New gnustep soon stable, new windowmaker ebuild, NX news, … (and other things I’ve already forgotten)

It looks like real life finally lets me write some news on Gentoo work 🙂

GNUstep news first: packages based on gnustep-make-2.0 are now almost all marked stable (see the progress in this bugreport), there’s only sparc left and then I’ll finish cleaning up the old ebuilds. In the gnustep overlay, you can now find (masked) unstable gnustep and gorm releases: lots of fixes, but requires lots of revdep-rebuild! 😉

Thanks to grobian and truedfx, you can now try windowmaker-0.92.0-r7, it has some nice features to check out. This is still my WM of choice, even if I now run gnome on the laptop (easy compiz switching, better power management integration).

On the NX front, a nice Gentoo user has filled a few enhancement bugs on freenx (startup script, utempter use, …). I’m preparing a revbump integrating most of these, stay tuned. I’m also preparing a revbump for the free edition server, upstream has released a new version with many fixes (including some that could help people using selinux). And last, if you have problems with freenx, or freeedition server, there are two lengthy threads on the forums, where you may get help from other users. The freenx thread is here, and the one for the free edition is here

And closing this post, I’d like to say a big “thank you for all the work you’ve done on Gentoo” to Roy Marples (uberlord), and Seemant Kulleen (uncle Seemant)

Tips and tricks: Gentoo Linux on a Samsung Q45 laptop

I won’t talk here about the difficulties encountered while installing ~amd64 Gentoo on this baby, as most of the components work quite well and without a problem, but rather about a few tips I had to dig around the Internet. Some of these tips may apply to other PCs, or other distributions too 😉

External kernel modules to emerge

To get most of the hardware, emerge:

  • net-wireless/iwlwifi: even if it’s still relatively new, it works much better than ipw3945 for the wifi! Update: merged in kernel, simply emerge net-wireless/iwl3945-ucode, and enable iwlwifi in kernel tree
  • media-video/linux-uvc: who knows, this webcam may be useful one day
  • x11-drivers/nvidia-drivers: yes, it’s proprietary, but you need it to try compiz-fusion (add “options nvidia NVreg_RegistryDwords=”PerfLevelSrc=0x2222” to /etc/modules.d/nvidia to fix flickering in X)
  • app-misc/sdricoh_cs: this is a *very* experimental driver for the card reader (I did not try further though, as I still have an old PCMCIA one that works fine and fast) ”Update””: turns out you don’t need this one, simply use the “sdhci” module from kernel

Power management

Now, let’s get the most of the battery. First some links that will give a lot of ideas to get a longer battery life:

  • Gentoo Power Management Guide
  • Intel-sponsored Less watts site: by the way, emerging powertop definitely is a good idea!
  • Mandatory to let your CPU rest while on battery: HRT (tickless system) patch for amd64, apply it to your 2.6.23 gentoo-sources. Update: merged in recent kernels
  • A patch to apply to gnome-applets (works fine here, less CPU wakeups)

By the way, nvidia broke the brightness key shortcuts while in X, but you can switch to a console (where the keys work!), adjust brightness, and switch back to X.

Gnome tips

For now, I run Gnome (2.20) on it, here a few fixes. First, the gnome-power-manager tray icon may not appear from time to time on login. This is a known problem, also known as bug 188618 to poor Gentoo developers. (Update) This was fixed by leio (don’t forget to thank him), now you just need to upgrade to gnome-power-manager-2.20.0-r1 (no need to kill and restart g-p-m manually now). For other distributions, this was accepted usptream, so you should be fine soon too 🙂

OK, now that we have a battery life monitor, next tweak: if you have kept the hidden backup partition on this system, gnome will add a nice (completely useless) icon for it on your desktop. Thanks to the french Ubuntu forums, here is how to tell HAL to ignore that partition (/dev/sda1 in my case). Create a file called /etc/hal/fdi/preprobe/10ignore-disks.fdi, with these lines inside:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?> <deviceinfo version="0.2"> <device> <match key="block.device" string="/dev/sda1"> <merge key="info.ignore" type="bool">true</merge> </match> </device> </deviceinfo> 

And voila, this one will not bother you anymore 🙂

Last thing, if you’d like to enter your password once at gdm screen, without the need to retype it for gnome-keyring (NetworkManager trying to connect to the home wifi), and even SSH passphrases, read this great planet post by fellow french conspiracy Gentoo developer remi.

Another last thing (last one I promise), about NetworkManager: this is a great tool, but it will work better if you add something like ‘RC_PLUG_SERVICES=”!net.eth* !net.wlan*”‘ to /etc/conf.d/rc (so the system does not try to start the interfaces before networmanager does). Also take a look at NetworkManagerDispatcher (bug here): this tool will automate start/stop of services when NetworkManager connects to a network (openvpn, ntpd, …)

OK, I’ve finished now, thanks to the few people that are still reading 😉

Seam Carving for Content-Aware Image Resizing: sounds nice, works great!

Some weeks ago, I saw this video on a new picture “resizing” technique. A white paper is also available for those interested in the algorithm.

So why did this video launch quite a buzz? Well, watch the video (if you never saw it), and be amazed by this intelligent resizing of images (changing the aspect ratio, while keeping important parts, and removing other parts). That means you can resize a photo without making the people on it look like aliens, keep the nice parts of a panorama and forget a bit about the rest…

If you want to try it, there is now a live demo available on the net: (flash demo, needs the newest flash plugin to work). After toying with it a bit, I can say it works as well as in the video 🙂

Next step, try it in GIMP! A plugin is available here, and an ebuild here (I’ll probably add it to my overlay for testing too). I have a few pictures that will make great wallpapers, once I have them resized for my screen ratio.

Little update: the seam carver project also provides a library implementing the technology, with a little demonstration application (live this time) called arachne. Ebuild in my overlay for the curious!

Extreme Tux Racer: tuxracer is back!

Aaah tuxracer… This game was a fine example of what linux could do in 3D gaming for some time (and one of the reasons I struggled some years ago to get 3d acceleration on my linux box). For those who never tried it, it’s a 3d race game, where you control Tux as he slides down a course of snow and ice, while collecting herring. Read more about it and the game history at wikipedia: in short, the first game changed from GPL to closed-source, a fork was launched from the last GPL code, another one (ppracer) was started when the first died,…

ppracer is still in portage, but sadly it is also a dead project now. Luckily, some people have picked it up (again), and have released their first version! 🙂 This new tuxracer is called “Extreme Tux Racer”

Their homepage is here, and they even kindly provide ebuilds for their first release! For now it’s not that different from ppracer, but let’s wish them luck and lots of new features 😉 (hum… multiplayer tuxracer…)

NX servers 3.0 going security stable, removing old versions

NX 2.1 libraries (based on X libraries and Xnest server) are derived from an old XFree release, and are not maintained anymore upstream, in favor of the 3.0 version (based on, 64bit-clean, …). As pointed out by our nice security people, the code base in NX 2.1 is not patched against all vulnerabilities reported in XFree recently.

So, what will this change for Gentoo users? The free edition server 3.0 has been in the tree for some time and will be going stable shortly (and 2.1 packages removed). The bugs reported when 3.0 got out are all fixed now, so this is the best working version anyway!

For Freenx users, I am preparing a version bump that will work with 3.0 libraries (and will also work on no-multilib amd64 systems too). Upstream is working on a new version, with complete 3.0 support, but as it will be a complete rewrite, expect it “when i’s done” 😉

Just in case, I’ll move the 2.1 nx libs ebuild in the NX overlay (package.masked of course), if people really need it for their freenx setup (and know what they are doing)

When these updates are done, next big task will be to finally write some nice documentation on NX servers in Gentoo (what’s NX, pros/cons of the different servers, how to set up advanced features, troubleshooting guide, …)

Updating GNUstep packages in portage

As a follow-up to my previous post, as gnustep base packages are marked ~ppc again, I have started to move the other packages from the overlay 🙂

Visible results? Well, we have a cleaned-up windowmaker (still my favourite window manager after all these years), closing a few bugs, the return of gworkspace (temporarily package.masked because of vulnerable code in pdfkit), updated (and working with latest gnustep packages) gnumail, …

And now back to moving ebuilds in CVS, cleaning up old ones, and closing bugs (while my desktop gets an overdue “emerge -auDNt world”).

Oh, by the way, I won’t add Etoile itself in this batch, as it still needs some changes in the way the ebuilds handle the bundles defaults (which you definitly want OK, if you want to have a desktop “as-in-the-screenshot” 😉 )

Virtualbox 1.5.0: great release

I had previously blogged about virtualbox, which replaced vmware on my desktop.

The new version 1.5.0 was released yesterday, and the Changelog has some nice entries, like virtual serial ports, …

A new feature I love is “seamless windows” (vmware and parallels had this on Mac, now we have that on linux 🙂 ): that means windows programs in their windows on your desktop (and not anymore in a big “windows desktop” window)

Another great “new” feature is shared folders support: this was in 1.4.0, but not in the GPL edition… Here it is in 1.5.0, and working great: all the shared folders you set up appear (and appear quickly) in your “network neighborhood”.

There is also an option now to activate/deactivate VT-x/AMD-V support, but they say it’s slower than their own implementation. I’ll have to test that on minesweeper 😉

ps: and of course it’s available in Gentoo portage

Sudoku programs

Sudokus in the free newspapers are a great way to pass some time in the train/metro (when you have no book left to read). Sudoku programs can be fun too, but some of them lack interesting features (like writing down possible numbers, giving just a hint and not the entire solution)

Gentoo portage has ksudoku, with some special sudoku types (including 3D ones), and a “Give hint” button, that reveals one of the missing numbers. KDE application though…

GNUstep users, there is a new application under development, it only has classic 9-by-9 sudoku formats, but the author is rapidly adding new features. Available in the gnustep overlay (and soon in your favorite portage tree)

And now another new application (spotted on the linux game tome): Sudoku Sensei. It allows custom sudoku formats, including the Samurai variant (9 grids in one), a great hint system (that lists all “rules” that can be applied to rule out a number), tutorials, undo/redo, basic printing, … You can find a not-so-pretty ebuild in my overlay

Now I just need to get my printer back in working order to print some nice grids (another item on my TODO list)

GNUstep in portage (finally) gets updates

After some months filling up the gnustep overlay, I am glad to announce that the new series of gnustep ebuilds are finally making their way in portage 🙂
grobian added the new eclasses and all the gnustep-base packages (on which all other gnustep packages are built). Now we wait for arch teams to say “OK, everything’s fine” (bug #189372 for the curious), and then we’ll start moving in applications ebuilds
This will give me some time to complete the etoile ebuilds, the versions in the overlay work fine, but are still rough. By the way, if you try etoile and don’t get the nice and shiny background, check that you are not running a 1280×1024 resolution (or another with the same aspect ratio): the background image for this ratio does not exist yet.
Another good news for GNUstep fans: the gnustep herd is now 3-persons strong, with truedfx joining our forces! And now for the dockapps fans: wmforkplop is a nice dockapp that displays animations reflecting forking activity, while listing the top cpu consuming processes (and a “process browser” to kill the offending ones). There’s an ebuild available in my overlay, it looks better animated than in this screenshot: