Older blog entries for sisob (starting at number 74)

Website Hacking

I'm creating a custom version of Original to integrate with this site. It's still pretty unfinished but you can see it here.

Origional is great - but needs a little bit of usability polish :) I also need to modify it not to use the files creation date to sort it - I have 2 years of photos that I have to upload by ftp. I'll need to make it read the date from a file in the gallery.

Then all I need is an improved nautilus script that will prompt for individual file comments and for the gallery name - shouldn't be too hard. Maybe we can use original or something like it in the future as part of Gnome's Photo Managment.

Quick and easy ssh access with nautilus

For ages now I've been dieing to have nautilus browse files remotely via ssh, and I've been unable to get a simple answer as to how to do it. And guess what - it is only two commands! (I still don't know what people were on about when they kept saying to use ssh-agent)

1. Run ssh-keygen -d on the client and press enter for each of the questions it asks to accept all of the defaults. Do not set a password.

2. Still on the client run scp .ssh/id_dsa.pub [remote]:.ssh/authorized_keys where [remote] is the host name or ip of the server.

Now test that you can connect with ssh from the command line without a password. If that works then you can browse if from nautilus by browsing to ssh://[remote]/[remote path]

ps. I use the same username on both machines, if you don't I image that this will work by specifying the username at step 2 and when using nautilus.

pps. This may be extremely insecure, don't do this unless you know what you are doing.

Update:ssh: is still very slow and flakey - install and use gnome-vfs-sftp instead. It works the same as above except it uses sftp:

Bug Busting

The The Cooperative Bug Isolation Project looks very promising. Imagine how cool it would be to have the whole of the Gnome 2.5 series enabled with this :)

First to Market

It looks like longhorn is going to be out some time after 2006, by then we can assume that XP will be well intrenched. So we now have at least 3 years to beat longhorn to market with a really featureful/usable desktop os I think we can be fairly optomistic. After all Gnome is only what? 5 years old - by then we will be looking at Gnome 4.

Microsoft will have WinFS and .Net - we have to make sure we are in the position to say "So What!" and I think that we will be :)

The really ironic thing is that Longhorn will not be natively backwards compatible with XP and below - which might lead to Linux being more compatible with windows software than Longhorn (think wine + 3 years).

Gnome Deamon
We really need a generic Gnome deamon. It would include the clipboard deamon, the vfs deamon, the settings deamon as well as be responsible for diplaying battery, sound and network icons in the notificiation area.


I've finally collected together the 4 essays I've written about Open Source Stuff and put them here. I still need to integrate in properly into the rest of the site tho.

Also need to get my photos online, and maybe a copy of my old site for reference.


Seth: Yeah, I was thinking about the Family bit too, and the fact is that the photos would have had to have been designated "Family" by the user at some stage. I personally use Folders for this purpose, but in the Future I'd prefer to be using something like iPhoto.

So we assume that either the user is comming to Gnome with loads of photos or they are importing them into gnome as they take them: Either way we come up with an unobtrusive way to get the user to keep their photos organised.


Have been mental busy learning about hexadecimal and mad computer science stuff like that. Still very tired so I haven't really had time to do anything useful open source wise, but I am thinking about what sort of Image Managment tools we need in gnome.

We already have eog, gThumb and now we haveGNOME Photo Printer and in the future we may even have gnome-scan.

What we lack is a top down design for Gnome's Photo Managment, part of which may include an intelligent way to store and retrieve photos (ie. Something better than files and folders viewed in nautilus). Storage may be the key to this if it would let us make queries like "Family photos taken in October 2003".

We would also need a way of doing useful things with photos once you have stored and retrieved them, eg. printing, burning, e-mailing. I'm gonna go look at iPhoto on the college Mac Machines at some stage to see what it's like.

More Fedora

I take it all back: I updated to the latest version of the graphical boot and it's really sweet. I looks a whole lot better and is shit fast. Good work Blandford.

I'm number one for "Mark Finlay" at last, but only on page 9 for Finlay :/

The rise of the Laptop

People have been saying it for years: Laptops are going to replace desktop computers, and back in the day it sounded plausable that it could happen eventually but it didn't look like it would happen very soon. But now the time is upon us, the question is: is Linux ready?

I've only recently come to realise that the time of portable computing is upon us, and that Linux will probably never take over the home desktop like some of use would dream about. This is because everything will be portable by the time Linux takes over.

In one of my CS lectures this week the lecturer showed us a graph of the number of computers on campus. It showed a steady increase until 2003 after which it sharply leveled off. The reason for this is not that there are less computers being added to the netowork, but that the college are now having trouble counting the computers. Up until now an increase in computers ment new computer rooms but now it can also mean an increase in handhelds and notebooks on campus. That graph showed us that there has not been a falloff in the growth in pc nubmers on campus, but that the current growth is in portable computing.

There is also loads of incidental evidence - lots of people I know are buying laptops nowadays because they are not that much more expensive than pcs and have equivelent specs and even have extras that a lot of desktops don't (firewire, flash readers), and are of course more flexible, protable and compact than computers. They can easily be put away or moved etc..

Linux on the Laptop
I recently commented on some nice features that XP has for portable users, so I'm not going to go further into what linux needs to do for portable users (yet). [The issues that spring to mind are PnP hardware and networking as well as suspending to ram and disk and fast bootup and shutdown times. Also support for Step-up-Step-down processors]

For my own computing needs I expect to have mostly migrated to a new laptop (maybe this one) for my day to day computing by the end of the year. I will be using the one I have more and more once I get wireless access in Uni at the end of the month. I will probably still use my workstation as a file server and for compiling Gnome betas to test. I think that in the future the workstation will resume the role it had in days Gone by as a tool for people with really heavy computing needs - but if you are just a "user" then laptops etc.. will be the way to go.

There is increasingly more and more interest in Linux technology that can make Linux on the laptop viable from both users and developers and it looks like the future is bright.

Been pretty wrecked this week. Managed to get to all my lectures but didn't do anything else of note. Have been sleeping 12 hour nights and waking up tired. All part of the healing process etc... I'm still 7/8 kg lighter than I should be and so look pretty gaunt. Only lost the weight over the last month and mostly likely will take about 6 months to put it back on.

On the up side I heal real quick and my doctor says I'm an advertisment for his work: Starting Uni 13 days after having a lung removed :)


Fedora is starting to look really nice. The menus seem to be fixed so I will actually be happy to use the Gnome that comes with redhat for the first time since 7.x

I can't wait till it is officially released and people start creating repositories for it. It comes crippled from a multimedia point of view by default so one really needs a replacement set of gstreamer rpms as well as libxine and totem.

The only thing that really sucks about it is the graphical boot which is slow as hell and is pretty much just a hack to make init use X instead of doing it the right way. Hopefully redhat will switch to SystemServices when it is released and useful.

If they could make init and GDM use the same X server it would be ok - but starting the X server twice during the boot is just silly and slow.


Have now officially had 2 days of lectures in CS and it's looking pretty fun. The fact that I am recovering from surgery is a bit of a bummer because it means that I can't go out at night or anything like that for the moment, but I'll be better soon enough so it's not so bad.

Met a whole load of interesting people, who will no doubt read this blog in time when I give them the URL so I'd better be nice :) Seriously tho, was impressed that a load of people knew about Linux, even a member of *cough* d'oposite-sex. V. Impressive. I'm loading up XD2 on my laptop to show it off because, while they all know about Linux and have tried it out, they don't seem to know how sweet it can be and have generally got stuck with install and hardware issues etc..

Maybe I'll try to organise an Install fest :p

PnP and Notification in WinXP

I was using windows XP for a while over the weekend and on thing about it really impressed me: The use of the System tray (Notification area in Gnome). This can be broken down into a few areas:

* Networking: Windows used to be really poor in this area in that you would have to reboot to restart a network connection, but now it's pretty sweet. I was using my gf's laptop which had both WiFi and Ethernet. When I booted up neither were connected so there were two icons in the system area which consisted of a network icon with big red X accross it. Once I connected either of these, it would get an IP from the DHCP server and I was immediately online, then a balloon would pop up and tell me that I was connected to the network. The way these ballons work in general is IMHO less than ideal but I'm not going to go into that - all in all it is pretty nifty.

In Gnome we have the gnome-netstatus applet in Gnome cvs which is pretty nice but it must be added to the panel manually and told which connection to monitor - obviously a far cry from the ease of use of the XP version. I don't pretend to know how we could implement something similar in Gnome, but it will have to be done some day if we want to compete with the big boys ;) Maybe we could use Gnome-System-Tools to detect the avaliable connections and show them in the notification area :/

* Hardware: Plug and Play hardware (eg. USB) works really nicely. Instead of the old wizard dialog you used to get now a little notification bubble pops up to tell you that new hardware has been detected and another one then replaces it telling you whether the new hardware could be installed.

Hopefully HAL will provide this kind of functionality in the future for Linux users.

* Battery and Sound: If you are using a laptop a battery is shown in the system tray so you can see how much life is left - if you aren't it isn't. Simple as that. Same goes for sound - if you have sound hardware then a speaker is shown to let you change the volume - if you don't it isn't. Gnome should work like this. Not sure how to detect if the system has a battery - maybe HAL, but sound wont be as much of a challenge.

Another thing in Gnome, if that a system is capable of suspending then "Suspend" should be shown in the Actions menu, along with Logout/Shut Down/Reboot.

So in short - XP does a good job of customising the interface based on what hardware is avaliable. ATM Joe Gnome User must do this h[i/er]mself. This needs to change and with kickin' things like HAL I think it can.

Need laptop Advice

I can get this laptop with the following spec for €920:

40GB Hard Disk
512MB DDR Ra,
15" Screen
DVD/CDRW Combo Drive
56k Modem
10/100 Lan
XP Home

Another Picture: http://global.acer.com/products/notebook/as1300.htm

It looks fairly ordianary and may not include a warranty(but I can insure it) and fancy things like TV-Out, Bluetooth, etc... And I can't see it before I buy so I have to make do with info from the web.

Also - it's about 3.1Kg

So... Should I buy it? :)


Still frustrated by avaliable distros. Installed fedora over the gentoo install I did a few days ago. It's not bad except that the menus are still broken when you try to use anything except the blucurve icon theme. It's also a royal pita to get mp3 etc.. support installed - hopefully this will change when fedora gets released and people start updating their repositories.

Maybe I'll try gentoo again :/ I'm just getting to old to have to manually configure stupid things like sound.

P2P in Gnome & Hospital

Just found out that I'm out of here tomorrow. Rock on!

College here I come.

P2P in Gnome
Another application area that needs to be improved in Gnome is P2P. I actaually started looking into this long before I ever gave any thought to Scanning in Gnome.

Most recently I mailed the gnome-network list to see if bittorrent support could be added to whatever download manager makes it into gnome-network. Bittorrent is a really cool protocal and is used for a lot of open source software so it would be great to support. It's also really simple: From the user's point of view, one just has to click on a bittorrent link in a webpage and the gnome download manager will download it. How to implement this is another story that I will leave up to someone else as usual :) I imageine it's a question of adding a mime type for .torrent files to be opened bu the download manager and making the download manager support bittorrent.

A nice little project for anyone looking for something to do ;)

As early as this may i was in contact with giFToxic developers to see if we could make it a really usable Gnome P2P program. I did loads of mockups and we did get a few things chnaged and made easier, but I don't know if the giFToxic hackers are into being as radical as I am.

What Gnome (and the world) needs is an un-tabbed, task-based interfact to the P2P networks of the world. Ths mockup was the best thing I could come up with at the time, but I've learned a lot since then and can probably improve on that a lot. I need to find out how people use P2P and do up a task analysis(I'll put a basic task analysis in the extended text of this entry so keep reading if your interested). For example, I'd assume that no-one is going to have more than 6 to 10 transfers (either up or down) in progress at the same time. If this assumption is correct we can get rid of the sepporate Uploads and Downloads tabs for Transfers and just use one tree view. Another thing that I would assume is that people are going to spend more time searching for files and browsing that they are going to spend watching their downloads complete - therefore the primary function of the interface is to allow the user to find files to download.

As for implementation, I'm not sure if giFT can really cut it. The developers have a very different view on software to the standard Gnome ideals, eg. atm you need to understand intricate details of how the giFT network works to get it running. the good thing about giFT is that it is a free network, and as such should probably be like jabber for IM: the defaut in Gnome, with the option to use propriotary networks.

Another option is to write a new Gnome UI for something like mlDonkey which has great support for all of the major networks and has a very good developer community and is both stable and quick and easy to set up. The only problem is that their UI is very strongly focused at the power user and there is no point in trying to change that. Ideally the whole thing is designed to have a sepporate UI and there are already at least 15 of them, so writing one for Gnome would mostly be UI work. Maybe I'd even be able to code it, some day :)

ps. I haven't given this post my usual sanity check so sorry for all the typos (well more than usual at least) and bad grammer :)

re: seth

Seth: I've had that before - you need to put it together bit by bit testing as you go.

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