Tuesday, June 4, 2013

YaST is being rewritten in Ruby; Geeko gets a nosejob

For those not intimately familiar with +SUSE and +openSUSE , it bears mentioning what YaST actually is. YaST is our administrative control panel, composed of numerous modules for Software Management, User Management, Partitioning, and a variety of other tasks. It has interfaces implemented with +GTK , +Qt Project , and a command line interface. The command line interface is particularly nice in the case that you are running a server without a graphical environment, or if for some reason your graphical environment is not working. YaST even powers our very advanced graphical installer, providing us with power and stability during the install process that I haven't seen any other distribution able to replicate. WebYaST brings the power of YaST to remote administration, allowing you to remotely administer your machines from a comfortable web-based graphical interface.

For a couple of years now I've been hearing rumors about YaST being switched to +Ruby from the proprietary YCP language. However, up to recently I haven't stumbled across any substantiating evidence. Fact of the matter now though is that it is happening, and the next openSUSE release may even use the new Ruby based YaST.

Firstly though, why bother? It after all does work, and quite well for that matter. There are numerous reasons why this transition is being made. Firstly, YCP is a language developed explicitly for YaST development, and thus the only people who know it are YaST developers. This cuts out many people who would otherwise be able to contribute to it's continued evolution and maintenance. But why Ruby? Other similar (and inferior in my opinion) tools are usually written in +Python . Largely this is due to the simple fact that SUSE has many proficient Ruby developers. But, Ruby in it's own right is an excellent choice due to it's simplicity, flexibility, and the rapid development it enables. Also, it bears mentioning that WebYaST is based on Ruby, and so this would enable tighter integration and remedy duplication of effort enabling the two implementations to share more code.

The new Ruby implementation is being worked on by SUSE developers in Prague. It appears they are using a code translation scheme as the starting point similar to what +Xamarin used when they rewrote the +Android OS to use Mono. The new code has already been used to effectively install and administer an experimental build of openSUSE, and the developers feel confident of having it ready to begin integration by Milestone 4 of our next openSUSE release 13.1.

Personally I think this is an excellent move, as it would allow us to do more rapid development and innovation around YaST. Also, it would make YaST more accessible to other projects that might be interested in using or adapting parts of it for their own purposes. However, it should come as no surprise that if it does make it into openSUSE 13.1 it may introduce some new bugs that could prove a pain during installation or for new users. Nonetheless, I feel that this is certainly the right direction and will point us towards a promising future of innovation with YaST.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Review of Fluendo Codec Pack and DVD Player in openSUSE with Gnome

+Fluendo  aims at improving the global multimedia experience in the Free Software world by funding, developing and maintaining the +GStreamer  media framework and providing a wide range of commercial and free products on top of it.

For this test I did a clean install of +openSUSE  12.2 with the +GNOME  3 environment. I endeavored where possible to only use the multimedia applications included as part of our Gnome 3 pattern. So for most things I've used either Totem or +Banshee  which both use the GStreamer framework, which is what the Fluendo Codec pack is for, and what their DVD Player is based on.

The Fluendo codec pack promises superior playback capability with hardware acceleration. It certainly delivers an overall better multimedia experience. As I mentioned I have endeavored to keep a minimal install. Typically I have found Banshee to be glitchy and unpredictable. Though I knew Banshee was a darling media player for many, I hadn't the least idea why. However, after installing the Fluendo Codec Pack the way Banshee works is inexplicably better, and I to have become a fan. Also Totem (which is usually a steaming pile of $%!^) behaved much better with the Fluendo Codec Pack. Overall, my opinion on purchasing this would be this; whether you need it or not, the refined playback and compatibility make for a more enjoyable multimedia experience under Linux with less fuss than other means.

Unlike their Codec Pack, the Fluendo DVD Player was disappointing. Now, it does play DVD's, and plays them beautifully. However, I have found a few cases where disks that should have played, simply didn't. The interface leaves much to be desired. It is not suitable to new users since in order to use this software properly you'd need to have at least an elementary understanding of how devices are depicted in the Linux filesystem. I found that most of the configuration options that were shown either were unresponsive, or broken to the point of being unintelligible. There has been an update fixing that now, though the usage of the software is still ridiculously complicated. Bottom line is this; get it if you watch a lot of DVD movies, and know how devices are shown in a Linux filesystem.

Interesting sidenote: +Novell holds a license to redistribute these. I think they were going to include them in +SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop, or maybe try making a home desktop.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Easily install Steam for Linux in openSUSE

Gamers and Linux enthusiasts have been all abuzz about +Steam for +Linux since it was announced by +Valve  . On Valentines Day +Valve Linux celebrated its official release with an update and a spectacular sale of Linux titles at 50-75% off regular retail price. This sale is good through the 21st of February.

Thanks to the hard work of our community members, our very own installer has been added to the Games community repository. This installer primarily fetches the archived binary provided by Valve and installs it transparently without any needed user interaction. It installs like any other package in openSUSE. This link will take you straight to the page in +Open Build Service ; Steam for openSUSE. Simply use the "One-Click Install" and get ready for an amazing gaming experience.

I've been playing with the Steam client in beta for a while and had previously been unimpressed by its frequent freezes and failures to launch my games (I acquired the keys through my +Humble Bundle  purchases). However, as of the 14th (Valentines Day) the update pushed by valve fixed all these complaints, and i'm very pleasantly surprised and can see myself being a very happy Steam user for years to come. I would certainly recommend to anybody to go ahead and give Steam for Linux a try. My only complaint to date is how very few of my Linux titles I purchased (and have Steam Keys to) have been ported to Steam. I hate having a myriad of installers putting things in odd places, and would prefer to use Steam for all of my proprietary games. Hopefully this will only be a brief matter of time until it is resolved.

My "commercial" showing how easy it is to get Steam for openSUSE

For those of you whom are less familiar what Steam is, it is far more than a mere marketplace for games. It provides DRM (bear with me) for the games, allowing you to run the games on any device you own (I assume they are willing to allow that due to the way Steam DRM works). It also provides integrated forums, guides, and social elements making it easy to connect with your friends and find people to play with. Of course, there are also the famous Steam sales, where you can get amazing titles for a fraction of normal retail. If you are worried about the freedom implications of Steam and its games and DRM, you may be interested in this article with musings from Richard Stallman.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Run over by a truck.

As promised I got back in to writing, and pumped out a few articles. You might have noticed a lull in my posting recently. Well, I got hit by a truck. Seriously, not joking. On the 13th I was visiting with friends and went to go get something from the nearby grocery. I crossed one half of the street, then waited on the median to see how the traffic was so I could cross the rest of the way. As typical I step out a bit to make sure drivers can see me, and the two approaching cars slow down. I proceed to cross, and suddenly notice the SUV hasn't stopped and it was too close and too fast to react. After tumbling through the air for some while I landed on my back, in the middle of the street. Assessing the damage I realize that I wasn't too badly hurt... except for the bones protruding from my right leg.

I spent a little over a week in the hospital. They implanted metal rods into the fibula and tibia as opposed to casting it. I prefer the rods since I think that'll make things more usable quicker. So now I have to be pushed around in a wheelchair, or hobble about with a walker. The latter I can't do very much of at this point. I imagine I'll be more mobile in about a week.

I've had some articles brewing. Among them you can anticipate the following:

How to make Gnome 3 act more like Gnome 2 simply using extensions.
Crossover for Linux vs. WINE, is it worth it?
Fluendo DVD player review.
Fluendo Codec Pack review.
Steam on Linux beta review.