[etoys-dev] Re: [squeak-dev] Re: Brand new Ubuntu experience with etoys

Bert Freudenberg bert at freudenbergs.de
Mon May 10 00:17:08 EDT 2010

On 09.05.2010, at 16:02, Jerome Peace wrote:
> Yes. The error message has reappeared. It is directing Linux users to please install the "Etoys" package from your local distribution.
> Been there. Done that. Got the tea shirt and the error message!
> I did check Firefox for plugin's and the Squeak or Etoy plugin was not listed.
> Then I decided I might as well ask the package center to remove Etoys.
> Which it did leaving a Squeak directory behind. I had run Etoys from the educational menu and it saved some files connected to initializing the security features. Those files were still hanging around after the removal.

Well, all I can say is that it works fine on Fedora 11:

[bert at localhost ~]$ rpm -q etoys squeak-vm

Here are the Ubuntu bug trackers:


The thing is that this really needs to be fixed by someone doing the Ubuntu packages. This is how the Linux ecosystem works - Squeakland is just the upstream software provider.

>>  Etoys 4 was just
>> accepted into Debian however. It should trickle down in time
>> to Ubuntu.
> Who would know how if/how it would get into the update stream? Does Etoys even register itself to get updated?

As you can see above, there is a ticket open. Etoys doesn't need to "register itself". Ubuntu's Etoys maintainer (if there is one) would have to get the version updated. But again, *I* don't even know much about Ubuntu update policy. I don't have to.

>> I'm not sure if the plugin works in there however
>> - I think José mentioned it isn't even compiled anymore in
>> the CMake-based Linux VM.
> The blurb does not say a plugin is downloaded. Firefox does not show a plugin in its list of them. The launch page detects the lack of plugin and gives the error message. 
> So the plugin does not happen by downloading Etoys.
> Is it possible to provide the plugin as a separate download package?
> Urhm. That's actually two or more questions.
> Is it possible for them to provide a separate plugin download if they want to?

Yes. Doesn't make much sense, but it's possible.

> Is it possible for squeakland to craft a separate plugin package that works in the context of what is already there?

Many things are possible. Doesn't make them reasonable.

> Is squeakland willing to do so? Or under what circumstances is Squeakland willing to do so?

Your abstract talk about "Squeakland" is bothering me. Who do you think is Squeakland? It's the people volunteering their time. There aren't many of them. There is no-one hiding behind the scenes secretly doing development work. If you follow the bug tracker and read the mailing list you know who we are.

So what you are really asking is, am I going to build an Ubuntu package? I don't think so. 

> Who at Canonical or in the Ubuntu community would be interested is seeing this happen. That is beyond the present company corresponding here?

I don't know. One idea is to read who commented on the Etoys bug reports in the past. Those people obviously do care.

But the only real way is to get involved in that community. In Edubuntu for example. And Sugar of course, which Etoys is part of, but that doesn't utilize the plugin. Or, get involved with Debian, e.g. the Skolelinux / Debian Edu folks. That might even be better because there is no need to have different packages. But someone needs to see to it that the Debian packages are right, and someone needs to make sure they get into Ubuntu.

>> You can see all plugins by going to "about:plugins" I
>> think, it might also be in the help menu.
> Did.The plugin definitely did not come with the etoys installation. 

As I said, file a bug report.

>> Also, if the distribution's
>> packages do not work, you need to file a bug report with
>> them. If nobody ever complains, it won't ever get fixed.
> True, but I been there done that; got little acknowledgment from the report. This time I'll keep my powder dry till I have a better idea how to get some action/reaction. Others are welcome to try. I've made detailed observations here so they can be referenced.

That is nice, but writing it here really does not help you getting the Ubuntu packages fixed.

>> Also, someone should start maintaining the Etoys and Squeak
>> packages in Ubuntu. That is even happening in the Sugar
>> context, but Sugar does not use the plugin.
> Who would be good for doing that?

Well anyone who is using Ubuntu and has time and interest to get involved, learn about packaging, etc.

>> Something that we at Squeakland need to do is provide
>> proper source tarballs. These would have two purposes: for
>> one, interested users could then install from source to get
>> the latest independent of the packaging, second, it would
>> make it easier for packagers to see how it is supposed to
>> work.
>> We do not, however, have the resources currently at
>> Squeakland to build distro packages. And even if we had, it
>> would still be better to put that effort into fixing the
>> packages in the distributions, rather than duplicating their
>> work.
> Under what circumstances can the resources at squeakland be increased to accomplish this?

Someone needs to volunteer his/her time to it.

> As you pointed out one of the ways to increase the usefulness of the distribution is to show the way so the distributors can make proper packages. 
> Right now it still seems to me that the task we are talking about here needs to be better defined.

As I pointed out, the Fedora packages do work. So there is an example.

>> The only short-term solution I can see is directing Linux
>> users to use Etoys-To-Go, which my changed blurb now does.
> Actually the changed blurb directs users away from Etoys-To-Go. It sends them to the mercy of the distributor.

Okay, I made it even more explicit. Better?

Alternatively, this should point to a page explaining the Linux situation. If someone writes such a page, I'd be happy to link to it.

> Anyway for my current experiment I:
> Asked the Ubuntu Software Center to remove their Etoys.
> Went to the download page by following the plugin here link.
> Pressed etoys to go.
> To this Ubuntu offered to save the file or open it in the archive viewer.
> I chose archive viewer.
> Which gave me the option of extracting the file (it did not offer to install it as it will sometimes do)
> So I now have the extracted folder and contents in a subdirectory of my home page.
> At this point I have run out of things I know to do from what I have been told. So what is the next step in the installation process? Where on the squeakland sight should those directions appear?

Not sure which installation process you are talking about. The only Linux version Squeakland provides for the time being is Etoys-To-Go. It does not need installation.

> As I remember when I went to the sight to download etoys for the 8.04 version of Ubuntu, the site figured out what kind of a computer and OS I had, offered to download the appropriate things and I ended up with both a etoys button in an education folder and programming folder, plus when I launched a project in Firefox I had the plugin installed as well.

Maybe that was when Squeakland still provided Linux packages.

> So how do I get back to that experience? Also how despite the obstacles do I install etoys and firefox plugin on the fresh installation of 10.04 Ubuntu?

Learn about how the plugin works under Linux, and make it work. Alternatively, get someone to make it work.

Here is how it works in general:

* there is a plugin, "npsqueak.so", in the Squeak VM package, that needs to be symlinked where the browser expects plugins
* when the browser wants to display a page with an embedded Etoys project, it launches the plugin
* the plugin executes the "npsqueakrun" script, passing some parameters to establish a communication channel between the plugin and squeak
* that script runs the Squeak VM with an image, instructing the VM to redirect the output into the plugin's window
* the image then loads the project

It's not really rocket science ;)

> Finally, I want to acknowledge that the tone of these post is complaining. That currently is my helping role as observant bug tracker. I only get to see things from the perspective of a neophyte for a short period of time. Bert, your timely and knowledgeable responses are what keep me hopeful that both our times and energies will lead to some useful results.
> Yours in curiosity and service, --Jerome Peace 

Well I'm willing to explain how it should work. But the actual packaging work needs to be done by someone else.

It's great you are insisting on getting the packages fixed, though. In the past there was a cheap way out, namely the packages provided by Squeakland itself. That is one of the reason I don't want to provide them anymore (besides having no time to do so) - I believe they actually prevented people from lobbying their distros to make proper packages. So go on lobbying :)

- Bert -

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