need to reply to this email”, but I'd swear it was the former. Not long after, no-name-yet.com popped up, the rumours started spreading around Debian channels. Luckily, I got a job at LliureX two months later, where I worked during the following 2½ years, but that's another story. I guess it was July or so when Ubuntu was made public, and Mark and his secret team organised a conference (blog entries [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]), just before the Warty release, and I was invited to it, for the same reasons I got that email.

During that conference, probably because Mark sent me some email and I applied a filter to get to it, I found the lost email, and felt like digging a hole to hide for a LONG while. I couldn't believe the incredible opportunity I had missed. I went to Mark and said "hey, you're not going to believe this", and he did look quite surprised about someone being such an idiot.

I wonder if I should reply to his email today...

When the usual suspects in the secret Spanish Debian Cabal channel read this blog post, they decided Mark deserved a reply, even if it would hit his inbox more than three and a half years late. :)

With great care, we crafted an email that would look genuinely stupid in late 2007, but just arrogant and idiotic in 2004, when “Ubuntu” was just an African word, and the GNU/Linux distribution landscape was quickly evolving ―at the time, Gentoo Linux had the “posh distribution” crown, that Debian had held for quite a few years. I even took enough care to forge the X-Operating-System and User-Agent headers so they matched whatever was current in Debian in February 2004, and of course, top-posting seemed most appropriate.

So Mark woke up that Monday, fired up his email client, and got... this:

Date: Mon, 1 Mar 2004 09:47:55 +0100
From: Jordi Mallach <jordi@sindominio.net>
To: Mark Shuttleworth <mark@hbd.com>
Subject: Re: New project to discuss
Organization: SinDominio
X-Operating-System: Debian GNU/Linux sid (Linux 2.6.3 i686)
User-Agent: Mutt/1.5.5.1+cvs20040105i

Hi Mark,

Thanks for your email. I nearly deleted this e-mail because for some
reason I thought it was targetted spam.

Your project looks very interesting, almost like a dream come true.
However, I feel a bit uneasy about your proposal. Something just doesn't
fit.

Why would someone start a company to work on /yet another/ Debian
derivative? Have you heard about Progeny's sad story? I think it's a
great example to show that Debian users don't want Debian-based distros,
they want people to work on the "real thing". Besides, I don't think
there's much more place for successful commercial distros, with Red Hat
and SuSE having well-established niches in the US and Europe.

Also, why focus on Debian specifically, Why not, for example, Gentoo,
which has a lot of buzz these days, and looks poised to be the next big
distribution?

To be honest, I think only a few people have the stamina or financial
stability to undertake a project like this, so I'd like to know
a bit more about you, and details on how you plan to sustain the
expenses.

Those are the main issues that worry me about your project. Other than
that, I would be interested in taking part in it, as I'm currently
unemployed and working on something Debian-based would be just too good
to miss.

You can reach me at +34 123 45 67 89, or if you feel like flying people
around Europe, I probably can be in the UK whenever it fits you.

Thanks, and hoping to hear from you again,
Jordi

On Sun, Feb 29, 2004 at 06:33:51PM +0000, Mark Shuttleworth wrote:
> Hi Jordi
>
> We haven't met, but both Jeff Waugh and Martin Michelmayr recommended that
> I get in touch with you in connection with a new project that I'm starting.
>
> I'm hiring a team of debian developers to work full time on a new
> distribution based on Debian. We're making internationalisation a prime
> focus, together with Python and regular release management. I've discussed
> it with a number of Debian leaders and they're all very positive about it.
>
> Would you be available to discuss it by telephone? I'm in the UK, so we
> could probably find a good timezoine easily enough ;-) Let me knof if
> you're keen to discuss it, when and what number to call.
>
> Cheers,
> Mark
>
> --
> Try Debian GNU/Linux. Software freedom for the bold, at www.debian.org
> http://www.markshuttleworth.com/

As you can imagine, his reaction was immediate:

Date: Mon, 22 Oct 2007 11:13:54 +0100
From: Mark Shuttleworth <mark@hbd.com>
To: Jordi Mallach <jordi@sindominio.net>
Subject: Re: New project to discuss

Jordi! I just got this now! Did you recently flush an old mail queue?

With thanks to all the Spanish Cabal members who were involved!

Syndicated 2011-01-14 20:19:00 from I still don't have a title

Smoke

Last night was the last time I came back from a pub with my clothes stinking due to tobacco smoke. The Spanish congress has finally approved a real anti-smoking law which will ban smoking on public areas, with no exceptions or ways to workaround the ban. Starting on January 2nd, the Spanish state will be a smoke-free region (or mostly, it seems it'll be permitted in open-air events like football stadiums or bullrings, and I don't think that will be a great problem for me, specially the latter).

For years, my intolerance to smoke has been increasing and I'm really expectant to see the benefits of this law in my habits. After more than 30 years dealing with smoke around us, it's our turn now. I've been speaking to a few barmans. In general they seem worried this will affect their business, but I can't see how it will. Spain has a big culture for having mid-morning almuerzos in bars, and people are not going to give that up due to not being able to smoke. They will just do it after they get out, not during the coffee, and that's it. The barmans of the two bars I visit most are non-smokers, but have to breath the smoke of hundreds of cigarretes every day, and can't do anything about it. Until tomorrow, when this will end and everyone will have a right to breath better air. I hope this kind of legislation continues to be adopted throughout Europe, because the FOSDEM welcome party is probably the next smoke horror I'll have to face soonish. :)

Syndicated 2010-12-31 15:47:00 from I still don't have a title

The unforeseen consequences of our GR 11 Summer walk

I knew walking all over the Pyrenees during a whole month would come with some side effects. I could imagine having a few muscular issues in my legs and some back pain for a while after getting back; after all we did over 7 hours of exercise every single day during a month. What I got after our hike was totally unexpected...

I should have run a half marathon in Gandia on the 21st, and instead I stayed at home doing some assignments. When we came back, I was in a really good condition, and wanted to keep the good shape we had built the month before. Given I haven't been able to swim for nearly a year now, due to the Misterious Shoulder Injury™ and I don't have enough time to go out cycling regularly, I centered my efforts in running, with the idea of starting to get prepared for cross/mountain races this season.

Training had to wait a little because some days after getting back, I got a sudden pain on both knees, which even made climbing stairs difficult. It stuck for a while, and when it finally went away, more or less, I went ahead and tried going out for a run. I haven't been training for over two years, so I indended to increase the distances proggressively. The first day I went out, I ran really nicely for the first 25 minutes, and suddenly I started getting an intense pain in the outer side of my right knee, to the point I could barely walk back home.

I've tried letting them rest for weeks, and every time I try them, the pain comes back. My physiotherapist says my body has developed quite a few asymmetries, probably caused by the many days I had to walk crippled by a big blister in my right foot. As time passes, I feel I'm losing all the physical improvements I had developed during the summer, and I can't do anything about it.

The new approach to tackle this is yoga. I know my body isn't too elastic, and the lack of stretching during the walk made it even worse, so I'll try to forget about “real” traning during some time and focus on healing my muscles. Hopefully, this will help me resolve the nastiest physical problem I've ever come across.

Syndicated 2010-11-30 23:47:00 from I still don't have a title

Recipe Manager meets arròs a banda

Two weeks ago, nekohayo posted a blog entry on Recipe Manager, a (you guessed it) cooking recipe manager for GNOME. Looking good, I fetched the bzr tree from Launchpad and played a bit with it, and soon discovered it had no internationalisation support.

I've tried to add i18n properly, but I've not had enough time to do it. Before tackling that, the authors need to give it some bootstrapping love so the app can actually install, look for its files in /usr/share, etc.

My fugly, unpostable current patch does allow for a preview of how Recipe Manager will teach the world about the best rice dish ever, arròs a banda. Yum!


Recipe Manager, showing off the zenith of Valencian culture

Syndicated 2010-10-25 00:12:00 from I still don't have a title

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

32

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

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