Older blog entries for salimma (starting at number 79)

Oh, the Windows/Fedora time schizophrenia…

Every other beta test release, my time zone goes askew, thanks to Windows defaulting to keeping the hardware clock at localtime and Linux kernel+userland’s ever shifting way of dealing with this (to be fair, at least they tried – OS X just insisted on the clock being set to UTC).

Right now it seems that systemd expects the kernel to assume the clock was UTC and so it had to do the heavy lifting of adding the 7 hours offset — but somehow the kernel (or some other utility?) has already added those 7 hours, with the result that my clock ended up 14 hours ahead. And somehow this didn’t manifest itself until I booted to Windows to pull some pictures from my Lytro…

Going to try a clean installation first, to reduce the possible things that could go wrong – and help test the new Anaconda installer in advance of the Fedora 18 beta – but if this fails, I’m seriously going to just tell Windows to use UTC (though *that* codepath there is not well tested either, and used to be buggy in Windows XP and Vista)

Syndicated 2012-10-26 12:08:31 from Intuitionistically Uncertain » Technology

Important milestone in support for Clojure in Fedora reached

Screenshot of Leiningen 1.7.1, installed from RPM on Fedora 17

It works! A major part of our (Kushal Das and myself) proposed Clojure feature for Fedora 18, the Leiningen build tool used by Clojure project, is now up and running.

After packaging many dependencies, rigging up build scripts, and reporting bugs against other components we depend on (some are not fixed yet but hopefully all the fixes will get applied soon) — now we can turn our attention to packaging real apps. Yeah!

To follow our progress (and chip in — volunteers welcome!), see our progress documentation, with complete links to issues in Fedora’s bug tracker.

Syndicated 2012-06-12 02:53:58 from Intuitionistically Uncertain » Technology

Firefox and Thunderbird 13.0, zero installation required*

Now that Mozilla has released version 13 of both Firefox and Thunderbird, it’s high time that I port their relevant 0install interfaces — they were last updated when I was with the OSR group, as the versions packaged in Fedora have been up to date for the past few months.

A simple invocation of

0desktop http://hircus.multics.org/interfaces/2011/firefox-launcher.xml


0desktop http://hircus.multics.org/interfaces/2011/thunderbird.xml

would give you desktop launchers for those two; they will check for updates periodically and you can manually override which version you want to run, out of the ones listed in the feed.

*you’d need to install zeroinstall-injector first, either through your distribution package or by hand.

e.g. on Fedora:

yum install zeroinstall-injector

and on Debian/Ubuntu:

apt-get install zeroinstall-injector 

Syndicated 2012-06-06 08:54:32 from Intuitionistically Uncertain » Technology

0install feeds in transition

A heads-up to those who have been using the 0install application feeds I used to maintain for the OSR group at mojo.informatik.uni-erlangen.de: as I’m no longer employed there, the service has been disabled.

I’ve transitioned the feeds to http://hircus.multics.org/interfaces; the Git repository is now on Github. Currently only Skype (and its dependencies) and Eclipse JEE (and its Java dependency) have been switched over; the other feeds are still set to the previous hosting site. Please file bugs if you need need a particular application feed fixed, find a problem, or file an enhancement request if you’d like to see an app packaged!
Oh, and for those who saw the lightning talk at FUDCon:
$ su -c "yum install 0install-injector" $ 0desktop http://rox.sourceforge.net/2005/interfaces/ROX-Filer # to get the ROX-Filer file manager added to your desktop # or $ 0alias rox http://rox.sourceforge.net/2005/interfaces/ROX-Filer # to get a command-line launcher in your path 

Syndicated 2012-05-24 11:59:46 from Intuitionistically Uncertain » Technology

A guide to Thunderbird for Gmail users

James Fallows of The Atlantic — a highly-recommended journalist and blogger, for those who have not come across his writing yet — recently re-expressed his dissatisfaction with Gmail’s new UI; and mulled switching to Thunderbird but worried about memory usage.

From Screenshots

As someone who did the same transition a while back, I remember going through that issue and then some. Memory usage, lack of integration with Google Contacts (exacerbated with the seamless contact sync of Android phones), a UI that makes it hard to manage multiple email accounts, and vertical space being taken up by the menu bar.

Thankfully, Thunderbird being extensible, there are setting tweaks and extensions for all of these; as James found them useful, I thought I’d re-share them here:
  • Memory usage - a well-documented problem; the solution is to not synchronize your All Mail folder.
  • Using Gmail folders – While you’re at it, Thunderbird’s auto-configuration for Gmail accounts does not use the special folders by default; you’d want to set them in Copies & Folders and Junk Settings. You’d probably also want to visit Server Settings and disable “Check for new messages” (so TB would use Push-IMAP instead of polling) and set the deletion behavior to “mark it as deleted” instead of moving it to Trash – remember that Google would archive your mail instead of deleting it. Optionally disable Message Archives in Copies & Folders – just use the web interface to find old messages
  • Drafts folder - an advantage of using Gmail’s drafts folder, instead of the local one, is that you can access drafts from other computers. A drawback, though, is that TB auto-saves regularly as you edit your message, and if you use an IMAP folder, it discards old drafts by moving them to trash. The Auto Save Drafts Folders extension let you adjust this behavior (in Copies & Folders); just use the local drafts folder for auto-saved copies.
  • Handling multiple inboxes - View->Folders->Unified. This really ought to be the default…
  • Contact syncthere’s an extension for that. It’s flawless for reading your Google Contacts; I’d not use it to edit contacts though, just in case some information gets lost due to mismatches in available fields
  • Compact menu - Firefox’s main menu has recently been reworked, but Thunderbird’s has not; you can use this extension if, say, you use a widescreen laptop and want to recover vertical space real estate.

Hope that’s of some use to some folks!

Syndicated 2012-05-21 04:26:30 from Intuitionistically Uncertain » Technology

Org-mode syntax highlighting for GtkSourceView

If you’re an old-school Emacs user, and you are into GTD organizers, outliners, or would like a less messy way of generating LaTeX documents (from papers to presentations), you’re probably already familiar with Org-mode.

Org-mode is really quite tightly integrated with Emacs — so under normal circumstances there’s no reason to support it elsewhere. But at work we’ve recently had to collaboratively edit Org documents, and alas, Emacs’ Rudel no longer work reliably on newer Linux releases. We’re forced to use Gobby, which is a fine collaborative editor but is simply not Emacs. What is one to do?

I’ve thus started a GitHub project to create a language definition file for GtkSourceView (and, by extension, any editors on the GNOME desktop, including gedit and Gobby. Do check it out here — I’m adding support for language elements as I need them, and my schedule is rather busy these days, but feel free to file requests and/or enhancement patches (but if you do the latter, please include a statement licensing your contribution under the same MIT license you can see in the header of org.lang

Syndicated 2012-02-09 17:46:57 from Intuitionistically Uncertain » Technology

More cnucnu release monitoring goodness

I just spent a few minutes clearing up Fedora’s Upstream Release Monitoring todo list — more packages will now get bugs filed against them on Bugzilla when a new version comes out, including gnucash, links (3 minor versions behind) and, surprisingly, Xaw3d, which has been resurrected on freedesktop.org after years of inactivity — we’re still packaging the old unmaintained version.

Note to self — figure out how to integrate the Python tool used by URM, cnunu, to keep track of non-Fedora software. My 0install feeds could use some release monitoring love…

Syndicated 2012-01-31 18:43:52 from Intuitionistically Uncertain » Technology

If you have a laptop with Intel graphics and broken backlight control…

e.g. a Sony Vaio Y-series, where upon seeing the debugging data kernel developer Matthew Garrett (mjg) pronounced it “what an awful implementation — utterly broken”, there is hope yet.

Matthew has been working on native backlight control for a while, and for Intel hardware, there’s currently only one patch left to merge onto Linus’ kernel tree; it applies cleanly onto the most recent kernel release candidate (3.0-rc7).

Unfortunately, by default the ACPI subsystem will still be used if available, which is the sensible default. You do want to use the predefined backlight values whenever possible, not the raw values the graphics card let you set.

Ubuntu users have been resorting to Kamal Mostafa’s linux-kamal-mjgbacklight repository, which enables native backlight control, disable the ACPI video driver, and provide a patched GNOME Power Manager that can interface with the native backlight control.

The workaround I came up with is more lightweight — it just uses inotify-tools to monitor the brightness file, and apply an appropriate equivalent value to the native backlight control. Feel free to use this if you’re affected by a similar problem.

Syndicated 2011-07-14 07:50:23 from Intuitionistically Uncertain » Technology

Try Thunderbird 5.0 now — without hassle

There are cases when getting a specific software from one’s Linux distribution is not the optimal solution — and I’m saying this as a package maintainer myself. The main ones are:

  • the distribution package might be out of date
  • legal reasons prohibiting the software from being packaged (e.g. Skype, Flash, Adobe Reader)

Note that the first point is not exactly a criticism — after all, distributors tend to be wary of introducing breaking changes in a stable release. For software in the second category, upstream often provides binary packages, but again, using a tarball requires users to deal with dependency resolution themselves, and even when Debian or RPM packages are provided, the packaging is often sub-par (upstream developers can’t be expected to be well-versed in the subtleties of each distribution’s packaging).

Enter 0install. Now installing, e.g. Thunderbird 5.0, is a simple process:

yum install zeroinstall-injector
0alias thunderbird5 http://mojo.informatik.uni-erlangen.de/interfaces/2011/thunderbird.xml

or use “Add New Program” from the application menu and provide it with the URL for the Thunderbird feed. This currently lets you easily select between Thunderbird 5.0 beta 2 and 5.0 final (for both 32-bit and 64-bit builds) as well as the distribution’s packaging (on RPM-based and Debian-based distributions as well as Gentoo), and will pull in needed dependencies (please report any problem here).

You can browse http://mojo.informatik.uni-erlangen.de/interfaces/2010/ and http://mojo.informatik.uni-erlangen.de/interfaces/2011/ to see other available feeds that I maintain (and 0install’s site for even more). Of note: Eclipse JEE, Maven 2.2.1/3.0.3, Skype and Tomcat.

Syndicated 2011-06-29 11:04:14 from Intuitionistically Uncertain » Technology

The compat-wireless dance

At Fedora, our kernels tend to track upstream as much as possible, which sometimes makes for an amusing wireless experience. Here’s a tale, amusing in hindsight, of my three Sony computers, all using the ath9k module.

Firstly acquired is the 15″ Vaio EB I use as a desktop replacement. It works fine with stock drivers — at least, no known problem until today. We’ll get back to it later. Next, the 10.2″ Vaio W netbook. With this the wireless driver would need to be cycled — unload and reload — unless it’s kept active by, say, a continuous ping session.

Now, the EB did not use to work with the experimental compat-wireless drivers — basically the wireless code not yet merged into the Linux kernel; while the W absolutely requires these to avoid the ping keep-alive workaround.

Then comes the 13″ Vaio Y I got on a closing sale — at a nice discount price. Both the EB and the Y need to be on Fedora 15 because of graphics quirks (the former Radeon 5650, the latter Intel Arrandale), but that’s for another article. Everything seems to work fine, until I realized today, attempting to transfer a large-ish (> 100 MB) tarball from the Y to the EB, that the wireless on the Y keeps freezing up if I continuously transmit! It’s not a regression, or not a recent one, since older kernels do that too.

In goes compat-wireless to the rescue, and lo and behold, the transmission now works fine. Only then I find out that now the EB also acts up when it’s downloading at maximum speed. Sigh… funnily, now compat-wireless works fine on it, and fixes the problem.

I don’t even think I want to file bugs on this — different issues on different laptops — I’m just glad the latest wireless code works uniformly well now, and am just waiting for it to land in the mainline kernel.

Syndicated 2011-04-05 14:25:13 from Intuitionistically Uncertain » Technology

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