Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Announcing dmedia 0.3 "made of the web"

Yup, made of the web.

I'm happy to announce the 3rd release of the Distributed Media Library (aka "dmedia"). At this point dmedia is really just for developers and highly adventurous end-users, but the design and implementation are both progressing quickly.

You can download the source tarball here: dmedia-0.3.0.tar.gz

Packages are available for Lucid, Maverick, and Natty in the Novacut Stable Releases PPA (although note that 0.3 has only been well tested under Maverick).

What's new in dmedia 0.3

It was a rather slow month for dmedia, largely because I was still quite sick the first 2 weeks of the new year. Ah, winter. None the less, there are some significant new features, but not much in the way of user visible changes. New features include:

  • File content-hash is computed using a hash list, enabling integrity checks with 8 MiB granulatity
  • A robust HTTP downloader aimed at swarm downloading (uses above hash list)
  • Imports use one thread for reading, another thread for hashing and writing, greatly improving IO utilization
  • Imported files are now only copied, never hard-linked, making testing dmedia less invasive/risky
  • Authenticating to desktopcouch using oauth from embedded WebKit now works (run dmedia-gtk to see preview of browser)

For additional details, see the bugs fixed in the dmedia 0.3 milestone.

If you're an HDSLR user, be sure to check out this video showing off the dmedia import workflow.

Special thanks

And a special thanks to:

I'd also like to give an extra special thanks to the Novacut cofounders, Jeffrey Ballagh and Tara Oldfield, for sticking with me on this wacky and often times immensely stressful journey. Hang in there, peeps, we can do this! And happy early birthday to Jeffrey Ballagh! Please send him lots birthday tweets on January 30th!

And of course, I'd like to give an EXTRA extra special thanks to my mom. Thanks for all your help, we couldn't do this without you!

Contribute to 0.4 and beyond!

We do monthly time-based releases, always releasing on the last Thursday of the month. That means we promise to make a release on time each month, but never promise what exact features will land.

dmedia 0.4 will be released on Thursday February 24 2011, and development is already underway. To see the bugs targeted for this next release, checkout the dmedia 0.4 milestone.

That's all, folks!

Thanks to everyone who is helping make this dream a reality!


Jason Gerard DeRose

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Thank you, Google

Today Google announced that they will be dropping H.264 from Chrome. This is a giant victory for independent artists, and something quite strategic for Novacut.

Why? Because the MPEG-LA screws artists, and independent artists in particular. I wrote a lengthy blog post about this back in September:

H.264 didn't create your short film anymore than, say, your 5D Mark II did. Yes, they were among the many tools you utilized, but you did the work. You certainly aren't sending royalties to Canon. So why should you be sending royalties to MPEG-LA?

I encourage artists to read the full post if you haven't already (What artists need to know about H.264 - you get screwed).

Even before this announcement, we had long since made a strong decision that Novacut would never deliver content encoded in H.264 or any other patent-encumbered format. We're in the business of helping artists, so we're not about to push them out in front of the MPEG-LA bus.

If you look at the fine print, you'll see that the H.264 royalty caps are carefully chosen to favor big content, and screw independent artists extra hard. How thoughtful.

So thank you, Google. You certainly earned a "not evil" sticker today.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The big CES news Engadget missed

I'm quite a fan of Engadget, but I'm surprised they didn't cover the Nufront ARM laptops running Ubuntu that were demoed at CES.

You might be wondering, how does this relate to Novacut? Well, obviously we're banking on Ubuntu pretty heavily, both as a platform for content creation and a platform for content distribution. And bear in mind, we intend Novacut to be profitable... how else could we pay the developers we're going to need to really do this right?

At an emotional level, it was easy for us to choose Ubuntu (and the broader freedesktop) because it's what we know and love. But we've equally chosen Ubuntu because we think it clearly offers us the highest chance of success, and the greatest profitability. Back in July when Jeff, Tara, and I started seriously thinking about Novacut, we concluded that we could safely assume that over the next few years there will be a dramatic increase in the size of the Ubuntu user base.

Why would we think something so crazy? Because we expect a flood of sexy, cheap hardware to hit the market, running Ubuntu, and powered by ARM processors. And unlike netbooks, Microsoft can't kill this one off because they have no answer whatsoever. Considering Ubuntu is ready for ARM today, it's no surprise that Microsoft awkwardly announced that some future version of Windows will also run on ARM. That wasn't an announcement for consumers or journalists, it was a message to OEMs: "Please don't jump ship."

As far as I know, the Nufront dual-core 2GHz Cortex-A9 SOC is the first ARM SOC aimed strictly at netbooks, laptops, and desktops. It's power requirements are too high for cell phones (and pushing it even on some tablet designs), so they clearly expect enough volume without cell phones. It also has a SATA controler, something not needed by phones or tablets. It was way back in November 2008 that Canonical announced their ARM initiative, and back in June 2010 that the Linaro project was announced.

Along with Microsoft's ARM announcement at CES, NVIDIA announced project Denver with much fanfare, the overall message being that these two visionary companies will (in two years or more) deliver a future of computing where ARM is no longer just for mobile, where there is a full-blown, general-purpose OS to run on ARM. Pretty exciting, I suppose.

But if you knew where to look, the above fanfare was completely upstaged by a subtle, knowing nod from Canonical and Nufront: "Oh yeah, we've already done that, you'll be able to buy finished systems in 6 months."

Canonical didn't need a bunch of fanfare because they weren't there to talk to Journalists. Canonical was there to talk to OEMs. Apparently Microsoft noticed.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

CES: ARM, Microsoft, NVIDIA... Ubuntu

There was a lot of expectation that during his CES keynote, Steve Ballmer would talk about Microsoft's answer on the tablet front. There was none, as the Engadget live blog humorously pointed out:

And... can you hear that? That's the sound of Microsoft missing a major cycle on tablets.

Of course, there was some big news (something I was personally surprised by) - the next version of Windows will also run on ARM. This is full-blown Windows, not Windows Phone or some other tablet focused variant.

And this got me thinking: who is this a response to? Remember, this is full-blown Windows. This isn't a response to Android, or iOS, or even ChromeOS. My take? This is a response to Ubuntu because of Linaro. Ubuntu is the only full-blown, general purpose OS that's poised to make a serious move onto ARM powered consumer electronics of all shapes and sizes. And unlike the next Windows, which could easily be 2 years away, Ubuntu is ready right now.

Then there was the news about NVIDIA's Project Denver CPU. Now the fact that NVIDIA is working on a high-performance, multi-core ARM SOC aimed at servers and desktops shouldn't be surprising. So are many others.

What surprised me is how closely NVIDIA aligned themselves with Microsoft (who lacks an appropriate ARM offering in the here and now), and how NVIDIA oddly focused on Microsoft's weak points - supercomputers and servers. For high-performance ARM computing, Microsoft is the worst ally you could have because they have nothing to bring to the table at the moment. And in two years? Have you seen the fury of progress that Ubuntu makes in two years? Game over.

As NVIDIA seems willing to burn bridges that lead to good ol' fashioned money, I expect Microsoft sweetened the deal for them somehow. And that might explain NVIDIA's refusal to provide even proprietary drivers for Wayland.

It's a theory. It could be wrong.

Update: video from CES of Ubuntu 10.10 running on an ARM Cortex-A9 laptop

Saturday, January 1, 2011

How to install dmedia 0.2 from the command line

Although I made screencast on installing dmedia through the Ubuntu Software Center, Eric Adler just asked me how to install it from the command line, so I thought I should document that here.

To install dmedia 0.2 on Maverick, just run these 3 commands:

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:novacut/stable
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install dmedia

In theory dmedia 0.2 should work on Lucid and Natty also, but I personally haven't tested it. I will certainly make sure 0.3 works on Natty, and will try to support Lucid if possible.