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.

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.

UDS Sevilla Photos

So I just remembered that I have a treasure-trove of photos that I took while I was in Spain at UDS-Sevilla that I never shared with you all. Let’s take a look, shall we?The Football/Soccer Stadium Near the Hotel
So this is the first view I got when I started getting settled into the hotel room for the evening. What a view! These are just some apartments and condos with a football/soccer stadium in the near distance, but it’s just a very pretty view. Lots of colors in the trees and pants, and those apartment buildings just look fantastic. I thought it was interesting that even the units above the second floor still have bars on the windows. I bet this place gets pretty rowdy after a match.
GardensSo these are the gardens outside the hotel. It’s a shame that I still never got to walk in them. They did a fantastic job of putting these gardens together, I really missed out there. The back gardens by the pool and the pool-house bar weren’t half-bad either. This hotel was well and truly impressive.
PaintersSo after I got settled in the hotel, I was introduced to the two greatest fellas in all of Ubuntudom: John Riddel and Anthony Mercatante. We went about walking with a really nice South African guy by the name of Will (sorry, can’t remember the full name). We walked through the public square, around a river, and about some other parts of Sevilla. This was the only way I could think of to fight the jet lag. Well, as a midwesterner, this painter really surprised me. I can’t tell you how many films I’ve seen this scene in where there’s some random person painting out in a public square, but it was a real trip to see someone doing it for real.
CathedralPalace EntranceTo the left is the Cathedral outside the Royal Palace, and to the right is the entrance to the Royal Palace of the Spanish Royal Family. I’ve never seen a royal palace or anything like it before. I’ve seen quarters for British soldiers during the American Revolutionary War, but never a palace. This really was a treat.
So I’m going to just show you a bunch of photos from the conference now.
Developers Developers Developers Anthony w/Macbook OLPC
So later on I may put up more photos, but this is it for now. Enjoy.

Device Support Ubuntu: Gutsy Gibbon…

Hey folks, so I don’t know how many of you lovely happy people have been running the latest development version of Ubuntu, codenamed Gutsy Gibbon.  Gosh, I’ve been running it since its second week in existence, and I must say I’m well pleased.
One of the first thing I noticed when I switched over was that Gutsy would suspend and resume again (wait until later in this post to see why it broke), and the Broadcom support was better.  The new kernel in Gutsy is phenomenal, much respect to the ubuntu-kernel folks.
There have been problems, however.  For me though, most of the problems are directly related to the evil (yup, you saw it, I said the “E” word) Broadcom and ATI devices that are holding me back.  The Broadcom support, while better is not as good as it could be.  When the CPU takes a heavy load, the Broadcom support drops out.  I don’t hardly blame the kernel hackers or Broadcom teams for this, I blame Broadcom for not giving me Free Software drivers that work.  So I’ve been back to using LinuxAnt DriverLoader (more on DriverLoader later).  The ATI card has been causing some strange problems, too.  Since I don’t like the random crashes and lockups caused by the proprietary drivers for the card, I stick to the xorg drivers.  The xorg drivers do work, but they are limited, and every once in a while something will cause the X server to blow up.  Gnash is probably the king of blowing up my X server right now.
So, DriverLoader does a great job of getting my card to work.  It is proprietary filth, so I must advise that you use it as your last resort, but it does work.  It does also break things.  For those of you not familiar with DriverLoader, it is very similar to ndiswrapper.  DriverLoader uses the windows drivers for your wireless device and this has a couple side effects.  One of the side effects is packet loss.  While using DriverLoader, I have never had a minute go by without packet loss.  It has never happened.  DriverLoader also breaks suspend/resume functionality.   Under Edgy some of this was better, but DriverLoader folks haven’t released a fixed version for 2.6.22 yet.  I’m buying a new Ubuntu Dell, so this will hopefully be a non-issue when this current laptop becomes a nice little file-server. These 2 100GB disks should be well utilized then.
LIRC (Linux Infrared Remote Control, IIRC) was a pleasant surprise if I do say so myself.  It was a little tricky to install, and I do suggest that it be packaged in a OOTB installing fashion, or at least have someone fix the dependencies for the source package (linux-source is required, but not a dependency in the package).  But I like to use my Media Center remote that came with this abomination of a laptop to control my music while I work.  It makes working in a home office much easier.  LIRC support is just fantastic.
Support for my Palm Treo 700p seems to be reduced with the new version of opensync that came out, but I think that’s because my phone connects strangely.  I’ve been talking to the kpilot folks to get that sorted.
So if you have a strange device support story you’d like to share, please do share 🙂
Also, let us remember that Gutsy Gibbon is still to be considered unstable as it is a development release (currently my OpenOffice.org is borked), so be sure you’re willing to accept some risk before trying it.

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.

Live from UDS Sevilla: Jeglagged in Spain

So you have all probably noticed that I haven’t made any posts to my blog since I mentioned that I would. Well, boy are you in for a treat today! We’ve been discussing all of the lovely things that make up Ubuntu, and how we can make them better. I, obviously, have more of a focus on Kubuntu, and boy have we been working on Kubuntu.Madrid Airport
I arrived in Spain around 13:00 (UTC+2) on the 5th of May, and it’s kinda been insane since then. On the 5th me and three other folks walked all about Sevilla for about four hours.
CathedralI’ve seen some neat sites, such as this Cathedral (left) and the royal palace of the Spanish royal family. I’ve drank more beer in the last 48 hours than I normally drink in a month. Sevilla, Spain is full of some exceedingly neat people, and I highly recommend it as a tourist destination for those who dig neat history.
John and AnthonyI’ve also met some very neat people, such as John “Riddell” Riddell (left) and Anthony “Tonio_” Mercatante (right).  These are the folks that really helped and encouraged as I got involved in Kubuntu in the first place, what a trip to actually meet them.  Riddell is from Scotsman and Tonio_ is from France, so with me being from Chicago I wasn’t certain if our paths would ever be crossed.
So far we’ve got what looks to be a very busy road-map including improvements for adept as well as systemsettings.  We’ve also been talking quite a bit about KDE4.  Nothing has been 100% decided on what we’re doing for Gutsy just yet, but I think folks will be quite pleasantly surprised with what’s going to be there.
I’ll try to get some more up here about the summit, but it’s difficult since the connection that is supposed to be in my hotel room is dropping packets left and right, preventing a DHCP lease.
Okay, I’m going to get back to trying to build Adept 2.1 now.  Check you all later.

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.