Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Tale of Two Hacks

Years ago I wrote rcenter which has long been superseded by the LIRC project. I finally switched to LIRC myself. I wonder if anyone out there is still using rcenter.

It took me a while to figure out that LIRC does not work with OSS drivers unless Stephen Beahm's midi poll patch has been applied. I decided to switch to the ALSA drivers to avoid this issue. But then I had to set some other module options: snd-emu10k1 enable_ir=1 extin="0x3fc3" extout="0x1fff".

I wrote xmmspipe almost simultaneously, and in contrast, this project isn't obsolete yet. In fact, I recently discovered it has been an official Gentoo Linux package for some time when I received a bugfix for it.

It's times like these when I feel warm and fuzzy. I get to experience first-hand some of the touted benefits of free software. Having the source open means thankfully someone else can solve the problem. Even if I managed to fix the bug myself, I probably would've spent hours doing so.

On the other hand, I wouldn't mind if xmmspipe were obsolete and named pipes came with XMMS by default. I'm reminded of a quote from Doug McIlroy:

This is the Unix philosophy. Write programs that do one thing and do it well. Write programs to work together. Write programs to handle text streams, because that is a universal interface.

and one from Rob Pike:

There has been much talk about component architectures, but only one true success: Unix pipes.

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