A fact about how software-rendering is managed in practice, today.

People of my generation – and I’m over 50 years old as I’m writing this – first learned about CGI – computer-simulated images – in the form of ‘ray-tracing’. What my contemporaries are slow to find out is that meanwhile, an important additional form of CGI has come into existence, which is referred to as ‘raster-based rendering’.

Ray-tracing has as advantage over raster-based rendering, better optical accuracy, which leads to photo-realism. Ray-tracing therefore still gets used a lot, especially in Hollywood-originated CGI for Movies, etc.. But ray-tracing still has a big drawback, which is, that it’s slow to compute. Typically, ray-tracing cannot be done in real-time, needs to be performed on a farm of computers, and typically, an hour of CPU-time may be needed, to render a sequence which might play for 10 seconds.

But, in order for consumers to be able to play 3D games, the CGI needs to be in real-time, for which reason the other type of rendering was invented in the 1990s, and this form of rendering is carried out by the graphics hardware, in real-time.

What this dichotomy has led to, is model- and scene-editors such as “Blender”, which allow complex editing of 3D content, often with the purpose that the content eventually be rendered by arbitrary, external methods, that include software-based, ray tracing. But such editing applications still themselves possess an Editing Preview window / rectangle, in which their power-users can see the technical details of what they’re editing, in real-time. And those editing preview windows are then hardware-rendered, using raster-based methods, instead of the final result being rendered using raster-based methods.

Continue reading A fact about how software-rendering is managed in practice, today.

Latte-Dock 0.6.0 Tested

One of the facts about Linux that may not be very popular with some computing enthusiasts is that the mainstream Desktop Managers – ‘KDE’, ‘Plasma’, ‘Unity’, ‘GNOME’, ‘LXDE’, etc., are different from each other, are sometimes similar to a Windows-layout – especially KDE / Plasma – but are not very similar to a MacIntosh, OS/X layout. Yet, efforts have existed to create OS/X -like desktop managers for Linux, and one of the more recent projects is “Latte-Dock“.

What makes Latte-Dock different from otherwise similar projects such as “Cairo-Dock”, is that Latte-Dock assumes that we have Plasma installed, which must be of at least version 5.8, and does not conflict with the fact that we do. And the fact that my Debian / Stretch computer, which I name ‘Phosphene’, is not even a Ubuntu computer, did not prevent me from installing Latte-Dock 0.6.0. Latte-Dock does not start unless the user starts it, and the way I go about testing such software is, that I create additional users on the computer in question, as if I was going to allow a guest to share my computer, so that in the user-space of the additional accounts, personal settings can activate Latte-Dock.

One of the ways in which Debian, Plasma 5 -based computers are strong, is in allowing the user to create more than one graphical log-in, to more than one virtual session, between which we can switch by clicking <Ctrl>+<Alt>+<F8>, or, back to the first virtual session, with <Ctrl>+<Alt>+<F7>… So my auxiliary user-identity is installed with this desktop manager, that’s designed to be similar to OS/X, at least in its appearance.

Screenshot_20190324_134908

I think that this is nice software, with two major flaws:

  1. On ‘Phosphene’, if I select the settings either to Preview Windows (of open applications, as the mouse passes over the dock-icons), or to Highlight those windows, these settings cause the Dock to die. This is not tragic, because when running Latte-Dock, we still have at least one Plasma-Panel active, along the top of the screen, from which we can still choose applications to run, or from which we can drag application-icons to the Dock. (:1)  This means that when the Dock has in fact crashed, I can simply have a Favourite Application -icon ready, to restart it. But the down-side with this could be, that it makes the application look bad, when in fact the culprit just seems to be, the fact that my graphics card is not strong enough to display these previewed or highlighted windows. And Latte-Dock is extremely GPU-intensive.
  2. With Plasma 5.8 as the limiting factor, there appears to be no way to get a Global Application Menu working. Such applets do exist as software-projects for higher versions of Plasma than 5.8, but it cannot seem to be achieved for version 5.8 . So the OS/X experience is not 100% complete.

But if I respect these two limitations, that may not even be the fault of the Devs, I find this to be an interesting and stable piece of software.

(Updated 3/27/2019, 21h35 … )

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OpenShot-Qt Now Cooperates With Wayland Compositing.

One of the subjects which I blogged about before was, that the Debian version of OpenShot at the time, would simply freeze with desktop compositing on. That was the default, GTK version of OpenShot. Further, I can’t vouch for OpenShot under Windows because I think that the way it installs itself is botched. Yet, I am always keen to have such non-linear, 2D video editing applications available.

Well in the present, I have an up-to-date version of OpenShot installed, which is explicitly the Qt-version, installed as the package ‘openshot-qt’ on a Debian / Stretch computer. The main reason fw I have this version working, is the fact that I subscribed the computer I name ‘Phosphene’ to the Debian Multimedia Repository. Without access to this repository, Linux users can sometimes be hosed. In other cases, having its libraries installed can break dependencies with other software.

But this latest Debian Repository version of OpenShot-Qt (2.3.4), for Debian / Stretch, impresses me. Actually, when we first install it, the run-time won’t run, because of a missing library, that being ‘urllib’. This is due to the application package failing to state a dependency. This dependency can be resolved by installing ‘python-requests’ and ‘python3-requests’, which I believe also pulls in ‘python-urllib3′ and ‘python3-urllib3′. After this has been installed, ‘OpenShot-Qt’ runs.

When the developers upgraded their main build of OpenShot to version 2 (+), they needed to rewrite the source code for all the effects of the editor. And for this reason, the up-to-date version only seems to have 7 actual effects, that run over the duration that they’re applied for:

Screenshot_20190224_201216

Such Effects can be applied to a clip, by dragging them onto the clip.

In contrast, because of the flexible way in which this editor defines Transitions – as grey-scale images, it still seems to have an almost unlimited supply of those, that transfer the foreground from one video clip to another (not shown).

But one way in which OpenShot makes up for its small library of 2D /time effects, is by giving its user a very powerful Title Editor, which actually invokes Blender, in order to create renderings of Titles with 3D effects:

(Updated 2/27/2019, 5h50 … )

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Taking a break, from reinstalling software.

According to This previous posting, I have reinstalled the operating system on an existing computer, but in such a way that the entire hard-drive needed to be replaced. What this means is that, while the previous incarnation of this computer (which I named ‘Plato’) had tons of software on it, the reincarnation (‘Phosphene’) essentially started with zero installed software. The task then lies ahead, typically, to install as much software on it as the previous version had, or, just to install the subset of that software, which I truly found useful before.

Either way, much software eventually needs to be reinstalled. And, while I have most of the basic, most-recently-used software reinstalled, including the Computer Algebra Systems ‘wxMaxima’, ‘SageMath’ and ‘Yacas’, much is left to be done in this regard.

But, the task of just installing software non-stop can be exhausting, which I have been pursuing for the past few days. So what I’m going to do for the moment is take a break from this task, while relaxing and maybe pursuing other tasks that need to be completed around my home, knowing that ‘Phosphene’ is still missing major software. A Human Being is not meant to be installing software 24/7, for days on end, in the expectation that his favourite toy will ‘just come back’ as it was.

Dirk