Loud ramblings of a Software Artisan

Monday 27 June 2005

New project: libopenraw

I have created libopenraw on Freedestkop.org with the help of Freedesktop.org volunteer.

So I started filling the wiki and committing code to CVS.

Sunday 26 June 2005

PayPal suck

It is NOT once again a gratuitous bashing. I remember at some point I had a PayPal account, so I went to recover everything to access it. Then I realized that they still had an old address in France. So I went to modify and I can't change the country. Here the "support" answer:

When you change your street address, unfortunately, you will be unable to change your country of residence. To change your country of residence, you must close your existing account and open a new account.

That suck no ? Sure I'll close the account, and sure I will NOT reopen it.

Friday 24 June 2005

Rewriting in Python ?

Tybstar: I don't agree with the idea of rewriting EOG in Python. My main concern is that it will use way more memory than it does.

I quickly brought the discussion on #gnome-hackers, and some did argue that it will be still less that most panel applets, but no. That is not a good argument as panel applets have to be fixed, we all know that. The thing is that currently we can't run GNOME in 128MB without painfull swapping. This is not a Python specific problem, it is a runtime problem, it it applies to any interpreted or VM based language like Perl, Mono, Java...

Sure Python help you code faster, but it might not help having GNOME use less resource, hardware resources are not cheap.

That said, I'm not the maintainer, but I just wanted to give my opinion for what it is worth.

Thursday 23 June 2005

Stained Glass - Picture of the day, June 23rd 2005

A stained glass from Saint-James United in Montréal:

So I posted 2 more folders:

gphoto 2 2.1.6

Released gphoto2 and libgphoto2 2.1.6 last night. Get it ! Thanks to all the work put in by volunteer, without manufacturer support.

It does not include my recent work. That is scheduled for 2.2.0

Wednesday 22 June 2005

About manufacturers

I started to publish how the manufacturers do not cooperate to gphoto. I published a list on the gphoto website. It is awesome to see that they don't provide documentation but send people to gphoto.

Currenty I'm quite soft.

Tuesday 21 June 2005

Turn your old laptop to a digital picture frame

Walltop or how to turn your old laptop to a digital picture frame. The mechanical bits are interesting, the software isn't: I would use a Free UNIX like Linux.

I might give it a try one day :-)

Monday 20 June 2005

Fall in Québec - Picture of the day, June 20th 2005

Last fall, we went to Mont Saint-Bruno, south on Montréal, Québec for some shutterbugging. I already blogged about that, but I went thru the whole set of pictures to post a gallery. This is from October 16th, 2004.

RAW file momentum

Is said Nat and Larry Ewing, they plan to support RAW files.

Hey guys, do you mind joining my effort ? I currently have a request for a new project at Freedesktop.org, and I'm waiting after that to start have a common work. But if you have any other hosting solution (not sourceforhe please), you're welcome.

BTW, if you want Sigma XF3 files, there are plenty linked from there. I'm currently starting collecting them as well.

Cool GNOME software: Roadster

While reading Steven Garrity weblogs, I found a post about some cool software being developed for Linux: Roadster. Nothing really innovating as it is just a Free Software version of existing mapping software, but AFAIK it is the first Free Software of that kind. The only issue is that it only covers the USA, because they use the freely available Census Bureau datafiles. Anyone know about any other set of freely available map files ?

About open formats

Steven Garrity has a 3 parts article about open formats and that catch-22 situation:

Really interesting reading if you ask yourself some questions about Ogg, Jabber or why one shouldn't use MS Office formats.

Update: dom has posted corrections of the office formats article (Part 3). I agree with his corrections, in fact I knew about them, I just thought that the original article with presenting things good enough. So for accuracy, I also link to dom's.

Sunday 19 June 2005

Chinese Lanterns - Picture of the day, June 19th 2005

I already posted some samples back in October, but this time I have put online a more complete gallery of the Chinese Lantern exhibition at the Botanical Gardens of Montréal that was in October 2004.

One more sample:

Update: I forgot to say that these picture haven't been taken with my DSLR as I didn't have it at that time. It was with a P&S digital camera that I borrowed, on a tripod whose head is bigger than the camera itself.

XMP Metadata

Anyone knows about an Open Source C library for reading XMP Metadata ?

I know that the fabulous Image::ExifTool does it, but it is Perl5. I can't find anything, and Google brings nothing.

Update: A missed that Adobe XMP SDK code is open source as state the license

Saturday 18 June 2005

Château de Sceaux - Picture of the day, June 18th 2005

Some people told me that I posted too much pictures of old stones, old castles. Sorry about that, but I like.

One more, this one is from my home town, Sceaux, in the Paris' suburb. The Château de Sceaux has been rebuild during the 19th century after its destruction during the French revolution. I went for a walk in the Parc before leaving for GUADEC, on May 28th, 2005:

The complete gallery.

GUADEC 6 pictures, last batch

I promise, this is the last batch of picture from GUADEC 6:

GUADEC Party Pictures

Pictures taken at the GUADEC, small selection with the mandatory Robert M Love picture :

Liar, Liar

What ? Steve Jobs claims that the Pentium is faster after claiming that the PowerPC was faster ?

The link says it all

Friday 17 June 2005

AbiWord on Maemo

AbiWord has been ported on Maemo. I have a patch to commit to CVS HEAD for version 2.4

Gnumeric has been ported too. That is good news for Gnome-Office.

Thursday 16 June 2005

dcraw usage

Tor, what dcoffin said about using dcraw in our code is:

  • call the binary in a pipe as it outputs PPM data
  • call the main() function from dcraw as he says:

Also, don't throw away my main() function -- it's full of important logic. Rename it and call it with an argv list.

  • use C++ and cpp

C++ can help here. Take dcraw.c, wrap the globals in a "class DCRaw { }" declaration, add "#define CLASS DCRaw::", and you're almost done.

As far as we are concerned, none of the 3 methods allow getting metadata as the blob are extracted by parse.c, a separate program, which could get some code from the previous.

Third party programs probably use one of the last 2 methods, and resync dcraw code on a regular basis. Given the release cycle of these programs, it not a big issue. Adobe Photoshop is know to provide its own conversion methods, so they only use dcraw to decode. It is something not really well known, but something that Dave Coffin makes a living of.

When it comes to free software, UFRaw includes a now outdated version of the source code (haven't checked CVS and suspect it gets updated), and GNOME raw thumbnailer does the same with parce.c. That exhibit the real need for this library.

Need for a real library for photo decoding and processing

There is a real need for a library to provide decoding and processing, in the Free Software world. Ideally, it would just use the documentation provided by the manufacturers, but since they don't want, reverse engineering will come to the rescue. Still time to Act Now, but lest prepare plan B that can switch back to plan A.

Here is what I see is needed:

  • dcraw functionnality for image processing
  • meta data and MakerNote extraction from the RAW files
  • output all the meta data in a portable way like XMP
  • output either decoded or RAW data
  • all of this in a usable C API (bindable to other language)

How can we achieve that:

  • rip off dcraw code as its license allow
  • use libexif (that needs to be fixed) to decode meta data and MakerNote, or any other apropriate library like the Perl ExifTool
  • implement DNG encoding and decoding
  • implement the missing bits like XMP

We have seen nice things in that area, and I just find that there is not enough focusing. For example Udi Fuchs, UFRaw author, wants to decode the meta data from RAW files using libexif, it is a good oportunity to put that in a library. No doubt, that will be code to reuse. UFRaw already includes the code from dcraw, why not make it a library, since Dave Coffin, from the mail exchange we have had, is not interested in at all. Apparently Udi does not want to reinvent the wheel. All of this would be a good starting point.

At GUADEC, we also had a demo of an ongoing work by Raphael Quinet, towards adding meta data support into the Gimp. If only we could share the effort....

Wednesday 15 June 2005

Why Firefox ?

Why do I prefer Firefox in GNOME ?

Not because of the "hype". Just because of bug 70575 and bug 153792 that both Galeon and Epiphany suffer from. Actually it is a Gtk+ "bug".

The other is that Epiphany bookmarks stuff I didn't ask, and given the limited bookmark management, it is annoying.

But on the laptop I still stick to Epiphany because I have passwords stored in it...

RFC: gnome-volume-manager interface change

This is a request for comments for bug 306646.

gnome-volume-manager has a capplet to allow setting actions for removable medias insertion. That's fine. But it include settings for digital cameras. While it make sens to have, it does not make to have it in a capplet called "Removable Drives and Media" as it is confusing for the user. How many times people wanted to use gphoto2 to access pictures on a USB Mass Storage camera ? So you get it.

So this bug is about splitting up the capplet to have one for digital cameras, and one for the removable medias. I even provide a patch. But comments in the bug tend to make me believe that my patch stay as is as there are plans to completely revamp the applet to be more generic.

Granted. What will happen when you'll need option for Music Players and other devices ? More applets ? Then yes, there is a need to redesign that. But in the mean time, GNOME 2.12 feature freeze is soon, and unless this redesign in done (CVS shows nothing currently), my patch is the only way to get an improvement of UI. Or maybe I'm just wrong and what I did is worse, UI-wise.

Annoying XCode

XCode is really annoying me. I think I'll switch back to autoconf for building AbiWord on MacOS X. At least I will have the flexibility I need.

Tuesday 14 June 2005

Leica, the good student

Leica did release the Digital Module R for Leica R SLR. And as a good student, they use DNG and don't even provide their own proprietary software for them, but just a third party proprietary software: Adobe's.

Someone even posted sample files. One still have to check how good Leica developer support is towards helping development, but at least they get the start right by not using another undocumented file format. If only they could document previous RAW files they did release ?

Concerning DNG it is not an Open file format, as it is owned by Adobe, like PDF, but it is completely documented, free (of charge) to use as is, and it does not prevent any Free Software implementation from the documentation.

Monday 13 June 2005

gtk+ on Mac, status

Since people are asking about GTK+ on Mac, here it is.

I branched CVS off 2.6.7.

cvs rtag -rGTK_2_6_7 gtk-2-6-macosx-branchpoint gtk+
cvs rtag -b -rgtk-2-6-branchpoint gtk-2-6-macosx gtk+

Why this version ? Because I currently don't feel like working on the moving code base that is 2.7, and that using a "bug free" version is probably safer. I'll merge back to 2.7 at some point.

Now, I'm getting all my changes merged into that branch. It leads to nothing that work.

Sunday 12 June 2005

GUADEC pics, take 3

I think it will be the last batch for today. GUADEC day 2, with Mark Shuttleworth keynote and jdub explaining project ToPaZ, 10x10.

OOo vs Word performance comparison

I don't know how serious and valid the study is, but there is a study about OpenOffice being faster than MS-Office. AbiWord is already faster on several point than OOo, but not on opening and handling big documents. If we target beating OOo, then we my win a lot. Definitely optimizeing our Piece Table (a slight redesign of the bottlenecks) might help a lot.

GUADEC pics, take 2

More galleries from the GUADEC trip:

Some more teasing:

GUADEC pics, take 1

I managed to start sorting the 533 I took at GUADEC 2005. I decided to not try to suck as usual, since I still haven't put all the GUADEC 2004 pictures from last year.

Here are the first 2 sets:

And now some teasing:

Saturday 11 June 2005

libhal support in libgphoto2

In order to support mounted media filesystem from libgphoto2, I started adding libhal support. In fact I could have gone without, but libgphoto2_port desing lack some feature as it require to be able to list the devices available.

Here is what you get:

$gphoto2 --list-ports
Devices found: 35
Path                             Description
disk:/media/EOS_DIGITAL          Media 'EOS_DIGITAL'

and so on.

Later might add code to support hal udi reference, but for now, I have to fix the directory to use that port to be able to copy files of the filesystem.

That way, we can fix gnome-volume-manager to have ONE way to call application to import photos, unlike fixing each app like f-spot people seems to be willing to do.

Don't look for the code yet, it is not in CVS as I have to refine configure check to disable it if no libhal is found. It will require libhal 0.5.x anyway.

Friday 10 June 2005


I feel like completely demotivated by Apple and MacOS X. First they make barely possible to support older OS release with newer hardware. Then I realize that lot of core APIs are only available in newer OS release, like CoreGraphics. I'm not talking about new features, but APIs of existing things.

But then some people, including some Apple engineers, come and say "why do you want to support AbiWord on 10.2 while the current version is 10.4 ?".

  • First I don't have 10.4 because I don't have that much money to throw into an OS upgrade. And despite having had that machine in February, I haven't had any discount offer to upgrade. Not really incentive.
  • Second, I'm not alone, there are a lot of people that still use 10.2 or even before. I'd love to support 10.1, but technically it is not possible. 10.2 however is OK, API-wise. Then come the problem of building for 10.2. We have older fink, that work for the dependencies, but when you try to use the SDK for 10.2 as XCode allow, then you are out of luck as it fails (see bug 8971).
  • Third, I don't want to sponsor the upgrade push made by Apple towards MacOS X.

Some Anynoymous Coward also proposed the "compatibility lab" from Apple. Sure thing, if he want to pay for the access and the trip, because the closest location is Cupertino, California, and one need be ADC Select of ADC Premier member to access, or to get an asset from someone else (see info page). Remember, AbiWord is run by volunteers. But that is slightly overkill as all I need is a machine to load 10.2. Someone else suggested PearPC, I must say I tried that, but it was no fast on my PIII 1GHz.

Perhaps should I just follow Ulrich Drepper advice and focus on Linux (and GNOME) instead of trying to satisfy a minority. Yes, for me MacOS X become a minority. Its users seems to not care at all about Free Software, and its developers are not into the philosophy as we haven't had any developer on AbiWord beside FJF and I (and I must note one simple patch I got once from someone else). With Apple not helping, because they consider you have to pay big bucks to be a developer, as the ADC Online does provide virtually nothing, it is not encouraging.

So now what shall I do ? Continue the 2 Mac centric project I'm working on: AbiWord and Gtk for MacOS X ? Pass on and focus on other GNOME centric code ? I don't know. Perhaps I'm just having a moment of grumpiness. I was happy to see Apple releasing WebCore, but the more I think, the more I suspect it to be a smoke screen to appease developers, as nothing towards providing help to support open source project has been done, at least in the case of AbiWord, and given the state of OpenOffice, they probably don't care (but since Sun is behind I can eventually get the reason).

I see some objections like "Apple ported FireFox to Intel". Sure thing, they needed a demo and a major application for that purpose, so they couldn't have a better candidate than a big open source application that runs on Mac. They could have selection AbiWord, but it is not that popular, and in fact I don't care. It is all smoke and mirrors.

And like my rant is not finished, there are some people that ask me to drop my work on the port of Gtk on MacOS X because they want to do it. I'm just about to commit what I have done in GNOME CVS for sharing... that's what I prefer.

No AbiWord 2.3.1 for MacOS X

Due to a bad change in the cross-platform code, there won't be a 2.3.1 build for MacOS X of AbiWord. 2.3.1 is schedule for today.

Nothing to see, move along.

PS: Apple, you are really nice with your developers, not allowing them to use an older OS release on more recent hardware. I can't install 10.2 to debug AbiWord on 10.2 because it does not work on MacMini.

Mozilla inconsistencies

Why is that ? Because despite being the same project, they suffer from NIH by not putting the data in the same location.

Thursday 9 June 2005

Intel & Apple ?

Robert X Cringely speculate in his latest column about a possible Apple / Intel merger. He actually has good arguments even if everything looks like pure speculation. If that file, we can still try to sell GNOME and other free operating systems as a replacement for Intel strategy.

Worth reading even to have a good laugh.

(I planned to post this before Slashdot did, but the post went to oblivion as I probably close the tab before saving)

Blog software upgrade

Upgraded the blog software to dotclear 1.2.1 as well as a few other tools. Nothing really obvious from the outside, but a bit more convenient to use and a bit faster so my server can resist more to slashdotting. See dotclear release notes (fr).

I also added the archive of the previous blog that was powered by NitLog, without changing URLs for these. They are not available through the search, but at least links are not broken. They were up for some time, patching dotclear a bit, my this time they are displayed on the page.

Wednesday 8 June 2005

Dismantled bike - Picture of the day, June 08 2005

And I won't advertise the camera.

Around Atwater market in Montréal, June 03 2005. gallery

Tuesday 7 June 2005

Cheers ! - Picture of the day, June 7, 2005

I had a tux t-shirt that day at the Montréal beer festival, and the girl behind the counter told me I should get some of this. So I did.

The whole gallery...

Camera plug and play

Today, I implemented bug 306646: splitting the gnome-volume-properties applet into 2 applets to have one for digital cameras, because digital cameras are NOT removable storage, at least from a user point of view.

There is no bounty for it, but I filed the bug. It is step #1 towards making life better.

libgphoto2 2.1.6-rc2

I just released libgphoto2 2.1.6-rc2. This is the second release candidate, released 2 month after the first one (yes, I suck) but that integrate 2 month of camera driver fixes.

I hope to release 2.1.6 in a week.

I also thought about make GNOME digital camera support much more plug and play. My 2004 20D digital camera did work out of the box with the 2002 eMac at my mom, running MacOS X. More about that later. It involve hacking on both GNOME and gphoto2.

Summer of Code

There is not prize for AbiWord in Google summer of code. What a shame. There is plenty of things to take, and we'd love to have someone sponsoring that. Perhaps because the is no AbiWord Foundation.

Apple vs KHTML, last words

Apple did what I wouldn't believe: opening WebKit, not just the source. They is even a bug reporter based on Bugzilla, and they provide the source of the WebKit, the part that was not open sourced before.

Thank you Apple!

Source: David Hyatt

Monday 6 June 2005

The dark side ?

I think I'm having a good laugh. I don't know if it is because they had the gun pointed to the head or just that everybody, including me, said it wouldn't happen, but Apple decided to switch to Intel processors. They'll deliver SDK to developers starting today (but USD$999), and plan to finish transition by the end of 2007. The other funny thing is that they'll provide Intel C/C++ compiler (what about Objective-C) perhaps to avoid having Microsoft using the GNU C Compiler and have people make fun of them with that :-) Let's hope they didn't drop GCC at the same time.

So what about free software with that ? It is clear that open source project can show reactivity by providing Intel builds of their software as soon as they can, unlike proprietary vendors that may take some time (remember how long it took for Adobe to provide Photoshop native on PPC ?).

How long before Linux run on this hardware ? I suspect you'll be able to have Intel based hardware with a decent firmware, but don't expect it to be cheap. And don't expect to be able to run MacOS X on the same PC as you can run Windows. I myself am happy to have made the choice of GNU/Linux and GNOME.

GUADEC 6 slides online

Murray, I did put my slides online.

The slides from my talk at GUADEC are online. PDF (1.9MB) and sxi (4.1MB)

And to stop any gossip, I didn't use AbiWord this time, but OpenOffice, because:

  • AbiWord is not really suited to make slides as it is a word processor
  • perhaps I should try something else to see what should be put in AbiPresent or whatever its name end up to be
  • I was almost guaranteed to be able to use someone else laptop for the talk, thanks to seb128 from Ubuntu in that case

Maybe next time I'll try KPresenter.

Sunday 5 June 2005

When Microsoft make the PR machine work

Jumping on the bandwagon of OpenRAW, Microsoft decide to make the PR machine work by announcing partnership with camera manufacturers to provide RAW support in the upcoming and still delayed Longhorn version of Windows. They claim that they'll solve the RAW issue by providing APIs to software vendors. Source CNet. Off course, they are proud to have attracted the major camera manufacturers that decided to be in.

That announcment is FUD. Providing a proprietary solution for the monopolistic and proprietary operating system on the market does not solve any issue that OpenRAW is trying to solve, unlike Edmund Ronal says (this article is FUD too). It just address a usability problem with RAW by being able to read them on Windows Longhorn out of the box. But Windows Longhorn does not exist.

This announcement might be even more of a bad news when it comes to free desktops like GNOME as they may get the usual answer "but we support Windows". Let's not be fooled by this. It is just part of a global strategy for world domination, and I'll do my best to help GNOME people do the same freely. Freedom is an important concern.

Saturday 4 June 2005

Canon and RAW file: "official" statement

Before OpenRAW started their ActNow ! campaign, I requested to Canon, thru the Canon SDK e-mail address, the documentation for the RAW file format. The documentation was declined with some vague reason, and when I insisted for a clarification, because vague is not good enough, I got this:

One of the reasons we are #1 in our field is our strong portfolio of intellectual property. We devote a significant portion of our annual revenue to Research and Development, and as a result, Canon has been among the top 3 companies receiving US Patents for 13 consecutive years. The fruits of our R&D investments can be seen in many aspects of our products: We are one of the only camera manufacturers in the world who designs, develops and produces the 3 key components of our cameras, namely lenses, image sensors and image processors, as well as the software that runs them. We believe that our proprietary technologies clearly differentiate our products from those of our competitors.

In order to maintain our leadership position, we find it necessary to protect our intellectual property. Therefore, we have decided to maintain the confidential nature of the communication protocols of our digital cameras and the documentation of our RAW image data, among other things.

In our view, this has nothing to do with the ability of individuals to claim copyright to images produced by Canon cameras.

We certainly appreciate your business. However, our equipment and software is essentially offered on an "as is" basis, with no warranty as to its merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. If our equipment or software does not meet your needs, you are entirely welcome to seek other suppliers.

Best Regards,

Chuck Westfall Director/Media & Customer Relationship Camera Marketing Group/Canon U.S.A., Inc.

(kindly suppressed e-mail and phone)

The thing is that apparently HE denied his statement later claiming it as being a personnal opinion. But this is the answer I got thru official Canon channels (it was originating from the Canon SDK, not from hime self) and that it is signed by a director, I consider it said as an official statement from Canon USA.

It is insteresting to see that now, if you ask this to the tech support (Canon Canada in my case) you get the really moderated answer:

Dear Hubert Figuiere

It is only through our customers comments and suggestions that we are able to manufacture quality products that our customers will be able to use on a consistent basis. The fact that you took the time to write to us is indeed appreciated. Please be assured that your comments have been forwarded onto the appropriate department for their information and review. Sincerely,

Which at least acknowledge that they started to recieve a lot of request from people, requiring to provide a pre-fabricated message to the support staff.

It is still time to ActNow ! if you haven't.

Friday 3 June 2005

New GNOME Bounties

Google is offering GNOME bounties. That's cool because it is actually issues I have actually run into:

  • GNOME login time
  • Evolution memory usage

USD$4500 is not a small amount. But I'm not yet elligible as I suspect it might be considered as paid work...

Wednesday 1 June 2005

From Guadec, not live, day 3

I left Germany this morning with the Orient Express (no crime has been committed this time). Definitely GUADEC 6 was a great one. jdub 10x10 talk was awesome.

Day 3, my talk went smoothly but I had to borrow a laptop because mine still does not work with 2 screen. I'll report a bug to Ubuntu as soon as I get back home, and post the file slides ASAP. The OpenOffice problem I had has been solved by upgrading to the latest in Breezy.

I'll talk more about everything later.