Tuesday, June 12, 2007

When Major Problems Are Left Open

There are a lot of developers out there, and I certainly understand that everyone is busy. I'm sure that everyone perceives that their bugs are important, but in some cases certain issues should be blockers and resolved. It's always fun to work on new features, but I sure would trade those features for stability.

At some point GNOME started using Cairo...which fails to support 8 and 16 bit color depth on Citrix Metaframe for Unix Xservers:

Error: Cairo does not yet support the requested image format:
Depth: 16
Alpha mask: 0x00000000
Red mask: 0x00007c00
Green mask: 0x000003e0
Blue mask: 0x0000001f

Error: Cairo does not yet support the requested image format:
Depth: 8
Alpha mask: 0x00000000
Red mask: 0x00000000
Green mask: 0x00000000
Blue mask: 0x00000000

I entered bug reports April of 2006 and then again February of 2007 and here we sit. We are finally at a point where I can't keep older versions of operating systems running and *have* to upgrade. I have to check color depths when users launch applications in GNOME and for these 2 depths I have to use xmessage for the dialog because zenity too won't work. Not cool. Support is having to alter settings in devices and take support calls and in some cases we will have users that have a few applications that are down until our new thin clients arrive.

Can we get some love in these areas so that we get back to what worked fine 5 years ago?

[Update] Research and checking the bug reports have indicated a lot of people having these types of problems. This library should not have been pushed into GNOME until it was ready. These aren't minor issues!


Dan Nicholson said...

There was a guy who had the same issue and was trying to get 8/16 bit support into cairo. See here, for example:


The attachment doesn't seem to be there anymore. See also:


You may want to ask about status on the cairo list.

Anonymous said...

Not supporting 8-bit color with palettes seems perfectly reasonable. However, I didn't know that Cairo didn't support 16-bit color; that definitely seems like a glaring omission.

Dave Richards said...

Cairo has been really bad for any legacy equipment. We certainly understand that 8 bit looks terrible, but it should at least work. We have some sites with old devices and limited needs and had been using 8 bit for a number of years.

The 16bit issue is something related to 5-5-5, but I don't understand the exact details of how that works.

My point was that current equipment should be considered when making changes to GNOME. It's not a matter of a new 29 dollar video card upgrade for business users who have hundreds of devices.

Cairo is also very slow when RENDER is missing, which is the case with many of our devices.

Having a bad Cairo day today it seems :|

Anonymous said...

I don't know if Citrix is a hard requirement or not. If you want to use thin client technology on Unix servers, ThinLinc (http://www.thinlinc.com) might be a better alternative.

Rob Bradford said...

Try running your session under Xephyr. This should act as a bridge to the 565 16-bit visual you need.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. I've seen Firefox crash when trying to display SVG content on an 8-bit display - I wonder if this is the reason...

chithanh said...

It is my understanding that cairo is a hard dependency since gtk+ 2.10

So it should at least in theory be possible that you build gtk+ 2.8 without cairo support.

Anonymous said...

Open source works by people fixing problems that are important to them. If this is an important enough issue, then a developer who cares about 8/16 bit support will fix it or someone that cares about 8/16 bit support will pay someone a developer to fix it. How else would it get done? If you care enough about 8/16 bit support you will do one of the above.

Anonymous said...

"This library should not have been pushed into GNOME until it was ready."

I respectfully disagree. As Linus did in similar situations (later generalized by MPT), if they didn't switch to Cairo until it was 100% ready, they would have never switched, because the people who could push it the last 0.1% would have had no incentive to fix those particular bugs.

In fact, if its developers followed that scheme, pretty much no software I use today would exist. ("Linux sucks, because it requires a 386. Minux will run on any PC." Remember?)

Dave Richards said...

I completely understand how open source works. :) But in our case, we *are* paying the money and it's still not getting fixed. This should certainly be picked up by either Novell or RedHat for business users. We have support contracts with both companies, and I have alerted both of this issue.

This is a huge issue to have open for 1.5 years for business customers.

Anonymous said...

> But in our case, we *are* paying the money and it's still not getting fixed. This should certainly be picked up by either Novell or RedHat for business users.

Appears you have not choose the right business partners... :-(

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Anonymous said...

The fact that Cairo does not support 8bit means that people who want to run any version/variant of VNC for thin-client computing are shafted when they have no choice but to run apps that have 8bit displays
(and if a developer has the nerve to ask me: "why run 8bit?" My answer is: "because of bandwidth limitations, you ignoramus!")

Is there anyway to dump cairo or remove it as a GTK+ dependency so that snotty developers will get off their ass and listen to what end-users need instead of what they find "interesting" to do?!
(the general mentality that i gather from reading various webpages is that "we'll only address things that we find interesting")

Unless the project developers' attitudes change, I would love for the cairo package to die as a good example of just desserts for developers who care nothing for the end-user community.

Though i use Linux everyday and try to talk up Linux to friends whenever i can, i can confidently say that Microsoft Windows will continue to rule end-user space and consign Linux to invisible development environments until this kind of end-user-needs-unfriendly mentality exhibited by the Cairo programmers is removed.

- A Very Pissed-at-Cairo Vnc End-User

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