The Free Geek

Ramblings of a Free Software Geek

GNU Emacs with XFT goodness Mon, 06 Nov 2006 17:56:48 +0000

Filed under: GNU/Linux,Programming,Ubuntu — Bon Goose @ 17:56:48

Personally I have been using the emacs-unicode-2 CVS branch of GNU Emacs for a long time now. This branch will become Emacs 23 in the future and it contains better Unicode handling code in addition to some cool features like antialiased fonts (courtesy XFT and FreeType), copy to clipboard, etc.

GNU Emacs with XFT

I usually build a custom version of the emacs-snapshot package with source from the emacs-unicode-2 branch and some simple customisation to enable the antialiased fonts. Some of my friends are using those packages and I thought it’d be good if share those packages with a larger audience.

So I have set up an APT repository with those packages which you can install on your Ubuntu Dapper machine. To do that, first add the following line to your /etc/apt/sources.list

deb dapper main
deb-src dapper main # for source

Then do sudo apt-get update to fetch the package list and then sudo apt-get install emacs-snapshot-gtk to install the customised GNU Emacs package.

If you already have the vanilla emacs-snapshot installed then only sudo apt-get upgrade will upgrade your current installation to the new one. And yes, this package can co-exist peacefully with your emacs21 package.

Now to enable antialiased fonts, add the following line to your ~/.emacs

(set-default-font "Bitstream Vera Sans Mono-8")

Now launch GNU Emacs as emacs-snapshot-gtk --enable-font-backend and enjoy the awesomeness 🙂

Leave a comment if any of you need Ubuntu Edgy packages, I will build them and add to the repository.

Update: I have added Edgy packages too ! Just add the following lines to your /etc/apt/sources.list and the rest is identical to the instructions for Dapper.

deb edgy main
deb-src edgy main # for source


Honey, I screwed up your laptop! Thu, 10 Aug 2006 09:01:48 +0000

Filed under: GNU/Linux,Hardware,Life,Ubuntu — Bon Goose @ 09:01:48

Something very odd happened just now. I noticed that Dapper was unable to keep correct time on the BIOS and was basically hit by bug #43661 which is OK compared to what happened next. I just went to the BIOS settings and fixed the time, and now it doesn’t boot at all! So what now? Oh well, it’s bug #43745 at work here 🙂

My options, either send the laptop back to Dell, or take out the BIOS cell to reset it. I will try the latter now, as sending the laptop back to Dell might be quite a PITA and I need this laptop now.

/me off to taking the laptop apart, wish me luck!

N.B – Somebody else had the exact same problem as me …

P.S – The actual owner of the laptop sounded very calm over the phone, either she didn’t understand the issue or she has too much confidence on my mad hardware skillz 😉

Update: I fixed the damn issue, w00t! I took apart the whole laptop only to realise that the BIOS battery is just under the keyboard, hehe. The XPS is a true engineering marvel, extremely tiny parts everywhere, so better send it back to Dell if you are not experienced enough in taking things apart and putting them back in. One tip to Dell users, stay away from the rtc kernel driver, in fact, better blacklist that bugger.


Of women and Free Software Mon, 17 Jul 2006 16:40:05 +0000

Filed under: Free Software,GNU/Linux,Open Source Software,Rants — Bon Goose @ 16:40:05

I came back from Bangalore just today and saw an apparently interesting blog post by Vidya (aka Svaksha). She talks about the problems that women in FOSS face and goes on to explain the reasons why there aren’t many females in the FOSS world. While a post like this is very much welcome, what concerns me are her pre-concieved notions about the whole picture. I would like to adress them one by one —

  • How is being rude important or necessary? How actually do you define rudeness? Nobody supports a rude person, notwithstanding the gender or the project. I agree that sometimes newbies are flamed, but that’s mostly because of not reading the manuals or asking stupid questions. Nobody gets flamed on the basis of his/her gender.
  • How is “survival” an issue here? All Free Software projects are open to all and everybody can contribute to them. Either you contribute or you don’t. It all depends on how motivated you are. You need to remember that you are _not_ doing us any favour by contributing in a Free Software project. You do it to scratch your own itch. If your itch is bad enough, you will scratch it no matter how inaccessible / tough / hostile that itch is. Ditto with Free Software. It’s wrong to expect people to welcome you a red carpet just because you are female or come from a poor country. This is a level playing field after all.
  • About women being made moderators of the Ubuntu-IN list, what makes you think that just being a female gives anybody the right to moderate a list or admin a server? Do you think this kind of favourism or reservation really helps? What about a situation where patches by female kernel hackers are given preference over male kernel hackers? It will just result in a bad and buggy kernel. Not because I think females can’t code (of course they can), but because the very idea of having reservtaions in a Free Software project goes against the basic philosophy of Free Software. Admin access to a server or mailing list is not a right, it’s a privilege and it is given to only the senior or experienced members of the project as and when required. Nothing more or less. If I make an absolute newcomer an admin of a server just because she is a female, it will be rather a discrimination against more experienced people and I don’t think it will help the project in any way.
  • All the decisions taken in Ubuntu-IN were taken as a result of a consensus among all the members of the team. You didn’t care to participate in any way and just bombarded with impractical recommendations. We repeatedly asked you to provide feedback or participate but you preferred to lurk in those times and tried to blast us with false allegations instead. No we don’t discriminate against females, but we won’t give them any special treatement either. You have to earn all the respect and privileges by virtue of your work here and not your gender.
  • Mentoring women is important, but it’s in no way more important than mentoring equally new but interested men. I personally don’t believe that *-women groups serve any practical purpose as there are many men in those lists and the same people can’t behave differently in two separate lists. The problem they say, lies between the keyboard and the chair, and nothing else. It’s just a mental block among many females which is basically an hypothesis propounded by a handful feminist women. For example, not many women applied for the Google Summer of Code, but when GNOME Foundation announced the Women’s Summer Outreach Program, hundreds of women applied for that. Considering the fact that the WSOP had < 1% scholarships available, this little piece of statistic does suggest that the problem is actually somewhere else.

So Vidya, your assumptions are mostly wrong in this matter and I don’t know what you want to achieve by condemning all the men for their so-called rude behaviour and their discrimination against women. Instead of whining about the status quo and founding more foo-women groups why don’t you join the generic foo projects and try to change the situation? I am sure everybody here is ready to accept constructive criticisms. This is the best possible thing one can do to improve the situation, splitting projects merely to separate the women from the community is, if at all, a very bad solution. That is, in my very humble opinion.


A first look at ayttm Fri, 25 Nov 2005 19:35:08 +0000

Filed under: Free Software,GNU/Linux,Open Source Software,Programming — Bon Goose @ 19:35:08

I have never used ayttm myself, but I know Philip S. Tellis, its primary author quite well. It appears that the project is in a great need of active developers as Philip is quite busy with his work and others are I guess absconding. For those who don't know what ayttm is, it's a multi-protocol and cross platform messaging client, a bit like GAIM. ayttm is quite novel in its own right as it seems to support Yahoo! Messenger webcams, though I haven't tested it myself. There are a few nagging issues wrt ayttm at the moment like the GUI is still using GTk+ 1.x while the whole world has moved to GTk+ 2.6.x upwards. So I thought it was worthwhile to check it out and see if I could help in some way. I checked out the source from the CVS repo and tried building it. And I hit a bug straightaway. There was this small bug which would cause an error when compiled with gcc 4.x. So I whipped up a small patch to fix it and submitted it to the list. And no, it was not a one-liner (it was a two-liner ;)). I just checked that the patch was committed by Philip. Cool! I guess I have to devote some time hacking ayttm after my freakin' exams are over. And yes, if you are a C programmer, and want to contribute to Free Software, ayytm needs you. Join the lists today!