29 May 2008

Fedora Weekly Webcomic: A release name

Who doesn't enjoy taking sides in a megatheread?

[fedora webcomic]

PS: If you think I am not funny enough, just hit me with ideas in comments.

27 May 2008

A meme enabled Planet

There are a lot of cool things about the new and simplified procedure to get added on Planet Fedora but what's the coolest one?

It is not that we avoid a human bottleneck, like Seth may gets abducted by aliens, brainwashed and decide to play a Jeff Waugh on us, we know and trust Seth.

It is not that Planet Fedora gets more open, empowering its contributors even more, lowering the barrier to entry and showing, once again, what an open community should be.

And it is not that this will filter out some people who got aggregated by chance, without being really Fedora contributors.

The coolest thing is that Planet Fedora just got meme enabled.

 Do you remember a few years ago when all the rage on various Planet aggregators was to use South Park characters as hackergotchis (made with an online Flash tool)? Some planets still use them...

Of course the South Park meme is old, but we can be kittens, astronauts, ninjas, rock stars, robots or whatever else is the meme of the week just by changing one line in a .planet file. So start your memes...

Note: it would be cool if we had a tool to create characters, like a skinable web application or skins for a potato game (to bad KTuberling is KDE and not in the default desktop).

For those who do not want to play memes, just have a plain hackergotchi, just make your image fit visually the layout of Planet Fedora, that means an icon of about 96x96 pixels, we have currently a few which are a bit too large making the aggregator look kind of buggy. And do not forget we are running a service for those who can't do their own hackergotchi, do not hesitate to ask.

26 May 2008

Echo icons. Tips: guides and grids.

A bit of history

There are two years since the first mockup (no picture, the particular wiki page is dead) for what was going to become the Echo icon theme (at the time it was just "Bluecurve and Beyond") appeared. It was a rough preview (~20 icons) made by Diana.
Honestly, the icons sucked a lot - bloated SVG made with Illustrator, no standard size, no guidelines and so... but a lot of us, bored by the already old Bluecurve and not convinced by Tango, got excited and put some hope in it.


 After a while, without a maintainer, with poor infrastructure (a wiki page), no guidelines and poor SVGs and few active contributors, the development slowed down.
Then Luya and Martin stepped in, took over the maintenance, worked hard on guidelines, a new hosting infrastructure and a number of cool looking icons which are used in various places around Fedora.
The plan is ambitious: to get the icon theme in a state so it can be considered as a default for Fedora 10. The plan is hard but not unattainable. In needs more contributors. It needs you.


Icon development is not my filed of expertise, I have contributed to Echo only a few remixes in the early days, but I like to learn. So here is my idea: show some basic tips to encourage others to put they own tips, generate a healthy exchange of information, learn from each other and encourage new blood.

One of the hard part about the Echo icon theme is that it uses an axonometric (not that is not isometeric) view for the large view, and the creation of such icons have a level of difficulty. So you need to use a kind of helper - the old way was to import a SVG showing a grid, draw on top of it and then delete it (the source is available in the guidelines page):

[SVG grid]

Now Inkscape 0.46 comes with improved features: angled guides and axonometric grids, making your life (and icon creation) easier.

Drag and drop from the top ruler a grid line, double click on it, rotate with 24.5 degrees:
[SVG guide]

Drag another grid and rotate it with -16.25 degrees (at least, those are the values I measured):
[SVG guide]

Now use these two guides to help you drawing the nice perspective (press "|" to toggle their visibility on/off):
[SVG guide]

While the guides are only a visual reference, a grid can be more effective: it is more dense and also allow snapping to its nodes. Its visibility can be toggled on/off using "#".
So use File -> Document Properties, go to the Grids tab and create a new Axonometric grid with a 16.25 degrees X angle, 24.5 degrees Y angle and whatever value you like/need for Y spacing:
[SVG grig]

22 May 2008

Fedora Weekly Webcomic: Webcomic 2.0

As disappointing as it may be, my countdown has ended and it was related to my webcomic... sorry if you had greater expectations :D

Anything that's put on the web is measurable and the measurements for my Fedora webcomic showed unsatisfactory results, so I had two options either to drop it or make it better. Being excessively stubborn, dropping was not an option so the only way remaining was trying to improve, and as I can't improve the humor (as it defines me as a person) I worked on the graphics. So here is today's edition:

[fedora webcomic 2.0]

Along with the new graphics, I came with a new process, based on a clipart style, with pre-defined images which can be quickly assembles in a comic strip. I also introduced a new website for the webcomic, showing the latest issues (extracted from my blog) but also a number of goodies: the Romanian translation but, probably more important, what I like to call the cast of characters, a page containing a number of characters I imagined I could use, with full source available as SVG and a short description (this can be improved) and also a lot of images which can and will be used: items, emotions, strip templates (all with the corresponding sources), so anyone can create his own webcomic.

Here is a teaser:
[fedora webcomic]

21 May 2008

Narro for beginners - screencast

As the title says, it is a screencast, which is narrated in Romanian, so it may not be that useful for my English readers, but if you find it useful, just ask for a transcript and one can easily do a voice over in another language.

At the recent Romanian Fedora release party one of the speaker was Alexandru, who talked about his web-based translation tool, Narro and how it can be used to translate Fedora and other FOSS applications.
Those reading my blog probably know that I like Narro, so as promised at the release party, I did a screencast for beginners (OGG Theora video):

[narro screencast]

At my suggestion, Alexandru added today Inkscape to the various programs which are included in translation, so there may be hope for having this application translated into Romanian, just watch the screencast and get contributing to the translation (Fedora, Inkscape, GIMP, Firefox, OpenOffice.org, whatever you like).

In other news, something is really close, with only one day remaining:

20 May 2008

Lame blog post

This is the perfect example of a lame blog post: I was super busy today all day long, without the time to write a proper post (I had two subjects in my mind, one involving a screencast for translators and another a couple of tips for icon creation) but at the same time I wanted to test Seth's changes at Planet Fedora (more about coolness potential in it in a future post) and I had to update the countdown, as it is close to finish, so sorry for the noise.


19 May 2008

Fedora 9 - Romanian Release Party

The subject says all: Sunday 18 May we had a small Release Party for Fedora 9 in Bucharest. First I will scare you with a few ugly photos made with my phone (resized from GIMP so they are not that ugly):

[f9 ro] [f9 ro] [f9 ro]

As you can see, we had an live USB creation station, free stuff (install DVDs, stickers) and even some beer after the event.

But fear not, there are better photos coming, the first batch from Adrian is hosted on our official gallery (more form him later tonight):
[f9 ro] [f9 ro]

Expect this space to get updated with more links as I'll find the photos taken by other people.

Update: some meaty photos from wolfy, showing not only people but also snippests from the presentations:
[f9 ro] [f9 ro] [f9 ro] [f9 ro]

Of course the party was not trouble-free: of course we had problems with the internet pipe, of course everybody who brought the laptop forgot to check the installation of the livecd-tools package and of course everybody expected it to be on the install DVD (is not), but in the end everything got solved. And it was fun.

And BTW, here is the obligatory (aren't you tired of it already?):

15 May 2008

Fedora Weekly Webcomic: Smell the Sulphur

One more webcomic created in April (the last one, cross my heart), but this time I have an excuse: it was made for the release week the release got delayed, so my webcomic too (but next week...)

[fedora webcomic: sulphur]

With my effort to translate it into Romanian I inflicted the translation pain of having to translate untranslatable expressions and play-on-words, which reminded me why I hate translations.

And 8-1=7:

14 May 2008

Translating Fedora into Romanian with Narro

You may remember when I talked is some older posts about how awesome Alexandru Szasz is, now here is the latest cool thing he is up to and which I think deserve recognition: he just added Fedora in his web-based translation tool, Narro, for translation into Romanian:

[narro translation tool]

Just for kicks, I translated about 100 Fedora strings and it was a snap (well, I have already used the tool, translating for Firefox, Thunderbird and OpenOffice.org). There is an initiative to get the Romanian community involved in this and maybe (just maybe, it is early to say) get something ass-kicking for F10 (not that hard, the translation is currently at 39% from about 15000 stings).

In a somewhat related matter, I dis a "fedora translation" search on Google and got amused by the sponsored link shown at the top of the page (the one on yellow background). I guess that's so-called "friendly competition"...
[fedora translation search]

And jumping to an unrelated matter (is it really unrelated?) that's today's counter:

13 May 2008

Just a few more hours...

I am not a fan of their music, but when when I learned about the second album released by NIN under a CreativeCommons license, I fired up by BitTorrent client to download and see what's about it.
But starting the client activated the seeding for my previous uploads, with an interesting surprise:

torrent downloads

Guys, stop downloading the pre-release ISOs, those are ooold... the real deal is going to get live in a few hours, just wait a bit. Or, if you can't stand the heat, use a leaked torrent, they are all over the place, but make sure to verify the SHA1SUM before installing... (me taunts my buddy who refuses to use a leaked torrent and tries to find an unprotected FTP and continues seeding the previews, they will get yum update'd tot he final version).

Oh, and I didn't forgot (yet):
[9 days]

12 May 2008


There is and on-going meme on the Romaian "blogosphere" and I am going with it: Marius Tuca is an onanist. That is very clear from his recent article.

For my English readers: the guy is a well known Romanian journalist (written press and TV) who recently published a piece where he calls the Romanian bloggers "onanists", here is my translation of a quote from the above-mentioned article: "...Romanian bloggers are nothing else than worms who got to the surface without having something to say, ready to flood the space with banalities and originalities known and told by everyone, in a common masturbation..."

In unrelated news, I keep counting down:

09 May 2008

Photos of people

Is not hard to imagine cool stuff we can do with photos of people, see gregdek's idea about hackergotchi stickers, the old call for photos by Mo to promote spins, or a couple of ideas from me (Anaconda slides or fp.o front page banners), you know, things which could "emphasize the human nature of Fedora and the people behind the project" (he, he).

But we have a big blocker: lack of such photos... photos of Fedora contributors and enthusiasts which we allow us to use their photos (the approval part is very important).

So here is an idea: next week Fedora 9 release parties will gather all around the world a lot of right people in the right mood, so get your cameras, get approval from the subjects and let the photos flood. I am sure we can find crafty way to put them to good use.

Even if you are feed-up with my countdown, I still continue:

I find amusing how people think I may be going to marry, shave my beard or get a better job... not gonna happen, keep trying :p

08 May 2008

Weekly Fedora Webcomic: Robots

Powering robots since 2005. 'Nuff said. Now bow to your robotic overlords.

[fedora webcomic: robots]

If you noticed the date for this comic, yes, it was made in April and the next issue is also made in April (that one was made for the release week and I had to delay it) but, I promise, after that there is a surprise waiting...

Last week experimented with translations for the webcomic, without success which drives me to one of those two conclusions: either is to complicated to use PO files and translating directly from Inkscape is simple enough, or I have to grow the webcomic and improve its quality to become translation worthy, so back to simple SVG this week.

I didn't forgot about the mysterious countdown, here is the current count:

07 May 2008

F10 Gears: Using some feedback

Before going to the meat of this post, here is a new instance of my mysterious countdown (the bets are still open):


After my last piece about colouring the Gears in an old paper style I got some interesting feedback (not sure if that was because what I did was good and stimulated people or because it was bad and prompted for corrections). Anyway, let's play a bit with the feedback:

Jude reminds me of the sculpting tool, one of the awesome features introduced in Inkscape 0.46, which I could have used instead of node simplification. It should be used in roughenmode:

To get something like this:

Greg is not happy with the amount of blur I used to soften the contours, and recommend either a different color for to just blur the edges:

For something like this:

Ryan points me to an alternate way to greate the paper-like texture, using the feTurbulence filter.
So I duplicated the background and got the the Filters dialog:
gears gears

Here I applied a Turbulence effect:

Then color Matrix in Saturate mode to make it black and white:

And some Gaussian Blur to blend it into the image:

And here is the result, take the steps (original or alternate) you find useful for your own case:

06 May 2008

Countdown to what?

I was so carried away with the idea of the Fedora 9 release countdown that I couldn't stop myself from creating a counter for a "personal" project (the counter is plain and boring: static images, without any scripting or autoupdate):

16 days

Now, obviously, the bets are open for what I am counting down to...

05 May 2008

Why should I "fight" for desktop linux? or Has Red Hat betrayed me?

Sorry for the delay, this happens when the feedback is happening elsewhere , clashing with May Day and a weekend. (note: I expected a bit of controversy after the Desktop piece in my webcomic and was wondering about the silence).
As usual, Radu is strong and direct, he says "let's be honest: this is what a fanboy does when he doesn't want to admit the betrayal" (linking to the already famous official position from the Red Hat Desktop Team) but he also ask a question which I think deserves an answer:

"By the way, can you explain why should you fight for "Linux on the desktop", when Red Hat Inc. has stopped doing it?"

And the answer is simple as that: Because *I want* to run Linux on *my* desktop.

And, from what I know, there is a large number of other Fedora contributors who think the same, they want to run Fedora on their desktops and they want a first class experience doing so.
Of course, there is also a large number of Fedora contributors who are content (some are even happy) with running Windows, OS X or that other Linux distro on their desktop (even I know some) and that is their option.

Here is a short Q&A session expanding on the short answer above:

I am disappointed by the Red Hat's position about the desktop?
Sure. I use so-called "traditional desktop". I see the pluses and the minuses of Fedora in this role and understand the need of a large amount of work needed to improve it. And the need of a strong player (and $$$) behind this work.

I feel betrayed by Red Hat in this matter?
The (probably unexpected) answer is: No. You feel betrayed when you have expectations from some entity and see those expectations vanishing in the air. Well, at least in the last 5 years, Red Hat never talked about a frontal assault on the traditional desktop and all the official declarations were against it.

Do I think Red Hat is wrong with that position?
Yes. I think it is short sighted and in a few years will come back and bite them in the ass. But I also think I understand their reasons and can't provide a better solution (and isn't my business of finding one).

Should I care what happens with Red Hat?
To some degree: Yes. I am a Fedora user and a Fedora contributor, Fedora and RHEL are different distros, with different goals and audience. But Red Hat and Fedora are in a symbiotic relation, they will fail or succeed together. And I invested work, time, resources and emotions into Fedora.

I may be completely wrong in my analysis, but I think it is all about bang for the buck, spending your money in an efficient manner. And currently the best return of your investments in the Linux world seems to be on the server side.

Years ago when Red Hat choose to focus on RHEL and changed the old RHL into the Fedora "community", it was a huge outcry, betrayal accusations and flamewars on the entire Linux world. But so far it proved as the correct decision: it created a healthy company growth with a viable business model, which allowed them to expand and hire a lot of great hackers (and not only hackers) to work on various areas, including the desktop.

Desktop is hard, it is a money pit: Corel tried and failed, Linspire tried and failed, Xandros tried and failed, Novell is trying and does not look like succeeding, Ubuntu is still working as a charity and does not appear (so far, but it will come) to try and sustain itself.

Now Red Hat looks like is using the same strategy and focus on JBoss. Money invested there are expected to produce a healthy revenue stream which would allow them to hire even more hackers to work on wonderful things, including the desktop. And we have to take that and be happy with it, even if we wished to see Lunix commercials on TV or so.

Now to the "short sighted" part. While the move to the RHEL/Fedora combo may have proved as a success in terms of revenue, at the same time it acted as one of the primary factors contributing at the creation and success of its primary competition in the Linux world (despite all the collaboration in development, nice talks and Kumbaya singing, the distros are in competition).

And these days, not pushing the desktop is strengthening the competition. Desktop Linux is happening and it is happening elsewhere. And it is important for the server world because it builds mindshare. The desktop users of today are the decision makers of tomorrow - they will decide what to deploy in their corporations, and that most likely will be the server version of the distro they know from their desktop.

From my external point of view (which I acknowledged may be completely wrong) I can see an additional reason: corporate culture. Red Hat, as a corporation, seems to understand the server world well (as shown by the feedback from their customers) but not understand so well the consumer desktop (looking at some RH desktop initiatives: OLPC is a failure, going to Windows, RHGD has silently died, GNOME Online Desktop is a few RPMs in F9, but nothing in the Feature List, Mugshot is in the same boat as GOD). Usually is a god thing to stay with what you know and do it as best as you can, and Red Hat may be doing just that.

01 May 2008

Weekly Fedora Webcomics: the Desktop

Do you remember the Fedora stickers kit I talked a about a few days ago? Here is an usage suggestion:

[red hat and the desktop]

And in related news, my webcomic goes international! With baby steps, of course.

The first attempt was made by myself, I translated by hand the SVG (this is the advantage of having access to the source) and created a webcomic section on the Romanian Fedora community website.

On a strange coincidence, about at the same time lkundrak asked me for PO files, for proper translation, which make me to think of a proper solution. Then all I had to do was to remember I read a while ago about a piece by Andy about translating SVG, search for it and:

Create the English PO from the source SVG:
xml2po -a -o the_desktop.en-US.po the_desktop.svg

Create the Romanian PO from the source SVG:
xml2po -a -o the_desktop.ro-RO.po the_desktop.svg

Edit the translation (with gtranslator), save, create the Romanian SVG, export as PNG (with Inkscape) and publish it:
xml2po -a -p the_desktop.ro-RO.po the_desktop.svg > the_desktop.ro.svg

Now to get an infrastructure, to publish the source and the PO a few days in advance, to coordinate with translators, that is an effort. And I am not sure there is demand for it (and I lack the experience and time to set it up).

Note: making the SVG play nice with POs and translation required me to use some flowed text, a SVG feature not supported by Firefox 3 or EOG, so there are downsides.