Qingdao LUG meeting

qingdaolug-logo

I had the chance to visit the beautiful coastal city of Qingdao over the weekend and meet our fellows from the Qingdao LUG. They actually met just for me (so nice of them) and there was even a sign with my name on it at SPR Coffee shop (Starbuck coffee shop style) where they meet regularly. Qingdao actually happens to be the home of the internationally famous Tsingtao beer as well as SPR Coffee shops and Qingdao LUG members not only enjoy a 20% discount but all kind of Tsingtao beer is being served as well as liquor coffee.

The meeting was about what we’re doing at Beijing LUG, all our BLUG Groups, the Gdium, the Loongson chip, OLPH and the plans for Software Freedom Day 2009. We finished discussions at about 1am and could have talked a lot more. It was a really nice to see so much enthusiasm, diversity and passion at Qingdao LUG. This is definitely a great group to visit and I encourage anyone thinking to go to Qingdao to drop an email on their mailing list and try to arrange something. A big thank you goes to Eson who has been starting and keeping the group together for now 2 years as well as Alex for their support. For people interested, Qingdao LUG meets every second Friday of the month at SPR Coffee shop on 54 Square.

Call for hosts for GNOME.Asia Summit 2009

gnome_asiaBeing part of the GNOME.Asia Summit Committee, I would like to pass along the message and let every Asian community know that we’re looking for a new host this year. So here is the full announcement:

We are soliciting proposals for hosting GNOME.Asia 2009. The GNOME.Asia Summit is planned to be an annual GNOME event hosted in Asia. We started the GNOME.Asia Summit in 2008 and we want to continue this tradition and spread GNOME throughout the Asian region.

The GNOME.Asia Summit will focus primarily on the GNOME desktop including both applications and the development platform in addition to larger GNOME-related community in Asia. The Summit brings together the GNOME community in Asia to provide a forum for users, developers, foundation leaders, governments and businesses to discuss a varied range of topics relating to GNOME and the GNOME community in Asia. Learn more about GNOME.Asia Summit from our website at http://www.gnome.asia/en/

The Summit has an active committee to assist the local coordinators, but there is a definitive need for individuals actively involved and committed to the planning and execution of the Summit. There are challenges to work through but the process can be a very rewarding and a lot of fun.

GNOME.Asia is much like a tiny seed we want to grow into a tree in Asia. We are looking for local organizers in any Asian country with the desire to take on and succeed in the challenges of organizing an excellent GNOME event.

The following two links are “must read items” for GUADEC, the European model for the Summit. It has also worked well for GNOME.Asia Summit organizers :

You will also find the template of GNOME.Asia Summit 2008 Proposal is very helpful:
Download the proposal template from: http://www.gnome.asia/static/upload/document/GNOME_Asia_Summit_proposal.pdf

Dear GNOME friends,

For those of you who interested in hosting the next GNOME.Asia Summit in 2009 you are hereby invited to write a formal proposal to the GNOME.Asia Committee list at asia-summit-list [at] gnome.org regarding your ideas for this year Asian GNOME event! The deadline for submitting the proposal is 15th, June, 2009.

Loongson day in China

loongsonclub

Today Sunday April 12th, 2009, is a special day this year. Not only it’s Easter Day and also the Khmer and Thai New Year (hello my dear friends), but this year in China the Loongson Club is organizing the Loongson Day in 10 cities around the country. Kudos for their effort, doing the same event in many places at the same time is really a challenge.

Of course Dexxon will be in the Beijing (the whole Chinese team) and Shanghai chapter (Freeflying will represent us) as well as Chengdu, where we sent a Gdium to Shi Nan, the person putting all these efforts in building a Loongson community in China.

Other cities covered (without a Gdium though) are Shenzhen, Wuhan, Hefei, Chongqing, Changsha, Guangzhou and Nanjing. So I wish a very nice Loongson day full of chocolate eggs and parties to every one!

OLPH presentation to CSDN

csdn.netI had the pleasure to be interviewed in Dexxon Beijing office last month (February 18th) by CSDN.net journalist Mr. Zhou (周至) about our now famous OLPH program. CSDN.net, for those not familiar with the Chinese developer scene, is one of the major source of information, news and knowledge about IT on this side of the planet, combining a portal, an professional IT community, an online education platform, a recruitment site and an offline magazine (Programmer). February was just when we started to deliver those Gdiums to OLPH members in China and we have since seen quite a lot of activity. One notable effort is actually the submission of a Google Summer of Code idea from openSUSE to have it ported to MIPS. Three students from Beijing have already emailed the mentor who contacted me to know if we still had Gdiums for his project (and yes we do…). A lot of other great efforts are being carried out and one should probably read our planet to know more.

Now back to the topic, you can find both the text version of the questions and the video of the interview (in English) on CSDN live channel with a direct link right here! As usual if you have any further question don’t hesitate to post them in the comment section right below or on OLPH forum (if you’re a registered Gdium.com member).

Gdium wikipedia entry…

Just came to read the Gdium entry on wikipedia and since wikipedia is definitely not the place to answer to the controversy section, I guess my BLOG is a good place to start. I will also not amend that section since it wouldn’t be ‘fair game’ for a Dexxon employee to delete what some people believe to be facts (?).  So let’s tackle each point one by one.

Gdium was originally planned for release in September 2008[2], but after multiple hardware and software glitches, the product was delayed until end of February 2009 for its soft launch. Gdium’s soft launch was on the Belgium market and received a mild user acceptance. The product delays are attributed to a number of factors, but the choice of a MIPS CPU and its Linux implementation is one of the main factor that impacted the product stability.

I personally have problems to see how this fits into any controversy section, most IT products come out late anyway. The product was delayed, that’s a fact that no one is denying. Whoever wrote that is definitely not involved in the project. There were 2 reasons that delayed the product launch: non-working keyboard due to some firmware issues and white plastic quality (we wanted something really white and it took more time than expected to reach this quality). So no MIPS or Linux port issue.

One Laptop Per Hacker (OLPH) marketing campaign draw numerous concerns from the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) foundation, and it was seen as a pale copy of OLPC own marketing campaign. While the OLPC fundation is a non-profit organization, Gdium is a for-profit commercial project managed by private company Dexxon. The OLPC foundation argues that Dexxon campaign is confusing the market and enticing people towards a commercial project. Dexxon has yet to provide a clear explanation on those allegations.

That’s a funny one. In fact I believe this can only be written by OLPC itself since no one else mentioned it. We did receive a letter from OLPC to contact them, which we did, but no one was available to take our call. Finally the latest I’ve heard is that we have a ‘gentleman agreement’. So much for it… Now OLPH is a friendly reference to OLPC except that it’s targeting hackers and not children and without any aim of educating them. Gdium also happens to be a foundation (non-profit organization) which goal is to provide a mean for every child to exercise its right to education. As the Wikipedia introduction describes it very well “Gdium is a brick inside a wider environment dedicated to knowledge“, which is a very different approach from OLPC. We also target a different age range (secondary and high school) being complimentary to OLPC and we’ve been working with teachers from the start, not governments, to reach our goals. We sell to anyone who wants a Gdium, and not only the countries that have decided to buy into the program and we have very little chances to be corrupted by Microsoft, running on a MIPS CPU 😉 . We probably need to improve on our communication about the project itself, but I believe that like every Open Source project we focus on getting our solution out and not just talking about it.

The target price of the Gdium at Euro 379[3] makes the Gdium one of the most expensive netbook on the market related to its hardware configuration. Analysts [4] have wondered if a market actually exist for it.

Last but not least, some negative and false comments about our pricing and market taking a poorly written engadget article, poorly in the sense that the author doesn’t see what’s exciting about coming up with a non-x86 compatible architecture and bringing real competition to the market. For the pricing part, we do have monthly market survey and for what it’s worth, in Europe at the time of this article 10″ netbook where priced between 299€ (Advent 4211) up to 599€ (Asus EeePC S101) with the bulk being around 400€. But that would be probably asking too much to the author of that section to verify his sources…

I, of course,  remain open to answer any related question the community may have. I felt I had to at least provide an answer. This is now done.

Getting better gifts at SFD

sfdThanks to Freeflying, I have been involved with Software Freedom Day since August 2007. We, at the Beijing LUG organized the Beijing chapter that year, with the support of COPU, were one of the 2007 winners and I started to get involved with the great organization behind SFD. In 2008, I (and the Beijing LUG) took care and shipped all the goodies for the first 300 registered teams, and co-organized 3 events in China. This year I’ve been promoted Vice President of SFi and as such, can’t hide as being just another volunteer (though I am just ‘another volunteer’). So in order to give better support to all the teams out there making SFD happen every year, we’d like to know what kind of goodies we can send out that will help you to make a better event. Of course, we’re running on a limited budget (10,000 T-shirts won’t make it really) but it’d be really nice to get a global brainstorming going and see how SFI can provide better support. You can either get back to me by commenting on this blog or by emailing our mailing list. Looking forward to hear from everyone!

Dokuwiki on Debian

dokuwikiWent through my n+1 installation of my preferred wiki, dokuwiki on a Debian server and for the first time run into a small error, a warning actually, that would systematically be displayed on the wiki page header:
Warning: mb_strrpos() [function.mb-strrpos]: Empty haystack in /../../inc/pageutils.php line 142
Warning: mb_strrpos() [function.mb-strrpos]: Empty haystack in /../../inc/pageutils.php line 155

The error was there whether I used aptitude or manual install and I couldn’t find anything online or in the bug tracker about it. Finally went under Dokuwiki IRC channel and with the help of “Chris–S” narrowed down the problem to either mb_string overloading or stricter error checking.

The fix? Changing:
mbstring.func_overload = 7
to
mbstring.func_overload = 0
in php.ini and restarting Apache. This is a system wide change, there is also a way to change it per site using a .htaccess file. Hope that helps someone.

Gdium One Laptop Per Hacker Program

gdiumSeems like this Christmas will bring me a great gift: my time back! As you might have noticed I haven’t been able to write much, nor was I able to attend any of the last 6 months BLUG meetings or even spend time with my lovely girlfriend! All this time was not wasted, I have in fact joined a great new project managed by Dexxon, the company making the Gdium, which goal is to “provide access to information affordable to all, so that all can exercise their right to education”. So we’re building a 10″ MIPS based netbook (Loongson based to be precise – the Chinese CPU) running a customized version of Mandriva Linux (MS Windows won’t run on it) and developing an online platform to promote Open Education and provide the means to use Open Source Software and the community to build sufficient resources to make this dream come true. The “Gdium.com” foundation is being set up to manage the resources and ensure the durability and non-profit side of the project. 3% of all Gdium sales will go to finance that foundation. Of course we want to involve the community and developers straight from the beginning and as such are starting the “One Laptop Per Hacker” program where one can purchase an early release of the Gdium (with some known issues) at 250 €. So if you’re feeling like helping out and making this dream happen, please join us!

Meeting with Shanghai LUGs

Software Freedom Day

Time just flies! August meant a lot of travelling for me, as well as getting my hands dirty with the making of the Gdium and shipping out all the Software Freedom Day goodies. Yes Software Freedom Day is just around the corner, on Saturday September 20th and from what I can read on the mailing list everybody is hard working on its preparation.

Nevertheless I had the opportunity to visit Lemote office twice, get some special deals for the Beijing LUG and on my last trip to Shanghai even stop there and meet the nice people from Shanghai LUG and the Dining Philosophers.

It was for me the opportunity to see in real Lullideath with whom we regularly converse on IRC (and discover she was a girl…), meet again with Geek, one of the founders and core members of the Shanghai LUG and a few other great and enthusiastic people from Shanghai. Amazingly there was even a French guy who used to teach Mandriva at Supinfo in Qingdao! Among the many topics we discussed one was about Software Freedom Day in Shanghai and trying to get both LUGs coordinate and do something together, the other one was about regular monthly meetings in Shanghai which today are not so regular. Shanghai LUG has been increasing its meeting frequency from twice a year to quarterly events this year and the Dining Philosophers do meet monthly but not at regular dates. I do believe one of the success of Beijing LUG has been to be regular on our meetings and have a stable meeting date and point: every second Tuesday of the month at the same place. Location tend to be difficult to find and keep, and we have had to change yearly based on group size, budget and convenience. I sincerely hope Shanghai LUG and Dining Philosophers can join forces to have those regular meetings. It can start as just dinners and evolve into something more technical down the road. With companies such as Intel, Lemote, ST Microelctronics, HP, raincity, PowerE2E and many others it should be fairly simple to find speakers and topics that attracts the Shanghai Linux and Open Source crowd.

So good luck to you guys and hopefully I can return for your next regular monthly meeting!

Switched to Mandriva…

Mandriva Linux

I finally did it! Been talking about ditching Ubuntu for ages and never found the time (you know… backup, new install, restore, get familiar, etc.). It turns out that last Thursday while extending my /home partition with a LiveCD, for some reasons something went wrong and I ended it with my bigger partition having the same remaining free space as before being extended (I had a 20GiB unused space on the disk initially). Thinking I had been lucky not to lose anything, I backed up and installed Mandriva One. It’s a bit like going back to my first love Mandrake (second actually, started Linux with Red Hat when it was free many years ago)! Of course I preferred the name back then, but for obvious reasons they couldn’t keep it.

So Mandriva has actually a specific ISO file for Asia which can be downloaded from a Chinese mirror maintained by our good friend Funda. It includes all the necessary files to support Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indonesian, Malay and a few more languages I think. Installation was almost ok, couldn’t do it in 3D mode but hey, I can live with that (the install button just wouldn’t click).

The first 6 hours using Mandriva where a bit challenging in the sense that I had to get familiar with urpmi and how to do things. They do have a great Linux Control Center (mcc) where you can find all the things to be configured in one single location. Their network manager is also very powerful and has all the options one should expect from such a tool. Had a little rendering problem with my Chinese fonts (using English desktop with Chinese enabled) which was due to a conflict with the Japanese fonts. Well in short after two days of discussion with Patrick who visit us regularly, Funda and Freeflying on #mandrivacn I got everything fixed, missing applications from the repositories backported and a service that really impressed me: Kudos to Mandriva and its community.

Now an other reason for supporting Mandriva is that they’ve been trying to build a community here, have hired people to improve Chinese support and are even building the operating system that will run on the Gdium (the Loongson based general purpose Chinese CPU). So definitely an interesting distribution worth following and encouraging.

I again extend a big thank you to Funda, Freeflying and Patrick for their help, and recommend everyone to give it a try.