Bitlyfier – A client for GNOME

Bitlyfier For those of us tweeting – or sharing web addresses in general – these long addresses with extensive query strings you wan’t to share isn’t too user friendly. So we have, among others, that lets you shorten a URL – or give it an alias if you like – and also gives you statistics on how many clicks it has and if it’s shared on Twitter and what not.

Since I’m on the quest of learning the programming language Vala I though why not making a desktop client for GNOME. So I did!

The desktop client

There’s really nothing extraordinary about it, in fact it’s quite simple. Put a long URL in the input field and hit “OK”. You’ll get the shortened URL back in the same input field.

NOTE! The screenshots is showing the Swedish translation but the interface is orginally in English.

Shortening a long URL
Shortening an URL with Bitlyfier

The shortened URL
The shortened URL

To use the application you will of course need a account. The first time Bitlyfier is launched it will ask for your account settings. Just fill in your username and API key (it’s found on your account page at

Bitlyfier account settings
The bitlyfier settings dialog

The command line interface

For the hacker you, Bitlyfier can also be used as a command line tool. These are the options:

11 lines of Plain text
  1. Usage:
  2. bitlyfier [OPTION…] – Bitlyfier, URL shortener/expander
  3. Help Options:
  4. -h, –help Show help options
  5. Application Options:
  6. -e, –expand Expands the given URL
  7. -s, –shorten Shortens the given URL
  8. -n, –no-gui Sets the application in command line mode
  9. -g, –gconf Invokes setting username and apikey

NOTE! You should quote the value of the ‘-s’ flag. If the URL to be shortened
contains a querystring with ampersands the URL will be truncated if it’s not

So to shorten a long URL do like:

  user@machine:~$ bitlyfier -n -s ""

The Vala Bitly API classes

The Bitly API class I’ve written can of course be used standalone (it’s located in src/bitly.vala in the sources package downloadable below). Here’s an example of usage:

14 lines of Vala
  1. // main.vala
  2. // Compile: valac –pkg gee-1.0 –pkg json-glib-1.0 –pkg libsoup-2.4 -o main
  3. int main(string[] argv)
  4. {
  5. Bitly.Api api = new Bitly.Api(“username”, “R_the_api_key”);
  6. Bitly.Response response = api.shorten(“”);
  7. stdout.printf(“Short URL: %s\n”, response.get_string(“shortUrl”));
  8. response = api.stats(“A2ma2z”);
  9. stdout.printf(“Clicks: %d\n”, response.get_integer(“clicks”));
  10. return 0;
  11. }

More about the API and what the API methods do can be read about at

The sources

The development sources of this application is available at Bitlyfier at Github. The current stable release can be found at the Download page.

New Roxen Application Launcher for Linux written in Vala

This is not the latest version of Roxen Application Launcher. You’ll find the latest version at the download page.

A couple of weeks ago I stumbled upon a fairly new programming language named Vala. I thought it looked promising and since Vala is developed by the GNOME project – with the purpose of making software development for, primarily, GNOME easier – and I’m an avid GNOME user I wanted to look deeper into the world of Vala.

I, and most programmers I believe, work in that way that I need a real and useful project when learning a new programming language. So I thought why not re-writing the Roxen Application Launcher I wrote in C#/Mono a couple of years ago in Vala – which by the way is syntactically very, very similar to C# and Java. I’d gotten tired of always having to fiddle with the C# code with every new version of Mono since something always broke when Mono was updated so a re-write wasn’t going to be totally pointless. The good thing about Vala is that the Vala compiler generates C code and that’s what you compile the program from. Fast code and hopefully more mature and stable libraries that won’t break backwards compatibility with every new release.

What about Vala

So, on I went about it and I think that Vala is a really promising language. It’s still a very young language so some library bindings isn’t behaving exactly as expected and the documentation isn’t directly redundant – although the Vala reference documentation site isn’t half bad. But since Vala pretty much is a wrapper for, or binding to, the underlying C libraries you can find answers to your questions that way. All in all I think Vala has a promising future: Way more simple than C and almost as fast and light on memory (remember the Vala compiler generates C code) and way faster than C#/Mono and free from any Microsoft associations ;) .

What about the Roxen Application Launcher

In this new version I utilize GConf for storing application settings. I also made use of – for the first time – the GNU Build Tools for compilation which also makes it easier to distribute and for others to compile from the sources. This also means that the distributed version compiles from the C sources and not the Vala sources so there’s no need for the Vala compiler to build the program.

Other than that there’s nothing fancy about it. The Vala sources is available at my Github repository.

Roxen Appliction Launcher 0.4.2 19:38, Sun 20 December 2009 :: 374 kB


The screenshots is showing the Swedish translation.

List of downloaded files
Screenshot 1 of the Roxen Application Launcher

Adding support for new file type
Screenshot 2 of the Roxen Application Launcher

The GNOME status icon
Screenshot 3 of the Roxen Application Launcher

Vala – the new programming language for Gnome

This Friday when I read the last issue (in Sweden) of Linux Format there was an article on a new programming language named Vala. The goal for Vala is to provide a modern programming language for, primarily, developing Gnome applications. There is of course Mono, but Vala doesn’t run in a virtual machine but is complied to machine code. But Vala resembles C# syntactically and has borrowed a lot of concepts from C#.

From what I understand Vala code is first translated into plain old C code, and then compiled with the ordinary GCC compiler. The benefit is that you don’t have to get head aches about memory management and so forth.

Vala seems pretty interesting and I downloaded it and compiled it without any difficulties. There are precompiled packages for most Linux distros – it’s available in the Ubuntu repository – but since Vala is new and still under development the distro packages is far behind in version.

There’s also a Vala IDE and plugins for GEdit, Anjuta and Eclipse.

Anyway, just to try Vala out I made a little program – using Val(a)ide – that changes the desktop wallpaper on a per interval basis. Send the program a path to a directory with images and the background will change among those images every *nth minutes.

This program needs libgee which at the moment needs to be added manually.

Compile: valac --pkg gconf-2.0 --pkg gee-1.0 --pkg gio-2.0 main.vala -o wallpaper-iterator

239 lines of Vala
  1. /* main.vala
  2. *
  3. * Copyright (C) 2009 Pontus Östlund <>
  4. *
  5. * No license what so ever. Do what ever you like…
  6. *
  7. * Author:
  8. * Pontus Östlund <>
  9. */
  10. // GLib isn’t really neccessary since it’s imported automatically
  11. using GLib, Gee, GConf;
  12. /**
  13. * User defined exception types
  14. */
  15. errordomain IOError {
  18. }
  19. /**
  20. * Main class
  21. */
  22. public class Main
  23. {
  24. /**
  25. * Used as reference in option parser
  26. */
  27. static int arg_delay;
  28. /**
  29. * Application command line options
  30. */
  31. const OptionEntry[] options = {
  32. { “delay”, ‘d’, 0, OptionArg.INT, ref arg_delay,
  33. “Number of minutes to wait before swapping background”, null },
  34. { null }
  35. };
  36. /**
  37. * Main method
  38. *
  39. * @param args
  40. * Command line arguments
  41. */
  42. public static int main (string[] args)
  43. {
  44. try {
  45. var opt = new OptionContext(“\”/path/to/wallpapers\””);
  46. opt.set_help_enabled(true);
  47. opt.add_main_entries(options, null);
  48. opt.parse(ref args);
  49. }
  50. catch (GLib.Error e) {
  51. stderr.printf(“Error: %s\n”, e.message);
  52. stderr.printf(“Run ‘%s –help’ to see a full list of available “+
  53. “options\n”, args[0]);
  54. return 1;
  55. }
  56. if (args.length < 2) {
  57. stderr.printf(“Missing argument!\n”);
  58. stderr.printf(“Run ‘%s –help’ for usage\n”, args[0]);
  59. return 1;
  60. }
  61. // Default time before changing background is 30 minutes
  62. int delay = arg_delay > 0 ? arg_delay*60 : 60*30;
  63. try {
  64. WallpaperIterator bg = new WallpaperIterator(args[1], delay);
  66. bg.stop();
  67. }
  68. catch (IOError e) {
  69. stderr.printf(“Error: %s\n”, e.message);
  70. return 1;
  71. }
  72. finally {
  73. stderr.printf(“Finally block reached!\n”);
  74. }
  75. return 0;
  76. }
  77. }
  78. /**
  79. * Class that handles changeing of desktop wallpapers on a per interval way
  80. */
  81. public class WallpaperIterator : GLib.Object
  82. {
  83. /**
  84. * Number of seconds to wait before changeing wallpaper
  85. */
  86. private int delay = 0;
  87. /**
  88. * Current index in the images list
  89. */
  90. private int index = 0;
  91. /**
  92. * List of images to change between
  93. */
  94. private ArrayList<string> files = new ArrayList<string>();
  95. /**
  96. * List of allowed content types
  97. */
  98. private ArrayList<string> allow = new ArrayList<string>();
  99. /**
  100. * GConf client object
  101. */
  102. private GConf.Client gclient = null;
  103. /**
  104. * GConf registry where the background image is set
  105. */
  106. private string gconf_key = “/desktop/gnome/background/picture_filename”;
  107. /**
  108. * Background being used when the application is started
  109. */
  110. private string default_bg = null;
  111. /**
  112. * Constructor
  113. *
  114. * @param dir
  115. * The directory to collect wallpapers in
  116. * @param delay
  117. * Time to wait – in seconds – before swapping wallpaper
  118. */
  119. public WallpaperIterator(string dir, int delay)
  120. throws IOError
  121. {
  122. assert(delay > 0);
  123. allow.add(“image/jpeg”);
  124. allow.add(“image/png”);
  125. var f = File.new_for_path(dir);
  126. if (!f.query_exists(null))
  127. throw new IOError.FILE_NOT_FOUND(” \”%s\” doesn’t exits!”.printf(dir));
  128. if (f.query_file_type(0, null) != FileType.DIRECTORY) {
  129. throw new IOError.NOT_A_DIRECTORY(” \”%s\” is not a directory!”
  130. .printf(dir));
  131. }
  132. collect(f.get_path());
  133. if (files.size < 2) {
  134. warning(“Not enough images found for this application to be useful!\n”);
  135. return;
  136. }
  137. this.delay = delay;
  138. }
  139. /**
  140. * Run the application. Starts a MainLoop
  141. */
  142. public void run()
  143. {
  144. gclient = GConf.Client.get_default();
  145. default_bg = gclient.get_string(gconf_key);
  146. MainLoop loop = new MainLoop(null, false);
  147. var time = new TimeoutSource(delay*1000);
  148. time.set_callback(() => { swap(); });
  149. time.attach(loop.get_context());
  151. }
  152. /**
  153. * Stop the application. Tries to reset the background
  154. */
  155. public void stop()
  156. {
  157. try {
  158. if (default_bg != null)
  159. gclient.set_string(gconf_key, default_bg);
  160. }
  161. catch (GLib.Error e) {
  162. warning(“Failed to restore background!\n”);
  163. }
  164. }
  165. /**
  166. * Does the actual background swapping
  167. */
  168. private void swap()
  169. {
  170. if (index >= files.size) {
  171. debug(“Restart…\n”);
  172. index = 0;
  173. }
  174. debug(“Callback…%-2d (%s)\n”, index, files[index]);
  175. try {
  176. gclient.set_string(gconf_key, files[index]);
  177. }
  178. catch (GLib.Error e) {
  179. warning(“Failed to set background: %s\n”, e.message);
  180. }
  181. index++;
  182. }
  183. /**
  184. * Collect images
  185. *
  186. * @param path
  187. */
  188. private void collect(string path)
  189. {
  190. try {
  191. var dir = File.new_for_path(path).enumerate_children(
  192. “standard::name,standard::type,standard::content-type”,
  193. 0, null
  194. );
  195. FileInfo fi;
  196. string fp;
  197. while ((fi = dir.next_file(null)) != null) {
  198. fp = path + “/” + fi.get_name();
  199. if (fi.get_file_type() == FileType.DIRECTORY)
  200. collect(fp);
  201. else {
  202. if (fi.get_content_type() in allow)
  203. files.add(fp);
  204. else
  205. warning(“Skipping \”%s\” due to unallowed content type\n”, fp);
  206. }
  207. }
  208. }
  209. catch (GLib.Error e) {
  210. warning(“Error: %s\n”, e.message);
  211. }
  212. }
  213. }

I think Vala looks promising and I will try it out trying to write a more complex application when I find the time.

Roxen Application Launcher 0.3

I just created an updated version of Roxen Launcher. I got an error report from one who tried to build the application:

./ApplCon.cs(232,24): error CS0122:
‘System.Net.Sockets.TcpListener.Server’ is inaccessible due
to its protection level

An explanation of the error can be found at MSDN. The reason seems to be due to TcpListener.Server being a protected property but I tried to access it as public. The strange thing is that I didn’t get an error about it nor on my machine at home or at work. Now I created a derived class of TcpListener.Server so that I can access the protected property.

We’ll see if it works!

Roxen Application Launcher 17:31, Sat 17 October 2009 :: 97.3 kB

Gnome Font Manager

One thing I miss on Linux Gnome is font manager. Not just a font viewer but a proper manager like the old Adobe Type Manager. So I thought: Well, lets create one then! It might be that it already exist some font managers for Linux/Gnome but as always; this will be a good project for learning new stuff so I really don’t care if there are 1000 font managers out there ;)

Font parsing

The first thing to do, and that I have done, is porting my font parser from PLib to C#. That was no major head ache. There are at least to different font classes available in C# Mono (`System.Drawing.Font` and `Pango.Font`) but they don’t give all information about the font that I want.

Worth mentioning is that I heavily used the Mono DataConverter class to unpack the binary strings in the fonts. The unpack() function in PHP is just tremendous and there doesn’t seem to be a native alike in C#. But thanks to Miguel de Icasa’s DataConverter it went quite alright.

Font preview

The next thing to do was figuring out how to create the font previews. And I figured it out ;) First I though of using the console program gnome-thumbnail-font to create the previews but I had to throw that one into the bin since it doesn’t seem to handle multi line text. Since I’ve never used the graphics functions in C# before I came to the conclusion that I had to create the previews all by my self. It was quite easy finding good examples on the net of how to create text images with C#. A couple of hours later that problem was also solved (as you can see in the screen shot below). And man the graphics stuff in C# is fast. The preview images are generated instantly!

Next step

I have a lot left to do before this is a useful program but we’re heading there. One feature I’m planning on implementing is the ability to create your own font sets that you can activate/deactivate.

And I will probably come up with some more stuff to add, but that will be a later head ache!

Screen shot: Gnome Font Manager
Gnome Font Manager

Roxen Application Launcher for Linux

I thought I should broaden my C# knowledge a bit and you know how it is: To learn new stuff you need a real project to work on or else you will lose the fire sooner than later. So I came up with a good project that is actually useful to me: Porting Roxen’s “Application Launcher” to C#. There’s nothing wrong with the original one, written in Pike, except that it uses GTK 1 which is quite hideous (in an aesthetic meaning) compared to the newer GTK 2. And I also though it would be cool to create a panel applet (in the notification area of Gnome so you could put the Application Launcher in the background).

BTW: For those of you not knowing what the heck Roxen’s Application Launcher (AL here after) is here’s a brief explanation: Files in Roxen CMS is stored in a CVS file system which means that you don’t deal with files the way you normally do. To manage files you use a web browser interface (which is a darn good one I might add) but sometimes you actually want to edit files in your standard desktop application. And it is here the AL comes to play. You can download a file through the browser interface so that the file is opened in the AL. AL will then open the file in the desktop application you have associated with the file’s content-type. When you make your changes and saves them the AL will directly upload the changes to the server. So in short I could have said: The Application Launcher is a means to edit files on a remote Roxen server with a preferred desktop application.

The obstacles

I must say I’ve learned a lot from this project!

First off: If you download a file for editing and the AL is already started you don’t want to start a new instance of AL (this is something I have never ever thought about before – in general terms, not just concerning AL) but when you do think about it you find that it’s not a piece of cake to solve. I solved it the way it is solved in the original AL. The first instance of AL that is started also starts a “socket server” that listens for incoming traffic on a given port on the local IP. When a new instance is started it first checks if it can connect to said port and if it can it sends the arguments through the socket to the first instance which then handles the request. The second instance is simply terminated when it has send the data though the socket.

So there I had to do some socket programming. Great fun :)

Secondly: Stuff happens in the background of AL – data send through the socket remember – which means that nothing happens when you try to update the Graphical User Interface. (NOTE! This is the first more advanced desktop application I’ve done.) After “Google-ing” around a bit I came to know that this was a real newbie problem ;) The thing is that the GUI can only be updated through the same thread that started it so when using background threads – implicitly that’s what I’m doing although handled by the asynchronous callback infrastructure of C# – you need to make sure the GUI is updated through the main thread. This is the most simple way so solve it:

3 lines of C#
  1. Gtk.Application.Invoke(delegate{
  2. CallFunctionToUpdateGUI();
  3. });

That’s not too difficult when you know it ;)

Thirdly: The AL is sending data back and forth through the HTTP protocol which means we have to use some sort of HTTP client. C# has a couple of ways to do this but unfortunately they came up short, or I couldn’t use them anyway. I didn’t manage to figure out exactly why I always caught an exception saying something like: A protocol violation occurred!. I’m far from the only one who have fought with this and it has something to do with the headers sent from the remote server. You can invoke “unsafe header parsing” but that was to much of a hassle so I created my own little HTTP client.

One big annoying thing with C# is that is seems almost impossible to turn data from streams into strings without having to use any one of the System.Text.Encoding.* classes/objects which in my case meant that images and files in binary form got seriously fucked up. I manged to solve this my never turning the data into a string but keeping it as a System.Text.Encoding.* all the way from request to response to saving to disk. It was rather irritating but at the same time nice when solved (and I learned a whole bunch about System.Text.Encoding.*, System.Text.Encoding.*, System.Text.Encoding.* and System.Text.Encoding.*.)

Finally: Of course I learned a great deal more about C# but this blog post is starting to get pretty excessive so I will round it off by saying that MonoDevelop is starting to become pretty darn good! I just upgraded to the latest version of Ubuntu and that also meant that I got the latest MonoDevelop and I must say it’s more stable than ever (although it occasionally crashes) and a whole bunch of new features are in place. One I havn’t used before – although it might have existed before – is the “Deployment” stuff. It creates a package with configure and make files for optimal compilation. Really smooth!

Source and screens

I will finish off by adding the source files and a few screen shots:

Roxen Application Launcher 17:31, Sat 17 October 2009 :: 96.7 kB

Screen shot 1: Just a standard view
Roxen Application Launcher 1

Screen shot 2: The panel applet in action
Roxen Application Launcher 2

Screen shot 3: The Application Launcher in Swedish
Roxen Application Launcher 3

Screen shot 4: Adding support for a new content type
Roxen Application Launcher 4

Script for adding all new files in a SVN repository

When working with revision controlled stuff you sometimes add loads of new files to an already existing repository. Then when you are about to check in the next revision you have forgotten where all the new files are and you probably don’t feel like writing svn add thefile too many times. This is of course no problem if you’r using a decent SVN client – like Tortoise SVN on Windows – but I prefer the command line so the solution was writing a script that adds all new files in a directory structure to the SVN repository.

There are “one liners” for this but I wanted a bit more flexibility and ease of use so I wrote the a script that also lets you define regexp patterns for files you don’t want to add even if they exist in the directory structure.

This is how to use it:

7 lines of Bash
  1. # Add all new files
  2. svnadd path/to/repository/
  3. # Add all new files except those matching the regexp
  4. svnadd -s “.*.txt|tmp/.*” path/to/repository/
  5. # Add all new files except those matching the regexp in
  6. # the file defined by the “-f” flag
  7. svnadd -f regexp.txt path/to/repository/

Quite easy! If you don’t feel like remembering the pattern for files to skip, put the regexp in a file and use the svn add thefile flag.

77 lines of Bash
  1. #!/bin/bash
  2. ##########################################################################
  3. #
  4. # Script for adding all new files in a directory structure to an SVN
  5. # repository.
  6. #
  7. # copyright © 2007 Pontus Östlund <>
  8. #
  9. # The svnadd script is free software; you can redistribute it and/or
  10. # modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by
  11. # the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at your
  12. # option) any later version.
  13. #
  14. # The svnadd script is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
  15. # but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
  17. # Public License for more details.
  18. #
  19. # You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License
  20. # along with this program; if not, write to the Free Software Foundation,
  21. # Inc., 51 Franklin Street, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA 02110-1301, USA.
  22. #
  23. ##########################################################################
  24. while getopts “s:f:h” opts
  25. do
  26. case $opts in
  27. s) skip=“$OPTARG”;;
  28. f) if [ -f “$OPTARG” ]; then
  29. skip=$(head -n 1 $OPTARG)
  30. else
  31. echo “$OPTARG doesn’t exist!”
  32. fi
  33. ;;
  34. h) help=1;;
  35. esac
  36. done
  37. shift $(($OPTIND1))
  38. if [ -z $1 ] || [ “$help” ]; then
  39. echo “About: svnadd enables you to add all new files in [dir] to a “
  40. “subversion repository”
  41. echo “Usage: svnadd [flags] [dir]”
  42. echo
  43. echo ” -s <pattern> Regexp pattern for files to skip”
  44. echo ” -f <path> Path to file containing regexp for files to skip”
  45. echo ” The regexp should be placed in line one!”
  46. echo ” [dir] The path to the repository”
  47. echo
  48. echo “Example: svnadd svnsrc/”
  49. echo “Example: svnadd -s ‘tmp/.*.xml’ svnsrc/”
  50. echo “Example: svnadd -f regexp.txt svnsrc/”
  51. echo
  52. exit 0
  53. fi
  54. dir=$1
  55. if [ ! -d “$dir” ]; then
  56. echo “$dir is not a directory”
  57. exit 1
  58. fi
  59. while read status file; do
  60. if [ “$status” = “?” ]; then
  61. res=$( echo “$file” | egrep -o “$skip” )
  62. if [ -z “$res” ]; then
  63. svn add “$file”
  64. fi
  65. fi
  66. done<<EOF
  67. $( svn st “$dir” )
  68. EOF
  69. exit 0


svnadd 17:31, Sat 17 October 2009 :: 2.1 kB

Howto install Zend Studio on Linux with an AMD64 processor

Sometimes you regret running a 64-bit processor, but as almost always anything ca be fixed. The Zend Studio installer complains about finding some lib files:

8 lines of Plain text
  1. Configuring the installer for this system’s environment…
  2. nawk: error while loading shared libraries: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory
  3. dirname: error while loading shared libraries: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory
  4. /bin/ls: error while loading shared libraries: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory
  5. basename: error while loading shared libraries: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory
  6. dirname: error while loading shared libraries: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory
  7. basename: error while loading shared libraries: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory
  8. hostname: error while loading shared libraries: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory

Of course there’s a fix for this, and this is how to do it (please change the version numbers according to your version):

8 lines of Bash
  1. # First make a copy of the installer file:
  2. cp ZendStudio-5_2_0.bin ZendStudio-5_2_0.bak
  3. # Then run this command
  4. cat ZendStudio-5_2_0.bak | sed “s/export LD_ASSUME_KERNEL/#xport LD_ASSUME_KERNEL/” > ZendStudio-5_2_0.bin
  5. #Then you can throw the .bak file away
  6. rm ZendStudio-5_2_0.bak

Hopefully you can now run the installer file.

Okey, when Zend Studio has been installed we need to redo these steps but for the executable ZDE file which is located in the bin directory of the directory where ZDE was installed. I installed it in my home directory so the path for me is:

1 lines of Plain text
  1. /home/poppa/ZendStudio-5.2.0/bin/ZDE

Okey, so lets go to that directory and make a copy of ZDE and then:

1 lines of Bash
  1. cat ZDE.bak | sed “s/export LD_ASSUME_KERNEL/#xport LD_ASSUME_KERNEL/” > ZDE

And now we’re fit to go (hopefully)!

If you by any chance during any of these steps get complaints about the xxx/bin/java not being found it can be fixed by explicitly declaring the path to Java:

5 lines of Bash
  1. # For the installer
  2. ./ ZendStudio-5.2.0.bin LAX_VM=/path/to/java
  3. # Or for the executable
  4. ./ZDE LAX_VM=/path/to/java

And that’s that!