December 15th, 2008
…well, I watched two hockey games and a lot of football. But other than that…
The official Mandriva Tcl packaging policy is now live. It’s basically the Fedora one with a couple of changes. Thanks, Mysterious Fedora Tcl Policy Writing Guy, whoever you are.
Kompozer – the HTML editor formerly known as nvu – now actually works, in Cooker, and in 2009 if you grab the package from /main/testing (it should show up as an official update soon). Many who use it have discovered that the 2009 package would crash immediately on startup. This was because the code had a buffer overflow in it, and GCC’s code fortification was protecting you from it. Willem van Engen was smart enough to provide a patch to fix the overflow, so thanks to him.
Pygame-based games now work again, in Cooker and 2009. There was a permissions bug stopping anything that used Pygame and relied on its default font from working, which includes at least childsplay.
You can use Portaudio-based applications – the most important of which is Audacity – with PulseAudio now, in Cooker, and in 2008 Spring if you use the packages from /main/testing. I can’t get it into 2009′s /testing because of a problem with the buildsystem. This is pretty neat for anyone who uses Audacity a lot, because previously, you had to either disable PulseAudio, or suspend it while running Audacity. Thanks to Fedora contributor Kevin Kofler for that patch.
Cooker and 2009 /contrib/backports now have a fully working and up to date set of Spring packages. Spring is the open source RTS game engine based on the popular old RTS game Total Annihilation. It’s been around for a while, but has really got smooth in the last couple of years; the game works very well and the springlobby front end makes it very easy to set up online games. I worked with one of springlobby’s authors – ‘braindamage’ on fixing several issues with it, so thanks to him for his invaluable help there. If you haven’t tried Spring in a while, now’s a good time.
Cooker has NVIDIA 180.16. This is utterly untested and may eat your babies. It probably won’t show up in 2009, as the other 180 betas so far haven’t; we’re not keen on the idea of backporting beta releases.
Finally – I’ve been thinking what I’d do if Canonical offered me a job. They haven’t, and I have no indication at all that they will, but I just got to thinking what I’d do if it did happen.
When I first found out I’d be leaving Mandriva I pretty much figured I’d dismiss it out of hand. But since then, a couple of things have happened to change my perspective a bit (won’t go into that), and now I’m not sure. If Ubuntu is going to be the most significant pure desktop commercial distro, I’m not sure if refusing to work on it would be cutting off my nose to spite my face. I have a fairly deep skill set in a very specific area – basically, fixing, hacking around, or otherwise avoiding all sorts of issues with using Linux in a normal, home desktop system, and helping to develop a user community around that. It’s not a skill set that’s very transferable. I know I wouldn’t work for Novell – I respect a lot of the work Novell do, but my objections to the Microsoft deal are a lot deeper than any problem I have with Canonical, I just couldn’t see myself working in that situation. So with them out, the only other two companies really in a position to pay someone to do what I do are Red Hat and Canonical. So if Canonical offered me a job, and the only other option was going back to doing tech support for the local cable company, would turning it down really be the best thing to do, the way I could best contribute in my own small way to the Linux community in future? I’m really not sure. So I don’t entirely know what I’d do. The problems I have with Canonical that I wrote about before haven’t gone away at all, but I don’t know if it would be the right thing to do to refuse on those grounds. It doesn’t seem at all productive, in the end.
If any of you have any thoughts, do let me know. Probably academic anyway, but it’s something that seems important to me personally, if nothing else.