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Smash Lab S01E01 & S01E02

Smash Lab is a new Discovery Channel series where a team of inventors try to solve an engineering challenge. The premise is quite nice, unfortunately I don't find the inventors in question to be particularly bright.

Dealing with common mistranslations

In the Latvian l10n community we often deal with the problem of mistranslation of common words such as "file", "preferences" and "advanced". There are several words that fit each of those and over the years preferences in the community have shifted back and forth.

Quoted

A person that I deeply respect and who is very know in Latvian IT society recently said that he often uses a quote of mine in his presentations. I completely forgot that I ever said that, but it sounds very much like what I would say, so I wanted to write it down so that I do not forget about it again:

Terrorist Airlines

I can't believe I have not bogged about this before. With all that terrorism threat bullshit, wouldn't it be nice if there was an airline that would declare itself to be 'terrorist friendly' - i.e. all passangers are welcome to come on board with just a simple identity check, no security check, no baggage security check, no delays. You can arrive 10 minutes before departure and just fly away. Wouldn't that be nice?

Home folder organisation

After last post about a FHS amendment to address the structure of user's home folders, I received a lot of comments and there is one very significant thing that can be changed in the proposal - instead of having $HOME/{.data|.cache|.config}/appname structure, to change that to a mandatory $HOME/.library/appname/{cache|config|...} . This version still has all the benefits of the first solution (configuration for an application can be easily identified and erase, and all cache can easily be excluded from backups using "$HOME/.library/*/cache" regexp) and also has additional benefits, main of which is the ability to later introduce the concept of user installed packages. The idea is that it would be possible to support having /bin, /lib and /share subdirectories in these application directories thus making an ability for the whole application to e packed in a single directory and allowing the application to be installed simply by unpacking this directory. I admit that much of this is glanced over from MacOS X world, but I do not think that it diminishes the idea itself.
Some problems appear there - support of these distributed bin folders, support of separate lib folders, handling of application plugins, handling of dependencies, handling of the application menu, upgrading notifications for the user software vs. system software. But nothing there that can not be solved. I feel that this can bring together FHS and LSB by providing something of an API for software being installed by users. Having no registry of the software in this solution allows for some interesting things, for example having multiple versions of one program just by renaming the application folder.
A lot of specification work is required here, therefore I proposed a workshop on this topic in Debconf7. I hope to have something that everyone can agree on and maybe even some code by then, so that after Debconf7 there can be a formal policy amendment proposal.

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.

Did I miss anything?

Catching up on blogs, emails and Debian mailing lists I see that nothing really important has happened while I was off-line: the dunc-tank caboodle escalated and died down when the majority voted that it was not worth the commotion, some people got upset at some other people and decided stop working on Debian because of that, Mozilla went even more bonkers about its trademarks.

Bug hugging?

Hmm, I wonder if in the bug squashing parties one can eliminate bugs by hard random hugging?

Another type of bounty

It would be very good to have a bounty that would pay 100$ to anyone who would find and implement a way to reduce memory use of a fully running Debian Linux + Gnome system (optionally, with all Gnome apps loaded) by one megabyte (as indicated by RAM used in a swapless system - (cache+buffers)) in a way that does not reduce functionality or heavily compromise runtime speed and would be accepted into upstream Gnome.

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.

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