Loud ramblings of a Software Artisan

Friday 29 July 2005

Nokia 770

Thanks to Uraeus, I found Nokia770.com, blog dedicated to the Nokia 770:

I can't wait to get mine. Yes, I won one at the give away at GUADEC.

Thursday 28 July 2005

AbiWord 2.3.4 - MacOS X build

AbiWord 2.3.4 has finally been build for MacOS X. The build should work on Jaguar (MacOS X 10.2) unlike previous one. On Mac, it does not bring much things, but a few bug fixes: crash, memory leaks, and broken cut and paste.

Disk Image - Source for Mac

gdb (in)consistencies

 $ gdb --help                     
 This is the GNU debugger.  Usage:

    gdb [options] [executable-file [core-file or process-id]]
    gdb [options] --args executable-file [inferior-arguments ...]


  --args             Arguments after executable-file are passed to inferior
  --[no]async        Enable (disable) asynchronous version of CLI



$ gdb --noasync
gdb: unrecognized option `--noasync'
Use `gdb --help' for a complete list of options.

WTF ? Should we debug the debugger ? Filed a bug for Debian.

Bank IT smoking weed

Bank IT services should stop smoking weed and using coke.

This time the stupid morons at my French bank decided that the keyboard was no longer an acceptable solution to type, so they decided to do it with the mouse... and of course, just to add difficulties, to shuffle the numbers each time. Pure crack.

Looks like next time I go to France, I'll find another bank, as I don't intend to move this money to Canada for various reasons.

Sunday 24 July 2005

Desktop Developers' Conference 2005 slides

I have put online my slides for Desktop Developers' Conference.

At the same time, I have put online an HTML version of my slides for GUADEC.

Saturday 23 July 2005

I feel old

I feel old as I generate pictures (panorama stitch) that would not fit in the first hard drive I got (40MB). I'm stitching together a few pictures to generate a 183MB TIFF file. I'll post some soon.

Thursday 21 July 2005

Desktop Developer Conference debriefing

Back from Ottawa and Desktop Developer Conference. I now have my head full of nice ideas for AbiWord, some crazy, some less:

Use UniConf for the preferences. This would be more a proof of concept and a toy to play with than a real feature for AbiWord. I don't see that very hard to do. Add that to my crazyness.

Write a Cairo backend for AbiWord. This is more sane, and somewhat a big work, but it is good crack. Here are the reasons:


  • one backend for Mac, Win and Gtk. Bug will be down to Cairo and not to each platform...
  • SVG support will be way easier. We need SVG support.


  • Cairo maturity. But if nobody use it, who will test it ? AbiWord pioneered with XML for the file format.
  • One more dependency, which seems to be a concern for win32 developers. Nothing that can't be solved.
  • Performance. Again, that will give a real test case.

And I think I'll move my Gtk+-MacOS X work in gtk+-2.7 branch (I mean rebranch from there) to use Cairo as well. Now it makes sense.

Wednesday 20 July 2005


I'm disgusted. My pictures from Ottawa have been ruined by dust on the sensor.

Tuesday 19 July 2005

Desktop Developer Conference live, Day 2

Live from Desktop Developer Conference, in Ottawa, Canada.

I finally got the Wifi working. Looks like one card is working, the other is no longer (identical models), and Airport does not like Linksys, definitely (on Linux).

I currently listening to Carl Worth talk about Cairo. It is interesting to see how things evolve in that area, and Cairo is really sweet. Combined with GL based X server, it looks like we'll have a really good graphic infrastructure... at least up to the level of the video driver. In that area, it becomes really sketchy with the proprietary bugware they come up with (programing for benchmarks and cost reduction is probably not the best idea ever, even more when you don't provide the source code). And Inkscape demo is quite impressive...

My talk about Free Software for Digital Photography (not yet online) went really well. Incidentaly, right after talking about Epson lack for cooperation for their RAW file format, I got a reply from the developer relations. Looks like they'll require a NDA also, but I'll see how far it goes. On the side of things, I started hacking libexif to have it read TIFF files (it is in the exif spec) and so have it read Canon CR2 RAW files and possibly Nikon NEF in order to be able to extract metadata and and thumbnails directly.

Met a lot of people, that I already knew, that I met for the first, etc.

Saturday 16 July 2005

Client server display

X-Window is one of these display technologies that is network transparent. That means you can run a program on a computer and have it displayed elsewhere over the network. I do that quite often, when connecting to another machine at the office, with ssh, to have an editor like gvim or emacs, or to have for one of the servers, YaST (yes, it run SuSE for some obscure reasons, and it is not a PC).

In fact this is the way I started using UNIX the first time at IUT d'Orsay back in 1993... (I feel old now) We had 3 servers running AIX and HP-UX (the X clients), and a whole bunch of X terminals (the X servers), a mix of HP and NCD (rebadged by Bull). We ended being over 100 users logged in doing various things, and even if being sometime painfull when the 3l33t3 hax0r didn't know how to use fork() or running some other X11 bandwidth wasting software (like mpeg_play to watch pr0n or xpilot), it did work quite well. This is why X-Window was designed for at a time were CPU cost more than display.

I have also done remote X forwarded by SSH over ADSL when I was working at an ISP. It was usable. The biggest problem, like for any interactive protocol, is not the bandwidth, but the latency. And ADSL is know to not be good at that, mainly because of the ATM encapsulation.

So I have setup this kind of architecture at home given that there is a PII 266 PC with 256MB of RAM on one side, and that there is an old HP Laptop with a Pentium 266 and 96MB of RAM with the help of the XDMCP Howto. Both run Linux Ubuntu Hoary.

Believe it or not, this setup is not slower than just running the desktop PC. It is even somewhat faster as the supplementary CPU and memory that X does not use on the main machine but on the laptop for display counterwight the network overhead : the desktop PC no longer run X, just gdm. This was not the main motivation, the main motivation was being to be able to use that laptop as a "workstation", but given its hardware capabilities, making it decently usable without installing Debian potato...

The only pain I had was to figure out why the Xserver was rebooting. It appears that using xdm to manage it is not the right solution. Starting X manually with X -query prague (prague is the hostname of the X client) is the way to go.

Thursday 14 July 2005

Desktop Developer Conference

I will be at Desktop Developer Conference in Ottawa, Canada, Monday-Tuesday July 18-19th 2005, talking about Free Software for Digital Photography.

See you there if you come.

Saturday 9 July 2005

New development Mac build of AbiWord

I built AbiWord 2.3.2+CVS yesterday on MacOS X. It is available here. The source tarball is here. Unfortunately the binary requires MacOS X 10.3 (Panther), due to some run time issues. The source can be build on MacOS X 10.2 without problems.

These are development quality builds.

Friday 8 July 2005

build with gcc4 on Tiger

I now have a MacMini with Tiger at the office because we need it as our product support Mac clients (thanks to Netatalk). I find Tiger faster than Panther on the same hardware. I mean almost same, my MacMini has 1GB with Panther.

I installed everything that is needed and now build AbiWord on Tiger. Beside a few glitches and changes in fribidi, and bug 9030, it did work well.

gcc4 is actually much more strict, so comparing the result of an Obj-C method declared to void with a bool does not work. That is a good thing, even if it leads to some pain. I'm not sure if I'll backport this fix to 2.2.x, even if I could easily.

Now I have to fix a few major bugs, and think about putting back the toolbars to the main document window as people seem to prefer.

Since 2.3.2 has been released, I might release a post 2.3.2-cvs version binary for MacOS X. The first in 2.3.x series, at last.

current music: Das Modell - Kraftwerk

Ditching BeOS support

$cvs -qz3 update -Pd|grep ^R | wc -l


Removing the 228 source files needed for BeOS support in AbiWord. The main reason that we have been looking for a maintainer, and nobody seems to bother. So it is worthless to keep that code around in the current tree. Actually it cost us.

For code can still be retrieved from the 2.3.1 tarball, or from CVS, but not from HEAD.

Thursday 7 July 2005


So apparently there is still enough cowardice in that world to kill innocent people for the sake of their convictions.

My sympathies to all the victims, their friends and their families.

Sigma and Epson documentation ?

It appears that Sigma SD10 DSLR is not using any standard protocol for communicating with the computer. So I'm trying to get in touch with Sigma but apparently this company do not even have an online support query. Looks like I will have to send a FAX to request the protocol documentation, in the hope that I get a reply. Not holding my breath, seriously. According to a Sigma user, the monolithic Windows GUI software that comes with the camera is "extremely slow" according to some user.

Epson that claim they are "open" did not reply to my developer support inquiry about the RD-1 raw file format. The tech support sent me there, so I asked the tech support if they have a more appropriate answer. I still have another card in my hand in case. It is the same Epson, that despite not having provided any help, give gphoto as a solution for Linux developers... If they were as helpful as they had been for printers and scanner... (mental note: mirror all the documentation they provide, in case they do like Kodak and just discard it)

Wednesday 6 July 2005


I did something yesterday at work. I pressed control-alt-backspace, and in gdm, I did select "WindowMaker" for my session, and made that the default. Last time I ran WindowMaker was on my old PowerPC box, because I barely had a choice to have it usable with 128MB of RAM (this box is now headless, and no, I can't put more RAM, because I need to find 5V EDO DIMM, and I'm not even sure I have a free slot as I currently have 16 + 16 + 32 + 64 in 4 slots).

At least, music is no longer skipping when VMWare runs with our development code, on the Athlon 2600+ XP, 1GB of RAM.

Maybe I should try xfce :-)

Update: removed the word "nasty" that was a bit inappropriate.

Sunday 3 July 2005


Wow, almost a week without posting.

Lot of things happened this week. Monday, I got my work permit renewal in the mail. Tuesday, I got my passport back with my permanent residency visa. Wednesday, I exit Canada and get rejected from entering the US for the whole purpose of entering Canada with my visa to acquire permanent residency. Note that my constitutionnal rights have been violated for that, because US Governement did fingerprint me and photography me like a criminal. Fingerprint is not even something Canada asked for my visa application. Sunday, it is my first anniversary of my presence on Canadian soil.