Category Archives: Blogs

Recent Development Status of LXNM

LXNM (Lightweight Network Manager) is working now after a long time for development. If you often check the news of SVN, you can notice that the next generation of LXNM has already supported wireless connection setting, also it has many feature as old version of LXNM. The new implementation and protocol defination seems to work well at least there is no bug of old version of LXDE had that no Access Point was scanned always.

Here is some screenshots to show you current LXNM wireless support:

As a network manager, wireless is the basic feature, but only the feature is not enough for new internet devices. To be a full function network connection utility, it must provide most popular methods of internet connection service something’s like 3G(HSPDA), PPPoE, dial…etc. And also we can expect WiMAX will be coming soon, so supporting WiMAX maybe important and necessary in the feature as well.

So far most network connections methods need to use PPP (Point-to-Point Protocol) to make connection, so we must try to focus on how’s PPP working and how to integrate PPP stuffs with our program. Fortunately, Most of operating system was using pppd to handle the ppp connections, it seems to be a standard we can consider. If we know how to get pppd immediate status, it will be easy to integrate PPP with our utility for us.

Regarding pppd implementation, it uses a tdb(samba database) to store current connection information(IP, interface, deivce, gateway, dns…etc) in system folder as root. Thus we need to read the file to get network status and the relationship between modem(eg, 3G modem, general modem) and network interface(eg, ppp0, ppp1…). Because of pppd is a user-space implementation as well as it doesn’t have library to provide serial APIs to let us be easy to operate its own stuffs, LXNM must direct open the tdb file. The problem is that pppd will update the tdb file anytime, it is possible that database be modified when LXNM is just reading the file. When it is happened, LXNM will get incorrect information or access failed to cause crazy crash. For solving this bug, we do some to check more information details which is from tdb. After some hard works, right now the issue was solved already.

Besides, the 3G support which is most important feature people concern. LXNM will try to use AT command to control 3G (HSDPA) modem to implement the connection handler, it can provide more information(ISP, Service Location, current area…etc) for your SIM Card with AT command. Some developers suggest us to research the implementation of Modem Manager Project for helping development.

Now we are working on this part which is that dialing with 3G modem, but there were also some weird problems we got. More details about those issues will be explained at blog next time. :-)

LXNM Will Bring Back to Life

So far LXNM(Network Manager of LXDE) was in prototype, LXDE team was just trying to implement a usable network utility. In the beginning, it was expected be enough to work instead of Network Manager of GNOME. But even today, most of people still uses LXDE desktop environment without LXNM due to it is so buggy and poor. Also LXNM has no more improvements in the past, it seems to die for a long time.

It is the truth that LXNM will bring back to life, LXDE team have tried to restart this project and plan on working to implement new architecture of LXNM. Here is a diagram of new structure for next version of LXNM:

LXNM Structure

In principle LXNM will keep original features and most of architecture, but for more requirements of networking device operations, it will be modified or re-designed some parts of that, For communication of Client/Server, LXNM protocol will be re-defined to support more features that something’s just like response of networking status, it means that in the future user can get more complete informations of networking in a moment, and also fixed a critical bug that netstat plugin of LXPanele cannot found out any wireless Access Point as non-root.

For easy to migrate to other platform which is other linux distribution or other Unix-like operating system, LXNM still keep script-based method to handle network device control. Considering that efficiency issue, LXNM will provide a new way to implement that direct call system call to operate network device for each operating system in C language without any scripts, this feature needs more time to be done due to it’s harder and more complicated than script-based method.

With the Google Summer of Code 2009, LXNM is restarting right now. We expect that LXNM will have a great usable version after three month in the future.

LXDE Summer of Code Projects – Apply now

The Google Summer of Code is now accepting applications from students for projects. There are a number of projects, that could accept LXDE related works. If you have an idea we are open to support you and discuss it. Please join us in the LXDE channel on irc.oftc.net. I would also like to support you and endorse any applications by talking to projects directly. Just let me know, please.

Here is a list of projects related to LXDE.

For a full list look here: http://socghop.appspot.com/program/accepted_orgs/google/gsoc2009

Did I forget any relevant project? Please leave a comment then.

As a side note, I am also the administrator of the Freifunk project in GSoC, which is an OpenWrt based firmware. Generally we are looking for any good ideas related to mesh networks. So get in touch with me if you have any ideas: Freifunk http://socghop.appspot.com/org/show/google/gsoc2009/ffopenwrt

LXDE on OpenSolaris

Alfred Peng from Wuhan, China started to port LXDE to OpenSolaris. I met him in Singapore and could see how it is running already pretty smoothly.

Opensolaris with LXDE

Since it’s a GTK based desktop environment, some of the applications (pcmanfm, lxpanel, lxappearance, lxlauncher etc.) can be easily built and installed. But some still don’t work. The network manager lxnm is one of them, also lxtask and lxterminal. Good news is that the OpenSolaris nwam manager works great with small memory footprint :) The app lxmusic, which is the media player for LXDE, depends on xmms libraries. This could be a limitation for the distribution as xmms links against a lot of patented codecs. Maybe GStreamer framework could be a better choice from a distribution’s point of view. Anyway, I can still use Songbird/Rhythmbox/Totem.

To compare with my personal experience of Xfce, LXDE runs better on OpenSolaris. Xfce is a little bit sluggish on my box (configuration issue?). LXDE’s performance and memory footprint are really impressive to me. It provides a nice alternative for the resource-limited desktop users (Eee PC users for example). On the other hand, the desktop layout of LXDE is pretty similar with Windoz. I guess this is because a big bunch of the developers are from Taiwan :) This helps easier migration for users from the Windoz land. As the LXDE applications are still in the 0.x stage, please feel free to get in touch with the community (mailing list or IRC) for any problems you find.

The first set of spec files have been checked in to the SFE reporitory (SFElx*, SFEgpicview, SFEgtknetcat, SFEopenbox and SFEpcmanfm). If you’re familiar with CBE, it’ll be very easy for you to build and install LXDE on OpenSolaris. Those who are interested can also refer to the CBE instructions.

Actually the porting initiative comes from Mario Behling‘s introduction of LXDE on the Singapore Linux meetup group event in January. The frozen-bubble porting was also after the event :) It’s nice to talk with him face to face and get to know a lot of community people behind: pcman, jserv and many more in the Asia region. Stay tune, I believe there will be more to come from LXDE community. (http://blogs.sun.com/pengyang/entry/lxde_lightweight_x11_desktop_environment)

lxde-opensolaris-alfred-peng
LXDE on OpenSolaris with Alfred Peng from Wuhan, China

Links

* Alfred Peng – Blog http://blogs.sun.com/pengyang/
* LXDE on Opensolaris http://blogs.sun.com/pengyang/entry/lxde_lightweight_x11_desktop_environment
* Opensolaris LXDE desktop community http://opensolaris.org/os/community/desktop/communities/lxde/
* Opensolaris in the LXDE Wiki http://wiki.lxde.org/en/OpenSolaris

LXDE Gathering at National University of Singapore with LinuxNUS

I had a talk and discussion with students and Open Source and Free Software supporters organized by LinuxNUS at the National University of Singapore this week. It really amazes me to see the high level of knowledge here about free and open source software and current developments and I am happy to say, that I learnt quite a bit myself from those students. Together we gained lots of ideas how we can cooperate closer in the future. I invited them to the OpenTechSummit and the LXDE Asian Summit which we are organizing as a partner from May 4-10 in Taipei and I am looking forward to get involved in more events with LinuxNUS in the future. LinuxNUS, thanks for your great work and organisation!

lxde-singapore-linuxnus

lxde-singapore-meetup-presentation

Fotos: GOH Lu Feng

Liveblogging by GOH Lu Feng: After talking about the business opportunities with LXDE, Mario is now talking about the community at LXDE. An interesting fact about LXDE Project is that the founder of the Project, alias PCMan, is actually a medical doctor! A very prominent member of the LXDE community is Klaus Knopper, also the creator of Knoppix LiveCD. In fact, the recent release of Knoppix has moved from having KDE to LXDE as the default desktop environment. One of the key messages from Mario is that an Open Source Project need both technical and non-technical members, as well as people with wide diversity in order for an Open Source Project to be successful. Mario also gave an anecdote of a student in Taiwan who actively contributed to LXDE. This student enjoyed development work and was netted an internship with the Open Source Foundry in Taiwan, due to his involvement and experience with Open Source Development. Mario also mentioned that he is able to get openSUSE to sponsor usb sticks if anyone is able to produce a light version of openSUSE with LXDE. To be updated: Details steps on how to contribute to the LXDE project and GSOC LXDE Projects. Todo: Help LXDE advertise abt GSOC to the Singapore Universities. (http://linuxnus.org/2009/03/11/live-blogging-at-lxde-talk-mar-09/)

We had dinner at Dover after the talk. The food was great and so was the company. Quite a few ideas popped out from the conversations. One suggestion from Mario was to organise some girl only events to attract girls into Open Source. This has been a successfully practiced in Taiwan. Another idea that is likely to be worked on is to organise FOSS.SG. (http://linuxnus.org/2009/03/12/lxde-talk-mar-09-aftermath/)

LXDE with Sidux – Installation how to

My friend Kevin, who is based in Ho-Chi-Minh-City (former Saigon), has written a nice article about his experience with LXDE and Sidux on his blog Saigonnezumi.com. The post can be used as a how to for anyone who wants to try out LXDE on Sidux.

LXDE has the looks of KDE, the feel of Gnome and the simplicty of XFCE. It is nice windows manager for a laptop. Not too bloated, not too simple. It took me less than 5 minutes to get a feel for it. I still have much to learn about LXDE but I fell in love with it instantly. There are still features that I want to add, such as a dock, since I got used to it in Gnome. I read somewhere I can add one but I will need to research it more. Though it is only in beta, it is still stable enough to use on a laptop. Together with Sidux, it mades a great distro combination (Hint hint Sidux developers). Many of use like the Gnome desktop but I think we will settle for LXDE for Sidux. Read more about LXDE at their website: http://www.lxde.org. (saigonnezumi.com/2009/01/04/sid…)

saigonnezumi

Recent Status of LXDE

Actually, the LXDE (Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment) project had rested for some time. Though we’re getting more and more people to join us since Linux World Expo 2008, LXDE have no much improvements since July this year. It’s happened due to our main developers didn’t have time to write new code, PCMan took time to focuses on his physician jobs, Jserv has worked for a new project which is confidential. About me, I was burdened with my family, so I also need to focus on my current jobs and my school to earn more money.

Recently, we’re planning to release a new version and new stuffs of some LXDE components for Merry Christmas. :D It is a great news that LXDE has a new project – “menu-cache”, which is a library creating and utilizing caches to speed up the manipulation for freedesktop.org defined application menus, and also it can be used as a replacement of libgnome-menu of gnome-menus. It means the menu-cache will speed up our LXLauncher and LXPanel menu, they will be getting faster. for supporting the menu-cache, PCMan is working hard on LXPanel right now, you can see logs of SVN everyday.

Besides, we hope to release a lxpanel-dev package for development of lxpanel plugin next version. Currently, it is difficult to write a new plugin for lxpanel, if you wanna write a new one, you have to download the LXPanel sourcecode and inject your code into the LXPanel and then copy the .so file to the system folder after compile it successful. It doesn’t make sense that is too complicated for developing a plugin. So we are tring to export header files and pkgconfig for making easy for development of plugin. Additionally, LXPanel has been reformed, lxpanel-core and lxpanel-plugin be separated. It will be helpful to maintain LXPanel sourcecode for us.

Well, I wanna make an apology for all of patch provider right now, because you guys’ patches which wasn’t applied for a long time. We are reviewing those patches currently, it will be applied as soon as possible, I hope so.

LXDE team members believe that LXDE has a great future, even if we don’t have much time to do that. Hope you guys can join us to help LXDE keeps going. :-)

LXDE – video of the desktop environment

LXDE Video of the desktop: Maces explains how to add desktop icons, change colors and fonts, switch different desktops and customize the panel and taskbar on LXDE

Maces: I have uploaded a new video on Youtube. It shows the main features of the LXDE Desktop environment. I will introduce the Panel and it stettings and how to handle with your icons on the Desktop.

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zvel6FB97j0
German Video: http://www.maces-net.de/2008/10/14/neues-video-mit-lxde/
Maces Blog: http://www.maces-net.de/2008/10/13/new-video-on-lxde/