Thursday Aug 27, 2009

I'm leaving Sun

Today is my last working day at Sun. It's the hardest decision I've ever made that I'm leaving Sun. It's really difficult to send this message to all of you.

In the past 5+ years, it has been a pleasure for me to work with many of you. I enjoyed working in such a great company, with talented people here. Thanks a lot for your help and support.

As I'll be working for the company which works on Songbird, I'll be still around in the OpenSolaris community. And OpenSolaris will still be my development platform. I'll be still in the Mozilla community as Songbird is built on top of Mozilla's XULRunner platform.

If you have a chance to go to Singapore, please do let me know.

I've just set up a new blog at: http://alfredpeng910.blogspot.com/. Let's keep in touch.

EMAIL: alfred.peng@gmail.com
MSN: alfredpeng@hotmail.com
GTALK: alfred.peng@gmail.com
FACEBOOK: http://www.facebook.com/alfredpeng
TWITTER: http://twitter.com/alfredpeng

Tuesday Apr 07, 2009

The download and get involved page for OpenSolaris Mozilla-based projects is online

The download and get involved page for OpenSolaris Mozilla-based projects is online. This page highlights all the latest contributed builds (Firefox/Thunderbird etc.) come from Sun Beijing Desktop team and community contributions, and how to get involved in the Mozilla related development on OpenSolaris platform.

Any help will be appreciated:
1. Please review the page and report anything wrong or missing, or anything you advice us to include, to desktop dash discuss at opensolaris dot org.
2. Please try your best to download the contributed builds (tarball format) from the links on this page instead of grabbing from the contrib directory directly. This is VERY IMPORTANT for us to get the download number statistic from Mozilla and be part of the possible future "Firefox/Thunderbird download day".
3. Feel free to join the Mozilla developers/QEs to improve the Mozilla-based projects on OpenSolaris. Any bug reports/fixes, feature enhancement request are welcomed. Mozilla development/nightly builds, Mozilla bugzilla, Tinderbox trees, Mozilla Litmus etc. will be your friends.
4. Any interests in porting Mozilla-based projects to OpenSolaris, please feel free to take the ownership and notify us. Some potential projects have been listed in the page. The binaries can be linked on this page when available.
5. Please recommend the add-ons you like and they could be included on the page as well. For example, Weave 0.3 is just released, which can help sync the bookmarks, tabs, passwords, and histories across multiple browsers. This add-on must be helpful for many guys. Gary ported it to OpenSolaris x86 recently and it works fine on my OpenSolaris box (Thanks for the contribution, Gary!).

If you're interested in OpenSolaris or Mozilla (better both :-) ), please don't hesitate to join us!

Wednesday Mar 25, 2009

OpenSolaris ships Firefox 3.1b3 with Open Video/Audio support

Firefox 3.1 beta 3 has been integrated into OpenSolaris development build. The users for OpenSolaris 2009.06 will be able to enjoy a lot of new features bring alone. Besides all the improvements for performance/security/TraceMonkey and many more, open video/audio support is my favorite.

As people rely more and more heavyly on the Internet, Open Web is becoming more and more important for the Internet users across the world. From my perspective, one of the meanings of "Open" here is that everyone have the equal power to access/participate to the content on the Web. However, one of the problems is that the current web is full of patent-encumbered codecs, which means that not every users have the equal privilege. Open video is definitely one of the approaches taken by browser providers (including Firefox) towards an much opener web. The integration of Firefox 3.1 (later called Firefox 3.5) gives OpenSolaris users an alternative for an opener path.

For the technical part, Firefox 3.1b3 "supports the OGG container format with the Theora video and Vorbis audio codecs for the <video> element".I notice that some people argued that OGG Theora is inferior to H.264. Well, that might be the current status. As Mozilla grants $100,000 (USD) which is administrated by "the Wikimedia Foundation to develop and support Theora", I believe that this will be definitely improved in the near future. On the other hand, hope that other organizations/companies can join Mozilla to push the open video/audio forward.

For OpenSolaris users, the age for open video/audio is approaching!

Update: the Firefox 3.1b3 contributed builds for Solaris 10 is also available.

Wednesday Mar 18, 2009

LXDE (Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment) on OpenSolaris

Just did the initial porting of LXDE to OpenSolaris. It's running pretty well on my box here as you can tell from the screenshot.

Since it's a GTK based desktop environment, some of the applications (pcmanfm, lxpanel, lxappearance, lxlauncher etc.) can be easily built and installed. But some still don't work. The network manager lxnm is one of them, also lxtask and lxterminal. Good news is that the OpenSolaris nwam manager works great with small memory footprint :) The app lxmusic, which is the media player for LXDE, depends on xmms libraries. This could be a limitation for the distribution as xmms links against a lot of patented codecs. Maybe GStreamer framework could be a better choice from a distribution's point of view. Anyway, I can still use Songbird/Rhythmbox/Totem.

To compare with my personal experience of Xfce, LXDE runs better on OpenSolaris. Xfce is a little bit sluggish on my box (configuration issue?). LXDE's performance and memory footprint are really impressive to me. It provides a nice alternative for the resource-limited desktop users (Eee PC users for example). On the other hand, the desktop layout of LXDE is pretty similar with Windoz. I guess this is because a big bunch of the developers are from Taiwan :) This helps easier migration for users from the Windoz land. As the LXDE applications are still in the 0.x stage, please feel free to get in touch with the community (mailing list or IRC) for any problems you find.

The first set of spec files have been checked in to the SFE reporitory (SFElx\*, SFEgpicview, SFEgtknetcat, SFEopenbox and SFEpcmanfm). If you're familiar with CBE, it'll be very easy for you to build and install LXDE on OpenSolaris. Those who are interested can also refer to the CBE instructions.

Actually the porting initiative comes from Mario Behling's introduction of LXDE on the Singapore Linux meetup group event in January. The frozen-bubble porting was also after the event :) It's nice to talk with him face to face and get to know a lot of community people behind: pcman, jserv and many more in the Asia region. Stay tune, I believe there will be more to come from LXDE community.

Tuesday Jan 20, 2009

The first day of Sun Tech days in Singapore 2009

Could you imagine the Sun executives wore Chinese traditional costume on stage for the first day of the Sun Tech Days in Singapore 2009? Could you imagine that a new Singapore record was born for the largest number of developers waving rattle at the same time? Could you imagine how crowded was it in the Sun Tech Day (Over 1100 people showed up)? I don't want to reiterate everything, please check the detail on Arun's blog.

Actually what I'm more interested in the first day event is the Singapore OpenSolaris User Group gathering. It's nice to meet with the guys who are interested in OpenSolaris. Hope that we could start from here and roll it bigger. As for the user group, I'd like to share some of my comments with you guys:
- OpenSolaris User Group is usually the local representative for the OpenSolaris community. It's a place for people to have some gathering, technical discussion, exchange ideas, have some collaboration, inspire business opportunities, make friends, have fun and more. The topic isn't necessarily technical only.
- OpenSolaris User Group is part of the open source efforts. A lot of things that is related to open source could be embraced in the group. It's not necessarily OpenSolaris only. I'm really glad to see the cooperation between OpenSolaris User Group and some other open source groups.
- OpenSolaris User Group could be the first line help for the local users/developers. It's a doorway to the broader OpenSolaris community. The questions go to certain group mailing list should be handled properly, either fixed locally, or forwarded to the broader community for further help.
- OpenSolaris User Group is global. Wherever you go, ping the local User Group and maybe try to give some talk about the things that are interesting.

BTW, I do remember that there was some OpenSolaris community digest before to summarize the community mailing list activities periodically (weekly?). Do we still have that now? Just feel that it must be good to have that and share with the User Group guys so people can know what's happening in OpenSolaris. I myself am part of OpenSolaris desktop, indiana, opensolaris general, sw-porter. Partly due to the language reason, I didn't subscribe to more mailing list as I couldn't catch up with all the stuff.

Wednesday Jan 14, 2009

Google Gadgets on OpenSolaris

As I've mentioned earlier, Songbird is not only a media player, it's also embedded with a browser and could mashup with the web. Google Gadgets is another platform to provide the capability to mashup with the web. Like Mozilla's add-ons mechanism, you can download the existing gadgets from the list, or develop your own gadget with HTML and JavaScript if the Google-Gadgets is installed on your box.
To cater the open source users, an open source community was built to port Google Gadgets to \*nux. The cross-platform characteristic benefits not only the end-users, but also the gadgets developers. Currently, the application is available on different Linux distros, FreeBSD and soon OpenSolaris. Here is the screenshot for Google-Gadgets on OpenSolaris, with compiz enabled.

Actually I only knew about this project on GNOME.Asia summit in Beijing last year. I had a talk with James Su, one of the lead developers for this project. The mashup idea is attractive to me to have this available on OpenSolaris. I'd also hope that more and more Google applications can be made open source and be ported to OpenSolaris, Picasa/Google earth for example.

The spec file to build Google Gadgets is now available in SFE. But it might not be easy to build from source currently as it depends on Apache C++ Standard library which is supposed to be integrated into OpenSolaris soon. If you're really interested to try this out, please follow the instructions below:
1. Build and install libstdcxx4 from source by using the spec file.
2. Remove the system SUNWfirefox, rebuild and install Firefox with libstdcxx4 by using the spec file. FYI, the spec needs to be patched to build with libstdcxx4 similar with what I did for the Google Gadgets spec file.
3. Get the pc file and put it into /usr/lib/pkgconfig.
4. Build/install Google Gadgets by using the spec file.
Hope the above steps work for you. Good luck!

Friday Jan 09, 2009

Frozen Bubble on OpenSolaris

Frozen Bubble is available on OpenSolaris with some tweak. I love this game :) This game was really popular when I was still in the University. Usually two of us played hours and hours in 2p mode, tried to defeat each other until power suspension in the dormitory at night. At that time, Windoz was the only choice to play this kind of game. And now, open source has grown to be such powerful so that a big bunch of games are available on OpenSolaris/Linux. BTW, the OpenSolaris game community does a great job to port games to OpenSolaris.

Actually I didn't know the open source Frozen Bubble project until I joined the Singapore Linux meetup group event. A LXDE presentation was given and Frozen Bubble flashed during the demo. Google helped me find out the project page and I started this porting effort. What's amazing is that the LAN/Internet game modes are also supported.

If you want to try the game ability of OpenSolaris platform, Frozen Bubble is the one you should start with.

Tuesday Dec 30, 2008

About running multiple versions of Firefox on one OpenSolaris box

As for some users, usually one version of Firefox is enough on one OpenSolaris box. For those who want to try different versions of Firefox on the same box, Bernd gives a nice tip in his blog.

I took the tarball approach instead of pkgadd to do this like he mentioned, especially when I want to verify certain bugs on certain version of Firefox or nightly. You might want to install multiple Firefox packages on your box and this blog is helpful.

There were a big bunch of Firefox/Thunderbird releases recently, including Firefox 3.1b2/3.0.5/2.0.0.19 and Thunderbird 3.0b1. Please go to OpenSolaris desktop community for detail.

Thursday Dec 11, 2008

Here comes the OpenSolaris 2008.11 release!

OpenSolaris 2008.11 is released, after 6 months of hard Work/contributions from the OpenSolaris community and developers from different groups. It has been up and running on my bare metal laptop for several weeks. I'm really impressed by the improvement of it over the last release. It contains a lot of features that I wanted deadly, especially Power Suspend/Resume and NWAN. Also, as I've mentioned in the previous post, lots of useful desktop applications (Firefox 3.0.4/Songbird/XChat for example) have been integrated into this release along with GNOME 2.24.

First of all, I'd still want to highlight Songbird a little bit in this post. It got a huge attention from the open source community as I can see on digg. 0.7.0 has been integrated, run "pfexec pkg install SUNWsongbird" to install it from the repository. 1.0.0 is on the way. Please stay tune. And most of the cool features can be found in this great screencast. Thanks for the awesome efforts from Steve and the Songbird team. The first-run bundles for OpenSolaris x86 users are ready - so you should be getting prompted to download the GStreamer plugin as well as the SHOUTcast, Concerts, mashTape, and Last.fm add-ons now.

As you might notice, there have already been some great posts about different parts of this fantastic release. I'd still like to choose some of them to share with you.
- What's new about OpenSolaris 2008.11 and the screencast.
- Glynn's nice highlight on the release.
- Time Slider screencast from Erwann.
- What's new from the install part.
- A little bit history for OpenSolaris release.
- pkgFactory/Roboporter: the infrastructure for better package contribution.
- Port FOSS package to OpenSolaris /pending and /contrib repository.
- How to upgrade from old versions.
- The improvement from the pkg(5) part.
- Mirror IPS repository.
- Some link collection as well.
And many more posts as well. So please don't hesitate to grab the release and try it.

Wednesday Dec 03, 2008

Songbird 1.0 is hatched: the media player mashup with the Web

Songbird 1.0 is finally hatched this morning! YEAH!!

The Solaris builds are also available on Songbird wiki. Please do notice that the GStreamer Input Selector plugin addon is necessary for 1.0 builds to work. It'll be in OpenSolaris when Songbird 1.0 is integrated.

If you're interested to have a try, there is a big bunch of resources that you might want to have a look.

  • What's new about Songbird 1.0?

  • Performance improvement, diagramming speaks louder than words.

  • Songbird 1.0, digg it.

  • Screencasts for Songbird 1.0.

  • Customize with add-ons. I'd recommend mashTape the best personally. And all the others are also nice :)

  • I guess every Songbird fans love Songbird for a reason. As for me, it not only provides an irreplaceable media player solution for audio on OpenSolaris platform (maybe video in the future?), but also introduce the mashup idea to media player. That doesn't even include Songbird's contribution to GStreamer's cross-platform efforts. I guess Mozilla community will also benefit from this GStreamer improvement for its video tag support.

    To talk about the mashup feature, Songbird really does a great job. It's not exaggerated to say that it changes the idea about listening to music. All the mashup from youtube, flickr ect. are fancy and nice to use.

    The Internet is evolving quickly, and the content on the web becomes much richer everyday. Simple search can't fully satisfy everyone's need already. Something is urgently expected to aggregate different sources of information to a single place. Even more, there is need to customize this aggregation. I think that's what Google does for its iGoogle and Google Gadgets. With more and more services provided on the Internet, the mashup age is coming.

    In the past GNOME.Asia summit 2008, I was lucky to give a Songbird talk. It was really nice to share the media player mashup idea with the students and programmers from different companies. There were some feedback I'd like to share:

  • mashTape is attractive, especially the idea to aggregate data from the from different content provider. It seems to be the time to have some standard specification for the APIs provided by one kind of content provider? for example, there are youtube like provider in China(Tudou, youku for example). If we want to program with that, it's highly possible that we need to use another set of API, which will result in extra engineering works.

  • Lots of people download mp3 file. But the mp3 files usually have some tag problem. Could it possible to edit the tag and share those information for mp3 fans on the web? Seems that some Chinese tags have some display problem and is related to the old flaw for id3v1 definition.

  • Could we do something similar for songs somewhere like we did for movie in IMDB? And people can rate the songs and choose the ones based on the scores, and to encourage better sharing and collaboration.

  • Reading Steven Weber's The Success of Open Source recently. A nice book! And good to have a library around! Just like it's mentioned in the book, there are always some intelligent guys in the Open Source community who will try to make the software better. So the Songbird 1.0 release is just the beginning. There will be more excitements coming in the future.

    Saturday Sep 27, 2008

    What's new in the next OpenSolaris release(2008.11)

    The Solaris Nevada build 99 has been available for several days now. And it'll be imported into OpenSolaris repository next week or so.

    After going through all the necessary paperwork(ARC, export control, OSR etc), Songbird 0.7.0 is finally integrated into b99. That's to say, you'll be able to grab the Songbird package from the repository very soon. Thanks all for the patience. Also thanks for the support from the Songbird community, especially from steve! And it's really glad to see that nightingale project was there as part of the feature spots for OpenSolaris community, also our nice group photo:). Thanks for taking the photo, Jim!

    Besides Songbird, a big bunch of great applications including the GNOME 2.24 desktop have been delivered into b99(then 2008.11 release). I'll list some of them here.
    1. XChat is the IRC client that I'll build myself every time I reinstall the box. It's really glad to see it's delivered.
    2. Cheese. If you have a supported webcam on OpenSolaris, this could be a nice application for you to take pictures and videos.
    3. tsclient, a front-end application for rdesktop, vncviewer, wfica and xnest. This is quite helpful for access your desktop remotely, for development or testing purpose.
    4. gkrellm, a monitor application to show the system status in real time(CPU, memory, disk, network etc.).
    5. brasero, a CD/DVD burning application.
    6. transmission, a BT client.
    The full list can be found here. Also something like NWAM 0.5, ZFS snapshot, power suspend/resume support(for certain hardware) will also be integrated.

    Are these enough for the OpenSolaris desktop? Absolutely not. This is just the beginning. The contrib repository will be the playground for better community participation and users will all benefit from that for sure. The opinions from the OpenSolaris community is also important. What do you want to see in the future OpenSolaris release? I'll list something I want below:
    1. The Media solution will be the most important part for the desktop users. It's really glad to have some community efforts in this area. mplayer is available on my desktop built from SFE.
    2. aMule, an eMule like application for the eD2k and Kademlia networks. Well, it's popular to download stuff with this at least in China.
    3. ftp GUI application. gFTP could be delivered into OpenSolaris and FileZilla could be part of the contrib repository. Also FileFTP(Firefox extension) could also be a way to go.
    4. The most popular messenger tool in China -- QQ.
    5. PPStream applications for watching TV/sports/movie online.
    6. BBS client. QTerm could be a choice.

    What do you want then? Feel free to comment here:)

    Firefox 3.0.3 builds for Solaris/OpenSolaris are avaiable

    Just uploaded the Firefox 3.0.3 contributed builds(x86/SPARC) for OpenSolaris and Solaris 10 to Mozilla server. It's a quick wrap up for the 3.0.2 release several days ago to fix a critical bug. Please check the release notes for detail.

    If you've already installed contributed Firefox 3.0.x(package format) on your Solaris 10 box, you could just pkgrm SFWfirefox and reinstall only the firefox package. It should work.

    Monday Jul 21, 2008

    Firefox 3.0.1 builds for Solaris/OpenSolaris are avaiable

    The Firefox 3.0.1 builds are now available for download here. You can also join desktop dash discuss at opensolaris dot org to get the release notice.The printing should work for the builds.

    Friday Jul 04, 2008

    Update: Firefox 3.0 contributed builds for Solaris 10

    Thanks all for the feedback. The updated version of Firefox 3.0 contributed builds for Solaris 10 have been uploaded to the Mozilla ftp server: pkgadd tarball.

    There are some changes to these builds to compare with the previous:
    1. Add "--enable-official-branding" to the build option. Now it's Firefox, not Minefield.
    2. Update the font to make Firefox 3.0 consistent with Firefox 2.0 on Solaris 10.
    3. Enable jemalloc on Solaris ported by Ginn. It'll decrease the memory footprint for Firefox 3.0.
    4. Add "--with-system-jpeg" which should fix the crash issue related to jpeg images.
    5. Update the startup script to store the configure files in $HOME/.mozilla/firefox. Now the tarball builds can run on a read-only directory.

    Please note that all the glib/atk/cairo/pango/dbus/dbus-glib libraries stay the same in the new builds:
    glib 2.14.4
    atk 1.20.0
    cairo 1.4.12
    pango 1.18.3
    gtk 2.12.3
    dbus 1.1.20
    dbus-glib 0.74
    The pkgadd users can keep the old ones and just reinstall the Firefox package.

    BTW, Ginn's performance patches have been applied:[1] [2]. The performance improvement on SPARC is obvious to me. And the latest Flash Player release 9.0.125.0 has fixed the gmail crash issue.

    Any problem, please feel free to raise it up.

    Sunday Jun 29, 2008

    Q/A: the Firefox 3.0 builds for Solaris 10

    Got some questions about the Firefox 3.0 builds for Solaris 10. I think it's good to start a new post to explain it a little bit.
    Would like to give some updates for the builds first. The tar ball builds were uploaded, totally four builds are available now(pkgadd: x86/SPARC, tarball: x86/SPARC). All of them were made on Solaris 10 initial release(FCS). So they are supposed to work on all the Solaris 10 and update releases.

    Q: What's the different between these four builds and the first binary?
    A: The first binary was made on Solaris 10U5 box. I got a suggestion that the builds should be made on the initial release to embrace more Solaris 10 users. So I rebuilt them and uploaded.

    Q: I've installed Firefox 2.0 contributed package. Will 3.0 conflict with it?
    A: No. The package will install to /opt/sfw/lib/firefox3 and won't conflict with 2.0, which is in /opt/sfw/lib/firefox. And /opt/sfw/bin/firefox is just a symbol link to /opt/sfw/lib/firefox3/firefox. You can always make one yourself.

    Q: Some extensions don't work.
    A: This is an known issues for Firefox 3.0 across all the platform. I think the extension developers will update their package soon.

    Q: Why does the installation directory needs to be writeable for the tar ball release?
    A: Please refer to the thread here.

    Q: I feel that Firefox 3.0 runs slower on my SPARC box than 2.0.
    A: There is an known issue for Firefox 3.0 on SPARC box without Xrender. Ginn has provided a patch to improve this(thanks a lot). My own experience is that the performance has been improved a lot. There might be still posibility to improve.

    Q: Is there any FF3.0 feature that could not be made available to the current rel for solaris10?
    A: From my experience, all the features should be available for these builds. Please refer to the feature list.

    Q: Will this bundle work on OpenSolaris 2008.05?
    A: No. All these builds can only work on Solaris 10. We've provided the builds for OpenSolaris and Solaris Nevada here.

    Q: TJHSST provided another contributed builds. Are both packages basically the same?
    A: It's obvious that all the glib/atk... version are different between this contributed builds and the one provided by Sun. So I assume that there are some difference. To know about the detail, we need to get in touch with TJHSST first. But I don't find any contact information. So anyone know about this, please feel free to let me know.

    Q: Is Minefield a post-Firefox 3 beta release? Is it based on the beta nightly builds, and thus not fully tested?
    A: Actually, the builds Minefield were made from Firefox 3.0 source directly, with only several branding patches(performance improvement for SPARC for example). The reason for switching off the option "--enable-official-branding" is because of the quality concern. I posted the builds before Sun's internal testing and hope for some community feedback. With some users' replies and my own user experience, and also some internal testing(not full functional testing yet), I think the quality is good. Kudos to the Mozilla community.

    Q: Is the new Firefox 3 Solaris 10 build(TJHSST) the REAL FX 3 release, fully tested and stable?
    A: TJHSST should the right source to get the answer for this.

    Q: Has anyone compared these two packages with each other on Solaris 10?
    Any opinions on relative stability/functionality? Which do you recommend?
    A: No, we don't have a plan to compare these two. You might have a basic idea about the builds provide by Sun. Please raise the questions to desktop dash discuss at opensolaris dot org if you decide to choose it. We'll move the contributed builds to Sun's directory soon.

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