Category: Open Source

  • Xgl

    XGL thumbnail

    A week or so ago I managed to get Xgl working on a box at home using these instructions wtih an aging Nvidia card. I previously had issues getting it to work with an ATI card, but I think that had more to do with flgx and my rather old Radeon than anything else.

    I was completely blown away when I started up XGL and enabled compiz for the first time. It brought an extra level of polish to the already amazing Dapper Drake. By default it enables several effects and features. Some are more whizzy than useful, but the alt-tab preview pane and expose-like features are quite useful. Less useful but still pretty are true transparency and the waving effect that happens when you drag a window.

    Unfortunately running Xgl and compiz meant that things like emacs didn’t run at all, and other apps like Evolution behaved unpredictably.

    That’s to be expected though. Xgl is still very much unstable and bleeding edge. Even if it’s not usable (for me) day in and day out, I think it’s a glimpse in to the future of desktop linux. The packages are available in the Universe repository for Dapper, but there are big warnings everywhere about their experimental nature.

    I really hope that over the next six months Xgl matures and that by the time Edgy Eft is born Xgl will be ready for prime time, if not in the default install.

  • Backing Up Flickr Photos with Amazon S3

    I love that I now have an Amazon S3 billing page that reads like a really cheap phone or water bill. I think that they’re silently changing the game (again) without telling anyone else. I really like the implications of this magepiebrain post and decided to start using S3 “for real” myself last night.

    The first ingredient was James Clarke’s Getting a list of my photos is pretty simple:

    import flickr
    me = flickr.people_findByUsername("postneo")
    photos = flickr.people_getPublicPhotos(

    The second ingredient for getting the job done was a pythonic wrapper around the Amazon example python libraries by Mitch Garnaat called BitBucket. Because it builds on the example libraries, there’s very little error checking, so be careful. Check out Mitch’s site for some example BitBucket usage, it’s pretty slick.

    Once I was familiar with both libraries, I put together a little script that finds all of my photos and uploads the original quality image to S3, using the flickr photo ID as the key. Here’s the complete code for, all 25 lines of it.

    After uploading 160 or so photos to Amazon, I owe them about a penny.

    Getting photos back out is really easy too:

    >>> import BitBucket
    >>> bucket = BitBucket.BitBucket("postneo-flickr")
    >>> bucket.keys()
    >>> bits = bucket[u'116201243']
    >>> bits.to_file("photo.jpg")

  • My Nokia 770 Is On The Way!

    I just got “the email” saying that my Nokia 770 developer device was ready to rock. It’s been ordered up, more when the device arrives!

    Update: It’s here, more later.

  • Several Announcements from Nokia

    Lots of stuff is coming out of Finland via Barcelona today from their Nokia Mobility Conference. Here’s a quick roundup:

    Wow, that’s a lot of stuff to digest, but I’m really excited. Like Ewan, I think the N80’s form factor along with its quad-band dual-WCDMA-ness could just about make it the killer allover worldphone.

  • We’re Moving to Kansas!

    No really, we’re moving to Kansas. I’ve accepted a position at World Online, the online division of the Lawrence Journal-World. I’ll be working on some award winning sites including,, using my favorite web framework: Django.

    I’m really excited about working with an awesome team of people doing some really cool stuff. And of course I’m completely stoked about working with Django on a daily basis. I’ll talk about what I’m up to when I can but there will be times when I have to keep my lips zipped. I guess now might be a good time to mention that this is my personal weblog and that views/opinions/etc expressed here are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.

    Needless to say I’ve been a bit busy with getting up to speed at work and planning the move. I’ve been meaning to write this post for some time now and had to delete a completely out of date post that I had half written while in Lawrence. Blogging will probably be light until things settle out, but in the meantime keep an eye on my links.

    Strap in, Toto!

  • The Dapper Drake

    Now that Breezy Badger is out the door, I felt the need to find out what Ubuntu Linux 6.04 (the version coming out 6 months from now) had been named. The answer? The Dapper Drake. I’m guessing that the goals for the next release will solidify considerably after UbuntuBelowZero in a week or two.

  • Unleash the Badger!

    It’s been six months, and without delay, Ubuntu Linux 5.10 (Breezy Badger) is out the door. I’ve been running Breezy for a month or so and aside from a few minor hiccups it’s been treating me quite well.

    Ubuntu 5.10 features lots of goodies including Gnome 2.12.1, OpenOffice.Org 2 beta, Linux kernel, GCC 4.0.1, Python 2.4.2, and a ton of others. Check out the release announcement for more information and download links.

  • IT Conversations Seeks Python Developers

    Doug Kaye is looking for help in putting together an open source podcast uploader program:

    This is an open-source project to create a client-side application for encoding, normalizing and uploading audio files to the Conversations Network content-management system’s FTP server.

    See the requirements doc for more information. Can anyone lend a hand?

  • Rocks Cluster 4.1 Released

    DistroWatch notes that Rocks Cluster 4.1 (beta) is out the door. Rocks was one of several cluster computing Linux distributions that caught my eye while I was working on my research paper on open source clusters. According to the release announcement they have rolled BitTorrent in to the installer which should make for some amazingly fast compute node installations.

    I always love to see progress being made in Linux-based clustering technology. Congrats to the Rocks team for getting this (beta) release out the door.

  • Is It Hot in Here?

    No CPU Frequency Scaling

    Breezy Badger has been treating me quite well for the past few weeks. We’ve had our moments, like the other day a software update left me X-less (that was fixed by apt-get dist-upgrade --fix-missing), but all in all I’ve been quite happy.

    Today I was greeted with a note letting me know that my laptop would be running a little warmer and faster than usual after a kernel update. I’m guessing that later today or tomorrow another fix will come out calming things down again. If not, I’ll file a ticket. Things have been amazingly stable considering the sheer quantity of updates that I’ve been applying almost daily.

    The Badger Rules!

    Update: Just as I thought, the kernel update I applied this evening fixed the issue and I’m speed steppin’ again.

  • Breezy, Baby!

    Breezy Update

    I’ve finally completed backups and have successfully installed Breezy Badger, (the October Ubuntu Linux release) on my laptop.

    I ran Hoary (the current release) for serveral months before it was out and overall it was rock stable for me. I had some issues with early preview releases of Breezy, but so far everything looks great. I’m installing a tonne of updates and after that I’m going to take a look around and see what there is to see. Here are some things I am going to be looking at/getting up and running:

    • NDISWrapper (done and completely painless with ndisgtk)
    • ACPI support and in particular suspend/resume
    • RestrictedFormats for Breezy. I need my mplayer and codec support.
    • Finding and installing development tools
    • Reconfiguring Evolution (done)
    • Reconfiguring Gaim (done, I’m up to 8 accounts and haven’t bothered to look up my ICQ#)
    • Poking and prodding
  • Nokia 770 Gains FCC Approval

    I had completely missed this, but aparently the Nokia 770 was approved by the FCC on Friday. Thanks for the heads up, Koen! Everyone in #maemo is drooling right about now.

    Here’s some more information in PDF form:

  • WordPress Trackback Validator Plugin

    I just saw the WordPress Trackback Validator plugin fly by my aggregator and immediately installed it. I knew Dan online back in middle school, so with this endorsement, I installed it instantly:

    The Computer Security Lab at Rice just released the first public version of the Trackback Validator plugin for WordPress blogs. Since I’ve been using it, I’ve had 100% classification accuracy on Trackbacks (read: every legit Trackback makes it through, not a single spam Trackback). Maybe Trackback isn’t quite so dead after all.

    The system checks to make sure that the URL of the trackback links to your page. This reminds me a lot of Sam Ruby’s feedback mechanism. As a bonus, there’s a great use of sparklines in the plugin page.

  • Mono on ARM

    Thanks to ljl for pointing this out in #maemo:

    People may be interested to know that the initial pass at the JIT port to ARM is in svn.
    make test in mono/tests reports 123 pass, 70 fail.
    Most of the regression tests in mini/ work as well.

    Nice! There are still some hurdles to be overcome, but this is great news.

  • My New Class 1 Bluetooth Dongle

    I’ve had a trusty low power Bluetooth dongle for a couple of years now, but I jumped on the opportunity to pick up a Hawking Tech HBTC1 Class 1 adapter for $10 after rebates at CompUSA. I wasn’t able to determine on the taco if this puppy worked with Linux or not, but I decided that It would be useful even if it didn’t for $10.

    Unfortunately the definitive listing of Bluetooth devices that work under Linux with BlueZ has been taken off the air:

    Whether or not you’re selling them makes no difference. The problem is due to the distribution of them from your Web site. Please note that the use and distribution of non-qualified products is a violation of the Bluetooth License Agreement. As neither of these products have been qualified using Linux it is illegal to make them available for public use.

    Total bummer. For the time being anyway you can find the list thanks to The Internet Archive. My Hawking tech device wasn’t listed, but I can assure you that at least hcitool scan works just fine.

  • Hula Visual Upgrade

    Nat shows off the sexy new interface to Hula. The screencast looks quite impressive. Hula has definitely come a long way in a short time, even though it was an awesome little project when it was released as open source.

  • Why I Miss CrashRecovery

    Session Saver

    CrashRecovery never treated me like this. SessionSaver never was able to recover from this happy fun loop. Then again, it has worked correctly almost all of the other times, so I really shouldn’t be complaining.

  • Bochs on the PSP

    Bochs on PSP

    Matan Gillon (Zi` to us in #mobitopia) has just released Bochs for the PSP. He has successfully run Windows 95 and command line Linux under Bochs on his PSP. It may not be zippy, but the sheer fact that it runs at all is amazing:

    Windows 95 actually runs quite well but don’t expect it to be a speed demon. It takes about 10 minutes to boot but afterwards it’s pretty usable. I was able to do things like: open “My computer” and browse the virtual hard drive, complete a whole game of Minesweeper and run various other applications. Now you too can get your Minesweeper fix on the go 🙂

  • Using Asterisk with Gizmo

    This wiki page contains instructions for setting up Asterisk to use your Project Gizmo account for both incoming and outgoing calls. It’s a nice little hack and sounds like a perfect way for me to tinker with outbound VoIP using a spare box and a generic card that I picked up on Ebay months ago. BroadVoice‘s Bring Your Own Device plans also sound worthwhile.

    I’m extremely impressed with the configurability of Asterisk. You can do just about anything you can imagine with it, including routing incoming calls based on caller ID info, and extremely complex outbound routing. With the right configuration it’s no big deal to use POTS for outgoing local calls and even multiple VoIP accounts if one has cheaper rates in a partiucular area, all matchable by dial string.

    It’s definitely overkill for a simple answering machine, but it’s truly powerful platform.

  • Swik is Slick

    Swik by SourceLabs is really awesome. It’s part wiki and part search engine. I first heard about it through the Django page, but have since poked around and there’s a lot of great information there. There’s a plethora of information on Ajax and related technologies, platforms, and projects. Swik is also folksonomy-enabled (buzzword++). For example, here’s the framework tag, python tag and java tag.

    It’s a great little service.