Planet maemo: category "feed:fe260b31af41da4c6ef40f5c8929c61d"

Jeremiah Foster

maemo.org turned over to the community

2010-09-17 21:26 UTC  by  Jeremiah Foster
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In a bit of very good news, Nokia has released maemo.org governance over to the Maemo community. There already is a maemo community council so they will be the governance body (vote ongoing now).

While Maemo is sadly an officially “dead” OS, it may be given new life if the community can take over and run it. There are still lots of excellent and quite dedicated hackers and members in the community so I see no reason why this shouldn’t be a vibrant project. It can also share source code with other projects like MeeGo and Linaro and can potentially help Maemo keep pace with MeeGo. I do have some concerns with the OBS but there are other ways to build packages.

This is good news and I look forward to being more active again in a more open community.

Categories: Uncategorized
Jeremiah Foster

It is perhaps comforting to know that some believe American Empire is not doomed to irrelevance. But much of American Industry seems bent on trying. Aside from their usual shabby treatment of their customers with lawsuits and wholesale purchase of politicians through lobby organizations, they love to write law that suits their complacency, hoping to snuff out competition through litigation.

Click to read 2130 more words
Categories: debian
Jeremiah Foster

MeeGo’s impact

2010-02-17 08:37 UTC  by  Jeremiah Foster
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The impact that MeeGo will have on the mobile computing world should not be underestimated. It is a shot across the bow from two of the biggest names in computing. The message is simple: those who can develop, deploy, and market the best, win.

Why would Intel and Nokia bundle up some of their most crucial “intelectual property” and give it away to the Linux Foundation? Why else would they let in fierce competitors? Why else would they let in applications and frameworks and not keep complete control? The reason is that these companies feel they can compete with their competitors on a level playing field and win. They may in fact be right.

There are some losers in the whole switch from Moblin and Maemo, specifically those who have a lot at stake with keeping things as they are. As someone who’s worked with Maemo technology, the move from a debian environment to a rpm environment is a big move. I’ve worked with rpm previously however and have been working with the Moblin toolchain for a couple months now so I don’t feel like the rug has been pulled out from under me. Community and governance issues will be big though – there is an established Maemo community that just does not exist in Moblin. Moblin is software mostly, designed to run on Intel’s Atom chipset, there are not many devices that have inspired a loyal following like the Maemo devices have. It remains to be seen if Intel, the Linux Foundation, and Nokia can handle this community transition. I suspect they are not so interested in the community per se, as long as they can attract developers who in turn attract hardware buyers.

I am impressed to see a lot of the Maemo community joining in MeeGo immediately, they have sort of swamped the MeeGo infrastructure, but what role the Maemo council and the Maemo paid staff, such as myself, will play is going to be interesting to see. I think our role will be greatly diminished because I think the focus of the MeeGo project is going to be much more technical. I think sites like talk.maemo.org will live on but separate from the more developer-centric MeeGo.

Categories: debian
Jeremiah Foster

MADDE – first impressions

2010-01-21 16:12 UTC  by  Jeremiah Foster
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There is a pretty slick new development tool for the Maemo platform out now called MADDE. It is aimed at the Maemo sweetspot: Qt development. It works on the big three platforms, though I have only installed it on Linux.

MADDE is designed to make cross compiling and generally building applications easier, and it appears to be doing just that. Installation went smoothly and the documentation is concise and clear. MADDE even provides a debian directory, which is my particular interest at the moment, so let’s take a closer look there to see how MADDE can help you build debs.

The first thing you notice when using MADDE is that when you create a project with it, it creates not just project files, but debian files for you as well. In that debian directory you’ll see a bunch of example files – things you can use if you are going to create a debian README file, man pages and the like. For Maemo, we don’t use man pages, so you can simply remove any file that ends in .ex that you don’t want or need.

There are of course a variety of details of packaging you can go into, but what is very interesting with MADDE is that the package building is included. This means that you can call ‘mad dpkg-buildpackage’ and MADDE knows what to do and goes ahead and does it. You don’t need to fiddle with your environment, unless of course you want to, MADDE saves you a great deal of time by including all the needed tools for packaging.

I will discuss the implications of MADDE and packaging further, and I also hope to dive into some of the source code. (Dear Nokia, please consider releasing your perl modules to CPAN.) But my first impression of MADDE is that it is a huge time saver, and a great maemo development environment – try it out!

Categories: debian
Jeremiah Foster

Two very good packaging resources

2010-01-11 15:25 UTC  by  Jeremiah Foster
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Recently, while researching a blog post or two about how to package python apps, I’ve run across some really good resources on packaging that I’d like to point out. One is Ubuntu-oriented and the other is debian-oriented, but a deb is a deb so use which every one you prefer.

The first: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/PackagingGuide/Python is from the Ubuntu wiki which is a really good source for all things Ubuntu. The wiki entries tend to be clearly written and easy to read which is a blessing. This particular wiki entry takes one through packaging a python app from beginning to end in a straight forward manner – nothing really complex here. It should cover about 90% of the packaging requirements of python Maemo apps.

The second: http://www.debian-administration.org/articles/336 is from the site Debian Administration which is a great site. The site has an active community and some experienced admins post there so you’ll definitely find advanced topics like chroots, MTA configuration, etc. The article I pointed out is a fairly thorough discussion on packaging with some theory at the beginning.

The downside of the first article is that it describes using CDBS which requires more editing of files and is not as widely used as debhelper. The second article is a little older and doesn’t take advantage of the changes to debhelper that have come along in later versions. But between them I am sure you’ll find something useful and they are a great way to get started.

Categories: debian
Jeremiah Foster

A call to arms! Maemo community arms that is.

2009-12-29 13:40 UTC  by  Jeremiah Foster
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Gandhi said one has to become the change that one desires. To enable a change towards more openness, and make community generated bug fixes and improvements available to everyone who wants them, I’ve set up a community repository for updates to software that is not being maintained by anyone else. This repository hopefully can show that we are a committed group who can manage our own software distribution system and work together.

The repo is not yet public. It is currently set up on the new hardware that Nokia has generously provided us. I am looking for brave testers and for packages that might be suitable to put in our community repo. The discussion that was held at the Maemo summit in Amsterdam spoke only about SSU updates and that is all I think is really appropriate at this time, regular packages should of course end up in the usual place: extras. This does not mean that we should limit ourselves to just SSUs, but let’s start there and see what else needs to be added.

I thought I would set up a thread on Talk -> Development where we can co-ordinate our work.

Hope to see you there!

Categories: maemo
Jeremiah Foster

While interesting articles from Reuters are one way to measure the hype around the new Maemo device, another way is to measure developer participation.

There is some data to go on, though a lot is anecdotal. Firstly, I think we have seen increased traffic on the IRC channel (irc.freenode.net #maemo) with lots of new users of various backgrounds. That is an easy thing to do, to show up on IRC and ask some questions, but there are other signs of increased developer interest. Firstly, we are seeing lots of new apps come into garage, Maemo’s development platform. That is a positive thing. Not only new applications, but applications that have been around for a while are returning as well. People are fixing bugs, uploading new packages, and generally getting their software ready to put on the devices.

Another significant measure is the traffic on the developer’s list. Already through the first two weeks of September, there has been more email to the list than any other month this year except for May. In May we had 430 emails to the developer list for the entire month; sin September we have had 381 emails to the list and the month is only half over.

So taking these little data points into account, I am willing to predict the platform is going to be a big success, maybe bigger than we imagined.

Categories: maemo
Jeremiah Foster

Freesmartphone.org

2009-08-21 15:33 UTC  by  Jeremiah Foster
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It’s a normal day, I am being bombarded by twitter, facebook, the intertubes, et. al. and I come across a tweet from @debian mentioning the new packages available from the last few weeks. I look at what has come into debian for something interesting and there is a lot, like an ofono package.

What catchse my eye is vala-terminal since vala is something I would like to learn more about. Clicking on the vala-link in the debian packages web interface shows another interesting link to some web site called freesmartphone.org. I click there to find that the same people behind the freesmartphone.org site have created a commercial entity that used to be funded by OpenMoko. So its good to see that the OpenMoko stuff has found its way into the community and that these tools are making there way into debian which is upstream for Maemo.

Things move so quickly nowadays, it’s just amazing to watch the ecosystem for free software expand.

Categories: debian
Jeremiah Foster

Policy is your friend

2009-07-24 11:36 UTC  by  Jeremiah Foster
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On the debian developers mailing list madduck asked about various package checking tools in debian. The resulting discussion revealed how many tools there are in debian to check packages; tools like piuparts, PET, and packagecheck. In contrast to Maemo, debian hackers seemed to be obsessed with the quality of their packages. The mantra “Policy is your friend” is ubiquitous in debian.

I don’t want to place the differences between the two projects in a negative light since the goals are so different. Debian aims to be an easy to use operating system whereas Maemo is a device. Maemo developers often want the device to do cool things, for them packaging is an after-thought. This is why there is a maemo.org debmaster of course; to help developers with packaging and integrate into the operating system so they can focus on cool features and libraries.

Having a debian background I am constantly thinking about the overall system, trying to assure that packages install well, that things “just work” for users. This sometimes makes me wonder if I am doing everything I can for maemo developers and what is the most effective way to encourage best practices and assure quality. While I am excited by the work Niels has done with package promotion and the potential that maemian has, I feel there is more that one can do. While I am sure it is boring to many developers, packaging policy is critical for building the kind of tools that Niels has built. You need to know that the developer has submitted the right email address, declared the correct dependencies, etc. Policy truly is your friend.

I hope to get the chance to speak about packaging at the Maemo Summit, I have submitted a talk anyway, we’ll see if it gets accepted. I also would like to encourage developers who target the Maemo platform to think more about making life easier for their users – after all, it will bring you more users if you can easily install and use your application. I would also like to know more specifically where the pain is, what sucks about the QA process, what sucks about packaging (aside from having to do it at all. :P ) Let’s make packaging policy a tool to make everyone’s life easier.

Categories: maemo
Jeremiah Foster

What’s the point of packaging?

2009-05-22 21:53 UTC  by  Jeremiah Foster
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This post is an introduction to some of the higher level concepts of packaging, more about the whys than the hows. I plan to start a series of posts on the anatomy of your average deb for Maemo, but before that I wanted to go through some of the reasons for packaging so that the details fit into a larger purpose. That purpose is simply to make life easier for your users by doing the hard work for them.

The hard work is compiling, determining dependencies, and building for the chip architecture of your software. All this stuff is quite esoteric to the average user – they just want to know: how do I install? Does it work with my tablet? With packaging we can answer in the affirmative the latter question and we can make install painless. That makes users of your software happy and more likely to use it.

Debian has as part of its mission the goal of putting users first, this makes Nokia’s choices of debian as an operating system fortuitous. Debian has worked really hard at making software easy to install and their success has made it one of the most popular linux distros out there. Debian’s user-centric focus created the APT (Advanced Packaging Tool) system, with apt-get and aptitude, which Maemo has inherited. This means that maemo packages can take advantage of all the well tested debian tools and the infrastructure which debian has built.

Building packages correctly allows you to insert software onto a variety of architectures, Maemo supports two and Debian supports at least eight.

Packaging has some fringe benefits as well, it forces a certain amount of discipline upon the developer and alerts them to the needs of their users. This is unfortunately something that we as programmers forget to do – to put the user at the center of the experience. Software should be written with users and usability in mind, otherwise no matter how good it is, no one will use it. Packaging helps to enforce best practices which make the installation and upgrade of software standardized. By standardizing distribution of software we are realizing the spirit of the GPL and bringing some pretty amazing technology to everyone, not just the alpha geeks who know their way around a C compiler.

Quick recap: Packaging allow us to

  • Build software for numerous architectures
  • Make software easy to install
  • Follow best practices in the development and distribution of software

So that is the point of packaging; to make software easy to install. It’s good to remember this when you are jumping through the hoops of dpkg and its various tools. :)

Categories: Free Software
Jeremiah Foster

Packaging python apps for Maemo

2009-05-14 12:11 UTC  by  Jeremiah Foster
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I wanted to do a quick blog post with some resources for packaging python apps for Maemo. The resources I’ll post here are going to be debian related since maemo packages are based on debian packages. Later on I’ll go into more detail on the differences between debian python packages and maemo python packages, but I think you’ll find these resources to be useful for getting started or for tracking down a problem in your python app’s deb.

The first resource is a link to the debian wiki entry for the Python Modules Team;
http://wiki.debian.org/Teams/PythonModulesTeam

These folks package a lot of python modules for debian, so their documentation will be pretty authoritative and looking at their packages will probably teach you a lot.

The next link is to the Python policy. Boring I know, but you will be directed there for answers to various questions, so you might as well have a handy link to it.
http://python-modules.alioth.debian.org/python-modules-policy.html

Here is an interesting and pretty darn good screencast and tutorial showing how to package a simple python application as a deb on Ubuntu!
http://showmedo.com/videos/video?name=linuxJensMakingDeb

Ubuntu also has a Packaging guide which might be useful, I haven’t read all of it and it is more general than just python programming.
https://wiki.ubuntu.com/PackagingGuide

Hopefully that is enough to get started. I hope for follow up with more info on packaging python apps for maemo and for debian.

Categories: Free Software
Jeremiah Foster

Proof of concept: synergy works on N810

2009-03-13 19:07 UTC  by  Jeremiah Foster
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Hello,

I have managed to move forward a bit with the synergy package. I installed it on my N810, including its dependecies on libxinerama1 and libxinerama-dev, enable the cursor, and shared the keyboard and mouse between my N810 and OS X. Here is a short video demonstration;


N810 and OS X sharing keyboard and mouse with Synergy from jeremiah foster on Vimeo.

I am going to upload these packages to Extras-Devel and try and make some documentation so that this is easy to install. Thanks again qwerty for the script that enables the cursor on the N810, I have hacked on it a little.

Categories: Free Software