Loud ramblings of a Software Artisan

Wednesday 31 May 2006

"I believe in D-Bus!"

Ronald, as you say, KDE seems to be miles ahead. It is somewhat true if you think about the architecture. They have a mature toolkit, Qt, that is licensed under a Free Software license[1], and that runs on 3 major platforms, 1 free (X11), 2 non-free, allowing to capitalize on a truely Free Software experience will providing freedom of choice: develop for a Free Software operating system (Linux, BSD, or whatever else) and seemlessly port to non-free operating systems: MS-Windows and MacOS X. The other things KDE have are technologies like DCOP, KPart, a web browser component (KHTML) and even imaging (look at KImageEffect). And even if some of this have similar counterpart in Gnome, the developers find them easier in KDE[2]. But I have always had issues with KDE UI which unlike Gnome is much less polished and much more "provide everything you can"[3].

But let's go back to DCOP. DCOP has been around for over 6 years and provided a simple to use structured IPC mechanism for KDE, on top of X11. I would have had implemented a scripting architecture for KDE, I would have used DCOP as the IPC subsystem. But DCOP is now deprecated for KDE4 in favor of D-BUS. See thiago's post. Guys, you did the right thing. We need to share this infrastructure middleware amongst the free desktops. Why? Because it leverage the ability to provide other high level layer to integrate between Gnome and KDE. I'm thinking about my ideas on scripting. Maybe Gnome should just do like KDE: ditch Corba.


[1] yes, re-read the licence, it is all about protecting that Free Software nature while trying to streamline revenue for continued development and maintenance

[2] unless you hate C++ which seems to often be the justification for Gnome

[3] The list is actually very long

Tuesday 30 May 2006

Visa waiver

Mark adventures with the US immigration clearly describe why travel to or even through the US is currently a no go for me.

I already explained how my government was dumb when it came to provide passport conform to US regulation. After reading a bit more, here are more details: the USA require an optically readable passport with digitally encoded picture[1]. France was providing said optically readable (but not to me back in 2001) but with that encoded picture. So in order to comply, France has decided to go forward, do that picture encoding, and also add the big brother feature called RFID (reading private ID information insecurely from a distance)[2].

So in order to enter USA I would need to either get a new passport, with RFID, which I'm not even sure I can get it yet, or apply for a visa to enter the USA. The later require giving out personal information that is no matter to them, including information about other people, information I'm not even sure will be protected adequately. In both case I would have to tick the box "have you been declined entry to the USA" and possibly be treated like a criminal (re-read Mark's adventure).

And for those who wonder why I have to check that box? Well, it is simple. I have to go to the Canadian border to get my PR status straightened out. For that I had 2 solution. The expensive solution: fly anywhere I can, the closest being Saint-Pierre et Miquelon, Cuba or French Carribeans, and go back to Canada. I don't know for Cuba[3], but the other two wouldn't be a problem with a French passport as they are French territories. The cheap solution was just to drive 80km to reach the border between USA and Canada. That's what I did. But here is the deal: you can't U-turn before reaching the US border control, so I had to go thru US border control, explain what I came to do, saying that I just wanted to turn back to Canada, wait in line at the immigration office, get mugshot and fingerprinted, get officially rejected because my passport does not meet the required for DHS, and let go back to Canada where everything did go smoothly[4].

Oh to confirm about how they don't track people that leave the country. In september 2001, right before 9/11, I flew to Boston, MA for a job interview. When I left, I didn't get asked for any passport, and I had this green leaflet from the visa waiver program in my passport. In july 2004, when I entered to Canada, the immigration officer took it out and put it in his stack... Off course the other problem is that entering the EU with a EU passport, you don't get stamped, so I never had any proof of my re-entry to France.


[1] I don't know what that last part mean. Reference

[2] some gossips pretend that it is because of lobbying from the official supplier of said RFID chips

[3] whether I need a visa or not

[4] Canada immigration is fine, I can't say that much about customs, I'll probably blog about it next time I re-enter Canada

Sunday 28 May 2006

No Guadec for me

Unlike originaly planned, I won't attend Guadec this year.

Update: Afterwards I learned that my proposed talk had been scheduled for the Sunday in the WarmUp weekend. Sorry about that, had I known earlier I may have taken another decision as I tend to dislike missing a committment I made like that.

Saturday 27 May 2006

Dear Google

Dear Google,

Yesterday you announced Picasa for Linux. But I'm a bit confused. I don't find it. All I see is a Windows binary installation and a Wine installation. Is that what you call a Linux version? I call that a Wine version. But I'm sure you have you reasons after all, and it is good enough for some people to congratulate you.

I also see that you benefited from Marcus' wonder hack about libgphoto2 support in Wine 0.9.13. Marcus is one of our[1] most dedicated hackers, and I wish myself to publicly thank him for the tremendous work he put in gphoto. He saved you a few bucks in contracting with a pure random coincidence, so maybe you could share the reward, no? Putting is in the FAQ will juste get us more support work, support we manage to provide ourself without any help but the user and some external companies that end up going the Open Source way by contribution back patches and fixes. Even some lobbying to get us support from manufacturers would be something we would appreciate, even if I'm sure you just don't care.

So what can you do to make this better? I see three things:

  • caring more about Linux by stopping this Wine hack and releasing a real Linux port. Even something using winelib at first would be nicer. Or modify an existing GPL program, in collaboration with their maintainer, to provide a Picasa experience.
  • caring more about Open Source by release Picasa as Open Source. I know the last part is more difficult because you probably did by choices by tying yourself to some obscure bad software vendor or just because you still don't believe in Open Source unless they helps you provide nice tax breaks or publicity.
  • at least not insult Linux user by providing them bad quality "ports" like that. You might find that last request a bit rude, but I believe that these bad quality Linux versions harm Linux more than they do good. Listen to this: "Linux sucks because Picasa on Linux is largely inferior to the Windows version." Hell yeah. I have heard that a while back about a different software on a different platform. You are just repeating history.

Maybe listening to the community is the first thing to do.

Yours, sincerely,


Update May 30th: I'm not the only one.

Update2 June 1st: Read The Inquirer and APC Magazine

Update3 June 2nd: one more


[1] the gphoto project

Friday 12 May 2006

What a week-end!

Finaly back online. Here is a summary.

My week-end started Thursday to go and sign for the new house. Then it was moving all the crap from the old house to the new house. Friday became interesting as I did unplug the ADSL, I had a van, and I must admit I wouldn't have been able to do it in time without the fabulous help from Pat who stayed from 7:30PM to 2:00AM. Thanks a log Pat for the help !

Saturday 11:00AM, I return the van and just enough time to go to the airport to leave for Mainz, Germany to attend the Desktop Architect Meeting II. Nothing special about the trip, except that I met a guy who was using Ubuntu on his laptop in the Toronto Airport terminal (hey Tim !).

I came back to the land of canuck Wednesday, and I had to reconnect everything to be back online, from the router to the noisy server: unfortunately I'll have to run cat5 cable to the basement. More about that later, including pictures.

Thursday 4 May 2006

Your Canadian tax dollars at work

Stats Canada is doing the Census 2006. Beside the political and privacy concerns that are being handled, it should be noted that the tax dollars are being used to prevent access to the online census to people NOT running Windows or MacOS. Even worse: if you use made-in-Canada Xandros operating system, you are also out in the blue. How can a governement discriminate a company based and operating in its own country?

Off course, the hotline open from May 1st between 8AM and 9PM (no timezone specified) 7 days a week have a message saying they are closed when calling a 10:30AM EST.

This is a similar issue I raised before with their incompatibe unemployment.

Tuesday 2 May 2006

Re: Gimp user Installation

Sven: concerning Gimp user installation, I have just one thing to say: TMI. Just do it silently. The user do not care, and asking a question is actually asking the user to make a decision that he probably does not know how to answer.

Reminds me of amaroK asking if you want to use sqlite or MySQL at the first run.

Monday 1 May 2006

AbiWord 2.4.4 on MacOS X Intel

Someone has done an unofficial Intel build of AbiWord.

Apparently no code source has been changed, but the build system had to be fixed, and I'm not surprised of that.

Desktop Architects Meeting 2

In a week or so, I'll be in Mainz, Germany for the Desktop Architect Meeting 2. I'll be representing my employer Xandros and gphoto.

Unfortunately I won't attend LinuxTag for schedule reasons.