Extending the life of your N8x0: Update for Automatic Skype Launcher

I’ve just released the 0.0.2 version of Applications Fullscreener and Automatic Skype Launcher.

As I was already commenting in my previous post Extending the life of your N8x0: Automatic Skype Launcher, just download them and install them in your N8x0 for making it become a good 24/7 Skype phone.

The most important change for Applications Fullscreener is:

  • I’ve added a helper to launch a certain application and send the fullscreen key event some time afterwards.
    This is specially useful for launching an application through the DSME watchdog daemon in Maemo4.x. Using this helper as a wrapper, the application will receive the fullscreen event some time after being launched while the watchdog keeps track of the helper. In this case, if either the helper or the application dies, both die and, hence, the DSME will relaunch them both.

You can, also, check the complete ChangeLog for Applications Fullscreener.

The most important changes for Automatic Skype Launcher are:

  • I’ve added a Control Panel plugin for setting several behaviors of the application: starting an init service, using a watchdog for keeping it alive, trying to fullscreen Skype after launching it as a service and the time at which the service will be restarted, if so.

Automatic Skype Launcher Control Panel plugin snapshot

  • I’ve added a Home Desktop applet for making it easier to launch manually Skype, not having to get into the applications menu.

Automatic Skype Launcher Home Desktop applet snapshot

  • The Automatic Skype Launcher service was not stopping when the N8x0 was turned off while charging. Now this is corrected.
  • In the previous version, I added a cron.daily script to restart Skype (and the service). Actually, the N8x0 doesn’t have a cron daemon, by default. This is now corrected through the usage of an alarm triggered by the alarmd daemon.

You can, also, check the complete ChangeLog for Automatic Skype Launcher.

That’s it. Comments and patches are welcomed!

Extending the life of your N8x0: Automatic Skype Launcher

Leading quickly to the “ham”, just install Applications Fullscreener and Automatic Skype Launcher in your N8x0 and turn it into a Skype phone. Now, the long explanation 🙂

After working in Maemo and MeeGo for the last 5 years I’ve become the proud owner of a N810, a N900, a N950 (by now) and a N9. Obviosly, my old and beloved first maemo device, the N810, has been pushed into the background.

Thinking about how to still keep doing a good use of it, came to my mind the idea of turning it into a Skype phone. Nokia’s hardware is superb and the sound quality of the N810 makes it a good choice for this.

Still, I didn’t need another Skype phone myself but my parents, who have a lot of troubles for making use of Skype’s software in the computer, were the perfect candidates. Also, placing the N810 24/7 online side by side to their land line phone would let them receive and check at any moment for the availability of their regular Skype contacts. That’s it, my oldest’s brother family, who lives in Germany, and myself, who have already spent the last year and half in Finland and will be there, at least, for another six months.

Therefore, I copied all the remaining data out of the N810, cleaned the internal MMC and re-flashed the device with the latest available image and the needed flasher. Afterwards, and for having an easy way for maintaining the device, I upgraded to the OS2008 Feature upgrade and installed Skype, openssh and x11vnc packages. Also, I set the “Red Pill” mode in the Application Manager and added the following repositories:

In addition, after being able to ssh into the device, I installed the screen package.

Then, I set the connection manager to be connected to my parents WiFi automatically, without energy saving, with the smallest searching intervals, in case it would lose connection, and with unlimited inactivity time.

I modified the display settings for having the bright level, the bright timeout and the timeout for turning it off to the maximum, unchecked the option for blocking the display and keyboard on turning the display off, and set the display to not being permanently on ever. In the LEDs settings I left everything checked but when the device is on.

Because of the possibility of connecting with a bluetooth headset, I also set the bluetooth to be always on and visible.

Finally, I launched Skype and configured a new account for my parents.

The only thing left was to be able to launch Skype automatically at boot time and in fullscreen mode. As I said before, my parents are not really skilled on technology or gadgets use so the simplest approach would be to have a fully working Skype client just after booting and with no more distractions that the contacts list and the button for calling.

Automatic Skype Launcher Icon

I’ve developed the package skype-autolauncher for this task. This package would launch Skype automatically on boot time through a init script. Yes, I know it is not the cleanest way but it just works™ and other strategies are not much cleaner. The init script makes use of dsmetool to monitor the Skype instance so, if it crashes, or is closed by mistake, the application is relaunched. Also, this package adds a cron.daily task which will restart the service so it will also shut down and re-launch Skype for having fresh memory and a healthier running environment.

Automatic Skype Launcher’s code is kept in gitorious. For downloading the code, just type in a terminal:

Applications Fullscreener Icon

For the matter of automatically turning the launched Skype instance into fullscreen mode, I’ve also developed the package apps-fullscreener. This package sends a fake fullscreen hard key event to a XWindow by its process name.

Applications Fullscreener’s code is also kept in gitorious. For downloading the code, just type in a terminal:

That’s it. Comments and patches are welcomed!

Taking back the old scrollbars in Ubuntu

Today I couldn’t take it any more and I had to do it …

I’m a Thinkpad Lenovo X61s owner with which I don’t use nor miss a mouse thanks to the awesome TrackPoint included. Because of that, the new Ubuntu’s scrollbars are, from the user interactivity point of view, just not usable.

Leading quickly to the “ham” 🙂 , disabling them is just a matter of writing in a console:

and reboot.

I’m not saying that the new scrollbars aren’t an enhancement. They allow a better usage of the display but, from the functional point of view, they only work as positioning indicator. They will tell you the progress in the scrollable window but, necessarily, you will need a wheel in your mouse or a way to emulate it. If you often have to grab the scrollbar, from a functional point of view, they are just a failure.

Hence, you will miss in Ubuntu a way to tune on or off its usage without having to use these kind of “hacks“.

Of course, another alternative would have been “to emulate” the mouse wheel through the middle button. I my case, this is not an option since last time I walked this path I decided to have a better “select and paste” experience with this button rather than use it as modifier for the vertical/horizontal scrolling.

Anyway, if you want to use the middle button this way, you had to do some changes to the “XOrg” config file before. Now, you just have to install the “gpointing-device-settings” package:

and select the proper options after launching its UI from “System -> Preferences -> Pointing devices“.

This and many other tricks can be found at ThinkWiki.

Who knows, maybe, in some time, I will change my mind and retake this functionality (and the new Ubuntu scrollbars) …

Honored to share with you: 4 new partners at Igalia

Lately I’ve not been blogging that often. My daily work has lead me to be more involved in the coordination of development teams rather than in the development itself. Therefore, it becomes more difficult to talk about this or that GNOME related technology.

Even, early this week, I’ve been attending a Scrum Mastering course. Not that I’m a crazy fan of Scrum. As other Agile methodologies, it has pros and cons so, better you get what it works for you and forget about the rest. But that would be the subject for another post …

This post is about an event that happened at Igalia some days ago which maybe you already are aware of.

Four Igalians have joint the group of shareholders of the company and this is not something that happens every day.

Being already an owner myself, I’m really happy and honored of these 4 fellows having accepted the offer to get a part of my company:

    Alejandro Piñeiro, or API, as he is broader known, has been involved in GNOME related technologies for quite a lot. However, you may know him for his Accessibility work, mainly with Hildon, Clutter and Gnome Shell.
    Javier Muñoz is one of the Igalians in the shadow since, as an experienced sysadmin and team coordinator, has less opportunities to have some focus and receive congratulations. Not surprisingly, Igalia is able to run every day because of his restless effort 🙂

Personally, I think it is something logical to extend the sharing philosophy of the Free Software to the management and decisions taking processes of the company. Our greatest good is our staff and what they have been working for is exactly the same values for what the founders created Igalia 9 years ago, having into account our self imposed professional, internal and social responsibilities.

All, in all, I’m very happy today 🙂

Congrats, guys, I’m really honored of sharing with you!!!

A Coruña proposed to hold GUADEC and aKademy 2009

As this will be my first post at planet GNOME, first I would like to thank Jeff for giving me a place between all of you, and I will introduce briefly myself.

My name is Andres Gomez, I’ve been using free software for 8 years, and I’m a free software developer since 2003, when I joined Igalia. As most of my mates, I contributed to project Fisterra, a free software framework for developing enterprise applications, and I’ve been lately involved in some projects related to Maemo technologies.

Now the interesting part of the post 😉

As my mate Chema has published recently in his blog, people from GPUL, Igalia and University of A Coruña have presented a proposal to co-host GUADEC and aKademy next year in A Coruña. The intention was to show all the possibilities that our city and team have in order to organize such a great event to the community.

Foto nocturna de la bahía del Orzán desde el monte de San Pedro (Coruña)

The proposal’s main idea is:”We want to organize a conference by community people for community people“. Here, in A Coruña, we have the facilities, a passionate team and a lot of ideas after attending several conferences and organizing lots of events (DudesConf 2008, GUAdemy 2007, Guadec-ES 2005, …). We know how important the details are, as well as having second options in case the first one could eventually fail. The main goal is to invest a big effort in achieving that people can come here next year. Because of this, the main expense in our budget will go for helping people to attend the event through sponsoring as many people as possible. That will be feasible thanks to the contribution of the University and volunteers. They will provide, almost for free, all the basics needed to run these two conferences. Also, our regional government, Xunta de Galicia, has an important commitment with this proposal and great confidence in our work at every level. So here it is the final proposal:

BTW, if these events are finally going to be hold here, I will volunteer on them so I will be able to give you advices to visit this beautiful Galician city placed in the north-western coast of Spain 🙂 .

“maemizing” GUADEMY

This weekend GUAdemy, a mixed conference between GUADEC and Akademy, lands in Coruña. As in most of Gnome related events, Igalia is going to be there.

For me, I’m going to give a talk about maemo on Saturday afternoon, as Miguel, Chema, Susana, Iago and Sergio are going to give other talks about several Gnome related issues.

If you want to learn about the Gtk based environment for embedded devices created by Nokia, come and join us.

See you soon!