FreeNX future

Hum, it’s been some time since I last blogged on these Gentoo packages I handle! Let’s catch up a bit!

There is a thread running on freenx mailing list about current lack of new commits in freenx SVN. Main developer seems to be MIA (after starting a migration to github) and freenx as it is needs to be rewritten from scratch anyway (some work had been done in a freenx-redesign branch, but it seems abandoned too now). Of course, the ideal thing would be to finally get NX natively in, but that’s not for the close future

So where does this leave us? Debian/Ubuntu packagers have created a freenx team, and manage a bzr tree with more and more fixes and updates (like shadowing local X sessions and stubs for guest sessions). Once I’ve figured out how to “tag” gentoo versions from it, this will probably be the new source for freenx packages (at least until upstream resumes development)

And if you want to try an alternative GPL server, remember to try x2go from the NX overlay 😉 I have not added them to main portage tree yet, but hope to do so real soon ™

X2go ebuilds status update

In a previous post, I spoke about new ebuilds for X2go client and server, a GPL remote desktop solution that’s based on NX technology, but in a different way compared to nxserver. With lots of help from Joachim Langenbach in bug #249600, I’m glad to say now that ebuilds in the NX overlay for both client and server work fine, and will probably moved to portage soon (ldap management ebuilds will probably wait a bit longer in the overlay, as I cannot test them for now).

For pros and cons, X2go does not need a special “nx” user on the server, you can use your ssh private key (as you log in directly as your real user), both client and server are GPL are not limited in number of connections, remote mounting of directories is easy (via sshfs/fuse), administration of the server can be done via kde control panel elements (including ldap accounts, if you use it). However x2go requires a running postgresql database on the server, does not support VNC/rdesktop proxying or shadow sessions, and some of the nice advanced features seem reserved to dedicated thin clients setups (like saving your session on a usb key, …).

Anyway, if you’re curious to try it, ‘layman -a nx’ and then emerge either x2goclient or x2goserver depending on which computer you are 😉

NX servers and clients, old and new

Nomachine recently released a new major version (3.3.0), which did not introduce many new features, but fixed some bugs (some keys did not work here on my french keyboard for example), and generally feels “snappier” (in my opinion of course, test and check it for yourself 😉 ). It is available in portage for both free server edition (binary only, 2 concurrent connections), and for freenx (open-source, no connections limit).

For some time an alternative client/server from 2X has been available in portage, as net-misc/nxclient-2xterminalserver and net-misc/nxserver-2xterminalserver. Based on old NX 1.5, it provided both a GPL client (missing the > 2.0.0 NX features though) and a working server close to Nomachine one. However it never really got any updates since it was made available. Upstream closed down the website, the client needs fixes for gcc 4.3 and –as-needed, does not work well with current NX servers, the server is still based on old NX code (and is probably vulnerable to some xorg security issuse), so this is last rites time for both of them. They will still be available in the NX overlay if you need them.

Open-source alternatives are availble in portage: net-misc/qtnx for client, net-misc/nxserver-freenx for server.

Now I promised to talk about newer NX systems right? A new bug report was recently opened on x2go, a “server based computing environment” which uses NX technology but is not a clone of current nxclient/nxserver. Nice thing is everything is open-source, including the client (ebuild for it already works). Now some work is needed before there is a x2goserver package in portage, but that will certainly make a nice alternative to current NX servers available. If you already use it, don’t hesitate to come and comment on the bug!

Note to myself: I really need to write some documentation on all of these one day…

Etoile 0.4 – coming soon! Window Maker 0.92.1 too :)

If you wander by the Etoile web site, you’ll see that Etoile 0.4 is right around the corner! Initial mail for this version detailed that “the focus for 0.4 will be frameworks, developer tools, example apps, and documentation”. So the “stable” packages list will be shorter than old 0.2 release. But don’t despair, you’ll still get updated packages, including camaelon (GNUstep theming engine)

As for ebuilds availability… I’ll update the ebuilds already in portage soon after the official release (camaelon, popplerkit, …). The Etoile ebuilds in the gnustep overlay will come later (first cause of delay will be additional requirement on LLVM, which is not in portage for now)

On the releases news front, the guys behind the Window Maker revival have made some progress too: a git repository is up, people chat on #windowmaker (Freenode), and a new bugfix release should come quickly (this will clean up the patchet currently in use in the ebuild!). After that, new features? We’ll see!

SOGo now available in the GNUstep overlay, Window Maker revival?

IF you want to try another groupware server, I finally made up ebuilds for Scalable, SOGo for short. These are available in the GNUstep overlay for now (it seems to work fine, but I lack the full server installation needed to completely test it, mostly an IMAP server with LDAP backend).

From the SOGO folks:

SOGo is a free and modern scalable groupware server. It offers shared calendars, address books and emails through your favorite Web browser or by using a native client such as Mozilla Thunderbird and Lightning. SOGo is standard-compliant and supports CalDAV, CardDAV, GroupDAV and reuses existing IMAP, SMTP and database servers – making the solution easy to deploy and interoperable with many applications.

For the curious, a demo web site is running here. Feedback appreciated of course if you try it on Gentoo

On other news, I noticed that the Window Maker web site is back up, stating: Back Online posted on 2008-06-30 09:04:16 by kairi has been brought online as of early July, 2008. We are currently working on reimplementing the site in a more modern, safe fashion, while at the same time restoring all services required for development and communication. With that said, we are working very hard to revitalize Window Maker’s presence on X Window (and perhaps beyond) desktops. With this new focus, we can now truly assert that Window Maker will be resuming active development very soon. We expect to once again provide the de-facto minimalist yet extremely functional window manager to the world.

This has been my main window manager since… well a loooong time, I’m crossing fingers and hoping it will really come back from the dead projects world!

Oh, and if you did not get the news, 2008.0 is here! Thanks release engineering team members

I almost forgot: congratulations to the new Council members, both veterans and newcomers!

New gnustep base released (base 1.16, gui 0.14)

It’s been more than a year since the last gnustep major release, and while unstable packages were available in portage, I kept them in package.mask (revdep rebuild needed for every single gnustep application, API changes, …). But that meant new applications updates (gorm for example) had to be kept under p.mask too, as they required the unstable versions).

Now the new stable release is finally here, I’ll unmask it soon (just checking most application still compile). Be warned though, that both gnustep-base and gnustep-gui will force you to run revdep-rebuild. Maybe it’s time to test the new and shiny cairo backend!

Testing the new “gold” linker from binutils

After reading Diego’s post on linkers, I got curious (and interested) by this new linker (also mentioned in LWN and other sites).

Developed by Ian Lance Taylor (from Google), the gold linker is now in binutils, and promises link times divided at least by 5. The code I develop at work is a big C++ project, and takes a looooot of time linking indeed (especially in debug…). So let’s see how to try this new linker

First, a big warning: this is still heavily experimental, I do not recommend to use it for your system itself. It only works on x86/amd64, does NOT link a kernel correctly for now. Keep a stable binutils, and use it for all your emerge operations. UPDATE: see Diego’s warnings too, Remember that I only test gold on C++ debug binaries, not on system packages or other important compilations.

You have been warned 😉 Now let’s see how to install a gold-enabled binutils in parallel with your stable one:

  • First step: enable multislot for binutils (so you’ll have both unstable/gold binutils and stable binutils available with binutils-config)

# echo "sys-devel/binutils multislot" >> /etc/portage/package.use
# emerge -av binutils

  • Unmask an unstable binutils ebuild, and compile it with gold enabled (thanks to EXTRA_ECONF feature)

# echo "=sys-devel/binutils- **" >> /etc/portage/package.keywords
# EXTRA_ECONF="--enable-gold" emerge -av '=sys-devel/binutils-'

  • Use binutils-config to switch between your stable binutils, and gold-enabled (ld –version will say “GNU gold …”)

And now back to work with greatly reduced linking times, yay!

nxcl/qtnx (open-source NX client) in portage, freenx new release

After the live ebuild version in the NX overlay, I’ve added the newly released 0.9 version of nxcl (base library)/qtnx (QT4 front-end), a GPL client for NX servers. For now I’ve keyworded them on x86 and amd64 (where I could test them), but who knows, it may work on other arches, where the official nxclient is not available!

Be warned that some options may be missing or incomplete, when compared to nxclient. But all the basics are there 🙂

In the meantime, a new FreeNX release (0.7.2) was made available. While some changes were already backported in Gentoo 0.7.1 ebuild, there are quite a few new features. Fabian Franz (main FreeNX dev, who does a great work) has posted the (long because of all the new features) announcement on the mailing list here. Here are some new features I picked up:

  • new helper program that should help for VNC sessions
  • slave mod is usable (think “This dramatically reduces session login times and makes single sign on possible”)
  • new samba sharing system (sharing and remote printing)
  • New “nxsetup –test” command: this one will help a lot if you have an incorrect sshd conf for example
  • lots of bugfixes

I’m preparing the version bump in portage, hopefully you will get it in a few days (new installation method, patches to update/remove/…). Stay tuned! EDIT: nxserver-freenx-0.7.2 is now in portage, enjoy!

Time does fly by

The LDAP infos on Gentoo dev server confirm it:

gentooJoin: 2007/03/13

So it’s been a year since I officialy joined Gentoo developers, after discovering gentoo, the forums, trying n amd64 installation with a 2004.3 CD, harassing bugzilla (and giving jakub some work) for some time… 😉

NX does not take much of my time anymore, mostly revision bumps. I still need to write some documentation on this great piece of software (oh and add ebuilds to portage for qtnx, an open-source client I mentioned earlier).

After some work and eclass rewrite, GNUstep in Gentoo is in a much better shape: a few bugs are still opened, but most of the packages work fine now.

What’s been great so far? Well most importantly: the Gentoo people. And I mean both developers and users. Developers with their knowledge, motivation, counseling, … Users that report problems, fill bugs, help other users (forums, IRC), …

Ok now happy Gentoo birthday me, and back to work 😉

New open-source NX client under development

Some days ago, George Wright announced on #nx that he just had committed a new qtnx, based on the nxcl libs. Qtnx is an open-source Qt-based NX client, and it looks like development on it is rolling again 🙂 It is now based on nxcl, developed by Seb James.

In fact, George is now working for a company on a NX server (and client), their web site is The client is GPL-2, and should support most NX features (including 3.0 shadowing). Of course it is still under heavy development, but you can find them as -9999 SVN ebuilds in the NX overlay. Just run:

# layman -a nx # emerge -av qtnx 

I hope this one will soon join nxclient (binary-only, but latest NX features) and nxclient-2xterminalserver (GPLed NX 1.5 version) in portage

Btw, the ebuild is currently marked x86, as these are the arches I test NX on. Drop me a line if it works on ppc (it should) or other arches