Posted in Fedora, Music&Video, Philosophy

About Codecs and Fedora

 

It’s well known that Fedora ships free software only, except for some firmware in order to boot.  But unlike Debian that has a non-free repository, Fedora offers no options to those who want to install closed source software.  This is because of legal issues; as Fedora relies on Red Hat Enterprise they have to follow the same rules and Red Hat, as a USA based company, has to avoid everything related to copyright.

This is why Fedora never shipped codecs except those that are open source. People who want to listen to their usual music files have to install some third party software or repository to get them working.

 

Some background

Every audio and video format needs two sets of codecs: for decoding and for encoding.

Patents don’t cover the file format itself, but the codecs you need to process it.  This means that every file format has two patents, one for decoders and another for encoders.

Encoding means you’re editing a file and saving it in a specific format.  Examples of this are the use of Audacity and KDEnlive.

Decoding means you’re listening or watching a file without modifying it.  Examples of this are the use of Totem and Clementine.

 

Good news!

The good news are that the patents for encoding and decoding MP3 and AC3  had expired, and Cisco made an agreement with RH related to H264, so now it is legally possible for Fedora to offer these codecs from repositories.

This means that those who install Fedora 25 will be able to listen to their music out of the box and can install the codecs needed for editing music from repositories. Those who installed Fedora 24 can install the codecs from repositories as well, if they didn’t install them via third party.  And those who will install Fedora 26 will get all the codecs for free out of the box!

 

Happy listening, Fedorians and thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Philosophy, System, Users

Now Windows is Linux friendly

 

Before switching discs in my laptop I prepared two DVD  (I have no spare USB sticks or SD memories),  one with Windows 8.1 and one with Fedora 25 Workstation.  Much to my dismay I later come to learn that Fedora doesn’t boot from optical devices like CD & DVD, so I used the only Linux I had, an OpenSuSe USB stick I’ve got from OpenRheinRuhr.

Now… for years we were all told  “Install Windows first because Linux recognises Win partitions but the viceversa doesn’t apply”.  So I installed Windows first.  And it did recognised the existing partitioning including, yes, Linux volumes.  I wanted to start over so I just deleted everything and assign it to Windows.

But it’s not just that.  With a small app, you can use your Linux partitions from Windows as if they were… well, other partitions.  Office recognises ODT formats and opens them without errors or complains  (it used to make a fuss years ago).  And… oh, this is my favourite!  Windows doesn’t label Linux/Open Source stuff as virus as it always did.  And visiting Linux pages doesn’t trigger a lot of alarms in your system saying it’s dangerous and evil and you should leave that site to never come back.

So if you’re planning to make a dual boot of your computer, go ahead, Windows won’t get in your way anymore.

 

 

Posted in Open Source, Philosophy, Projects, Science

NASA software catalogue

Do you love coding? Do you love sciences? Do you love testing stuff even if it’s unrelated to your work or daily life?  Here there’s something for you!

NASA has just released their software database including the source code from all their projects.  This means you’re free to use, test, read and modify the programmes.  Some of them have been release under Open Source licenses and some others have governamental licenses.  But not to worry, they’re all available and they’re all for free.

Of course, because of the nature of NASA’s work, most of this software is very specific and targeted, and might not have any use for the mere mortals.  Not to mention that when it comes down to data processing NASA needs (and uses) massive amounts of resource, therefore some of these programmes may not run properly in  “normal”  computers.

But…!  You can still request and try. Or at least, read the code if you can’t actually run the programme.

bildschirmfoto-von-2017-03-04-08-46-30

So… How does it works?

To get any of this, you can visit NASA Software Catalogue and download the pdf file with the complete lists or search by category in the said page.  Once you find something of interest, you request it. If you have no NASA account, you’ll be requested to create one. Note that to prevent abuse and unauthorised entries, they will monitor your activity including keystrokes.  If this is not a problem for you, just go ahead and create the account. It’s fast and simple. But requesting the software isn’t that simple.  You have to fill a form giving your personal and studying or business information.  It does look impressive but it contains no outrageous questions so it’s up to you to accept or not.

After sending this, you’ll get the license, the software and the code.  Depending on the kind of license is what you will be allowed to do or not.  Bear in mind that many of these programmes are governmental purpose only.

tidydesk

And now?

Now you have a NASA account you can do other interesting things and apply for other programmes as well.  Feel free to investigate.


If you want to know more:

https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-releases-software-catalog-granting-the-public-free-access-to-technologies-for

https://technology.nasa.gov

https://software.nasa.gov

Posted in Contributors, Fedora, Philosophy

FAmSCo today

For those of you who don’t know what FAmSCo is, I’ll start this article saying that is the Fedora Ambassadors Steering Committee.  You can find more information here and here.

If you read the links you’ll learn that the Council, FESCo and FAmSCo had elections between December 2016 and January 2017.  Members are elected for two Fedora releases according to the rules listed here.  According to the aforementioned rules candidates will be ambassadors from any part of the world and people allowed to vote is anyone with a FAS account.

Now… the problem.

The rules as they are worded in the wiki are rather vague and people understand different things from the same sentences.  This allowed to a great contributor that isn’t an Ambassador to result elected.

 

Who & What

Frederico Lima, FAS Fredlima, is a great contributor very well known in the Fedora Community.  He wanted to be Ambassador but sadly the Brazilian mentor has been consistently inactive or out of reach.  Whether he reached out others LATAM mentors or not, the fact is that he ran as candidate and resulted elected. This posed a problem for FAmSCo.  What to do with an elected non-Ambassador member?  Ignore people’s choice? Select someone else? Run general elections again?

Actions

FAmSCo decided to ask the Council to intervene, and the Council sent back the problem to FAmSCo advising to apply the rules for vacant seats.  We opened a ticket on trac and discussed this topic to the extent in meetings and Ambassadors mailing list.

Solution

The rule to fill vacant seats says:  “If FAmSCo does not have all its seats filled due to members leaving or other lack, the vacant seats will attempt to be filled by the following methods:

  1. If there are runner-up candidates from the previous election that did not have the opportunity to be on FAmSCo, they will be considered and offered a seat.
  2. If those candidates have been exhausted or FAmSCo does not consider them eligible, FAmSCo will ask Fedora community members that they think would do a good job if they would be willing to hold the open seats.
  3. If the open seats are still not filled, FAmSCo will operate with less members until the next FAmSCo election.”

FAmSCo members agreed to apply the second point, that is  “FAmSCo will ask Fedora community members that they think would do a good job if they would be willing to hold the open seats.”

There are three proposed candidates:  Zacharias Mitzelos FAS Mitzie, Sirko Kemter FAS Gnokii, and Fredlima who has been approved as Ambassador in the meantime.

FAmSCo members will vote in this ticket in trac, having time until Wednesday 22nd (February).

Results

Will be published in due time in the Ambassadors mailing list.

 

Thanks for reading such a long text.