Pursuing the question of, whether a Linux subsystem, that runs under Android, due to the UserLAnd app, can be used for Web development.

It was a subject which I wrote about several months, or years ago, that I had installed the “UserLAnd” app on my Google Pixel C Tablet, so that I could install Debian Linux on it. And a question which one reader had asked me was, whether such an arrangement could be used, to carry out Web development. In fact, some question existed, as to whether proprietary software could be made to run, and my answer was, that it would be preferred to run only Free, Open-Source Software.

In the meantime, I’ve uninstalled Linux from the Pixel C, and installed it on my Samsung Galaxy Tab S6, which has 256GB of internal storage, so that this question can be examined more seriously.

The answer I’d give to this question is, that Web-development can be done in this way, as long as the developer accepts some severe restrictions.

  • Successful development of any kind will depend on whether the user has a real keyboard to type on.
  • The Open-Source application “Bluefish” runs out-of-the box, which is more than I can say for any sort of Python IDE.
  • Because there is little possibility to run a Web-server on the tablet, the features which Bluefish would normally have, to edit PHP Scripts as well, will simply need to be ignored. The ability to preview the Web-pages written, depends on the Guest System’s Firefox browser following the ‘prooted’ Guest System’s Filename-Paths, so that, when Bluefish opens Firefox, the HTML File will essentially be opened as if from the hard drive. And the feature works…

 

Screenshot_20200924-052525_VNC Viewer

Screenshot_20200924-052618_VNC Viewer

 

The main reason I would say, not to invest in paid-for software on this platform, is, because its full potential will not be realized.

The HTML and CSS Files created in this way will next need to be transferred to an actual Web-server, and some of the ways in which Bluefish would be set up on a real Linux box, would make this easier.

 

(Updated 10/03/2020, 4h00: )

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Installing Visual Studio Code under Linux.

Linux users have often been avid followers, but left thirsting for some ability to run the proprietary applications, that Windows and Mac users have had access to since the beginning of Computing for the Masses. In fact, the narrow supply of Open-Source Applications for various Linux distributions has been aggravated by the fact that many Linux distributions exist, and when one follows the subject to its smallest detail, one finds that every Linux computer evolves into a slightly different version of Linux, because they can all be configured slightly differently, which means that some users will configure their Linux boxes in their own, personalized way. Actually, this is not a very good thing to do, unless you really know what you’re doing. But the mere fact that many, professionally configured Linux distributions exist, has also meant that packages destined for one distribution would either not install on another, or that packages which were not meant to be installed on a given distribution, could actually break it, if the user supplied his ‘root’ privileges, to so-install the package anyhow.

At the same time, the total amount of programming time available to open-source development has always been scarce, which means for the sake of this blog posting, that programming hours ended up divided between different Linux distributions. (:2)

In recent Linux distributions, there have been two main mechanisms developed over the years, to reduce the severity of this problem. In fact, since Debian 9 / Stretch, both these solutions have been available:

  • Flatpaks,
  • Snaps.

For the moment, I’m going to ignore that Flatpaks exist, as a very viable way to install software, just because Flatpaks had as their main purpose, to install purely Linux software, but on a wider variety of Linux distributions. So, why do both ‘Flatpak’ and ‘Snap’ exist? I suppose that one reason they both exist is the fact that each was invented, and that in principle, both work. But another reason why these two vehicles exist is, the fact that ‘Snaps’ are really disk images, which get mounted as loopback devices, and that therefore, ‘Snaps’ can install software which is binary in nature and therefore, not open-source, yet, install such software on a Linux computer, where the emphasis has traditionally been on open-source software. (:3)

Both mechanisms for installing software have a limited interface, of which features on the host computer the guest application is meant to have access to, since, if both methods of installing software were completely unrestricted, Linux users would lose the security which they initially gained, through their choice of Linux. I think that the way it is, ‘Snaps’ tend to have more-severe security restrictions than ‘Flatpaks’ do, and this is also how it should be.

What all of this inspired in Linux users, was the hope that eventually, they would also start to be able to install certain proprietary applications. And, the main goal of this posting is to assess, to what extent that hope seems to have been materializing. And I’m just going to ignore the fact for the moment, that some ‘Snaps’ are really just Linux applications, which their programmers compiled to the additional target, that being a ‘Snap’, and that for this reason, some Snaps just don’t work, usually because their programmers did not take into consideration that on an eventual host computer, each Snap only has access to the Interfaces which the security model allows, even though, when residing on Linux computers natively, the same application ‘just works fine’. For the sake of argument, software developers might exist, who are professional enough in what they do, to compile Snaps as Snaps, which in turn do work as intended.

An idea which could make some Linux users uneasy would be, that the supply of proprietary software available as Snaps, may not have grown as much as hoped, and that Linux users could be looking at a bleak future. Well, in order to get a full idea of how many Snaps are presently available, user can just visit ‘the Snap store’, and browse to see what it has to offer. And this would be the URL:

https://snapcraft.io/

What most Computer Users would seem to notice is the fact, that there is not a huge abundance of software, at least, according to my tastes, and at the time I’m writing this. Also, users do not need to pay for anything at this so-called Snap store. However, I have at least one Snap installed, of which I know, that if I activated that, I’d need to make a one-time payment to its developers, before it would actually function as one user-license.

What I’d just like to explore for the moment is the possibility that a User might want to program and compile code he wrote himself, in his favourite language, such as, in C / C++, or in C#, and that additionally, said user might prefer “Visual Studio Code” as his Editor, as well as his IDE. In reality, Linux users do not depend very strongly on the ability to use ‘VSCode’, as it’s also called, because under Linux, we actually have numerous IDEs to choose between. But let’s say I wanted to write code in these 2(3) languages, and, to use ‘VSCode’ to do so…

(Updated 5/04/2020, 17h50… )

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On to the Future of 3D Web Content: Blend4Web

One of the subjects in Computing which continue to fascinate me, is CGI and so-called 3D Models as well as Scenes, that can be rendered to a 2D perspective View. At the same time, for the more trendy readers who like VR Goggles, those scenes can be rendered to 2 2D Views, just so that there will be parallax between them, and the scene seen with stereoscopic vision.

One of the facts which has been made known is that, sometime in 2020, Adobe plans to retire Flash. On one of my home pages, I actually have a 3D animation which used to run under Flash 11, when compiled with Stage3D support. What I find is that the latest Flash Firefox plugin will not display it for Linux, but Google Chrome still plays it. It’s an animation that should be fixed, but, since I neither have the software anymore which I once used to author it, nor the ability to expect browsers to support Flash in the future, I have just skipped fixing that animation.

What I may do at some point in the future, however, is to create some other sort of 3D content, that can be published as part of Web-pages. And, through the use of HTML5 and WebGL, this is quite feasible. The only question which struck me next was, What sort of platform could I use, eventually, that is Free and Open-Source? And the answer that presents itself, is Blend4Web – Community Edition!

Because this platform, which I’ve tested partially, is fully open-source, the licensing requires that I publish any and all source code used to create my future content, including source code belonging to Blend4Web-CE itself. Thus, to avoid procrastinating on that front, I have made the Open-Source version of that code available Here.

This way, whenever I want to create some 3D content, I will not need to worry much about the licensing requirement. Yet, if my readers want to, they may go to the company’s Web-site, linked to above, and purchase the paid-for version of the software instead, differently from the Open-Source version, which I really prefer and use. (:1)

I want to caution my readers however. This software tree comprises 1.4GB, and if the readers wish to download it, I’d strongly urge them to do so from the company’s Web-site, not mine, because the company has a Content Delivery Network – a CDN – that will enable many downloads, while I do not.

Note: Differently from what some readers have already inferred, Yes, the company Web-site also offers free downloads, of the Open-Source version, which is referred to as the ‘Community Edition’.

(Updated 01/05/2020, 11h40 … )

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OGRE 1.11.5 Working on ‘Phosphene’

One of the open-source software projects which has often fascinated me, is called OGRE, which stands for Open-Source Graphics Rendering Engine. It’s a very powerful set of libraries, that allows good coders to design 3D graphics applications, which take full advantage of hardware-accelerated – i.e., GPU-based – rendering, of virtual 3D scenes designed by such users, into simulated 2D camera views, within the same scene. This is one of the most common modes in which 3D Graphics is operated.

One of the things that OGRE is not, is a full-fledged game engine unto itself. This is due to:

  • Lack of sound implementation (Additionally linking applications to the SDL Library may solve that),
  • Lack of scripting support, without some sort of add-on. I think I compiled it with Python support, which would supply scripting, if my coding was good enough.

Modern builds of OGRE break with the past, in that they no longer use ‘OIS’ as their input system. Instead, at least their Sample Browser uses the ‘SDL library’ to do the same.

One of the feats which I have now accomplished on the computer named ‘Phosphene’, which is a Debian / Stretch, Debian 9 system, was to compile version 1.11.5 of this engine because I’m curious about Game Design, which I have been for a long time. And one of the reasons I feel that this software is stable on Phosphene, is due to the information which I already provided in This past posting. The past posting announced observations which I made, when this same hardware was called the computer ‘Plato’, but already running Debian Stretch.

What my observation essentially suggests is, that running 3D, OpenGL applications can in fact break the compositor because they suspend it, but that there is a work-around.

(Updated 2/20/2019, 19h00 … )

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