Packaging: Need Help!

I haven’t had much time to blog about interesting things, sorry guys. But I did want to take an opportunity to share a problem I’m having.

I make software, and I make it for people. I’ve driven by people’s needs. So I tend to make lots of smaller things to fix certain problems or do something interesting on a small scale. The difficulty I’m having is with packaging and getting packages into Debian and thus into Ubuntu. I make lots of PPAs and they seem to work for users who are interested in getting what I do directly from me. But…

I feel that as the developer, designer, QA and possibly only user; that to do all the work on the packaging and being the sponsor in the upload process would deny my projects much needed oversight, not to mention being tiresome.

If you check out my launchpad list of code branches, I have A LOT of really awesome code which isn’t in the Ubuntu archive. I have a lot of interesting and useful tools which should be available to all kinds of people and just aren’t. The reason why all these code branches have failed to move anywhere is because I’m not good at asking for help on packaging and when I do I ask the wrong people. Despite on a number of projects being asked by users to get packages into Ubuntu, the answer is simply: I can’t do it myself and I need help.

If you know how to get code into Ubuntu _without_ having to be the packager and Debian maintainer: let me know you thoughts, as always below.

Plans for Oneiric: Playing with Brains

While I was at LGM I got into an interesting discussion about communities and how much they are like biological organisms. When the organism is doing well and all the parts are working on their own little jobs, the rest of the organism doesn’t have to pay much attention. But if something goes wrong then all sorts of attention is paid to the damage/infection.

The conjecture I tested this morning was that “negative posts in a community will attract more comments and longer comments than positive posts” this in essence was a critical look at weather it’s hard work to praise but easy to complain on a unit level. So, apologies to all my test subjects below, I turned a fairly positive post into a fairly negative post to see what would happen.

Conclusion: There was a strong community reaction to the negativity, taking data from a number of older positive posts I’m able to confirm that communities do act like complex organisms focusing on damage.

My post is this: I had a good time at LGM and though I missed UDS in Budapest last week, I have some plans of my own for Oneiric:

  • I’m running a community Center for Boston Housing Authority (ubuntu 10.10)
  • I’ve got a community greeter login project to allow users to register at login.
  • A new deviantArt upload library using their new stash API (OAuth 2.0 draft 10).
  • Some new plugins using said library for inkscape, gimp and nautilus.
  • Edubuntu wallpaper refinement for the next release.
  • More free culture artwork and posters promoting use of creative tools.
  • Getting more involved with Inkscape bug fixing (already fixed one bug).
  • Worrying about the release of baby 1.0 in October, new father syndrome.

Apologies again for playing with your collective. Thanks for posting comments 🙂

What’s not annoying about Making Money?

I was somewhat disappointed with the poll and article by Raphaël Hertzog concerning the use of flatr buttons on the debian planet. This was also posted to Planet Ubuntu and although I would dearly like my views shared with Planet Debian, this post can only reach Planet Ubuntu.

The poll is somewhat negative and doesn’t really have a ‘I think this poll is silly’ option.

Those who like reading my blog will be aware that I’m a fan of economic prosperity for people who perform a useful job. This means any job which takes time and is useful to more than just the performer is in justification to be paid somewhat by the beneficiaries.

This doesn’t guarantee any payment of course. Even making Free Software that benefits the entire worlds economy worth billions can see you destitute through bad positioning and sale of your trade. So Flatr, one of the few micro payment systems I’ve seen flourish in the foss world more than just as an experiment is under attack from an anti-payment mentality.

I understand that there would be some fear about someone earning money from the backs of someone else’s work. But having a flatr link directly on your work, even if your work is a blog post about someone else’s work, is precisely the most direct form of invitation to be rewarded for the act of publishing useful information. If you don’t agree then you don’t have to pay the writer. What I wouldn’t want though is a ban on making money, money isn’t a danger it’s misappropriation and misrepresentation that are the usual gremlins.

In this case I find neither. Your thoughts?

Please Poach Our Users

As a member of the Ubuntu community I consider myself as much a part of the Free Software community as any member of any other distro. Each distro has it’s strengths and I have absolutely no problem with users flowing out of Ubuntu and into other FreeDesktop systems such as Debian, Fedora or even closer distros like mint. I don’t even mind users leaving Ubuntu to compile their own distro:

Lousy Cold

Sorry to people at DebConf about Saturday, I fled back to Boston under a cloud of a rotten cold to be in my nice warm and self medicatable home. Still under the weather and such but not as bad as earlier in the week.

DebConf was actually very enjoyable (apart from getting rottenly sick) I learned a great deal and I have lots of ideas. Thanks to everyone who ran DebConf and to Kings College, New York *ahem* I mean Columbia. Good show and all that.

Making Art Together

If you thought DebConf was all about programming and art was all about being a loner huddled over a computer with a stylus in one hand and a cappuccino in the other, then think again! This was a collaborative art session I ran this evening at DebConf using inkscape and my Wacom Intuos 3. Involved in drawing were myself of the Ubuntu community, Ian Molton of Debian from the UK and Paul Liu of the Canonical OEM team from Taiwan. Each person did a a part of the process and we learned together how we each did out part:

A number of people were influenced to try out inkscape and their pressure sensitive input devices. So I deem this collaborative art a success!

Flash Sources

We had a showing of Nina Pasley’s fantastically animated “Sita Sings the Blues” here at DebConf last night. It’s great watching Creative Commons on the big screen and it was great to see Nina there and the reception she got for this and her meme shorts.

One question that we asked was what software was used to make all the artworks and as it turns out all the works were not made with Free and Open Source Software. So what is the problem?

Well Sita was made before Nina was aware of the FOSS community and any of the tools available, as so often happens. The workflows that one builds up as an artist is critical to how one thinks about making art and focusing creativity. It’s hardly surprising that an artist would be reluctant to change workflows.

But then there is the other problem of how to make the resources available in the original source files (available under CC-BY-SA) actually available in useful and open standard formats. Converting from swf to svg actually has more code written than to try and convert from fla to svg. Which is interesting.

FLA is the source format to Adobe Flash creator, it’s an OLE2 stream (Microsoft creation) which is often used for Microsoft’s binary office documents and other such files. It’s like a mini basic fat system inside the fla containing all the resources that make up the animation.

There is a tool in Ubuntu called ‘ripole’ but it doesn’t yet extract the contents of the fla sources successfully, libraries pole and libextract seem to do the same trick so perhaps it’s just some glue required. Perhaps the first step to being able to offer artists the transitioning tools to open standards is to extract the resources from fla files, either as an archive module (open it like a zip/tar file) or mount it as a local drive (bit like iso loop mounting). I favour the archive approach as you could extract all your resources and just keep them in a directory or re-tar them up for storage and distribution.

Obviously once this step is over there will be a conversion of the elements to open formats. But that probably is just another case of finding existing tools that convert swf and seeing how similar they are. We may even find some fla resources are actually just xml.

Update: With a python module and a lot of hacking, I’ve managed to decode all of the media in an fla into their component files. This includes the aif audio and the flash animated elements. Email me if your interested in the python script to do this.

DebConf Next Week

I’m starting to get ready to go to DebConf in New York next week and I’m certainly excited to be given the opportunity to meet more of the Debian community. Because I don’t do much packaging I’ve not managed to get to know enough Debian people and I feel like projects such as http://art.debian.org/ are interesting and I would love to find others who are involved in similar things in that section of our extended community.

Anyone have any suggestions of what I should keep my eyes open for next week?