Productivity improvement weekend

This weekend I’m going to try my best to improve my own productivity. Why do I say that? Well there are quite a few reasons for it. The first is that I spent the last week working full time on feng, rewriting the older code to replace it with simpler, more tested and especially well documented code. This is not an easy task especially because you often end up rewriting other parts to play nicely with the new parts; indeed to replace bufferpool, between me and Luca we rewrote almost entirely the networking code.

Then there is the fact that I finally got a possible price to replace the logic board of my MacBook Pro that broke a couple of weeks ago: €1K! That’s almost as much as a new laptop; sure not the same class, but still. In the mean time I bought an iMac; I needed access to QuickTime, even more than I knew before, because we currently don’t have a proper RTSP client; MPlayer does not support seeking, FFplay is broken for a few problems, and VLC also does not behave in a very standard compliant way. QuickTime is, instead, quite well mannered. But this means I have spent money to go on with the job, which is, well, not exactly the nicest thing you can do if you need to pay some older debts too.

So it means I have to work more; not only I have to continue my work on lscube at full time, but I’m going to have to get more jobs to the side; I got asked for a few projects already, but most seem to require me to learn new frameworks or even new programming languages, which means they require a quite big effort. I need the money so I’ll probably pick them but it’s far from optimal. I’ve also put on nearly-permanent hold the idea of writing an autotools guide, either as an open book or a real book; the former has shown no interest among readers of my blog, the latter has shown no interest among publisher. I start to feel like an endangered species regarding autotools, alas.

But since at least for lscube I need to have access to the FFmpeg mailing list, and I need access to the PulseAudio mailing list for another project and so on so forth, I need to solve one problem I already wrote about, purging GMail labels out of older messages. I really have a need for this to be solved, but I’m still not totally in luck. Thanks to identi.ca, I was able to get the name of a script that is designed to solve the same problem: imap-purge . Unfortunately there is a problem with one GMail quirk: deleting a message from a “folder” (actually a GMail label) does not delete the message from the server, it only detach the label from that message; to delete a message from the server you’ve got to move it to the Trash folder (and either empty it or wait for 30 days so that it gets deleted). I tried modifying imap-purge to do that, but my Perl is nearly non-existent and I couldn’t even grok the documentation of Mail-IMAPClient regarding the move function.

So this weekend either I find someone to patch imap-purge for me or I’ll have to write my own script based on its ideas in Ruby or something like that. Waste of time from one side, but should allow me to save time further on.

I also need to get synergy up to speed in Gentoo, there have been a few bugs opened regarding crashes and other problems and requests for startup scripts and SVN snapshots; I’ll do my best to work on that so that I can actually use a single keyboard and mouse pair between Yamato and the iMac (which I called, with a little pun, USS Merrimac (okay I’m a geek). Last time I tried this, I had sme problems with synergy deciding to map/unmap keys to compensate the keyboard difference between X11 and OSX; I hope I can get this solved this time because one thing I hate is having different key layout between the two.

I also have to find a decent way to have my documents available on both OS X and Linux at the same time, either by rsyncing them in the background or sharing them on NFS. It’s easier if I got them available everywhere at once.

The tinderbox is currently not running, because I wouldn’t have time to review the build logs, in the past eight days I turned on the PlayStation 3 exactly twice, one earlier today to try relaxing with Street Fighter IV (I wasn’t able to), and the other time just to try one thing about UPnP and HD content. I was barely able to watch last week’s Bill Maher episode, and not much more. I seriously lack the precious resource that time is. And this is after I show the thing called “real life” almost entirely out of the door.

I sincerely feel absolutely energy-deprived; I guess it’s also because I didn’t have my after-lunch coffee, but there are currently two salesman boring my mother with some vacuum cleaner downstairs and I’d rather not go meet them. Sigh. I wish life were easy, at least once an year.

Dualhead, 16:10 and XRandR

With my move to Gnome I decided to try out again the graphical login. I used to use standard console login before because KDM lacked too many features, and while for some time I kept using GDM, it just didn’t feel right. Unless I was going to just do some system administration, or testing PAM, the only command I was going to type was startx, followed by sudo shutdown -h once I was done.

To do so, I had to give up keychain, at least for inserting the private key’s passphrase. Instead of using that, I decided to change my PAM setup to use pam_ssh (and this is also what brought me to plan removal of pam_ssh_agent .. I just remembered I forgot to add that to the Gentoo Calendar! — done!), so that instead of typing my password and my SSH key passphrase, I just have to type in my passphrase at login and I’m done. The nice thing is that the standard Unix password is also accepted, so I can use that to take me out of the lock screen that Gnome applies when I walk away from the system, which is much shorter.

Again, I will probably put up a request for an electronic ID card next september and consider using a smartcard reader (I I wonder if I can use old, invalid, credit cards as smartcards too, once they are formatted).

So okay, I’ll write at another time about pam_ssh, it’s not what I’d like to write about right now.

With GDM I’m having one problem: my current setup is a dualhead, with a 16:10 monitor (and a 4:3) and using XRandR 1.2 (radeon driver). I have the screen disposition set up in my xorg.conf, but I’m not able to set the proper mode for the 16:10 monitor in the configuration file. If I set PreferredMode in xorg.conf, X11 refuses to start, without any apparent error either.

So for now I’m running at the session manager level two xrandr commands to set up properly the screens, but there is one problem: synergys does not seem to be expecting the geometry of the screens to change, so it still wraps my pointer out on the coordinates where it should have wrapped before the xrandr fixes.

I should probably see to try the latest masked version of xorg, and check if it works there. Although I think Synergy should have considered the case of changing screen layout. Maybe one day it will be rewritten using XCB and it will consider that problem too ;)

Oh yeah I should be writing about XCB too…

My thoughts about Synergy

I was suggested more than once lately, especially after my posts with multiseat, to try out Synergy. Well, I did :)

It’s quite an interesting program, and it actually saves me from having to use two mouse at once every time. Too bad I needed a mouse anyway to get the second seat, or I would have saved quite some money, too.

There are a few problems with it, though, for instance the server crashes from time to time, stopping access from the clients.

It’s unfortunate that the project development has slowed down, as it would be quite an interesting thing. Having better support for OSX for instance would be nice, as it is, part of my keyboard does not work on the laptop because there are keys that are NOT on the laptop.

One way to achieve better integration would be, I suppose, to make it act as an input driver on OSX. Using the same protocol, but rather than having a daemon, having an input driver that “installs” its own keyboard and mouse. It would probably then allow to use as many keys as the server has.

A similar piece of software could be done under X11: an Xorg driver that handles the input as a virtual event. With such a software I could easily get rid of the keyboard and mouse that I reserved for the extra seat and leave it as a virtual device.

If only Xorg would be more easily shared between instances (less use of .data.rel for instance) it would be quite interesting to use the monitors with three separate instances; this way it would handle dpms differently on a per-monitor basis, and shut down the extra monitors when not needed; as it is unless I do it on my own, the monitor at my left is always on, as it’s handled by the same session as the central one.

Well, if anybody wants to start working on it, it would be appreciated :)