Older blog entries for rodrigo (starting at number 35)

Desktop data/settings replication

In the last UDS, there were some talks about UbuntuOne, the technologies it uses, and how it could be well integrated into the Desktop. Also, there were discussions about how it could be integrated painlessly into upstream projects. So, here’s an idea on how this could be done.

First, it must be said that the easiest (and quickest) way of achieving UbuntuOne integration in Ubuntu would be to just patch/extend applications so that they supported accessing the UbuntuOne server, and have Ubuntu packages use that as default for users with UbuntuOne accounts. That would make most Ubuntu users happy, but it would not benefit at all users of other distributions, and worst, the upstream projects.

Now, if we look at the technologies being used in UbuntuOne, there is one awesome thing, called CouchDB, a project supported by the Apache Foundation, which provides databases (of JSON documents) that can be replicated (and 2-way synchonized) to other hosts. So, what if we had Linux Desktop applications use this for storage of files and settings?


Well, what would happen is that we’d gain data / settings replication and synchronization for free. And also, if we could come up with standard formats / locations for common information (accounts, notes, mails, calendars, etc, etc), we’d also gain a shared storage for all applications to use, solving the problem of incompatible formats / locations used by similar free software applications.

And other advantages:

  • CouchDB knows already how to deal with conflicts, as this is included in the automatic replication / syncing features it provides.
  • While normal documents in CouchDB are JSON, you can attach any kind of file to any JSON document (even to empty JSON documents), so any kind of files can be stored. Also, it allows users to create as many databases as needed, so storage for different needs can be easily separated.
  • CouchDB provides a sort of revision history, so it could be used for nice stuff like Zeitgeist.
  • This, not being an Ubuntu-only solution, could benefit every Linux Desktop user.
  • UbuntuOne would be a service built on top of this that users can subscribe to. But others could just setup a CouchDB server on their home / company network and use that by just pointing their local CouchDB to their remote CouchDB replication server.

To continue my investigations/playing on this, I’m going to try writing a gvfs backend to manage files in the CouchDB instances. Once that’s done, applications could start just writing their files to couchdb://… URIs instead of file://… ones and enter the replication/synchronization world with just a single change. Next, a GConf/d-conf backend could be added for replicating/sync’ing settings, and so on.

Syndicated 2009-06-02 22:44:54 from Rodrigo Moya

Back home

After two weeks out of home (1 week for Canonical all hands at a nice hotel and conference center in Terrassa, and another for UDS (Ubuntu Developer Summit, for those who don’t know) in Barcelona), I’m finally back home and have rested enough to write a small post.

First of all, the good things: met again with some GNOME old friends, like Christian, Cody, Pedro, Seb, Ryan, James, Jorge, … (sorry if I miss someone), and met lots of new interesting people, both from Canonical and the Ubuntu community. Learnt lots of new things (which I’ll try to blog about soon), hacked on cool stuff (more news soon), had a lot of fun hanging around with people, got a bit tipsy some nights, and, in summary, had a great time, even though I slept very few every night :-) And well, visiting Catalonia in general and Barcelona (my father’s born place) in particular is always a pleasure for me.

But there’s always a dark side, or maybe I’m getting too old, but I really don’t understand why in the free software community we compete so much, and please don’t take this as an Ubuntu-only case, I’m blogging right after UDS just by coincidence, this is something that applies to all the communities I’ve seen so far in the free software world. That is, it is nice to have competition (”2 desktops make for a better Linux desktop“, “choice is good“, etc), but hearing all the time comments in community/project A about how community/project B sucks so much (and viceversa) made me think, while coming back home on the train last night, about how we could be doing if we cooperated rather than compete. That is, having 16 audio libraries in Ubuntu, is it really needed? Or having people from different projects work on the same stuff over and over without even talking to each other about how to share some work? Is it that hard to understand for us, that we like telling others from outside our world how nice it is that you can share and work together with others, that we should really apply those principles in how we do the stuff ourselves? How is it that, in these events, you hear more comments against “rival” free software projects than against “evil” companies, like in the good old days of trolling?

As I said, maybe I’m really getting too old for this, but it really reminded me the situation in Catalonia in the final years of the Spanish civil war, where anarchists and socialists fought against each other for a few months instead of fighting together against the fascists. Fortunately here nobody is dying, so I guess I can cope with being in the middle of some fightings (I have friends at Novell/Canonical/RedHat/* and GNOME/KDE, etc), but just try to imagine how well we could do if we all cooperated a bit more. What a wonderful audio library we could have if the people working on those 16 implementations available in Ubuntu worked together!!! *

So yeah, that’s all the bad stuff I had to share. From now on, will only blog about the nice things that came out from this All Hands/UDS 2 week marathon.

* audio libs developers: please don’t get upset, I’m not criticizing you, just using you as an example of what happens in a lot of projects

Syndicated 2009-05-30 19:21:58 from Rodrigo Moya

New job

Being quite busy last week with my new job, I totally forgot to blog about it, so, in case someone is interested, I started last Monday working at Canonical. Not sure yet what parts of my work are public, so I’ll just point you to the job offer for now :-)

Syndicated 2009-05-04 11:37:25 from Rodrigo Moya

+10 years in GNOME

While cleaning up my very old mail, I came across some of the 1st mails I sent related to GNOME, and, a bit late though, I wish to celebrate my 10th anniversary as a GNOME user and developer. I started as a user in 1998, and after some hacking training (on my free time, since my job at that time was nothing related to free software), I came to announce version 0.1 of gnome-sql, which was later on integrated with the already existing GNOME-DB project.

In all these years, I’ve worked on several projects (GNOME-DB, Evolution, Control Center, openSUSE GNOME packaging and integration mainly), and, most important, I’ve met a lot of great people, and, fortunately, the future looks even more exciting (more news on this soon), so looking forward to my 20th anniversary :-)

Syndicated 2009-04-23 11:47:46 from Rodrigo Moya


In the 8 years I’ve been at Novell/Ximian, several layoffs have happened (not in the Ximian times, AFAIR), and until now, I was never affected (directly, of course, since losing very good work colleagues affects), so it was just a matter of time that it would affect me. So, yes, from Feb 17th, I am officially unemployed, for the 1st time in, like 15 years or so. And, for the 1st time in my life, I have been fired from a company.

Fortunately, I am a positive person, and since I had been thinking for a while to move somewhere else, this gives me the opportunity to stop thinking and start acting. More on these plans as soon as they materialize, as for the time being, I’m going to relax for a couple of weeks, doing nothing but have fun.

Of course, as I am unemployed, I’m open to hear any offers, so feel free to send any, if you want me. Apart from computing, I am very good at riding motorcycles, skiing, having fun and making maps, just good at cooking and canoeing, and wanting to learn on martial arts and lots of other stuff, so, if you have something fitting any of these categories, feel free to offer me a job :-D

Syndicated 2009-02-12 16:49:06 from Rodrigo Moya

GNOME Packaging Day

In the last few openSUSE-GNOME team meetings, it was decided to do regular packaging days whenever GNOME point versions are released, with the goal of providing bleeding edge updates as quickly as possible. So, next week is that time: along with the GNOME 2.25.90 release on Feb 4th, Thursday Feb 5th we’ll be helding a packaging day to get the latest unstable GNOME release packaged into our GNOME:Factory project (to be used for openSUSE 11.2 but also available for 11.1). It is a great opportunity to find out how to contribute to the packaging of GNOME for openSUSE.

The packaging day will last the whole day long, so just come around #opensuse-gnome IRC channel on FreeNode at any time you want and ask how to help.

Syndicated 2009-01-26 12:17:48 from Rodrigo Moya

Skiing in Cervinia

The week before Christmas I went in vacation for the first time to the Alps for some skiing, to Cervinia, a wonderful village below the famous Cervino/Matterhorn, in the Valley of Aosta, in Italy.

The week of vacation started on Friday 12th, in the evening, when we (Cristina, Yolanda, Nicolás and myself) started a 15 hour drive from Peralta to Cervinia, crossing to France via La Junquera, the South East of France through Grenoble (where Vincent and I couldn’t coordinate a short visit), and from there, crossing part of the Alps, still in France, through many ski resorts (Megève, Saint Gervais, Houches Blanches, etc), along with (at least we could see the traffic signs) some Tour de France mytical places (Alpe d’Huez, Bourg d’Oisans, Mont Ventoux, etc), up to the Mont Blanc tunnel entrance.

Crossing that tunnel was a bit uncomfortable, after a few minutes you could feel the hot (22ºC compared to the -4ºC outside), but it was worth it, since as you cross it, you get to Italy and to Courmayeur, another ski resort (it’s plenty of them around there :-) ) and then through the valley of Aosta up to Cervinia.

Cervinia is just part of a huge ski resort, composed of the Italian Breuil Cervinia and Valtournenche, connected to the Swiss resort of Zermatt, with the Cervino/Matterhorn mountain in the middle, all of this making up to 350 kms of pistes to enjoy. Unfortunately for skiing, the weather was quite bad the whole week (lots of snow the first few days, then avalanches danger, then huge winds), which forced the resort to be closed fully one day and have most of the pistes and lifts closed the rest of the days. Specially bad was that the connection to Zermatt was closed the whole week, so we couldn’t visit it unfortunately.

We could neither visit the glacier in the Plateau Rosa and the Swiss part of it, nor the nice Swiss village of Fury, where you pass skiing through the village streets. And, of course, we couldn’t see the best face of the Cervino/Matterhorn, but at least we could see it one day (it was covered with fog most of the week). But the worst was that, just in the 2nd hour of the 1st day of ski, Cristina fell down and broke a bone in her arm. This made her not ski at all for a couple of days, and ski just in the beginners area in the sunny days. For the rest of us, we could just use 3/4 different pistes for the whole week. Fortunately they were long enough and with very good snow as to enjoy them a lot, and since we were skiing slowly for Cristina, we visited some bars that are in the middle of the pistes, for some good food and drinks.

But the bad weather gave us the chance to enjoy being at 2000 meters above the sea level, surrounded by mountains with 3/4 meters of snow, and the whole village being covered by snow all the time, despite the work being done by lots of people the whole day to clean it. I know this may sound a bad thing for some people, but really, I wouldn’t mind having been isolated there for a few weeks more :-)

But it’s not all about skiing and snow, since, being in Italy, eating was a priority on this trip, and the stuff we tasted was just wonderful every day at dinner, at the hotel, quite ellaborated cuisine, with very nice decorations (like some soar ham being served in the form of a rose and that kind of things). And in the bars and restaurants of the village and ski resort, we could try lots of nice local cuisine, like the Crespella (like a French Crêpe), the Goulash (beef stew), different kinds of cheese, pasta, red wines, and, of course, the pizzas (I love them, so I couldn’t be in Italy and not try them).

Overall, despite not having skied as much as we wanted and Cristina’s injury, we had a lot of fun, and are already willing to come back as soon as possible. The Pyrennes, where I ski usually, are great, but the Alps are just a bigger dimension, better prepared and with much better pistes/snow, so now that I know them, more visits are mandatory.

For all photos, see here.

Syndicated 2008-12-30 00:14:01 from Rodrigo Moya


Killermundi was an online shop who has been contributing with some donations to GNOME Hispano (the Spanish speaking GNOME group). Now, under a new name (FreeWear), they have renovated their GNOME fashion line. For every item sold, a percentage is donated to GNOME Hispano, so by buying something, you get a cool t-shirt/jacket and, at the same time, help in the funding of events organized by GNOME Hispano.

Syndicated 2008-12-23 15:52:30 from Rodrigo Moya

openSUSE sound theme

For openSUSE 11.1, and with the new gnome-sound-properties from GNOME 2.24, we switched to libcanberra for playing sounds for events. This allows us to have sound themes now, and, as part of the libcanberra inclusion, we added sound-theme-freedesktop, which is the sound theme from freedesktop.org (in case you didn’t guess from the name :-) ), and which is the only one available so far for libcanberra to use.

libcanberra (and the sound properties applet) gives us the opportunity to have different sound themes very easily. I am not aware of any project to have openSUSE-branded sounds, but if it exists or someone wants to provide some new sounds, please contact me, we might be able to include them in 11.1 (as a sound-theme-openSUSE package) if they are good enough (and are ready ASAP :-) ).

Syndicated 2008-11-28 17:18:44 from Rodrigo Moya


I started a few months ago training Taijiquan, a Chinese martial art, most known in the Western World by its non-martial derivative Taichi. As with other martial arts, the learning process doesn’t involve just ways for hitting your opponent or defending yourself from an attack (I wouldn’t really be interested in it if it only offered that, given that the last time I had a fight I was a teenager, many years ago), but some other things. And one of them is the theory of Qi, which is the Chinese term for energy, which is supposed to be flowing on your body and, via an intensive training, can be driven to whatever part of your body by your mind. The idea is to, for instance, direct the flow of Qi to your hands right when you hit your opponent, multiplying the strength of the punch, or, also, to get more strength on some part of your body when you receive a kick/punch to not get injured, or, even more interesting, to heal some injuries. All this sounded to me quite strange, being a science person, until recently, when I read Dr Yang, Jwing Ming’s book that explains it very well, in a scientific way. So, to not keep this post too long, and given my still limited knowledge on this, I’ll try to summarize:

Human body’s Qi can be what we call biolectricity, which is just electricity flowing around the body. It is very easy to experiment it, just rub your hands and after a few seconds doing it, pass your hands over your head, without touching the hair: you will see your hair being attracted by the electricity in your hands. And this biolectricity flows all over the body because the body is plenty of tissues that conduct it. And, interestingly, there are organs that are made of non-conductive tissue which store the electricity (a battery!). So, with Taijiquan (and Qigong) techniques, you are supposed to control the flow of this electricity through your body, sending it to the batteries for storage or to other parts of the body for reactivation of tissues and other things, all done with the mind and breathing. That is why Taichi (the non-martial derivative well known in the Western World) has such popularity, given it helps a lot in keeping your body healthy. Does it still sound strange? Maybe, the last part of driving it with your mind is still beyond my knowledge, so can’t say it’s true, but at least the rest of the theory about the electricity circulation not only sounds convincing, but it is indeed scientifically confirmed AFAIK.

This theory makes a lot of sense in Taijiquan, where brute force is not used against your opponent (only in very rare occasions), the idea being to just use the force from your oponent and, via accompanying movements, reduce it completely, making your opponent fell down or just hit the air. And when in trouble, you just use your Qi :-)

For a nice demo of what Taijiquan looks like, see this video. And for some Qi force stuff see this.

Syndicated 2008-11-27 13:13:39 from Rodrigo Moya

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