Archives par mot-clé : Graphisme

Call for participation: Free CAD project

If anyone’s interested in developing or learning about free CAD software, someone in the FSF Latin America list has posted a call for participation: Proyecto: CAD LIBRE. Right now the information is in spanish but I thought I would take the opportunity to ask other Ubuntu users what is the current status of free, open source solutions for CAD ?

I know the Open Design Alliance reverse engineered the DWG format, and their own version of its specification is a restricted copyright document. I am a bit surprised there aren’t that many packages that provide any support for DXF / DWG files manipulation and viewing (or even editing). Or maybe my level of ignorance on the subject is such I shouldn’t be writing about this in the first place 🙂

I remember a few years ago I went to a tradeshow and I was speaking to an Autodesk rep who laughed at my 5-minute pitch about freing Autocad, while explaining their strategy to copy-protect and enforce licence restrictions on customers. He summarized their position saying « just like accounting and games, free/open-source won’t ever touch our niche ».


Searching for signal… 3 ways to get your external VGA working

While attending the Ubuntu Developer Summit in Sevilla, there’s been quite a good amount of presentations and of course the usual problems with LCD projectors. In some cases we lack the time to access a venue and prepare in advance but most of the time we have no idea what we can do to « save the day ».

ProjectorThis week during the morning lightning talks, which are short presentations and demos shown before the actual spec meetings, a few people could not present due to the feared permanent « Searching for signal » message on the LCD. General reaction has been indifference, shrugging and, shockingly, just laughter. Although people directly involved with this take these issues very seriously, there is still that « RTFM » feeling around when things like this happen. I almost wish anyone laughing about this would be first line support for an important presentation and it happens to them.

Issues with external projectors will get a lot of love as part of the bulletproof-x, simple x-mode selection and other X specs being discussed and drafted for implementation in Ubuntu’s next version. Graphic drivers play an important role here, it will be interesting to see what ATI does knowing that its chipset can’t be supported in the current situation.

There is some extraordinary work coming from the community, but also many people involved from the business side of things. Intel and other important players in this area at UDS, not to mention developers working full time on this. It seems all the pieces needed to have something close to a complete solution are out there and will be put to good use in Gutsy Gibbon.

Meanwhile, here are some ideas to get your presentation going under Ubuntu. Be careful as you may become the « LCD projector specialist » or hero of the day 🙂

Obligatory pre-presentation work

Before making your presentation, rehearse your « steps before having my presentation display ». Cleanup your desktop. Change that wallpaper. Have your presentation one-click away from the desktop. Have a USB key handy with your presentation in both the original format and some other easy to show format like HTML or PDF. If it involves video, try using open formats like Ogg Theora, maybe even have cross-platform media viewers on the stick.

Another good idea is to ask around if there are any other people willing to help.

Generally speaking, I can’t stress enough why you should get all these details sorted out *before* trying to solve the actual PC-to-LCD problems you may encounter.

If you know about LCD projectors, external displays, BIOS options, xorg.conf and general presentation-scenario configurations, by all means register at the front-desk and have an announcement made about your availability to help.

Way #1: reboot while having your external display plugged in.

While not the most elegant, I’ve found this works 100% of the time if the resolution matches or is supported by the projector or external display I am using. Most modern projectors adapt to the signal sent from the feeding video source, although you may not have a local graphic display (on your LCD).

Way #2: Configure your external display and modify your config file to handle multiple layouts

My laptop really has bad suspend support (or should I say none) so I don’t mind booting into text mode for quick access to data. It also lets me choose what graphics setup to use depending on where I am. Here’s how I do that:

  • Configure the internal graphics adapter as usual. Make a backup of the resulting xorg.conf file.
  • Connect an external LCD, reboot. Configure it as usual (sudo dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg. Make sure it works. Backup the resulting xorg.conf file under another name.
  • Combine both xorg.conf files by using ServerLayout sections. Here’ s my example xorg.conf. Reading the xorg.conf man page helps a lot in understading how this works.
  • At boot time, you will be presented with a text login. Once logged in, start your graphic environment by using: startx -- -layout <ServerLayout section identifier>

Way #3 : Pay or feed someone else to do it

This can be done a bit in advance, like the first few hours in the lobby hotel when attending a multi-day event like UDS. Ask the organizer for early access to the LCD projection system (or whatever will be in use) and ask for help to get your setup going, by trying my suggestions or other's. This could be a local hire (like consultants or technical support), many of them are listed in the Marketplace.

Of course here at UDS you can just grab Etienne or me :)


Free those YouTube videos

Visit, read a bit (includes instructions for Windows users). Download the python script and also install ffmpeg2theora (See #2 at my Drupal Video Guide).


  1. Visit your favorite YouTube video
  2. Copy the URL to the clipboard
  3. In command line:
    magicfab@suzy:~$ python
    Retrieving video webpage... done.
    Extracting video URL parameters... done.
    Video data found at
    Retrieving video data... 1897k of 1897k done.
    Video data saved to PcuF7S3r6gM.flv
  4. Convert it (careful, those are TWO dashes before the optimize option):
    magicfab@suzy:~$ ffmpeg2theora PcuF7S3r6gM.flv ––optimize
    Input #0, flv, from 'PcuF7S3r6gM.flv':
      Duration: 00:00:47.3, bitrate: N/A
      Stream #0.0: Audio: mp3, 22050 Hz, mono
      Stream #0.1: Video: flv, yuv420p, 320x262, 25.00 fps(r)
      Resize: 320x262
          0:00:47.33 audio: 36kbps video: 305kbps
  5. An .ogg corresponding file will be created in your current directory.
  6. Profit ?

update: youtube-dl has been packaged since Edgy. Install it using the standard Synaptic package manager or through apt-get in command line, by searching for the youtube-dl package.

usage: youtube-dl [options] video_url

Ubuntu BumpTop – You know you want it

So I missed DemoCamp Montreal again, though JP had invited me… 🙁 I was busy spreading some Ubuntu love elsewhere (more on that later).

It seems he found BumpTop to be really nice. I remember seeing a demo about this some time ago, not sure where (online). They’re actually implementing it and hiring to ge it done. Come on! You know you want this running on Ubuntu 🙂 Can’t we sneak someone in there ?