Giving to you: Giver on Gentoo

The premise of Giver is something that appeals to me: it will allow you to easily give files to others. It uses avahi to determine other Giver users out there and allows you to easily share files with them without messing with any configuration. Having this up an running would be useful for me in several situations, especially if someone would create a MacOS X port.

So I naively thought I’d just whip together an ebuild for it so that I could play around with it. That was before I knew that Giver is written in C# and uses some not-yet-released bindings for libnotify and dbus. Uhm, wait, does it depend on notify-sharp or notify-sharp. Trying them out in order I found out it’s actually the latter, but NDesk’s version depends on NDesk’s not-yet-released DBusSharp bindings.

At this point I thought that someone in Gentoo must have already worked on this, but Google was of no help in part because the now unmaintained .NET bindings in D-Bus GIT are also called dbus-sharp in many cases. If only I could easily search the overlays on overlays.g.o… But wait, that’s possible! Thanks to the people in #gentoo-dev I was pointed to eix, which can also use a remote index consisting of most of the stuff covered by layman and overlays.g.o. Just run update-eix-remote and all those overlays are at your disposal without having to install them first.

ecatmur’s overlay contains an ebuild for dbus-sharp, but it was for an older version and has some issues. To make a long story short I’ve created ebuilds for dbus-sharp, notify-sharp, and giver. They can be found in my personal GIT overlay.

Oh, and Giver? It works as advertised. You get an icon in the notification area which opens into a window showing all Giver users on the local network. Dragging a file or a folder onto a user offers the files to that user, who can then accept or decline. Simple, no fuss.

Update: Andreas Proschofsky also wrote ebuilds for giver and its dependencies during GUADEC. Since his ebuilds were a bit nicer than mine he has folded my improvements into his versions, and I recommended to use the ebuilds from his overlay for now.

Published on 23/07/2007 at 11h28 by Hans de Graaff, tags

Learning new things about Gentoo

Yesterday I ran into Steev’s email about the removal of virtual/x11 and checked the dev-ruby packages for any occurances. After fixing those I noticed that several people where fixing packages all over the tree and I decided to join in and have a bit of fun poking around ebuilds I’d normally never see. As a nice side effect I learned a few new things about Gentoo as well.

Although I had heard about keychain I never really looked in to this, but with the amount of commits we were doing yesterday entering my GPG passphrase quickly became tiresome. While configuring gpg-agent to deal with this keychain was pointed out to me as a way to manage both ssh-agent and gpg-agent. I finally realized the one big benefit that keychain would bring to me: no more passphrase-less keys for stuff like cron-jobs!

One of the things that we noticed as we were removing the virtual/x11 stuff is that there are plenty packages that have a lot of old ebuild versions around. Some people are of the opinion that this doesn’t hurt, but the kind of cleanup we did yesterday shows that it does hurt for such maintenance activity. I’ve fixed a number of packages where only the old versions contained references to virtual/x11. Why are these still in the tree… Sure, it makes sense to keep an older version around while stabilizing a newer version, but only for a couple of months at the most. When I asked whether we have a QA tool that might be showing which versions of a package could/should be deleted, I got pointed to earch and was disappointed to find that this basically shows the same information as packages.g.o, but without the nice layout. So, if this tool exists I’d be happy to hear about it, and otherwise I might have to try writing something myself.

Published on 23/07/2007 at 08h29 by Hans de Graaff, tags

Experimental XEmacs 21.5 and gentoo-syntax ebuilds

This weekend I’ve committed two experimental ebuilds to the emacs overlay. I’d be happy to get feedback on them, so if you are using XEmacs and feeling adventurous, head on over to the overlay and give things a whirl.

First up is an ebuild for XEmacs 21.5.28, the latest upstream beta version. This version is not ready yet for general consumption but it does have some nice new features that may still be worth it. Personally I’m still fighting the new Xft-based font system, so for real work I’m using 21.4, but otherwise 21.5 appears to be as stable as 21.4 is. Note that 21.5 is not slotted, so it will remove 21.4 from your system. Also note that 21.5 bytecode is not fully backwards compatible with 21.4, so you’ll have to take care in downgrading. I don’t expect this ebuild to be moved to the main tree any time soon.

For those of you doing Gentoo development work with XEmacs I am happy to introduce the app-xemacs/gentoo-syntax package (formerly known as ebuild-mode, but never released for XEmacs). It should work fine with both 21.4 and 21.5, and again I’d love to get feedback on it. Many thanks to the Emacs herd for all their work on this. After I’ve gotten some feedback on this I will move it to the main tree.

Published on 24/06/2007 at 13h23 by Hans de Graaff, tags


My broadband is up in my new home. Dialup didn’t seem so bad, but now I really notice the difference! More later, but here’s already a picture taken from my new study.

Published on 04/06/2007 at 22h40 by Hans de Graaff, tags

First steps on the GR5

When will I ever learn to eat well before a hike. Last Saturday I didn’t really have breakfast, and with temperatures up to 30 degrees and no wind I needed to drink a lot. Surprise: loss of minerals and a headache towards the end of the day. Sigh.

I still managed to walk 32km on the GR5, one of the more famous European walking tracks, stretching from the North Sea to Nice. I had walked a tiny overlapping part of it last year near Bergen op Zoom, but this was the first real stretch. Not sure if I’ll ever make it to Nice, or even if I would want to.

By far the strangest sight was the Tour Eben-Ezer with some impressive animals on top of the towers and seemingly located in the middle of nowhere. Other than that nice rolling hills, fields and trees, and a lot of quarries.

Published on 03/05/2007 at 20h29 by Hans de Graaff, tags , ,

Unified Emacs project underway

The last few weeks have seen a lot of developments for GNU Emacs on Gentoo and luckily XEmacs is also reaping some of the benefits. Emacs and XEmacs now both depend on a new eselect module which finally resolves some file collision bugs between Emacs and XEmacs. The eselect module currently doesn’t support XEmacs very well but this is something that will only be noticed by someone installing both GNU Emacs and XEmacs.

In addition to these changes there is now also a joint project for GNU Emacs and XEmacs as a sub-project from the Lisp project. Hopefully this will make things a bit easier to organize and further the cooperation between the GNU Emacs and XEmacs herds. Since this project space is now available I’ve also moved the XEmacs on Gentoo information page there from my dev space. Hopefully I’ll be able to implement some of the Future Plans mentioned there shortly.

Published on 30/04/2007 at 13h39 by Hans de Graaff, tags


Sigh. I guess it is a good sign that I’m researching CAPTCHA’s at the moment. Spammers finally seem to have found our site and deemed it good enough to spam it. Surely a sign of succes, but also a nuisance for the normal people using the site. Making the signup procedure a bit more difficult for computers seems the way to go, so some kind of CAPTCHA has to go in. The other approach would be to use a DNS-based blocking list, e.g. through an apache module like mod-defensible but in general I’m not a big fan of blocking lists due to false positives.

Besides, CAPTCHA’s still seem to be working fine as a deterrent so I don’t have real doubts about the effectiveness. But putting up a crappy image and expect people to parse it and retype it is an additional hurdle, so my attention got caught by the term ‘invisible captcha’, where some Javascript is used to add a hidden field to a form with a secret. This should be trivial to work around if the spam robot would actually execute the javascript, but that doesn’t seem to be the case for most of the robots.

Some examples: this method in .NET just uses a random GUID value for each form. This PHP example creates a simple sum to be done, which has the added benefit that the user can be asked this task as well, thus degrading gracefully for people without javascript. Things seem to have started with this article on a Lightweight Invisible CAPTCHA control which also provides a simple sum to make.

I’ve ended up cobbling my own invisible captcha together based on the ideas put forward in the .NET article mentioned above, and so far it seems to work fine, keeping the spambots out while letting normal people in. I’d link to our signup page so you can see for yourself, except that it’s an invisible CAPTCHA. :-)

Published on 26/04/2007 at 16h48 by Hans de Graaff, tags , , ,

Hiking along the Maas

This weekend the weather is great for outdoor stuff. Even though it's only April it feels like summer outside, and I should really be out there. Instead I'm at home working through a ton of stuff to do, including sorting out pictures like the ones from last weekend.

See, last weekend the weather was really nice as well and then I did go out for a hike along the river Maas near Roermond. Paul cobbled together a nice walking route which we later found to coincide with several "official" walking routes, one of which would lead us all the way to Santiago de Compostella. This part of the Maas valley is fairly heavily populated and also used a lot for boating. In fact, the most quiet place we encountered was a footpath along the Maas next to a chemical factory. I must not have been very awake as in hindsight I realize I missed a few photo opportunities and the pictures I did take where not that great. Still, seeing an orchard blossoming is always a great sight.

Published on 15/04/2007 at 10h08 by Hans de Graaff, tags

Vote for social change

Netsquared is holding a vote for their Innovations Awards. It’s great to see so many projects that utilize the tools and technologies of the social web for all kinds of social causes, and I encourage you to have a look and vote for some of the projects. Voting closes on Saturday, April 14th, so don’t delay.

My top vote went nicely biased to Biased, because Nabuur is also a client of our company Winkwaves. You can read more about Nabuur’s plans on their proposal page.

Amongst the other projects I’ve voted for are and Barefoot Power. The latter would make a nice combination with OLPC (One laptop per child) but OLPC was not listed in Netsquared’s list even though I think it would have been a good fit.

Published on 12/04/2007 at 15h58 by Hans de Graaff, tags , ,

Powered by Publify | Photo Startup stock photos