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Adventures in Maemo

Filed under: Hacking,maemo — Thomas @ 22:04


August is a great month for clearing the decks in Spain. Half the people at work are on holiday, and by the time they get back the other half goes away. It's a great month for making progress on all those things that've been lying around for months not getting done.

Same in my spare time. After lots of changes in my life in the last year, I've been settling down again, in a new apartment, in a new life, and I am finally in a place where I can do some hacking again. And it's a great feeling, to be back in a flow state and fixing problems.

Tonight I wanted to direct my hacking attention to my venerable N900 phone. First of all, I wanted to figure out why mushin, my couchdb-based GTD application, was not showing the right results for my shopping list. Turns out I had a broken svn snapshot running on the phone, and that was easy to fix. In the process I set up scratchbox again on my new laptop.

Then I directed my attention to erminig-ng, an application that syncs between the maemo calendar and Google calendar. It had stopped working a few months ago, giving a traceback during sync. I first tried reproducing the problem in scratchbox, but I couldn't even hit the bug after copying the sqlite databases for both erminig and calendar.

I ended up adding some well-placed prints and

import code; code.interact(local=locals())

statements on the phone's file system so I could inspect the objects provoking the crash. It turns out there was a simple call somewhere that overwrites an event's alarm time setting, but it does so with an int when the code in gdata expects a string.

Now, to submit the fix, I have the same problem as last time I submitted a fix. erminig-ng is a fork of erminig. erminig has a website that has no updates since 2008. The version number on that site is higher than the version number of erminig-ng, but erminig-ng is packaged as erminig, which is confusing for people. The bug tracker on maemo garage that the package for erminig-ng links to is only for erminig, and people get confused, so instead they're reporting all their problems in a long maemo talk conversation. It looks like the maintainer for erminig-ng is the same as for erminig, so I'm not sure why this confusion is there. It looks like it would b easy to clear up. The code is not in any public repository as far as I can tell, and people are fixing things here and there with patch files in the maemo talk thread giving instructions on how to patch files on the root file system. A mess, really. It should probably just go on github somewhere, but I want to hear from the maintainer first.

So, I slurped the latest 0.2.12 release source into my svn repository, forked it to a trunk directory, and started integrating my patch. All .py files are in the root, I had to fight the urge to not clean it up properly and put it nicely in separate directories, because that would make merging patches back harder. I added a test case for the bug I was hitting as well - there were no tests so far in the package.

After my bug was fixed, and the test worked, I rebuilt a package for my phone. That led me to updating my maemo repository, adding gpg signing to it, adding metadata info to it, and doing everything needed to make it easy to update and not trigger any errors on the phone when upgrading. Now it looks like a nice proper maemo repository (and even apt-file should work) - but if any debhead wants to give it a looksee to see if anything's wrong feel free!

So, now erminig is available from my repository, works on my phone, and is now again properly syncing my calendar information. I dropped a line in the forum thread for a person who was probably running into the same bug as me.

Next on my radar - looking at barriosquare to see if an update to the foursquare v2 API is doable.

I felt so guilty for not doing enough maemo stuff over the last year to try and get an N950. Now I regret not applying - it's going to be the last phone in the series (yes, I'm one of those who think Nokia is making a huge mistake), the focus of what's left of Maemo will be on that phone, and I won't be able to update the programs I use on Maemo, and my phone will slowly become obsolete. At which point I probably have no choice but to switch to Android, the non-Linux Linux system. I don't know many people anymore who work for Nokia, but if any of them are listening and still want to help me get an N950, feel free to let me know.

And the kicker of my patchwork ? It turns out that, when I fixed a bug in the previous version, I had already forked off 0.2.11 into my repository at a different location. And in that checkout, I also added a unit test, a similar-but-different hack for not being able to load hildon as a module, and a HACKING and TODO file with very similar notes as today.

Hey, at least I'm consistent. And maybe I should throw this stuff on github after all, so I can use git's branch powers to track the upstream releases, and the work I did that did not get taken upstream...

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