ffmpeg from svn

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Alhamdulillaah, I have really been engrossed in using ffmpeg, one of the most amazing a/v command-line tools out there, for my various personal video projects.  However, recently I was experiencing a recurring bug where I could not work with some specific codecs when either the input or the output file was on a particular drive (!).  The drive in question happened to have only one FAT32 partition, so I suspect it may have had something to do with it, as using another drive for both input & output would generally work flawlessly.  The particular action I was trying to perform was to encode a sequence of rather large JPEG files (3072×2304) into a single video file using the outstanding (but still somewhat experimental and/or unstable) FFV1 lossless codec.

So, I visited the ffmpeg website and looked at some of their bugs, but didn’t see anything related to this.  Then, after seeing some of their pre-bug report checklist, I decided to check the version of ffmpeg I had on the system, and found it to be from March.  So, I pulled-down a fresh copy of their trunk via subversion and ran configure & make (I did not run make install).  Running the resulting ffmpeg binary from this compile run worked perfectly, alhamdulillaah.

The lesson is, if you’re running into a bug with either ffmpeg or any other package, then give a shot at running the latest code, if available.  It may seem like common sense, but I had underestimated just how easy it would be.  Surely, other packages may not work as simply, but it really was a piece of cake in this case.  Now I guess I need to learn how to package RPMs so I can help out the Livna project to get this latest code into their repository, which I also understand is not simple task, as many other projects rely on ffmpeg…

Time-lapse photography with CHDK

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

As I’ve already alluded to in a previous post, I’ve been using the CHDK firmware supplement with my Canon PowerShot A550, which on it’s own is an outstanding camera, alhamdulillaah. This firmware add-on, though, really takes the cake!

One of the features made possible by CHDK is the ability to run scripts which take the enabled features of your camera and do interesting things with them. One such script enables one to take a sequence of images of a fixed interval over a period of time – i.e., time-lapse photography! So, over the past two days, I’ve gone-ahead and played with this feature a bit by just collecting images from my office window while I diligently “worked”.

Continue reading “Time-lapse photography with CHDK”

CHDK – Unleash the POWER in your PowerShot

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Alhamdulillaah, I’ve been playing around with CHDK, which is a free firmware add-on (note: it does not require flashing your camera’s firmware) that enables a multitude of features on your ordinary, run-of-the-mill Canon PowerShot digital camera. In short, it’s amazing. I haven’t had enough time to truly “unleash the POWER” yet, but I’m already amazingly pleased with what I can do so far that I was unable to do prior to this.

Amongst its amazing features includes the ability to save images to a RAW format, full control over shutter speed & exposure settings, fine-grained control over video quality settings, HDR photography, and an amazing BASIC-based scripting language that enables, among other things, time-lapse photography (examples in an upcoming post, in shaaʾ Allaah).

Expect myriad future posts relating to images & videos I’ve been able to capture with these new features, especially in combination with

Fedora 9 is gold!

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Alhamdulillaah, Fedora 9 is officially released! At least, the official torrents are available. The main site doesn’t seem to be updated yet, but then again, it’s not 10 AM, either. I’m grabbing the x86_64 DVD build on one server and the i386 on the other, so I hope to be seeding by midday.

Update: The Fedora Project site now reflects the release.  I should really be getting back to work now…

Fedora 9 – Why it’s so awesome

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Okay, I know that title is a pretty pretentious statement by itself, as much of Fedora 9’s awesomeness isn’t unique to it. So, I’ll grant that much of the coming awesomeness is related to Gnome 2.22, which is not limited to Fedora 9, nor is Pulseaudio, Upstart (props to the Ubuntuees for that), or a plethora of other things. So, in reality, Fedora 9’s awesomeness is a celebration of Free & Open-Source software and its universal community.

The following is pretty-much ripped from the wiki. The witty banter is added by me. Also, I know I’m not the first (actually, I hope I’m quite close to the last) to have done one of these things. What follows are the features that I consider to be cool and important, but this list is obviously by no means exhaustive or even appropriately representative of Fedora 9. It’s simply a list of what I think will make Fedora 9 so awesome, in shaaʾ Allaah.

Okay, that should be enough flame retardant for now…onwards!

Continue reading “Fedora 9 – Why it’s so awesome”


Note to self: If I want my blog posts to show up in an aggregator, make sure to give the admin the right link first…

Tapeless HD camcorders

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

I’ve been keeping my eye out for tapeless (e.g., hard drive or flash memory instead of tapes) HD camcorders for a while, because of the obvious flexibility of being able to transfer the recorded video directly rather than “recording” it via IEEE 1394 (i.e., “FireWwire”) – while an IEEE 1394 link is definitely fast, any tape-based camcorder usually only transfers the video at regular playing speeds by actually playing the video.

Having said that, here are a few that have caught my eye:

The important issue, of course, is how easy is it to work with the video once it’s recorded.  Most of the video formats are MPEG-4-based, usually the controversial AVCHD.  There are some advantages & disadvantages, of course, but ffmpeg really helps with most of the issues.  I’ve been playing a lot with it (ffmpeg) this past week, and the sheer flexibility of it is astounding.  I think the woes of multimedia flexibility under free operating systems is slowly going away, as even the GUI applications (avidemux, PiTiVi, Kino, etc.) are at a level of refinement I wouldn’t have expected.

Naturally, I am loath to use nonfree versus free solutions, so I am pleased to let you know that there are many free software codecs available through ffmpeg – that is the topic for another article, perhaps.

Obviously, there’s still a lot of work to be done, but I’m really excited to dive into open-source content creation!

Updated with relevant linking and a few spelling fixes.

Hello Fedora Planet & People!

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Hello!  I know I’ve already had a few posts show up on the Planet already, but I wanted to at least acknowledge the fact that I am now, as opposed to having been previously not, a member of Fedora Planet!

I am an avid Fedora user – I have been using Fedora somewhat since FC5 and regularly since FC6.  I run Fedora on my laptop (which I am using to compose this post), on my main PC at home, and also at my workstation at work.  I won’t go into why I love Fedora (and free software in general) too much here, but I guess that fact is obvious given the circumstances under which you are reading this.

I’ve considered joining the Fedora Planet for a while as a decently high percentage of my blog posts are related to Fedora and Free Software in general, with the rest being related somehow to technology, society, community projects, and/or religion.  Only my “Fedora” category is subscribed to on the Planet, but you’re all more than welcome to puruse my blog if any of these other topics interest you at all.

Incidentally, I will do my best to not spam my Fedora category with topics that would not be of general interest to those subscribed to a Fedora blog aggregator.

As for my own involvement with Fedora, I really am best categorized as a user and an advocate, more than anything else.  I am hoping that in the near future my contributions can go beyond mere evangelization and bug reporting into actually bug fixing and contributing.

As for myself, what may interest most of you is the fact that I am a web developer.  I work primarily in the classic LAMP stack, with the majority of my work comprising writing PHP & working with MySQL.  I’m trying to broaden my horizens somewhat, including learning Python so I can start writing some useful GUI applications or even basic scripts that can be rolled out to a large number free software users.  We’ll see how that develops.

Finally, I love comments and constructive discussions.  My blog is ad-free, does not link to google-analytics, and I host it on my own dedicated server, so jumping to my site should be reasonably painless.  I value a quick-loading site as much as the next guy.  Thanks for reading, and here’s to the start a beautiful friendship!

P.S.  If you see any non-English on my site, it’s likely to be Arabic.  I have a terms page that has translations of some of the more common phrases I tend to use in my normal speech.

Texas Dawah Convention 2007 Audio Project – overview

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem


Alhamdulillaah, a few months back, I successfully wrapped-up the audio recording & production project for the Texas Dawah Convention 2007. This was clearly one of the most ambitious projects in which I’ve been involved in my life, especially given the degree of responsibility I was given and the amount of work I had to do.

The project for me was a great learning experience on numerous fronts – management, business, technology, work ethic, and team work are amongst a few of them. If it weren’t for the great support I received from my partner & friend (I’ll only mention him if he wants me to – knowing him, he probably would prefer I don’t by default), then the work would have never happened and would have ended-up a terrible flop.

Please read on if you’re interested in knowing the history of how I became involved with this project, how it was executed, some of the challenges I faced during it, and finally, and a part of which I am very proud, how I completed almost exclusively using free (as in freedom) software, particular that which comes with Fedora.
Continue reading “Texas Dawah Convention 2007 Audio Project – overview”

Shell History Meme

I got tired of seeing everyone on the planets (Fedora & Gnome) showing-up in Liferea doing this, and I was left out.  So here’s mine from work:

[basil.gohar@escapdv01 ~]$ history|awk '{a[$2]++ } END{for(i in a){print a[i] " " i}}'|sort -rn|head
265 ll
210 cd
101 time
86 dbrestore
79 exit
28 su
24 vi
18 ssh
17 ping
16 less

“dbrestore” is an alias for a script I use to…well..restore DBs.  One that is not on here that was the first time I ran the script is my “search” alias, which is a wrapper for find & grep that searches the contents of PHP files (since that’s what I spend all day working on).

I’ve even added a GNOME category.  Maybe after this I’ll start posting more Fedora- & GNOME-related topics, and increase my chances of getting listed in the planets…

I’ll update with my home laptop & PC results after I get home tonight, in shaaʾ Allaah (notice I’m using “ʾ” to mark an Arabic hamzah in my transliteration…more on that later…in shaaʾ Allaah…;) )

Fedora 8 rox

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

Alhamdulillaah, I just cannot get over how amazing Fedora 8.  I will be the first to admit, however, that a large part of that perceived greatness is due to the ATI 8.42 drivers that finally make using an X1600 or similar series of graphics cards tolerable on a GNU/Linux setup, walhamdulillaah.  However, the sheer amount of polish to everything that is Fedora 8 is just amazing.  Now that it is successfully installed on my PC and everything seems to be going well, walhamdulillaah, I’m now considering taking a shot at installing it on my laptop sooner than I imagined.

Due to the aforementioned video driver issue, I have been using my laptop (a Dell Inspiron 8600) running 32-bit Fedora 7 as my “main” GNU/Linux machine for the past year or so.  I more-or-less only used my PC for Windows-related tasks (*shudder*) and even that, sparingly.  Now I have a great excuse to resume using my PC as my main machine, and so I am in the process of transferring all my pictures and other media that have been (rather foolishly) only stored on my laptop.

Now I just need to find a way to reliably backup gigabytes of audio, photos, and other miscellaneous data that I’ve been accumulating for so long.

This post also introduces my new “Fedora” category, since a large number of my posts are related specificaly to this distribution of GNU/Linux.  I should really go back to my old posts and recategorize them, hmm?

Trying out blog applet in Fedora 8

Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

I’m trying out the gnome-blog utility again inside of Fedora 8. I had a bit of a challenge at first because when I tried to input my blog URL, it was trying to force the directory to be */wordpress/, which is not how my blog is setup. Alhamdulillaah, once I figured-out I had to append the xmlrpc.php (not xml-rpc.php, like I was trying at first), it stopped trying to force my hand.

Oh, and it seems the word “blog” is still not included in whatever dictionary gnome-blog uses for spell-checking (a nice feature, I might add).

If this works out, then it will be a lot easier to update my blog while I’m at work, where I get most of my bloggy thoughts, rather than waiting until I get home, when I am usually too tired or busy to do anything. This is aside from the fact that there are a lot few formatting options available, but we’ll survive.

As an important note, I tried Drivel after I didn’t succeed at first with gnome-blog, and it didn’t support spaces in usernames. It seems to be related to the fact that it uses the username as part of a key (I guess for GConf?). I guess that’s an example of a poor design choice…

Let’s see what happens…

100% Fedora 7 installations

Note: This post was originally written several weeks ago, and I’ve just been lazy in finishing it. I’ve been

Alhamdulillaah, with my move to Fedora 7 on my workstation in my workplace, I am now running Fedora 7 on 100% of my machines (excluding my Linksys router and iRiver, which are running OpenWRT & Rockbox, respectively). This means my main PC, my laptop, my secondary PC, and my work computer are all running the same OS. In fact, all but my laptop are running the x86_64 version, as well, so even the platforms are the same (though my PCs are AMD Athlon 64s and my work computer is an Intel Pentium D). Continue reading “100% Fedora 7 installations”

Fedora 7 Test 3 released

Alhamdulillaah, Fedora 7 Test 3 has been released. Torrents are available. I have both the Hidayah Online as well as Audio Islam servers in the torrent swarm for the 64bit DVD isos (hey, I have two 64bit rigs, only my laptop is stuck in the 32bit world). I’ll try to leave them seeding for a while once they complete, in shaa Allaah. I am contemplating posting up download mirrors from both servers as well, since bandwidth isn’t currently an issue, so if you read this and you’re interested, leave a comment (yes, comment bribing).

fuse-sshfs – mounting a remote location using SSH with FUSE

SSH is a time-tested, powerful, and generally outstanding utility for connecting two systems in a secure and efficient manner. Enabling anything from simple command-line access to full X Window sessions, it would appear there is almost no limit to what SSH can do. Reading on will only affirm this assertion, as two open-source projects – OpenSSH & FUSE – combine to provide secure, efficient, and stable access to remote locations as though they were local filesystem objects. Continue reading “fuse-sshfs – mounting a remote location using SSH with FUSE”