Older blog entries for ashtong (starting at number 1)

9 Jul 2004 (updated 9 Jul 2004 at 09:19 UTC) »
The agony of choice

I've recently started working on a small GNOME application for monitoring a log server and alerting system administrators when "interesting" things happen. It's written in Python, and the majority of the functionality is completed.

It's hosted on SourceForge already, but I've not released any packages. I want to make it very easy for people to install (there's nothing worse than going to the bother to download a new app in the hope that it's going to be really useful to you, only to find that you can't install it).

So I need some installation scripts. I immediately thought of autoconf/automake, but I don't know the first thing about how to use them and can't find any good docs on how to package a GNOME Python app.

I decided the best bet would be to have a look at how other people have done it, and the first Python GNOME app I thought of was Straw. It turned out (much to my surprise) that Straw uses Python's own distutils, which are great (but sadly wouldn't teach me anything new). So I've got a good example of how to package a non-trivial GNOME app with distutils.

Then I discovered (quite by chance) that GNOME Blog (with which I'm writing this entry) is also written in Python and is packaged with autoconf/automake. I think I'll try modelling my install scripts on GNOME Blog's, with the online version of the Autotools Book to hand and see how much I can learn in the process. If I can come up with a suitable cookbook style approach I might write it up here...

Isn't choice a wonderful thing.

19 May 2004 (updated 19 May 2004 at 22:35 UTC) »

A while back I wrote a client/server modem sharing application (called LANdialler) in Python. I wrote it mainly because I lived in a shared house with several computers and a single phone line, and none of the tools available at the time did quite what I wanted.

Let's face it, with the advent of broadband programs like that aren't exactly massively popular.

However, to continue the story... Once I'd written it I uploaded it to SourceForge, announced it, and saw some activity on the web site. I had a few (but only a few) posts to the forums. It was put on a UK Linux magazine cover disk, and there were a lot of downloads logged on the SourceForge site. But bugger all feedback.

That was a couple of years ago. Since then the program has (for the most part) just worked, but the arrival of Python 2.2 made installation a bit tricky. I'd stopped using it myself by this point (I'd moved out of that house), but nobody complained that it was difficult to install and people were still downloading it every now and again. So I left it alone. Then Python support for GTK2 came along, my Dad complained that it no longer worked, and I recently decided to tart it up a bit.

So I ported it all forward to Python 2.3 and GTK2, bunged a note on the web site saying "new version available in CVS, hold on while I write new install scripts", and then I went and got side tracked with real life.

What surprises me - and this is why I'm posting - is that people are still downloading the old releases, and yet nobody has enquired about where these install scripts are. I'd have thought that if anybody cared, they'd have tried to prod me back to life.

I just wondered if other authors see the same kind of statistics, or whether or not it just means that I should retire the project and divert my efforts to something more useful to the masses...

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