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FHS extension for user home folders

Justification.


Currently there is a huge mess of files and folders that start with a "." in any users home folder. There is no structure or policy on how applications should choose file and folder names for data that needs to be stored in users home directory. Additionally there is no established consistency between Gnome, KDE and most other applications. Gnome application have part of their configuration information in gconf folder and other part in a gnome subfolder. KDE applications have a complex structure under .kde/. And most other applications either have one file directly in users home folder or have their own dot-folder there.

Eternal unstable?

More and more early adopters choose to use Ubuntu instead of Debian. Ubuntu has newer versions of the software that matters (XOrg, FF, OOO, Gnome,...) than the stable Debian or, sometimes than even the unstable Debian. Early adopters are the users that are most eager to try new shiny things, do not scream too much if those things break and seem to make good bug reporters. They are the key second level - just below the developers and above most users in the pyramid of software development and use. They are also the people that have a tendency to become developers. That is why I have this feeling that capturing early adopters is essential to development of a thriving free software community. How can that be done? I do not know, but I have an idea that might just work.

Die C

I am not a good coder. In my mind a coder is determined by how much he loves C (or, in clinical cases, assembler). I hate C and avoid it whenever I can, because I am always off-by-one, and often even in more then one place, which make debugging even more .. fun. :(

SBackup 0.10 is out!

Get it while it's hot! It has been uploaded to Debian and will get to the mirrors in a day or two, but if you really want it now, then grab 0.10 release from Sourceforge.

DVFS

My plea has been answered by a DVFS project specification. For some strange reason, my edits do not show up in the freedesktop.org wiki page and the blog of its creator is not reachable, so I post it here.

Why? Oh Gods! Why?


$ mv .ssh/ .ssh.old/
$ python
>>>import gnomevfs
>>> gnomevfs.get_file_info( "ssh://aigarius:password@aigarius.com/home/aigarius" )
Traceback (most recent call last):
File "<stdin>", line 1, in ?
gnomevfs.AccessDeniedError: Access denied
>>>
$ ssh aigarius.com
The authenticity of host 'aigarius.com (85.254.216.40)' can't be established.
RSA key fingerprint is 6d:29:c0:f3:d0:84:c9:a9:d9:4c:7e:e3:1a:18:a2:e2.
Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)? yes
Warning: Permanently added 'aigarius.com,85.254.216.40' (RSA) to the list of known hosts.
aigarius@aigarius.com's password: *******
[...]
aigarius.com$ exit
$ python
>>>import gnomevfs
>>> gnomevfs.get_file_info( "ssh://aigarius:password@aigarius.com/home/aigarius" )
<gnomevfs .FileInfo 'aigarius'>
>>>

Debian artwork

Artwork is a matter of taste, style and consistency. Design by committee does not work.

SBackup revitalising - I18N

The development of SBackup was very stale for most of this year, mostly because many of the bug/feature that user were requesting required a significant rewrite of the codebase and at the same time I saw how messy the code has become over time. A few people came up and offered some help, but out of that only new icons and a command-line parameter parser were fully developed - other developers just took a task or a an idea and disappeared.

Spot focus

For a long time I have considered F-Spot to be a nice concept application, but not really fit to be the center of Linux digital photography experience due to general bloat and (most importantly) due to the lack of many important features that would compensate the interface lock in that this application demands. In this post I will try to list all the deficiencies and lacking features of F-Spot that I have found while using it to manage my photo flow.
First let's talk about the bloat. I will compare F-Spot to GThumb. There are few points of comparison: first start up, viewing a bunch of photos and importing a bunch of photos. When starting up GThumb uses 17 Mb RSS memory (10 of them shared with all other Gnome programs) while F-Spot uses 33 Mb RSS memory (17 of them shared with other Mono programs, of which I do not have any). When viewing a folder with couple hundred photos GThumb uses 25 Mb RSS memory while F-Spot grows to 55 Mb RSS. On import GThumb calls gphoto that adds 3-5 Mb RSS to the memory usage, while F-Spot seems to implement some/most of the photo protocol internally and can easily grow in memory up to the size of the photos being imported (which is kind of problematic while importing a gigabyte of photos), but usually the memory usage on import hangs around 250-300 Mb and hovers around that level for some time after the import is complete. For me personally it does not make much a difference (I have 2 Gb RAM now), but conservative memory usage is still critical for a good Linux application because people expect Linux to be faster and high memory usage can slow down anything. In my opinion no photo management operation should take more then 50 Mb of private RSS memory (even importing several gigs of RAW files from the camera).
Now let me try to describe the optimal work process of a (semi)professional photographer, so that we can see what is missing in F-Spot to accommodate such work-flow and what is done right.


  1. The photographer takes one (or several) cameras, lenses, flashes, memory cars, spare batteries and tripods and goes to an event/photoshoot/modelling session/walk in the park/wedding/...

  2. He takes 3-5 Gb of pictures from lots of different angles with different cameras, different lenses on different memory cards with different settings. Most of them will be the highest quality available on the camera, usually those will be RAW images.

  3. Upon getting back to his computer, the photographer wants to drop all the data to a staging place dedicated to this event. He wants to do it fast and simple without sorting trough the photos at the moment, but at the same time he might want to split the staging areas (multiple models within one session) or join them (one model from different cameras). Sometimes he might not even have time for that and would just want to dump the data now and run to another event.

  4. After several shooting events the photographer finally has reserved the time to sift trough some of the photos from the staging area (modelling jobs first, then the friends wedding and the walk in the park as last)

  5. First the photographer decides to check if the times on the photographs are correct and discovers that at some shooting sessions one of the cameras was set to another timezone. He select all shots from that camera across several (but not all) staging areas and adjusts the time.

  6. Now he rechecks the logical groups of photos (which photos should be in which staging area) by dragging the photos around, splitting and joining the staging areas

  7. When the overall structure is clear, the photographer selects one (most important) staging area and starts working with images in that staging area not caring about any other images

  8. First he browses in full screen trough all the photos rating them in quality scores form 1 to 9 by pressing corresponding number keys. Rating a picture automatically advances to the next picture, which happens very fast because the software precaches several photos ahead for speed and displays without any flicker. Speeds in the order of 2 photos per second are expected on good enough hardware. One key operations for "view 100% zoom", "rotate", "view exif" and "quick note" are available. RAW images are automatically translated for preview with default settings.

  9. With couple clicks bad photos (with score of 4 or under) are selected and erased

  10. Now the photographer starts working with individual photos

  11. First step is the RAW->Jpeg conversion. An appropriate tool is brought up with default setting already applied and a preview of the photo showing up (like in dcraw). The photographer adjusts the conversion parameters (including and option to make a HDR-like effect by compressing the dynamic range of high bitness pictures). The converted Jpeg is saved as a version of the original photo and becomes the default for operations that do not understand RAW.

  12. A separate plugin is used to reduce digital photo noise from the pictures (new version)

  13. Photographer makes adjustments to the image inside F-Spot. Each modification makes a new version.

  14. Still not satisfied, the photographer starts Gimp from inside F-Spot and make further edits. Each time Gimp saves the file, F-Spot makes another version.

  15. The photographer erases some versions of the picture and also joins multiple near-duplicate shots into one picture as versions of that picture. One version is always marked as the top version and the photographer can easily change it.

  16. The good photos are tagged and imported to the main collection

  17. A subset of the photos is exported to: Flickr, personal Gallery installation, plain html photo album, a zip file with small (1024x...) versions of the photos, ... Only the top versions of photos are exported. If unconverted RAWs are top versions, then they are converted to Jpeg with default settings. In most cases photos are also downsized before export according to the preferences. Highest quality downsizing is used (anti-aliasing) and also additionally small unsharp mask is run on each photo

  18. The photographer does advanced searches and advanced tag selections to select and display or export subsets of his main collection

  19. The photographer has three instances of F-Spot: his laptop, his main work PC and a backup hard drive that can be attached to either of them. He needs to keep his F-Spot photographs synchronised between the three locations for backups and for distributed work. Also after some point the main photo archive becomes too big to store it (with all versions) on the laptop or even on the main PC, so the photographer selects a set of older photos and selects an option to archive them. The next time a connection is established with the backup drive, all versions of archived photos are copied to the backup harddrive and the laptop and the main PC only keep 90% quality Jpeg format picture of the top version of each photo downsized to exactly fit the display resolution of the device. If even that takes too much space then "Archive Only" option is selected which insures that the backup harddrive has the copy of the photo and then erases it from primary data stores completely.

  20. When the backup harddrive is connected it is also very simple to make DVD/HDDVD/Blueray backup copies of subsets of photos from the archive with all the metadata and versions in such a way that other software (and even dedicated media devices) could easily browse the top versions of photos directly from the backup media. Of course, restoring from such backups also must be tested.

Spelling

From the previous version of my last post, people with even moderate knowledge of English could have easily understood that I suck at spelling and that, consequently, I did not have a spelling checker installed at this blog. Both of those two conclusions would be true.
So I decided to break in and install something to help me and after some mishaps, I settled on Visual Spellcheck plug-in. I am editing my posts in HTML anyway, so lack of WYSIWYG editor support is not critical for me, more like the opposite. All I needed was to install the plug-in, activate it in wordpress, install php5-pspell package and restart Apache. I forgot to restart Apache at first and got a cryptic error from the included fake pspell wrapper. Also aspell and corresponding language libraries must be installed on server site.
Note: after you have corrected all spelling errors in your text you must also remember to press "Continue Editing" link or otherwise changes will not be saved. I think that is a bug.

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