New phone: Samsung Galaxy S III phone with Replicant

Thanks to the Bazaar effort of The Guardian Project, I’ve been offered a phone to test F-Droid and other free software apps for Android. I accepted the offer, and chose a Samsung Galaxy S III phone with Replicant 4.2.2,  installed and shipped by Tehnoetic.
I’m using it now as my main phone, and since it uses Android 4.x I’m able to install more modern apps than in my old Galaxy Ace (which remains usable with CyanongenMod 7.2 (Android 2.3.7)).
My plans with this new phone are:
  • Test Replicant and free software for Android on it
  • Get more involved in translations of Android apps
  • Get more involved in the F-Droid community
  • Keep an eye on Android tools in Debian
  • Post here in my blog articles about what I’ve been doing (and of course report issues and contributions upstream)

Migration to the new phone

I’ve migrated my stuff from the old phone to this one. Some notes:
  • Wrote down my list of apps
  • Used Slight Backup for contacts, call logs and messages
  • Periodical has its own backup tool
  • Whatsapp has its own backup tool
  • Exported settings in K-9 Mail
  • Exported Kontalk GPG key
  • Simply Do has its own backup tool
  • I don’t use calendars in the phone so I didn’t migrate any events (I have Offline Calendar to ad temporary notes/reminders, but that’s all)
I moved the SIM card and the SD Card to the new phone and tried the restore tool for each app.
I found out that several apps could not find the backups because they were not looking at the SD Card for the files (seems that they were using internal memory locations). So for recovering my backups, I made new backups in the new phone with the empty apps, then found out where those backups were created (in the internal memory, /storage/emulated/0), and then copied the authentic backup files there (overwriting teh dummy ones), and then used the app to restore the backup.
For some apps (K-9) I had to set again the folder for attachments, since the SD was not anymore in /media/sdcard, now it was in /storage/sdcard1.
Apart from that, everything went well.
I was a bit upset that I could not migrate Kontalk conversations (there is no backup/export tool, and I am not sure where are the files/database stored).
I noticed that although Kontalk is ‘registered’ using the phone number, and it uses the phone numbers for contacts, it kept working in the old phone (Whatsapp detects when you change to a new phone and kind of ‘deactivates’ itself in the old one, but that’s not the case for Kontalk: it works as any XMPP client (if it’s open, it can send/receive messages)).

Replicant 4.2 in a Galaxy S III (i9300)

Here I write some particularities that I found in the phone, mostly bugs or problems. But don’t get me wrong: overall I’m very happy with it!
I experienced a problem when using the phone to make/receive calls, it seemed that the proximity sensor was not working well. I thought it was a Replicant issue, but later I realized that there was a Tehnoetic sticker that was partially covering the sensor. I removed the sticker and everything worked well.
The phone came with F-Droid installed which is nice. I upgraded to the latest alpha and I’m testing the alpha releases since then🙂
I found that I cannot choose “where” to install apps nor move apps from internal memory to the SD Card: there is no such option in Settings > Apps > Manage Apps (there is such setting in my CyanogenMod 7.2 phone, though). Since my phone is rooted and I have full access to both internal memory and SDCard, and I have plenty of room in the internal memory, I didn’t bother too much. I’m not sure if this is a bug, a feature, something related to Android 4 or specific to Replicant, o specific to this phone model. Pending to investigate, but low priority.
Replicant is almost fully translated to Spanish, yay!. I only found one untranslated string: You go to Settings > Wireless > Cell Broadcasts, and in the settings page, “Cell Broadcasts” is untranslated (but the settings themselves are). I still need to find where/how to send a patch for this (not sure if it comes from Android, CyanogenMod, or it’s something specific for Replicant. Also, being Android 4.x, I’m not sure about the usefulness of reporting such a minimal and unimportant patch upstream…).
When I turn on the phone, I get the Samsung S III splash screen, later the Replicant Splash screen, later the numeric pad to unlock the SIM card. After that, I see the screen lock but when I press the lock to enter the pattern, the screen turns off and on, screen lock appearing again (and I have to press the lock again to enter the pattern). If after unlocking the SIM card I wait a bit, I see the screen lock and again black screen and screen lock, so it’s not my tap causing it. Doing like this (waiting a bit for the phone to show the screen lock for 2nd time) is less annoying, but I wonder why this happen and I cannot unlock the screen directly in the first attempt. This is also pending for research, but low priority.
When the phone boots, I find the splash screens too bright (the “Samsung Galaxy S III” splash, and later the red Replicant one). I don’t know if I can change that. I know that other people have created different ‘Replicant’ splash screens, so maybe I can create one almost black and only the “Replicant” text in very dark grey. But this is obviously a workaround, not a fix. OTOH, it’s an annoying thing just some seconds: when the unlock screen is shown, the phone shows the brightness level that I’ve set (usually, the lowest one).
From time to time, I suffer soft reboots:
  1. the phone hangs for 2-3 seconds
  2. then the red “Replicant” splash screen is shown (the phone is not totally rebooted, because I don’t see the “Samsung Galaxy S III” splash screen and and the SIM card unlock PIN is not requested)
  3. after unlocking the screen, I see a normal ‘desktop’ (similar to what I see after rebooting the phone: no apps running, and no “last used apps” history. Time and date are ok, wireless or 3G starts correctly etc).
I’ve tried to track the causes of these soft reboots, but I couldn’t find anything specific. They are not frequent at all, and when I decide to launch CatLog to try to catch any hint, the phone works perfectly for hours or days :s
Replicant is currently using the fallback Android EGL implementation, which is incomplete. The missing features of this implementation cause multiple issues, which are described in #705. These are the ones that I experience (or I miss):
  • The phone comes with a video editor preinstalled: Movie Studio. I got excited about it, because I was jealous of the small built-in video editor that comes with Whatsapp, but I became sad because Movie Studio does not work😦
  • The camera does not record video.
  • When I long-press the central button of my phone to see the list of recent apps, I don’t see their thumbnails (only the name, and their icons). This is quite unimportant for me, names and icons are enough.
  • The stock Gallery app does not work well: I cannot see thumbnails of the albums. This is not very important, because I installed Gallery.
  • I cannot use Firefox, Orfox and other derivative web browsers (I usually use the stock browser, and I installed Lightning too).
  • I cannot use barcode or QR scanners.
  • My son cannot play Shattered Pixel Dungeon (nor Pixel Dungeon). Fortunately he uses now my old Android 2.x devide for that.
I installed the non-free firmware to be able to use Wifi and tethering, GPS and some other things. This does not fix the graphics problems listed above.

New apps, and translations

Note: when I write about Android apps, I usually link to their pages in the F-Droid website. Here I talk about translations (contributions), so I’ll link to their original website or souce code repos. But you can find all those apps in F-Droid too.
As I told before, I installed another gallery app called Gallery and submitted an update to it Spanish translation.
I installed Red Moon to reduce (even more) the screen brightness. At night it’s a relieve. Maybe the brightness of the splash screen is not so much, and I perceive them annoying because I got accostumed to Red Moon! I contributed some strings to the Spanish translation.
I liked RadioDroid very much, and I translated the app to Spanish.
I translated Wifi Privacy Police, and I used for some time, but I became tired that it keeps asking all the time that I walk across my workplace (multiple buildings within the same Wifi network, but quite a lot access points…).
I keep on contributing to K-9 Mail to make it 100% translated to Spanish. Now with a modern Android I can move to the development branch (5.1xx releases), and just did it.
I submitted a Spanish translation to DAVDroid, although I’m not using it yet (I have to see if my University’s Owncloud instance allows to sync contacts and calendar).
I updated the Spanish translation of PassAndroid, although I don’t use it yet (I tend to print my train/airplane tickets…). I keep it installed in my phone, just in case.

Other apps that I use

I’m testing OwnCloudNextCloud and NexCloud Beta clients with my University’s Owncloud and with Davros in my Sandstorm box (with Davros, I could only make it work installing an old version of Owncloud/Nexcloud client, and then upgrading. See #65).
I didn’t get accostumed to Conversations. Not sure why, though. Maybe it’s just that I got accostumed to Xabber-Classic, so I upgraded to Xabber. It works like a charm, dark theme, and I can close it easily when I don’t want to chat.
I got in love with KDE Connect. Later I realized that I could have been using it in my Android 2.x phone since long…
Sometimes I have fun activating Voice Notification and entering the redeslibres XMPP multi user chat at, for example while I’m cooking in the kitchen (in that room people talk in Spanish and make many wordplays, mixing Spanish and English, and use tech slang, etc so it’s really fun to hear the Spanish-TTS deal with the conversation there!).

More to come

As I told at the beginning of this long post, my plan is to keep on tinkering with the phone, testing and translating apps, and becoming more involved. So expect some more posts about Android in this blog, in the future.
For now, some big things in my TODO:
  • Watching again some videos: DebConf16 videos about Android tools in Debian, FOSDEM talks about Replicant, and some other talks about free software in Android.
  • I track the #fdroid and #fdroid-dev channels in IRC, but I’m not very talkative there. I guess I could do more user support.
  • Participate more in the F-Droid (client, server, data) issue trackers (I send reports when the alpha version crashes, and comment on few issues, but I don’t triage the issue tracker to find issues that I could reproduce or help to diagnose or contribute to fix).
  • Long time ago I learned to setup an Android development environment and build apps. I would like to re-learn and maybe do some small fixes in unmaintained or near unmaintained apps, and maybe adopt them or join their development teams (I’m thinking, for example, in Puma, an Android client for network, the MediaGoblin app, or the DebianDroid app). And ship new versions of unmaintained apss, including Spanish translations.
We’ll see how far I can go!


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Posted in My experiences and opinion, Tools | Tagged , , ,

More involved in the Debian Publicity team

More than 6months since I am Debian Developer and I’m learning new things every day… and trying to organize my time better to accomplish all the things I would like to do.
In September I became publicity delegate (and we joined Press+Publicity into the Publicity team). We continued discussing how the team works, and hopefully revitalizing it.
I became more active in the IRC channel, installed quassel in my home server and then I could read all the backlog too.
I’ve tried to contribute more to Debian Project News (less than I’d like), to and to the social networks ( and GNU Social).
Since November I’ve been failing to call for meeting but finally on 2016/02/29 we had it. I hope to resume semi-regular meetings each 1-2 months.
At the beginning of the year I helped to handle all the news and announcements about the loss of Ian Murdock. It has been hard work but I feel that I could turn some of the sadness into something useful for others. There is still work to be done: parse the condolence emails and setup a website to publish them.
About, DPN and announcements, I’ve learned how to perform the parts of the work that require membership permissions (building the blog, actually publishing the announcement, sending the DPN/announcement mail to the corresponding lists). Not without mistakes, but I guess no matter how much you care, sometimes things happen, and then you learn and then things get better and you too.

Some things I discovered

  • Installing quassel server and clients and getting addicted to IRC… It’s not that I chat so much, but I read the backlog of the channels where I am, and it’s hard for me to leave a channel once I join, even if I joined just to ask something and they already answered.
  • Writing (correct) English is harder for me than what I imagined. Not here or by mail or in IRC, but when I have to ‘create’ some news for DPN or bits, it takes much time and I doubt in many cases. I trust in the reviews by debian-l10n-english team, and thank them very much, but I also feel a bit ashamed of my broken English. OTOH, note that we have few native English speakers in the Publicity (and website) team. Please consider joining (Publicity or L10n-English) and helping with the reviews! That helps not only to get good quality content in Debian, that also helps non-English speakers to contribute more ideas or paragraphs, because we can trust in somebody reviewing our work.
  • It’s hard for me to call for meetings, proposing dates/times. We are very dispersed geographically so I usually come up with long tables with lots of days and times proposed, and I think it does not help. OTOH setting a fixed time can systematically leave out people from certain timezones, and I feel that’s very sad. I suppose I need to try to offer few options and if I see no agreements, then extend.

Some clarifications

  • I’ve written “hard” word 4 times in this post (well, 5 now!) but that does not mean I don’t want to do those tasks. I feel going out of my comfort zone and that’s ok, needed to learn and experience. I’m having a good time in Debian in the last months, as always!
  • We’re 4 people delegated and more team members and contributors, so anybody could think: “Publicity is well covered, let’s go to do other things in Debian”. It’s perfectly ok if you want to do other things in Debian, but please consider combining your contributions with some minutes for the publicity team. Aiming to be the universal operating system, our community and target audience is big and diverse and we’d like to show that diversity to the world. The more we are, the merrier!


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Posted in My experiences and opinion | Tagged , , , , ,

Thanks Ian, thanks Debian

I didn’t know Ian Murdock but the news about his passing left me with a very strange and sad feeling, because he started the project that creates the tool that I use every day in my work, and everyday in my communication with my family and friends, and everyday for anything computer related… It’s like if somebody puts a treasure in your hands and you got distracted looking at it and when you head up to look at the person and say ‘Thank you’, he’s gone…

And, in the last years, Debian for me is not just ‘my favorite tool’, I’ve been slowly getting involved in the community, known some people here and there, been able to put some work to try to improve some small parts, been able to work with other people as a team, and I’ve been touched many times admiring how the Debianers work, how they talk and write, how they behave to each other and to the ones that reach the community for first time, and to the world, since most of the communication and work is public… I’ve felt myself helped, welcomed, encouraged, empowered. Not only in my computer related skills or the improved capabilities of my humble hardware. I’ve felt myself helped, welcomed, encouraged and empowered in important areas of my life (understanding other points of view, caring about the ones that don’t speak aloud, enjoying diversity and becoming flexible to make it flourish, making friends…). And I like to think that I try to emulate that and help, welcome, encourage, empower others too… I’m learning.

Thanks Ian, for this alive and growing treasure that is Debian (the OS, the community), and thanks Debian, for the past, present and future miracles.

Posted in My experiences and opinion | Tagged , , , ,

Software Freedom Conservancy supporter

I think it’s important that organizations as Software Freedom Conservancy exist.
They provide a non-profit home, infrastructure, and advice for FLOSS projects. They take care that the will of the project members, choosing free software licenses, is respected by third parties. They care about “all the rest” so free software contributors can focus in improving the software itself. They have an agreement with the Debian community to protect the freedoms that Debian Developers provide to the Debian end users (and derivative distributions).

So I decided to join as supporter. I’m happy that this week there is a matching fund so my donation will count double.

I hope that many others join too, so the organization’s voice and action continues loyal to their goals and representative of all the projects (wether big or small) under their umbrella. This way (small donations from many individuals as funding model), no single or few actors can use their big money as pressure to deviate or block Conservancy’s action.

We free software/free knowledge contributors know very well the power that many micro actions can provide, when coordinated towards the common good, isn’t it?

Posted in My experiences and opinion | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Look at that nice looking FreedomBox!

This is a guest post by Alberto Fuentes, Debian contributor. Thanks!!

I’m rebuilding one my home server and decided to take a look at the FreedomBox project as the base for it.

The 0.6 version was recently released and I wasn’t aware of how advanced the project is already!

They have a virtualbox image ready for some quick test. It took me longer to download it than to start using it.

Here’s is a pic of what it looks like to entice you to try it🙂

All this is already on debian right now and you can turn any debian sid installation into a FreedomBox just by installing a package.

The setup generates everything private on the first run, so even the virtualbox image can be used as the final thing

They use Plinth (Django) to integrate the applications into the web interface. More info on how to help integrate more Debian packages here.

A live demo is going to be streamed this Friday 30 Oct 2015 and a hackaton is scheduled for this saturday 31 Oct 2015.


Posted in My experiences and opinion | Tagged , , , ,

Long summer story, Welcome team, and I am a Debian Developer now

Note: 2015/10/16: I need to add some links but I won’t delay this more, posting now, will edit later.

Summer ended long time ago, but believe me, I’m still catching up with all the things that I began in June/July, all the things I left in August when I went holidays, and more things that appeared in August and September.

This is a long overdue post, I hope you bear with me for waiting so long, and writing (now) so long too!


In June, I was 100% sure that I would not attend DebConf15 (well, I was 98% sure until then), and when the new “Outreach Sponsorship” grants were announced, I decided to write some mails to several Debian contributors, so they consider applying for the grant and attend DebConf (and maybe trigger some i18n/l10n meeting…). They kindly declined, and I understood their reasons, but also wondered what would have happened if the proposal would have come from somebody more “official” instead of a random contributor that they don’t know. I also hoped that lots of other Debianites also write to newbies or not-yet-DD-contributors or non-packaging contributors to invite them to DebConf, and I hoped that they had better luck than me in convincing them🙂


In July I usually work hard preparing the computer labs for next academic year at my workplace in the University, but I also have more free time in the long afternoons and evenings, since I don’t sleep much, and there is not much to do outside with the summer hot. So I used that month to go on contributing to DebConf publicity and think a bit more about Debian and the other free software communities.

I didn’t put much time in advancing my selfhosting (no SSL yet in *! booooo!) but I decided to deep my toe in, and try to selfhost an instance ( ) and try Etherpad inside Sandstorm (since I failed in deploying Etherpad by myself in my jessie+nginx+postgres box).

Sandstorm worked, and Etherpad was packaged in Sandstorm so it worked too; and I have my free-software-base pads now for writing and share.

So I joined #sandstorm IRC channel since then, and there I learnt that Asheesh Laroia (who works in and is also a Debian Developer and was going to give a talk about in DebConf15) was offering mentorship for people wanting to learn Sandstorm packaging, and his proposal was to begin packaging Framadate. I also failed in selfhosting Dudle (prepared for Apache + FastCGI, couldn’t make it work in my Nginx), so Asheesh’s proposal looked suitable for me. We talked and decided to invest the rest of July and first days of August in learning to package Framadate.

I learned a lot, but couldn’t finish the task. I encountered many issues (setting my dev environment, and later trying to package), and we solved some of them but my time ran out. I posted my work in the list, and I hope that my feedback on the documentation and the issues I encountered helped Asheesh and the Sandstorm community. Framadate is packaged in now, Drew Fisher packaged it, not sure if my stuff was useful or not (it’s been useful for me, for learning, at least). I’ll talk more about in a future blog post updating on my selfhosting adventures.

What I liked most was the kind of proposal of mentoring that Asheesh made. It was very detailed in every aspect: the task, the things you need to accomplish it, details about his availability for mentorship… I try to be welcoming in the teams in which I participate, but the fact is that I fail in actually mentor, maybe because of not making specific proposals to people (until now, I was like “Hi, newcomer! Go read this, this and this, and try for yourself any task you feel you like it, and come back if you have issues”, à la Debian…). This, plus the thoughts about my mails in June for diversity outreach in DebConf, made me feel the need of having a team where people willing to welcome newcomers share tricks and procedures, write together more specific proposals, and follow up the newcomers experiences in a regular way.

I talked with Enrico Zini and we wrote down some notes for a “Welcome Team” in Debian; he said he would spread the word during DebCamp/DebConf and we would see what people thinks about it.


August came, and the day before going on holidays I was really tired: too much luggage to prepare, too many hours in front of the computer, and the usual stress of traveling; and I took the bad decision of signing some GPG keys of several Debianites that I met in July. I say “bad decision” because the lack of sleep showed its black magic and I accidentally deleted my secring.gpg file. I knew I had a backup but I didn’t have too much time to invest and I didn’t want to mess it with the backup too, and my laptop was going to stay at home, powered off, during the whole month, so I just went on holidays and left the GPG issue for later.

The day after, meanwhile I was waiting in the airport for my boarding time, I received a mail accepting me as Debian Developer. Wow!! Really, I was not expecting that the process was already finished, I had interchanged several mails with my Application Manager (who happens to be the current DPL!) and I thought that his summer could be quite packed of Debian/DebConf work and my process could wait a bit. So it was a very happy news and very motivating after one month (July) full of free software work. On the other side, I was a bit scared: “what type of Debian Developer are you, larjona, not capable to sign some GPG keys without breaking your setup?!” but I answered myself “well, I’m the type of Debian Developer that has backups🙂” and then, with that mixed feelings of excitement and impostor syndrome, I took my plane and went on holidays, not expecting to touch any computer until the end of the month.

August is probably the month in the year when I have more free time (holidays), but less time to dedicate to free software. I devote most of the month to visit family and stay with them, with no internet connection available or no free time to look at the mailbox or social networks or IRC…

But DebCamp and DebConf15 were happening during my holidays. And this DebConf15 was the first one in which I participated in the organization, and the first one in which I felt more than being a “consumer of Debian videos”. I could not follow the streamings, my only internet-capable device was my Android 2.x phone, but when I had wifi I fetched the mail, and during the nights, while everybody else was sleeping and I was laying on the terrace, below the sky full of stars, I could read batches of hundred of mails from debconf-discuss mailing list. And I could get some feeling from DebConf life, because I learned about the ad-hoc BoFs and discussions, the morning bike rides and swimming proposals, and the dancing classes, the i18m/l10n meeting, and many other things. I could answer some mail from time to time, and I also knew that a fellow Debianite from Madrid was going to bring me some stickers, maybe a t-shirt, and shake hands in my name to some persons.

September and October

September was about finishing reading all the mails and try to answer the pending ones, and preparing my computer to use my new Debian identity (and stop using larjona-guest). I still have some things to do, pending technical work, and some mails that I should have answered and I’ve forgotten, for sure (if you sent me a mail that needs answer or would be fine that I answer (even if it was months ago!), please resend or ping me). I recovered my secring.gpg but and just now I added to the ID in my GPG key, but didn’t signed the pending keys again (sorry dkg and holger! will catch up there soon). My subkeys expired and I’m trying to find out how to proceed (they are in my FSFE SmartCard):/

About the Debian teams, I’ve resumed my work in publicity team (this year I’ll try to be more involved, in Debian Project News in particular), partially in the website team, and recently I’ve finished catching up with the Spanish translation of the website. I’ve also joined the DebConf team again (for DebConf16, no matter I probably won’t attend) and documented the Publicity task for DebConf, and I try to engage the mailing list and the IRC meetings.

I finally could have time to watch some DebConf15 videos and Andreas Tille’s talk (“Creating a more inviting environment for newcomers – New experiences from MoM, SoB, Teammetrics”) helped me to step ahead in welcoming people with more useful stuff than “Hi, newcomer! Go read this (general URLs), try for yourself whatever you like…”. I have made specific proposals for two people. In mid September I accepted an interview about Debian for a podcast with quite a lot audience (in Spanish), in which I explained the idea of the Welcome Team and offered myself as first-contact. Since then, two more people have contacted me and I have offered specific tasks I think are suitable for them. I also try to be more available in the IRC and offer some time spans for new contributors to DebConf to explain the git setup, the wiki, and all this stuff that looks more complicated than what it is.

And I think that’s all. My Debianite friend kindly brought me some stickers and a DebConf t-shirt, plus the organization t-shirt that the team gave me as present for my contributions in DebConf15.

Neil McGovern kindly sent me a certificate of my new “Debian Developer” status (thanks!!), and it’s posted in my wall at work. Here you are a photo!


(Note: my wall is full of stickers and pieces of papers with things I need, things I like and things I use to explain my work (sometimes sarcastically/ironically…). Maybe some day I’ll make a blog post about that!)

I feel very proud and happy. Still, a lot of things to learn and work to do, but my intentions are: to keep on progressing (sometimes fast, sometimes slowly), never give up, and enjoy the multiple flowers I find in my way🙂

Thanks everybody!

October and future

Some other ideas/plans for the future (the ones I didn’t say yet):

  • Try to catch up with “Debian Contributors” development/news, adopt some data source (, try to create some new data source (about translators, for example).
  • Clean spam in the archive lists (now that I am DD I may help in not only “Mark as spam”, but actually remove the spam from the archive)
  • Help in the review/updates of the Debian website (ongoing: /users; future: children-distros/derivatives, /partners).
  • Try to get more involved in the Debian i18n team, at least in the part of internationalizing the Debian infrastructure (make translatable via PO files/templates many texts that used repetitively in the Debian website, for example) and in welcoming new members in translation teams or helping the weak ones (although I don’t know many languages, the workflow and tools are common, so I think I could help new translators at least to get hands on the matter).
  • Maybe some short screencasts/videos about the Debian infrastructure, for newcomers? (mailing lists, IRC, wiki, Alioth…)


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Posted in My experiences and opinion, News | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Family games: Robots

I play “Robots” with my kid. I’ve tested the game with other kids and it seems that for ages 5 to 7 they like it. I’ve talked about the game to several adults and it seems they like too, so I thought maybe writing about it here may be useful for somebody to enjoy some summer days.


One player is the Robot. The other one is the programmer. If there are more players, it can be several robots and several programmers. If players are older, you can make the game more complicated making robots cooperate or programmers cooperate. If not, you make pairs 1-1 or 1 programmer – 2 robots if the number is odd.

The game

The programmer must turn on the robot, pressing the ON/OFF button (robot chooses where’s the button: nose, ear, belly, whatever).
Then, the robot say “hello”, and the programmer asks for the list of commands available (like “Hello, robot, give me the list of commands”). The robot says the list of commands available, for example “Run, stop, jump, sing a song, somersault, say something in a different language”. Then, the programmer thinks a program, and loads it to the robot (speaks the list of orders, loudly, to the robot). Then the programmer presses the START button (Robot choses where it is) and then the robot has to perform the program without errors.

If the robot performs correctly, wins one point. If it fails, looses one point. The programmer can design another program (maybe longer, maybe with some conditional expression) and tries the limits of the memory of robot.

If the robot is tired, needs to charge batteries, or whatever, the roles programmer/robot are interchanged, and the one with more points in a certain amount of time or rounds, wins.

Variants, tips…

If the programmer does not like the list, of commands, she can ask for updates, and maybe some new commands will be installed (and/or other uninstalled, who knows).

Please be creative with the list of commands, or the game will be very boring.

Depending on the operating system which runs the robot, it will give more or less options to the programmer, and the behaviour will be more evil or good. Robots shouldn’t behave too much evil, though, otherwise the programmer will erase their disk and install Debian on them to make them obedient😉

You can play with a third person being the Robot manufacturer, who controls the robot, even sometimes overriding the programmer instructions (if the robot has an OS which is not free software). Robot will win one point obeying the manufacturer, but if there are more robots, will loose one round of playing because the programmer got angry and turned it off or reinstalled the software.

The manufacturer and the programmer cooperate if the robot runs free software, though. Together they can expand robot memory (for example, lend a piece of paper where to store the program), or create new commands, fix bugs, or whatever.


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Posted in My experiences and opinion | Tagged , , , , , ,

Un paseo por XMPP

Si tienes trato conmigo, me habrás oído hablar algo de Jabber/XMPP.

¿Te vienes a dar un paseo por la mensajería instantánea libre?


Es un protocolo de comunicación, como el correo electrónico o el FTP.
Antes se llamaba Jabber, ahora se llama XMPP🙂
Permite la mensajería instantánea entre dispositivos usando internet (ordenadores, móviles, otros aparatos).
Permite charlar persona a persona y también en grupo.

El estándar es abierto y funciona con un servidor donde se crean las cuentas, y programas clientes (para ordenador o móvil) que sirven para enviar/recibir los mensajes. Te puedes comunicar con personas que tengan cuenta en un servidor XMPP distinto al tuyo (como en el caso del correo, tu servidor le pasará el mensaje al servidor del destinatario, que lo entregará).

Se puede usar con software libre (y gratuito) tanto en el lado del servidor como en los programas clientes, y permite el uso de cifrado punto a punto, para que ni los servidores ni los “mirones” vean el contenido de los mensajes.

Buena pinta ¿eh?


Mi cuenta es

Me hice la cuenta hace algún tiempo y ese servidor está algo saturado, así que a la familia y amigos ahora les recomiendo otros, por ejemplo Si quieres buscar otro diferente, tienes una lista con muchos servidores aquí:

Para registrarse, puedes ir con un navegador web a la página del servidor y crear la cuenta, o puedes usar algún programa cliente que permita el registro automático (esto último no lo he probado).

Elige tu servidor, y elige un apodo que esté libre. Y ya está (bueno, algún servidor puede que te pida un correo electrónico para poder recuperar tu contraseña si se te olvida, o algún otro dato personal. Tú decides).

Programas clientes

Hay clientes para muchos sistemas operativos distintos.

También, muchos servidores, ofrecen un cliente web, para no tener que instalar nada. Por ejemplo:

En GNU/Linux, Android, e iOS, usa el repositorio oficial para instalar el que quieras (puedes tener varios, si quieres). En Windows/OS X, visita las páginas web de los proyectos para descargar los ejecutables.

Yo uso Xabber en mi móvil (Android 2.x), y Conversations esporádicamente en mi tableta (Android 4.x). También he probado Tigase y Yaxim. Todos disponibles en F-Droid.

En el ordenador (con Debian), he probado varios: Psi, Psi+, Jitsi. Tengo pendiente probar Gajim.

En Windows sólo he probado Jitsi, pero conozco gente que usa Gajim o Pidgin.

Algunos clientes tienen estructura modular, y hay que instalar complementos para poder usar el cifrado, o la videollamada, u otras funciones avanzadas.

Chatear, y grupos

Una vez hemos instalado el cliente, iniciamos sesión con nuestra cuenta identificativa o JID, por ejemplo y la contraseña.
Podemos añadir contactos (indicando sus JID), y se enviará una solicitud de autorización al contacto. También podemos entrar en grupos, (según el cliente que uses, verás que los llaman “grupos”, “salas”, “conferencias”, o MUC (“multi user chat”)). Por ejemplo en la sala (haz clic y echarás un ojo ahora mismo desde el navegador) o crear tú uno en un servidor que permita la creación de grupos ( es uno de ellos, simplemente creas un nuevo nombre como “” y ya).

Cuando nos unimos a una sala de charla, podemos usar un apodo diferente, invitar a gente, proteger la sala con contraseña, y otras cosas.

En la conversación uno a uno, podemos activar el cifrado OTR, llamada de voz, o videollamada, si nuestro cliente y el de nuestro interlocutor lo soportan.

Envío de archivos

El estándar XMPP permite enviar/recibir archivos de dos maneras diferentes, y cada servidor y programa cliente decide de cuál manera lo hacen. Esto es un poco problemático, porque tú con tu cliente y tu cuenta en tu servidor podrás enviar archivos y quizá el servidor del receptor o el cliente no admite ese método… es cuestión de ponerse de acuerdo.

En general, los clientes de escritorio permiten el envío de archivos, y algunos clientes móviles (Conversations) también.

El método que funciona en todo caso es subir el archivo a algún sitio y proporcionar a tu interlocutor o interlocutores la URL😉 Pero no te des por vencido/a, haz pruebas y actualiza frecuentemente tus clientes porque esta situación está evolucionando para bien.


Existen aplicaciones que utilizan XMPP pero no son del todo compatibles, porque han adaptado el sistema a sus necesidades.


Un ejemplo de derivado libre es Kontalk (a partir de la versión 3, versiones anteriores no usaban XMPP).

El servidor es XMPP, pero el programa crea la cuenta de usuario aplicando una función “hash” al número de teléfono del usuario, con lo que se obtiene un JID algo complicado, tipo, y ése es el JID que tienes que decir a tus contactos que usan XMPP estándar para que te agreguen… Porque además el cliente de Kontalk no permite agregar contactos manualmente (aún), sólo usando la lista de números de teléfono. Además, no es posible hoy por hoy iniciar sesión con tu JID de Kontalk usando otro cliente XMPP, porque Kontalk usa cifrado GPG con un par de claves, en lugar de contraseña. Así que los usuarios de Kontalk, en la práctica, sólo pueden usar la aplicación de Kontalk para comunicar.

Kontalk, por ahora, no permite grupos, aunque se está trabajando en ello (así como en mejorar el sistema para que se puedan usar otros clientes XMPP para comunicarse).

El código del servidor y del cliente es libre, por lo que es posible, por un lado, instalar más servidores para crear una red federada como la XMPP estándar, y por otro, como sabemos, se puede adaptar y mejorar todo el sistema (de hecho, el desarrollo es comunitario, con 2 personas dirigiendo el proyecto y una comunidad bastante activa).


Un ejemplo de derivado no libre es Whatsapp.

Han adaptado el servidor, cliente y protocolo para que se registren las cuentas automáticamente mediante el número de teléfono (de forma similar a como hemos explicado con Kontalk), y al no estar el código fuente disponible, es difícil saber cómo lo han hecho, y si han hecho más cosas. Han eliminado prácticamente cualquier posibilidad de control por parte del usuario: el usuario no puede saber su JID, tampoco puede especificar otro servidor para usar, y aunque se averiguara el JID, por acuerdo de términos de servicio, no puede usar otra aplicación distinta a la “oficial” para conectarse. Así, la empresa proveedora se ha reservado para sí todo el control. Todas las cuentas están en el mismo servidor, y usan el mismo cliente, y el usuario no puede cambiar nada; se asegura entonces el funcionamiento del envío de archivos (aunque éste se limita a sólo archivos de determinados tipos) y se asegura que todas las comunicaciones pasan por el servidor de Whatsapp, lo que permite controlar la comunicación, pero también perjudica a todos los usuarios si hay un problema en ese servidor.

En conclusión, la empresa usa XMPP para aprovechar sus ventajas en exclusiva, sin conceder al usuario esas ventajas que XMPP podría ofrecerle.


GTalk era el cliente de mensajería instantánea de Google. Funcionaba usando el estándar XMPP, pero Google no implementó ciertos estándares de seguridad que exigen la mayoría de los servidores XMPP actuales. Como GTalk no era software libre, tampoco era posible arreglar esta situación por parte de la comunidad.

Cuando Google lanzó su nuevo sistema de mensajería y videollamadas, Hangouts (abandonando definitivamente GTalk), seguía sin ser libre, y además resultó incompatible con XMPP. Así, todas las personas que usaban XMPP estándar, dejaron de ver conectados a sus amigos que usaban GTalk/Hangouts, y viceversa. Google no informó a los usuarios de GTalk de que perderían la conectividad con sus contactos XMPP en otros servidores, al actualizar a Hangouts. Desde mi punto de vista, sólo eso es razón para dejar de usarlo y volver al XMPP estándar creando una cuenta en cualquier (otro) servidor…

Los usuarios de Hangouts tienen además el problema de la centralización del servidor, como hemos comentado anteriormente con Whatsapp. Si su servidor tiene problemas, no podrán usar ese sistema (no hay otro servidor de Hangouts donde crearse cuenta).


Cuando nos dicen que determinada empresa/aplicación de mensajería ofrece mejor experiencia de usuario, es interesante pensar cómo lo consigue, o a costa de qué. Desde mi punto de vista, centralizar la comunicación haciendo que todos pasemos por un mismo servidor es hacer “trampa” (y además, tiene implicaciones muy importantes acerca de la privacidad de las comunicaciones, por ejemplo).

Llevo un tiempo usando XMPP, y veo que las aplicaciones de cliente y servidor están en continua evolución, resolviendo  retos nada triviales (envío de archivos, videollamada, compatibilidad móvil/PC, comunicación síncrona y asíncrona…), sin renunciar a la interoperatividad y la federación (elementos claves de la supervivencia de una red que quiera ser una verdadera red) y a poner el control en manos de los usuarios y sus comunidades (elementos claves para que podamos comunicarnos con libertad).

Si piensas que el ecosistema XMPP se mueve despacio, y necesitaría un buen empujón para alcanzar la usabilidad y el nº de usuarios de los otros, ¿a qué esperas para colaborar? Úsalo, estúdialo, mejóralo, difúndelo. Es software libre, ¡tienes todo el derecho a ello!


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Y también, usando XMPP, en la sala🙂

Posted in My experiences and opinion | Tagged , , , , , , , ,


Note: This blog post, in English, here.

No soy jugona, aunque quizá he jugado a máquinas/ordenador más que la mayoría de las chicas de mi época. Mi ruta fue: maquinita, Pong y tenis en la consola de mi tío, MSX (con ése, además de jugar, aprendí lo que era un algoritmo y un programa, y empecé a escribir pequeños programas en Basic, y copiaba pequeños juegos y programas para hacer gráficos de las revistas). Mis padres consideraban las máquinas arcade de los bares como si fueran tragaperras así que siempre estuvieron prohibidas (incluso el pinball, sólo se salvaba el futbolín y sólo si mi padre jugaba con nosotras).
En el MSX jugué a Magical Tree, Galaxians, Arkanoid, juegos españoles de Dinamic, Don Quijote de la Mancha, La Abadía del Crimen, y algunos arcade Golden Axe, Xenon, y quizá alguno más. Los siguientes ordenadores (PC AT, luego un 286…) ya no eran tanto para jugar; digamos que nos divertíamos más con la impresora (Harvard Graphics, Bannermanía…). Luego me interesaron otras cosas más que los juegos de ordenador, y luego llegaron los trabajos del instituto, dBase III, y luego la universidad y la programación de nuevo, y se acabó el juego, el ordenador era para la ofimática y los trabajos de la Uni. Luego llegó internet y desde entonces, leer y escribir y comunicar me han interesado mucho más que jugar.

Tampoco era muy buena jugando, y si no eres buena, juegas menos, y no mejoras, así que empiezas a buscar otras maneras de perder el tiempo, o de ganarlo🙂

La nueva generación

Mi hijo tiene 6 años, y con él estoy viviendo una segunda aventura respecto a los juegos. Los juegos han cambiado mucho, y la informática familiar intenta permanecer en el lado libre siempre que puedo decidir yo, así que de vez en cuando se plantean algunos retos.

Android (móvil y tableta)

El peque ha jugado desde pequeño a juegos en el móvil y la tableta con Android, a algunos de los juegos populares de los últimos años. No soy mucho de prohibir, pero no me siento cómoda con los juegos populares de Android (la publicidad, no son software libre, elementos adictivos, recogida masiva de datos y posible vigilancia…), así que intento controlar sin parecer Cruella deVille. Algunas técnicas:

  • Acordamos el tiempo de uso de la tableta, “poniendo un tomate” para controlar el tiempo (gracias a Pomodoro en F-Droid)
  • Pongo el modo avión y corto internet siempre que puedo. Nunca registro cuenta o inicio sesión para jugar (si es obligatorio iniciar sesión en Google o crear una cuenta, lo siento pero no podemos jugar, o creamos un perfil vacío).
  • Pongo bastantes pegas para instalar juegos (por ejemplo, digo tiene que desinstalar 2 o 3 de los que tenga si quiere uno nuevo, o que me justifique bien por qué quiere ese juego y por qué de pronto los que tenía ya no son divertidos).
  • Nunca compré ni pienso comprar juegos para Android. Prefiero donar para algún proyecto de juego libre.
  • Derivo la atención hacia otros juegos (normalmente, no informáticos).
  • Si existe el juego no informático, jugamos a ése (por ejemplo, el 3 en raya, ahorcado, los barquitos…).
  • Rara vez juego en el móvil, salvo si es que juguemos juntos.

Por otro lado, en mi móvil no tengo Google Play, lo que nos ha permitido descubrir la sección “Juegos” de F-Droid.

Los juegos que hemos probado (todos disponibles en F-Droid, en negrita los que más le han gustado): 2048, AndroFish, Bomber, Coloring for Kids, Core, Dodge, Falling Blocks, Free Fall, Frozen Bubble, HeriSwap (this one in the tablet), Hex, HyperRogue, Meerkat Challenge, Memory, Pixel Dungeon, Robotfindskitten, Slow it!, Tux Memory, Tux Rider, Vector Pinball.

Jugar en mi móvil con CyanogenMod y habiendo descargado los juegos desde F-Droid proporciona una tranquilidad similar a la de jugar a un juego no informático. Al menos con los juegos que he listado. Quizá es porque son juegos más sencillos o que me recuerdan a los que yo jugué en su momento. Pero también es por la tranquilidad de saber que son software libre, que han sido auditados por la comunidad F-Droid, que no maltratan al usuario.

Lo mismo ocurre con Debian, lo que me lleva a la siguiente sección de este artículo.

Juegos de ordenador: Debian

El peque ha aprendido a jugar antes con la tableta y el móvil que con el ordenador, porque nuestros ordenadores no tienen ni joysticks ni pantallas táctiles. Aprendió a usar el touchpad antes que el ratón, porque no tenemos ratón en casa tampoco. El ratón lo aprendió a usar en la escuela, donde “trabajan” con unos juegos educativos a los cuales se juega vía CD o vía web, y usan Flash😦

Así que Flash aparece y desaparece de mi instalación de Debian según le apetezca al niño jugar a los “juegos” del cole o no.

Hasta hace poco, en el ordenador jugábamos con GCompris, ChildsPlay, y TuxPaint.
Cuando aprendió a usar mejor los cursores, instalé Hannah y le gustó mucho, sobre todo cuando aprendimos a hacer “hannah -l 900”🙂
Más tarde, en ClanTV anunciaban algunos juegos online para ordenador sobre sus series favoritas, que resulta que necesitan un entorno llamado Unity3D (no, no es el Unity de Ubuntu), y que tras indagar un poco decidí que no iba a instalar esa #@%! en mi Debian, así que cuando se empeñó en jugarlos, arranqué la partición con Windows 7 de este portátil y se lo puse ahí.
Windows es lento y triste en nuestro ordenador, y esos juegos vía web y con esa plataforma no van muy fluidos, así que por suerte no han resultado de mucho interés.

Poco más hemos jugado al ordenador, salvo alguna incursión en Minetest, lo que me lleva al siguiente apartado.

(No sin indicar antes mi eterno agradecimiento al equipo de Juegos de Debian. Creo que hacen una labor muy importante y creo que para el año que viene empezaré a implicarme de alguna manera, porque sé que el futuro de los juegos informáticos en mi familia pasa por los juegos libres en Debian).

PlayStation 3 y Minecraft

Hace algún tiempo mi marido compró una PlayStation 3 para casa. La tienda tenía precios con descuentos y esas cosas. Jugaría junto con el niño y esas cosas.

La máquina llegó a casa con algunos juegos “gratis” (incluidos en el precio), pero la mayoría estaban clasificados para +13, así que los únicos dos que quedaban eran Pro Evolution Soccer y Minecraft.

Decidí no conectar la máquina a la red. Quizá nos perdemos cosas chulas, pero me siento más segura así. Así que no hay cable Ethernet conectado, no hay registro en la tienda de Sony (o como se llame).

Los mandos son bastante complejos para nosotros tres. Son DualShock lo-que-sea, y creo que hay algo (de software) que hace que el juego se adapte a la persona que juega, porque mi marido es peor jugador al Pro Evolution Soccer cuando juega después del niño, si juegan por turnos y usan el mismo mando.

Al niño le ha gustado Minecraft. Yo no sabía nada sobre ese juego (bueno, sí que sabía, que hay un clon libre que se llama Minetest), así que para aprender las cosas básicas le eché un ojo a la wiki y buscamos vídeos sobre “cómo hacer…” y fuimos aprendiendo. Ahora el peque ya sabe leer así que necesita menos ayuda, y ha visto muchos vídeos sobre Minecraft, así que tiene interés por explorar y construir.

Eché un ojo a Minetest, y lo instalé en Debian. Tener que jugar con el teclado es una desventaja, y no sabíamos cómo cavar, así que resultó poco atractivo a primera vista. He mirado un poco cómo usar el mando de la PS3 en el ordenador, vía USB, y parece que funciona, pero creo que tengo que escribir algo para enlazar cada botón del mando con la correspondiente tecla y por tanto acción en Minetest. Esto es un trabajo, y soy perezosa, y el niño no muestra mucho interés por jugar en el ordenador.

A través de los vídeos hemos deducido que se pueden descargar partidas y mundos para cargar en la videoconsola. Hemos hecho algunas pruebas. Quise cargar una partida de un parque de atracciones en Minecraft, pero el fichero estaba en una carpeta tipo NPEB01899* y aunque la PS3 lo veía para copiarlo desde USB a la consola, luego no aparecía en la lista de partidas guardadas (nuestras partidas se graban en carpetas de nombre BLES01976). Comprendí que nos habíamos topado con restricciones de Sony, y busqué más info. Las partidas se guardan usando una clave de cifrado que hace que no se puedan usar partidas grabadas en consolas de otra zona distinta a la nuestra, o que usaran el juego en un soporte distinto del nuestro (el juego puede ser en disco, como el nuestro, o comprado desde la tienda digital, al parecer). ¡Muy feo todo! Leí por ahí que hay cierto software (libre, por cierto) que permite romper el cifrado y volver a cifrar con la zona y tipo de disco de tu consola, pero el programa al parecer sólo
funciona en Windows, y además necesita un código de consola que nosotros no tenemos (porque no tenemos registrada la consola, al no haberla conectado a la internet). Todas estas cosas me han parecido terreno pantanoso, desagradable, no quiero gastar tiempo en estas cosas, quizá debería aprender un poco más sobre minetest y hacerlo funcionar y que sea atractivo y mandar a Sony a freír espárragos. Al final he encontrado una partida guardada en el mismo formato que el nuestro (BLES01976
) que no es el parque de atracciones pero tiene sitios interesantes para explorar y bastantes cosas hechas, así que he probado con ésa y sí ha funcionado la copia, y mi hijo estará contento por un tiempo, supongo.

También hemos probado Minetest en la tableta, pero la pantalla táctil no es cómoda para este tipo de juegos.

Me he quedado bastante frustrada y enfadada con el tema de las restricciones de las partidas guardadas para los juegos de Sony. Así que supongo que en los próximos meses intentaré aprender más sobre Minetest en Debian, mandos de juego en Debian, y juegos en Debian, en general. Así espero poder ofrecer cosas atractivas a mi hijo, y que se interese más por jugar en un entorno seguro y que no maltrate al usuario.

Y con esto cierro

Juegos libres en GNU/Linux, Debian, e info sobre juegos en internet

Cuando busco en internet información sobre juegos, a menudo “toca” salir del entorno seguro: páginas con enlaces a descargas que a saber si tienen lo que dicen tener, páginas con anuncios, vídeos con partidas narradas en un lenguaje no adecuado para los niños (ni para nadie que aprecie su idioma)… Por eso definitivamente creo que el camino es profundizar en los juegos libres que proporcione la distribución que se use (en mi caso, Debian). Me apunto aquí una lista de sitios con información que seguro me es útil, para mirar a fondo:

Veremos cómo va


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Posted in My experiences and opinion | Tagged , , , , , ,


Nota: Este artículo, en español, aquí.

I’m not a gamer, although probably I’ve played with machines/computers more than most of the girls of my age. My path has been: handheld machine, Pong and tenis in my uncle’s console, MSX (with that one, in addition to playing, I learnt what was an algorithm and a program, and I started to write small programs in Basic, and I copied and ran the source code of small games and programs to make graphics, which I found in MSX magazines). My parents considered that arcade machines in bars were like slot machines so they were banned for us (even pinball, only table soccer was saved from them, and only if my father was playing with us).

In the MSX I played Magical Tree, Galaxians, Arkanoid, Konami’s Sports Games, Spanish games from Dinamic, and some arcades like Golden Axe, Xenon, and maybe some more. The next computers (PC AT, later a 286) were not so for gaming; let’s say that we played more with the printer (Harvard Graphics, Bannermania…). Later, I was interested in other things more than in computer games, and later there were highschool homework, dBase III, and later the University and programming again and more, and it was the end of gaming, computer was for office and Uni homework.
Later, it came the internet and since then, reading and writing and communicating was more interesting for me than playing.

I was not good at playing, and if you are not good, you play less, and you don’t get better, so you begin to find other ways to loose your time, or to win it🙂

The new generation

My son is 6 years old now, and I’m living with him a second adventure about games. Games have changed a lot, and the family computing try to stay in the libre software side whenever I am the one that can decide, so sometimes some challenges arise.

Android (phone and tablet)

The kid has played games in the phone and tablet with Android since he was a baby. We tried some of the last years popular games. I am not so keen of banning things, but I don’t feel comfortable with the popular games for Android (advertisements, nonfree software, addictive elements, massive data recollection and possible surveillance…), so I try to “control without being Cruella de Vil”. Some techniques I use:

  • We agree in the amount of time for using the table, “setting a tomato” to control the time (thanks Pomodoro in F-Droid)
  • I set the airplane mode and shut down internet everytime that I can. I never register account or login to play (if it’s mandatory to login in Google or create an account, sorry but we cannot play, or we create a new empty profile).
  • I put barriers to installing games (for example, I say that he should uninstall 2 or 3 games first if he wants a new one, or he should explain well why he wants that game and why the ones that were installed became boring suddenly).
  • I’ve never bought games for Android, and I’m not thinking about buying them in the future. I prefer to donate for some libre game project.
  • I try to divert attention to other games (not computer games, usually).
  • If the equivalent non-computer game exists, we play that one (tic-tac-toe, hungman, battleship…)
  • I seldom play in the phone/tablet, unless we play together.

On the other side, in my phone there is no Google Play, so we have been able to discover the section “Games” of F-Droid.

We have tried (all of them available in F-Droid, emphasis in the ones that he liked best): 2048, AndroFish, Bomber, Coloring for Kids, Core, Dodge, Falling Blocks, Free Fall, Frozen Bubble, HeriSwap (this one in the tablet), Hex, HyperRogue, Meerkat Challenge, Memory, Pixel Dungeon, Robotfindskitten, Slow it!, Tux Memory, Tux Rider, Vector Pinball.

Playing in my phone with CyanogenMod and having downloaded the games from F-Droid provides a relief similar to the one when playing a non-computer game. At least with the games that I have listed above. Maybe it is because they are simpler games, or they make me remember the ones that I played time ago. But it’s also because of the peace of mind of knowing that they are libre software, that have been audited by the F-Droid community, that they don’t abuse the user.

The same happens with Debian, what takes me to the next part of this blogpost.

Computer games: Debian

The kid has learnt to play with the tablet and the phone before than with the computer, because our computers have no joysticks nor touchscreens. He learnt to use the touchpad before than the mouse, because it’s easier and we have no mouse at home. He learnt to use the mouse at school, where they “work” with educative games via CD or via web, using Flash :(

So Flash player appears and dissapears from my Debian setup depending on his willness to play with the school “games”.

Until few time ago, in the computer we played with GCompris, ChildsPlay, and TuxPaint.
When he learnt to use the arrow keys, I installed Hannah and he liked a lot, specially when we learnt to do “hannah -l 900”🙂

Later, in ClanTV there were advertisements about some online computer games about their favorite series, resulting in that they need Flash or a framework called Unity3D (no, it’s not Ubuntu’s Unity), and after digging a bit I decided that I was not going to install that #@%! in my Debian, so when he insisted in play those games, I booted the Windows 7 partition in his father’s laptop and I installed it there.

Windows is slow and sad in the computer, and those web games with that framework are not very light, so luckily they have not become very interesting.

We have not played in the computer much more, maybe some incursion in Minetest, what takes me to the next section.

(Not without stating my eternal thanks to the Games Team in Debian. I think they do a very important work and I think that next year I’ll try to get involved in some way, because I know that the future of our family computer games is tied to libre games in Debian).

PlayStation 3 and Minecraft

Some time ago my husband bought a PlayStation 3 for home. The shop had discounts prices and so. He would play together with the kid an so.
The machine came home with some games “for free” (included in the price), but most of them were classified for +13 or so, so the only two left were Pro Evolution Soccer, and Minecraft.
I decided not to connect the machine to the network. Maybe we are loosing cool things, but I feel safer like that. So, no ethernet cable plugged, no registration in the Sony shop (or whatever its name is).

The controllers are quite complex for the three of us. They are DualShock don’t-know-what, and I think there is something (software) that makes the game adaptative to the person playing, because my husband is worse player after the son plays, if they play in turns and use the same controller.

The kid liked Minecraft. I didn’t know anything about that game (well, I knew that there was a libre clone called Minetest), so, for learning the basics I had a look at the wiki and searched videos about “how to …” and we began learning. Now, the kid can read a bit so he needs less help, and he has watched a lot of videos about Minecraft, so he is interested in exploring and building.

I had a look at Minetest, and I installed it in Debian. Having to use the keyboard is a disadvantage, and we didn’t know how to dig, so it was not much attractive at first sight. I have looked a bit about how to use the PS3 controller in the computer, via USB, and it seems to work, but I suppose I need to write something to match each controller button with the corresponding key and subsequent action in Minetest. This is work, and I am lazy, and the boy seems not very interested in playing with the computer.

Watching the videos we have infered that it’s possible to download saved games and worlds to upload them in the videogame console. We have done some tests. I wanted to upload a saved game about an amusement park, but the file was in a folder of name NPEB01899* and even when the PS3 saw it to copy it from USB to the console, later it didn’t appear in the list of saved games (our sved games were in folders named  BLES01976). And renaming the folder didn’t work, of course. I understood that we had met Sony’s restrictions, so I searched for more info. The games are saved using an encryption key and you are not able to use saved games from consoles in other world zone or using a media different than ours (the game can be played using a disc or purchasing it in the digital shop, it seems). Very ugly all of this! I read somewhere that there is certain software (libre software, BTW) that allows to break the encryption and re-encrypt the saved game with the zone and type of media of your console, but it seems the program only works for Windows, and it needs a console ID that we have not, because we didn’t register the console in the PlayStation network. All these things look shaky grounds for me, unpleasant stuff, I don’t want to spend time on this, maybe I should learn a bit more about Minetest and make it work and interesting and tell Sony go fly a kite. Finally, I found a saved game in the same format as ours (BLES01976), it’s not an amusement park but it is a world with interesting places to explore and many things already built, so I’ve tried to import it and it worked, so my son will be happy for some time, I suppose.

We have tried Minetest in the tablet too, but the touchscreen is not comfortable for this kind of games.

I feel quite frustrated and angry about this issue of Sony’s restrictions on saved games. So I suppose that in the next months I’ll try to learn more about Minetest in Debian, game controllers in Debian, and games in Debian in general. So I hope to be able to offer cool stuff to my son, and he becomes more interested in playing in a safe environment which does not abuse the user.

And with this, I finish…

Libre games in GNU/Linux, Debian, and info about games in internet

When we have searched info about games in internet, I found that many times you need to go out from the secure environment: webpages with links to downloads that who knows if they contain what they say they contain, advertisements, videoblogs with a language not adequate for kids (or any person that loves their mother language)… That’s why I believe the path is to go into detail about libre games provided by the distro you use (Debian in my case). Here I bookmark a list of website with info that surely will be useful for me, to read in depth:

We’ll see how it goes.


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