Martin @ Blog

software development and life.


Archive for the ‘Linux and OSS’ Category

The Gimp 2.4

The developers of the Gimp project released version 2.4 today. It seems to contain a lot of improvements, including a tool to extract foreground objects from their background (like Photoshop can already do for a very long time), full-screen editing of photo’s and improved selection tools. The looks of the application is also improved. All in all it seems like a very big improvement over the previous Gimp version and I think it is a little bit more capable in competing with Photoshop, especially since the program now also includes support for color management and color profiles, which was also a standard complaint when people suggested Gimp as a Photoshop alternative. While releasing the 2.4 version of the Gimp, the web developers of the project also updated the website giving it a new look. Also a big improvement over the previous look in my opinion!

Novell creates fork

It seems that Novell created a fork of The cause of this action is the fact that the Sun Microsystems currently controls the entire development process of and requires contributers to transfer code ownership to Sun. Some of them, for example the creator of a linear solver for OO.o Calc refuses to do so. Novell now provides a version of OO.o which incorporate these patches. I’m not sure if this will benefit the development of in a significant and positive way. It is a shame that Sun is making all key decisions with regard to the future of and as such preventing the developer community introducing novel ideas.
I still think that OO.o is missing an opportunity by effectively building an MS Office clone instead of a Office suite which implement the same functionality in a better (or at least different) way.

Microsoft winner of ‘Best campaigner against OOXML’

I think this post is rather funny. I think it is also noteworthy that Microsoft is also the owner of a ISO standard proposal with the largest number of comments…

ZDNet interview with Michael Meeks

ZDNet published an interview with Novell employee Michael Meeks, who is working on and Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop 10. Intersting read, though not much news.

WordPress 2.3 released

This week, the WordPress development team released version 2.3 of WordPress. I did not upgrade yet, because I didn’t have the time yet. Because I’m not very enthusiastic on the source code of WordPress, I’m a little bit wary when upgrading WordPress to a new version, mainly because of the number of bugs that pop up in the weblog software. However, Jeff Waugh has documented his upgrade of WordPress to version 2.3 and did not fiind any problems. I will give it a try this weekend.

The most important change in version 2.3 of WordPress is the introduction of tags instead of categories. I think this is a good idea, since I already use the WordPress categories as tags.

Gnome 2.20, MySQL 6

Recently, I did some reading on new software releases. Last week, a new version of Gnome was released which was not unexpected, considering the fact that Gnome has the aim to release a new version every six months. Gnome 2.20 does not contain revolutionairy features, but has some nice improvements. One improvement I like is the notification that the e-mail client Evolutions give when it thinks the user forgets to add an attachement to an e-mail. When an e-mail contains words indicating that the mail should contain an attachment, the system gives an warning that the user possibly forgets to include the attachement.

Evolution warning

Another useful improvement (not mentioned in the release notes) is the drag-and-drop functionality between File-roller and Nautilus. I think this kind of features are very important to get Gnome accepted by the general public.

A nice addition to the list of applications that are available for Gnome is Cheese, which is a clone of the Mac OS X application PhotoBooth.


Earlier this month, MySQL AB, the company behind the open source database MySQL, has released the second alpha version of MySQL 6. This upcoming version of the database system contains a new storage engine, called Falcon. This engine’s aim is to replace InnoDB as default storage engine. The company which developed InnoDB was bought by Oracle in 2005 and I think MySQL don’t like the idea that its main product is based on a storage engine developed by one of its competitors. Falcon is developed by Jim Starkey which became an employee of MySQL when it bought Starkey’s company Netfrastructure.

Starkey has researched some important technologies for database engines. While he was working for DEC, he was the first to implement multi versioning concurrency control (MVCC) and triggers. These technologies were integrated in InterBase which later became the basis for the open source database engine Firebird.

Falcon has some nice features, such as an advanced caching system, support for ACID-transactions, and row-level replication. It would definately give MySQL a enterprise ready storage engine, but they first have to finish it. Currently, according to preliminary benchmarks, the performance of Falcon is worse compared to InnoDB when storing and retrieving BLOB-data. But the potention is definately there, considering the fact that Falcon is still under development. However, MySQL has the target to release the final version in 2008, which may be a little optimistic.

I wrote an article of Falcon for (Dutch).

Some not-so-interesting stuff

While browsing a website, I came across an article about how Microsoft is scared for the upcoming domination of Linux. The article dates from 1998, which is nine years ago. While the domination of Linux over Microsoft still has to happen, the article is funny because it mentions the two founders, Page and Brin, of Google and how they met Bill Gates. Another trivial fact I didn’t know was that Torvald’s wife was six-time Finnish national karae champion.

Another interesting column on the market of security products. The article mentions a recent article on the non-existing protection provided by the Secustick memorystick at

Open source photography

For people who think the only solution to have decent photo editing software, is to use a pirated version of Adobe Photoshop or Painshop Pro, there is a site called ‘Open Source Photography’. The site is all about (digital) photography and processing photographs using open source software. It contains tutorials on The Gimp, Illustrator and other software and provides information on other tools. The site focus on users, and I think this kind of initiatives makes open source software more accessible to common people.

WordPress source compromised

It seems that the source code package of WordPress 2.1.1 was compromised by a hacker. Some files, mainly related to RSS-feed generation, was injected with code which opens a backdoor. Obviously, this caused a large number of weblogs vulnerable. The cracker got user-level access to the download server of WordPress, and changes the download of version 2.1.1. The subversion repository wasn’t compromised, and also older versions weren’t. So if you’re using version 2.1.1, you should upgrade to version 2.1.2. Not all downloads of 2.1.1 are vulnerable, but the developers are not sure when the crach has happened.

This made me wonder why they don’t provide md5 sums for the download package. That way, it could be detected much earlier that the download was compromised. In the discussion on the mailing list, nobody came up with this idea.

Power supply
As I may have mentioned earlier on my weblog, the power supply of my server died a few weeks ago. The part was only four months old, so it was covered under warranty. I sent it to the shop where I bought the thing (Alternate) and got a replacement power supply in about two weeks. Unfortunately, they required to include all the accessories with the power supply. Because I bought the PSU along with a casing for my server, I wasn’t sure which accessories belong to the PSU, and which were part of the casing. So, I included a 24-pins-to-20-pins converter for connecting the PSU to older mainboards. That turned out to be a mistake, because that part didn’t belong to the PSU and the new PSU I received didn’t include such a converter. That was a bit of a problem, because I needed such a thing. Shops generally account 5 to 10 euro for such a small thing (it is only a few wires with two connectors…). I decided to sent a e-mail explaining the situation, and two days later I got a new converter in the mail, for free. That’s good service if you ask me.

Html parser for Java

For my graduation project, I needed to parse HTML documents, in order to strip the HTML tags and formatting (I wanted to index them using Lucene). After some searching on the Internet, I decided to use the library HTMLParser. This is a HTML parser developed in Java and the codebase seems to rather stable. It is not fully standard compliant, but that was not required for my purpose. However, it supports HTML documents which are not nicely formatted (missing end-tags, improper nesting, etc.). However, I stumbled upon a bug causing incorrectly parsing websites when they containg multiple META-tags defining the charset (using http-equiv="Concent-Type" META-tags). While this is not allowed according to the HTML specification, there are sites on the internet doing this. When downloading a website using HTTP, it is also possible to define the charset using HTTP headers. Changing the charset using META-tags generally should only be done when it is not possible to control the HTTP headers (because it is not possible to change the web server configuration, for example). The HTTPparser project handles changes of the charset by throwing an exception after which the document can be parsed again using the correct charset. However, this changing can be done infinitely when there are multiple charset definitions in a particular HTML document.
I’ve created a patch which fixes this problem. The good news is that the patch is accepted for the 2.0-version of HTMLParser, but I’ve also created a patch for the (older) 1.6-version (I’m using this version myself).

On another news: I’ve restored the archive of my weblog. It now goes back to the very beginning of my weblogging career. Unfortunately, there are some issues with encoding (probably a MySQL problem) and all the images on my weblog are broken.

You are currently browsing the archives for the Linux and OSS category.