Belated Ada Lovelace day post

I'm a day late, but the Ada Lovelace Day project seems like a great idea, so I'd hate to miss out.

My nominee for Ada Lovelace Day is Anne Nicolas, Engineering Director at Mandriva. She doesn't have a blog, unfortunately. Anne's been working at Mandriva (previously at Edge-IT, which was bought by Mandriva) for over five years. She does an excellent job at the notoriously difficult task of managing a bunch of hackers, and her own technical skills are second to none. She was also a fantastic manager to me personally while I was at Mandriva. Thanks Anne! Here's an interview with Anne which was printed in Distrowatch Weekly back in October 2007.

Fedora 11 NVIDIA / nouveau test day on Thursday

It's nearly time for the big one!

Thursday is the NVIDIA / nouveau Test Day for Fedora 11. The nouveau driver is replacing the older nv driver for NVIDIA cards in Fedora 11, and we need widespread testing to make sure it works properly on as many cards as possible. We're doing everything we can to make this test day really easy to join in: a live CD with the latest nouveau code will be available for both i586 and x86-64 architectures, and there's a simple set of just three (plus one optional) test cases to run. All you need is a computer with an NVIDIA graphics card.

So, if you have an NVIDIA card and half an hour to spare, please visit the wiki page, download the live CD (when it's available, it's not up quite yet), run through the test cases and report your results. If you're free on Thursday, join #fedora-qa on IRC to discuss your testing in real time with other testers, the nouveau maintainer Ben Skeggs, and the Fedora QA team, who'll be on hand to help with any problems. See this page if you don't know how to use IRC. We really need as much testing as possible on this one! Even if you use another distribution (hi, Mandriva readers!) you can use the live CD to test, and the results will ultimately benefit your distribution too, because all distributions are likely to switch to the nouveau driver in the future, and all Fedora's work on the driver is of course contributed upstream (in fact, Ben is one of the leading upstream developers of nouveau). Thanks a lot, everyone.

Even smoking!

There's a great article on CBC (Canadian national broadcaster) today, about the last porno theater in Vancouver. The particular sentence that tickled me (and others in the comments) was:

"During a series of visits by police in uniform in 2008, Jarvie says officers witnessed sex acts, an overwhelming unpleasant pungent odour, puddles of body fluids and excrement, and even patrons smoking."

Yes, people having sex in a movie theater, leaving the proceeds and...excrement...lying around is bad enough - but they were smoking too! SMOKING, for pity's sake!

Can you tell Vancouver's a West Coast town?

News from the Poulsbo front

So, two interesting pieces of news from the Poulsbo front.

First, hopeful indications on the driver development front. Phoronix presents it fairly negatively, but the key thing here is that Intel guys are actively working on providing the driver in a form that's generally usable: that's clear from the discussion. Reading between the lines, they seem to be planning to provide the existing messy and partly closed source driver in a form that will be usable on something beyond just Ubuntu 8.04 in the short term, and in the long term, rewrite the driver so that it's fully open source.

Secondly, thanks to a hot tip in the comments to my original post, I've actually got native resolution display on my Vaio P now. That's the good news. The bad news is that it's still slow, and somewhat tricky to configure.


Forget about uvesafb and all that crap. Adam Jackson has the goods, as usual. He poked me on IRC and asked me why I hadn't just figured out why the plain vesa driver wasn't given native resolution, which was a good question that I didn't have a good answer for - should've been the first thing I did when I booted it. It turns out to be a classic issue: DDC/EDID probe of the monitor fails, so it falls back on default vertical/horizontal refresh range values which are too low for the native resolution (1600x768) to be considered valid. Probably you could fix this just by the good old-skool method of hand-coding the appropriate values into the xorg.conf file. However, for Fedora users, it's even easier: there's an updated package (xorg-x11-drv-vesa-2.2.0-3.fc10) coming to Fedora 10 updates soon. That has a fix which gets the panel size by a different method when DDC probe fails, and that solves the problem on the P. So with that package installed, the P will give native resolution with the vesa driver, no messing about.

Thanks to Adam!

Xfce test day tomorrow (2009-03-19)

It's that time again! This week's weekly test day, happening tomorrow (Thursday 2009-03-19) is on Xfce, the plucky little desktop that could. As always, the test day will be happening all day long on the #fedora-qa IRC channel - see this page if you don't know how to use IRC. The maintainer of Xfce in Fedora, Kevin Fenzi, will be on hand to help you test and make sure the shiny new Xfce 4.6 is in good shape for the Fedora 11 release.

We're hoping to have a live CD available to make testing easy for those who can't install Rawhide - there are placeholder links for the live CDs on the Wiki page, hopefully they will be real links by tomorrow morning! So if you're an Xfce fan, please come along and help test to make sure your favourite desktop will be ready for Fedora 11.

Special Test Day tomorrow: DeviceKit

As you may know by now, the QA group for which I shill tirelessly runs regular test days each Thursday to try and get focused testing for some area or another of the upcoming Fedora release.

This Thursday's is on Xfce, so stay tuned for info on that. However, tomorrow - Tuesday - we have a special test day (because Thursday wasn't convenient for the developers): we will be testing DeviceKit. This is a big part of Fedora 11; it's a new bit of infrastructure which takes over from HAL in some ways, in particular in terms of handling storage devices and some power management tasks.

So we need your help to make sure this works properly and doesn't cause any regressions from the HAL-based support in Fedora 10! Please drop by the Wiki page and perform the testing, and join us on #fedora-qa IRC to provide your feedback. All the testing can be done from a live CD, so you don't need a permanent Rawhide installation. If you don't know how to use IRC, see this page. Even if you can't make it to the test day, performing the tests and filling in the results table (and filing bugs if appropriate) will be a big help, so do check out the Wiki page.

Thanks very much for anyone who can help with this event!

Public notice

It occurs to me that any pedestrian who happened to make use of the thoroughfare below my balcony tonight may have observed me committing the terrible faux pas of drinking brandy from a port glass.

Be it hereby noted that I don't care in the slightest.


Selling your stuff? Oh, the horror

This is entirely unrelated to Linux or Red Hat or Fedora in any way, just so's you know.

There's three web comics I read religiously - Penny Arcade, 8-bit Theater, and xkcd. PA seems to have a sort of one-site anti-GameStop campaign going. The comics in this campaign are frequently hilarious - the latest is just brilliant, for e.g.

Despite that, though, I just don't agree with the actual point at all. The PA guys are usually pretty incisive, but I'm not buying their argument here at all. Their argument, condensed, is basically that selling stuff you previously bought is a Terrible Thing because it deprives the person or company who made that original thing of revenue.

Well, um. That's as maybe - people sell stuff they'd bought previously all the time (books, cars, private jets, underwear, anything at all you can find on eBay or Craigslist or the pages of the local buy and sell, really), and the manufacturers of Stuff In General seem to get by regardless. Sure, if you went to a publisher or a car manufacturer or a purveyor of fine underwear and asked them, if they could shut down the resale market for their stuff entirely, they would, they'd probably jump at the opportunity, but most of them are happy to accept that that horse left the stable really quite a long time ago, and no-one is being downright evil in realizing the value of that book, car, private jet or pair of boxers that they're just not really using any more.

PA's position appears to be that all consumers of video games have a Moral Duty to buy games, play them, and put them on a shelf. Should they discover in a month, year or decade that they're not really playing that game any more, they should merely leave it on the shelf and continue to admire it, because if they sell it on to someone else who might actually get some value out of it, that person will not then buy a brand new copy from the publisher, thus depriving the publisher of the revenue and leading to untold woe and misery in the households of game publishers everywhere.

I'm just not seeing the moral force of the argument. As far as I can see it, if I buy Stuff from you, it's now my Stuff. I bought it in order to use it. If I can no longer get any value from it, it's really not my moral duty to consider your interest in whether I sell it or not. That ship sailed. Even if my selling of my Stuff causes StuffCo to lose a sale of new Stuff, that's not going on my moral ledger. Here's the deal: if StuffCo wants me to hang on to the Stuff so they can sell more of it, it's their damn job to make the Stuff so useful and/or compelling that I don't want to sell on my Stuff. As applied to games, this means you make a game that's so damn good / replayable / collectible / heavy / something that I don't want to finish it and sell it on to someone else. And if you don't, then it's just too damn bad, and you have no-one to blame but yourself. It's your job to figure out your economics so that you can continue to produce Stuff at a profit, it's not my job to sacrifice my own best interests.

I also find a bit a bit perverse that PA seems to be perfectly happy to allow, or even bang in favour of, publishers attempting to resolve this little dilemma not by improving the quality / replayability / weight of their product, but by using restrictive licensing and DRM on digitally delivered games to make it impractical for people to sell on the game once they don't want to play it any more. This really just isn't the best approach to take, in the long run, for anyone's interest. If you try to use artificial restrictions to force people to keep the product, rather than make them want to, in the end you're just damaging your reputation and making people less likely to buy the stuff in the first place. They'll think twice about dropping $50 on a game they're only going to play for five hours if they know they can't sell it on for $25 afterwards, and then everyone's worse off.

Intel graphics driver test day tomorrow (Thursday March 12th)

This is a big one, folks!

The Intel graphics driver is one of the most important in a distribution, as many many people use Intel-based graphics hardware. There are extensive changes coming to the intel driver in Fedora 11 - see the feature page for some details. Tomorrow - apologies for the short notice - we will be having a Test Day for the intel driver, in #fedora-qa on Freenode IRC as usual (see how to use IRC). You will, unfortunately, need Rawhide to test - there's too many changed components to backport to Fedora 10 for testing. Rawhide isn't installable today. It may work tomorrow, but you'd be best off installing Fedora 10 or Fedora 11 Alpha and then updating to Rawhide via yum (see this known issue for upgrading to Rawhide from Alpha).

We really really need wide testing of the new Intel driver stuff for 11, to make sure it works on all (or at least most...) hardware. If you have an Intel video adapter, please ideally come out to the test day tomorrow, but even if you can't, take a look at the Wiki page, run through the tests listed there, and submit your results - it's all documented on the page and it should be easy to step through. We need you to help make sure this is working well. Thanks a lot.