Be GNOME, my friend

This blog is about hacking, Igalia and maybe some personal opinions


I'm a Gnome Hacker working for Igalia and living in A Coruña, Galiza.

GUADEC 2012 A Coruña

Executive summary

Tired as hell but with my hacking batteries completelly full.


There was always something to do here and there, which I needed to help with, but I think the most important things that I did were:

  • Organizing the Lightning Talks session, I guess you all remember the sound of the sea and the seaguls that I choose to indicate people that they were running out of time.
  • I helped Marina and Christophe in organizing the Interns’ Lightning Talks, which you can also guess because Marina liked the sea sound and decided to use it also for their session.
  • I helped Juanjo in organizing the BoFs. He planned them and I managed them at the indico.
  • Random stuff
  • Keeping hackers happy. Having Zeenix at my place implied hanging out almost every day with the hackers for dinner and beers so I needed to do my best to have them properly fed and with the deserved ‘party level’. I took some people to do some sightseeing and to several restaurants like A Roda, O Galiñeiro… I even remember going to a place with live music at Os Maios close to a Pulpeira de Arzúa.

The only bad thing I can think of is that I missed some talks because of having a lot of things to do.

Interesting talks

I attended all the talks I could and just tried to avoid the ones by Igalians because for obvious reasons I already knew what they were about, so I’ll mention the ones that I liked most:

  • Jacob Appelbaum’s keynote: Personal data exposure is underestimated by most people but it is something very important that we should care about. It would be interesting to have Tor integrated with GNOME.
  • Every detail matters by Allan: Suddenly you realize that you are in a better mood when using your GNOME 3 and the reason is because there are some guys focusing on having the small bugs fixed that were annoying you without noticing.
  • MinGW-w64 by Marc-André: Quite interesting talk about tools and recipes to crosscompile your programs for the Evil. This is quite important to help us with the task of showing that the GNOME world is as multiplatform as other options (you would be a fool if you think that you can have everything working like a charm on the Evil when using some frameworks that claim to be multiplatform just out of the box).
  • i18n by Gil: Random though: No native English speaker developer was on that talk. We really need to improve this. Then we can talk about tools and other stuff. Though I did not attend the BoF, I talked to Fran Diéguez and my wife Laura about some stuff the students of the Universidade da Coruña could help with to improve translators’ lives, maybe combined with GSoC or OPW.
  • GStreamer talk by Tim Müller: Can’t ever miss it. 1.0 is almost there and it shines!
  • PiTiVi by Jeff: Constant lol. Cannot wait to see the videos uploaded. Really enjoyed it not only because of it being fun, but because of all the new features coming to our favorite video editor.
  • Defensive publications: Patents suck in all senses and even more at FLOSS. These guys should be keynoters at all FLOSS events all over the world, because something I learned lately is that people can do things when they unite. If we help with bringing things to the public knowledge before they are patented by others (because Patent Offices workers are far from perfection considering their model that I do not agree with) we can do something. I recommend you to have a look at the Open Innovation Network.
  • History of GNOME: it is always interesting to look back to see how much we have walked.

Fixed bugs

  • After speaking to Matthias Clasen, I got the permission to apply the patches I had submitted for GB#613595. This was quite an old bug that I had worked on from the times of Hildon in Fremantle. Just after pushing I realized that I had caused a small regression but fortunately I fixed it before having consequences.
  • Bastien closed FDB#49945 about GeoClue by pushing my patch.
  • Edward promised to have a look at the patches I submitted for GB#663869. This is not closed yet, but I hope he does not forget 😉


And of course, I need to thank Igalia for sponsoring me by attending and helping at GUADEC:



July 19th, 2012

Wow, something I think I would not see, but GUADEC is happening less than 3km from home in less than a week!

GUADEC 2012 A Coruña

I have collaborated in organizing the Lightning Talks and BoFs/Hackfests and of course, I’ll help wherever I can. Poor Zeenix will be at my place so he will need to wake up early to come with me and my wife Laura to the faculty.

I also want to thank Igalia for sponsoring me with time to help organizing and attending the event and I might be also helping the Advisory Board meeting that will happen at Igalia headquarters on the 25th.

As I already said the other day in Twitter, I became Qt Ambassador because of Aura. The only problem is that is a project-person program, meaning that it is granted to a person because of having worked on a project. Aura was a project developed by three Igalians, who were Miguel, Víctor and me and I consider a bit unfair that it was granted only to me because they deserve it as much as I do.

The procedure I followed was:

  • Applying with Aura
  • When that was accepted, I submitted Aura project page.
  • After the publication I was told that I was going to receive the Qt Ambassador Merchansise

Does anybody know if more people can become ambassadors for the same project and how?

In the context of a personal ad-hoc app (I will come to that later) that I wrote for my Nokia N9, I needed to send an email to a specific person with an attachment. After the first research at Harmattan APIs you come to QMessageService.

The first thing I did was writing Mixed QML/Qt object that I could instantiate from the QML code so that I could do something like:

Message {
    id: message
    from: "my@Address"
    to: [ "destination@Address" ]
    subject: "This is not Spam for sure!"
    body: "Trolled! Enlarge...!"
    attachments: [ "/a/path/to/an/attachment" ]

Button {
    onClicked: message.compose()
//    onClicked: message.send()

There we have an object with two send and compose methods, three string properties representing the from, subject and body and two string list properties representing the to and attachments (we leave the CC and BCC as an exercise 😉 ). As I already explained how to create the objects with the properties in previous posts, I’ll go directly to the compose and send methods.

const QMessage Message::createMessage()
    QMessage message;

    message.setFrom(QMessageAddress(QMessageAddress::Email, m_from));
    QMessageAddressList toList;
    foreach (const QString &item, m_to) {
        toList.append(QMessageAddress(QMessageAddress::Email, item));

    return message;

bool Message::send()
    QMessage message = createMessage();

    return true;

bool Message::compose()
    QMessage message = createMessage();

    return true;

Easy, right?

Dancing Troll

If you want to be completely trolled stop reading here. If not, please continue.

That does not work, at least I could not make it work. I might be missing something, but I could not. I hooked to the signal and saw the state changes, that were going from sending to Ok and no email composer was showing up. No error was being returned either.

Finally, I got an easier solution by using Qt.openUrlExternally and mailto: directly from QML. You can use obscure parameters to compose the message the way you want. Example:

Button {
    onClicked: Qt.openUrlExternally("mailto:destionation@Address" +
                                    "?subject=Subject" + 
                                    "&attach=/path/to/the/attachment" +

That does the job and it is less complicated than creating a whole class. I leave the whole message class code in a pastebin in case somebody wants to try it or develop something from there in a platform where the QMessageService really works.

Ad-hoc program

My wife tracks all our finances using Home Bank and I needed an easy way to write down the cash expenses. I decided to code a simple program easying me to manage expenses by adding them to a list (and deleting them) and export them as CSV in order to be sent through email when she requested them. As the CSV and the expenses type were so ad-hoc, I decided not to complicate it and cable them in the code and database.

I don’t think it can be interesting to anybody, but I might end up uploading it to some git repo so that it can be maintained by someone else or even forked.

As part of my work at Igalia I had to work with video and GStreamer for some years. I always used Gtk+ for that so when I needed to do things with Qt and QML, things were different. In my projects I always used pure GStreamer code instead of the Qt bindings for GStreamer because at the moment those bindings were not ready or reliable.

I know two ways of painting video:

  • Overlay way, with a window id and so on
  • Texture streaming

I might write later about texture streaming, but I will focus now on overlay.


The first way means that you need from your graphical toolkit a window id. That window id is asked by the video sink element in a very special moment and you need to provide it in that moment if you have not provided it before. For example, if you are using playbin2 and you already know the sink you want to use, just instantiate your sink and set the window id at that moment with gst_x_overlay_set_window_handle and set the sink to the playbin2 element by setting the video-sink property.

If you are not using playbin2 and for example you are using GStreamer Editing Services, you cannot use a property because currently there is no one and need to use a more complicated method. I already reported the bug with its patches and hope that they apply them as soon as possible to improve compatibility with playbin2 because the way it is now is a bit inconsistent with the rest of GStreamer code base.

Both Qt and Gtk have now client side windows, which means that your program window has only one X window and it is the toolkit that decides which widget is receiving the events. The main consequence is that if we just set the window id, GStreamer will use the whole window and will paint the video over the rest of our widgets (it does not matter if QML/Qt or Gtk+) and you’ll get very ugly effects. To solve that, you need to set the render rectangle, which are the coordinates (relative to the X whole X window) where you want to paint your video. You need to do that just after setting the window id with gst_x_overlay_set_render_rectangle.

If you do not set your window handle and your render rectangle before the pipeline begins to move, it will ask you about that with the prepare-xwindow-id GstMessage, but this message can happen inside the GStreamer threads and it cannot wait until the main loop runs, it needs the information at that very moment, so you need to connect to the synchronous bus handle. GStreamer has a good example at the GstXOverlay documentation about how to do that. To use the callback in C++, you need to declare a static method and pass this as user data parameter, then you can behave almost as having a normal object method. This is the most common solution used in the GNOME world and fits perfectly with the Qt framework too.

The code to get the window id and render rectangle in Gtk+ would be something like:

GdkWindow *gdk_window;
gdk_window = gtk_widget_get_window(your_widget);
/* as sink you can use GST_MESSAGE_SRC() if you are waiting
    for the prepare-xwindow-id message */
/* do your maths about your coordinates */
                                x, y, width, height);

In Qt, if you are using common widgets, you could use something like:

WId winId = QApplication::activeWindow()->effectiveWinId();
/* do your maths about your coordinates */
                                x, y, width, height);

If you are using a QGraphicsScene you would do something like:

/* to get the view you could do something like this
    (if you have only one or will to mess things up):
QGraphicsView *view = your_scene.views[0];
/* do your maths about your coordinates */
                                x, y, width, height);

If you are using QML, you would have a very similar approach to the last snippet, because as you should have a QDeclarativeItem, it has a scene() that you can use, to have something like QGraphicsView *view = scene().views[0]; (of course, assuming that you have only one view, which is the most common case).

Overlaying stuff

Some times it is nice do put your controls on top of the video by covering part of the image. It would be like having the video as the background of a canvas where you draw some other widgets. Some GStreamer elements give you the possibility of doing a trick to do this, which is using a colorkey for your background and painting whatever you want on top of that as long as it does not include that colorkey. Some elements like xvimagesink or omapxvsink (used in the Nokia N9 and N950) have the colorkey property that you can read and set. If you are not planning to overlay anything, you can forget about this, but if you do, you need set a color key to the sink and use that color to paint the background of your widget and a good moment is also when setting the window handle:

g_object_set(sink, "autopaint-colorkey", FALSE,
             "colorkey", 0x080810, NULL);

Why do I unset the colorkey autopainting? Because I do not want GStreamer to mess my widget painting.

And more important: Why did I use 0x080810? Because it is a dark color, close to black, but it is not black. Pure black can be dangerous as it is commonly used in themes when painting widgets so you would be getting ugly artifacts. Some people recommend magenta (0xFF00FF) as it is supposedly a color that does not exist in nature (citation needed). I would not do it for several reasons:

  • You will need to synchronize your painting very well to avoid seeing the colorkey
  • If you respect aspect ratio you will see it for sure, because you (or the sink if it is automatic) paint the backgound and the sink draws the image by leaving some empty space.
  • It does not behave well with blendings, as you blend from your widget color to the background, which is the colorkey

Advice: do not mess with colorkey and omapxvsink. Though it is supposed to be writable, it is not and it always uses 0x080810.

Aspect ratio

There are two kind of people:

  • The ones that want to use all the pixels of their monitor/TVs and like damaging their brain with distorted images.
  • The ones that like to see a correctly dimensioned image with some bars giving you a better impression of what was recorded.

As you can guess I belong to the second group.

There are some sinks that do that automatically for you by setting the force-aspect-ratio property, like ximagesink and xvimagesink but there are other that does not and omapxvsink is an example. It is not a big problem but forces you to work a bit more when you select the render rectangle. For that you need to know the video size, which you cannot know until the pipeline is running, which forces to to hook to the GST_MESSAGE_ASYNC_DONE, or in the case of playbin2, you already have the video size when getting the prepare-xwindow-id message. An example to get the video size would be:

GstPad *pad;
GstCaps *caps;
GstStructure *structure;
int width, height;

pad = GST_BASE_SINK_PAD(sink);
caps = GST_PAD_CAPS(pad);
g_return_if_fail(caps && gst_caps_is_fixed(caps));

structure = gst_caps_get_structure(caps, 0);
gst_structure_get_int(structure, "width", &width);
gst_structure_get_int(structure, "height", &height);

/* some videos define a pixel aspect ratio, meaning that the
   video pixel could be like 2x1 copared to a squared pixed
   and we need to correct this */
if (gst_structure_has_field(structure, "pixel-aspect-ratio")) {
    int par_n, par_d;
    gst_structure_get_fraction(structure, "pixel-aspect-ratio",
                               &par_n, &par_d);
    width = width * par_n / par_d;

/* trick: some sinks perform better with multiple of 2 */
width &= ~1;
height &= ~1;


April 17th, 2012

As my colleague Víctor at Igalia has said before in his post, Aura was released to the Nokia Store. Miguel, Víctor and I are quite happy with the result achieved with this app, which intention was to be kind of a port of the Cheese application of the GNOME platform to be used in the N9 or N950 Nokia phones.

The apps allows you to use both cameras (front and principal) to record videos, applying a lot of funny effects (a subset of the GNOME Video Effects) and changing them during the recording. Being Nokia a Finnish company, we decided to name the app after a Finnish Cheese to both honor the GNOME Cheese application and Finland 😉

You can download the app from the Nokia Store where we already got more than 6000 downloads and 100 reviews with a quite good average rating.

You have an example recorded by me with my own phone using the Historical effect and uploaded to Youtube:

And you have even already other videos uploaded to Youtube talking about how Aura works. This one is from a brazilian guy (obrigado!) for FaixaMobi and shows more effects:

Of course, being it free sofware you can also compile it yourself with the code at GitHub and do not be afraid of contributing! The technologies we used were the camerabin element of GStreamer and Qt/QML for the interface where we have the following components:

Aura components UML diagram

  • Main view (aura.qml) with the main interface
  • Controller, which is a mixed QML/C++ object allowing to control the pipeline.
  • Pipeline is a C++ object used by the controller to encapsulate the GStreamer code.
  • PostCapture is also a mixed QML/C++ object that opens the gallery application to show the recorded video and gives you the oportunity of sharing it, deleting it and so on. It uses a C++ controller loaded as a singleton to the context to do some stuff that can only be done in C++. Of course, you can open Gallery yourself and the videos will show up there.
  • EffectManager is a C++ class to load and manage the Effects, which is another C++ class defining how the effect must be applied.
  • Effects (Effects.qml) is a QML component to show the different effects, both software and hardware that Aura can apply. It uses the EffectManager (through the context) to load them and the Controller to apply them.
  • About view (AboutView.qml) is a rework of something done by my colleage Simón Pena and adapted to be used in Aura (Kudos!). It also uses a small AboutViewController to open a Nokia Store URL with the application instead of the browser.
  • ResourceManager is a C++ class used by the Controller to request the proper permissions to record the video.

Folga 29 Marzal

March 29th, 2012

Hoxe estou de folga en contra da reforma laboral. Aínda que teño a sorte de traballar nunha empresa na que non me teño que preocupar por se vou ser despedido xa que son socio dela, considero o meu deber loitar tamén polos dereitos dos demais e tratar de botar para atrás algo que vai acentuar a precarización do traballo e sumirnos aínda máis na maldita crise. Eu achegareime á
manifestación da Praza de Vigo á convocada pola CIG, metade por quizais algo máis de afinidade política, como outra metade por aletoriedade a causa do patetismo que me causa que non se poñan dacordo por algo tan importante coma isto.

As part of my work at Igalia I am writing an app to record some videos for the Nokia N9. I wanted to get them shown in the gallery so I tried the DBUS approach, that is something similar to what is explained here. The problem is the same they faced, meaning that I got gallery in foreground when it was not previously running, but not otherwise.

The solution to that was using libcontentaction. In order to get this working, first you need to get the vendor name in the tags of your pictures or videos, otherwise Tracker will not index them correctly and this solution can be useless.

With the following solution Gallery will be brought to foreground and show the desired file. Code would be something like:

using ContentAction::Action;


    Action action =
    if (action.isValid()) {
        qDebug() < < Q_FUNC_INFO << "chosen action:" <<;
    } else {
        qWarning() << "could not file action for" << m_file;

The mime type is one of the defined in the galleryserviceaction.desktop that you can find in the device. For images, you can also check the mime types in that file and maybe you do not need to specify it, but I have not tried this and let it to you. Please, comment me your findings.

Some days ago I was writing about how to have mixed QML/C++ objects in a QML application for Igalia, but I faced a problem with the code that I had written. And the problem was that I needed to receive some events and from the QML elements I was loading. Retaking that code:

#define QML_PATH "/path/to/the/qml/files/"

MyObject::MyObject(QDeclarativeItem *parent = 0) :
    QDeclarativeEngine engine;
    QDeclarativeComponent component(&engine,
        QUrl::fromLocalFile(QML_PATH "MyObject.qml"));
    QDeclarativeItem *rect =

and being MyObject.qml something like:

Button {
    id: "myButton"
    text: "Do something cool"

The natural way of connecting that button to some slot you are writing would be something like:

MyObject::MyObject(QDeclarativeItem *parent = 0) :
    QDeclarativeEngine engine;
    QDeclarativeComponent component(&engine,
        QUrl::fromLocalFile(QML_PATH "MyObject.qml"));
    QDeclarativeItem *item =
    connect(item, SIGNAL(clicked()), this, SLOT(doCoolStuff()));

Even if you do this, you are not getting any event in the QML button you declare. It behaves as it were a label or whatever, but the key is the engine. The engine must live while you need the events of the QML component. And the easiest way of getting that done is adding the engine as a private class attribute:

#ifndef MYOBJECT_H
#define MYOBJECT_H


class PostCapture : public QDeclarativeItem

// ...

 private slots:
    void doCoolStuff();

    QDeclarativeEngine m_engine;

and of course removing the engine stack declaration from the constructor:

MyObject::MyObject(QDeclarativeItem *parent = 0) :
    QDeclarativeComponent component(&m_engine,
        QUrl::fromLocalFile(QML_PATH "MyObject.qml"));
    QDeclarativeItem *item =
    connect(item, SIGNAL(clicked()), this, SLOT(doCoolStuff()));


Of course, if you need to connect to any element that is not the root element, you can always forward the signals and properties from the QML root object or just use the QObject::findChild method to access the right component.

Attended FOSDEM 2012

February 27th, 2012


This was my first time at FOSDEM (thanks to Igalia for the sponsoring) and I was really impressed by the lots of tracks that you can find there, but as there are so many, you realize that there are many you are not interested at. The feeling is only a bit more intense than at GUADEC or Desktop Summit, because for your interestest, you target more or less the same kind of talks, but in this case, offer is a bit broader.

My thoughts:

  • WebKit and WebKitGtk are in a good shape.
  • We are going to more web based desktops.
  • Tizen is taking off and it is betting for HTML5 and ELF, which looks like a toolkit with very interesting features like Edje being able to write an app with different views for different platforms in an easy way (at least in the paper, because I couldn’t try it).
  • GStreamer is in the right way to 1.0 by improving APIs and features that can boost performance in embedded.
  • I would like to have gone to Wayland talks, but I could not.
  • CERN really rocks working with FLOSS, specially on drivers and even developing their own hardware for their needs. It seems they have the policy of writing and using FLOSS because of being a publicly funded organization. Many other could follow their advice.

About tourist stuff, it was really a pity to be taking some medicins that prevented me to drink the famous Belgian beer, but at least I could visit some famous stuff in Brussels, like the Atomium, Manneken Pis and the Grote Markt. What medicins did allow me was trying the famous waffles and some good chocolate made by Frederic Blondeel.