Tag : problem

Workaround for bad fonts in Google Earth 5 (Linux)

Update Jan 2010: The following may not work anymore. Use with caution. See relevant discussions at http://forum.ubuntu-gr.org/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=15607 and especially http://kigka.blogspot.com/2010/11/google-6.html

Older post follows:

So you just installed Google Earth 5 and you can’t figure out what’s wrong with the fonts? If your language does not use the Latin script, you cannot see any text?

Here is the workaround. The basic info comes from this google earth forum post and the reply that suggests to mess with the QT libraries.

Google Earth 5 is based on the Qt library, and Google is using their own copies of the Qt libraries. This means that the customisation (including fonts) that you do with qtconfig-qt4 does not affect Google Earth. Here we use Ubuntu 8.10, and we simply installed the Qt libraries in order to use some Qt programs. You probably do not have qtconfig-qt4 installed, so you need to get it.

So, by following the advice in the post above and replacing key Qt libraries from Google Earth with the ones provided by our distro, solves (read: workaround) the problem. Here comes the science:

If you have a 32-bit version of Ubuntu,

cd /opt/google-earth/
sudo mv libQtCore.so.4 libQtCore.so.4.bak
sudo mv libQtGui.so.4 libQtGui.so.4.bak
sudo mv libQtNetwork.so.4 libQtNetwork.so.4.bak
sudo mv libQtWebKit.so.4 libQtWebKit.so.4.bak
sudo ln -s /usr/lib/libQtCore.so.4.4.3  libQtCore.so.4
sudo ln -s /usr/lib/libQtGui.so.4.4.3  libQtGui.so.4
sudo ln -s /usr/lib/libQtNetwork.so.4.4.3  libQtNetwork.so.4
sudo ln -s /usr/lib/libQtWebKit.so.4.4.3  libQtWebKit.so.4

If you have the 64-bit version of Ubuntu, try

cd /opt/google-earth/

sudo getlibs googleearth-bin
sudo mv libQtCore.so.4 libQtCore.so.4.bak
sudo mv libQtGui.so.4 libQtGui.so.4.bak
sudo mv libQtNetwork.so.4 libQtNetwork.so.4.bak
sudo mv libQtWebKit.so.4 libQtWebKit.so.4.bak
sudo ln -s /usr/lib32/libQtCore.so.4.4.3  libQtCore.so.4
sudo ln -s /usr/lib32/libQtGui.so.4.4.3  libQtGui.so.4
sudo ln -s /usr/lib32/libQtNetwork.so.4.4.3  libQtNetwork.so.4
sudo ln -s /usr/lib32/libQtWebKit.so.4.4.3  libQtWebKit.so.4

Requires to have getlibs installed, and when prompted, install the 32-bit versions of the packages as instructed.

Now, with qtconfig-qt you can configure the font settings.

Ubuntu 8.10, PulseAudio and Skype Problem

You installed Ubuntu 8.10, then added Skype, you try out Skype and you notice that the microphone does not work.

What’s wrong? If you search the lists, you can find some indications, however no proper explanation of what’s the source of the problem. Without having the Skype Linux developers explain, it’s difficult to know what is goind on.

Some instructions advise to disable PulseAudio. That is not a proper solution, so we ignore. We aim forward not backwards.

Some other instructions suggest to remove the pulseaudio package, then add it back again. I do not understand how that helps over /etc/init.d/pulseaudio restart.

Skype sound device settings

Skype sound device settings

The workaround that works for me is to keep the settings to pulse and set Sound In to HDA Intel (hw:Intel, 0).

Recording does not go through PulseAudio but it interfaces directly to the sound card.

Remember that before trying to troubleshoot Skype, make sure that recording and playback works with Applications▶Sound&Video▶Sound Recorder.

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.

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

to

<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.

Localisation issues in home directory folders (xdg-user-dirs)

In new distributions such as Ubuntu 7.10 there is now support for folder names of personal data in your local language. What this means is that ~/Desktop can now be called ~/Επιφάνεια εργασίας. You also get a few more default folders, including ~/Music, ~/Documents, ~/Pictures and so on.

This functionality of localised home folders has become available thanks to a new FreeDesktop standard, XDG-USER-DIRS. xdg-user-dirs can be localised, and the current localisations are available at xdg-user-dirs/po.

A potential issue arises when a user logs in with different locales; how does the system switch between the localised versions of the folder names? For GNOME there is a migration tool; as soon as you login into your account with a different locale, the system will prompt whether you wish to switch the names from one language to another. This is available through the xdg-user-dirs-gtk application.

Another issue is with users who use the command line quite often; switching between two languages (for those languages that use a script other than latin) tends to become cumbersome, especially if you have not setup your shell for intelligent completion. In addition, when you connect remotely using SSH, you may not be able to type in the local language at the initial computer which would make work very annoying.

Furthermore, there have been reports with KDE applications not working; if someone can bug report it and post the link it would be great. The impression I got was that some installations of KDE did not read off the filesystem in UTF-8 but in a legacy 8-bit encoding. This requires further investigation.

Moreover, OpenOffice.org requires some integration work to follow the xdg-user-dirs standard; apparently it has its own option as to which folder it will save into any newly created files. I believe this will be resolved in the near future.

Now, if we just installed Ubuntu 7.10 or Fedora 8, and we got, by default, localised subfolders in our home directory (which we may not prefer), what can we do to revert to non-localised folders?

The lazy way is to logout, choose an English locale as the default locale for the system and log in. You will be presented with the xdg-user-dirs-gtk migration tool (shown above) that will give you the option to switch to English folder names for those personal folders.

Clarification: It is implied for this workaround (logout and login thing), you then log out again, set the language to the localised one (i.e. Greek) and log in. This time, when the system asks to rename the personal folders, you simply answer no, and you end up with a localised desktop but personal folders in English. Mission really accomplished.

If you are of the tinkering type, the files to change manually are

$ cat ~/.config/user-dirs.locale

el_GR

$

and

$ cat ~/.config/user-dirs.dirs

# This file is written by xdg-user-dirs-update
# If you want to change or add directories, just edit the line you’re
# interested in. All local changes will be retained on the next run
# Format is XDG_xxx_DIR=”$HOME/yyy”, where yyy is a shell-escaped
# homedir-relative path, or XDG_xxx_DIR=”/yyy”, where /yyy is an
# absolute path. No other format is supported.
#
XDG_DESKTOP_DIR=”$HOME/Επιφάνεια εργασίας”
XDG_DOWNLOAD_DIR=”$HOME/Επιφάνεια εργασίας”
XDG_TEMPLATES_DIR=”$HOME/Πρότυπα”
XDG_PUBLICSHARE_DIR=”$HOME/δημόσιο”
XDG_DOCUMENTS_DIR=”$HOME/Έγγραφα”
XDG_MUSIC_DIR=”$HOME/Μουσική”
XDG_PICTURES_DIR=”$HOME/Εικόνες”
XDG_VIDEOS_DIR=”$HOME/Βίντεο”

Personally I believe that having localised names appear under the home folder is good for the majority of users, as they will be able to match what is shown in Locations with the actual names on the filesystem.

There will be cases that software has to be updated and bugs fixed (such as in backup tools). As we proceed with more advanced internationalisation/localisation support in Linux, it is desirable to follow forward, and fix problematic software.

However, if enough popular support arises with clear arguments (am referring to Greek-speaking users and a current discussion) for default folder names in the English languages, we could follow the popular demand.

Also see the relevant blog post New Dirs in Gutsy: Documents, Music, Pictures, Blah, Blah by Moving to Freedom.

Ubuntu Answers…

Free and open-source software offers many challenging tasks for you to undertake. One of them is to answer questions that newbies ask.

Offering support to newbies is challenging for several reasons:

  • the problem may not have been described reasonably well
  • you need to figure out the least amount of extra information you need, and ask easy questions to the user to fill in the blanks
  • you have to take control of the direction of solution and make sure the user follows your steps correctly
  • you have to put up with the occasional demanding user

Ubuntu offers a system that users can ask questions and have volunteers answer them. It is called Ubuntu Answers. Unlike forums, here you log in to your launchpad.net account and simply write your question. You start off with a question title, and when you click Next, you are shown with potential answers from previous questions asked and are similar to yours. Really nice.

In order to motivate people to contribute, Launchpad assigns points for every answer you give, and more points for any answer that was marked that solved the problem. This is the karma value of your Launchpad account. There is a list of top contributors for different Launchpad services.

Here are some direct links

A tip to users asking questions: it is good etiquette to respond to the answers that are given to you. There are cases that a question is answered but not acknowledged that it actually solved the problem. Due to this, the solution does not appear when a someone else asks a new question.

 

What I recommend is to try out Ubuntu Answers. Either ask a question or help with answering questions. It is a good experience.

Cannot write Greek Polytonic in Linux

For up to date instructions for Greek and Greek Polytonic see How to type Greek, Greek Polytonic in Linux.

The following text is kept for historical purposes. Greek and Greek Polytonic now works in Linux, using the default Greek layout.

General Update: If you have Ubuntu 8.10, Fedora 10 or a similarly new distribution, then Greek Polytonic works out-of-the-box. Simply select the Greek Polytonic layout. For more information, see the recent Greek Polytonic post.

Update 3rd May 2008: If you have Ubuntu 8.04 (probably applies to other recent Linux distributions as well), you simply need to add GTK_IM_MODULE=xim to /etc/environment. Start a Terminal (Applications/Accessories/Terminal) and type the commands (the first command makes a backup copy of the configuration file, and the second opens the configuration file with administrative priviliges, so that you can edit and save):

$ gksudo cp /etc/environment /etc/environment.ORIGINAL
$ gksudo gedit /etc/environment

then append

GTK_IM_MODULE=xim

save, and restart your computer. It should work now. Try to test with the standard Text editor, found in Accessories.

In Ubuntu 8.10 (autumn 2008), it should work out of the box, just by enabling the Greek Polytonic layout.

Update 20th June 2008: If still some accents/breathings/aspirations do not work, then this is probably related to your system locale (whether it is Greek or not). It works better when it is Greek. If you are affected and you do not use the Greek locale, there is one more thing to do.

$ gksudo cp /usr/share/X11/locale/en_US.UTF-8/Compose /usr/share/X11/locale/en_US.UTF-8/Compose.ORIGINAL
$ gksudo cp /usr/share/X11/locale/el_GR.UTF-8/Compose /usr/share/X11/locale/en_US.UTF-8/Compose

The first command makes a backup copy of your original en_US Compose file (assuming you run an English locale; if in doubt, read /usr/share/X11/locale/locale.dir). The second command copies the Greek compose file over the English one. You then logout and login again.

End of updates

To write Greek Polytonic in Linux, a special file is used, which is called the compose file. There is a bit of complication here in the sense that the compose file depends on the current system locale.

To find out which compose file is active on your system, have a look at

/usr/share/X11/locale/compose.dir

Let’s assume your system locale is en_US.UTF-8 (Start Applications/Accessories/Terminal and type locale).

In the compose.dir file it says

en_US.UTF-8/Compose: en_US.UTF-8

Note that the locale is the second field. If you have a different system locale, match on the second field. Many people make a mistake here. Actually, I think be faster for the system to locate the entry if the compose.dir file was sorted by locale.

Therefore, the compose file is

/usr/share/X11/locale/en_US.UTF-8/Compose

So, what’s the problem then?

Well, for the Greek locale (el_GR.UTF-8) we have a different compose file, a compose file in which Greek Polytonic actually works ;-).

Therefore, there are numerous workarounds here to get Greek Polytonic working.

For example,

  • If you speak modern Greek, you can install the Greek locale.
  • You can edit /usr/share/X11/locale/compose.dir so that for your locale, the compose file is the Greek one, /usr/share/X11/locale/el_GR.UTF-8/Compose.
  • You can edit the Greek compose file, take the Greek Polytonic section and update the Greek Polytonic section of en_US.UTF-8/Compose.
  • You can copy the Greek compose file in your home directory under the name .XCompose. I did not try this one, and also you may be affected by this bug. (not tested)

Of course the proper solution is to update en_US.UTF-8/Compose with the updated Greek Polytonic compose sequences. There is a tendency to add the compose sequences of all languages to en_US.UTF-8/Compose, and this actually is happening now. In this respect, it would make sense to rename en_US.UTF-8/Compose into something like general/Compose.

Important MO file optimisation for en_* locales, and partly others

During GUADEC, Tomas Frydrych gave a talk on exmap-console, a cut-down version of exmap that can work well on mobile devices.

During the presentation, Tomas showed how to use the tool to find the culprits in memory (ab)use on the GNOME desktop. One issue that came up was that the MO files taking up space though the desktop showed English. Why would the MO translation files loaded in memory be so big in size?

gtk20.mo                             : VM   61440  B, M   61440  B, S   61440  B

atk10.mo                      	     : VM    8192  B, M    8192  B, S    8192  B

libgnome-2.0.mo			: VM   28672  B, M   24576  B, S   24576  B

glib20.mo			     : VM   20480  B, M   16384  B, S   16384  B

gtk20-properties.mo           : VM     128 KB, M     116 KB, S     116 KB

launchpad-integration.mo  : VM    4096  B, M    4096  B, S    4096  B

A translation file looks like

msgid “File”

msgstr “”

When translated to Greek it is

msgid “File”

msgstr “Αρχείο”

In the English UK translation it would be

msgid “File”

msgstr “File”

This actually is not necessary because if you leave those messags untranslated, the system will use the original messages that are embedded in the executable file.

However, for the purposes of the English UK, English Canadian, etc teams, it makes sense to copy the same messages in the translated field because it would be an indication that the message was examined by the translation. Any new messages would appear as untranslated and the same process would continue.

Now, the problem is that the gettext tools are not smart enough when they compile such translation files; they replicate without need those messages occupying space in the generated MO file.

Apart from the English variants, this issue is also present in other languages when the message looks like

msgid “GConf”

msgstr “GConf”

Here, it does not make much sense to translate the message in the locale language. However, the generated MO file contains now more than 10 bytes (5+5) , plus some space for the index.

Therefore, what’s the solution for this issue?

One solution is to add to msgattrib the option to preprocess a PO file and remove those unneeded copies. Here is a patch,

— src.ORIGINAL/msgattrib.c 2007-07-18 17:17:08.000000000 +0100
+++ src/msgattrib.c 2007-07-23 01:20:35.000000000 +0100
@@ -61,7 +61,8 @@
REMOVE_FUZZY = 1 << 2,
REMOVE_NONFUZZY = 1 << 3,
REMOVE_OBSOLETE = 1 << 4,
– REMOVE_NONOBSOLETE = 1 << 5
+ REMOVE_NONOBSOLETE = 1 << 5,
+ REMOVE_COPIED = 1 << 6
};
static int to_remove;

@@ -90,6 +91,7 @@
{ “help”, no_argument, NULL, ‘h’ },
{ “ignore-file”, required_argument, NULL, CHAR_MAX + 15 },
{ “indent”, no_argument, NULL, ‘i’ },
+ { “no-copied”, no_argument, NULL, CHAR_MAX + 19 },
{ “no-escape”, no_argument, NULL, ‘e’ },
{ “no-fuzzy”, no_argument, NULL, CHAR_MAX + 3 },
{ “no-location”, no_argument, &line_comment, 0 },
@@ -314,6 +316,10 @@
to_change |= REMOVE_PREV;
break;

+ case CHAR_MAX + 19: /* –no-copied */
+ to_remove |= REMOVE_COPIED;
+ break;
+
default:
usage (EXIT_FAILURE);
/* NOTREACHED */
@@ -436,6 +442,8 @@
–no-obsolete remove obsolete #~ messages\n”));
printf (_(“\
–only-obsolete keep obsolete #~ messages\n”));
+ printf (_(“\
+ –no-copied remove copied messages\n”));
printf (“\n”);
printf (_(“\
Attribute manipulation:\n”));
@@ -536,6 +544,21 @@
: to_remove & REMOVE_NONOBSOLETE))
return false;

+ if (to_remove & REMOVE_COPIED)
+ {
+ if (!strcmp(mp->msgid, mp->msgstr) && strlen(mp->msgstr)+1 >= mp->msgstr_len)
+ {
+ return false;
+ }
+ else if ( strlen(mp->msgstr)+1 < mp->msgstr_len )
+ {
+ if ( !strcmp(mp->msgstr + strlen(mp->msgstr)+1, mp->msgid_plural) )
+ {
+ return false;
+ }
+ }
+ }
+
return true;
}
However, if we only change msgattrib, we would need to adapt the build system for all packages.

Apparently, it would make sense to change the default behaviour of msgfmt, the program that compiles PO files into MO files.

An e-mail was sent to the email address for the development team of gettext regarding the issue. The development team does not appear to have a Bugzilla to record these issues. If you know of an alternative contact point, please notify me.

Update #1 (23Jul07): As an indication of the file size savings, the en_GB locale on Ubuntu in the installation CD occupies about 424KB where in practice it should have been 48KB.

A full installation of Ubuntu with some basic KDE packages (only for the basic libraries, i.e. KBabel – (ls k* | wc -l = 499)) occupies about 26MB of space just for the translation files. When optimising in the MO files, the translation files occupy only 7MB. This is quite important because when someone installs for example the en_CA locale, all en_?? locales are added.

The reason why the reduction is more has to do with the message types that KDE uses. For example,

msgid “”
“_: Unknown State\n”
“Unknown”
msgstr “Unknown”

I cannot see a portable way to code the gettext-tools so that they understand that the above message can be easily omitted. For the above reduction to 7MB, KDE applications (k*) occupy 3.6MB. The non-KDE applications include GNOME, XFCE and GNU traditional tools. The biggest culprits in KDE are kstars (386KB) and kgeography (345KB).

Update #2 (23Jul07): (Thanks Deniz for the comment below on gweather!) The po-locations translations (gnome-applets/gweather) of all languages are combined together to generate a big XML file that can be found at usr/share/gnome-applets/gweather/Locations.xml (~15MB).

This file is not kept in memory while the gweather applet is running.
However, the file is parsed when the user opens the properties dialog to change the location.
I would say that the main problem here is the file size (15.8MB) that can be easily reduced when stripping copied messages. This file is included in any Linux distribution, whatever the locale.

The po-locations directory currently occupies 107MB and when copied messages are eliminated it occupies 78MB (a difference of 30MB). The generated XML file is in any case smaller (15.8MB without optimisation) because it does not include repeatedly the msgid lines for each language.

I regenerated the Locations.xml file with the optimised PO files and the resulting file is 7.6MB. This is a good reduction in file space and also in packaging size.

Update #3 (25Jul07): Posted a patch for gettext-tools/msgattrib.c. Sent an e-mail to the kde-i18n-doc mailing list and got good response and a valid argument for the proposed changes. Specifically, there is a case when one gives custom values to the LANGUAGE variable. This happens when someone uses the LANGUAGE variable with a value such as “es:fr” which means show me messages in Spanish and if something is untranslated show me in French. If a message has msgid==msgstr for Spanish but not for French, then it would show in French if we go along with the proposed optimisation.

GUADEC Day #2

(see http://www.guadec.org/schedule/warmup)

At the first presentation, Quim Gil talked about GNOME marketing, what have been done, what is the goal of marketing. He showed a focused mind on important marketing tasks; it is easy to get carried away and not be effective, a mistake that happens in several projects.

The next session was by Tomas Frydrych (Open Hand – I have their sticker on my laptop!) on memory use in GNOME applications. Many people complain that XYZ is bloated. However, this does not convey what exactly happens; pretty useless. In addition, the common tools that show memory use do not show the proper picture because of the memory management techniques. That is, due to shared libraries, the total memory occupied by an application appears very big. A tool examined is exmap. This tool uses a kernel module that shows memory use of applications by reading in /proc. It takes a snapshot of memory use; it’s not real-time info. It comes with a GTK+ front-end (gexmap) that requires a big screen (oops, PDAs). However, it is not suitable for internet tablets and other low-spec devices. Therefore, they came up with exmap-console which addresses the shortcommings. It has a console interface based on the readline library.

Here are the rest of my notes. Hope they make sense to you.

. exmap –interactive
. ?: help
. Head: quite useful (dynamic allocation)
. Mapped:
. Sole use: memory that app is using on its own (rss?)
. “sort vm”
. “print” or “p”
. “add nautilus”
. “clear”
. “detail file” (what executables/libs loaded and how much consume)
. “detail none”

Sole use
. valgrind, to analyse Sole Use memory?
. “detail ????”

Lots of small libraries: overhead

Looking ahead
. Pagemap: by Matt Macall
. http://projects.o-hand.com/exmap-console/

Python
. Sole use: ~18MB ;-(

Tomas was apparently running Ubuntu with the English UK locale. The English UK translation team is doing an amazing job at the translation stats. Actually, most messages are copied, however with a script one can pick up words such as organization and change to organisation. The problem here is that, for example, the GAIM mo file is 215KB (?), however for the British English translation the actual changes should be less than 2-3KB. Messages that are missing from a translation mean that the original US English messages will be used. I’ll have to find how to use msgfilter to make messages untranslated if msgid == msgstr. Where is Danilo?

After lunch time (did not go for lunch), I went to the Accerciser session. Pretty cool tool, something I have been look for. Accerciser uses the accessibility framework of GNOME in order to inspect the windows of running applications and see into the properties. A good use is to identify if elements such as text boxes come with description labels; they are important to be there for accessibility purposes (screen reader), as a person that depends on software to read (text to speech) the contents of windows.

The next session was GNOME accessibility for blind people. Jan Buchal gave an excellent presentation.

My notes,

. is from Chech republic, is blind himself. has been using computers for 20+ years

. from user perspective
. users, regular and irregular 😉
. software
. firefox 3.0beta – ok for accessibility other versions no
. gaim messenger ok
. openoffice.org ok but did not try
. orca screenreader ^^^ works ok.
. generally ready for prime time
. ubuntu guy for accessibility was there
. made joke about not having/needing display slides ;-]
. synthesizer: festival, espeak, etc – can choose
. availability of voices
. javascript: not good for accessibility
. links/w3m: just fine!
. firefox3 makes accessibility now possible.
. web designer education, things like title=””, alt=”” for images.
. OOo, not installed but should work, ooo-gnome
. “braillcom” company name
. “speech dispatcher”
. logical events
. have short sound event instead of “button”, “input form”
. another special sound for emacs prompt, etc.
. uses emacs
. have all events spoken, such as application crashing.
. problems of accessibility
. not money main factor, but still exists.
. standard developers do not use accessibility functions
. “accessor” talk, can help
. small developer group on accessiblity, may not cooperate well
. non-regular users (such as blind musician)
. musicians
. project “singing computer”
. gtk, did not have good infrastructure
. used lilypond (music typesetter, good but not simple to use)
. singing mode in festival
. use emacs with special mode to write music scores (?)
. write music score and have the computer sing it (this is not “caruso”)
. gnome interface for lilypond would be interesting
. chemistry for blind
. gtk+
. considering it
. must also work, unfortunately, on windows
. gtk+ for windows, not so good for accessibility
. conclusion: free accessibility
. need users so that applications can be improved
. have festival synthesizer, not perfect but usable
. many languages, hindi, finnish, afrikaans
. endinburgh project, to reimplement festival better
. proprietary software is a disadvantage
. q: how do you learn to use new software?
. a: has been a computer user for 20+ years, is not good candidate to say
. a: if you are dedicated, you can bypass hardles, old lady emacs/festival/lilypond
. brrlcom, not for end-users(?)
. developer problem?
. generally there is lack of documentation; easy to teach what a developer needs to know
. so that the application is accessible
. HIG Human Interface Guidelines, accessible to the developers
. “speakup” project
. Willy, from Sun microsystems, working on accessibility for +20 years, Lead of Orca.
. developers: feel accessibility is a hindrance to development
. in practice the gap is not huge
. get tools (glade) and gtk+ to come with accessibility on by default
. accessibility
. is not only for people with disabilities
. can do amazing things like 3d interfaces something

These summaries are an important example of the rule that during presentation, participants tend to remember only about 8% of the material. In some examples, even less is being recollected.

What’s wrong with health care systems?

It is generally quite easy to create a blog using one of those online services such as Blogspot. In fact many people create a blog and after a couple of posts they lose interest and neglect to update it. There is a blog I would like to draw your attention to, http://fakellaki.blogspot.com/. This blog was last updated on 3rd May 2007, one month ago. Quite sadly, it will not get updated again because the blogger has just passed away.
Amalia, the blogger, has been a victim of malpractice of the health service (both national and private) who failed her. For Amalia At the age of 8 she was complaining that there was pain at her leg. The doctors failed to diagnose a case of schwannoma (a type of benign tumour). Seventeen years latter and after many visits, the tumour became malign and she developed cancer. A further five years of fight against cancer and she passed away in May 2007.
At the time of writing, her final blog post has over 1500 comments.
In the US there is no national healthcare system which leaves tens of millions of people without basic healthcare. For the rest, who have private healthcare, it appears there is a varying degree of satisfaction. Michael Moore, in his latest documentary Sicko, talks about the trend in the US private healthcare system to actively look for technicalities so that they do not cover the medical expenses.
What is wrong with the health care system? Is health care inherently expensive so that quality naturally drops? Are the examples depicted above the norm or are they just mere exceptions? What’s the true cause of the problem?

Mentoring facility available in Launchpad, Ubuntu

Is there a bug report in Launchpad.net (Ubuntu) that you are confident you can help someone to fix but do not have the time to fix yourself?
Now Launchpad provides the facility for contributors to offer mentoring support to bug reports and blueprints, so that users can apply and receive mentoring. With mentoring you help someone else solve a problem. Ubuntu is benefited, and also the new user gets help in resolving bugs.

For the Greek language there is an Ubuntu team called Ubuntu Greek Testers. Users interested for the Greek language in Ubuntu can subscribe to team. Then, for any bug report that relates to the Greek language support, we subscribe the team as a member. The system is configured in such a way so that any activity on those bug reports is mailed to each member. This makes it easy to track the status of reports.

You can see the current list of pending reports for the Greek language in Ubuntu.

One of the bug reports is about the Broken context-sensitive spell check in evolution (Greek, Russian, etc) GNOME #344008.
This report has been there for around 2 years and it should be fixed soon. I am not sure what the best course of action should be. Well, the typical course of action would be to compile GNOME manually (jhbuild), locate the code in Evolution that deals with gnome-spell and put printf()s that show what’s going on when this part of the code is reached. Any takers?

Update: Just offered mentorship for https://bugs.launchpad.net/evolution/+bug/10713 🙂 I understand the direction to work on but do not know what exactly is going on.

Connecting to Bluetooth devices between Linux and Windows

A common issue that arises when you connect your laptop to your Bluetooth device (such as mobile phone), is that the device forges a unique authentication with the Bluetooth stack of the operating system. What that means is that if I pair my laptop with my phone in Linux, the pairing works only in Linux. When I boot in Windows, I have to remove the pairing from the phone and establish it again in Windows. Then, when I connect to Linux I need to remove the pairing and establish it again, and so on.

The reason for this problem is that we use a single USB device (whether a dongle or module) that has a single MAC address. The mobile phone differentiates between pairings based on the MAC address.

Therefore, how can we solve this issue? A search with Google shows that it is a known issue with no answer yet. There are two avenues to fix this problem;

  1. get the Linux bluetooth stack to change the MAC address so that a second pairing will be possible. I am not sure if it is possible as some of the security functions probably take place on the Bluetooth hardware. Currently hciconfig does not offer an option similar to ifconfig eth0 hw ether 00:11:22:33:44:55.
  2. find the authentication data of the pairing on Windows and convert to the format that the Linux stack understands and accepts. In this way, a single pairing will work for both operating systes.

I do not have a solution yet. If someone can looking into these it would be great!