Interview with Paul Smedley
TITLE: Interview with Paul Smedley
DATE: 2008-09-21 01:15:22
AUTHOR: Paul Smedley
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Why do you like eComStation? What is the need in eCS if Windows/Linux/.. exist?
I guess there are a few reasons:
- Familiarity - I've been using OS/2 since around 1994 when I started with OS/2 for Windows v2.1
- I use Windows XP at work and loathe it
- I enjoy contributing to open source projects and helping to keep the platform viable into the future
- Even though I keep installing different linux distributions, I still find myself feeling more comfortable with eCS.
Your current projects?
The major thing I'm currently working on are getting CUPS integrated into eCS support.
CUPS is the Common Unix Printing System - which is the printing system used by most linux distros, as well as MacOS. In combination with Gutenprint - it supports many common inkjet printers by converting postscript into the printer's native format. OS/2 binaries can be found at http://svn.netlabs.org/ecups
I'm also trying to keep many other projects current - ie recompiling when new versions come out. A list of things I've ported can be found at http://os2ports.smedley.info
What is Linux for eComStation? Does eCS become stronger if port more software? Or are you trying to cover minimal demands of users?
I think eCS does become stronger and more viable, the more software is ported. Things like Apache2, MySQL & PHP are available for many platforms - if current versions aren't available for eCS - it affects the future viability of the platform.
Similary for sound (ALSA on Linux, Uniaud on eCS) and printer support (ie CUPS). Largely I work on things that either a) interest me, or b) suggested to me by other users and are viable to port (ie any necessary libraries exist).
How many programs/libraries should be ported to eComStation to change the situation. What is the advantage of ported software?
The advantage of ported software is that the codebase is worked on by people who may not necessarily care or even know of eCS, but their source code helps to benefit eCS. Any programs/libraries that can benefit users should at least be investigate for porting.
Please describe "perfect eComStation". What are you lacking?
I think the main things we're lacking that are going to start giving us serious problems soon, are Flash support and Java support.
Many websites are now inaccessable to OS/2 users - and whilst Gnash shows promise of one day being a Flash replacement, currently it only supports Flash v7 - many newer sites require Flash v8 or v9.
Similarly with Java - our Java is currently only v1.4 - most apps require at least v1.5 now.
eComStation is useful is there are solutions based on eCS, own technologies which attract new users. How to stimulate creation of this stuff?
Somehow I think we need to create funding to stimulate creation of things we don't currently have. The OS/2 World Bounty system is a good idea, but the problem is creating enough funds to actually be able to pay a developer or make it worth their while.
Do you collaborate with other developers?
In some cases. A good example is Samba - where all the OS/2 related source code is stored in the Netlabs SVN repository, and contributions to the code have been made by several other developers like Yuri Dario and Vitali Pelenyov (Netdrive developer)
Steven Levine has also contributed several patches for rsync, and of course all Uniaud code is also in Netlabs SVN, and collaboration has happened with Allan Holm, Brendan Oakley, Mike Green, Andy Willis & Pavel Shtemenko to get the code into the current state.
Doodle has also been a great help in terms of SDL fixes for problems that have been identified in the OS/2 port, as well as providing a specific patch for a missing function in the linux kernel that was required for ALSA 1.0.16
Yuri Dario and Knut St Osmondsen have both provided a lot of general assistance in porting unix software to OS/2 and helping me learn :)
It's a longer term goal to get all my patches either integrated into the original project's source, or make the source available vis Netlabs.
You are member of eComStation team (you create modules, deliver programs), what do you expect from other members? How to improve communications inside the team?
I don't really expect a whole lot from anyone - I just appreciate feedback from people who use the software I create to know if it's helping users and whether it works or not.
Uniaud is the most important project today, please tell us, how other people can help you to complete it?
Well again, feedback is the major thing people can do. They can also invent a time doubler to allow me more spare time to investigate what causes the lockups with HDA. Anyone who understands C code is also welcome to look at the code and help implement fixes!
Did you see new important projects in the last year? Which applications/driver is missing in eComStation?
For me - printing is a major problem - which is why I'm working on CUPS. Similarly audio support for current motherboards, which is why I'm trying to work on getting HDA to work without system hangs.
Projects like Genmac and ACPI (which I'm not involved in) have made a lot of progress in the last year or so which really help's the platform's viability.
Support for the latest Flash is something we do need - getting a Gnash plugin is another priority for me when I get some free time.
How to become the developer (porter of applications) eComStation?
A good start is by using my build environment, which can be downloaded from
I first started working on porting software in mid-2005 when I wanted to make my USB scanner work better in OS/2. I asked a lot of dumb questions when I first started, but over time have got reasonably good at porting things. #netlabs on irc.freenode.net is a good place to ask questions as there are many knowledgeable programmers in that channel.
Give us some tricks & tips how to use eCS, which utilities do you recommend?
I'll admit I don't make full use of the WPS, I'm a bit of a command line junkie.
Programs I use a lot and recommend:
- Firefox/Thunderbird - Peter's enhanced builds (Peter Weilbacher)
- ZTreeBold - I can't help it - I used Xtree for years in my DOS days
- PMView - the best image editor/viewer on any platform
- Openchat/2 IRC client - such a shame this is no longer developed/supported
- SIM - for instant messaging using AOL & ICQ
- JBidWatcher - Java application for managing ebay auctions
- and of course a whole range of my own ports (CUPS, Sane, MySQL, Apache2, PHP, etc)
German developers bring quality to eCS, russian developers work on heavy projects, how do australian developers and users (should) influence on eComStation?
Well I think as per usual, we Aussies punch above our weight (ie look at Olympics results per capita).
We have several active developers who provide quality software for eCS - Peter Moylan (Weasel, FTP Server), Andrew Mcintyre (Python), Dr Ash (UW Imap & Pine) and others and also people like Ian Manners (OS2site), Ed Durrant (participation in many forums, newsgroups), etc.
|Oliver Cremer |
|Karl Granberry |
Good stuff. Keep up the good work, it is greatly appreciated.
Thank you, Paul, for all the good work you do for eCS,
HELLO REALLY nice to read and see who Paul is .
A BIG HUG from spain to him and all OS/2 people from spain ;-)
|John Angelico |
Paul, good to put a face to a great Aussie-OS/2 name
Many thnaks for your excellent work, and well-organised site.
Melb PC UG, OS/2 SIG
|Lutz Wagner |
I would like to take the occasion to express my great appreciation to Paul and what he does for the best operating system in the world.
Keep on trucking, Paul !
|J. Francisco Garcia M |
Thank you very much Paul. Keep going on, please.
Many people have no time to provide feedback, but you must be certain that you work is appreciated and very useful for the comunity.
|David Gray |
Paul, your work is very greatly valued by many people. However, like many things in life, people are most oft to take time to complain than they are to take time to compliment/praise/acknowledge.
The work done by yourself contributes greatly to keeping the OS/2 platform viable, and for that I offer a mighty great THANK-YOU!
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