Drew DeVault's Blog

Getting started with qemu

I often get asked questions about using my software, particularly sway, on hypervisors like VirtualBox and VMWare, as well as for general advice on which hypervisor to choose. My answer is always the same: qemu. There’s no excuse to use anything other than qemu, in my books. But I can admit that it might be a bit obtuse to understand at first. qemu’s greatest strength is also its greatest weakness: it has so many options that it’s hard to know which ones you need just to get started.

Conservative web development

Today I turned off my ad blocker, enabled JavaScript, opened my network monitor, and clicked the first link on Hacker News - a New York Times article. It started by downloading a megabyte of data as it rendered the page over the course of eight full seconds. The page opens with an advertisement 281 pixels tall, placed before even the title of the article. As I scrolled down, more and more requests were made, downloading a total of 2.8 MB of data with 748 HTTP requests. An article was weaved between a grand total of 1419 vertical pixels of ad space, greater than the vertical resolution of my display. Another 153-pixel ad is shown at the bottom, after the article. Four of the ads were identical.

How to make a self-hosted video livestream

I have seen some articles in the past which explain how to build the ecosystem around your video streaming, such as live chat and forums, but which leave the actual video streaming to Twitch.tv. I made a note the last time I saw one of these articles to write one of my own explaining the video bit. As is often the case with video, we’ll be using the excellent ffmpeg tool for this. If it’s A/V-related, ffmpeg can probably do it.

The Commons Clause will destroy open source

An alarmist title, I know, but it’s true. If the Commons clause were to be adopted by all open source projects, they would cease to be open source1, and therefore the Commons clause is trying to destroy open source. When this first appeared I spoke out about it in discussion threads around the net, but didn’t think anyone would take it seriously. Well, yesterday, some parts of Redis became proprietary software.

  1. Under both the OSI and FSF definitions. The Commons Clause removes freedom 0 of the four essential freedoms

I don't trust Signal

Occasionally when Signal is in the press and getting a lot of favorable discussion, I feel the need to step into various forums, IRC channels, and so on, and explain why I don’t trust Signal. Let’s do a blog post instead.

Setting up a local dev mail server

As part of my work on lists.sr.ht, it was necessary for me to configure a self-contained mail system on localhost that I could test with. I hope that others will go through a similar process in the future when they set up the code for hacking on locally or when working on other email related software, so here’s a guide on how you can set it up.

Writing a Wayland compositor with wlroots: shells

I apologise for not writing about wlroots more frequently. I don’t really enjoy working on the McWayface codebase this series of blog posts was originally about, so we’re just going to dismiss that and talk about the various pieces of a Wayland compositor in a more free-form style. I hope you still find it useful!

Git is already federated & decentralized

There have always been murmurs about “replacing GitHub with something decentralized!”, but in the wake of the Microsoft aquisition these murmurs have become conversations. In particular, this blog post is a direct response to forge-net (formerly known as GitPub). They want to federate and decentralize git using ActivityPub, the same technology leveraged by Mastodon and PeerTube. But get this: git is already federated and decentralized!

Input handling in wlroots

I’ve said before that wlroots is a “batteries not included” kind of library, and one of the places where that is most apparent is with our approach to input handling. We implemented a very hands-off design for input, in order to support many use-cases: desktop input, phones with and without USB-OTG HIDs plugged in, multiple mice bound to a single cursor, multiple keyboards per seat, simulated input from fake input devices, on-screen keyboards, input which is processed by the compositor but not sent to clients… we support all of these use-cases and even more. However, the drawback of our powerful design is that it’s confusing. Very confusing.

Simple, correct, fast: in that order

The single most important quality in a piece of software is simplicity. It’s more important than doing the task you set out to achieve. It’s more important than performance. The reason is straightforward: if your solution is not simple, it will not be correct or fast.