Attending the Web Engines Hackfest

webkitgtk-hackfest-bannerIt’s certainly been a while since I attended this event for the last time, 2 years ago, when it was a WebKitGTK+ only oriented hackfest, so I guess it was a matter of time it happened again…

It will be different for me this time, though, as now my main focus won’t be on accessibility (yet I’m happy to help with that, too), but on fixing a few issues related to the WebKit2GTK+ API layer that I found while working on our platform (Endless OS), mostly related to its implementation of accelerated compositing.

Besides that, I’m particularly curious about seeing how the hackfest looks like now that it has broaden its scope to include other web engines, and I’m also quite happy to know that I’ll be visiting my home town and meeting my old colleagues and friends from Igalia for a few days, once again.

Endless Mobile logoLast, I’d like to thank my employer for sponsoring this trip, as well as Igalia for organizing this event, one more time.

See you in Coruña!

Importing include paths in Eclipse

First of all, let me be clear: no, I’m not trying to leave Emacs again, already got over that stage. Emacs is and will be my main editor for the foreseeable future, as it’s clear to me that there’s no other editor I feel more comfortable with, which is why I spent some time cleaning up my .emacs.d and making it more “manageable”.

But as much as like Emacs as my main “weapon”, I sometimes appreciate the advantages of using a different kind of beast for specific purposes. And, believe me or not, in the past 2 years I learned to love Eclipse/CDT as the best work-mate I know when I need some extra help to get deep inside of the two monster C++ projects that WebKit and Chromium are. And yes, I know Eclipse is resource hungry, slow, bloated… and whatnot; but I’m lucky enough to have fast SSDs and lots of RAM in my laptop & desktop machines, so that’s not really a big concern anymore for me (even though I reckon that indexing chromium in the laptop takes “quite some time”), so let’s move on :-)

However, there’s this one little thing that still bothers quite me a lot of Eclipse: you need to manually setup the include paths for the external dependencies not in a standard location that a C/C++ project uses, so that you can get certain features properly working such as code auto-completion, automatic error-checking features, call hierarchies… and so forth.

And yes, I know there is an Eclipse plugin adding support for pkg-config which should do the job quite well. But for some reason I can’t get it to work with Eclipse Mars, even though others apparently can use it there for some reason (and I remember using it with Eclipse Juno, so it’s definitely not a myth).

Anyway, I did not feel like fighting with that (broken?) plugin, and in the other hand I was actually quite inclined to play a bit with Python so… my quick and dirty solution to get over this problem was to write a small script that takes a list of package names (as you would pass them to pkg-config) and generates the XML content that you can use to import in Eclipse. And surprisingly, that worked quite well for me, so I’m sharing it here in case someone else finds it useful.

Using frogr as an example, I generate the XML file for Eclipse doing this:

  $ pkg-config-to-eclipse glib-2.0 libsoup-2.4 libexif libxml-2.0 \
        json-glib-1.0 gtk+-3.0 gstreamer-1.0 > frogr-eclipse.xml

…and then I simply import frogr-eclipse.xml from the project’s properties, inside the C/C++ General > Paths and Symbols section.

After doing that I get rid of all the brokenness caused by so many missing symbols and header files, I get code auto-completion nicely working back again and all those perks you would expect from this little big IDE. And all that without having to go through the pain of defining all of them one by one from the settings dialog, thank goodness!

Now you can quickly see how it works in the video below:

VIDEO: Setting up a C/C++ project in Eclipse with pkg-config-to-eclipse

This has been very helpful for me, hope it will be helpful to someone else too!

On Linux32 chrooted environments

I have a chrooted environment in my 64bit Fedora 22 machine that I use every now and then to work on a debian-like 32bit system where I might want to do all sorts of things, such as building software for the target system or creating debian packages. More specifically, today I was trying to build WebKitGTK+ 2.8.3 in there and something weird was happening:

The following CMake snippet was not properly recognizing my 32bit chroot:

endif ()

After some investigation, I found out that CMAKE_HOST_SYSTEM_PROCESSOR relies on the output of uname to determine the type of the CPU, and this what I was getting if I ran it myself:

(debian32-chroot)mario:~ $ uname -a
Linux moucho 4.0.6-300.fc22.x86_64 #1 SMP Tue Jun 23 13:58:53 UTC 2015
x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux

Let’s avoid nasty comments about the stupid name of my machine (I’m sure everyone else uses clever names instead), and see what was there: x86_64.

That looked wrong to me, so I googled a bit to see what others did about this and, besides finding all sorts of crazy hacks around, I found that in my case the solution was pretty simple just because I am using schroot, a great tool that makes life easier when working with chrooted environments.

Because of that, all I would have to do would be to specify personality=linux32 in the configuration file for my chrooted environment and that’s it. Just by doing that and re-entering in the “jail”, the output would be much saner now:

(debian32-chroot)mario:~ $ uname -a
Linux moucho 4.0.6-300.fc22.x86_64 #1 SMP Tue Jun 23 13:58:53 UTC 2015
i686 i686 i686 GNU/Linux

And of course, WebKitGTK+ would now recognize and use the right CPU type in the snippet above and I could “relax” again while seeing WebKit building again.

Now, for extra reference, this is the content of my schroot configuration file:

$ cat /etc/schroot/chroot.d/00debian32-chroot
description=Debian-like chroot (32 bit) 

That is all, hope somebody else will find this useful. It certainly saved my day!

Bringing sanity back to my T440s

As a long time Thinkpad’s trackpoint user and owner of a Lenovo T440s, I always felt quite frustrated with the clickpad featured in this laptop, since it basically ditched away all the physical buttons I got so used to, and replace them all with a giant, weird and noisy “clickpad”.

Fortunately, following Peter Hutterer’s post on X.Org Synaptics support for the T440, I managed to get a semi-decent configuration where I basically disabled any movement in the touchpad and used it three giant soft buttons. It certainly took quite some time to get used to it and avoid making too many mistakes but it was at least usable thanks to that.

Then, just a few months ago from now, I learned about the new T450 laptops and how they introduced again the physical buttons for the trackpoint there… and felt happy and upset at the same time: happy to know that Lenovo finally reconsidered their position and decided to bring back some sanity to the legendary trackpoint, but upset because I realized I had bought the only Thinkpad to have ever featured such an insane device.

Luckily enough, I recently found that someone was selling this T450’s new touchpads with the physical buttons in eBay, and people in many places seemed to confirm that it would fit and work in the T440, T440s and T440p (just google for it), so I decided to give it a try.

So, the new touchpad arrived here last week and I did try to fit it, although I got a bit scared at some point and decided to step back and leave it for a while. After all, this laptop is 7 months old and I did not want to risk breaking it either :-). But then I kept reading the T440s’s Hardware Maintenance Manual in my spare time and learned that I was actually closer than what I thought, so decided to give it a try this weekend again… and this is the final result:

T440s with trackpoint buttons!

Initially, I thought of writing a detailed step by step guide on how to do the installation, but in the end it all boils down to removing the system board so that you can unscrew the old clickpad and screw the new one, so you just follow the steps in the T440s’s Hardware Maintenance Manual for that, and you should be fine.

If any, I’d just add that you don’t really need to remove the heatskink from the board, but just unplug the fan’s power cord, and that you can actually do this without removing the board completely, but just lifting it enough to manipulate the 2 hidden screws under it. Also, I do recommend disconnecting all the wires connected to the main board as well as removing the memory module, the Wifi/3G cards and the keyboard. You can probably lift the board without doing that, but I’d rather follow those extra steps to avoid nasty surprises.

Last, please remember that this model has a built-in battery that you need to disable from the BIOS before starting to work with it. This is a new step compared to older models (therefore easy to overlook) and quite an important one, so make sure you don’t forget about it!

Anyway, as you can see the new device fits perfectly fine in the hole of the former clickpad and it even gets recognized as a Synaptics touchpad, which is good. And even better, the touchpad works perfectly fine out of the box, with all the usual features you might expect: soft left and right buttons, 2-finger scrolling, tap to click…

The only problem is that the trackpoint’s buttons would not work that well: the left and right buttons would translate into “scroll up” and “scroll down” and the middle button would simply not work at all. Fortunately, this is also covered in Petter Hutterer’s blog, where he explains that all the problems I was seeing are expected at this moment, since some patches in the Kernel are needed for the 3 physical buttons to become visible via the trackpoint again.

But in any case, for those like me who just don’t care about the touchpad at all, this comment in the tracking bug for this issue explains a workaround to get the physical trackpoint buttons working well right now (middle button included), simply by disabling the Synaptics driver and enabling psmouse configured to use the imps protocol.

And because I’m using Fedora 21, I followed the recommendation there and simply added psmouse.proto=imps to the GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX line in /etc/default/grub, then run grub2-mkconfig -o /boot/grub2/grub.cfg, and that did the trick for me.

Now I went into the BIOS and disabled the “trackpad” option, not to get the mouse moving and clicking randomly, and finally enabled scrolling with the middle-button by creating a file in /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/20-trackpoint.conf (based on the one from my old x201), like this:

Section "InputClass"
        Identifier "Trackpoint Wheel Emulation"
        MatchProduct "PS/2 Synaptics TouchPad"
        MatchDriver "evdev"
        Option  "EmulateWheel"  "true"
        Option  "EmulateWheelButton" "2"
        Option  "EmulateWheelInertia" "10"
        Option  "EmulateWheelTimeout" "190"
        Option  "Emulate3Buttons" "false"
        Option  "XAxisMapping"  "6 7"
        Option  "YAxisMapping"  "4 5"

So that’s it. I suppose I will keep checking the status of the proper fix in the tracking bug and eventually move to the Synaptic driver again once all those issue get fixed, but for now this setup is perfect for me, and definitely way better than what I had before.

I only hope that I hadn’t forgotten to plug a cable when assembling everything back. At least, I can tell I haven’t got any screw left and everything I’ve tested seems to work as expected, so I guess it’s probably fine. Fingers crossed!

Building a SNES emulator with a Raspberry Pi and a PS3 gamepad

It’s been a while since I did this, but I got some people asking me lately about how exactly I did it and I thought it could be nice to write a post answering that question. Actually, it would be a nice thing for me to have anyway at least as “documentation”, so here it is.

But first of all, the idea: my personal and very particular goal was to have a proper SNES emulator plugged to my TV, based on the Raspberry Pi (simply because I had a spare one) that I could control entirely with a gamepad (no external keyboards, no ssh connection from a laptop, nothing).

Yes, I know there are other emulators I could aim for and even Raspberry specific distros designed for a similar purpose but, honestly, I don’t really care about MAME, NeoGeo, PSX emulators or the like. I simply wanted a SNES emulator, period. And on top of that I was quite keen on playing a bit with the Raspberry, so I took this route, for good or bad.

Anyway, after doing some investigation I realized all the main pieces were already out there for me to build such a thing, all that was needed was to put them all together, so I went ahead and did it. And these are the HW & SW ingredients involved in this recipe:

Once I got all these things around, this is how I assembled the whole thing:

1. Got the gamepad paired and recognized as a joystick under /dev/input/js0 using the QtSixA project. I followed the instructions here, which explain fairly well how to use sixpair to pair the gamepad and how to get the sixad daemon running at boot time, which was an important requirement for this whole thing to work as I wanted it to.

2. I downloaded the source code of PiSNES, then patched it slightly so that it would recognize the PS3 DualShock gamepad, allow me define the four directions of the joystick through the configuration file, among other things.

3. I had no idea how to get the PS3 gamepad paired automatically when booting the Raspberry Pi, so I wrote a stupid small script that would basically wait for the gamepad to be detected under /dev/input/js0, and then launch the snes9x.gui GUI to choose a game from the list of ROMS available. I placed it under /usr/local/bin/snes-run-gui, and looks like this:



# Wait for the PS3 Game pad to be available
while [ ! -e /dev/input/js0 ]; do sleep 2; done

# The DISPLAY=:0 bit is important for the GUI to work
DISPLAY=:0 $BASEDIR/snes9x.gui

4. Because I wanted that script to be launched on boot, I simply added a line to /etc/xdg/lxsession/LXDE/autostart, so that it looked like this:

@lxpanel --profile LXDE
@pcmanfm --desktop --profile LXDE
@xscreensaver -no-splash

By doing the steps mentioned above, I got the following “User Experience”:

  1. Turn on the RPi by simply plugging it in
  2. Wait for Raspbian to boot and for the desktop to be visible
  3. At this point, both the sixad daemon and the snes-run-gui script should be running, so press the PS button in the gamepad to connect the gamepad
  4. After a few seconds, the lights in the gamepad should stop blinking and the /dev/input/js0 device file should be available, so snes9x.gui is launched
  5. Select the game you want to play and press with the ‘X’ button to run it
  6. While in the game, press the PS button to get back to the game selection UI
  7. From the game selection UI, press START+SELECT to shutdown the RPi
  8. Profit!

Unfortunately, those steps above were enough to get the gamepad paired and working with PiSNES, but my TV was a bit tricky and I needed to do a few adjustments more in the booting configuration of the Raspberry Pi, which took me a while to find out too.

So, here is the contents of my /boot/config.txt file in case it helps somebody else out there, or simply as reference (more info about the contents of this file in RPiConfig):

# NOOBS Auto-generated Settings:

# Set sdtv mode to PAL (as used in Europe)

# Force sound to be sent over the HDMI cable

# Set monitor mode to DMT

# Overclock the CPU a bit (700 MHz is the default)

# Set monitor resolution to 1280x720p @ 60Hz XGA

As you can imagine, some of those configuration options are specific to the TV I have it connected to (e.g. hdmi_mode), so YMMV. In my case I actually had to try different HDMI modes before settling on one that would simply work, so if you are ever in the same situation, you might want to apt-get install libraspberrypi-bin and use the following commands as well:

 $ tvservice -m DMT # List all DMT supported modes
 $ tvservice -d edid.dat # Dump detailed info about your screen
 $ edidparser edid.dat | grep mode # List all possible modes

In my case, I settled on hdmi_mode=85 simply because that’s the one that work better for me, which stands for the 1280x720p@60Hz DMT mode, according to edidparser:

HDMI:EDID DMT mode (85) 1280x720p @ 60 Hz with pixel clock 74 MHz has a score of 80296

And that’s all I think. Of course there’s a chance I forgot to mention something because I did this in my random slots of spare time I had back in July, but that should be pretty much it.

Now, simply because this post has been too much text already, here you have a video showing off how this actually works (and let alone how good/bad I am playing!):

Video: Raspberry Pi + PS3 Gamepad + PiSNES

I have to say I had great fun doing this and, even if it’s a quite hackish solution, I’m pretty happy with it because it’s been so much fun to play those games again, and also because it’s been working like a charm ever since I set it up, more than half a year ago.

And even better… turns out I got it working just in time for “Father’s Day”, which made me win the “best dad in the world” award, unanimously granted by my two sons, who also enjoy playing those good old games with me now (and beating me on some of them!).

Actually, that has been certainly the most rewarding thing of all this, no doubt about it.

GStreamer Hackfest 2015

Last weekend I visited my former office in (lovely) Staines-upon-Thames (UK) to attend the GStreamer hackfest 2015, along with other ~30 hackers from all over the world.

This was my very first GStreamer hackfest ever and it was definitely a great experience, although at the beginning I was really not convinced to attend since, after all, why bother attending an event about something I have no clue about?

But the answer turned out to be easy in the end, once I actually thought a bit about it: it would be a good opportunity both to learn more about the project and to meet people in real life (old friends included), making the most of it happening 15min away from my house. So, I went there.

And in the end it was a quite productive and useful weekend: I might not be an expert by now, but at least I broke the barrier of getting started with the project, which is already a good thing.

And even better, I managed to move forward a patch to fix a bug in PulseAudio I found on last December while fixing an downstream issue as part of my job at Endless. Back then, I did not have the time nor the knowledge to write a proper patch that could really go upstream, so I focused on fixing the problem at hand in our platform. But I always felt the need to sit down and cook a proper patch, and this event proved to be the perfect time and place to do that.

Now, thanks to the hackfest (and to Arun Raghavan in particular, thanks!), I’m quite happy to see that the right patch might be on its way to be applied upstream. Could not be happier about it! :)

Last, I’d like to thank to Samsung’s OSG, and specially to Luis, for having done a cracking job on making sure that everything would run smoothly from beginning to end. Thanks!

Frogr 0.11 released

Screenshot of Frogr 0.11

So, after neglecting my responsibilities with this project for way too long, I finally released frogr 0.11 now, making the most that I’m now enjoying some kind of “parenting vacation” for a few days.

Still, do not expect this new release to be fully loaded of new features and vast improvements, as it’s more like another incremental update that adds a couple of nice new things and fixes a bunch of problems I was really unhappy about (e.g. general slowness, crashes).

Wrapping it up, the main changes included with this release are:

  • Moved to the new GTK+’s header bar plus the typical menu button when GTK+ >= 3.12 (GTK+ 3.4 is still supported). I personally like this change a lot, as it makes frogr much more compact and sleek IMHO, and much better integrated with newer releases of GNOME.
  • Added a new option to automatically replace the “date posted” field in flickr with the “date taken” value from the EXIF metadata when uploading pictures. Useful to keep your photo stream sorted regardless of when you uploaded which pictures. Thanks a lot to Luc Pionchon for requesting this feature. I never thought of it before, now I use it all the time!
  • Sped up the load of pictures into the main window, as it was a very slow process when importing tags from the XMP keywords was enabled. I measured a 3x improvement, but YMMV.
  • Fixed random crashes due to the missing initialization of the gcrypt library introduced with the recent changes to use SSL API end points. Thanks a lot Andrés for your help with this!
  • Fixed issues related to the OS X port, which prevented frogr 0.9 from having video support and caused many problems with the 0.10 release. Now it should be fine, grab the bundle from here.
  • Other things: removed calls to deprecated APIs, updated translations, fixed a few minor bugs and a bit of a clean-up here and there, which is usually good.

As usual, feel free to check the website of the project in case you want to know more about frogrhow to get it or how to contribute to it. I’m having a hard time lately to find time to devote to this pet project, so any help anyone can provide will be more than welcome :-) fosdem-15-logo

By the way, I’m going to FOSDEM this year again, so feel free to say “hi” if you want to chat and/or share a beer (or more!).

Endless changes ahead!

I know I haven’t blogged for a while, and definitely not as much as I would like, but that was partially because I was quite busy during my last days in Samsung (left on the 25th of July), where I wanted to make sure I did not leave any loose end before departure, and that everything was properly handed over to the right people there.

But that was one month ago… so what did I do since then? Many many things, and most of them away from a keyboard, at least until the past week. Main highlights:

  • One week travelling by car with my family all the way down to Spain from the UK, through France, visiting all the nice places we could (and could afford) in the way, which was a lot of fun and an incredible experience.
  • The goal of taking the car to Spain was to sell it once we were there and, surprisingly enough, we did it in record time, so one thing less to worry about…
  • 2 weeks in Spain having proper “relaxing holidays” to get some quality time off in between the two jobs, to properly recharge batteries. Not that the previous week was not holidays, but travelling 2200 km by car with two young kids on the back can be amazing and exhausting at the same time :-)
  • 1 week in the UK to make sure I had everything ready by the time I officially started in the new company, where I will initially be working from home: assemble a home office in my spare bedroom, and prepare my new laptop mainly. In the end, we (my wife helped me a lot) finished by Wednesday, so on Thursday we went for a last 2-day getaway to Wales (what a beautiful place!) by car, making the most that we were kids-free.

Endless Mobile logoTherefore, as you can imagine, I didn’t have much time for blogging lately, but still I would like to share with the world my “change of affiliation” so here it is: since yesterday I’m officially part of the amazing team at Endless, an awesome start up from San Francisco committed to break the digital divide in the developing world by taking GNOME-based technology to the end users in ways that were not imaginable before. And I have to say that’s a vision I fell in love with since the very first time I heard about it (last year in Brno, during Matt’s keynote at GUADEC).

But just in case that was not awesome enough by itself, the other thing that made me fall in love with the company was precisely the team they have assembled, because even if I’m mostly a technical guy, I still value a lot the human side of the places I work in. And in this regard Endless seems to be perfect, or even better!

So, I’m extremely happy these days because of this new challenge I’m seeing in front of me, and because of the opportunity I’m being given to have a real positive impact in the lives of millions of people who still can’t access to technology as they should be able to do it. Also, I feel blessed and privileged for having been given the chance to be part of such an amazing team of people. Could not be happier at this time! :)

Last to finish this post, I would like to say thanks to my friend Joaquim, since he was who introduced me to Matt in the first place and “created” this opportunity for me. Thank you!

Frogr 0.10 released

frogrQuick post to let the world know that I’ve just released a new version of frogr right now, in order to address a few issues present in the previous version. Mainly:

  • Deprecation of non-SSL end points for the Flickr API (see these two posts for more info). From now on, frogr will use SSL-only API calls.
  • Address issues with frogr‘s AppData file. Apparently, the AppData file was neither valid (according to appdata-validate) nor being installed properly, preventing frogr from showing up nicely in the GNOME Software app.
  • Allow disabling video uploads at configuration time (enabled by default), instead of making the decision depending on the detected platform. This will hopefully make life easier for packagers of other platforms (e.g. MacPorts).
  • Removed libsoup-gnome code once and for all (API deprecated a while ago).
  • Other things: updated translations and fixed a few minor bugs.

As usual, feel free to check the website of the project in case you want to know more about frogrhow to get it or how to contribute to it.

Frogr 0.9 released

So, after a bit more than one year without releasing any version of frogr, I finally managed to get some “spare” time to put all the pieces together and ship the ninth version of it, which I believe/hope is going to be a quite solid one.

Frogr 0.9

In all honesty, though, this version does not come with many new features as the previous ones, yet some changes and fixes that I believe were quite necessary, and therefore should help improving the user experience in some subtle ways.

For instance, the layout of the dialog to edit the details of a picture has changed (as per Ana Rey‘s comments during GUADEC) to enable a more efficient usage of vertical space, so much needed these days in small widescreen laptops. Of course, design-wise still sucks, but I believe it’s much more convenient now from a pragmatical point of view.

Also, frogr is now a little bit more “modern” in things such as that it now supports GStreamer 1.0 (0.10 still supported), a lot of deprecated code (e.g. Stock items, GtkActions) has been replaced internally and it now integrates better with GNOME Shell’s search box. Ah! and it also now provides an AppData file to integrate with GNOME Software Center, which is a nice touch too.

Another interesting thing is that I finally fixed the problem that we have with multiple selections in the main view, which was neither intuitive nor very useful, as Ctrl and Shift modifiers did not work as expected. So, from now on, it is finally possible to work with disjoint multiple selections of pictures, a feature I was missing so much.

Last, I fixed two important problems in the code that caused frogr consume two much memory, specially after uploading pictures. It was a quite severe problem since frogr was not properly freeing the memory used by pictures even after those were uploaded and removed from the UI, causing important issues in cases where people tried to upload a lot of pictures at once. It’s hopefully fixed now.

And that’s all I think. As usual, you can check the website of the project to know how to install frogr on your system if you don’t want to wait for your favourite distribution to ship it, or if you just want to check more information about the project or to contribute to it.


Ah! By the way… I’m going to FOSDEM again this year, but this time by train. Can’t wait to be there! :)