Tue, 15 Mar 2005


I'm glad I'm not a debian-devel subscriber right now. They tell me the flamewar is quite massive, and the discussion has diverted into Ubuntu and Cabal bashing here and there.

Yesterday I came quite late into office, after a nice visit to the hospital, and the first thing I got in my hands was a printed copy of Vorlon's announcement from Sergio. I was quite impressed by what I found out, and both of us agreed that this is a very positive step forward for the Sarge release and Debian's release process in general.

I understand that some people are not happy about this because the architectures they work on won't be part of etch, but let's face it: the amount of work and maintenance required to make those architectures part of a Stable release, with all the implications that has in Debian, was way too high for the very small percent of users these architectures have. It would be interesting to find out how many of the mips box using Debian out there are actually using Woody. Yeah, it's easy to say this because I have no boxes using any of these ports and I don't work on any of these ports.

I do think that the small communities that live around the ARM, s390 or MIPS ports can make something usable out of the scc archive. Not being part of etch is not the end of those ports, it's just a matter of changing how things work. Debian hasn't scaled too well in some areas for some time, and this proposal is an aggressive way of addressing the problems that have held a new stable release for way too much time.

I, for one, welcome this very much needed proposal. I think it clears the future for Debian, which wasn't too defined lately. I hope the release team and vorlon in particular will be able to go through the Planet and debian-devel storms with their morale and will to contribute their free time more or less intact. I support you guys. :)

Sat, 12 Mar 2005

Want to help the GNOME team?

Following up to my previous post about GNOME 2.10 packages for Debian, seb, sjoerd and a few others in #gnome-debian thought that we could tell people how they can really help us with the packaging.

Normally, doing the actual packages is not such a big problem, except when there are tricky upgrades and transitions. We've had enough past experience to handle that more or less gracefully. What we most need help on is with BTS triaging for the many bugs filed against GNOME Team packages. Specifically, we can use help from people reading, testing and commenting about the validity of the bugs filed against nautilus, evolution, control-center, gnome-panel, epiphany and in general, bugs filed against packages under the Debian GNOME team's umbrella.

Helping like this is easy. Just looking for bugs that were filed many months ago and that were obviously fixed in GNOME 2.6 or 2.8 is a good start. If in doubt, don't hesitate to ask any question in the debian-gtk-gnome@lists.debian.org mailing list, or the #gnome-debian channel in GIMPnet. Many thanks!

Thu, 10 Mar 2005

So, where are the GNOME 2.10 packages?

Six months ago, the GNOME team was able to provide GNOME 2.8 packages for experimental the day it was released. I guess people expected the same would happen for 2.10...

Well, no. We haven't started serious work on creating GNOME 2.10 packages for unstable, not even experimental. Right now, we're trying to stabilise the uploads done to sync unstable/testing with the GNOME 2.8.3 release, which happened a few weeks ago. A few buildd's haven't catched up or need to retry some libs due to missing build-deps. We're also trying to finish up the non-howl transition. It should be solved pretty soonish, and nothing should stop us from starting to work on 2.10 as soon as this weekend.

When we start, it won't take too long, because fortunately seb128 has done most of the work for Hoary, so for most tarballs it'll be a matter of syncing. Be prepared to use external repositories, though, as GNOME 2.10 includes a few new modules like gnome-menus which would trigger NEW and would probably take weeks to appear in the archive. I assume we'll use the pkg-gnome repository as we did for 2.6, until we can move to either experimental or unstable, once Sarge freezes.

What is pretty clear, just if you're wondering, is that Debian Sarge will not release with GNOME 2.10. We know this was said for 2.6 and 2.8 in the past, but this time it appears the freeze is actually close. We'll stick with GNOME 2.8.3 for the release, although it wouldn't be surprising if we end up offering a semi-official backport for Sarge in pkg-gnome.

Oh, last but not least, congrats to all the GNOME folks for another rocking and successful release!

Wed, 09 Mar 2005

Laptops make airplanes suck less

I'm currently on a plane returning from London to València, after my stay with the Canonical/Rosetta guys. It's the first time I travel with my own laptop, and one that isn't either slow or unstable as hell. Being alone for the return flight, I decided to take out the lappy instead of my book because I'm too sleepy to get something out from the novel I'm currently reading, the latest book by Ferran Torrent La vida en l'abisme.

Situations like this make me think buying the powerbook was a good idea, as right now I'm using this dead time catching up with some e-mails I had to write weeks, in some cases months, ago, and doing some blogging about stuff from the last four days (as you've noticed already. :)

What still sucks about planes is when the whole cabin stinks with horrible plane food. It's even worse when companies like Iberia don't give you any food and you're hungry...

As I write this, we're crossing over the Pyrenees, my favourite mountain range, and just as the constant sea of clouds has disappeared, allowing me to enjoy the air view of a new sea of white mountains. Apparently it's been cold in Spain again while we were out. This happened just as the sun was setting in the West. Too bad I don't own a camera yet.

Now, back to reality: the final sprint at work before our Free Software Congress, and a lot of work to do still...

Rosetta is evil and eats babies

And if you didn't know yet, you should be reading Planet Debian, to find out that I, once considered a nice member of the Free Software community, have succumbed to the dark forces that threaten the pureness of our hackers.

In reply to my post about my visit to London, Beowulf blogged about the dubious convenience of me participating in a "non-free" project as The Launchpad. Yeah, Rosetta's code isn't available at all. Is that enough reason to bash it non-stop? Is Canonical expected to release everything they do from day one, or can they decide what is more convient for them in order to build a profitable business and continue contributing to Debian and Free Software?

Beowulf, you work for a construction company or something similar, right? Are the specs of the projects they are working on freely available as open content in the Internet? Does that make you feel bad?

As far as I know, you use the Linux kernel in all or most of your computers. Maybe you should consider *BSD or even the Hurd, as, unlike Linux, they don't use a non-free tool like bitkeeper to manage their development.

If I'm helping the Rosetta people with the constructive feedback I can provide, it is because I think it's going to be a Good Thing for the i18n communities in which I'm involved. If Mark told me Rosetta will never be free, I guess I would focus on helping similar projects like Pootle, which are Free today, but the thing is that Canonical does plan to release Rosetta and the rest of Launchad under a DFSG-free licence. They will do it when the company is ready to give it away, and I will happily contribute while this happens, because I believe that Rosetta has a potential to be a revolutionary tool for Free Software l10n, specially for language teams that don't have already established translation teams like many African or Asian languages.

The Producers

Mark invited the few Canonical people (Matt, Scott, Scott and Carlos, plus me) that were around this appartment to the theatre yesterday evening. We chose to see The Producers, a comedy musical that apparently has had very good press.

We sat in a quite good spot, in the first floor ring, and could watch all the play in detail. Scott was telling me that people at the back seats of the second floor really need to use the goggles available at the seats (of course, for a price, as everything in London), or you can't even distinguish the faces of the actors.

The argument was nice and we all had a good laughs. I was suprised to be able to follow all the argument without missing anything, as I thought I would have trouble understanding the song lyrics, but the bits I missed (mostly during songs sung by many people) weren't important to understand the rest.

We got out of the theatre pretty late for the UK, at half past ten, which is even late for Spain. Gladly Scott was around and guided us to a pizza restaurant, where we had dinner before taking the Tube back to Earl's Court to sleep.

Arriving there at midnight, I still found shit to do at the laptop until 2AM, which made me a semi-zombie for most of today's morning. It appears I wasn't too calm tonight again, as Carlos suffered my teeth grinding from 6 to 7AM. I need to get that looked at by the dentist...

One of the things that have surprised me most of London was the incredible amount of teatres and musicals that are going on at the same time... the Underground stations are full of posters with many different shows. You certainly don't get in València, where we have just a handful of working theatres, and normally plays aren't musical. Among the advertised shows, you can find many different kinds of shows: from stuff like The Producers to a representation of Winnie the Pooh. Don't ask me how you represent this live, in a scenario, but it can be both very funny and crappy. :)

Daf, as everything else I've proposed during these five days, refused to go see it. He also refused to, from memory, do the following activities with me, who wanted to know a bit more of London:

So thanks to daf this trip to the UK wasn't more enjoyable that it has been. I will take revenge next week, though, as he'll be in Valencia at Carlos' place for a two-week Rosetta hacking sprint. If he proposes jumping off the Micalet with a parachute, I will find a poor excuse and say no.

A step backwards

16298:jordi@nubol:~$ chsh
S'està canviant l'intèrpret d'accés per a jordi
Introduïu el nou valor, o premeu ENTER per al predeterminat
        Intèrpret d'accés [/usr/bin/zsh]: /bin/bash

This is not the first time I try to do this, but being used to mentally correct zsh's misshandling of UTF-8 input in the command line isn't the way one should be working everyday. While bash reportedly still has a few UTF-8/char vs. byte problems, I haven't found them yet. Zsh, on the other hand, makes me do weird stuff like backspacing twice, then Ctrl-l'ing to redisplay when I press ç instead of Enter, for example.

Of course, you can get used to this behaviour and end up doing the double backspacing without even noticing, and that's why I've been using zsh on a UTF-8 locale for years.

Switching to bash is a step backwards. I know many will argue it's not, but I really think it is. There are some features in zsh that AFAIK you can't get done in bash. While bash completion has gotten a lot better in the last years thanks to the bash_completion package, zsh's is just so much better. I'll have to get used, I guess. Or I'll switch back, which is what happened the last three times I tried to do this.

Mon, 07 Mar 2005

Lost in the supermarket

I'm all lost in the supermarket
I can no longer shop happily
I came in here for that special offer
A guaranteed personality

So Mark took us to a EAT SOUP place for lunch today, and there was no toilet. The perfect excuse to cross the street and go into Harrods and see if it's as shitty as daf said the day before.

I expected Harrods to be something similar to the Spanish El Corte Inglés, but I was totally surprised by what I found out. The first area I was in when I entered the huge building was the "Luxury articles" department, full of jewels and stinking parfumes. I kept walking towards the inside, randomly looking for a toilet. Not finding one too easily in the first floor, I took a tiny staircase and started going up and up. As I visited more floors, I realised the organisation of the shop is quite chaotic. You could find the carpet department just next to the pianos, which was a huge area filled up with pianos and people trying them. I also found modern and classic furniture, electronics and other random departments here and there, but the toilet was nowhere to be found, despite some of the exits did have indications for nearby toilets.

In the 4th floor, though, I picked up a good trail. The Luxury Washrooms were clearly what I needed. A few minutes later, the luxury washrooms were nowhere to be seen. Eventually I thought I had mixed things up, and that what I had seen was an indication to the "luxury washroom items" department or whatever, but suddenly, there it was: Men's Luxury Washroom.

As I had taken more than five minutes to find the place, I guess I was in a hurry because the rest would be about to leave EAT. I approached the entrance, and was puzzled by a guy sitting on a chair nearby rushing to open the door for me. Suspicious. I quickly went in, while I thought that having a dude that opens your toilet door most probably meant giving tips when you exit. Well, I didn't have a single coin with me, so that would be a problem. I had a glance at the place, and there was nothing luxurious at all in the toilet. I really wonder what makes it luxurious, besides someone opening the door for you...

Seconds later, the guy was behind me, with a "dude, you owe me something" look in his face. Carlos came to the rescue in that precise moment, when he phoned to ask me where the hell was I. When the phone started ringing, I said "oh fuck", trying to sound worried, and rushed out again, not having completed my mission.

In short, Harrods sucks, daf already told me. The decoration is horrendous, and it seems they try to give this impression of expensive store, while much of the stuff they sell is crappy or average anyway. The Egyptian Staircase was the worst of all, totally out of place. Now I know there's an equally horrible fountain dedicated to Lady Diana and Dodi. Too bad I couldn't find that bit in the maze...

Banana Republic of Europe

It's not that I didn't expect this fight to end up like it ended this morning, but I hoped the shameless politicians would try to somehow cloak it behind some procedure that resembles democracy in some way. No way. When so much money is involved, things end up being how corporations want things to be.

This is why I've never believed a word about the "European construction process" or anything. It's why I decided to participate in the referendum to vote No instead of staying home to contribute to the massively low turnout.

Welcome to the Banana republic.

This staircase has 99 steps

Second full day in London. Too bad we couldn't go to the Speaker's corner, as we had to be at Mark's place early. After a more or less ok morning (Matt will argue about this, as his laptop decided it was time to start dying, and now resets every 15 minutes or so), we went for lunch to an Italian pub/restaurant nearby, called Papparazzi. Despite the horrible name, the food was good. Of course, and for the nth time since we arrived, we discovered that the two guys sitting right next to us were Spanish as well, when one of them made a remark about sucking cocks. The waitress at the hotel's restaurant is also Spanish and is called Rocío, I totally caught her when I asked for some "té" instead of tea. She thought she hadn't understood my English and said "Sorry?". :)

Work ended a bit later today, and at 19:30 or so we were out to decide where to have lunch. Daf guided us to a Thai restaurant nearby and despite my #1 priority being avoiding spicy and hot food, I ended up breathing like a dragon, and wondering if my lately weakened stomach would permit an aggression like that. After having dinner and confirming that it's impossible to make it under £10 in the area, we made our way to the hotel, going past Harrods and a Zara shop.

I don't think daf took us to a really interesting place today, but here's one of the nice places we saw yesterday, the 99 step staircase.

This staircase has 99 steps

According to him, it's the best staircase in the planet. It's a long, steep spiral in one of the Underground stations, and could be used as a cool scenario for a 3D shooter game like Half-Life. If you trip over and fall down, you're in trouble though, because I don't expect you to stop rolling down until the end, and that must be a nasty fall.

At daf's and Matt's room, they were watching a humour show on TV while I answered to a few mails, and then we had a short talk about usability and GNOME, just before I went back to my room to write this blog entry and prepare to sleep. It's getting late already. Mako, you'll probably enjoy my next story, but I need to take a picture before I can publish it.

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