Tue, 24 Mar 2009

Stepping down as the GNOME Catalan translations coordinator

As of this morning, Damned Lies finally reflects what has been the de-facto reality for at least four major GNOME releases. I started to invest a lot of time on translating GNOME to Catalan in the middle of the long 1.5 journey towards GNOME 2.0. That was a long time ago, and somehow was the way I ended being abduced by Softcatalà to eventually work with them on the localisation of some other projects.

However, I've been watching how my free time and motivation has been slowly shrinking, until the point I was no longer doing some of the stuff I was expected to do, or was doing it badly and late. Luckily, Softcatalà's GNOME team, a model for our organisation, has been able to smoothly replace heavily contributing members with a constant stream of new blood. In my case, I first stopped having that many modules assigned, then focused on coordination and finally stopped doing even that.

Gil Forcada has filled the gap perfectly and has been the main lead of effort for a pair of years. Passing the baton was long overdue; I think GNOME is lucky to count on Gil's amazing drive and motivation. Gil, congrats on earning yet another marronet! ;)

Fri, 31 Oct 2008

jabberd2 2.2.4 packages for etch

Last weekend I created a set of backports of jabberd and its unfulfilled dependencies for etch, for use in my jabber server which has been suffering s2s problems for way too long.

The packages are a bit quick and dirty, but good enough for my personal use (a known issue is the lack of shlibs bump in gsasl) and are available from this non-apt-get enabled repository. If I can help the XMPP team in any way to help these packages get into unstable or experimental, I'm totally willing to help.

Fri, 25 Jul 2008

GNOME-Mud 0.11

GNOME-Mud 0.11 was released yesterday. This was probably something unexpected to those who follow the mailing list, as it's the first release in over three years.

Back in 2006, Les Harris started contributing to the project and started a major rewrite of the program. Things looked very promising, with the program being ported to newer GNOME technologies and standards and being basically rewritten from ground up. However, Les got hit by Real Life™ and being the project's only real hacker, development basically stopped for nearly two years. On June, I was tempted to remove my irssi subscription to #gnome-mud; all I did was idling or telling people who popped by that nothing was being done and that wouldn't change unless someone rolled up their sleeves and finished up the nearly ready 0.11 release.

A few days after considering declaring GNOME-Mud dead, Les joined IRC after more than a year of no contact, recovered his GNOME account password and started to commit the missing bits at an awesome pace.

A few weeks later, 0.11 was done, with even more features than originally planned (support for more advanced MUD protocols like MSP or ZMP, for example) and I finally found the time to make a tarball and publish it. Les has lots of plans for the next release, and I hope my old wish of seeing GNOME-Mud becoming a MUD client that is comparable to the classic zMud will soon be a lot closer. The foundation set by this release certainly will make it easier to accomplish.

As always, if you want to contribute, we'll be happy to help you out on #gnome-mud at GIMPnet, or in gnome-mud-list@gnome.org.

Tue, 03 Jun 2008

Interview in El País on Debian's OpenSSL incident

Last week's edition of Ciberpaís included a lengthy article which tried to explain Debian's and Ubuntu's OpenSSL problem to unexperienced computer users, it's impact, what should people do and what happens next.

Mercè Molist sent in a few questions for me to answer, a small part of which were used in the article. While I don't like a few bits of the article that much, I tried my best to make it clear that Debian is not a bunch of clueless and careless Free Software enthusiasts. The treatment that the incident had in some well known Spanish security-related websites was in my opinion deplorable, so I want to thank Mercè for the opportunity to clarify some of the Debian bashing.

I expect the full interview will be published either here or at Mercè's website in the following days.

Thu, 24 Apr 2008

Filtering Planet Debian authors

Several people have been discussing what material is appropriate or not for feeds syndicated by Planet Debian. It's basically the same discussion that also pops up every now and then in any big planet like GNOME's, KDE's, Ubuntu's or ours, with some people advocating for Free Software or techie stuff content only, and an apparent majority liking and defending that people write about their latest Debian hack, but also how wonderful their vacation in Paris were, or how their favourite politician did this or that.

For some time now, Planet Debian has a small new feature that might have gone unnoticed by many, and could help some readers get rid of undesired content from the post listings.

Steve Kemp added a cookie-based per-author filtering system to Planet a few weeks ago. Next to each author name you'll see a “−” link which can be used to collapse all entries by the author. This setting will be saved in a browser cookie, and can be reverted by clicking on the “+” link next to the collapsed author. To expand all hidden posts, use the “Show all” link in the Planet's right column above the subscription list.

So, if reading about baby Jesus annoys you, just click on “−” and be happy.

Thu, 27 Mar 2008

Interview in El País

Today's edition of El País, the most read Spanish newspaper, celebrates the 10th anniversary of it's weekly technology section Ciberpaís with a special edition which takes a look back at the last 10 years of computing, and also looks forward to what the future will bring us.

Mercè Molist interviewed Carlos Atarés, my mate at Softcatalà Jordi Mas and myself, on what happened during the last 10 years of Free Software and where we are heading. The paper edition features a *gasp* half page picture of me laying on the grass, but is otherwise identical to the online version.

I need to add, this feels a bit strange. :) It's the first time I see myself refered to as just “Mallach”, but I realise I'm getting old...

Sat, 09 Feb 2008

Time for GRUB2?

My Apple Powerbook 5,4 just booted for the first time using GRUB, with no manual intervention, from Apple chime to GDM prompt. This is a great milestone for GRUB2 on powerpc-ieee1275 and OpenFirmware, as until now, multiple problems in the loader would drop you to OF console straight away, although other PowerPC hardware with other firmware implementations did manage to work.

Recent fixes by Pavel in the core and some other minor fixes for the userland utils have taken grub2 to the point where it is usable on most PowerPC hardware. On Apple, the only minor issue remaining is grub-probe insisting on (hd) not being a valid device name, so for now I have to trick it into believing it's really (hd1).

In parallel, many other GRUB2 improvements haven't stopped hitting CVS in the last months, which have seen how new contributors joined grub-devel and helped GRUB2 get the great momentum it's enjoying right now. Vesa, Robert and Bean have been really active lately, and have fixed long standing issues or written a lot of new code. One of the features GRUB2 acquired recently was image loading for background images. Much more powerful than the implementation in GRUB Legacy, GRUB2 can now read images in multiple formats, can handle up to 24bit colour and render a menu in arbitrary resolutions. The menu can now show UTF-8, and the Debian package will configure a pretty theme that matches the rest of the system if desktop-base is installed:

GRUB2 speaking UTF-8 Catalan

Although I'm not sure if GRUB2 is completely up-to-par with GRUB Legacy on i386/amd64, it seems the tricky bits, like video, LVM, RAID and the standard filesystems are supported and working. What GRUB2 needs now, in order to finally replace the aging and upstream-lacking GRUB Legacy you probably have installed, is massive testing. Debian has traditionally been a testbed for GRUB Legacy patches, and is also the platform where GRUB2 is being more widely tested. Having GRUB2 included in lenny's debian-installer would be a great step forward, and by the looks, I think we're well on time to manage this.

Replacing GRUB Legacy with GRUB2 is trivial. On PCs, just install the grub-pc package. You'll be offered to keep GRUB Legacy, but with an added menu entry to chainload GRUB2. If you're worried that GRUB2 might fail on your hardware, accept this, and try to load GRUB2 from GRUB. If it works, you then know you can get rid of GRUB Legacy completely and keep GRUB2 in the MBR.

On PowerPC-based Macs, you'll have to work around the small issue I mentioned above. Install the grub-ieee1275 package. You also need a very recent powerpc-ibm-utils package, which was just uploaded to unstable.

Mount your bootstrap partition, probably /dev/hda2 in /boot/grub, and generate a device.map file with grub-mkdevicemap. Check the contents. If your first device name lacks a drive number such as (hd), it's probably correct, although this will make things fail later. Change it to (hd0) for now. As grub-install relies on grub-probe, you'll have to generate your grub image by hand.

Copy all .mod files in /usr/lib/grub/powerpc-ieee1275 to your bootstrap partition, and generate a core.img:

root@powerpc:/boot/grub# grub-mkimage -d . -o /boot/grub/core.img *.mod
root@powerpc:/boot/grub# update-grub
root@powerpc:/boot/grub# nvsetenv boot-device hd:2,core.img

The generated grub.cfg will have references to (hd0,X), which you'll have to correct back to (hd,X) if necessary for your OpenFirmware. After this, you are probably ready to reboot, cross two fingers and get a warm "Welcome to GNU GRUB!" message at boot, which will then be followed by a standard GRUB menu, but on your nice PowerPC box. Unfortunately, the eye candy in the screenshot above isn't available yet in this platform, as it lacks VESA. Does someone in the audience want to contribute a video driver for powerpc? :)

Mon, 24 Sep 2007

GNOME 2.20 for Debian

My lack of posts lately left Planet readers without yet another “yay, GNOME 2.20 released” post. I'm sure nobody missed it. However, I can report what's going on in Debian regarding its packaging.

The executive summary is: the GNOME team rocks, and having much of GNOME 2.20 available in sid on the very same day it was officially announced was possible thanks to the incredible work done by lool, Np237, slomo and other restless team members, who spent the summer tracking GNOME 2.19 releases and packaging them in experimental.

To get a better view on what's left to do, you can use the 2.20 status page, which you'll see shows lots of green at this point. Some of the outstanding blockers are gtksourceview and the new epiphany-webkit binary stuck in NEW, which block gedit and epiphany, and of course, the initial mess that the buildds need to sort out to get the dependencies installed. The rest of “red bits” will continue trickling in unstable in the next few days.

Beware of the new behaviour in control-center, which will by default use the DPI value provided by X. Some X drivers are still buggy and can provide bad values, which will cause bad font displays. If you're hit by this, you can force a DPI value in control-center, which should fix the issue. Also, you can read the relevant thread in our mailing list.

Enjoy 2.20!

Update: yeah, ftpmasters rock too, and epiphany hit incoming just a few hours after posting this entry. Yay ephy-webkit!

Wed, 15 Aug 2007

Ten years of GNOME

Ten years ago, Miguel de Icaza announced the “GNU Network Object Model Environment” project, an attempt to fix a dependency on a non-free library for free desktops.

Today, GNOME is a large, healthy and fun project with a very steady mission and personality. Congratulations to everyone who made it possible!

Mon, 11 Jun 2007

I feel bad

I've cursed myself quite a bit during the last two or three weeks, because there probably are no good excuses for not attending DebConf this year, it's just that I didn't plan it at all. Sorry to everyone who expected me there, and thanks to those who have insisted me lately to book tickets, and even planned my arrival by sea. :) Unfortunately, last minute plans won't work this time, as my new job doesn't permit. I hope you all have a great time, and unlike me, will POP THE TRUNK, all week.

Oil delivery will resume... maybe in Argentina? Or Birmingham, why not!

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