Good news for those who care about Debian

Via Hector:

Debian, Ubuntu and DCCA joint efforts for improving laptop support and for Linux kernel and X11 packaging on Debian -derivative software distributions.

This kind of group effort is precisely what makes the Free Software development model so great and, as this story demonstrates eloquently, it applies remarkably well to corporate software development, even among vendors that are competing for the same market segment. Awesome, isn't it?


Eesti keele spelleri arendus [2]

The publication of an article by Elver, about my packages of ispell-et on Minut.ee (the Estonian Slashdot) produced an interesting thread:

  • Several people complaining how Estonians are so selfish and undedicated that it took a foreigner to package it,
  • Others praising me for packaging it,
  • Someone noticing that the last upstream release dates back from 2003 and wondering how to help develop the actual wordlist content,
  • Someone else persistently asking how to get Estonian spellchecking working in Thunderbird,
  • Someone else asking if it's possible to test this on Windows, (Täh?!)

...with myself personally replying to some of the posts in the thread.



If these two links [1] [2] don't manage to convince you that Estonia is the place to be if you're really serious about innovating in the ICT sector, then I really don't know what will.


Eesti keele spelleri arendus

As I mentioned in a previous post, I maintain the Debian and Ubuntu package of ispell-et (Estonian dictionaries for the Aspell, Ispell and MySpell spell checkers - plus an hyphenation pattern for OpenOffice). Packaging this software was a natural choice for someone like me who is learning the language and who needs something to highlight obvious mistakes.

This being said, the Estonian wordlists that serve as raw material to generate those dictionaries are in desperate need of Language Love; the vocabulary appears frozen in Soviet time and rather incomplete to begin with: obsolete words nobody can even remember (probably of importance only to linguists or philologists), omission of even the most basic colloquial slangs, complete absence of contemporary technical vocabulary, etc.

Therefore, I am hereby inviting all Estonians to contribute to the development of the wordlist. The procedure is fairly simple: install the Estonian dictionary package for your favorite text editor or word processor (on Ubuntu 6.04, simply install language-support-et), load a few documents and report all words that were mistakenly marked as misspelled to Jaak Pruulmann. As an incentive, please note that all improvements will go into the Estonian version of Edubuntu, providing free language learning tools to Estonian children and thus benefiting the entire Estonian community. Tore homma, eks ole? :-)

Unicode migration issues for ru_RU locale

My co-pilot for the rus-ispell maintenance, Антон Марчуков (whom some of you might remember from Debconf5), has setup a Wiki for cataloging issues preventing the migration to UTF-8 locales for Russian [in Russian] and other languages that utilize the Cyrillic script. If you need proper Cyrillic support for your FOSS desktop and have any issue to report, please visit the Wiki and contribute. Do the same and let us know if you have contributed a patch that fixes an UTF-8 issue for any application. Добро пожаловать!


Tales of positive upstream collaboration

Amaya talks about a case where an upstream developer contributed a patch to the Debian package of his software. I'll take this opportunity to mention a couple of positive experiences of my own:

  • CUPS-PDF is a CUPS backend to generate PDF documents instead of printing out hard copies. Given my complete ignorance of CUPS internals, I figured that I would kindly ask upstream to subscribe himself to the PTS, just in case an RC bug would rear its ugly head.

    Volker immediately agreed and, sure enough, someone filed a number of RC bugs resulting from an audit they had performed. Volker replied and argued every point with the submitter by himself, then promptly released a new tarball which included all the fixes.

    This is the best case of collaborative maintenance I've encountered so far: Volker maintains his code and I maintain the Debian package. Everybody wins.

  • Ispell-et is an Estonian wordlist from which all 3 dictionary variants (aspell, ispell, myspell) are generated, plus an hyphenation pattern for OpenOffice, which upstream also uses to generate compound words.

    Jaak is a linguistic technology developer whose extremely busy schedule leaves very little time for hobbies. However, the appearance of my package in the Debian repository renewed his interest in maintaining his wordlist. He promptly reviewed my package and suggested a couple of fixes to improve the quality of the dictionary generation process. He also proposed further improvements to eventually generate Hunspell dictionaries as well. Once again, everybody wins.

Wouldn't it be great if all upstream developers subscribed to the Debian PTS for their software and answered bugs related to the codebase themselves?


New Blogation

Elver convinced me to start blogging again. This time, instead of bothering with setting up my own blog engine, I decided to go back and try Blogger again.

Hacking the CSS template to match my regular website took even less time than I expected. Elver took the opportunity to ask his pal X-G for a second opinion on the current template. The result is what you see.

Here I go again, blogging in excess. A new blogation.