zeenix is currently certified at Journeyer level.

Name: Zeeshan Ali
Member since: 2004-07-21 01:47:02
Last Login: 2008-01-24 11:16:40

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I think therefore I am!

These are the voyages of Zeeshan Ali. His continuing mission to seek out new planets, new civilizations and to boldly go where no man or no one has gone before :)



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E-mail: MYNICKNAME@gmail.com
Work E-mail: firstname.lastname@nokia.com

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GUADEC

So its that time of the year! GUADEC is always loads of fun and meeting all those the awesome GNOME contributors in person and listening to their exciting stories and ideas gives me a renewed sense of motivation.

I have two regular talks this year:
  • Boxes: All packed & ready to go?
  • Geo-aware OS: Are we there yet?
Apart from that I also intend to present a lightning talk titled "Examples to follow". This talk will present stories of few of our awesome GNOME contributors and what we all can learn from them.


Syndicated 2014-07-21 23:12:00 (Updated 2014-07-21 23:12:07) from zeenix

oFono? Its dead jim!

Soon after I mentioned the need for an oFono-backend in Geoclue in my blog, Sri kindly helped me get in touch with oFono developers. What started as a nice friendly discussion soon was turned into a not so nice discussion. I won't get into details and blames but here is what I found out about the project:

  •  oFono developers claim that its is still a maintained project while rest of the world think its a dead project, even people who love the project. Last release being in 2012 and loads of missing essential features (see rest of the points below) and link to mailing-list broken (even though I pointed it out 3 weeks ago and its been broken for much longer) on the homepage all points to the fact that its essentially a dead project.

  • No proper D-Bus introspection nor any client libraries. This already makes it extremely difficult to work with oFono but wait there is more hurdles on the way.

  • No online cross-references documentation: The documentation link on the home-page leads you to an architecture diagram and gives you no information about the API. Searching through google doesn't yield any results either. The developers pointed out that all documentation lives in the source tree in the form of plain-text documents and hence not very appropriate for the web.

  • It does not implement the standard D-Bus Properties interface. This combined with the fact that their D-Bus API is heavily based on properties makes it yet even harder to work with OFono, not to mention very weird.

  • None of the modern 3G modems supported, at least out of the box. I tried both Option and Qualcomm Gobi that I have and they both didn't work.


While rest of the issues can be overcome, the last makes it impossible for me to test any code written against oFono. So I'm giving up on this.

With a nice alternative that is well-maintained, and with which most modems work out of the box, has a nice OO, well-documented and introspectable D-Bus API and also provides  a nice client library, I don't understand why phone vendors insist on supporting oFono interface. Could it be because the name makes it sound like its *the* solution for phones? Well, they do have the right to use whatever they like. I'm just curious.

Having said all that, I did make it easy for anyone to add oFono support to Geoclue as promised in my last blog post. Patches to add that are more than welcome!

Syndicated 2014-06-24 00:28:00 (Updated 2014-06-24 00:28:43) from zeenix

Location hackfest 2014 report

So the Location hackfest 2014 took place at the awesome Mozilla offices in London during last weekend. Even though some of the important participants didn't manage to be physically present, enough people did:
  • John Layt (KDE)
  • Hanno Schlichting (Mozilla)
  • Mattias Bengtsson (GNOME)
  • Jonas Danielsson (GNOME)
and some participated remotely:
  • Bastien Nocera (GNOME)
  • Garvan Keeley (Mozilla)
Unfortunately Aaron McCarthy of Jolla couldn't attend remotely either as he lives in a very incompatible timezone (AU) but we had a lot of productive discussion with him through email that still continues.

Some very fruitful discussions we had:

  • Why Mozilla doesn't make wifi data it gathers for its location service, available for everyone to download? Hanno explained in great detail how making this data available would seriously compromise privacy and even safety of people. One good example given was someone getting out of an abusive relationship and not wanting to be traceable by their ex- but if they take their wifi router with them, their significant other has a possible way to easily track them using the wifi database. There is an easy (even though very ugly) way to avoid your AP being scanned by harvesters of such services but most people do not possess enough technical knowledge to know to enable that.

    Hence their reluctance to making it available for download, even though they'd want to. If you are interested in more details, you should read up all about that on Hanno's blog.
  • Had some discussion with Firefox and Firefox OS using Geoclue2. Hopefully we'll at least have Firefox using Geoclue2 soon. I might need to add support for totally unmaintained ofono in Geoclue2 unfortunately for making a very compelling case for Firefox OS to adapt geoclue2.
  • We had a discussion about GPS-A support in Geoclue. There are two possible ways to do that:
    1. Give URL of a SUPL service to the modem and let it do everything for you.
    2. Get the geospacial data that (SUPL service would provide) from a custom service and feed that to the modem.
    Hanno informed us that the only free SUPL implementation out there is that from Google but nobody knows what the ToS really are. He also informed us of how many modem chipsets just don't implement the API to feed it geospatial data and that makes SUPL our only hope to implement GPS-A.
  • There was a discussion about POI and check-in UI in Maps between me and Mattias. We had a bit of disagreement about it but seems now we are coming to come conclusions about how it should look like.
It was a hackfest so we also did some hacking:

  • John spent most of his time getting familiar with Qt's location code and how to port to Geoclue2. He wrote a nice post about it so I wont get into details here.
  • Mattias worked tirelessly to finish off his routing branch to be finally merged. Its not a very easy task so its not surprising that he hasn't managed to finish it yet. I'm pretty hopeful it will be merged in the following few weeks.
  • Hanno added proper support for geoip-only queries in Mozilla location service, made it do better against queries w/ stale wifi data and improved accuracy of results from 300m to 100m among other things.
  • Jonas was doing live reviews of Mattias' patches (in Swedish!) and at the same time working on getting command-line options parsing to work in gjs so we can do so in Maps.
  • Garvan was working on adding Geoclue2 support to Firefox/Gecko.
  • I finished off my patches to port geoclue2 to directly use wpa_supplicant rather than NetworManager, which makes wifi-geolocation work on FreeBSD, Firefox OS and Jolla. The last two don't use Geoclue2 but I'm hoping that this is a step forward towards convincing them to use it. I provided a patch to wpa_supplicant to make its D-Bus policy a bit lenient, while at it.

    I also looked into ofono API but not only is the project unmaintained, it doesn't provide proper introspection on D-Bus and there is no API docs. :( To make things worse, both my modems don't seem to work at least out of the box. I'd really rather I didn't have to deal with it but if I can't convince Firefox OS folks to provide ModemManager API, adding ofono support is essential to get them to use Geoclue.

    I started refactoring of Modem sources in Geoclue so that:
    • all ModemManager code is isolated in its own module so that its easy to add a ofono handling code w/o changing anything in the sources themselves.
    • 3G source can more easily/cleanly share code with Wifi source, use Mozilla Location Service (rather than opencellid that it currently does) and also submit cell tower data to Mozilla.
I can't thank Mozilla and specifically Chris Lord enough for hosting this event for hosting this event.

    Syndicated 2014-05-28 11:57:00 (Updated 2014-05-28 11:58:39) from zeenix

    Berlin, DX hackfest, Boxes, rain & sunshine

    I just flew back from Berlin where I spent the last week, mainly to participate in the GNOME Developer Experience hackfest. As you can see from blog posts from other awesome gnomies, the hackfest was a pretty big success.

    I focused on the use of virtual machines (as thats right up my alley) for making application development as easy as possible. I talked to Christian, who has been working on an IDE for GNOME about his idea of a simulator VM which allows the developer to quickly test their app in a pristine environment. We discussed if and how Boxes can be involved. After some discussion we decided that we probably don't want to use Boxes but rather create another binary that re-uses the existing virtualization infrastructure: libvirt, qemu, spice (and maybe libosinfo) etc.

    Another way to make GNOME development easy through VM would be what we already have on a very crude level: Distribution of ready-made VMs with all the development environment setup. Continuous already creates and distributes ready VM disk images of latest GNOME (almost everything from git) and Boxes can import these images. These images however are insufficient and unreliable since they do not contain any metadata, especially recommended/required system resources, about the VM. Christian recommended VMware's wmx format but that turned out to only contain metadata instead and you'd need a separate file (vmdk) for the disk image with that. What we really need here is a format that contains both metadata and all disk images in one file, in other words a virtual appliance. After doing some research on this, I once again came to the conclusion that OVF is our only hope here. Not only its one file that can contain all important aspects of a VM, its an open standard that is agreed and implemented by many different vendors. Boxes being able to import/export from/to this format and Continuous being able to provide these virtual appliances wouldn't just enable a more reliable producer-consumer relationship between Continuous and Boxes but also allow individual developers to be easily able to share their work with others: "Hey! I've been working on this project/feature X last few days and want to get some input. I'm sending you the VM, just import it in Boxes and let me know what you think..".

    We've actually been wanting to have this feature for a very long time and I've mentioned the need for OVF support quite a few times so I decided its about time I do something about it. So during the hackfest, I designed the minimum interface for a library to convert from/to libvirt domain (or configuration) to/from OVF files and started the implementation too. I hope to continue working on it to have something demoable by end of this month.

    Some other discussions/activities I had during/around the hackfest:

    * Talked with Aleksander about modem enabling/disabling. Currently geoclue has to enable the modem itself for using it but since it doesn't know if the modem is in use by another application, it doesn't disable it after using it. This results in waste of battery power. I suggested to Aleksander that the best thing would be for ModemManager to take care of that as it knows if modem is in use or not. The alternative would be some kind of explicit UI but throwing this decision on user would be a terrible thing to do. Aleksander liked the idea and he promised to look into implementing it.

    * I took part in Gtk+ roadmap discussion, mostly as a silent observer (Gtk+ hackers and designers covered it nicely so I didn't feel like saying anything) but during the meeting I learnt of a widget that was introduced in 3.12 that I had missed completely, GtkFlowBox. Since developers were unhappy that we introduced a widget that is not used by any GNOME app and I realized that use of this widget in Boxes will bring me very close to my aim of dropping libgd usage, I decided to make Boxes the first user of this widget soon.

    * I realized (very late) that both my SoC studends live in Germany so I asked both of them if they can join us for any of the days. While it was impossible for baedert to join us on such short notice, Lasse was still able to make it for the last day. It was really nice to meet this very bright young fellow. We had a lot of discussion about past, present and future of Boxes. Lasse has already written a very nice and detailed blog post about that so I'll leave you with a link to that if you are interested.

    * Talked with Cosimo about use of Geoclue by Endless mobile.

    * Tested gnome-clang against Geoclue to provide feedback to Philip and it resulted in him fixing some important bugs.

    * Talked briefly to Lennart about
      * How authorization of geoclue-using apps will/can work in the kdbus world.
      * The best way to allow Boxes to access USB devices with ISO9660 filesystems on them.

    Thats mostly it! I would like to thank Lennart for providing me with a nice accommodation, Endocode for providing us a great venue (+ endless supply of Club mate) and GNOME foundation for sponsoring my travel.




    Syndicated 2014-05-05 23:41:00 (Updated 2014-05-05 23:42:32) from zeenix

    What's coming in Maps 3.14 and beyond

    Jonas has written a very nice blog post about present and future of Maps project. I definitely recommending reading it if you are interested in this project. Since he is not on planet.gnome yet (some policy about having some posts before applying to be added), I thought I share it here.

    Syndicated 2014-04-22 11:30:00 (Updated 2014-04-22 11:30:31) from zeenix

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