Friday, April 9, 2010

Port OpenInkpot to uClibc

This GSoC proposal is for OpenInkpot, a Debian-based e-reader OS.

Project proposal

I plan to port OpenInkpot to the lightweight uClibc C library in order to improve its memory usage. Here are some of the other benefits this project could provide.

Possible benefits

  • Increase number of devices on which OI could run
  • Improve performance
  • Decrease compile time
  • Reduce firmware transfer and installation time
  • Simplify porting OI to other architectures

Plan of action

Follow these instructions for porting IPLinux to a new architecture.

  1. Acquire target device (my own e-reader!)
  2. Add new architecture identifiers (uclibc and ucarmel) to dpkg.
  3. Build and package toolchain for new arches.
    • Cross-compile existing packages to new arches with toolchain, starting with most important packages
    • Build and test firmware once the necessary packages (uClibc, dpkg, and BusyBox) have been packaged
    • Test packages on device with chroot
  4. Test complete firmware and allow autobuilders to start porting packages to new arches


Programming experience

I've been programming for about two years. I've primarily used five programming languages: Javascript, PHP, ActionScript 3, Python, and C++. I've finished several small independent programming projects, but two in particular have taught me important lessons.

Last fall, I created an example game for Pygame2, a low-level Python wrapper for SDL. The game ran, but it was worthless as an example because my clumsy graphics abstraction obscured the underlying Pygame2 graphics calls. From this failure, I learned to never lose sight of the purpose of my project. My initial announcement for the flawed example.

Earlier this year, I decided to rewrite my Flash app for drawing snowflake patterns with Javascript and SVG. Once I chose the right data structure, the whole library fell into place. This project taught me that few programs must be complex; with enough thought, you can find a simple solution to many complicated problems. Read more about the SVG snowflake micro-library.

Personal qualities

I'm hard-working
When I am assigned a task, I feel compelled to do it as well as I can. I find it difficult to walk away from an unfinished task.
I'm self-motivated
Events in my life have taught me to work independently and seek out my own answers. When I discover a problem I don't know how to solve, I start looking for a solution. I check any relevant manuals, search for tutorials, look for examples, and — if I still haven't found a solution — ask for help. Finding answers on my own gives me a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment.
I love programming
Writing code is my favorite hobby, and I will someday make it my profession. I'm not participating in the Google Summer of Code because I really need the money or I want another bullet point for my resume; I'm participating because I want to create software and learn more about software development.

Open-source experience

In addition my recent OI patch, I've spent some time working with Pygame2. While developing an example game with the unstable development version, I found, isolated, and reported several bugs.

GNU/Linux distributions development experience

I've used Ubuntu for about a year, learning much about Linux and Debian. I've become proficient at finding, installing, and upgrading Debian packages. I packaged my first .deb and started my own repository in order to test my fix for Ticket #834. I've compiled my share of source code, and I'm familiar with the GNU build system as both a user and a developer. I've written several bash scripts, and I'm comfortable with the major Unix commands and concepts. I've even spent some time configuring and troubleshooting the GRUB bootloader.

Kernel hacking

Unfortunately, I haven't worked on the Linux kernel yet.

Replace dap-server WWW Interface

Below is my GSoC proposal to OpenDAP, the developer of a scientific data server. You can see the official proposal here.

Have you contributed to any open source projects in the past? If so, which ones?

I've worked two open-source projects other than OpenDAP: Pygame2, a low-level Python SDL wrapper library; and OpenInkpot, a Debian-based e-reader OS. While developing an example game with Pygame2, I found, isolated, and reported several bugs. In preparation for my OpenInkpot GSoC application, I added a feature to OpenInkpot, closing Ticket #834.

What are your other summer plans?

I plan to go on a vacation with my family for a week or two. I'm not taking any college courses, and I have no other commitments.

Where are you going to school?

I've graduated with highest honors from Broward College with an Associate in Arts degree, but I'm still picking up some prerequisite classes before I transfer. I plan to pursue a BS in Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Florida, or another school — I haven't decided yet.

Have you used any of our software in the past? If so, which?

My first experience with your software was installing Hyrax from source (from this branch.)

What experience do you have that's relevant to your project?


I've been programming for two years. Writing code is my favorite hobby, and one day, it will be my profession. I love to develop software, and I read everything I can to improve my skills.


Javascript snowflake SVG micro-library
JSON Javascript slideshow
I've taken a college course on C++, and I've read Effective C++, but I haven't published any C++ code yet. If a code sample is required, I could send you one of my class projects.
Shell scripting
OpenInkpot patch
Several system utilities for my personal use

Website creation

I've developed more than ten commercial websites from the ground up. I'm proficient in (X)HTML and CSS, and I'm comfortable with SVG. I enjoy creating simple, usable websites.


Software development

I've been developing software on Ubuntu for about a year. I've compiled several applications from source, and I'm familiar with the GNU build system as both a user and a developer. I'm comfortable using the major Unix commands and chaining them together into useful shell scripts. I've used both SVN and Git to retrieve and commit code. I have all the necessary skills to collaboratively develop software.

Project proposal

I plan to replace the dap-server WWW Interface with a more intuitive data request form.


  1. Remove WWW Interface from dap-server
  2. Create new BES module for generating data request forms
  3. Design intuitive HTML form for constructing data request URLs
  4. Write server-side form generator
  5. Write Javascript to read user input, construct request URL, and send data request
  6. If I have extra time:

    1. Write server-side data request generator to improve accessibility
    2. Add JSON format to dap-server to simplify Javascript metadata access


  • More logical, easier-to-use interface
  • Simpler, more readable code due to separation from dap-server
  • Greater accessibility with semantic XHTML form


  1. BES receives request for data specification form
  2. Request is sent to form-generation module
  3. Module generates data-specific data request form
  4. Form is sent to user
  5. User specifies desired data through form
  6. Javascript constructs data request URL
  7. User clicks on generated link
  8. BES receives data request and sends it to dap-server
  9. dap-server returns requested data

Why not Ajax?

  • Server-side caching
  • Greater speed
  • Fewer HTTP requests
  • Easier to implement