Vagalume: D-Bus support for its desktop version

As you can check out in the vagalume-devel@garage.maemo.org mailing list archives:

https://garage.maemo.org/pipermail/vagalume-devel/2008-June/000151.html

…today I’ve finished the implementation of a new patch for Vagalume which will enable D-Bus support in the desktop version of this nice player, since so far D-Bus interaction was only allowed in the maemo platform (due to using functions from libosso for RPC methods, instead of dbus-glib).

So, this is how the vagalumectl script (formerly known as vagalume-dbus) would work from now on in a “regular” GNU/Linux machine:

mario@bender:~$ vagalumectl
Usage:
vagalumectl
(Vagalume will be automatically started if not already running)

COMMAND:
play:              start playing the current radio
skip:              skip to the nex song in the current radio
stop:              stop playing the current radio
love:              mark the current song as ‘loved’
ban:               mark the current song as ‘banned’
tag :         change to a ‘global tag’ radio.
artist :   change to a ‘similar artists’ radio
group :     change to a ‘last.fm group’ radio
loved :      change to a ‘loved’ radio for a specific user
neighbours : change to a ‘neighbours’ radio for a specific user
personal :   change to a ‘personal’ radio for a specific user
playlist :   change to a ‘playlist’ radio for a specific user
playurl :     just play the specified URL on Vagalume
volumeup [INC]:    increase playback volume
volumedown [INC]:  decrease playback volume
volume :    set the playback volume to a specific value
start:             start Vagalume (if not already running)
close:             close Vagalume (if not already closed)
help:              print this information

Double quotes are REQUIRED when specifying parameters to some commands,
such as TAG or ARTIST, because of the white spaces they might contain, e.g:

$ vagalumectl tag “hard rock”
$ vagalumectl artist “Led Zeppelin”

mario@bender:~$ vagalumectl loved homemaxico
Command ‘loved’ successfully executed
mario@bender:~$

Well… perhaps not a too much useful ‘screenshot’ after all… but believe me, that’s the proof that D-Bus is working fine on my GNOME desktop from now on.

I hope you can enjoy the patch soon (as soon as Berto applies it to the SVN trunk)… perhaps in Vagalume 0.7 ;-) , who knows…

(freedesktop) Tray icon for Vagalume

As you might know, some time ago I developed a plugin for the maemo version of Vagalume which would allow the user to manage the most basic features from a tiny icon in the status bar.

After that, I thought it could be a good idea to implement a freedesktop tray icon as well, so you would be able to hide/show Vagalume with a tray icon in the notification area, in the same way you could do it with some other programs such as pidgin, xchat or rhythmbox, for instance. Moreover, some people told me that it would be very nice to have a tray icon in the desktop version of vagalume, so everything seemed to say that I was not mad after all and that it could be a good idea…

So, I’ve started working on its implementation (using a GtkStatusIcon) some weeks ago and now I finally managed to get the enough ‘spare time’ to plug everything together and to finally finish the patch for being applied to one of the latest revisions of the SVN trunk (158). In fact, at this moment I’ve already sent it to vagalume-devel@maemo.org mailing list and I’m waiting for Berto to take a look into it to finally integrate it for (hopefully) the next release :-)

Update [2008/04/29]: After working a bit more on this new tray icon during the past weekend I’ve added libnotify support to allow the tray icon to show a notification each time Vagalume starts playing a new song. Of course, as I know there’re people who might dislike this feature, I’ve also added the possibility of disabling these notifications from the ‘Settings’ dialog in the GNOME version of the application. I’ve also added an screenshot of the notifications working at the end of this post.

To finish with this post, and knowing that sometimes an image is better than just a description, here you are a couple of screenshots of the new tray icon working in my GNOME environment:

Vagalume's tray icon: showing the menu

Vagalume’s tray icon: showing the menu

Vagalume's tray icon: showing the tooltip

Vagalume’s tray icon: showing the tooltip

Vagalume's tray icon: showing playback notifications

Update [2008/04/29]: Vagalume’s tray icon: showing playback notifications

And that’s all. I hope the patch is good enough to integrate it with the next release of Vagalume. Of course, suggestions and criticisms are always welcome, so don’t hesitate to leave your comments here.

I hope you like it ;-)

Installing a VNC server on a maemo Internet Tablet

Today, I’m going to give a talk about Vagalume in the VIII Jornadas de Software Libre de GPUL 2008, since Berto finally won’t be able to be there, as it was initially planned, so I’ll be charged with the responsibility of telling the people how cool Vagalume, Maemo and GNOME are in only 30 minutes… quite a big challenge for me, since I seldom can speak in a concise, short and effective way without going on and on.

So, yesterday I spent some time looking for an easy and effective way for showing people attending to the talk how cool this cute device (my N810) is… and thinking about the past I remembered when Andres gave a talk/workshop about the Maemo development platform, where he used an VNC server installed in the device to show the N810 “screen” to everyone in the room, just using an VNC client in the laptop connected to the proyector.

IIRC, Andrés compiled the VNC server for the device to get it working, but yesterday I found a much easier way to get it working, so here you are the receipt (I use too much this word in my blog, perhaps I should consider to become a cook… ):

  • Download the pre-compiled .deb package for your device from this web.
  • Copy the .deb file to your device and install it following one of the following methods:
    • Install it with the Application installer from the Control Panel (N770).
    • Install it with the Application Manager from the ‘Settings’ Menu (N800 / N810). It’s required to have the red-pill mode enabled. To know how to enable this “peculiar” mode, check this out.
    • Open a root terminal in the device with a remote ssh connection and install it this way:
    • dpkg -i x11vnc_0.9.3-1_armel.deb

  • Configure it to use a password with the default username available in the device (‘user‘):
    • Make sure you are running the terminal as ‘user’, by executing the command:
    • su user

    • Create a VNC password (recommended):
    • x11vnc -storepasswd

      • This will store your password (encrypted) under /home/user/.vnc/passwd
  • Start the server:
    • Not using the password: from Menu -> Extras, click on x11vnc.
    • Using the password (recommended):
      • Open a terminal for ‘user’
      • Execute the command:
      • x11vnc –usepw

  • Connect to server (already running on the device, at port 5900):
    • Using any VNC client connect to your device’s IP, using the following credentials if you started the server with –usepw:
      • Username: user
      • Password: (whatever you’ve set with –storepasswd)

Of course, there are lots of options you can pass to x11vnc (see x11vnc –help) but these ones worked fine for me: I have an easy VNC server working with password authentication :-)

And to finish this post, just a last advice: If you think you’re going to use always (like me) the VNC server with password authentication, it could be more nice for you to edit the /usr/bin/x11vnc.sh script so it also includes the –usepw. This way, you can always start the VNC server from Menu -> Extras, withouth having to open a terminal for it… although, to be honest, I still prefer a remote terminal for most of the times, because of the output I continously get through it… but hey! that’s just a very personal opinion! :-)

Back from California

As my mate Berto has already commented on his blog, we’re back from California after attending to the Mobile Rules! ’08 awards ceremony, and I’d like to say that we had a great time there, even though we didn’t win the prize… but being a finalist was already a very nice kind of price, don’t you think?

Mario at the San Jose City Hall Rotunda

Moreover, maybe we didn’t get the acknowledgement of being the “Mobile Ruler ’08″ under the Multimedia category, but we met a lot of people indeed, and we enjoyed a lot of the event, which was nicely arranged to allow all the participants to meet each other and to have a good dinner at the San Jose City Hall Rotunda (look at the picture to see me in front of the beautiful San Jose City Hall).

So, maybe the next time we could have more luck with Vagalume, but now it’s the present and, as Berto said in his last post, it’s time to get back to work and keep on getting Vagalume even better with some nice improvements we already have in mind and others that I’m sure are still to come.

PS: This was the first time I’ve been to the US West Coast, and I have to say that I loved California… such a lovely place, such a lovely place. I hope I could go back soon :-)

My sloppy, dirty, ugly… but (maybe) useful script for the Vagalume D-Bus interface

Vagalume playing on my hi-fi system

Today, while doing the houseworks, I plugged the N800 to the AUX input of my mini hi-fi system (see the photo), in order to listen my online radios with Vagalume while I was doing several tasks all around my flat.

Then, after finishing those tasks, I sat in front of my laptop and I began to do some tipical tasks: read mail, surf the internet, talk with some friends through IM… while Vagalume kept playing music through my hi-fi system in the living room. And then, while I was thinking how nice is to listen Last.fm through a couple of good speakers, I suddenly found out that I should face the big dilemma:

  • Sometimes I’d like to change the radio station which is being played in Vagalume, or just to Skip some songs.
  • I love to listen music through the hi-fi system, even when I’m not in the living room (likely, my neighbours love this too), so stopping Vagalume from running on the N800 and running it in my laptop would not be an option.
  • The N800 is in another room, so I should leave the chair if I want to interact with Vagalume.

Maybe, you could be thinking of me as a very lazy person, but first just think of yourself in a similar situation and maybe you could understand what I’m talking about :-)

So, this stupid situation was the perfect excuse for me to write an small, sloppy and ugly script that, at least, works pretty well on the N800, and which allows to easily manage some of the functions of Vagalume that are available via its D-Bus interface:

  • Run / Close Vagalume application (via D-Bus methods).
  • Play / Skip / Stop songs.
  • Setting the current radio to:
    • A ‘global tags’ radio, specifiying tags separated by spaces.
    • A ‘similar artists’ radio, specifying an artist name.
    • A ‘last.fm group’ radio, specifying the name of the group.
    • An ‘user’s loved / neighbours / personal / playlist’ radio, specifying the username.
    • A custom radio, just specifying a valid lastfm URL.

So, now I’m able to remotely manage Vagalume in the N800 in an easy way, while it’s playing music in the living room and I am, say, in my bedroom working on my laptop, just by ‘implementing’ the following recipe:

  • A ssh server (available through the maemo-extras repository, IIRC) running on the N800.
  • My sloppy script installed on the N800 as well.
  • A X terminal running on my laptop, to remotely control Vagalume.
  • A bottle of a good beer near the laptop, to minimize the need of leaving the chair without a good reason (not mandatory ;-) ).

For instance, this is how I’d skip a song and then I’d set a hard rock radio:

$ vagalume-dbus skip
$ vagalume-dbus tag “hard rock”

So, here you are the script just in case you’re so lazy as me and you’d like to use it too: vagalume-dbus script.

Please notice that this is not an official script of Vagalume, at least not yet :-) . I’ll talk to Berto to see if it would be or not a good idea to bundle it with the next release of Vagalume. Perhaps it could be useful after all :-) .

What do you think?

“Going to California”

Yep… I know that this is a Led Zeppelin song, from Led Zeppelin IV album to be exact. And why not? BTW A great song, a great 70′s rock band (one of my favourite ones) an a great album… so what are you waiting for? Go listening Led Zeppelin for hours right after reading this post! :-)

However, I’m afraid this post is not about the same topics of that Led Zeppelin song, but also about ‘going to California’ though…

As you could read during the last weeks in our planet igalia, the last version of Vagalume (0.5.1) was out on February 15th, including some new features and UI improvements that tried to make it a better and more good-looking application. At first, it seemed that the new icons bundled with Vagalume 0.5 didn’t rock too much :-) , but then Berto ran a survey to be sure about what the people thought about them, and then changed that for the release 0.5.1 based on the overwhelming results.

And then, just three days after publishing the last 0.5.1 release, Berto found out that Vagalume was in the list of finalists for the ‘mobile rules’ competition!! Well, I think that he would agree with me if I say that we were so surprised and, of course, so glad with the good new when we found it out.

So, right after knowing that the ‘mobile rules’ organization team would invite two people to attend to the awards ceremony, which will take place in San Jose (California) on March 19th, we were thinking here at Igalia who could be the companion for Berto‘s trip… and we finally decided that I would go with him.

And what can I say… I’m really happy to know I’m going there with him, not just for the trip, of course, but for all what it means for Vagalume, for Igalia, for us… although I can’t lie either: the trip looks very interesting too :-) .

I hope we have the chance to visit some interesting places round there, take some photos and… why not? to have a lot of fun there besides to attending to the awards ceremony, which I’m sure is going to be very interesting, regardless of Vagalume finally wins a prize or not. After all, being a finalist is already a very nice kind of gratitude, isn’t it?

So, see you then in California!

The new status bar plugin for Vagalume

Hi all,

It has been a long time since my last post (April 15th, 2007), so I think that it’s time to write something again… and I can’t think of a better chance to do it that talking about this… :-)

As many of you could know, last November 1st my mate Berto released the first version of his Gnome/Maemo Last.fm (codenamed “Vagalume 0.1″), which started being just a “three-button application” and evolved to be a nice application to listen your favorite custom radio stations, providing lots of the typical features that a Last.fm user would expect.

So, besides to all the new features Berto has been adding everyday, and besides to the nice new UI enhancements Felipe has been working on (which will be out with release 0.5)… I also wished to contribute to Vagalume with a new component: a status bar plugin for the Maemo platform.

And taking into account Berto has just committed my patch yesterday (revision 86 of SVN trunk [*]), I thought of it could be a good moment to talk about the new plugin itself, so here it goes…

The new status bar plugin would allow Vagalume users to control some features of the application from the status bar:

  • Check out basic info about the song being played: title / artist / album.
  • Play / Stop / Skip songs.
  • Love and Ban songs
  • Bring Vagalume main window to the front.
  • Close Vagalume.

And that’s all. As you can see there are only a couple of commands available to be executed from the plugin, but we thought it would be the right way not to overcharge it too much with “advanced” features, and just to focus it to provide only basic actions. After all, it was designed to be an small plugin, wasn’t it?

At last, just to point out communication is currently carried out by specific Dbus messages between Vagalume and the plugin, although, in the future, this could change into one of the following ways:

  • Change the Dbus methods (with specific destination set: Vagalume main app or the plugin) into broadcast signals, so any application in the platform could interact with Vagalume in the same way the plugin does.
  • …or maybe supporting MPRIS standard interface could be a better way to allow integration between Vagalume any other application (Thanks for your suggestion, Juan).

Of course there are more improvements planned for the near future of the plugin, such as:

  • Adding support for OS2006 and OS2007 in maemo platforms (now, the plugin only works with OS2008).
  • Adding a new dock plugin supporting freedesktop.org specs, to allow desktop users to have a similar plugin.
  • Adding a new action to allow hiding the Vagalume main app so it’s not shown in the “tasks list panel” (desktop), or in the “task navigator” (Maemo).
  • … any suggestions? ;-)

So, I think that’s all so far. Now I just hope Vagalume users enjoy this plugin as much as I enjoyed developing it (and using it, of course). IMHO, I think it’s a nice way to “control” basic actions of Vagalume from the status bar, without having to open the main window when you’re running another application (the web browser or talking with the IM application, for instance), and just by using the drop down panel by clicking in the icon.

But of course, this is my (personal) opinion, so please post any comment you want about this. They will be highly appreciated!

So, let’s wait for the 0.5 release to see what people think about the new version of Vagalume, I have the feeling it’s going to rock! ;-)

In the meanwhile, here you are a example of the status bar plugin being usen while surfing the web:

Vagalume status bar plugin screenshot

Stay tuned, it’s coming soon!

[*] :: To checkout the code from SVN trunk:

svn co https://garage.maemo.org/svn/vagalume/trunk