Category Archives: Testing programs

A free, open source NX server from google; Neatx

Helping people from afar, it’s always nice to be able to log on and see their screen. It’s also cool to be able to log in on your desktop (not server, we use SSH for that) wherever you are. Ohwell, I always run SSH on my computers anyway, but my dad has two computers and wants to use one or the other graphically.

Right now I use VNC (vino-server), but it’s truly dead slow. I’ve seen other people using NX from NoMachine and I’ve been impressed. I tried it myself (the FreeNX-server, that is), but I was never able to make it work.

Google also saw that the FreeNX server was hard to maintain, so they started a FOSS NX server from scratch; Neatx. Great!

It’s still not «released» for the general public, but I’m planning on keeping my eyes on it. Thought I’d just give people a heads up in case they’ve also tried FreeNX and couldn’t really make it work.

Update 25th of July, I thought they made a release because of the LWN headline but still not. Plenty of good information in the LWN article (as always!) though: Google releases Neatx NX server

Firefox 3.5 (or Swiftweasel) + Video is HOT

I’m so extremely thrilled that Firefox 3.5 will be getting so incredible nice video support.

I took a small clip from my Nikon D90, and lo’ and behold. Did a quick ffmpeg2theora (yes, I know it sucks right now, but Thusnelda will fix that, and I couldn’t be bothered to dowload the GREAT improvements on Theora lately), and used the wordpress upload function. Of course, WordPress is rather stupid, so I had to write the tag myself, but damn that is ever so easy.

Anyone think this is as easy as embedding pictures? You’re damn right! I’m so thrilled with this. You can see my small clip of the river outside my bedroom and my girlfriend talking/singing on my norwegian blog.

Grreat! If you use Swiftweasel 3.5 (quick as hell!) or Firefox 3.5 you’ll be able to see the video with no problem. And it’s actually very nice to use. Much better than any of the video solutions I’ve seen before. It’s even better than the flash-players we’re used to seeing (because you can easily download the video).

Sorry that markdown plugin wasn’t on Habari for a short time, I’ve installed it again now. :-)

Lifebox: Oh my, a just released FOSS image gallery almost after my dreams!

I was searching on freshmeat for an free, open source alternative to ShareThis, AddThis and AddToAny that I could run on Universitas’ server (I found it iBegin Share), and stumbled upon Lifebox. What luck!

lifebox-screenshot.jpg

Those of you who know me (might) now that I’ve been obsessing about no web gallery software doing what’s correct and right to do. In the end, I actually found a usable image organizer for my desktop, digiKam, but the web was still without the presence of my images. I’ve got them up using ZenPhoto, but at this time they’re not public.

I’ve actually done a nasty hack in ZenPhoto in order for it to be usable for me. And I started customizing and extending django-photologue to do what I wanted, so that I might have a workable image gallery in a while.

But now I’m kinda bummed out about that, because Lifebox is here, and it is looking more of a fit than anything else I’ve ever seen. Look at this list of demands that it’s author Adam Goldberg designed it to:

  • Full resolution images
  • One photo library: every image on my computer should be available on the internet
  • Reads metadata from Lightroom, Picassa, iPhoto and other applications to allow for photo touch ups while maintaining synchronization between your desktop and photo gallery
  • Ability to rename, reorganize, and modify without structural changes on the website.
  • Image security: some pictures are meant for the public, some for family members, some for friends, and some for just me.
  • No more accounts and logging in. The site should just know who you are.
  • Completely database independent, using a db just for speed. Should something happen to the database, all data can be re-generated from reading exif tags and the existing file structure.
  • Less than 100 milisecond execution times for every page
  • 100% XHTML Valid
  • Viewers should be able to suggest titles, tags, and descriptions for images. It’s too cumbersome for one person to organize a hundred thousand photos.

It’s as if I’d written it myself. Not being a native english writer, I would’ve worded it differently — but I think he’s adressed these requirements:

  • Respect my folders, don’t try to make your own scheme
  • When I save a tag on the web save it in the picture’s IPTC keywords
  • Fast to navigate/use

There is also two more that I’d put up on my own version that Lifebox (AFAIK) doesn’t do:

  • OpenID-login, letting it gradually become part of the distributed social web
  • Allow machine tags, and use it so I can tag «Odin Hørthe Omdal» into a picture, and have that refer to «http://www.velmont.net», and ping the user about it (in this way, my profile can automatically show all pictures that I’m in from around the web, snaxy!)

But I’m eager to try this out. A big thanks to Adam Goldberg and his team! If I encounter any problems, I’ll be sure to blog about them :-)

Quick test of 5 FOSS Linux SIP-softphones inside NAT

I want to call other computers in a open standardsbased way from WITHIN NATed networks and from anywhere. I’m researching this for my employer. It is important for us that our infrastructure is based on open standards, and secondly on free software.

Why this test?

Skype works in Linux, but it’s a very scary program with it’s own proprietary network. We can’t support that. Right now we’re using it however, because it’s reliable and works. I want to switch, but it has been hard. So that is why I’m testing. It must also work on Windows, because here is people in the organization that uses that. (However, since it’s an open standard, they don’t need the same program).

This was going to be one of those really posts were I’m really frustrated that nothing will work. Then yesterday I did more research and tried out other soft-phones than Ekiga.

Test parameters

Setting up my two SIP-accounts was easy in all clients, so not worth mentioning.

  • Calling (I’m using ekiga’s echo test: 500@ekiga.net)
  • Getting a call (520@ekiga.net)
  • General feel/stabillity/etc.

I had pictures of all the programs while I used them, but I’ve lost the pictures, so I just found some random ones on the web

So, here it goes:

Ekiga

Calling

It doesn’t work. Sadly I’ve been using hours and hours on my time on Ekiga. I thought it was the best soft-phone available.

I tried the Ekiga I got in Ubuntu Intrepid 8.10, didn’t work. So I installed the 3.0.1 version. Well, didn’t work.

Ekiga doesn’t work inside NAT, hence useless

Yate client

Calling

Doesn’t work.

I fiddled around a bit with this, found out it was trying to use /dev/dsp (what the fuck!?). I installed yate-alsa. No avail. Didn’t work, it still wanted to use OSS. So I killed PulseAudio, letting yate-gtk2 get /dev/dsp. And…

It worked!

Strangely, it seems to work with ALSA (thus PulseAudio) now. No. I put on some music, doesn’t work:

Unable to open /dev/dsp: Device or resource busy

Getting a call

It doesn’t notify me in any way. No sound, nor no notification, and no popup. Notification + sound would be the best option.

So, it doesn’t really work

But it can receive the call, and everything works (if I know the call is coming and have the client up).

General feel/stabillity

Yate-gtk2 is unusable as long as it can’t use ALSA. Also, it’s blue and ugly. That doesn’t really count high, but if there are options that work as well, it’ll be a downside with yate-gtk2.

However, YATE itself is a SIP-server, so maybe this is something I could put on my server to become part of our phone infrastructure.

Linphone

Calling

I thought it worked. But no. It can do all the hard bits, but actually sending my voice over the wire? No go. Video does not work.

Doesn’t work

General feel/stabillity

Linphone doesn’t have a very nice user interface. It looks OK in the screenshot, but configuration is a nightmare.

Empathy

Calling

It works!

Telepathy rocks! I had to install telepathy-sofiasip extra in order to get SIP, but after that it was super easy.

Video does not work. It shows up, however, if I press «send video» it hangs and drops the call.

Receiving a call

This is a truly sad story. It doesn’t work. Empathy give me a popup and flashes the tray icon when I get a call, but I’m unable to press «accept» because the windows disappears when I look at it. Or when I move my mouse towards it.

So, empathy is still unusable

General feel/stabillity

Stability is truly horrifying bad.

But. This is really the best project, they do everything correct. It is extremely smart to fork off all the networking and sending code to telepathy, so that it can be used by the whole system in a smart way. I love what they’re doing here. And I was amazed at the simplicity of Empathy, and that Telepathy in the bottom did such a great job.

I’ve big hopes for Telepathy, I hope it becomes a truly integrated part of my Ubuntu desktop.

Too bad there are still issues. (It would be nice if Pidgin could use Telepathy and get SIP-support).

QuteCom

(What!? I found my old picture using Google Images, someone else copied it and mirrored it on their site)

Calling

It works!

Video doesn’t work. It can only use h261, and spits out these error messages:

(warn) 10:53:13 [Common] virtual CodecList::VideoCodec PhApiWrapper::getVideoCodecUsed(int): unknown codec=31 H261/90000/1

Strangely, video worked yesterday. I tried removing H261 and using another video codec, but can’t do it yet. Hmm. In the screenshot I’m calling my Norwegian cellphone, it’s working! Yay!

Getting a call

This is how I like it. Ok, it doesn’t use the standard notification system (libnotify), but YES! Sound+notification where I can choose either «answer» or «hangup». Very well done!

This is actually usable.

General feel/stabillity

It uses Qt, but is actually rather nice. Not as nice as a integrated Gnome app would be, but still nice. It also has more features that the others (as far as I’ve seen). It uses libpurple to do everything Pidgin can do, so you can use it for Jabber/XMPP and MSN etc (if you use such unfree networks). That may be a plus for a few, though I prefer Pidgin that looks much better and fits nicely into my desktop.

So the winner is

QuteCom. By far. I will switch to Empathy when that time comes when it’s rocking. However, I guess the Windows-folks can use QuteCom, and also, many of my coworkers who use Linux without being really into it. It looks more like Skype.

If I can set up an XMPP server with LDAP, I can let all of them get XMPP-addresses, that would be hip, because then I could chat with them (I refuse to use MSN) and they could use it to chat inside QuteCom (or better yet Empathy when it’s ready). I’m also thinking about setting up our own SIP-server.

Proxy, our own STUN-server or anything else

I tried finding easy information to help set up a proxy. We’ve got loads of servers that can be used to proxy phone calls to help the NAT-problem, but I couldn’t really find any solutions.

But anyway, now I can start testing SIP inside the organization. Then maybe we can move away from Skype, and move to QuteCom. I look forward to it.

The only usable photo organizer for Linux is: digiKam

I take a lot of pictures/photos/images (I’m a bit unclear on the difference) and I need to organize them. I’ve tested the programs that looks fit for the purpose, but it’s always clear that digiKam is the only GPL’d program up to the job.

What I need from a photo organizer

  • Blazingly fast (I’ve got 24.000+ photos right now)
  • Easy tagging (digiKam isn’t perfect here)
  • Good search
  • Sensible directory structure that I can control
  • Store meta information inside IPTC and XMP (when I tag something, I don’t want it to be in a stupid database, I want everyone to be able to use it)
  • Fast easy trashing/deleting, I often browse through thousands of pictures and delete ¾ of them. I only linger ½ a second on each photo and hate when the program is too slow to keep up.

Pretty standard features, yes? Well, I found digiKam is the only program to provide this.

Too bad that the Ubuntu version I’m using (in Intrepid Ibex, Ubuntu 8.10) has a few “problems”:

  • Looks ugly (that’s Qt for you – looks tacky and cheap)
  • Pulls in kdelibs, yuck
  • Pulls in Kmail, Dolphin and a load of other crap that I do not want
  • No keyboardshortcut for tagging, so I have to use the mouse for such a basic function

But anyway. digiKam is still the best photo organizer for Linux.