Category Archives: Open Source

Open Source, Free Software, and similar

fscons curl talk, part II

Ok, it seems the pricing for the entire conference (7-8 dec 2007) is going to be:

Student: 60 euro
Private: 120 euro
Company: 240 euro

The blurb for my particular talk (that is going to be held in English, mind you) that is scheduled for 13.00 on dec 8 is drafcURLted like below:

curl and libcurl is a free software project for data transfers with well known Internet protocols. It's about to turn 10 years, is downloaded more than 1 million times per year and is the answer to all questions and problems

Daniel Stenberg is the founder and leader of the curl project and will talk about exactly everything that curl is good for, what it does for you, who uses it, who should use it and something about the background, the license, people, development and the culture within the project. Some words about the future and who's paying for the development will also be dealt with.

And no, the official site still hasn't gone live so this is still not possible to read elsewhere!

Rockbox on the iPod Classic?

Let me be perfectly clear on this:

Nobody has done any sufficient research or investigation on the iPod Classics for anyone to tell how feasable a Rockbox port is or not. But, based on the assumption that the firmware and design choices are similar to that of the Nano 2nd generation, it offers great challenges to any hacker wanting to go down this road.Rockbox

Many many people confuse this matter with the recently discussed Apple adding a new checksum to the itunes database, and then the subsequent "crack" of that system. This will only allow Linux-users to use these ipods. It certainly does not in any way make it easier to run alternative firmwares on them.

I would rather say that you should all take this as an indication that Apple really doesn't care one bit about Linux users. In fact, they only care for those who buy their whole package and that package is Windows with itunes or MacOS with itunes. If you're not buying that concept, you should avoid Apple. Yes I really mean that.

To get Rockbox running on these models or any of the other newer ipod versions, we need fearless and skilled people to get players, rip them apart and do some actual hard-core research on how their internals work and how the firmware is stored and how firmware upgrades are made etc. The same old new-rockbox port drill.

There might be "an opening" to this device using the DFU mode.

Update: during July 2009 some people in the #linux4nano-dev channel managed to run code on the nano 2g (thanks to an exploit of an buffer overflow) and since then there have been fierce activity and custom code seem to run on the iPod Classics too. Still a lot of work and problems to overcome for a Rockbox port to become reality.

Open Season

Large RSS feed iconSo I found theregister.com's new podcast Open Season the other day and I listened through the first two episodes the last few days (I spend some time commuting back and forth to work every day), and I must say they do offer a fresh new angle on open source and technology in general.

I'm actually thrilled to have found a new stream of interesting goodies to listen to and I hope they manage to keep the quality and keep delivering in a timely fashion - far too many podcasts stop getting produced after a while or the inter-episode intervals just increase until they're months apart.

Someone should just tell them that they need to provide a nice RSS feed for it so that we can find new episodes easier etc. Ooops. They do have a feed, even though it gets polluted by other stuff too and not just espisodes...

Backwards Compatibility Efforts Gone Broke?

An example from the wild about how hard it can be to satisfy everyone when you're writing and offering a library to the world: with the recent libcurl release suddenly open office doesn't link fine with it.

It turns out these guys have enabled our help-define (CURL_NO_OLDIES) always. The define disables all our backwards compatibility defines/fix and let you check that your application still builds with the latest and doesn't rely on anything that might be removed in the future.

CURL_NO_OLDIES is a convenient define that really suits a purpose. But not really well suited to unconditionally define for all builds since then you of course get these problems when we (in libcurl) rearrange our defines. This problem came to no surprise to us, since we did quite a large rearrangement before this particular release, and I actually expect that these support-defines will be present for a long time ahead.

So not only did they file a Debian bug report on open office, but also on libcurl.

The conclusion: use CURL_NO_OLDIES when you test-build your application against libcurl. Don't leave it in the Makefile unconditionally for future builds.

Rockbox on Sansa View?

Sansa ViewOk, since we have Rockbox on Sansa e200 and e200R working and the support for the c200 series in the pipe, I feel it is about time to make a statement about the possibilities to get Rockbox for the new Sansa View player: it is (most probably) a totally different beast hardware-wise, so it will require a new port with all the associated hard work.

And no, SanDisk has not been in touch with us any further, so I would say it is highly unlikely they will donate any players or similar to us this time.

Once we get to see a detailed dissection with nice hires pictures we can tell for sure, but their talk about 30fps H.264 video in 320x240 resolution implies a major change.

As a summary, the View is indeed SanDisk's iPod Nano killer with double the flash size for the same amount of money, with a microsdhc-port, claimed longer battery life and only slightly thicker.

A funny detail: SanDisk previously did another player called Sansa View that they put on hold just before the summer!

Dissecting iPod Touch

iPod TouchiFixit ripped apart an iPod touch.

Unfortunately these guys continue to just publish lores camera images instead of hires scans, but this pic shows the (Samsung) chip with the Apple logo on it.

Apparently this has a Wolfson codec while the new iPod Classics use a Cirrus chip!

The touch and the iphone seems to have a lot in common internally. Not too surprising really...

The touch is a whopping 120 grams beast, while I thought the SanDisk Sansa e200 players were heavy with their 75 grams...

GSOC Mentor Summit 2007

Rockbox was a participating mentor organization of Google's Summer of Code 2007, and I was the organization administrator in our end. It turned out to be a rather easy job and in the end I didn't end up mentoring anyone.

GoogleNow they're arranging a Summit in Mountain View, California in the beginning of October (like they obviously did last year) and Rockbox as organization is invited to send three representatives. They are even graciously funding people to go there, and they pay for a night at a hotel and food. Very grand indeed.

If my life had been different at this point I would've been thrilled to go there. Now, with two small kids it's just not practically possible. I've already stretched my "allowance" from my family by the upcoming week-long trip to China in mid-October. So while it wouldn't cost me personally much money-wise, it unfortunately doesn't fit right now.

curl and libcurl 7.17.0

Just a short while ago I uploaded the 7.17.0 packages to the curl site, updated the front page, mailed the announcement and submitted an update on freshmeat.

The previous release (7.16.4) was done in haste due to the security issue we got reported, but this time we took our time and I think we've done a pretty good job. The upcoming weeks will tell for sure...

cURLChanges this time include the new OS/400 port, the fact that curl_easy_setopt() now will copy all strings passed to it (previously it referred to the strings the application still had to keep around), SCP and SFTP support now requires libssh2 0.16 or later, the LDAP libraries are now build-time linked like all other third part libs and no longer run-time dlopen() like before and LDAPS is now supported. We also have at least 27 mentioned bug fixes, and possibly a few more actually done but not detailed in the release notes.

There's no soname bump this time, although there have been a fair amount of return code name changes (with backwards compatible #defines added to make older programs still possible to compile), but we have started to add stuff in the TODO that we want to do the next time we actually decide to bump again. The previous bump did cause some havoc so I've learned to not use that card too often...

Unless something bad creeps up, I'm hoping for a good two months or so until 7.17.1 is due. With my autumn plans it might just take a little while longer as well. Time will have to tell.

Enjoy!

DOS means Text Based

I find it very amusing that Windows users all so often refer to the command line as DOS, and I've tried to figure out how we still today frequently get to read users refer to the ancient operating system.

It was in fact still called "MS-DOS prompt" back in windows 98, as shown in this little picture:

windows 98 MS-DOS prompt

I found that even Microsoft themselves refer to the commands you use on the command line as "MS-DOS commands", so perhaps this is a primary reason? Even the producers of Windows confuse and mix the terms "command line" and "MS-DOS"...

When they launched Windows XP they no longer called it MS-DOS Prompt, it was then plain and simple "Command Prompt":

Windows XP command prompt!

We've also seen end users in the Rockbox project refer to the interface as DOS or DOS-style, and there is really nothing what so ever in common with MS-DOS in Rockbox. It is just (by default) a basic text-style interface. It is clear that to many people, a text-based interface be it a music player or a command line window, means DOS.

People are weird.

I am Rude and Mean

I'm the maintainer and admin of a few different open source packages, perhaps most notable in the curl project but I also poke on c-ares and libssh2 and I do a fair amount of work on Rockbox and hang around in a few other projects as well.

I write around 400-500 emails a month, the majority of them to the mailing lists of the projects I'm involved in. I try to respond to questions I know the answer to.

A stop signI'm not sure if I've grown even more grumpy recently or if the world is going downwards, but I've recently been called rude and a scammer in public mailing lists after having answered to mails with a meaning that the guys asking the question isn't exactly trying hard to read up on this, understand the area nor are they reading my answers very good. So what if I'm not always the perfect gentleman or say the right "social" words, I am a hard core tech guy and I answer and talk technical stuff and specific details all day long. That's what I do and that's who I am.

So, I just wanted to let the rest of you know: I am rude and mean and you should know better than to ask anything in a forum I frequent. Or then you can of course stand up against the whiners and help educate the world on how to ask questions and why spoon-feeding users on mailing lists isn't a good idea.

Sticking out your chin in the harsh internet reality, one should expect to get hit like this every now and then and you need to grow pretty thick skin to not let the bad guys get to you. Nonetheless, people in general are nice but it is just too easy for people to get upset and send away very rude mails without any kind of aftermath.

(But I must admit I found the threat to discuss me at a future Zend conference hilarious!)