Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Mesa To The Rescue

My thanks to the people that clarified for me where Qt and GL (Mesa) are used in Google Earth. The earth canvas itself is coming from GL. The first thing I did was try and install an updated version of Mesa built on OS 11. That made things even worse. I then installed the version that shipped with OS 11.1 and it's rock solid. No blinking, no font problems, no areas of the screen turning white.

That Mesa update, along with using newer Qt libraries has produced a very nice looking UI with anti-aliased fonts. Now all I need to do is QA the ability to launch Firefox and Evolution from within the software, and it's ready for deployment.

Update: Interestingly, using the trick to soft link in the new Qt libraries for anti-aliased fonts breaks printing and the edit >> copy image feature. I suspect that users will kind of need that. :) I have reverted back to the shipped Qt libraries and things are running well. I have not been able to figure out exactly what GE does when you click on the email button. It's supposed to pass the mailto: tag to Firefox, which it seems not to do. $BROWSER pointing to Firefox doesn't seem to help either. The File >> View In Google Maps option works fine and calls Firefox. Time to strace and see what it's doing.

[ Shot of GE with stock Qt libraries, sorry to see anti-aliasing gone]

Monday, June 08, 2009

Anti-Aliased Images In OpenOffice 3.1 Over NX

We just got a support call from a user at a remote site running NX at 20Mb. He reported that ever since OpenOffice 3.1 was installed, images are moving very slowing in Draw. 3.1 introduced anti-aliased images, so that was my first thought. I had him disable this new setting, and he said it immediately got faster. I just tested at 100mb, and it's doing the same thing. Slow scrolling and movement.

Thanks for all of the comments and ideas on the Qt/Google Earth 5 font rendering problems. Over the next few days, I'll be tinkering with libraries to see if I can make it work better.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Calling QT Gurus

I'm prepping Google Earth 5 for deployment, and found an issue that appears to be a bug/peculiarity in the QT libraries. When you first launch it, everything is working and nicely anti-aliased. But as you start navigating through the maps the fonts all blink and then turn into white blocks (shot below). If you go into preferences and pick another font, then it seems to repaint and fix itself. I haven't tinkered with QT stuff since we moved from KDE to GNOME, so if anyone has some ideas...drop a comment!

Firefox 3.0 Stable, Moving Live

Normally when I am staging an upgrade, I will use the latest release -- even if it's only in beta. I spent time off and on testing Firefox 3.1/3.5 and was never able to get it stable enough to deploy. It was crashing way too much, and the core problem seemed to be the interaction with the Flash 10 plugin. I know, I know....3.1/3.5 is still a beta release. But one hates to move out a version into production that is nearly obsolete.

Anyway, I have installed 3.0.10 and all of the plugins including Flash are extremely stable and working well. I'm getting fairly decent frame rates to the thin clients, and the pulse audio streams are working well. I also had good luck with the FoxTab 3D plugin and that too will be pushed live as part of the upgrade too.

I also have been spending time on Evolution 2.24/SLED 11. We have about 30 fulltime users on it, and it's slowly inching to the finish line. We have one more major feature to include (resend of a meeting from the Sent folder). Then comes bug hunting, crash reductions and then some valgrind/leak hunting.