Firefox Quantum now available under Debian Linux

There has been an ongoing subject, concerning Debian distributions of Linux, and Firefox upgrades. The Debian users, at least if they were restricting themselves to standard repositories, were being held back to a version of Firefox, which was referred to as Firefox-ESR, which stands for ‘Extended Support Release’. This release was receiving regular security patches, but no major upgrade in the version number, which meant that it was always at some sub-version of Firefox 52…

Well only yesterday, my two Debian / Stretch computers, which I name ‘Plato’ and ‘Klexel’, finally received a much-anticipated upgrade to Firefox Quantum, which is also known as Firefox-ESR, v60…

screenshot_20180909_114409

I am happy with Firefox Quantum, but perhaps only, because certain earlier, unstable versions of it, never made it into the Debian repositories? There is one observation about this updated browser-version which I need to make. As was announced, Mozilla dropped support for the old, ‘Netscape Plugin API’, which I had still been using to custom-compile plug-ins. Instead of using this API, up-to-date developers are being asked to use the ‘firefox-esr-dev’ package. but alas, the last time I checked, this package was not up to version 60… This package was still at version 52…

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Photometrics and Face Recognition

A question which I’ve recently stumbled in to, is whether computer face recognition should be based on some sort of Fourier Transform of an image, which also refers to spatial frequencies, or on the Photometric placement of key features belonging to the face in 3D.

This photometric analysis of geometries was once referred to as ‘Photo-Modeling’, or, ‘Photo-Grammetry’.

There is a good chance that either method of face recognition can be made to work. But in the case of the photometric approach, there are two caveats which I don’t see news sources as mentioning:

  1. Photometrics requires a fairly high-resolution image of one face, while the methods based on spatial frequencies can work with low resolutions and poor-quality images,
  2. AFAIK, In order for photometrics to proceed in a completely automated way, footage or images of the subject need to be recorded, from at least three camera-positions, preferably in such a way that the lighting matches exactly. In this regard, modeling points that belong to the face is similar today to how it was a few decades ago, when a Hollywood Laser needed to paint grid-lines on the face, but is possible today without the grid-lines.

Hence, if a group has in fact used photometrics on a face, because they had 3 camera-positions, they’d also be in a position to display only one of the camera-positions, with the required points being positioned automatically. If the group presents the resulting overlay by itself, they may be confusing some viewers by omission.

In other words, the subject could be asked to look directly at one camera-position, that is obvious to him, but there could have been two additional camera-positions, that he was not aware of.


 

(Updated 09/15/2018, 17h35 … )

(As of 09/06/2018 : )

Alternatively, I am aware that ‘3D Cameras’ exist, which obtain a depth-map of the scene in front of them, due to an additional laser-emitter, that has been positioned in a way offset from the main camera axis.

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I no longer have Compiz-Fusion running on the LXDE-based computer, named ‘Klexel’.

According to this earlier posting, I had run in to stability issues with my newly-reinstalled Linux computer, which I name ‘Klexel’. Well, the only sensible way, finally, to solve those problems, was to deactivate ‘Compiz Fusion’, which is a special window-manager / compositor, that creates a desktop cube animation, as well as certain other effects, chosen by the user out of a long menu of effects, but which needs to run on the graphics hardware, using OpenGL.

Even though Compiz Fusion is fancy and seems like a nice idea, I’ve run in to the following problems with it, in my own experience:

  • Compiz is incompatible with Plasma 5, which is still my preferred desktop manager,
  • If we have a weak graphics-chip, such as the one provided on the computer named ‘Klexel’ using ‘i915 Support’, trying to run Compiz on it forces the so-called GPU to jump through too many hoops, to display what it’s being asked to display.

Before a certain point in time, even a hardware-accelerated graphics chip, only consisted of X vertex pipelines and Y fragment pipelines, and had other strict limitations on what it could do. It was after a point in time, that the “Unified Shader Model” was introduced, whereby any GPU core could act, as a vertex shader core, as a fragment shader core, etc.. And after that point in time, the GPU also became capable of rendering its output to texture images, several stages deep… Well, programmers today tend to program for the eventuality, that the host machine has ‘a real GPU’, with Unified Shader Model and unlimited cores, as well as unlimited texture space.

The “HP Compaq DC7100 SFF”, that has become my computer ‘Klexel’, is an ancient computer whose graphics chip stems from ‘the old days’. That seems to have been an Intel 910, which has as hardware-capability, direct-rendering with OpenGL 1.4 , the Open-Source equivalent of DirectX 7 or 8 . Even though some Compiz effects only require OpenGL 1.4 , by default, I need to run the computer named ‘Klexel’ without compositing:

screenshot-from-2018-09-04-11-56-50

Also, before, when this was the computer ‘Walnut’, it actually still had KDE 3 on it! KDE 3 was essentially also, without compositing.

It should finally be stable again, now.

By comparison, the computer which acts as Web-server and hosts this blog, which I name ‘Phoenix’, has as graphics chip an Nvidia “GeForce 6150SE”, that is more powerful than the Intel ‘i915′ series was, is capable of OpenGL 2.1 , equivalent to DirectX 9 , but still predated the Unified Shader Model chips. Microsoft has even dropped support for this graphics chip, because according to Microsoft, it’s also not powerful enough anymore. And so up-to-date Windows versions won’t run on either of these two computers.

(Update 09/04/2018, 18h20 : )

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Some Bugs of my LXDE-based Computer, ‘Klexel’

I wrote only yesterday, that I had set up a computer with the Linux desktop-manager ‘LXDE’, and that I had named that computer ‘Klexel’.

Well I’m finding out that this computer has a bug. If I leave it with its screen-locker locked for some time, and then unlock with my password, the unlock dialog seems to succeed, but only reveals a black desktop, with only the mouse-pointer visible.

I suspect that I know what causes this. The computer in question has an old ‘Intel 910′ graphics chip-set, and although it may be good the the chip-set is supported, that chip-set and its drivers have quirks. I do have OpenGL 1.4, which should be high enough a version. But it may be that ‘behind the screen-locker’, by the time I’ve unlocked the machine again, the ‘Compiz Fusion’ desktop compositor has crashed.

There are certain other quirks which point to a graphics chip problem:

  • The window title-bars sometimes don’t render, until I click in the region where the title-bar should be, in which case they reappear.
  • Wobbly Windows needs to be enabled, in order for me to be able to restore the title-bars in this simple way.

I found that a practical way to deal with this not-resuming from the screen-locker, may be, by setting the key-sequence <Ctrl>+<Alt>+<Backspace> just to kill the X-server, as it would do under KDE or Plasma 5, using the following customization. I can right-click on the Keyboard Layout Tray Icon, then left-click on “Keyboard Layout Handler Settings”, and then:

screenshot-from-2018-09-02-06-21-12_c

I have set 2 ‘setxkbmap Options':

  1. The Compose Key,
  2. The X-server kill key.

Killing the X- just prompts me for a log-in again.

Note:

There is some possibility that the Compiz crash, on resuming from a plain lock-screen, may have to do with the Compiz setting, to display a Splash Image. By default, Kanotix systems come with an animated Kanotix splash-screen, that may look nice on systems with stable graphics, and for the first few times the system is explored. We can change this splash-screen to something other than the Kanotix splash-screen.

But I have noticed that, just for Compiz to start the splash-screen, causes instability with the Intel 910 chip-set, even if it does work. So what may be happening, is that on resuming from the lock-screen, Compiz may be programmed to display the splash-screen, and doing so may be what crashes my session. And so for now, I’ve also disabled this feature, and will comment later, on whether having done so has fixed the crashes.

(Update 09/05/2018, 15h30 … )

(As of 09/02/2018 : )

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