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KDE Releases Frameworks 5

Balinares Uh, whoa. (87 comments)

I've tried a lot of desktops over the years and always returned to KDE as the most able to be useful when I need it to and stay the fuck out of the way the rest of the time. (Unity, despite its reputation, is good at that too.) But the love was no longer really there. Like a favorite old workhorse that you just no longer really ride for the pleasure of it alone.

So I've not kept track of KDE 5 developments, and honestly I expected to be way underwhelmed. It was, after all, supposed to be mainly a port of the same old thing to the new Qt 5.

But I just tried the live CD linked in the article and, uh, whoa. It looks so *tidy*. Full of that orderly neatness that Gnome, for all its faults, has generally been better at than KDE. And I find myself excited for the first time in a long while, and that's a very nice feeling to rediscover.

about three weeks ago
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$3000 GeForce GTX TITAN Z Tested, Less Performance Than $1500 R9 295X2

Balinares Re:Quiet is important (151 comments)

I really just wish desktops were capable of only turning on the discrete GPU when playing games, and relying on the CPU built-in one the rest of the time. (Or is it possible nowadays and I never found out?)

about 1 month ago
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Testing 65 Different GPUs On Linux With Open Source Drivers

Balinares Re:Open Source drivers? (134 comments)

The open source Gallium3D driver for Southern Island Radeon GPUs has come a LONG way in the recent months. Given a 3.14+ kernel and the soon-to-be-released 10.2 Mesa libs, you can expect performance within 80% of that of the Catalyst driver, and it only keeps getting better. The stability is also pretty good. I love being able to flip smoothly between a full screen game and a chat window or a Web browser.

about 2 months ago
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Curiosity Rover May Have Brought Dozens of Microbes To Mars

Balinares The stuff of sci-fi. (97 comments)

Turns out we are the Great Ancients from a million years ago that came from the cosmos to seed life. Whatever species ends up evolving there will dig into their past with wonder and trepidation to discover who we were. And then they'll find out about Honey Boo Boo. Ah, to be a fly on the wall... :)

about 2 months ago
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Interview: John McAfee Answers Your Questions

Balinares Re:Damn Fascinating (124 comments)

It's a learn-as-you-go sort of deal. Don't start off with the end boss and you'll be okay. I would be pants-pissingly terrified in some of the situations described here, but some of the situations I've been in would make you at least a little queasy, I wager.

As an addendum to the press card thing: if you're working for or with any sort of official organisation that the locals would know of, find their logo, even a crappy small one ripped from a website, print it out on a large piece of paper, US Letter or so, along with the org's name in large bold letters, and tape that to the inside of your windshield. Does not open every door. But does open many doors.

about 4 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Do You Consider Elegant Code?

Balinares Elegant code is like a great teacher. (373 comments)

Maybe you've been lucky enough to have that once in a lifetime great teacher. The kind of teacher who somehow explains stuff in such a way that everything makes sense to you; things follow logically from one another and it all seems obvious when he explains it. (And you may not even realize it until he falls sick and the substitute trying to explain the exact same stuff leaves you confused and baffled.)

Elegant code has the same property of apparent obviousness. You read it and just nod because it makes sense and flows logically. There isn't one single way to achieve this, of course. It's not about functional vs. imperative vs. object oriented, but how you employ them for clarity.

Needless to say, such clarity is a very hard property to achieve, and a lifetime of experience will only let you approach it asymptotically. It's still worth the attempt, though.

about 4 months ago
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Official Wayland Support Postponed From GNOME 3.12

Balinares Re:Could somebody explain wayland, please? (77 comments)

Hi,

Thank you for the additional details. You are right -- I meant to make it clear that the Wayland design was thought up by people with some serious experience of the internals and limitations of X, and not a competing team of newcomers, as appears to be assumed all too often. But yes, things aren't as simple as I made them look and there is only a partial overlap between the Wayland devs and the Xorgs devs. Thank you for the correction.

I also agree that Wayland is largely about canning the legacy in order to make current and future needs easier to tackle.

I don't agree with your opinion of the move as a technical choice, though, for three reasons.

1/ Taking X out of the rendering loop does not mean dropping X altogether. It just means that future X servers, when and where they are still needed, will run on top of Wayland. It does deprecate X as the default API, yes. But that's not remotely the same as breaking compatibility.

2/ The comments that Daniel Stone (core Xorg and Wayland dev) made in that oft linked video aren't in agreement with the idea that everything Wayland does can be done on top of X, let alone done well. In his talk, DS mentions e.g. issues with input management when one window wants to grab every input that can't be solved in X.

3/ As a more general philosophical principle, the world moves and everything changes. Everything has a shelf life, up to the universe itself, and there is a point where resisting change for the sake of keeping past things going becomes harmful. And this is the actual reason I've been so active in this thread. Not just because I've got a pretty good hunch that once the dust settles Wayland will largely work better than X. But because I think that we, Slashdotters, Linux users, geeks and nerds, are becoming fearful of change, and that's not a good thing. This, here, is an entire new toy and it opens entire new possibilities! It may break shit and it may be awesome and it will probably be a bit of both. Let's freaking check out the code and play with it! Is this not exactly what we should be about? :)

Have a safe flight, and thank you for the constructive reply!

about 5 months ago
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Official Wayland Support Postponed From GNOME 3.12

Balinares Re:Could somebody explain wayland, please? (77 comments)

> Nobody uses Weston so the fact it has RDP support is dick all use to anyone using GNOME or KDE.

Ding ding ding. This, here, is what I think is the main problem with the Wayland ecosystem as it currently exists.

As things currently stand, the Wayland protocol is designed to give compositors a lot of flexibility in what kind of buffers they support, with what capabilities.

The drawback is fragmentation.

So okay, the Unix world at large is not a newcomer to fragmentation issues. But it's still a problem that will have to be addressed.

As I said in another comment, I think that things will probably converge on the common ground of either a de facto standard compositor, or a set of common libraries. Wayland itself will probably ship with a generic, non-optimized implementation for common capabilities like remoting.

But until then, it is an issue, and it would be dishonest not to acknowledge it.

about 5 months ago
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Official Wayland Support Postponed From GNOME 3.12

Balinares Re:Could somebody explain wayland, please? (77 comments)

> It will, however suck just as hard as all the other pixel-scrapers.

You are doing the same thing again.

You are asserting, without proof, that Wayland remoting will necessarily have to work as a pixel scrapper.

Wayland is designed to be extensible with regards to supported buffer types. For instance, YUV video buffers were merged into the reference compositor at some point in 2012.

And remoting specific buffer types can be done vastly more efficiently than with a generic pixel scrapper.

For instance, in case of a video buffer, the content can be streamed from the remote app to the local YUV buffer as a lossy video stream without impacting the quality of the other, non-video buffers of the application. (In fact, I think I remember something to that extent being demonstrated somewhere, although I can't find the link, so don't quote me on this.)

Meanwhile, because Xorg's current rendering extensions are not network-transparent, remoting X applications that use those extensions (which will be most of them, these days) does already boil down to filling generic pixel buffers and pushing them down the wire, which works with the approximate efficiency of... a pixel scrapper.

A Wayland stack should therefore be no worse than a current Xorg stack in most cases, and can theoretically be made to work vastly better. (I don't, however, think we are there yet. See below.)

If you're using only pure-X11 apps, though, stick with Xorg for the time being. At least until the Wayland stack supports X buffers sufficiently seamlessly.

> This leads old X11 users to believe they are either liars or incompetent (and hence the lack of trust) because having experienced them all over many years, I know for a fact it is a long way from the worst.

Only if you are willing to make the mental jump of generalizing the one data point of your own limited experience to the entire world and all the use cases that the Xorg developers have to contend with.

If you're gonna give that much weight to single data points, well, I'm afraid that my own long experience of X11, which has most recently involved telecommuting over a VPN and having to use tools like x11vnc and xpra because Xorg remoting on its own works too poorly, neutralizes your own single data point, and we're back to square one. :)

Unless, of course, you are the sort of person who thinks that their own personal experience constitutes the One Overriding Truth, in which case I don't think there is anything whatsoever to be gained for either of us in this discussion.

> The remote windowing is built into the compositor/windowmanager? I really, really hope someone is making a more sensible architecture than that out there

You appear to think yourself an authority on sensible architectures, so I would suggest you prove it with some actual design and implementation. Otherwise, I hope you will forgive me if I don't trust you nearly as much as I do the guys who are doing the actual work based on actual experience with actual issues. :)

That said:

> otherwise we're going to wind up with a lot of deficient compositors or a lot of duplicated code.

YES.

While it could be argued that the many composers/WMs on X already constitutes a lot of duplicated code, I DO agree that the Wayland stack is probably going to be somewhat fragmented for a while, at least until the dust settles.

In practice, I suspect Wayland stacks will end up converging over a shared common ground: probably one display server/composer will emerge as the de facto standard, like Xorg has become the de facto standard of X11 display servers; or Weston itself will evolve into a set of libraries that display servers/composers will be built upon.

But this is only a possible future, and until then, I do think that fragmentation and mismatched composer capabilities is the one big issue with the Wayland budding ecosystem.

Time will tell how big an issue it turns out to be in practice, though.

Lastly:

> The nice thing about X, you see is that it all just works like magic.

I think the entire point is, it's a lot of work for the Xorg developers to make it appear to work 'like magic'. And they'd rather achieve the same result in much saner ways. I don't think I am qualified to claim I know better than them in this, and frankly, you have not convinced me that you are either.

about 5 months ago
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Official Wayland Support Postponed From GNOME 3.12

Balinares Re:Could somebody explain wayland, please? (77 comments)

Hi! I would have liked to thank you for taking the time to reply, but I find it difficult to do sincerely, because your comment adds nothing to the discussion, and even detracts from it.

You appear to be trying to imply, with some aggressiveness, that Wayland precludes remoting.

You could have expressed this concern as an interrogation, and I would gladly have tried to share what I understand about the topic.

Instead, no, a bold, unsubstantiated, sarcastic claim with no room for discussion. This is exactly what I meant about the peanut gallery.

Likewise, the fact you refer to the issues the Xorg developers themselves -- you are aware that they are who you refer to as 'the Wayland folks', right? -- have claimed to have with X as 'FUD' makes you look like someone who dismisses contrary opinions instead of addressing them. That really doesn't help the discussion either.

Unless you do, in fact, know better than the Xorg developers themselves. In which case I'm sure you'll step forward to take over the maintenance of Xorg. Won't you?

As to your implied claim, I addressed it in my reply to Uecker below.

about 5 months ago
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Official Wayland Support Postponed From GNOME 3.12

Balinares Re:Could somebody explain wayland, please? (77 comments)

Hi! Thank you for taking the time to reply.

I don't personally know the X protocol well enough to comment either way; I can only report on the opinion professed by the X developers themselves.

Here is what I understand are the answers to the points you raise. You'll probably want to check out the talks by Daniel Stone (core Xorg developer) that have been linked elsewhere in the thread, in case I missed something.

Essentially, their opinion is that the X protocol is unsuited to what computers do nowadays. From what I understand, the only task that X11 still performs in current graphic stacks is IPC for the actual rendering extensions, and sadly, IPC is something it's very poor at.

Core X11 is network-transparent by design, but rendering is done through non-core, non-network transparent extensions nowadays. This appears to be a common misunderstanding about the meaning of network-transparent; remote display of application does in fact not require network-transparency because transparency means a lot more than just "remote capable". And Wayland as a protocol is already as remote capable as Xorg because Xorg was already filling buffers remotely and feeding that into SSH connections.

So if you want network-transparency, you'll have to disable all those rendering extensions in your Xorg configuration. But, correct me if I'm wrong, I believe what you really want, is to fire up apps remotely and have them display locally, right? And this has already been implemented in the reference Wayland compositor.

Until then, you will probably not miss the loss of network-transparency because you already lost it in current Xorg servers. I think that this, there, is the number one misunderstanding about both Xorg and Wayland.

You are correct about a window system being more than just about sharing buffers. All the things you mention are being redesigned as part of Wayland with the purpose of fixing issues that the X developers claim were unsolvable with X. (Don't take my word for it, though. Check out those talks.)

So in essence, the X developers think that Wayland stacks will be better than Xorg stacks at everything that Xorg does. Including remoting.

I do actually have one reservation about that general claim, and interestingly, it's one that I haven't seen come up from the aforementioned peanut gallery. But time will tell.

But until then, the X developers think that designing a new API from scratch is more straightforward than monkeypatching the old one into doing the same things. If you sincerely think they are wrong, maybe you'll want to step forward and take over the maintenance of Xorg? I'm sure some people out there would be grateful.

I, for one, am going to trust that they know what they are doing, but you may feel otherwise about that, and that's fine. There's just a "put up or shut up" line there that people who share your opinion seem unwilling to cross, and I think that's worth pointing out.

about 5 months ago
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Official Wayland Support Postponed From GNOME 3.12

Balinares Re:Could somebody explain wayland, please? (77 comments)

The story so far in a nutshell:

The Xorg developers got tired of spending their time working around the way X was designed in 1980 (which made sense at the time) to try and make it fit 2010 workloads and hardware.

They started to think about how to do the stuff that actually needs doing in an efficient manner, while removing the roadblocks they currently have to contend with.

Turns out that when you take what Xorg actually does nowadays, streamline the fuck out of it, and take away all the needless obstacles, you end up with a pretty straightforward buffer sharing protocol. They called it Wayland and started to work on an implementation.

And then the countless people in the peanut gallery who obviously know X much better than the X developers beheld the notion and started giving... loud feedback, shall we say. Without ever stepping forward to take over the maintenance of Xorg, mind you.

TL;DR: Xorg developers make what they concluded is the soundest technical choice. People on the Internet lose their shit. Business as usual.

about 5 months ago
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Google Brings AmigaOS to Chrome Via Native Client Emulation

Balinares Re:Only on Windows Apparently (157 comments)

Linux here, works fine for me. Chrome 31. I'd ask "can you try to upgrade to the latest version?", but I wouldn't want to contribute to, you know, Slashdot losing it. :)

about 8 months ago
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Critics Reassess Starship Troopers As a Misunderstood Masterpiece

Balinares Re:It tried to follow the plot (726 comments)

The real disturbing moment was when I rewatched the movie a few years after 9/11 and realized just how much it had anticipated correctly.

Does it still count as satire when it's so spot on?

about 9 months ago
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NSA Internet Spying Sparks Race To Create Offshore Havens For Data Privacy

Balinares Re:doesn't europe spy as well? (166 comments)

Countries like France and UK, yeah, absolutely. Germany... is slightly more touchy about issues pertaining to surveillance and the general topic of totalitarianism, for some reason.

Iceland overthrew its government when said government wouldn't jail bankers. If Iceland says they ain't going to spy on people because fuck that, I would lean toward cautiously trusting them.

about 10 months ago
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Myst Was Supposed To Change the Face of Gaming. What Is Its Legacy?

Balinares Re:The graphics were simply brilliant (374 comments)

Oh, then this is probably my cue to turn up and point you to Mystcraft. Mystcraft is just as the name implies: a mod for Minecraft that adds Myst-like mechanisms for creating and exploring Ages. Yes, it's just about as fantastic as it sounds. (And by God, don't forget to bring a linking book if you don't want to get forever stranded.)

And to answer the question raised by the article, I just spent my lunch break playing Mystcraft. Today, in 2013, 20 years after the release of Myst. So I'd say, pretty relevant indeed.

about 10 months ago
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Intel Rejects Supporting Ubuntu's XMir

Balinares Mir is fascinating... but not in a good way. (205 comments)

I think Mir is a case study in how to correctly identify problems and then going about solving them all wrong.

See, the good thing about Wayland is, it does the right thing in having a limited scope. It aims to do one thing and do it well: provide an API for GUI clients to share buffers with a compositor.

And the problem with Wayland is, of course, that... it has a limited scope. Screen management? Input handling? Buffer allocation? "A modern desktop needs all that!" say the Ubuntu devs, and yeah, that's absolutely correct. "That's a client concern," say the Wayland devs, and guess what? From their point of view, that's correct too. (Although Wayland since started working on an input handling API.)

Now, the important thing to realize is, when the Wayland guys say that something is a client concern, as I understand, they don't necessarily mean the GUI applications, no. They mean the compositor.

Meaning that a whole lot of the stuff desktop shells rely on is, in fact, not provided by Wayland itself.

That's where Weston comes in: it's supposed to be an example (a "reference implementation", to use the designated words) of how to write a compositor. But... not necessarily in a way that meets the higher level needs of desktop shells. Unsurprisingly, both KDE and GNOME will be using their own compositors.

So basically, a whole lot of the desktop integration on top of Wayland will be, as it were, left as an exercise to the reader.

With all that in mind, I think the highest outcome end game is somewhat clear: frame-perfect rendering through the Wayland API of Mir-composited KDE/GNOME/Unity clients.

Or in other words, Mir should probably be a set of APIs to handle all the admittedly important desktop integration -- clipboard, multi-screen layout, input and gestures, systray/notification requests... -- with an optional and replaceable compositor thrown in.

All the points of contention that I know of, mainly that Canonical requires server-side buffer allocation (presumably for mobile ARM platforms) where Wayland does it client-side, could have been resolved with some diplomacy and a mutual willingness to reach a satisfactory compromise.

But instead, it looks like the report card is just going to say, "Doesn't play well with others." As usual. What a sad mess and wasted opportunity.

about a year ago
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Chrome's Insane Password Security Strategy

Balinares Interestingly... (482 comments)

... Chrome is able to use the KDE password wallet if present, which is protected under a master password. (I assume it can use the GNOME equivalent too). If so, Chrome won't save anything itself, so on that count at least, you're safe.

That said, I would recommend using a service like LastPass anyway, so the problem is taken entirely out of the hands of the browsers.

about a year ago
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Researchers Demo Exploits Bypassing UEFI Secure Boot

Balinares Re:I can't install Linux on a UEFI machine? (100 comments)

>Microsoft's spec is supposed to allow people to install their own keys

The Windows 8 certification requirement outright mandates that users are able to upload their own keys. (See here, "Windows 8 System Requirements", page 121, paragraph 17.)

This thankfully gives us a pretty solid standing to complain at hardware makers who don't do it right.

In the long run, I am not sure it will be necessary, though. I've been looking into those issues after getting a laptop with SecureBoot enabled, and sane options are in development. The interesting thing about UEFI is that it comes with an extensive API, and can be configured from inside the currently running OS (check out efibootmgr on Linux for instance). When the dust has settled, installing and launching Linux will probably not be so vastly different from right now. Time will tell.

about a year ago

Submissions

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Better Copyright Through Fair Use And Ponies

Balinares Balinares writes  |  about 3 years ago

Balinares (316703) writes "With even harmless parody sites like Peanutweeter now getting shut down by twitchy lawyers in the name of brand dilution concerns, the situation with fair use has become bleak. Yet some companies are learning at last. Variery reports that when parodies of their latest production started popping up online, Hasbro not only allowed it to happen, but started contributing some of their own. Now their My Little Pony reboot has gained a huge following and reached cult status. Fair use does make everything better. That, or it's the ponies."
Link to Original Source
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Qt goes LGPL

Balinares Balinares writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Balinares (316703) writes "Nokia announces today that the cross-platform Qt toolkit, which is the foundation of many open sources projects such as the KDE desktop environment, will be available under the LGPL license as of the next version, Qt 4.5. The former GPL/commercial dual licensing of Qt had been a source of controversy in the open source community for many years."
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Django 1.0 Released

Balinares Balinares writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Balinares (316703) writes "After over one year of development, Django 1.0 was finally released yesterday. It features major improvements, such as a completely refactored administration application and object-relational mapping layer. Django is a modern Web development framework "for perfectionists with deadlines", noted for its power, short development times and excellent scalability. It powers many sites and is used heavily in the backend of Google's AppEngine."
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Google Gadgets Linux Implementation To Run In KDE

Balinares Balinares writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Balinares (316703) writes "As another sign of Google's growing interest in the Linux desktop, according to a Google developer, the Linux implementation of Google Gadgets will be able to run natively as KDE Plasmoids. After Mac OS X dashboard widgets, this is the second major widget library to be supported in KDE Plasma."
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Google to provide free Django hosting

Balinares Balinares writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Balinares (316703) writes "Brady Forrest from O'Reilly reports that Google is opening AppEngine, a Python Web application hosting service. It offers an API that seems heavily based on the Django Web framework, one of the tools of choice at Google, and that also lets you tap into such Google technologies as GFS and BigTable — for free. The mandatory demo video is here."
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XenSource-now-Citrix Console Goes Windows-Only

Balinares Balinares writes  |  more than 6 years ago

Dispirited (316703) writes "Not very long after being bought off by Citrix and incidentally announcing their "commitment to the Windows platform", XenSource releases a new version of their administration console that drops support for Linux. The formerly multi-platform, Java-based administration tool is now Windows-only. The rioting in their forums has already begun. Why drop support for Linux when the previous version worked wonderfully there?"
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Balinares Balinares writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Balinares (316703) writes "Adobe's recently started Apollo project, a cross-platform environment for running desktop applications based on HTML, JavaScript, AJAX and Flash, has just announced their platform will be using the WebKit open-source toolkit that is powered by KHTML, KDE's own HTML rendering engine. Is WebKit set to become the new standard for HTML engines?"
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Balinares Balinares writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Anonymous Bullward (316703) writes "Qt 4.2 was released today. Among its new features are the usual programmatic improvements, most notably a powerful accelerated 2D canvas class and the possibility to style widgets with CSS. More interestingly, this release of Qt marks a major shift toward desktop interoperability: with a native widget look that emulate Ubuntu's Clearlooks theme, native D-BUS support, automatic dialog button ordering according to the desktop's preferences, and support for the GLib event loop, it should be possible to seamlessly use Qt and, in time, KDE widgets and dialogs right within GTK+ and GNOME applications. Get it here."

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