February 28, 2007

Video: Serie A Top Ten Goals 02-26-2007

Filed under: Blog — krkhan @ 8:27 pm

Top ten goals from Calcio, as chosen by the highlights show that aired on 26th February:

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February 7, 2007

Will GPLv3 mean the demise of collaboration between free and open source software?

Filed under: Blog — krkhan @ 2:16 am

Nowadays, the general perception of media about open source is that of an efficient development model which is rapidly gaining user base. I also believed that open source has a bright future, but after I read’s report on the rumor about Free Software Foundation trying to lock down Novell from selling its Linux based distribution, darker prospects started looming in my mind.

RMS and FSF care more about ideology than technicalities, and that’s what sets free software apart from open-source software. Now consider a situation where RMS tries to include clauses in GPLv3 which do prevent Novell from selling Linux. Things will continue to be fine for quite a while, as the kernel developers aren’t big fans of GPLv3 themselves. However, they will really escalate if FSF decides to release GNU’s toolchain and coreutils under GPLv3. Novell will be forced to fork the v2 versions, and we’ll be left with an open war declaration of open source enthusiasts against free software evangelists.

Of course, I may be just being paranoid about free software, but I just don’t see why people don’t like the new anti-DRM clauses that are being proposed for GPLv3. Here’s what v3 says about DRM:

The Corresponding Source also includes any encryption or authorization keys necessary to install and/or execute modified versions from source code in the recommended or principal context of use, such that they can implement all the same functionality in the same range of circumstances. (For instance, if the work is a DVD player and can play certain DVDs, it must be possible for modified versions to play those DVDs. If the work communicates with an online service, it must be possible for modified versions to communicate with the same online service in the same way such that the service cannot distinguish.) A key need not be included in cases where use of the work normally implies the user already has the key and can read and copy it, as in privacy applications where users generate their own keys. However, the fact that a key is generated based on the object code of the work or is present in hardware that limits its use does not alter the requirement to include it in the Corresponding Source.

The motivation of stopping your code from being used to restrict other people’s freedom was supposed to be the primary incentive for authors using GPL for their code and the clause mentioned above only tries to further restrict the restriction of consumers’ freedom. The anti-anti-DRM clause people point out that if you had a hardware like TiVo which runs only particular versions of Linux (using cryptographically signed keys), this clause will mean a clear violation for the hardware manufacturer. The problem here, again is that these people don’t share the ideology of free software, and consequentially don’t see any freedom-restriction issues with TiVo-like products. If I buy some hardware, the choice of code that would be running on it should be entirely mine — That’s freedom.

It’s a pity to finally see the dreaded clash of ideologies between the leading figures of free and open source software movements. If the conflict isn’t resolved in a healthy manner, both movements will be once again left behind the proprietary software within a few years as their respective successes owe themselves largely to their collaborative natures.

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Linux kernel 2.6.20 released

Filed under: Blog — krkhan @ 1:08 am

The first stable release of the Linux kernel in 2007 was announced on 4th February. Many new features excite developers but the one that’s been most anticipated is the Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM); which enables people to run virtual ‘machines’ on their desktop concurrently (e.g. a Linux distribution and Windows).

Until now, virtualization for Linux distributions was usually done through Xen. The competition scenario of KVM and Xen proves to be an intriguing one. Xen people’s efforts for inclusion in mainstream kernel sources will now abruptly subside, while mainstream distributions e.g. RHEL will keep supporting Xen for at least a couple of years because of the stability and inertia of the project.

As for myself, alas, I can’t test the 2.6.20 kernel right now. It’ll probably sound boring now but I’m away from my PC for another few days — I’ll post a review of KVM as soon as I get back to it (phew, another one on the list).

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February 5, 2007

The offspring of XMMS

Filed under: Blog — krkhan @ 12:31 am

XMMS is the music player that started it all for *nix users. If you’ve ever used it, chances are that you’re disappointed at the lack of activity and support that the project has exhibited for the past couple of years. It uses an obsolete GTK+ interface and consequentially, lacks active development of plugins. Not surprisingly, newer applications were born which aimed to dent XMMS’ dominance as the music player of choice for *nix desktops. In this article, I take a look at these applications one by one. Giddie-up!

Beep Media Player

BMP was an early fork of the XMMS project which mainly focused on using the new GTK+ 2 toolkit. XMMS plugins were sometimes compatible with BMP, but it has excellent plugin support of its own. The media player resembled XMMS in almost every aspect of appearance, mainly because it was possible to use the XMMS and WinAmp themes with it. The project was a nice choice for XMMS fans until October 22nd, 2005, when it was announced with the version that BMP is going to meet the same fate as XMMS i.e. it will no longer be actively developed. Instead, the BMP developers focused their energies on a new-generation audio player, which brings us to …


Technically, BMPx didn’t fork much of BMP code. The developers instead rewrote most of the code base from scratch, and the application used a Xine backend for audio playback. With the release of version 0.14.0, BMPx chose GStreamer as the audio playing backend, which meant that the package requirements were considerably increased. The application itself became more of a ‘digital music library management’ system than just a plain audio player. It had more features which enabled it to behave like a juke box. The result was that BMPx no longer belonged to the league of ‘little audio players’. While many people found the change to be positive, I longed for the good old nifty players which didn’t occupy my whole desktop just because I wanted to listen to some music. Fortunately, there were other people too who shared my view, and we were presented with …


Audacious was (ironically) forked from the original BMP due to ‘purely technical reasons’ (and because of its developers sharing the opinion that I’ve mentioned above). It is still very actively developed (1.3.0-aplha3 was released on 25th January) and it’s as close to the original XMMS as anyone probably could’ve hoped. It has excellent plugin and format support, and can be minimized just to a little title bar like XMMS. The only thing in Audacious which I didn’t like was the absence of a make uninstall in its tarballs. So if you’re installing Audacious from source code, beware of the fact that you’ll have to manually delete files if you want to remove it from your system in future. Other than that, Audacious is truly XMMS-reborn, and is the current personal favorite of mine for music playing.


XMMS2 was another application designed to replace XMMS for audio playback functionalities. Like BMPx, the code was rewritten from scratch, and, also like BMPx, XMMS2 started focusing library management of music files. Various GUIs were developed for XMMS2 because its nature was more likely of a ‘back-end’ than a playback software. However, I personally found none of them to be efficiently working as of last year (I don’t know about their current state, as I stopped following the project after that). There was one feature though in which no other audio player rivaled XMMS2 and that was command-line playback. Organizing libraries and playing them back at command-line was a unique thing to do, which was only possible because of XMMS2’s design as a back-end.


If you’re an XMMS fan in every aspect of the player, Audacious is your best bet. If you want digital music library management features too, BMPx will be a better choice, and if you want library management features and powerful command-line playback, there’s no alternative but XMMS2.

Happy listening!

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February 1, 2007

Beryl/AIGLX white cube issue

Filed under: Blog — krkhan @ 8:41 pm

Anyone who has ever tried to run Beryl using AIGLX must’ve heard about the infamous white cube issue. While facing this problem, the screen goes totally white and while you can rotate the cube, you can’t do pretty much anything else. As I had also spent about a week trying various methods to solve the problem, I thought to publish on my blog the combination that did work on my Intel G965 motherboard.

Apparently, the whole thing is messed up because of the opcode changes in glproto-1.4.8 and although I don’t have any idea why, downgrading glproto and recompiling Mesa and X.Org did not solve the problem for me. Nevertheless, the following setup worked like a charm:

Compiling these components might require you to install other ones (such as inputproto, damageproto etc.), but this page is not meant to be a HOWTO. I’m just confirming that the above mentioned things work for me on my Intel graphics card. There is even a new patch created for xorg-server but I haven’t tried it out myself yet (I’m away form my PC for at least another week). If anyone else can confirm some other combination to be working, I’ll be glad to list it here. Just leave a comment using the form below.

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Roma crushes Milan

Filed under: Blog — krkhan @ 3:48 pm

Italian Serie A club AS Roma secured its place in the Coppa Italia final as they blew AC Milan out of the competition after a 5-3 aggregate victory in yesterday’s match. Roma will now face the winner of the second-leg match between Inter Milan and Sampdoria on Thursday. Inter is already leading the aggregate score with 3-0.

Roma’s form has been consistently improving over the past few months, and although they’re currently playing without proper strikers, their midfield has proven itself to be one of the strongest in Serie A because of the presence of Perrotta, Mancini, Pizzarro and Totti. The club has got big games coming up now such as the fixtures against Inter and Lyon in February. Roma has also loaned Francesco Tavano and Christian Wilhelmsson from Valencia and Nantes respectively, so Spalletti just has to keep his players focused and they might even break the Inter curse that has been following them for the past two years.

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