Mi blog lah! Το ιστολόγιό μου

9Jun/110

20th Anniversary of Linux T-shirt Design Finalists – Vote now!

We are approaching 20 years of Linux since Linus started work on the Linux kernel.

The Linux Foundation, with Linux.com, are running a contest for a t-shirt design. The t-shirt will be used to commemorate the 20 years of Linux in our lives.

The Linux kernel can be found anywhere, on servers, mobile phones (such as Android), TVs (from Samsung, LG, Sony, Toshiba, Philips and many more), ADSL routers, Top500 supercomputers (over 90%).

It is because the Linux kernel is copyleft, if distribute work based on the Linux kernel, you need to make available those source code changes. Being copyleft, the Linux kernel is a single huge project that still stands as one. And allows everyone to work on it and innovate (see the Android CyanogenMod, Samsung SamyGo and LG LG-Open links above).

Linux. Everywhere.

Linux. Everywhere.

One of the finalists in this competition is George Boukeas, with the above entry “Linux. Everywhere.

George is a member of the Ubuntu-gr community, and also contributed to GNOME.gr by working on the translation of Inkscape into Greek.

In any case, when it comes to voting, vote what you believe is best. Click to vote for the 20th Anniversary of Linux T-Shift Design Competition.

22Apr/110

Pre-installed Windows and competition in the European Union

Did you manage to buy a new computer (desktop or most commonly a laptop) and avoid paying for the pre-installed Windows, even if you do not intend to use it? Even if you already have a license (such as with those MS Academic licenses from your school)?

Let's dig some numbers for Europe.

StatCounter statistics for the use of Linux in Europe

StatCounter statistics for the use of Linux in Europe

According to StatCounter, in Europe about 1.15% of the Internet users use GNU/Linux.

According to the Internet World Stats, in 2010 there are about 475 million Internet users in Europe.

Therefore, the Linux users in Europe (EU) amount to 1.15% of 475 million = about 5.2 million Linux users.

Let's assume that 5 million of these Linux users in the EU ended-up buying a computer pre-installed with unneeded Windows software (Windows XP, Vista or 7, and maybe Microsoft Works). In addition, let's assume that the cost of the unneeded software is €50, which is a heavily conservative value since the unsubsidized price for Windows Home Premium 7 is about €70 (ex. tax). These figures bring the minimum cost that the 1.15% of EU consumers probably paid without any need to 5 million users * €50 / user = €250 million and most probably much higher.

What can we do about this?

The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure and the French speaking Libre Software Users' Association started an initiative, “Share your operating system bundling tales with the EU”, where consumers can report competition problems that affect them.

Here is the press release,

Berlin, Paris Apr 14th 2011 -- The FFII and AFUL ask consumers affected by operating system bundling or businesses involved in bundling to provide their evidence to the European Competition authority.

My choice is Debian GNU/Linux, explains FFII Vice president René Mages. Why have I been compelled to pay and erase Windows 7 at purchase time?

The European Commission admits it was aware of the difficulties encountered by consumers who want to purchase a PC with a non-Microsoft operating system or without any operating system at all. But they also say they lack evidence suggesting that this is the result of practices in violation of EU competition rules.

We want to crowd source the collection of evidence, says AFUL's President Laurent Séguin. If the EU finds anticompetitive agreements that foreclose competition or abuse a dominant position on the relevant market, that would be a magic bullet.

So, what we can do is visit the European Commission Competition website and report our experiences in buying computers while being forced to get pre-installed Windows although we do not need it.

Let's look at the form,    DISCLAIMER: These are my personal views on how the form could be filled in. If there is a mistake/ommission, please write in the comments and I'll correct.

Fill in your details

Fill in your details

Here just fill in your details. You can also select the appropriate language at the top-right drop-down menu.

About which undertaking or group do you wish to inform?

About which undertaking or group do you wish to inform?

Here you mention that you want to talk about Microsoft, and about one or more computer manufacturers that you where unable to get a computer without pre-installed Windows. It is the lack of choice when buying a new computer. We need choice for the operating system of the computer we plan to buy. For computers, the need of choice for the operating system is critical, as there are viable alternatives such as Linux, which about 5 millions EU citizens already use.

2. To what economic sector is your information related?

2. To what economic sector is your information related?

This is an easy one, select Information technology (computers, softwares).

What is the matter about which you inform? When did it come to your attention?

What is the matter about which you inform? When did it come to your attention?

  1. You can talk about the inability to find a suitable computer for your needs that does not come with pre-installed Windows.You might use another operating system such as GNU Linux or you might already have a Windows license (due to an academic program from your school).
  2. If you have a personal experience to share regarding a computer manufacturer and Microsoft software, you can add it here. If you tried to buy a computer without Windows and you had to pay more, or go into great inconvenience, add it here.
  3. Add examples that show since when you have been faced with this issue.
4. What result do you hope to achieve?

4. What result do you hope to achieve?

Here you can say that you want to be able to buy a computer with a choice for the operating system. There are options for alternative operating systems, such as GNU/Linux or even FreeDOS (sort of a token operating system useful if you already have a Windows license).

You can also add that you would like transparency in the agreements between Microsoft and the manufacturers so that when you “build” your desired computer, you can change the operating system as you can change the type of CPU, RAM, or whether you want Bluetooth, 3G and a webcam.

Moreover, you can stress that you want to de-bundle Windows from the computer. You want transparency for the price of the operating system and ability to switch, as you can switch between service providers.

Finally, there is a special relationship between Microsoft and computer manufacturers, where the manufacturers end up promoting Windows software from their websites and advertising material, in order to receive discounts from Microsoft. This special relationship between Microsoft and the manufacturers is unfair, limits choice and hurts competition. It does not provide a level playing field to other operating systems, and the EU consumer is the victim. You would like the European Commision to investigate these agreements between Microsoft and the computer manufacturers.

Have you already contacted the Directorate-General for Competition or other national competition authorities or national regulators in order to obtain assistance?

Have you already contacted the Directorate-General for Competition or other national competition authorities or national regulators in order to obtain assistance?

Here specify whether you already contacted the EU or national bodies for this competition issue.

Supporting documents

Supporting documents

You can select whether you want the information that you provide to pass to another competition authority if this one is not entitled to deal with it. Apparently this is the competition authority for the bundling problem of Windows, therefore it is up to your discretion if you feel to say no.

If you have supporting documents, such as emails or letters that show the efforts you went through to find a computer without pre-installed Windows, you can add them here. If there are several documents, you can simply ZIP them into one.

22Jul/1020

Ubuntu Font Beta and Greek

Update: All open bugs for this font at https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntufontbetatesting/+bugs File your bug. Currently there bugs relating to Greek, 1. Letter γ ((U03B3) has an untypical style 2.  In letters with YPOGEGRAMMENI, YPOGEGRAMMENI is expected to be under not on the right and 3. Many Greek small letters have untypical style

Here we see some samples of Greek with Ubuntu Font Beta.

Ubuntu Font supports both Greek and Greek Polytonic.

In the following we compare between DejaVu Sans (currently the default font in Ubuntu) and the proposed Ubuntu Font Beta.

Screenshot Waterfall DejaVuSans

This is DejaVu Sans, showing the Greek Unicode Block. This means, modern Greek and Coptic.

Screenshot Waterfall UbuntuBeta Greek

This is Ubuntu Font Beta, showing the Greek Unicode Block. Coptic is not covered as it was not part of the requirements for this version of the font (actually Coptic currently uses a separate new Unicode Block so the Coptic here are too low of a priority).

Screenshot-Waterfall DejaVu Polytonic

This is DejaVu Sans showing the Greek Polytonic Unicode Block coverage. We show the second part of the Unicode Block which has the most exotic characters with up to three accents.

Screenshot Waterfall UbuntuFont Beta Polytonic

Same thing with Ubuntu Font Beta.

Note that those characters that appear as empty boxes are characters that either were not designed by the font designers, or are reserved characters that have not been defined yet.

Antigoni text in DejaVu Sans and Ubuntu Font Beta (PDF, 12pt)

Antigoni text in DejaVu Sans and Ubuntu Font Beta (PDF, 10pt)

If there are things to be fixed, this is the time to do them. Post a comment and we can take if further.

Traditionally, the letters γ and ν tend to have a unique form. In this case, in Ubuntu Font Beta, γ looks different to what a Greek user is accustomed to. I attach an SVG file of γ; if you have suggestions for enhancement, please use Inkscape, this gamma_UbuntuBeta-Regular file and make your suggestion!

(see top of post for link to bug reports)

11Jun/103

Avestan keyboard layout

According to Wikipedia,

Avestan (pronounced /əˈvɛstən/ [1]) is an Iranian language known only from its use as the language of Zoroastrian scripture, i.e. the Avesta, from which it derives its name. The language must also at some time have been a spoken language, but how long ago that was is unknown. Its status as a sacred language ensured its continuing use for new compositions long after the language had ceased to be a living language.

Only recently was the Avestan script added to the Unicode standard (Unicode 5.2). For more, see page 17 at the Archaic scripts section of Unicode 5.2 (PDF) and the Unicode block details for U+10B00. See also the proposal to add Avestan to Unicode as an archaic script.

A user from UbuntuForums.org asked for help to create a keyboard layout for the Avestan script.

Keyboard Layout - Avestan

After providing the necessary details, the keyboard layout was created, Avestan keyboard layout for Linux.

So, how can you use the new keyboard layout?

1. Add avestan.txt at the end of /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols/ir

sudo gedit /usr/share/X11/xkb/symbols/ir

in order to open (as administrator) the 'ir' layout, and paste the contents of avestan.txt at the end of the 'ir' file. Click Save and exit.

2. Register the new 'avestan' layout in evdev.xml and base.xml files.

Both files have a section that looks like the following. Do a simple search for 'ku_ara' or some other string in order to find the segment.

        <variant>
          <configItem>
            <name>ku_ara</name>
            <description>Kurdish, Arabic-Latin</description>
            <languageList><iso639Id>kur</iso639Id></languageList>
          </configItem>
        </variant>
-----------HERE------------
      </variantList>
    </layout>
    <layout>
      <configItem>
        <name>iq</name>
        <shortDescription>Irq</shortDescription>
        <description>Iraq</description>
        <languageList><iso639Id>ara</iso639Id>
                      <iso639Id>kur</iso639Id></languageList>
      </configItem>

Open base.xml with

sudo gedit /usr/share/X11/xkb/rules/base.xml

Then open evdev.xml with

sudo gedit /usr/share/X11/xkb/rules/evdev.xml

Replace the '-----------HERE------------' with the following lines:

 <variant>
 <configItem>
 <name>avestan</name>
 <description>Avestan</description>
 <languageList><iso639Id>ae</iso639Id></languageList>
 </configItem>
 </variant>

What we do here is we insert a variant description for the 'avestan' keyboard layout.

Click Save and exit the text editor.

3. Install a suitable font. Follow the steps from http://www.bomahy.nl/hylke/blog/adding-fonts-in-gnome/
which says to install the font in your home directory, in a '.fonts' subdirectory. Normally, Ubuntu will pick up the font as soon as you copy it in there. Any newly started application should be able to use the new font.

4. Finally, add the new Avestan keyboard layout. Go to System → Preferences → Keyboard → Layouts, click on the [Add...] button and select from the list 'Iran' and layout 'Avestan'. Click OK. Notice the new keyboard layout indicator on the panel that allows you to switch between English and Avestan.

Increasingly more scripts and symbols are added to the Unicode standard. These scripts are not useful unless there is a comfortable way to type in them. Find a script you like and help create a keyboard layout.

2Jun/100

Stix Fonts, eventually out.

The StixFonts project is a project to produce high quality fonts for academic publications.

It has been in progress for over ten years and there has been a beta about two years and a half ago. At the same time there had been a discussion on the relevant license for these fonts. The first draft of the license would have made the fonts obsolete as soon as they would be released. However, after public consultation, the project selected to use the Open Font License (OFL).

⬟⬠⬢⬤⬣⬲⬳⭆⭄⭃⬨⬍⬎⟲⟴✪◊▼◨◵↺↯⃟

StixFonts support mathematical symbols from Plane 1, however the WordPress post editor is not able to handle them and truncates the post when you save :-(.

Apart from mathematical characters, StixFonts support Latin, Greek and Cyrillic. Compared with DejaVu (default font in Ubuntu), DejaVu still has overall bigger coverage. You would want to use StixFonts if you write academic documents and require to use a wide range of math symbols.

You can get the StixFonts from the StixFonts project website, at version 1.0, in OpenType format. From the zip archive with the fonts, extract the *.otf files into your home directory, in a subfolder called .fonts (if it does not exist, create it). No need to restart the system; any newly restarted applications should be able to see and use the fonts. OpenOffice.org 3.2+ is required (for example, in Ubuntu 10.04) due to the OpenType format of the fonts. If you use OpenOffice.org for your document writing, it might be a good idea to create special styles for your math content and set the StixFonts as the font of those styles. You can type in those math characters using Insert → Special Character... in OpenOffice.org as shown below.

StixFonts in OpenOffice.org 3.2 (Insert Special Character)

These are the mathematical alphanumeric symbols (fraktur style) in Plane 1. You may notice that some characters are missing (such as capital N fraktur style). It's not a bug. In OpenOffice.org, you click on characters and these are added in a string. Then, when you completed the string with all the special characters you click OK and they are inserted in your document. While we wrote ubuntu as sample text, these are symbols meant for math documents. However, the potential for geekiness in the Facebooks and the Twitters is easy to describe.

The beta version of the StixFonts are already packaged in Debian/Ubuntu as 'otf-stix'. I suppose the package will be updated soon with the new version 1.0.

10May/0915

How to type Greek, Greek Polytonic in Linux

Update 2010: Please see the docs.google.com edition of the guide as it has the latest material. See link below.

There is a new guide on how to write Greek and Greek Polytonic in Linux, and in particular using the latest versions of Linux distributions.

https://docs.google.com/View?docID=dccdrjqk_4cqjn9zcj (LATEST VERSION)

The guide shows in detail how to add the Greek keyboard layout to your Linux desktop, and how to write Greek, Greek Polytonic and other Ancient Greek characters.

The guide is also available in both ODT and PDF format. (both files are somewhat obsolete. use google docs URL from above instead)

For a Greek version of the guide, please see http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dccdrjqk_3gx3bq5f9 (does not update as often as the English version)

We attach the HTML version of the guide in this post. The docs.google.com version is the latest, please read that instead.

Again, you can find the latest version of this document at
http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dccdrjqk_4cqjn9zcj
10May/090

Ενημερωμένος οδηγός γραφής ελληνικών (και πολυτονικό)

Ενημέρωσα τον οδηγό για το γράψιμο ελληνικών (και πολυτονικό) και είναι διαθέσιμος από τη σελίδα

http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dccdrjqk_3gx3bq5f9

Είναι διαθέσιμος ο οδηγός για γράψιμο ελληνικών (και πολυτονικού) σε μορφή PDF.

Είναι διαθέσιμος ο οδηγός για γράψιμο ελληνικών (και πολυτονικού) σε μορφή ODT.

Ο οδηγός περιγράφει τη δυνατότητα γραφής μονοτονικού, πολυτονικού και αρχαίων ελληνικών χαρακτήρων. Ο οδηγός αυτός διορθώνει μια σειρά από αβλεψίες στις οδηγίες.

Ο οδηγός ισχύει για τις διανομές Fedora 11 (ή νεώτερες), Ubuntu Linux 9.04 (ή νεώτερες) και άλλες διανομές που θα βγουν την Άνοιξη του 2009. Για προηγούμενες διανομές, δείτε τις οδηγίες (και τον αντίστοιχο παλαιότερο οδηγό) από το παρόν ιστολόγιο για το πως μπορείτε να προσθέσετε την νέα ελληνική διάταξη πληκτρολογίου.

Κάθε σχόλιο για βελτίωση του οδηγού είναι ευπρόσδεκτο.

20Feb/0911

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.

22Nov/082

Help make «DocBook XML to PDF» work for Greek

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE article PUBLIC "-//OASIS//DTD DocBook XML V4.2//EN"
"http://www.oasis-open.org/docbook/xml/4.2/docbookx.dtd">
<article lang="en">
<section><title>Title</title>
<para>ëãáâṩẫëĝéõōåőȩçą</para>
<para>ЁЂыњѨѬѺѸѶѦщЖЊЌЍШЩзф</para>
<para>ᾶᾳὰέᾁᾂδϕϟϸϡϸϸαϷϕϲδϕϛ€ϕ©ϖϐͻ©ϖϐ</para>
</section>
</article>

This is an issue that I would appreciate if someone could help in solving.

The above document (mytestfile.xml) is a DocBook XML document with text in many scripts (latin, cyrillic and greek). Normally it was difficult to convert to PDF, until recently.

Now, one can run

dblatex --backend=xetex --verbose mytestfile.xml

(requires to install the dblatex package and any dependencies) and it creates mytestfile.pdf. If you have a fresh installation of Ubuntu 8.10 and you go through the process of installing these packages, please make a list of them, to use as advice for new users.

Generated PDF document with lang=en

Generated PDF document with lang=en

Since we use XeTeX as a backend, we can work with Unicode text directly, which is the proper thing to do. Above you can see that all characters are shown (except a few obscure ones that are not found in DejaVu Sans and are shown as boxes). You can see Latin (+Extended), Cyrillic (+Extended), Greek (+Extended) in the same document.

Generated PDF document with lang=el

Generated PDF document with lang=el

The issue arises when we change the lang modifier in the document above, from en to el. Here you see Τιτλε, which in fact is Title but with the characters replaced with their Greek equivalent. This is a sign for non-Unicode, 8-bit encoding conversion issue. In addition, some of the rest of the characters are shown, and apparently a strange conversion took place.

What we need to do is figure out is how to fix xetex when 'lang=el'. There is some work to get Greek XeTeX support upstream, and there are instructions on how to add local Greek XeTeX support in your distribution.

What we need is instructions on how to fix the Greek XeTeX support in Ubuntu 8.10, and test that dblatex can generate documents correctly when lang=el.

For your testing, here are the files mytestfile-en.pdf, mytestfile-el.pdf, mytestfile-en.xml, mytestfile-el.xml.

29Feb/081

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.

16Nov/078

Droid fonts from Google (Android SDK)

Update 10Feb2009: The Droid fonts are now available from android.git.kernel.org (Download tar.gz archive), under the Apache License, Version 2.0. Ascender (the company who created Droid), has now a dedicated website at http://www.droidfonts.com/ (thanks Rex!). At this dedicated website, Ascender presents the Droid Pro family which has several additions to Droid. For the open-source crowd, it is important to have the initial Droid font family dual-licensed under the “OpenFont License”, which would enable the best use with the rest of the OFL licensed fonts.

Two years ago, Google bought a start-up called Android in order to deliver an open platform for mobile applications. A few days ago the Android SDK has been released and you can develop now Android applications that can run in the emulator. Android handsets are expected at some point next year.

Even if you do not plan to develop applications for Android, you can still run the emulator which is functional, includes quite a few samples, and comes with a browser shown above. To get it, download the Android SDK for your system, uncompress it and run

./android_sdk_linux_m3-rc20a/tools/emulator

An interesting aspect of Android is that it comes with a set of fonts that have been specially designed for mobile devices, the Droid fonts. The fonts are embedded in the Android image, in android_sdk_linux_m3-rc20a/tools/lib/images/system.img, a clever guy managed to extract them and a modest guy corrected me (Damien's blog to download).

The fonts are probably licensed under the same license as the SDK (Apache License), however it is better to hear from Google first.

In the meantime, here is a screenshot of Ubuntu 7.10 with Droid.

Update: To extract the fonts from the SDK, run the emulator with the -console parameter. The emulator starts and at the same time you get a shell to the filesystem of the running emulator. You can locate the fonts in system/fonts/. Once located the full path of a file, you can extract with ./adb pull system/fonts/DroidSans.ttf /tmp/DroidSans.ttf (thanks cosmix for the tip).

4Nov/072

StixFonts, finally available (beta)!

The STIX Fonts project (website) has been developing for over 10 years a font suitable to be used in academic publications. It boasts support from Elsevier, IEEE and other academic publishers or associations.

A few days ago, they published a beta version of the font in an effort to get public feedback. The beta period runs until the 15th December.

STIX Fonts Beta showing Greek (Regular), from STIX Fonts Beta

STIX Fonts Beta currently support modern Greek. An effort to get support for Greek Polytonic did not work out well a few years back.

STIX Fonts Beta showing Greek (Italic), from STIX Fonts Beta

The main benefit of STIX Fonts is the support for mathematical and other technical symbols. This helps when writing academic publications and other technical documents.

STIX Fonts Beta showing Greek (Bold), from STIX Fonts Beta

STIX Fonts have extensive support of mathematical symbols, symbols that exist in Unicode Plane-1.

STIX Fonts Beta showing Greek (Bold Italic), from STIX Fonts Beta

If there is any modification that we would like to have in STIX fonts, we should do now. Once they are released, they will be widely distributed. Currently, Fedora has packaged STIX Fonts and made them available already.

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