YouTube HTML5 Switch (and other news)

Hello! Long time no see!

It’s been a busy period and I have lots of news to share. First of all, I decided to have a look on the Mozilla Add-on SDK . It has a very simple API to create Add-ons for Firefox.

Anyway, I tried to come up with an idea of what would be my first Add-on. Hmmm…An Add-on that can make my web experience less annoying. Considering that I spend half of my time on YouTube to listen to songs (mostly), view videos etc, as a Linux user, I get really annoyed when the Flash plug-in crashes and I have to restart Firefox.  You can always visit to change that but what if you delete your cookies? It’s a boring procedure.

YouTube HTML5 Switch logo

So, what I thought was to make an Add-on that would simply add the “html5=1” parameter on the URL. And I did it…well, kind of, it’s now an experimental Add-on for Firefox. I need to add some more features for it to be considered as a proper Add-on. It’s called “YouTube HTML5 Switch” and here it is at the Mozilla Add-ons website, and here is the source code on Github.

I currently develop the Add-on at the Add-on Builder (that means online). I will eventually download the SDK and try it on Fedora 🙂 It’s not the smartest Add-on in the world, but I think it’s a good start for a newbie. By the way I need to say that the SDK’s documentation is not very helpful and I needed to google a lot to write down a few lines of code. Anyway, in every “major” release I will be posting here any changes etc. You can also read the on Github.

What’s more? Wonky Doll and the Echo (the band where I play) are supporting I Like Trains here in Athens on December 15, 2012. You can check our Bandcamp page and listen to our songs. Now, if you have installed the Add-on you can test it with these video…if you go on YouTube of course 🙂

Some videos like this for instance don’t have an HTML5 player so the plugin will not be of any use here.

Other videos though, do have have an HTML5 version and the plugin will work!

Review of Mozilla Balkans meeting @ Sofia

If you follow my or twitter account, you might had noticed that Pierros , Freddy and myself wore our Mozilla hats and went to Sofia for the Mozilla Balkans meeting. An easy trip since Bulgaria is very close to Greece.

On overall : it was a great experience! How could be otherwise? I met new people (including Chris Hofmann, William Quiviger and others), got in touch again with cool people I’ve already met (in Ljubljana, Slovenia) and had the chance to discuss the hot topics that concern the Mozilla Balkans community.

I shouldn’t whine at all, but there was no wifi at the meeting area. But! We got through it using Fedora (actually the Network Manager internet/wifi sharing coolness) and one Ethernet port available on the room.

By the way, sticking post-it notes with what’s good, bad, giving a thank you and expressing ideas on the wall (each category was a part of the wall) was beyond cool, making it even more interesting than using our laptops.

What I suggested was to run a DemoParty[1] covering the Balkans area (Matjaž Horvat-approved suggestion 😉 ): each one of our communities (if possible of course) will run a DemoParty on its own, locally. I think this is a good chance to attract creative people as our goal is also to make the web better, not only the browser (we wouldn’t want the best browser for a web that sucks anyway). What is needed is the participation of the members of each community, an announcement on each Mozilla community website with the rules etc, judges, support from others in Mozilla that have already run a DemoParty and if possible a place (hackerspace or whatever) to announce the winners etc.

I also suggested aborting the  Skype calls. It’s simple, imagine all the people in the room in Sofia participating via Skype. Suicide is next! I mentioned four other reasons as well. IRC meetings are much more productive since we can log our conversation and plan our discussion beforehand.

Furthermore, Athens was proposed to be the next city to run the next Mozilla Balkans meeting (we compete Belgrade!)

Not to forget the newly created ReMo project! hooray!!! [2]

What’s more? The Greek Mozilla community website is under construction. We will mainly post our news there to let you know what’s going on. I need to mention our new mailing list as well! You can join us  here [3].

Anyway you can learn more (also see photos) for what happened in Sofia here at our aftermath page [4]. Once more a thank you to the organizers (yeah to Bogo too!).

<off-topic> This week has been very busy, since I am finishing my studies this semester. I am also looking for a postgraduate program in embedded systems/HCI/electronic automation (so far the universities of Athens, Leiden and Delft have what I want 🙂 ) . If you know something about that matter and want to share it with me, please do 🙂 </off-topic>





My Fedora 15 tweaks for an SSD

NOTE: Same things apply even on Fedora 17/18/19 🙂

====== In English / Αγγλικά ======

Hello! I am going to share how I tweaked my Linux system using Fedora 15!

I did a bit of searching and found some interesting proposals on how to do it. To be honest there isn’t one specific way of doing it. It depends on how much you love your data, how much you want your SSD to live and of course what’s your hardware (eg. my SSD supports TRIM, I have enabled the RAID option and I have 8 GBs of RAM). In short, what I will do is make the system use the TRIM command (which is essential) and put the temporary folders in RAM.

tip: if you have other OSs installed and change to RAID mode (with one ssd it’s like AHCI), they might not work (there are guides to avoid re-installation)…Linux will work though 🙂

One great source was this one [1].

First of all, we will use the ext4 filesytem (no swap partition for me). There is one thing to know! Writing on your SSD without reason or moving/writing data is harming its life expectancy. SSDs have endurance due to the MLC technology [2] (approximately 10.000 writes per memory block [3]) which is cheaper, but in the end we also want our SSD to live!

Now, apart from my SSD, I also have my old HDD plugged in my computer. It’s SATA so I didn’t have any other problems to set it up. During the installation process, I created my partitions manually. You know: create some free space and then create new partitions with the appropriate mount points. I used “/” ,obviously for a partition for the root directory, and also “/home” to place my data and program configuration on a different partition (and disc). To store “/home” folder, I used the HDD, just because I want to download stuff and save my media files there! Remember that it’s bad for your SSD writing again and again to it.

After you install Fedora 15, to check if your SSD supports the TRIM command (supposing your disc is  /dev/sda) :

hdparm -I /dev/sda | grep TRIM

(grep will search and find the lines where the word “TRIM” exists in the output of the command before the “|” symbol)

Now, you must edit the “/etc/fstab” file, it’s the filesystem table.You can create a copy of this file in case you feel it won’t work (but, hey, it will) or something else goes wrong:

cp /etc/fstab /etc/fstab.bakup

How did I edit it? “su -” , give your password and then “gedit /etc/fstab”. Now, visit the second page [4] of the guide at step 2! TRIM command support (if your drive supports it of course) ! You absolutely need to do this! Now that you opened “fstab” you need to add the “discard” parameter next to the defaults parameter for the root directory! As you will see at the link it’s something like that:

/dev/sda1 / ext4 defaults

That will change to something like that:

/dev/sda1 / ext4 discard,defaults

Now, it’s up to you if you want to add one other parameter! Tweaking might mean less reliability and data integrity but that’s why I moved my precious data on my HDD 😉 You can also add the “noatime” parameter (just like discard)  and, hey(!), Linus Torvalds also suggests it [5]

What’s next? Moving our temporary folders to RAM. I have 8 GBs of RAM and I am not afraid to “use” them! By “temporary folders” I mean “/tmp”, “/var/tmp” and “/var/log”. For that, you need to add three lines (each one for every folder) at the “/etc/fstab” file. It’s step 6 at the guide. One line (for /tmp) will look like this:

none /tmp tmpfs defaults 0 0

Don’t worry about “none” (it’s just a name) it helps the folders stand out so that we will find them easier later. Next thing you can do is to also move the Mozilla Firefox cache there (as proposed in the guide)!

To check if everything is working just run the command “df” and it will show you what are you partitions doing!

OK, how can we optimize our system even more? Disabling journaling of ext4 (making it unable to keep track of data, meaning unreliable). BUT! This is as far as I will tweak my SSD. Furethermore, we allready changed “noatime”. I have the life expectancy I need and also a high speed disk, having in mind that I want my data uncorrupted as much as possible.






======= In Greek / Ελληνικά =======

Για να λειτουργήσετε τον SSD σας ώστε να “ζήσει” και να λειτουργεί στην μέγιστη απόδοση, δεν υπάρχει μόνο ένας τρόπος. Ανάλογα με το hardware του υπολογιστή σας (ο δικός μου υποστηρίζει την εντολή TRIM , έχω ενεργοποιήσει το RAID mode και έχω 8GB RAM),και το πόσο χρειάζεστε την ασφάλεια των δεδομένων σας πρέπει να επιλέξετε εσείς τί αλλαγές θα κάνετε. Αυτό που είναι σίγουρο πως πρέπει να κάνετε είναι να ενεργοποιήσετε τη λειτουργεία TRIM του λειτουργικού. Εγώ επέλεξα και να μεταφέρω τους φακέλους “/tmp”, “/var/tmp /” και “/var/log” στη RAM, όπως επίσης εφτιαξα ένα partition για το  “/home” στον HDD δίσκο που μου ξέμεινε από το προηγούμενό μου PC.

συμβουλή: αν έχετε εγκαταστήσει ήδη κάποιο άλλο λειτουργικό εκτός του Linux και αλλάξετε το IDE mode σε RAID mode θα έχετε πρόβλημα το οποίο λύνεται και χωρίς format. Απλά ψάξτε το λίγο.

Ένα καλό site που συμβουλεύτικα για όσα έκανα στο δίσκο είναι αυτό εδώ [1] (δείτε τα links πάνω)

Καταρχήν, χρησιμοποιό το ext4 filesystem. Χωρίς swap. Πρέπει να γνωρίζετε ότι όσο περισσότερο γράφουμε στον δίσκο τόσο πιο γρήγορα θα σταματήσει να λειτουργεί στο επιθυμητό επίπεδο. Τόσο πιο γρήγορα θα πρέπει να πάρουμε καινούριο.

Λοιπόν, έφτιαξα ένα partition με το φάκελο root (“/”) στον SSD μου και ένα με το φάκελο “/home” HDD επειδή κατεβάζω και δημιουργώ συνέχεια αρχεία σε αυτόν τον φάκελο!

Έχοντας εγκαταστήσει το Fedora 15, για να δούμε, άραγε ο SSD σας υποστηρίζει το TRIM; (υποθέτως πως είναι ο  /dev/sda) :

hdparm -I /dev/sda | grep TRIM

(το grep θα ψάξει και θα βρει που βρίσκεται στην έξοδο της εντολής πριν το σύμβολο “|” η λέξη “TRIM”)

Τώρα θα επεξεργαστούμε το αρχείο “/etc/fstab”, είναι ο πίνακας για τα filesystems. Μπορείτε να δημιουργήσετε ένα αντίγραφω, μην πάει κάτι στραβά:

cp /etc/fstab /etc/fstab.bakup

Πως να το επεξεργαστείτε τώρα; Με το “su -” , δίνοντας τον κωδικό του root (administrator) και έπειτα με “gedit /etc/fstab” θα σας το ανοίξει με τον επεξεργαστή κειμένου. Τώρα, πηγαίνετε στη 2η σελίδα [4] του οδηγού, στο βήμα 2 (είναι στα αγγλικά)! Αφορά την υποστήριξη του TRIM command (αν το υποστηρίζει ο δίσκος) ! Πρέπει να το κάνετε! Απλά πρέπει να πάτε στο αρχείο που μόλις ανοιξαμε και να προσθέσετε την παράμετρο “discard” στο partition που εγκαταστήσαμε το root directory (το “/” δηλαδή”)! Πρέπει από κάπως έτσιt:

/dev/sda1 / ext4 defaults

Να γίνει  κάπως έτσι:

/dev/sda1 / ext4 discard,defaults

Αν θέλετε να πειράξετε κάτι άλλο εξαρτάται από εσας, για μέγιστη απόδοση φτάνει και αυτό. Μπορείτε (με ρίσκο για τα δεδομένα σας να προσθέσετε και την παράμετρο “noatime“(εγώ την έβαλα καθώς τα δεδομένα που με ενδιαφέρουν βρίσκονται στον HDD μου) Πάντως το συστήνει και ο Linus Torvalds [5].

Επόμενο! Έχω  8 GB RAM και δεν φοβάμαι να τα χρησιμοποιήσω όποτε είπα να μεταφέρω τους προσωρινούς φακέλους μου εκεί. Συγκεκριμένα τους “/tmp”, “/var/tmp” and “/var/log”. Πάλι στο “/etc/fstab” πρέπει να προσθέσουμε μερικές γραμμες (το βήμα 6 στον οδηγό). Μία από τις γραμμές που πρέπει να προστειούν στο τέλος του αρχείου είναι πχ. έτσι (για τον φάκελο /tmp):

none /tmp tmpfs defaults 0 0

Το “none” είναι απλά ένα όνομα, θα βοηθήσει μετά για να ξεχωρίζει από τα άλλα.

Μπορούμε επίσης να μεταφέρουμε και την cache του Mozilla Firefox cache σε αυτό το partition (όπως λέει και ο οδηγός)!

Για να δείτε αν δουλεύουν όλα ρολόι εκτελέστε την εντολή “df” και θα σας δείξει τί κάνουν τα partitions σας!

OK, τώρα αν θέλετε και κάτι παραπάνω (με δικόσας ρίσκο πάντα) μπορείτε να απενεργοποιήσετε το journaling του ext4. Αλλά! Δεν πρόκειται να πω άλλα καθώς δεν έχω πειράξει άλλο το δίσκο μου. Επιπροσθέτως ήδη προσέθεσα τη παράμετρο “noatime”. Ήδη έχω μεγαλώσει το προσδόκιμο ζωής του δίσκου μου. Μήπως τους κρατάμε και για πολύ;

FossComm 2011 and OpenFest 2011 review

This is my review from 2 events I attended and participated in. I will just report with few words what happened and what I did there. Of course I wasn’t alone. As always Fedora rocked with his presence (I will explain later). But! I didn’t only participate with Fedora. You know, I am basically a hardware guy, I study electronics (currently at my last semester, yeah!)

====OpenFest 2011===

OK! Since OpenFest 2011 was first I will start with this event! It was organized by students of the department of Computer Systems at the TEI of Pireaus. I think the Fedora booth was exemplar and with a lot of people helping! We had one bad comment though…few people really wanted the Fedora cheat cubes again on our booth table. I also believe it’s a very cool swag and it’s just a piece of paper! So, people should just wait for our next event 🙂

At OpenFest I made a presentation on Fedora 15 (mentioning and showing a bit of Gnome 3 magic). Pierros and Nikos did a very cool workshop on how to survive with Gnome 3 too!

I also co-presented a workshop with Pierros and Konstantinos concerning Arduino. While it was introductory, we had to repeat it for 2 times more! The room had about 35 seats I think, but at the first 2 presentations people were even standing outside the windows to watch (not to mention that the door was open and people were trying to listen from outside. The 3rd presentation was made in a bigger room the next day.

Photos (thanks to Thalia and Dimitris):

===FossComm 2011===

Last but not least, the major open source event in Greece. This time at the Univercity of Patras, organized by the Department of Computer Engineering and Informatics. What I really need to mention is that the schedule of FossComm 2011 tried to cover the needs of everyone and I think it did. We enjoyed a lot of good presentations and workshops!

I need to mention that while the Fedora booth was represented well by all the Ambassadors who came to support, Fedora made the difference in the event’s schedule. We had good and many presentations. Not any community can do that 🙂

Of course the swag was there on both booths (Fedora and Mozilla).  But not always there. Visitors, hosts, everyone took everything 🙂

Together with Pierros Papadeas (also made presentations on Fedora and Mozilla at FossComm 2011 ) we did again, as in OpenFest 2011, an introductory Arduino presentation. If I could only have the time to show more code! People were starving for code! Something that we kind of did at OpenFest 2011 🙂 I wanted to talk to people about how useful a library and how Arduino is part of the “Internet of things” nowadays, showing Pachube and the completely opensource Thingspeak.

Presentations I attended:

  • Melissi project by Giorgos Logiotatidis (If you are looking for cloud/python stuff please please check it out and ask)
  • Building a platform-agnostic wireless network of interconnected smart objects using open source tools
    by Anastasia Protopapa and Basilios Georgitzikis (who I thank for his hospitality!). Interconnecting different Zigbee nodes? Sounds like the future to me!
  • – hackerspace αλα ελληνικά (I will post more details when will be completely ready, but you can follow us on the wiki, the mailing list, , twitter or even facebook. We want to share the news everywhere.)

I think I didn’t fully attend something else, but I watch the work of many of the people that presented and I am fully aware of what they do and still wish the best for them. One example is the work of the foss.ntua team Consuela a very handy arduino project for controlling lights with a simple web client setup.

Photos (thanks to Thalia, and Dimitris) :

Once again, a big thank you to the hosts and organizers of the events. Another thank you to those who helped!

Mozilla Balkans meeting 2010 : Ljubljana

Hello everyone!

It’s been a week since I returned from the Mozilla Balkans meeting in Ljubljana. An event that was quite different from those I usually attend as it was more…private, for the organizing purposes of our community at the Balkans area! A great chance to meet a lot of interesting people (of all ages).  I had a very pleasant stay, and I should really thank all the people who organized the event.

The great thing is that, a huge surprise happened. We had the honour to meet the new CEO of Mozilla Gary Kovacs, the President of Mozilla Europe Tristan Nitot, the Chief Marketing Officer of Mozilla Chris Beard and last but not least the head of community marketing Mary Colvig !

Saturday and Sunday were planed according to this schedule. We were accurate and productive and the space Kiberpipa provided to us was wonderful. During the work sprint, together with the other Mozilla participants I put my hands into code (eg. the Jetpack session) and I also translated stuff as requested from Kadir Topal the head of our super SUMO development team. Axel Hekt helped me a lot too. Well, the thing is that Pierros, Axel and myself spent quite a lot of time during our common flights and at the airport. It was fun and interesting! Learned a lot of stuff and grasped some new ideas.

On Sunday we had Mary with us! We used our organization skills and did some brainstorming for the benefit of the Balkans community. We split in 4 teams and afterwards presented our ideas.

On Sunday night Pierros and I (the only Balkans team left in Ljubljana) had dinner with Mary, Chris and Axel. Since I had already seen Mary and Axel in action, discussing with Chris proved to me once more how cool everyone in Mozilla is and how unique Mozilla is among all free and open source foundations/projects/etc today because of these people.

Photos :