Google Music Manager not installable on RPM systems: workaround

Per the subject line, Google’s Music Manager software (used for uploading music to its cloud offering, Google Play Music) is currently not installable on RPM systems, at least Fedora 17 and the pre-release of Fedora 18.

This seems to be either due to changes in Google’s packaging of google-musicmanager-beta, or changes in how strictly RPM validates packages with duplicate directory ownership — as attested by the error message:

Transaction Check Error:
  file /usr/bin from install of google-musicmanager-beta-1.0.43.6722-0.x86_64 conflicts with file from
package filesystem-3.1-2.fc18.x86_64

Contacting Google is so far an exercise in futility (they really need to beef up on technical support — anyone who has tried filing Android bugs and feature requests could attest to this):

  • when sending a support request online, the clueless response is from someone who clearly does not understand Linux at all. He suggested I might have a corrupt download
    <facepalm />
    
  • when sending an email to the address listed in the RPM metadata:
    $ rpm -qpi ./google-musicmanager-beta_current_x86_64.rpm | grep -i packager
    Packager    : Google Music Team <musicmanager-linux@google.com>
    

    Believe it or not, that email address bounces…

Which leads me to using a workaround:

mkdir -p ${sometempdir}
cd ${sometempdir}
rpm2cpio /path/to/google-musicmanager-betacurrent${arch}.rpm | cpio -vid
mkdir -p opt/google
mv opt/google/musicmanager /opt/google

and then just launching Music Manager manually whenever I need to — probably not worth manually registering the application entry and the cron (scheduler) job also in that package.

If anyone has a contact who does Linux packaging for Google, please forward this to them — thanks!

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Android : flashing :: programming : ?

Your editor will confess that he still feels a certain childlike joy at the prospect of reflashing an expensive device that he depends on, possibly bricking it, then painfully restoring all of the settings and discovering all of the new bugs which have been added. It’s the sort of adrenaline experience that others, perhaps, seek through horror movies, bungee jumping, investing in equities, or PHP programming

Jonathan Corbet, The end of the road for the Nexus One, Linux Weekly News

FSFE and the cross we bear

I’ve been a fellow of the Free Software Foundation Europe for just over a month, and recently a visiting friend commented on a point that, until then, I’ve only noted to myself: that the fellowship logo is rather similar to the Christian cross.

FSFE is certainly not a Christian organization. One could argue that it is a by-product of a traditionally Christian civilization, but one could equally argue that it traces its heritage to Greco-Roman philosophy! The green cross, with a slit on the bottom so that the entire shape looks like an icon representing a person standing with open arms, is probably closer to the Red Cross in iconography than to Christianity. That being said, being a fellow does have some similarities to being a committed Christian.

  • The cross we bear: Joining has a price, whether financial, in time commitment, or other means
  • A mission: we bear this price gladly because we believe in what the respective organizations stand for. In case of the FSFE, it’s freedom. Freedom to learn. Freedom to innovate. Freedom from unreasonable restrictions imposed on you by software patents (at this point, I’d like to extend a special welcome to any budding cinematographer who just discovered that by recording your video in H.264, the MPEG-LA consortium owns your soul — er, I mean your work)
  • Diverse voices: just as Christianity is represented by a myriad denominations, some with higher profile than others, some with a more tarnished reputation than others, yet all based on the same foundation — no matter how garbled in the transmission (we are all humans!), the same is true of the Free, Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) community. There are differences between the free and open source camps, between the copyleft and liberal-license camps, etc. But deep down we believe in sharing our works with others, whichever way we justify it to ourselves and others.

The struggle against the anti-commons nature of overly-restrictive intellectual property will be with us for a long time. We have made huge technical leaps — FLOSS software is competitive in diverse fields including server operating system (Linux, the BSDs, OpenSolaris), instant messaging (Jabber, standardized as XMPP), audio codecs (FLAC, Vorbis, Speex), and are catching up in video (Theora, Dirac, and thanks to Google, WebM, née VP8). Even users still locked into proprietary systems can thank FLOSS, and open standards, for the Web they surf (served mostly by Apache), their web applications (often built on top of the Java platform), and further down, the network protocols they use, all developed in collaboration instead of in proprietary isolation.

Yet the road ahead is a long and winding one. Flash is still omnipresent on the Web, Apple is proving a huge disappointment (after contributing to, and sponsoring, so many open source projects, now they’re starting to shrilly attack any competitor to their iPhone/iPad lines — be it Android, Flash, Theora, or WebM). To quote Benjamin Franklin,

Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety

I’m not giving up my liberty, and neither should you. It’s true that it is hard to completely give up proprietary software — don’t be discouraged, many free software advocates are not there yet either. But you can start by following these simple guidelines:

  • Favour open standards — does your calendaring solution support the ICAL format? does your mail provider provide IMAP and POP3 access? is your instant messaging platform XMPP-based (e.g. Google Talk), or are you locked onto a proprietary protocol?
  • Vote with your wallet — if a company has a history of abusive behavior (sadly, Apple is now there), attempt to discourage this kind of behavior. Don’t buy the products they’re trying to protect by this behavior, tell them why you’re not buying, and tell other people why too.
  • Be aware of your rights — you have the right to make a personal copy of your music and movie collections. Yet the RIAA and MPAA tries their hardest to make this impossible — in case of DVDs and Blu-ray, to the point of making it illegal

I highly recommend reading Against Intellectual Monopoly and Gridlock Economy; both are accessible and highly illuminating accounts of the damage our current legal IP regime is doing to our societies. The solution is not anarchy — copyleft licenses *are* legal copyright documents — but to work for reform; if you agree, consider donating your time — or money — to organizations such as the Free Software Foundation, its affiliates — including FSFE; the Open Invention Network; your favourite free/open source project (whether in code, documentation, useful bug reports or donation); or projects that enrich our cultural commons by making public domain information more accessible — e.g. Wikipedia and Project Gutenberg.

I thank you. Future generations will thank us too, for whatever little we can do for them today.

Embeddable Google Maps!

This is cool beyond belief. For example, here’s a map showing the ridiculousness of US-style hub-and-spoke flying arrangements (unless you book enough in advance, or pay more, to get more direct routes), if you live in a remote place like Bloomington, Indiana (as yours truly do).

Due to WordPress.com limitations, though, you’d have to check my personal blog for it.

Dear Interweb: Watching YouTube in H.264 *without* paying the Apple Tax?

Dear Interweb,

I’ve heard this great news [apple.com] that Google is transcoding its videos to high-quality MP4 format for AppleTV and iPhone users. To my surprise (and disappointment), however, there are no instructions on how to use it from non-Apple devices (or even a non-appliance Mac).

I have been to YouTube Mobile, and as reported by jukkaeklund [allaboutsymbian.com] the video available to other mobile users (or PC users who use the URL) are still H.263, though in a saner container than those horrible FLVs. Not all the videos are there too.

Is Google giving Apple preferential treatment? Is Google becoming like the IBM of the past, with balkanized teams not coordinating with each other? (Hope not). Funny thing is, the video that motivated this question was a Linus Torvalds tech talk at Google, on distributed SCM. Unlike earlier Tech Talk videos hosted on Google Video, this one is on YouTube only — meaning no decent-quality downloads!

I can imagine even ordinary Mac users (as opposed to those on the consumer appliances) getting disappointed at this. They have paid the Apple Tax already, after all.