Serious Dabbler

UCOSP – Freeseer – Starting Out

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This term I enrolled in a rather unusual course – a course that consists of working with other undergraduates throughout Canada on open source projects, formally the Undergraduate Capstone Open Source Projects (UCOSP). Over the weekend of September 28th, 58 students from 16 different Canadian universities gathered in Kitchener, Ontario for a 3 day code sprint, where we got to know more about our projects and fellow team members. I am part of the Freeseer project, and in this post I’ll summarize the highlights of the code sprint, and what I will be working on for the remainder of this term.

The code sprint itself was a great experience, and was made possible through the generosity of Google, which we were lucky enough to visit their Waterloo office while there. There are a few posts about the general schedule of the code sprint on the UCOSP website so I will skip that, and instead focus on my experience trying to set up Freeseer for development on my laptop.

First a few words about what Freeseer is. Freeseer started out as a compact open source solution to recording talks given at conferences, but has grown in popularity with even academic institutions seeking to use it to record regular scheduled lectures. We (the UCOSP students collectively) will be working on a new version of Freeseer which is currently in the experimental branch in making it more stable, have more features, and cross-platform.

I’m pretty stubborn for trying to use Windows with cygwin instead of Linux or pure Windows, and as a result I often end up falling in the middle – unable to follow either Linux instructions or Windows instructions due to conflicts with each other. This was no exception, for following the Windows instructions would entail installing the Windows python environment and a lot of dependencies, which may potentially conflict with the Linux python environments I already have installed, and following the Linux instructions… well…

The problem boils down to that installing PyQt4 requires qmake, but the qmake.exe that came in the cygwin packages appears not to work or something. In the end I gave in and just installed the Windows way through the provided batch script. A few tips for anyone else in the same situation:

  • Don’t execute the script, go through it and run each line manually
  • After installing the Windows python, make a alias to it in your bashrc, for example wpython
  • It also makes sense to alias easy_install in Windows
  • You might not want to put the Windows python in your PATH variable.

In the end, I was able to run the Freeseer application, and also quickly implement a feature present in the linux version but missing in the windows version of the app and issue a pull request.

During the code sprint we also decided what to tackle during the term. Together with Mike Chong, I will be working towards eventually supporting streaming from Freeseer directly to Youtube Live Events. This is a fairly ambitious project and so as a first step we will be looking towards outputting streams from Freeseer according to the RTMP specifications and getting that to work with e.g. VLC, then as time permits working with the Youtube API to link output to input.

More details about our project can be found in the Project Proposal (currently a draft) and in future blog posts, as we investigate more the technologies involved and are able to make more detailed plans and schedules.


Written by jonathanasdf

October 8, 2012 at 6:18 PM

Posted in Programming, School

Tagged with ,

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