Omphaloskeptical Belated Musings

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Monday 10 May 2010

Ubuntu Developer Summit Started in Brussels

The Ubuntu Developer Summit (UDS) for the upcoming Ubuntu Maverick 10.10 just kicked off with Jono Bacon setting the tone and it's just about fantastic thanks to all the amazing people gathered!

All details are available here.

Tuesday 30 March 2010

Joining Canonical, goodbye Fluendo; goodbye Barcelona, hello Prague!

After what have been 3 fruitful years of focusing on building a simple, usable and beautiful media center it is time for me to move on. I am thrilled to have the unique opportunity to join Canonical's OEM team and have the chance to influence the spread of Ubuntu and free software on a big scale. I started my journey in open source as a Debian user for its solid free software policy and impressive packaging system. Along the way I was tempted by more elitists Linux distributions (such as Gentoo) but something was always missing, something that at the time was a frustration not so much for me but for the potential success of free software on a global scale: ease of use. Discovering Ubuntu Hoary Hedgehog 5 years ago was a revelation: "At last someone got it right!". At least in principle. Since then, bug reporting, bug triaging, advocating in my local community, helping out friends with their use and understanding of free software became second nature.

Now, I will be contributing to making Ubuntu installed and fully functional on various hardware therefore giving more and more fair choices to end users. And to make it even more enjoyable, I will be doing so from the beautiful city of Prague.


Thank you Ubuntu, thank you Canonical.

Wednesday 12 November 2008

The Elisa team is hiring!

Fluendo is looking for enthusiastic developers to join the Elisa crew. Motivation and a genuine will to create a usable and useful piece of software for everyone are the keys for a successful applicant. Special brownie points for those who master: - Python - user interface development (prototyping, animated UIs, empathy, etc.) - C/GObject - cross-platform programming - automated testing (unit testing, user interface automation, etc.)

The team is based in Barcelona: you can expect a lot of sunbathing all year long and a very relaxed atmosphere :)

If you are a talented and rigourous programmer and want to be part of a very dynamic environment, send me an e-mail to

Sunday 19 October 2008

About synchronisation: Evolution and a Nokia E61

Today I wanted to synchronise my data across my laptop (Ubuntu Hardy) and my mobile phone (Nokia E61, Symbian S60). I decided to reduce my expectations from the start and went for the easy kill: a one-way, one time import of only my contacts, forgetting about notes, calendars and what not. After some investigation involving gnokii, Gammu and friends I stumbled upon that marvellous framework called OpenSync. It's been developed for more than 3 years and displays a huge list of supported devices, protocols and software. It is currently undergoing an important rework towards version 0.4 but today it is recommended to use the latest stable release: version 0.22 from march 2007. I thought it was worth giving it a shot. Everything went well, installation and setup were reasonably straightforward following that post on Ubuntu Forums and I was impressed by GNOME's bluetooth support working out of the box. My hopes went very high when I noticed that Multisync, OpenSync's GTK frontend, was able to handle two ways synchronisation of all my data. Unfortunately, after a couple of hours of fiddling with the thing I went out of luck: the contacts weren't goin' in! I was able to have at best 5 or 6 contacts sent to the phone. Shame :/ Solving real life issues while having fun coding is so enjoyable that I decided to fire up a good old iPython shell and started to look around the different possibilities of interaction I had with the Nokia E61. I settled for the following 3-steps technique, simple and efficient:

1. Export contacts from Evolution into separate vCard files, one for each contact

Thanks to the excellent Evolution's Python bindings coming straight from the Conduit project fame it is as simple as that Evolution-to-vCards script.

2. Transfer all the vCards to the Nokia E61 over bluetooth

ObexFTP does the trick in a one-liner:

obexftp -b [PHONE MAC ADDRESS] -c E:/Others/Contacts -p [VCARD FILES]

3. Import the contacts from the files

Go in Contacts > Options > Copy > From memory card.

That's it!

All contacts were imported even the problematic ones. I still noticed some glitches in the final result such as encoding problems and missing avatars but well, that will do for now. Next time: OpenSync development version.

Thursday 15 May 2008

Elisa @ Ubuntu Developer Summit and FOSSCamp

Part of the Elisa crew will be attending UDS next week to discuss around media centre integration with the Ubuntu/GNOME desktop. Alessandro Decina (GStreamer hacker, Python ninja, dog lovers) and myself will be more than happy to talk with anyone dealing with multimedia projects, user experience related things and interested people in general.

If you are keen on either of these subjects or even just keen on czech beers be sure to drop us a line: florian at boucault dot net or a couple of lines: boucault2003 at jabber dot iiens dot net.

Tuesday 13 May 2008

Elisa 0.5 ramping up!

Long time no blog and that's for good reasons! I have been very busy for the past month with the upcoming Elisa 0.5 which is now shaping up quite nicely thanks to the amazing developers gathered around the project.

The main goal of the 0.5 is to make it really easy to integrate any kind of services in Elisa (think social networking, shared music libraries, VOIP, etc.). It required quite a shift in the way the user interface was built up. As a side effect, that meant rewriting part of the Elisa UI as we know it. If you check out the branch today you will not have the media centric UI we were used to because it has to be rebuilt. Until it's reborn a nice plugin browser will welcome you: we call it "the shelf" plugin. See for yourself:


Screencast of Elisa's shelf plugin

As usual it's a bit laggish because of the screencasting but in real life it's perfectly fluid at 60fps with virtually 0% CPU usage. For those who are eager to contribute please be sure to go straight to the contribute page which has been updated with brand new step by step tutorials.

On the software engineering side of things, I'd like to thank a great deal all the Bazaar team and specifically Aaron Bentley for its awesome Bundle Buggy merge tracker that allows us to get our head around the code by following the "Decentralized with human gatekeeper" workflow quickly described on the Bazaar website.

As usual code is available:

bzr branch elisa

Monday 10 March 2008

Pigment + GTK == Live effects on HD videos

Guillaume's blog has some really cool Pigment bling that was demoed at last FOSDEM by Loïc (remember the guy trying to kiss himself with a webcam? :)).


Screencast of live transformation on HD videos within Gtk+

It demonstrates "[...] the ability of pigment to integrate with Gtk+" and to apply various effects on videos "[...] without any CPU cost, everything being done in the GPU. This is done in about 350 lines of python code, including 135 lines to construct the Gtk+ interface."

Wednesday 5 March 2008

New Elisa 0.3.4 release: the 'Telmatobius jelskii'


The telmatobius jelskii is a semi-aquatic frog from Peru for which breeding takes place in streams. That's how Elisa 0.3.4 was born, in the streams of ideas flowing towards improving the solid basis we already had. Following the idea that Elisa should not get between you and your media, a lot of small yet important details related with how the user interacts and feels the user interface got in the release.

People eager to try it can get the tarballs from the official website. Unofficial Ubuntu packages are also available for Gutsy and Hardy on the packages page.


Telmatobius frog from northern Chile [1]

For people into frogs, this "[...] species is locally affected by harvesting for both food and traditional medicine, and by water pollution (from agrochemicals and domestic waste)." and is part of the Red List of Threatened Species.

[1] Thanks to José Grau de Puerto Montt for making this photo available under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0

Monday 25 February 2008

Elisa and Pigment post FOSDEM = bling

Loïc's talk about Pigment went really well with lots of "Oooh and aaahs" together with laughs when he made funny faces in front of the audience thanks to his small Pigment's Photobooth-like application. As for Alessandro's Elisa demo, it was well received and I hope people understood how much the developers take care of users, especially GNOME users, at every step of the development.

Today, for those who were not at FOSDEM, I would like to share Loïc's magic with you thanks to a few screencasts and their unavoidable source code :)


Bouncing Cairo Sphere


Wavy Grid


Volumic Grid

Source code is available in a Bazaar branch at:

Be sure to get it while it's hot! Be aware that it requires latest Pigment SVN.

Monday 21 January 2008

Elisa Media Center 0.3.3 released!

This is a huge step in the life of the project since this new version features a brand new user interface. It aims at "enhancing the usability of Elisa and also at giving to our users this polished and sophisticated look and feel that makes great software." says the release announcement.

The team did an awesome job to make that new bling happen. Since words will not be as impacting as a video could be, here is a screencast also uploaded on various video sharing websites (YouTube, etc.):


You can also find screenshots and more details about Elisa on the official website.

I really recommend anyone to try it out since the fundamental changes made to the UI have really transformed the user experience. Of course any feedback will be more than welcome!

Monday 10 December 2007

IPython and Pigment simplicity

Tough week-end again trying to get my hands on the cool IPython integration with GLib's main loop. Thanks to that it is possible to interact at runtime with any Pigment application just by launching an IPython shell like that:

ipython -gthread

You can guess that from that point on I was eager to show it! After many rehearsals of I do not know how many lines of code learnt by heart I finally discovered IPython's demo mode and got around making a screencast out of it.

It demonstrates how quick Python + Pigment is at prototyping flashy GUIs. As usual, the effects shown do not incur any CPU cost and is completely smooth on my so incredibly fast Intel 915.



ps: many thanks to Arek for kindly providing his hackergotchi :)

Monday 3 December 2007

Pigment bling du jour

A crazy idea popped into my mind this week-end: showing off some bling!

Python and Pigment coupled together allow you to do really nifty stuff in no time. Hacking what's shown in the screencast takes about 500 lines of code and customising the layouts and the animations is a matter of minutes.

For this I thank Arek who is in deep need of that stuff since MacSlow aka the bling master left him.

The whole thing is made with the Pigment library (itself coded in C/GObject/OpenGL). This sample runs pretty smoothly (50 FPS) using nearly no CPU even on my shitty Intel 915 (synchronisation to VBlank is still missing with DRI though: please Intel, save my life!).


ps: code is available in Pigment subversion repository

Sunday 26 August 2007

Hardware plug-in feedback in the free desktop

At the moment, GNOME does not give any feedback to the user when a device gets plugged in. If the hardware is recognised and a driver for it found, then a piece of software might be executed if previously defined: that's it and not yet user friendly.

Here comes hardware-feedback, a little Python experiment relying on HAL that displays appropriate feedback and potentially useful hints when a device is detected.

Here is the result:


A notification appears immediately when a device is plugged.


Mouse detected!


Webcam detected: the Tango project needs an icon for that, anyone?

For those who would like to start hacking, here is the bazaar branch:

bzr co

A number of improvements are possible:

  • helping the user to find a solution when no suitable driver is available on his/her computer
  • providing the user with software handling the device well (think Cheese for a webcam)
  • rewrite and integration in gnome-volume-manager
  • audio feedback in addition to the visual one

ps: thank you Danny Kukawka, David Zeuthen, Richard Hughes, Havoc Pennington and the many others for this very nifty HAL.