Facebook, the Qt5 Web Application

This is a really cool idea, it’s a site-specific browser, similar to Fluid on OS X. This has alerts and such that come up as well, and it’ll sit in your KDE task bar. I’m digging it so far. I suspect that it’ll play nice in other DEs as well.

Facebook openDesktop.org

The app is available as a .deb as well as a source package, and many different OS’ and configurations are available. I’m using the Ubuntu package since I’m in Kubuntu land. This app does appear to be receiving updates, the most recent one according to openDesktop.org was on September 3rd, 2013.
Here are the features I see:

  • Supports SSL Facebook (very important for me since I have an ISP which engages in DPI)
  • Works with two-factor authentication with Facebook
  • Simply uses the web UI of Facebook (I see this as a plus, not a minus, that way I’m not stuck waiting for someone to implement changes that Facebook threw into an API update)
  • Very lovely Facebook blue window border, fits in very nicely

Here are some areas that I would like to see improved:

  • I’d like to be able to resize the window
  • I’d like it not to crash when something tries to use Flash (too much stuff on Flash crashes)
  • It’d be neat to not have to log in again every time I opened the app.

I think that with only some minor changes, this app could be one that I keep running in the background all the time. I’d love to see something like it for Twitter as well.
Here’s the app: Facebook openDesktop.org.

Gist of the Day: Find Which List Items Make Up a Given Sum

Here’s the scenario: you have two lists of integers, and you have a sum. Write an algorithm – in Perl, of course – to find which two items when summed give you a specified number. If no pairing exists, don’t return anything. If a pairing does exist, return the first pair you encounter. Remember, you could get two very large input lists. Continue reading “Gist of the Day: Find Which List Items Make Up a Given Sum”

Install Party Anybody?

I’m thinking of holding an install party the first last weekend in July. Anybody game? I would propose a few different agenda items:
1. Install GNU/Linux of your desired flavor (bring your own ISO, I’ll bring Ubuntu and Kubuntu 13.04 images to share)
2. Intro to contributing to Free Software, and what it takes to contribute
3. Hackathon
Denny’s will have their full menu available to us the whole time, and they do have free wifi and a community space for us.
Please use the comments section to RSVP.
When: July 27th @ 12:30pm – 4:30pm
Where: In the Community Room of Denny’s at 702 W Town Center Blvd, Champaign, IL 61822 (Map: http://goo.gl/NQOu7)

It's Good to Be Back

Well, I’ve been working on my first contribution to Kubuntu since 2007 and it feels good. I haven’t done a whole bunch yet, but I’ve gotten my feet wet. While I understand the C++ much better than I used to – having worked on it during my 9-to-5 – I’ve still got a lot to learn in C++. I really like the features in Launchpad that are new (to me, since 2007) for reviewing commits. This is a great idea, it makes the whole process of contributing much easier. Before I’d just send a patch to a mailing list, and if there were revisions then people would have to send a new diff, and then you may end up with some changes getting lost if there was a large discussion.
I’ll try to blog about my Free Software work again, no promises.

Live from UDS Sevilla: Hacking in Spain

Anyway, we’re talking about a lot of things. The neatest things that I’m seeing are the stuff going into Edubuntu. We’ve got a lot of folks here who are focused on international use of GNU/Linux in educational settings. There are two of those little tiny childrens’ laptops here, both the MIT OLPC and the Intel ClassMate. They both look pretty sweet, though I favor the Intel ClassMate (sorry Tristan).
I’ve also seen some of the completely awesome progress made with Free Software Flash players. I’ve seen both gnash and swfdec, and both of them seem rather good. We watched Tickle-Me Elmo on Fire on YouTube on Gnash, and I’ve seen Tonio_ watch some videos with swfdec. It all looks really cool and it seems like a rather high priority. We really need Free Software Flash players, so this is a really nice development.
I’ve been busy as well working on some stuff as well. The two things I’ll likely be doing for 7.10/Gutsy are some improvements to Adept (possibly looking at merging in version 2.1), and a KDE4 port of kde-systemsettings. This is all very cool stuff.
For those of you reading this from Illinois, I would just like to remind you that all of this, and more, will be discussed at manchicken’s house of hack on May 19th. Don’t forget to email ubuntu-illinois-rsvpATnotsosoftDOTnet to get the address and phone number. I hope to see you all there.

On Ubuntu…

Okay… so we’ve had this discussion going on for a long time. In the BadVista mailing lists Ubuntu has taken quite a beating due to its default inclusion of non-free hardware drivers. Well, that and the use of the words “open source” where the words “free software” are more appropriate.
Well, I’ve been a Kubuntu hacker since December of 2006, and I am not tickling Mark Shuttleworth’s brain, or reading the minds of the management at Canonical. But I do know that everything I’ve received as a developer on the Kubuntu project leads me to believe that Ubuntu does have some very serious love for free software, but there’s a lot of “open source” to be found there as well.
So I’ll rant on two ideas I have on how Ubuntu could really solve some of the ethical concerns from the community, and how the community should reconsider its position on Ubuntu. Before folks call me inconsistent on this point–I have argued both sides several times–let’s remember that we’re all still learning here, and we’re all still figuring out what strategy will make us more free and meet our own needs. You can call my inconsistent or a hypocrite, and you’d be right, so I’ll just go ahead and get that out of the way.
First, let’s talk non-free drivers. I know this is a powder-keg, and it seems as though everybody’s got a very strong opinion it. Let me ask you though… is it Ubuntu’s fault that these drivers are not free software? Did Ubuntu or Canonical insist on licensing them as non-free software? I doubt it. Actually, I think Ubuntu would be ecstatic if nVidia, ATI, and Broadcom (to name a few) called them up tomorrow and offered to give them specs or free software drivers. I sincerely believe that.
So then, what is Ubuntu guilty of in this situation? Including the drivers, right? Well, why do you think they included the drivers? Do you think they’re making money from ATI or nVidia to include these drivers? I don’t. I think they’re actually catching a lot of crap for including them, but that in the best interest of the users who bought hardware that does not allow for a fully free system they’re accommodating a large audience of previously non-free people who can now be more free. There’s the argument of freedom of choice and all that, yadda yadda yadda. Whatever.
If you know that nVidia is non-free, and you buy it anyway, then you are supporting a company that is against your freedom. End of story on hat one. But if you’re Mr. Smith who bought this sweet laptop, and later found out that he could have more freedom with his computer, and then after the fact realizes that it has a non-free graphics card in it, that’s not his fault. He didn’t know anything about software freedom before, and he doesn’t have the cash to upgrade to a machine that does support a fully-free environment. Have you looked at the prices of a tweaked out lappy these days? They’re certainly not free, and you can’t just swap out the video card. Besides, nVidia already made their money, so it’s no further support to them by using it.
All this to say that it is nVidia’s fault and ATI’s fault and Broadcom’s fault that these drivers are non-free. Mr. Smith will know not to buy from fascists later, but this time around he’s pretty much screwed. Let’s not blame Ubuntu for nVidia’s crimes. But there is something that I feel Ubuntu could do to help things out a little bit.
Offer a choice. I know that it’s simple to just not activate the non-free modules or to purge them, but I don’t even want that rubbish on my computer to start with because I do not agree with their license agreement. So what choice would I like to see? I’m glad you asked. I’d like to see two ISOs for every Ubuntu flavor. One that meets Mr. Smith’s needs with his non-free hardware, and one that meets my needs as a user who wants a completely free system.
I know that there’s talk of a GNUbuntu or FSF-approved flavor of Ubuntu, but I don’t even think Canonical should waste the marketing money on that. I think we should just have “Kubuntu-free,” “Ubuntu-free,” “Edubuntu-free,” and “Xubuntu-free.” In a perfect world, the free versions would be the default ISOs (e.g. Ubuntu and Ubuntu-nonfree rather than Ubuntu and Ubuntu-free), but I’ll take what I can get.
All that said, I am 100% the Ubuntu fanboy. I’ve been using Kubuntu for the better half of a year and there’s not much in the way of going back for me. Ubuntu is an excellent distribution, and Kubuntu does some insanely cool things to further KDE. There are plenty of folks criticizing Ubuntu because they want to see it fail and something else succeed. I criticize Ubuntu because I think it’s a great project, and there is always room for improvement.
Okay, I’m done ranting for now. Feel free to disagree.

Don't forget about the 19th of May!

Don’t forget all you Ubuntu-lovin’ folks in Illinois! May 19th is the first “official” meeting of Ubuntu-Illinois, at manchicken’s house of hack. There will be UDS debriefing, talks of possible sprints, perhaps a mini hackathon, food, and of course beer. I’ll see if I can pick up a single-malt as well, but I make no promises.
Remember to RSVP by emailing me at «ubuntu-illinois-rsvp *AT* notsosoft *DOT* net» for directions, address, and phone number. I really do hope to see you all there.
Sorry about that folks, I forgot to actually make sure the email address was there. This even it out of south-west Champaign, IL (about 2.5 hours south of Chicago, close to the University of Illinois campus).

Happy Kubuntu Release Day!

KubuntuWell, it’s been a long time coming, and now Kubuntu 7.04 Feisty Fawn is released. You can read the release notes and official announcement here. Kubuntu is an excellent project to work on, and JR runs it damned well.
On December 9th of 2006 I went into #kubuntu-devel on freenode and told them I was bored and asked them to give me something to do. Since then I’ve submitted several patches–many of which are in feisty fawn–and had more fun than you can shake a stick at. All of you aspiring hackers and UI designers and artists, I encourage you strongly to consider contributing to this project. It’s a blast, and it has results.
For those of you who intend to go to kubuntu.org or ubuntu.org to download the latest version, you will notice that things are running a bit slowly. Please be patient as quite a few people from around the world have also eagerly anticipated this release, and are very excited about it as well.

I Call an Ubuntu Illinois LoCo Team Meeting

Howdy folks! So the Ubuntu-Chicago folks have been active for a while, and they’re a great team of folks. But what about the folks in central and southern Illinois? How sad.
So, it is my delight to call this first meeting of the Ubuntu Illinois LoCo team. On Saturday the 19th I invite folks to join me at my house in Champaign, IL–manchicken’s house of hack–for pizza, beer, and Ubuntu from 12:00 until 17:00.
During this meeting I would like to pass on information from the Ubuntu Developers’ Summit, and I would like to discuss how we could coordinate some local development efforts.
If you will be attending, please RSVP (ubuntu-illinois-rsvp *AT* notsosoft *DOT* net) so that I know how much pizza to pick up. If you have special dietary needs let me know and I can see if I can accommodate you within reason (sorry, but I can’t afford the caviar and champagne diet). As soon as you RSVP I will reply with the address and contact information.
This event is open to all Ubuntu users and developers. I’m a big Kubuntu guy, it’d be nice if a GNOME Ubuntu person and an Xubuntu person wanted to come and help lead some development discussions for this as well. If any other UDS attendees are interested in showing up let me know and I’d love to have you join me in presenting some of the ideas.
Anyway, my rambling aside, I hope to see you all at manchicken’s house of hack on Saturday the 19th of May at noon.
Also, if you join irc.ubuntu.com and join #ubuntu-illinois (which forwards to #ubuntu-chicago) we can discuss the possibility of a hackathon.  If you’d be interested in such a thing make sure you mention that in your RSVP.