Tag : nat

Features for the killer VoIP app

I see two issues that plague FLOSS VoIP apps and do not allow their widest adoption. The first VoIP app that gets these, should get fame and glory.

First, the majority of users are broadband users, with a router that protects the inside systems. It is not possible for an outsider to initiate a network connection to a system inside the LAN. If both users that try to communicate have this typical network configuration, then the current tools say something like «You have a symmetric NAT, and at the moment the way to fix this is to either put your computer in the DMZ or enable manually port-forwarding for specific ports.» Ekiga discusses this issue at Ekiga behind a NAT router and directs the affected users (when using the program) to that page. Twinkle (QT-based SIP-phone) shows you a dialog box with the exact ports to enable for port-forwarding on your router.

The issue of a symmetric NAT can be solved in most of the cases by using the UPnP protocol. If the router supports UPnP (most do by default), then the VoIP app can enable the port-forwarding by itself, transparently from the user, and it will just work.

Until recently there was no good UPnP library, which was probably the reason for the lack of support. However, this changed with GUPnP.

The bug report to add (G)UPnP support to Ekiga is Bug 337166 – UPnP for firewall/NAT penetration.

Ekiga already supports STUN and Zeroconf. With UPnP, the vast majority of users would be covered.

The other issue is the difficulty in configuring your third-party VoIP SIP account, that allows you to make inexpensive voice conversations to telephones and mobiles. The reason why it is difficult is because the user has to figure out the SIP server and other configuration details. The terminology is confusing, registrar, domain, etc.

Ekiga has good support in configuring Diamondcard. The user is presented with a Wizard when configuring for the first time Ekiga.


What needs to be done is to put together the details for each provider and maintain a list at ekiga.com. The client would have a copy of the list, and allow on-demand updates. The bug report, Bug 547215 – Ekiga should know all SIP/VoIP providers, allow easy account addition.

Update 11Aug08: Wiki page with PC-to-phone providers and their details.

Γράμμα από τον κ. Μπιλ Γκέιτς #2

Μιλήσαμε πρόσφατα για ένα γράμμα από τον κ. Γκέιτς για να προστεθούν χαρακτηριστικά στα έγγραφα γραφείου που να κάνουν δύσκολη τη πρόσβαση από τρίτους κατασκευαστές.

Θα μιλήσουμε τώρα για ένα ακόμα γράμμα από τον κ. Γκέιτς για να προστεθούν χαρακτηριστικά στο BIOS των υπολογιστών ώστε να είναι δυσκολότερη η λειτουργία από τρίτα λειτουργικά συστήματα.

Email by Bill Gates to Microsoft to make ACPI misbehave for Linux

Email by Bill Gates to Microsoft to make ACPI misbehave for Linux

Μπορείτε να δείτε το πλήρες κείμενο από τα τεκμήρια της δίκης μεταξύ Comes και Microsoft, που έγινε στην Αμερική πριν από μερικά χρόνια.

Το κείμενο στα αγγλικά,

From: Bill Gates
Sent: Sunday, January 24, |999 8:41 AM
To: Jeff Westorinon; Ben Fathi
Cc: Carl Stork (Exchange); Nathan Myhrvofd; Eric Rudder
Subject: ACPI extensions

One thing I find myself wondering about is whether we shouldn’t try and make the “ACPI” extensions somehow Windows specific.

If seems unfortunate if we do this work and get our partners to do the work and the result is that Linux works great without having to do the work.

Maybe there is no way to avoid this problem but it does bother me.

Maybe we could define the APIs so that they work well with NT and not the others even if they are open.

Or maybe we could patent something relaled to this.

(πηγή: τεκμήριο δίκης μεταξύ Comes και Microsoft)

Το κείμενο στα ελληνικά (με ελεύθερη μετάφραση):

Από: Bill Gates
Στάλθηκε: Sunday, January 24, |999 8:41 AM
Προς: Jeff Westorinon; Ben Fathi
Αντιγραφή: Carl Stork (Exchange); Nathan Myhrvofd; Eric Rudder
Θέμα: ACPI extensions

Ένα πράγμα που με απασχολεί είναι το αν θα έπρεπε να κάνουμε τις επεκτάσεις ACPI να είναι ειδικές για Windows.

Φαίνεται να είναι ατυχής κατάσταση αν κάνουμε τη δουλειά και οι συνεργάτες μας κάνουν τη δουλειά, και το αποτέλεσμα είναι να δουλεύει στο Linux δίχως να χρειάζεται να κάνει τη δουλειά.

Ίσως να μην υπάρχει τρόπος να το αποφύγουμε, αλλά με απασχολεί το ζήτημα.

Ίσως να μπορούσαμε αν καθορίσουμε τα API ώστε να δουλεύουν καλά με NT και όχι με τους άλλους, ακόμα και αν είναι ανοιχτά.

Ή ίσως να μπορούσαμε να πατεντάρουμε κάτι σχετικό.

(πηγή: τεκμήριο δίκης μεταξύ Comes και Microsoft)

Είναι σημαντικό να προσέξουμε ότι το παραπάνω γράμμα δεν είναι τεκμήριο ότι η Μίκροσοφτ έκανε όντως τέτοιες ενέργειες. Ο κ. Γκέιτς ήταν εκείνο το διάστημα CEO της Μίκροσοφτ, και η δουλειά του ήταν να κατευθύνει την εταιρία. Οι δε υπάλληλοι δούλευαν στην κατεύθυνση του CEO.

Το μήνυμα που πρέπει να κρατήσουμε σε κάθε κατάσταση είναι ότι το παραπάνω γράμμα δείχνει τη συμπεριφορά της εταιρίας στο χώρο της πληροφορικής. Ως καταναλωτές, η συμπεριφορά αυτή είναι πολύ αρνητική.

Δείτε το άρθρο του Λευτέρη για ένα πρόβλημα χρήστη με τη μητρική του και το ACPI.

Code of conduct και ελληνικές κοινότητες ΕΛ/ΛΑΚ

Ένα πρόβλημα με τις κοινότητες ελ/λακ είναι ότι μερικά από τα μέλη δεν ακολουθούν τους τυπικούς κανόνες συμπεριφοράς, και αυτό έχει το αποτέλεσμα να δημιουργείται συχνά ένα αρνητικό κλίμα.

Ένα πρόσφατο παράδειγμα είναι στη λίστα gnome-i18n, όπου ένας νέος μεταφραστής ήταν πολύ αρνητικός και προσβλητικός στη συμπεριφορά του απέναντι στο συντονιστή της συγκεκριμένης γλώσσας και άλλα άτομα που έλαβαν μέρος στη συζήτηση (=όπως εμένα!). Κατά τη συζήτηση, έγινε αναφορά στο λεγόμενο Code of conduct του GNOME, απλοί κανόνες καλής συμπεριφοράς. Αν θέλεις να συμμετέχεις στο GNOME, πρέπει να ακολουθείς τους κανόνες καλής συμπεριφοράς. Εννοείται ότι ο καθένας που λαμβαίνει μέρος στην ανάπτυξη του GNOME ακολουθεί τους κανόνες αυτούς· ωστόσο μπορεί κάποιος και να υπογράψει ότι ακολουθεί τους κανόνες. Το ίδιο συμβαίνει με την κοινότητα του Ubuntu Linux όπου ο χρήστης μπορεί να υπογράψει ψηφιακά το Code of Conduct με το κλειδί του, και να λάβει το χαρακτηρισμό Ubuntero.

Στην ελληνική πραγματικότητα δεν έχουμε φτάσει ακόμα σε τέτοια επίπεδα και η κατάσταση είναι σχεδόν ad-hoc. Αναφερθήκαμε πρόσφατα στο πρόβλημα με το φόρουμ Linux του Adslgr.com.Ένα πράγμα που θεωρώ πολύ σημαντικό είναι ότι πρέπει να υπάρχει σεβασμός και τήρηση των τυπικών κανόνων καλής συμπεριφοράς. Παλαιότερα που έβλεπα τη λίστα LGU, παρατηρούσα ότι υπήρχαν συχνές «παραβάσεις», με αποτέλεσμα να επικρατεί αρνητικό κλίμα, να μην βγαίνουν αποτελέσματα στις συζητήσεις, ο καθένας να προσπαθεί να κάνει τον έξυπνο και να «την βγει» στον άλλο, και ουσιαστικά να γίνεται κακό στην κοινότητα, στους νέους χρήστες. Για τώρα δεν γνωρίζω, έχω την εντύπωση ότι τα πράγματα δεν έχουν καλυτερέψει σημαντικά. Είδα την πρόσφατη συζήτηση στην LGU για το σχολιασμό της μετάφρασης από ΕΛΟΤ των θεμελιωδών όρων πληροφορικής. Πολλά άτομα απάντησαν, ωστόσο στη συζήτηση αυτή δεν παρατήρησα κάποιο χειροπιαστό αποτέλεσμα.

Ένα άλλο πρόσφατο παράδειγμα είναι με αυτό το γράμμα στη λίστα public@hellug.gr. Ανεξάρτητα αν έχει δίκιο ή όχι ο αποστολέας, το γράμμα αυτό είναι από τα πιο τυπικά για να κάνει μια συζήτηση να αποσυντονιστεί. Ο δε αποστολέας του γράμματος δεν είναι νέος χρήστης· είναι μέλος της κοινότητας πάνω από δέκα χρόνια. Αντί να έχει την ωριμότητα να κλείσει το θέμα, το ανοίγει περισσότερο.

Βλέπω αυτό το εχθρικό περιβάλλον να διαιωνίζεται σε συγκεκριμένες κοινότητες, με μικρές ελπίδες για αλλαγή.

Προσωπικά αφιερώνω χρόνο στο φόρουμ του ελληνικού Ubuntu, στο http://ubuntu.opengr.net/ όπου υπάρχει έντονη προσπάθεια να έχουμε ένα θετικό περιβάλλον. Βλέπουμε να έχουμε αποτελέσματα, και να γίνονται μέλη περισσότεροι νέοι χρήστες της διανομής. Το ίδιο θετικό περιβάλλον υπάρχει στη λίστα του Ubuntu-gr.

Αντιγράφω εδώ τους κανόνες καλής συμπεριφοράς του GNOME,


  • Be respectful and considerate:
    • Disagreement is no excuse for poor behaviour or personal attacks. Remember that a community where people feel uncomfortable is not a productive one.
  • Be patient and generous:
    • If someone asks for help it is because they need it. Do politely suggest specific documentation or more appropriate venues where appropriate, but avoid aggressive or vague responses such as “RTFM”.
  • Assume people mean well:
    • Remember that decisions are often a difficult choice between competing priorities. If you disagree, please do so politely.
    • If something seems outrageous, check that you did not misinterpret it. Ask for clarification, but do not assume the worst.
  • Try to be concise:
    • Avoid repeating what has been said already. Making a conversation larger makes it difficult to follow, and people often feel personally attacked if they receive multiple messages telling them the same thing.

Firefox 3 statistics, and the Greek language

Firefox 3 was released on the 17th June, 2008 and up to now, an impressive 22 million copies have been downloaded.

kkovash had a peek at the stats and produced a nice post with diagram for the downloads of the localised versions of Firefox 3 (that is, excluding en-US).

Firefox 3 Downloads; part of EMEA region, focus on Greece

Downloads at [Release+3] days (20th June 2008)

Dark red signifies that there have been more than 100,000 downloads originating from the respective country. It is quite visible that most European countries managed to surpass the 100,000 threshold. Greece at that point was hovering to about 50,000 downloads. In the Balkan region, Turkey was the first country to grab the red badge.

It is interesting to see that Iran has been No 2 in the whole of Asia (No 1 has been Japan). Only now China managed to reach the second place, and pushed Iran in the third place. When taking into account the population gap and the political situation, Iran achieved a amazing feat.

In the first few days, a few countries only managed to jump fast over the 100K mark. It appears that these countries have strong social network communities, that urged friends to grab a copy of Firefox 3.

Firefox 3 downloads, showing Greece, with Red status

This is a recent screenshow (26th June 2008), at [Release+9] days. Greece has achieved Red status the other day. In the Balkan region, Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria had reached 100,000 first.

In the EU region, it is notable that Ireland, at 76,000 downloads, is lagging behind.

Another observation is that the countries from Africa are lagging significantly from the rest of the world. Low broadband Internet penetration and limited number of Internet users is likely to be the reason.

How many downloads have there been for the Greek localisation of Firefox 3;

kkovash reveals that there have been about 60,000 downloads for the Greek localisation of Firefox 3. This would approximately mean that more than 60% of the downloads in Greece have been for the localised version. Great news.

Converting between XKB and XML

I completed the stage that takes keyboard layout files from XKB (X.Org) and converts them to XML documents, based on a keyboard layout Relax NG schema. Then, these XML documents can also be converted back to keyboard layout files.

Here is an imaginary example of a keyboard layout file.

// Keyboard layout for the Zzurope country (code: zz).
// Yeah.

partial alphanumeric_keys alternate_group hidden
xkb_symbols "bare" {
   key <AE01> { [        1, exclam,      onesuperior,  exclamdown      ] };

partial alphanumeric_keys alternate_group
xkb_symbols "basic" {
   name[Group1] = "ZZurope";

   include "zz(bare)"

   key <AD04> { [        r, R,           ediaeresis,   Ediaeresis      ] };
   key <AC07> { [        j, J,           idiaeresis,   Idiaeresis      ] };
   key <AB02> { [        x, X,           oe,           OE              ] };
   key <AB04> { [        v, V,           registered,   registered      ] };

partial alphanumeric_keys alternate_group
xkb_symbols "extended" {
    include "zz(basic)"
    name[Group1] = "ZZurope Extended";
    key.type = "THREE_LEVEL"; // We use three levels.
    override key <AD01> {   type[Group1] = "SEPARATE_CAPS_AND_SHIFT_ALPHABETIC",
[ U1C9, U1C8], [  any,   U1C7 ]   }; // q
    override key <AD02> {   [ U1CC, U1CB, any,U1CA ],
    key <BKSP> {
        symbols[Group1]= [ BackSpace,   Terminate_Server ]
    key <BKSR> { virtualMods = AltGr, [ 1, 2 ] };
    modifier_map Control { Control_L };
    modifier_map Mod5   { <LVL3>, <MDSW> };
    key <BKST> { [1, 2,3, 4] };

When converted to an XML document, it looks like

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<layout layoutname="zz">
      <tokenkey override="False">
      <tokenname name="ZZurope"/>
      <tokenkey override="False">
      <tokenkey override="False">
      <tokenkey override="False">
      <tokenkey override="False">
      <tokenname name="ZZurope Extended"/>
      <tokenmodifiermap state="Control">
        <keycode value="Control_L"/>
      <tokenmodifiermap state="Mod5">
        <keycodex value="LVL3"/>
        <keycodex value="MDSW"/>
      <tokenkey override="True">
          <typegroup value="SEPARATE_CAPS_AND_SHIFT_ALPHABETIC"/>
      <tokenkey override="True">
          <typegroup value="SEPARATE_CAPS_AND_SHIFT_ALPHABETIC"/>
      <tokenkey override="False">
          <typegroup value="CTRL+ALT"/>
      <tokenkey override="False">
          <tokenvirtualmodifiers value="AltGr"/>
      <tokenkey override="False">

When we convert the XML document back to the XKB format, it looks like

hidden xkb_symbols "bare"
	key <AE01> { [ 1, exclam, onesuperior, exclamdown ] };

xkb_symbols "basic"
	name = "ZZurope";
	include "zz(bare)"
	key <AD04> { [ r, R, ediaeresis, Ediaeresis ] };
	key <AC07> { [ j, J, idiaeresis, Idiaeresis ] };
	key <AB02> { [ x, X, oe, OE ] };
	key <AB04> { [ v, V, registered, registered ] };

xkb_symbols "extended"
	name = "ZZurope Extended";
	include "zz(basic)"
	key.type = "THREE_LEVEL";
	modifier_map Control { Control_L };
	modifier_map Mod5 { <LVL3>, <MDSW> };
	override key <AD01> { [ U1C9, U1C8 ], [ any, U1C7 ], type = "SEPARATE_CAPS_AND_SHIFT_ALPHABETIC"  };
	override key <AD02> { [ U1CC, U1CB, any, U1CA ], type = "SEPARATE_CAPS_AND_SHIFT_ALPHABETIC"  };
	key <BKSP> { [ BackSpace, Terminate_Server ], type = "CTRL+ALT"  };
	key <BKSR> { [ 1, 2 ], virtualMods = AltGr  };
	key <BKST> { [ 1, 2, 3, 4 ] };

Some things are missing such as partial, alphanumeric_keys and alternate_group, which I discussed with Sergey and he said they should be ok to go away.

In addition, we simplify by keeping just Group1 (we do not specify it, as it is implied).

I performed the round-trip with all layout files, and all parsed and validated OK (there is some extra work with the level3 file remaining, though).

Some issues that are remaining, include

  • Figuring out how to use XLink to link to documents in the same folder (+providing a parameter; the name of the variant), and how to represent that in the Relax NG schema.
  • Sort the layout entries by keycode value.

Today you’ll make history with Firefox

Today you’ll make history with Firefox

Are you ready to make history? Are you ready to set a World Record? Today is Download Day. To become part of the official Guinness World Record you must download Firefox 3 by 17:00 18:15 UTC on June 18, 2008, or roughly 24 hours from now.

Download page with live download statistics

The sender of this email is Mozilla Corporation, 1981 Landings Drive, Bldg. K, Mountain View, CA 94043-0801.

Did you receive your notification for your pledge?

The Firefox Download Day has just started. We are already counting 1 and a half hours in the download day. See download countdown which shown until when your downloads count for the record attempt.

Mozilla.com is currently very slow due to the repeated attempts to download. I hope the issue is resolved soon.

Update +2 hours: Now it works; when you visit the download page, it now shows correctly that Firefox 3.0 is available for download.

Update +16 hours: The download count reached 5,400,000 downloads. It is good to drive it higher. You can get your national download total, and ask your friends and family to help increase it.

Update +20 hours: The download count is over 6,000,000 downloads. Due to the technical issues at the start of the record attempt, the deadline for downloads has been extended by one hour and 15 minutes.

Update +24 hours: The download count is nearing 8,000,000 downloads. We have a bit more than an hour to go (due to the technical issue that delayed the start of the downloads). Can we make it to 8 million?

Update +25 hours: We did it! 8 million downloads in 24 hours! World record!

Update +30 hours: The world record attempt has been completed. Still, the Firefox 3 downloads continue. At the moment we surpassed 9.4 million downloads and counting.

Looking into the symbol files

In the previous post, we talked about the ANTLR grammar that parses the XKB layout files.

The grammar is available at http://code.google.com/p/keyboardlayouteditor/source/browse. I’ll rather push to the freedesktop repository once the project is completed. Now it’s too easy for me, just doing svn commit -m something.

Below you can see the relevant layout files for each country (and in some cases, language), and how the grammar deals with them. First column is filenames from the CVS XKB symbols subdirectory (to be moved eminently to GIT). Last’s week discussion with Sergey helped me figure out issues with the symbol files, simplify what information is needed, and what can be eliminated. Second column has Not OK if something is wrong. Third column tries to explain what was wrong.

gb NOK Non-UTF8
group NOK virtualMods= AltGr
hu NOK Non-UTF8
il NOK key.type=”FOUR_LEVEL” (typically: key.type[something]=….)
in NOK key.type=”FOUR_LEVEL” (typically: key.type[something]=….)
jp NOK key <BKSP> {
type=””,   // empty?
symbols[Group1]= [ bracketright, braceright ]
keypad NOK overlay1=<KO7> }; // what’s “overlay”?
level3 NOK virtual_modifiers LAlt, AlGr; virtualMods= Lalt
nbsp NOK Non-UTF8
pc NOK key <AA00> { type=”SOMETHING” } instead of { type[Group1]=”SOMETHING” }
shift NOK actions [Group1] = [
srvr_ctrl NOK key <AA00> { type=”SOMETHING” } instead of { type[Group1]=”SOMETHING” }

Non-UTF-8 are the files that have characters that are not UTF-8 (are iso-8859-1).

Some layouts have key.type = “something” and others key.type[SomeGroup] = “something”. Apparently, the format allows to infer which is the group that the type acts upon? That’s weird. Would it be better to put the group information? Is it required that the group is not set?

Some files have virtualMods, which I do not know what it is. Is it used?

Parsing XKB files with antlr

antlr (well, antlr3) is an amazing tool that replaces lex/flex, yacc/bison.

One would use antlr3 if they want to deal with Domain-Specific Languages (DSL), an example of which are the text configuration files.

In our case, we use antlr3 to parse some of the XKB configuration files, those found in /etc/X11/xkb/symbols/??.

Our aim is to be able to easily read and write those configuration files. Of course, once we have them read, we do all sorts of processing.

The stable version of antlr3 is 3.0.1, which happened to give lots of internal errors. It has not been very useful, so I tried a few times the latest beta version 3.1b, and eventually managed to get it to work. If I am not mistaken, 3.1 stable should be announced in a few days.

When using antlr, you have the choice of several target languages, such as Java, C, C++ and Python. I am using the Python target, and the latest version that is available from the antlr3 repository.

Here is the tree of the gb layout file,

tree = (SECTION (MAPTYPE (MAPOPTIONS partial default alphanumeric_keys xkb_symbols) (MAPNAME “basic”)) (MAPMATERIAL (TOKEN_INCLUDE “latin”) (TOKEN_NAME Group1 (VALUE “United Kingdom”)) (TOKEN_KEY (KEYCODEX AE02) (KEYSYMS 2 quotedbl twosuperior oneeighth)) (TOKEN_KEY (KEYCODEX AE03) (KEYSYMS 3 sterling threesuperior sterling)) (TOKEN_KEY (KEYCODEX AE04) (KEYSYMS 4 dollar EuroSign onequarter)) (TOKEN_KEY (KEYCODEX AC11) (KEYSYMS apostrophe at dead_circumflex dead_caron)) (TOKEN_KEY (KEYCODEX TLDE) (KEYSYMS grave notsign bar bar)) (TOKEN_KEY (KEYCODEX BKSL) (KEYSYMS numbersign asciitilde dead_grave dead_breve)) (TOKEN_KEY (KEYCODEX LSGT) (KEYSYMS backslash bar bar brokenbar)) (TOKEN_INCLUDE “level3(ralt_switch_multikey)”))) (SECTION (MAPTYPE (MAPOPTIONS partial alphanumeric_keys xkb_symbols) (MAPNAME “intl”)) (MAPMATERIAL (TOKEN_INCLUDE “latin”) (TOKEN_NAME Group1 (VALUE “United Kingdom – International (with dead keys)”)) (TOKEN_KEY (KEYCODEX AE02) (KEYSYMS 2 dead_diaeresis twosuperior onehalf)) (TOKEN_KEY (KEYCODEX AE03) (KEYSYMS 3 sterling threesuperior onethird)) (TOKEN_KEY (KEYCODEX AE04) (KEYSYMS 4 dollar EuroSign onequarter)) (TOKEN_KEY (KEYCODEX AE06) (KEYSYMS 6 dead_circumflex NoSymbol onesixth)) (TOKEN_KEY (KEYCODEX AC11) (KEYSYMS dead_acute at apostrophe bar)) (TOKEN_KEY (KEYCODEX TLDE) (KEYSYMS dead_grave notsign bar bar)) (TOKEN_KEY (KEYCODEX BKSL) (KEYSYMS numbersign dead_tilde bar bar)) (TOKEN_KEY (KEYCODEX LSGT) (KEYSYMS backslash bar bar bar)) (TOKEN_INCLUDE “level3(ralt_switch)”))) (SECTION (MAPTYPE (MAPOPTIONS partial alphanumeric_keys xkb_symbols) (MAPNAME “dvorak”)) (MAPMATERIAL (TOKEN_INCLUDE “us(dvorak)”) (TOKEN_NAME Group1 (VALUE “United Kingdom – Dvorak”)) (TOKEN_KEY (KEYCODEX BKSL) (KEYSYMS numbersign asciitilde)) (TOKEN_KEY (KEYCODEX AE02) (KEYSYMS 2 quotedbl twosuperior NoSymbol)) (TOKEN_KEY (KEYCODEX AE03) (KEYSYMS 3 sterling threesuperior NoSymbol)) (TOKEN_KEY (KEYCODEX AE04) (KEYSYMS 4 dollar EuroSign NoSymbol)) (TOKEN_KEY (KEYCODEX LSGT) (KEYSYMS backslash bar)) (TOKEN_KEY (KEYCODEX AD01) (KEYSYMS apostrophe at)))) (SECTION (MAPTYPE (MAPOPTIONS partial alphanumeric_keys xkb_symbols) (MAPNAME “mac”)) (MAPMATERIAL (TOKEN_INCLUDE “latin”) (TOKEN_NAME Group1 (VALUE “United Kingdom – Macintosh”)) (TOKEN_KEY (KEYCODEX AE02) (KEYSYMS 2 at EuroSign)) (TOKEN_KEY (KEYCODEX AE03) (KEYSYMS 3 sterling numbersign)) (TOKEN_INCLUDE “level3(ralt_switch)”)))

When traversing the tree, we can then pretty-print the layout at wish:

partial default alphanumeric_keys xkb_symbols “basic” {
name[Group1] = “United Kingdom”;
include “latin”
include “level3(ralt_switch_multikey)”
key <AE02> = { [ 2 , quotedbl , twosuperior , oneeighth ] };
key <AE03> = { [ 3 , sterling , threesuperior , sterling ] };
key <AE04> = { [ 4 , dollar , EuroSign , onequarter ] };
key <AC11> = { [ apostrophe , at , dead_circumflex , dead_caron ] };
key <TLDE> = { [ grave , notsign , bar , bar ] };
key <BKSL> = { [ numbersign , asciitilde , dead_grave , dead_breve ] };
key <LSGT> = { [ backslash , bar , bar , brokenbar ] };
… snip …

The code is currently hosted at code.google.com (keyboardlayouteditor) and I intend to move it shortly to FDO.

Περισσότερη ορολογία πληροφορικής στα ελληνικά

Λαμβάνω κάθε δύο μήνες το ηλεκτρονικό περιοδικό της ΕΛΕΤΟ, της Ελληνικής Εταιρίας Ορολογίας που ονομάζεται Ορόγραμμα. Στο Ορόγραμμα υπάρχουν χρήσιμες πληροφορίες για την απόδοση όρων στα ελληνικά. Ακόμα, δείχνει πως είναι δυνατόν να έχει κάποιος ένα ποιοτικό φύλλο με μικρά έξοδα διότι είναι ηλεκτρονικό.

Στο τελευταίο τεύχος (Ιανουάριος/Φεβρουάριος) γίνεται αναφορά για τα με το χέρι, χειροκίνητος και χειρωνακτικός, και τα πολύ συχνά λάθη που γίνονται στη χρήση. Σε κάθε τεύχος έχουν τέτοια ενδιαφέροντα και χρήσιμα για τις μεταφράσεις που κάνουμε (για το ελεύθερο λογισμικό), που είναι παράξενο το πόσο σχετικά είναι για μας. Μια υποψία που έχω είναι ότι κοιτούν τις μεταφράσεις που κάνω.

Στο ίδιο τεύχος γίνεται αναφορά για ένα γλωσσάρι όρων της Τεχνικής Επιτροπής 21 του ΕΛΟΤ. Πρόκειται για όρους σχετικούς με την ίδια την ορολογία. Αρκετοί από τους όρους έχουν σχέση με το ελεύθερο λογισμικό,

download {verb}    καταφορτώνω, κατεβάζω
upload {verb}      αναφορτώνω, ανεβάζω
parsing            συνταξανάλυση
concatenation      συναλύσωση

Σε κάθε περίπτωση, το GNOME 2.22.x έχει βγει, και τυχόν αλλαγές στην ορολογία που χρησιμοποιούμε θα εξεταστεί κατά την νέα έκδοση.

Υπάρχουν όροι που χρησιμοποιούμε στο GNOME που θα ήταν καλό να συζήσουμε σε χώρους ευρύτερους από την κοινότητα ελεύθερου λογισμικού. Ελπίζω να υπάρξει η ευκαιρία για κάτι τέτοιο στο μέλλον.

FOSDEM ’08, summary and comments

I attended FOSDEM ’08 which took place on the 23rd and 24th of February in Brussels.

Compared to other events, FOSDEM is a big event with over 4000 (?) participants and over 200 lectures (from lightning talks to keynotes). It occupied three buildings at a local university. Many sessions were taking place at the same time and you had to switch from one room to another. What follows is what I remember from the talks. Remember, people recollect <8% of the material they hear in a talk.

The first keynote was by Robin Rowe and Gabrielle Pantera, on using Linux in the motion picture industry. They showed a huge list of movies that were created using Linux farms. The first big item in the list was the movie Titanic (1997). The list stopped at around 2005 and the reason was that since then any significant movie that employs digital editing or 3D animation is created on Linux systems. They showed trailers from popular movies and explained how technology advanced to create realistic scenes. Part of being realistic, a generated scene may need to be blurred so that it does not look too crisp.

Next, Robert Watson gave a keynote on FreeBSD and the development community. He explained lots of things from the community that someone who is not using the distribution does not know about. FreeBSD apparently has a close-knit community, with people having specific roles. To become a developer, you go through a structured mentoring process which is great. I did not see such structured approach described in other open-source projects.

Pieter Hintjens, the former president of the FFII, talked about software patents. Software patents are bad because they describe ideas and not some concrete invention. This has been the view so that the target of the FFII effort fits on software patents. However, Pieter thinks that patents in general are bad, and it would be good to push this idea.

CMake is a build system, similar to what one gets with automake/autoconf/makefile. I have not seen this project before, and from what I saw, they look quite ambitious. Apparently it is very easy to get your compilation results on the web when you use CMake. In order to make their project more visible, they should make effort on migration of existing projects to using CMake. I did not see yet a major open-source package being developed with CMake, apart from CMake itself.

Richard Hughes talked about PackageKit, a layer that removes the complexity of packaging systems. You have GNOME and your distribution is either Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora or something else. PackageKit allows to have a common interface, and simplifies the workflow of managing the installation of packages and the updates.

In the Virtualisation tracks, two talks were really amazing. Xen and VirtualBox. Virtualisation is hot property and both companies were bought recently by Citrix and Sun Microsystems respectively. Xen is a Type 1 (native, bare metal) hypervisor while VirtualBox is a Type 2 (hosted) hypervisor. You would typically use Xen if you want to supply different services on a fast server. VirtualBox is amazingly good when you want to have a desktop running on your computer.

Ian Pratt (Xen) explained well the advantages of using a hypervisor, going into many details. For example, if you have a service that is single-threaded, then it makes sense to use Xen and install it on a dual-core system. Then, you can install some other services on the same system, increasing the utilisation of your investment.

Achim Hasenmueller gave an amazing talk. He started with a joke; I have recently been demoted. From CEO to head of virtualisation department (name?) at Sun Microsystems. He walked through the audience on the steps of his company. The first virtualisation product of his company was sold to Connectix, which then was sold to Microsoft as VirtualPC. Around 2005, he started a new company, Innotek and the product VirtualBox. The first customers were government agencies in Germany and only recently (2007) they started selling to end-users.

Virtualisation is quite complex, and it becomes more complex if your offering is cross platform. They manage the complexity by making VirtualBox modular.

VirtualBox comes in two versions; an open-source version and a binary edition. The difference is that with the binary edition you get USB support and you can use RDP to access the host. If you installed VirtualBox from the repository of your distribution, there is no USB support. He did not commit whether the USB/RDP support would make it to the open-source version, though it might happen since Sun Microsystems bought the company. I think that if enough people request it, then it might happen.

VirtualBox uses QT 3.3 as the cross platform toolkit, and there is a plan to migrate to QT 4.0. GTK+ was considered, though it was not chosen because it does not provide yet good support in Win32 (applications do not look very native on Windows). wxWidgets were considered as well, but also rejected. Apparently, moving from QT 3.3 to QT 4.0 is a lot of effort.

Zeeshan Ali demonstrated GUPnP, a library that allows applications to use the UPnP (Universal Plug n Play) protocol. This protocol is used when your computer tells your ADSL model to open a port so that an external computer can communicate directly with you (bypassing firewall/NAT). UPnP can also be used to access the content of your media station. The gupnp library comes with two interesting tools; gupnp-universal-cp and gupnp-network-light. The first is a browser of UPnP devices; it can show you what devices are available, what functionality they export, and you can control said devices. For example, you can use GUPnP to open a port on your router; when someone connects from the Internet to port 22 on your modem, he is redirected to your server, at port 22.

You can also use the same tool to figure out what port mapping took place already on your modem.

The demo with the network light is that you run the browser on one computer and the network light on another, both on the local LAN (this thing works only on the local LAN). Then, you can use the browser to switch on/off the light using the UPnP protocol.

Dimitris Glezos gave a talk on transifex, the translation management framework that is currently used in Fedora. Translating software is a tedious task, and currently translators spent time on management tasks that have little to do with translation. We see several people dropping from translations due to this. Transifex is an evolving platform to make the work of the translator easier.

Dimitris talked about a command-line version of transifex coming out soon. Apparently, you can use this tool to grab the Greek translation of package gedit, branch HEAD. Do the translation and upload back the file.

What I would like to see here is a tool that you can instruct it to grab all PO files from a collection of projects (such as GNOME 2.22, UI Translations), and then you translate with your scripts/tools/etc. Then, you can use transifex to upload all those files using your SVN account.

The workflow would be something like

$ tfx --project=gnome-2.22 --collection=gnome-desktop --action=get
Reading from http://svn.gnome.org/svn/damned-lies/trunk/releases.xml.in... done.
Getting alacarte... done.
Getting bug-buddy... done.
Completed in 4:11s.
$ _

Now we translate any of the files we downloaded, and we push back upstream (of course, only those files that were changed).

$ tfx --project=gnome-2.22 --collection=gnome-desktop --user=simos --action=send
 Reading local files...
Found 6 changed files.
Uploading alacarte... done.
Completed uploading translation files to gnome-2.22.
$ _

Berend Cornelius talked about creating OpenOffice.org Wizards. You get such wizards when you click on File/Wizards…, and you can use them to fill in entries in a template document (such as your name, address, etc in a letter), or use to install the spellchecker files. Actually, one of the most common uses is to get those spellchecker files installed.

A wizard is actually an OpenOffice.org extension; once you write it and install it (Tools/Extensions…), you can have it appear as a button on a toolbar or a menu item among other menus.

You write wizards in C++, and one would normally work on an existing wizard as base for new ones.

When people type in a word-processor, they typically abuse it (that’s my statement, not Berend’s) by omitting the use of styles and formatting. This makes documents difficult to maintain. Having a wizard teach a new user how to write a structured document would be a good idea.

Perry Ismangil talked about pjsip, the portable open-source SIP and media stack. This means that you can have Internet telephony on different devices. Considering that Internet Telephony is a commodity, this is very cool. He demonstrated pjsip running two small devices, a Nintendo DS and an iPhone. Apparently pjsip can go on your OpenWRT router as well, giving you many more exciting opportunities.

Clutter is a library to create fast animations and other effects on the GNOME desktop. It uses hardware acceleration to make up for the speed. You don’t need to learn OpenGL stuff; Clutter is there to provide the glue.

Gutsy has Clutter 0.4.0 in the repositories and the latest version is 0.6.0. To try out, you need at least the clutter tarball from the Clutter website. To start programming for your desktop, you need to try some of the bindings packages.

I had the chance to spend time with the DejaVu guys (Hi Denis, Ben!). Also met up with Alexios, Dimitris x2, Serafeim, Markos and others from the Greek mission.

Overall, FOSDEM is a cool event. In two days there is so much material and interesting talks. It’s a recommended technical event.

ert-archives.gr: “Linux/Unix operating systems are not supported”

ERT (Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation) is the national radio/television organisation of Greece.

ERT recently made available online part of its audio and video archive, at the website http://www.ert-archives.gr/

When browsing the website from Linux, you were blocked with a message that Linux/Unix operating systems are not supported. This message was appearing due to User-Agent filtering. Even if you altered your User-Agent, the page would not show the multimedia.

There has been a heated discussion on this on local mailing lists, with many users sending their personal polite comments to the feedback page at the ERT website. Many individual, personal comments have value and are taken into account.

Since today, http://www.ert-archives.gr/ does no do filtering on the User-Agent, and has changed the wording at the support page saying that

Σχετικά με υπολογιστές που χρησιμοποιούν λειτουργικό σύστημα Linux σχετικές οδηγίες θα υπάρξουν στο άμεσο μέλλον.

which means that they will be providing instructions for Linux systems in the immediate future.

Going through the HTML code of http://www.ert-archives.gr/ one can see that the whole system would work well under Linux, out of the box, if they could change

<embed id=”oMP” name=”oMP” width=”800″ height=”430″ type=”application/x-ms-wmp


<embed id=”oMP” name=”oMP” width=”800″ height=”430″ type=”video/x-ms-wmp

Firefox, with the mplayerplugin, supports the video/x-ms-wmp streaming format. You can verify if you have it by writing about:plugins in the location bar and pressing Enter. For my system it says

Windows Media Player Plugin

File name: mplayerplug-in-wmp.so
mplayerplug-in 3.40Video Player Plug-in for QuickTime, RealPlayer and Windows Media Player streams using MPlayer
JavaScript Enabled and Using GTK2 Widgets
MIME Type Description Suffixes Enabled
video/x-ms-wmp Windows Media wmp,* Yes

I am not sure if the mplayerplugin package is installed by default in Ubuntu, and I do not know what is the workflow from the message that says that a plugin is missing to the process of getting it installed. If you use the Totem Media Player, it instructs you to download and install the missing packages. I would appreciate your input on this one.

A workaround is to write a Greasemonkey script to replace the string so that Firefox works out of the box. However, the proper solution is to have ERT fix the code.

I must say that I would have preferred to have Totem Movie Player used to view those videos.
ERT Ecology
I just finished watching a documentary from the 80s about ecology and sustainability of the forests on my Linux system. It is amazing to listen again to the voice-over which is sort of a signature voice for such documentaries of the said TV channel. The screenshot shows goats in a forest, and mentioning the devastating effects of said animals on recently-burnt forests.

Update (22Mar08): The problem has not been resolved yet. Dimitris Diamantis offers a work-around at the Ubuntu-gr mailing list.

OpenOffice Writer training notes (request: make training video plz!)

OpenOffice.org is one of the most important layers of the open-source stack. Although it does a superb job, we really need to make effort to get more users working on it.

Here we present training notes for the use of Writer, the word processor component of OpenOffice.org. We aim to make the best use of styles by creating well-structured documents. What we show here is built on work of others, including the OpenOffice Linux.com articles by Bruce Byfield, the amazing OpenOffice.org documentation and the spot-on article of Christian Paratschek at osnews.com. Actually, the following follow more or less Christian’s article.

When training in OpenOffice.org, it is important to create a fluid workflow that starts from the basics and increases gradually in complexity. It would be great if someone could turn the notes in a training video.

  1. We start of with running OpenOffice.org Writer. The default windows appears. Compared with other word processors, in OOo we see this text boundary in the document (the dim rectangle that shows the area we can write in). We mention we can show/hide it with View/Text boundaries.
  2. When creating a document, it is good to set the properties such as Title and Subject. We do that from File/Properties/Description. It may look too much effort now, but it will help us later wherever we want to write the document title or subject. Use Using OpenOffice.org Writer for title and How to write nice document in OpenOffice.org Writer for subject.
  3. Writer supports styles which makes life much easier. You probably have used styles before; using Heading 1, Heading 2 for headings so that you can create easily the Table of Contents. Writer has a Styles and Formatting window that is accessible from the icon/button near the File menu. The icon looks like a hand clicking on a 3×3 grid. You can also get the windows from Format/Styles and Formatting, or by simply pressing F11. Once you do that, you get a floating window. You can dock it by dragging it to the right edge of the Writer window. If you are into 3D desktop, it may not be easy to dock (it automatically switches to another side of the desktop cube). In this case, use the key combination Ctrl-Shift-F10 to dock the Styles and Formatting window. It is good here to resize the document (that is, change the magnification) so that it appears centered with little empty space around.
  4. Writer supports styles, not only for Paragraphs (like Heading 1) but also for Pages. See the status bar at the bottom of the Writer window; it mentions Default which is the default page style. When we write a document, the first page is good to have a distinct style that is appropriate to the properties of a first page. This includes, making sure the second page appears empty, the page gets no page numbering and so on. On the Styles and Formating dock we select the Page styles tab and we double-click on the First Page style. This will set the current page to the First Page style, and we can verify visually by looking at the status bar (Now First Page instead of the old Default).
  5. We are not writing yet; lets create the subsequent pages first. To do so, we insert manual breaks in our document. Click on Insent/Manual Break…/ and select to insert a Page Break. As style for the page after the break choose the Index page style, tick on Change page number, and make sure the numbering starts from 1. Click OK. Proper documents start numbering from the Index page. The Index page is the page we put the Table of Contents, Table of Figures and so on.
  6. Make sure the cursor is on the new page with the Index style. We need to create a new page break, so that we can get writing the actual document. Click on Insert/Manual Break…/ and select a Page Break. As style for the page after the break you can choose Default. Leave any page numbering settings as is because it inherits from before. Click OK.
  7. Now, to view what we have achieved, let’s go to Print Preview, and choose to see four pages at a time. We can see the first page, another page which is intentionally left blank, the Index page and the Default page. Close Print preview and return to the document.
  8. Now let’s go back to the first page. We want to put the title on the first page. Nothing extravagant, at least yet. What we do is we visit the Paragraph styles and find the Title style. While the cursor is on the first page at the start, we double-click on the Title style. The cursor moves the the center of the document and we can verify that the Title paragraph style has been applied; see on the right of the Styles and Formating icon on the top-left of the Writer window. Shall we write the title of the document now? Not so fast. We can insert the title as a field, because we already wrote it in the properties at the beginning in Step 2. Click Insert/Fields/Title.
  9. Now press Enter; the cursor moves down and it somehow automatically changes to the Subtitle style. Styles in OpenOffice allow you to choose a Next style (a followup style) and in this case, when someone presses Enter on the Title style, they get a new paragraph in the Subtitle style. While in the line/paragraph with Subtitle style, click on Insert/Field…/Subject. Fields in OpenOffice.org appear with a dark gray background; this does not appear in printing, it is just there to help you identify where the fields are.
  10. Now lets move to the last page, the page with Default style and write something. Select the Heading 1 paragraph style and type Introduction. Press enter and you notice that the next style is Text body. Text body is the natural paragraph style for text in Writer (most documents have the default Default paragraph style which is wrong). Now write something in Text Body such as I love writing documents in OpenOffice.org Writer. Copy the line and paste several times so that we get a nice paragraph of at least five lines. Make sure when pasting that after a full stop there should be a single space, then the new sentence starts.
  11. Press Enter and now we are ready to add a new heading. Type Writing documents and set the Heading 1 paragraph style. Press Enter and fill up a paragraph with more of I love writing documents in OpenOffice.org Writer.
  12. Press Enter and create a new section (add a Heading 2, name it Writing documents in style and fill up a corresponding paragraph).
  13. Press Enter and create a last section (add a Heading 1, name it Conclusion, and fill up a corresponding paragraph style).
  14. Now we are ready to place the cursor at the Index page we created before, and go for the Table of Contents. Click on Insert/Indexes and Tables/Indexes and Tables. The default index type is Table of Contents. We keep the default settings and click OK. We get a nice looking table of contents.
  15. At this stage we have a complete basic document, with first page, index page and default page.

The next set of steps include more polishing and adding extra elements to our document.

  1. The text body style is configured to have the left alignment by default. Normally, one would select paragraphs and click on a paragraph alignment button on the toolbar to change the alignment. Because we are using styles, we can modify the Text Body style to have another alignment, and presto the whole document with text in the same style follow suit. In the Styles and Formating dock, at the paragraph styles tab, select the Text Body style. Right-click on the Text Body style and choose to Modify style. Find the Alignment tab and choose Justified as the new alignment for Text Body paragraphs. Click Ok and observe the document changing to the new configuration.
  2. It is nice to the section numbers on the headings, such as 2.1 Writing documents in style. To do this, we need to change the default outline numbering. Click on Tools/Outline numbering… and select to modify the numbering for all levels (under Level, click 1-10). Then, under the Numbering group, change the Number option from the default None to 1, 2, 3, …. Click OK and the number is changed in the document.
  3. Go back to the Table of Contents. You notice that the numbering format does not look nice; some section numbers are too close to the section names. To fix, right click on the gray area of the table of contents and select Edit Index/Table. In the new dialog box, select the Entries tab. Under Structure and Formatting you can see the structure of each line of line in the table of contents table. The button labeled E# is the placeholder for the chapter number. After that there is a placeholder that you can actually type text. In our case we simply click and press the space bar to add another space. We then click the All button and finally click OK. Now, all entries in the Table of contents will have a space between the chapter number and chapter title.
  4. In order to add a footer with the current page number, click on Insert/Footer and pick Index, then Default. Both the Index and the Default style of pages get to show page numbers. Then, place the cursor in the footer area and Insert/Field/Page Number. You can modify the Footer paragraph style so that the text alignment is centered. You have to insert the field in both an Index page and a Default page.
  5. The page number in the Index page is commonly shown in Roman lowercase numbers. How can we fix that? We simply have to modify the Index page style accordingly; click on the Page Styles tab in Styles and Formatting, click to modify the Index page style, and at the Page tab in Layout Settings select the i, ii, iii, … format. Click OK.
  6. It would be nice to have the title on the header of each page, either Index or Default. Click on Insert/Header and add a header for Index and Default. Then, place the cursor in the header for both styles and click to add the Title field (Insert/Field/Title). Would it be nice to put a line under the header? The header text has the Header paragraph style. In the Styles and Formatting, click the Paragraph styles tab and select the Header paragraph style. Right-click and choose to Modify. In the Borders tab enable a bottom line and click OK.

OpenOffice.org Writer in Style

You can download this sample document (.odt) from the link Using OpenOffice.org Writer.

I’ll stop here for now. There are more to put such as Table of Figures, Index of Tables and Bibliography.
It would be good to leave feedback if there is interest to work on this direction.

Update 15Mar2008: This appears to be a Farsi translation/adaptation of the article.