Jan
04

Challenges in 2015

Champagne Showers by Merlin2525You might have noticed that I decided to run for the openSUSE Board. And as we shortly have a new year and everybody is evaluating the past and the future, I will do the similar, mainly focusing on few of the challenges that I see laying in front of the openSUSE Board in 2015.

SUSE/openSUSE relation

I heard it being mentioned several times over and over. SUSE and openSUSE are two different things. But at the same time, they are pretty close. Close enough to be confusing. We have similar yet slightly distinct branding. Similar yet slightly distinct name and we have a clear overlap in terms of contributors. For people inside the project, it is easy to distinguish the entities. For people outside, not so much.

There was a nice talk by Zvezdana and Kent on openSUSE Conference about our branding. Part of the talk and one thing that people notice about openSUSE and SUSE is our logo. SUSE keeps updating it and it’s getting different over the time. On the other hand openSUSE logo stays the same. One open question from the talk was how to fix it. Either start diverging with our branding or get closer together. I know this is mainly question for the artwork team, but as will affect all of us, there should be broad discussion and as it involves logo and trademark, there need to be SUSE and board involved.

Apart from the logo/branding, there is also a technical aspect of the relation. We all say that openSUSE is the technical upstream of SLE. Things are being developed and tested in openSUSE and then adopted by SLE. But sometimes it is vice versa, as SUSE needs to develop some feature for SLE or one of it’s service packs and push it there. And as SLE and openSUSE schedules are unrelated, sometimes they can’t push it in openSUSE first. Even after the release openSUSE and SLE starts diverging and come together once in five years or so when it is a time to release a new SLE. It’s kinda shame, that we can’t help each other more often. It would be great to get SLE and openSUSE closer together in mutually beneficial way. But this is not going to be an easy nor fast discussion, again involving quite some teams/people. And I believe the Board should act as mediator/initiator in this discussion as well.

openSUSE Release

While talking about the release, we still have officially 8 months release cycle (or more precisely whenever coolo says so release cycle). It would be nice to have some decision that since we release two last releases after 12 months, maybe we are switching to one year release cycle. Or decide to stick with eight months. Or go for something completely different. But again, the point is, this is the hard discussion to have, but I beleive we have to start it and have a clear outcome of it, so people can kinda count on it. There is not much for board to do in this apart from calming heated discussion, but maybe it would make a sense to delay start of this discussion after the SLE openSUSE relation discussion (which probably needs to have board involved) and take the results of it into account. I personally think it definitely makes sense to at least align SLE and openSUSE schedules a little bit…

Conference

Last year we had a great conference in Dubrovnik. It was an awesome place, quite some interesting discussions as every year, but unfortunately not that many people. I liked it and hats off to the organizers, but we need to figure out what went wrong and why not so many people showed up in person. I hope for the best in Hague and that this years conference will see again plenty of people, but although the last conference was great, loosing people attending our most important event – openSUSE Conference – was also kinda disturbing… So we will see what happens in the Hague.

The rest

I’m sure there will be other challenges as well. In fact, even I would like more stuff to happen in the current year. But for those things, I don’t need a board, I can do or at least start them myself. Those few that I just mentioned are only those that I see as important, in need of some involvement from the board and being not yet entirely solved from the last year. Hopefully all of them will be solved in next year and we will have different problems, like how to find even the most subtle bugs as all other ones are solved and how to change the world for the better and whether is there still anything left to improve after everything we did in 2015 🙂

Dec
18

Running for The Board

Hi everybody, openSUSE elections are just around the corner and I decided to step forward and run for the seat in The Board. For those who don’t know me and would like to know why consider me as an option, here is my platform.

Who am I?

I’m about 30 years old, live in Prague and I love openSUSE (and Gentoo 😉 ). SUSE 6.3 was my first Linux distribution, I went through som more and I actively joined the openSUSE community more than six years ago. I was for five years working for SUSE as openSUSE Boosters and package maintainer. I was also part of the Prague openSUSE Conference organization team. Nowadays I work for company called Eaton (in open source team), but I still love openSUSE, have plenty of friends in both SUSE and openSUSE, poke some packages from time to time and I’m spreading open source in general and openSUSE in particular wherever I go (we have few openSUSE servers at work now, yay).

What I see as a role of board and what I would like to achieve there?

I see the role of board as a supporter and caretaker. Board is here to do the boring stuff and to enable everybody else to make amazing things within the project. To encourage people to do new things, to smoother rough edges, remove obstacles, listen to the people and try to bring them together. Also if needed, defend the project from possible threats, but I don’t see any at the horizon currently 🙂

What would I like to achieve? Wold domination? Probably not as I don’t think that the board is here to choose direction. But if you have a cunning and ethical plan how to do that, I think board should do everything possible to support you. But on more serious note, openSUSE as a distribution had a challenging year, went through some changes lately and I believe that thanks to the current board we managed to go through it quite well. But I alsi think there are more challenges in front of  us and I would like help to make our future path as smooth as possible.

Why vote for me?

Why vote for me especially if I don’t promise pink ponies and conquering the world? Well, I promise that I will do my best to support you and help project to move in whatever direction it wants. Even if it means pink ponies and conquering the world 😉 I always listen to the others and I’m trying to resolve everything peacefully. I’m almost always smiling and it’s hard to piss me off. So almost no matter what I’ll keep calm, patient and will try to resolve challenges peacefully and to satisfy all interested parties.

Nov
24

Me, Raspberry Pi and old TV

In September I visited Akademy in Brno. It was close and sounded interesting (and it was). I met there Bruno and Francoise and tried to help them a little bit with openSUSE booth they organized. It was cool, wasn’t sure how many people I will know there, but I met Cornelius on my way to the venue and when we arrived there, there was already openSUSE booth – really great surprise 🙂 But getting to the point of this post (which is not the Akademy), there was a lottery where people could won Raspberry Pi. I already have better ARM board at home, but as I depend on that one as a home server so I can’t play with it that much anymore, I joined anyway. And to my surprise I won! As I had to leave before the draw, I have to thank Bruno and Francoise for fetching it up and sending it to me, so big thanks to them for everything!

I played with it, found out that getting video output running is super easy, openSUSE 13.2 runs there nicely, so I decided to put it into one specific use right now 🙂

Getting smart TV

TV & RPiI live in rented flat, which was already equipped with TV when I rented it. It is the old CRT one. One of the advantages of Raspberry Pi contrary to the most of the boards out there is that it supports video output even for those legacy technologies. So let’s make some use of it and convert dumb CTR into something that can play movies and streams available online.

First obvious thing I tried was mpv. Didn’t managed to get framebuffer output working, didn’t managed to get wayland working, resolved to the X11 and found out that it can’t play movies smoothly. I was playing with some options, frame dropping and such but didn’t helped. So I started googling how to use hardware acceleration. And I found one disturbing piece of information.

There is hardware acceleration in Pi, but some of the codecs are locked out and you have to pay license fee to unlock functionality your device was shipped with. That sounds crazy. You get a device where parts of it are intentionally locked out so they can ask you for more money to allow you to use hardware you already bought. I understand that problem isn’t the foundation selling Raspberries, but legal protection against stupid patent laws mainly in US, nevertheless, it is silly. Luckily, h264 codec is enabled by default and codecs that you have to unlock this way are only mpeg, which almost noone uses nowadays, and some VC-1 I never heard about before and doubt that anyone ever used. So to get my Raspberry to be Smart TV, I didn’t have to give in to the patent trolls extortion.

So after a little ranting, how do I use that hardware acceleration? I was searching for some vaapi/vdpau abstraction, but haven’t found any. Luckily it didn’t matter much because I found something maybe even better – OMXPlayer. It is standalone video player, that has support for hardware accelerated video playback and works directly with framebuffer so no need for X anymore. Tricky part is that there is an upstream which looks dead and fork that looks pretty much alive. I found that after week of using the original upstream when I started searching for solutions to some of my problems. So don’t bother with upstream, use fork directly. Using this I’m able to play h264 movies and streams (like TV) on my old CRT TV.

Controlling it

Controlling TV via ssh is fun, but not that user friendly. So I decided to cook up some proof of concept of remote web UI. I know I could use XBMC and probably would be better of, but I want my Pi be idle when it is idle and how hard could be to cook something up, right? So I cooked up something really terrible but working 🙂 It is just a bunch of cgi scripts that needs to be run from webserver under user with enough privileges. And it has plenty of disadvantages (like UX, speed and security), but works for me although I will probably have to spend some time on usability soon cause it is starting to hurt even me 🙂

Few last remarks

Yes, it is possible to make Raspberry Pi into TV player running openSUSE without having to resort to XBMC. But I still believe, that no matter what you want, there is better hardware available for similar price. If you are interested in multimedia, take a look at Matchstick. If in home server, there is plenty of Allwinners around, like Banana Pi, Cubie Board (my home server) or Cubie Truck (home server I would choose now).

Apr
03

Help MariaDB gather some statistics!

MariaDB logoI was browsing around the Internet (don’t remember what for) and I accidentally found one cool aspect of MariaDB. There is a feedback plugin and this short post is meant to encourage you to use it!

Ok, so what it does and why should you opt-in to be spied on 🙂 It takes some information about your MariaDB server including it’s usage and it will send it to the MariaDB folks. It doesn’t send private data from your database. It sends stuff like what OS are you running, what version of various plugins, how did you tweaked the default settings and also how big and how busy is your server. Now a short list of why I turned this on:

  • Why not? Doesn’t cost me anything, nothing from the data I send is secret.
  • When I develop an application, I’m always happy when somebody uses it. This is an easy way how to tell developers, that they have here one happy user 🙂
  • Easy way to contribute. It’s really simple to turn it on, it will help MariaDB folks make better database and doesn’t require much effort from my side.
  • Selfish reason – if they see that plenty of people use MariaDB the same way I do, they will focus more on my use case 🙂

But all these data are not only available to them, they are also making some nice graphs out of it. That way, I can find out that there is at least another 27 guys running latest 10.0.10. Also I found out that there is not many reports from openSUSE folks. And that is one of the reasons to write this blog. If you are running MariaDB on openSUSE, please turn feedback plugin on to show that we have plenty of people using MariaDB 🙂

How can you turn it on? Simple, login to your database and activate the plugin using following command:

INSTALL PLUGIN feedback SONAME 'feedback';

Now just wait till your reports will show up in statistics. If I got you interested, you can read more about the plugin on MariDB website (it can report to any url, not only MariaDB one, you can use it for monitoring). While waiting, browsing already collected statistics is also interesting 😉

Mar
20

My Jolla applications

One of the things, that I really like about Jolla is the technology to write applications. C++ is my favorite programing language and I always admired Qt. At least big parts of it. So when I got my Jolla, I started playing with SDK and writing some simple applications. It was kinda harder than I expected, but I’ll write about there in separate blog post. This one is dedicated to the applications I wrote and to show what do they do. And if you have a Jolla, maybe get you interested in those 😉 Both of them are available via OpenRepos and Harbour.

Hunger Meter

This was the first application I wrote. I was wondering how power hungry are various applications. On Android I used to have CPU usage monitor and I know that surprisingly many applications take advantage of CPU to the full extend which affects a battery life. Since I was writing the application I decided not to go for CPU usage but directly for what I was interested in – battery usage. First version was really simple, it just showed two numbers – current consumption and average (over ten seconds) one. But that already helped me to find out, that if you want to drain your battery fast, use Angry Birds 🙂

I haven’t stopped developing after first version and continued extending functionality. Currently time intervals are configurable, it displays semi-nice graph for the longer interval, displays some basic information about battery and collects long time (day and more) statistics. These are not plotted yet, that is part of my TODO.

If you are interested, you can get this application from OpenRepos where is the last development version or from Harbour where is the last stable version (one that was successfully tested in OpenRepos). Sources are available on GitHub and here are few screenshots 🙂

HungerMeter - CoverHungerMeter - Settings

HungerMeter - GraphHungerMeter - Battery

Crest

My second application is also simple. It’s top-like application. Shows processes, how much memory (RSS) and CPU they use, allows you to sort them, filter for GUI applications only and most importantly – allows you to kill processes you don’t like. Not much more to write about in regards to this. Just a set of links to OpenRepos and GitHub and few screenshots.

CrestCrest - kill

End note

I wrote some applications when I was using Palm OS. When I switched to Android, I never forced myself to cope with Java thingy. Although there are some nuisances in developing for Sailfish OS (more about them next time), I’m happily developing applications for my PDA/CellPhone again 🙂 So if you have Jolla and like my ideas for applications, try them. You can report bugs/feature requests via issues page on GitHub, maybe I’ll respond. If you submit the patch, chances that I’ll respond are much higher 🙂

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