LottaNZB 0.6 released

February 13th, 2011 - Severin

Today marks an important point in the history of LottaNZB: I’m proud to announce the release of LottaNZB 0.6! The work on this new version has started more than 1 year and 8 months ago. Countless hours were spent in order to lift LottaNZB to a new level of usability and improve it substantially from a technical point of view. Let me present you the most important changes:

Powerful New Backend

LottaNZB 0.6 makes use of a new backend software called SABnzbd, replacing HellaNZB, which was used in previous versions of LottaNZB. In comparison to HellaNZB, SABnzbd is actively being developed, offers a more complete and stable API to third-party applications like LottaNZB and provides much more features, such as a web interface, a history of completed downloads, support for RSS feeds, and so on.

SABnzbd has proved to be a perfectly reliable foundation to build LottaNZB on, which aims to provide the smoothest user experience and best desktop integration for both novice and advanced Linux users seeking to download from the Usenet. In LottaNZB 0.6, only a small subset of SABnzbd’s features can be accessed. This will certainly change in the future.

Polished User Interface

The main window has undergone a redesign, making it slicker and more customizable. The new buttons on the left can be used to reorder the download queue, in addition to the already existing drag-and-drop support. The information bar at the bottom not only makes it possible to monitor and quickly limit the download speed, but also monitor the amount of free space in the download folder.

Also other parts of the user interface have been considerably improved, such as the server dialog, always doing the best to adhere to the GNOME Human Interface Guidelines.

Improved Feedback and Control

Thanks to SABnzbd, LottaNZB 0.6 provides more information about the state of downloads, especially if something unexpected happens. For instance, LottaNZB displays the progress of verification and extraction operations and allows users to open a dialog that provides more detailed information about a download, such as its age.

The user is given more control over downloads taking place by making it possible to pause and rename individual downloads and to select what kind of post-processing should be done. Also, users are informed when the requried tools are missing. Operations on the list of downloads are applied instantly, making the interface feel snappy.

Streamlined Setup and Upgrade

The setup process of LottaNZB has been greatly simplified. The user can choose to either download to the current computer or monitor the downloads of another computer where SABnzbd is already running. In either case, nearly all capabilities for managing downloads and preferences are available. LottaNZB even offers assistance if SABnzbd is not installed on a Debian-based system.

Both the configuration and incomplete downloads of existing LottaNZB users can be imported, making the transition to LottaNZB 0.6 as smooth as possible.

Updated Help Content

The whole help content has been rewritten using Mallard. It aims to be an easy-to-understand introduction for users new to LottaNZB and the Usenet, but also useful for people who are interested in more advanced or less-known features of LottaNZB. Specific help topics can be accessed directly through various Help buttons added to the user interface. In addition, the whole help content is available online.

How to Get it

You can download LottaNZB 0.6 in the download section for your Linux distribution of choice. No matter if your an existing user of LottaNZB or SABnzbd or neither, just start LottaNZB and it will help you to bring everything in place. Please be aware that even though LottaNZB 0.6 has been tested by both the developers and people who have used the daily builds in the past months, the software is still not perfect and crashes or bugs might be encountered. For instance, some users are reporting frequent crashes due to segmentation faults, which is still being investigated. As always, you’re encouraged to report any bugs you find and help translate LottaNZB, as well as SABnzbd.

I’d like to thank everyone who has helped to make this release become reality, especially the SABnzbd crew for creating such a wonderful piece of software, the people who have tested the daily builds of LottaNZB during the past months and last but not least, all the 180 people who have contributed to the translations.

Progress report for July and August

September 5th, 2010 - Severin

Besides providing community service and preparing for two exams, I found the time to work hard towards the release of LottaNZB 0.6. This post highlights the most important additions and changes.

Messaging Infrastructure

The new messaging infrastructure makes it possible to display questions, warnings and errors within the main window, such that they can easily be noticed and acted upon by the user. This has been made possible thanks to the new InfoBar widget introduced in a recent version of GTK. Such a message will for example be displayed if there are incomplete HellaNZB downloads that can be imported or if no news server has been defined. Doesn’t it look gorgeous?

Redesigned and Customizable Main Window

The arrangement of LottaNZB’s main window hasn’t changed for quite some time. This is probably also due to the fact that it has already been quite streamlined and compact. However, there’s always room for improvement.

Firstly, the toolbar has always included two button to move the selected download up or down, respectively. However, in many cases, you will want to move a download to the top of the download list, causing it to start immediately. Previously, you were required to do that using drag and drop or by opening the menu of the Up toolbar button. In LottaNZB 0.6, a thin sidebar has been introduced that offers all tools necessary to reorder the download list. Additionally, one can also start a download using its context menu. Thanks to this change, there’s now more room in the toolbar for future additions!

Next, the information bar containing the download speed and the amount of data and time left has been moved to the bottom of the window. Also, its elements have been arranged in such a way that changes to them are less frequent and less distracting. This is also in line with the design of LottaNZB’s bigger brother, Transmission.

Finally, it’s now possible for you to customize the main window by hiding the toolbar, infobar and reordering pane, giving you a clean look at your downloads. LottaNZB can still be controlled using keyboard shortcuts and the menu.

Streamlined Server Editor

The dialog used to add and edit the information about your news server has become a lot more compact. Compare it to how it looked like two years ago. The check-box used to enable and disable SSL encryption has become more visible and advanced features like the support for backup servers are hidden from novice users by default.

New Documentation

Thanks to the great work of Sander in 2008, LottaNZB 0.3 and later shipped with a detailed DocBook-based documentation. However, it wasn’t updated during the following releases and got more and more out-dated.

For LottaNZB 0.6, the documentation has been rewritten from scratch! It’s now based on Mallard and aims to be more useful and understandable than ever before. It includes information on how to use the advanced features of LottaNZB, like remote access, but still covers the basics for people who are new to the application.

Besides, Help buttons have been added to many windows and dialogs throughout the application, pointing directly to the corresponding help topics. The goal is to provide this documentation online as well.

Lots of Bug Fixes and Optimizations

As always, lots of minor and major errors have been fixed with the goal of making your experience of LottaNZB 0.6 as smooth as possible, once it’s released. Besides, I also try to make sure that LottaNZB adheres to the GNOME Human Interface Guidelines, ensuring the best-possible integration with your GNOME desktop. This mainly included the capitalization of window titles, headers and menu items.

Wrapping Up

LottaNZB 0.6 is indeed shaping up nicely and it’s getting closer to a release every week. Still, it’s not possible for me to give you an estimation on when it will actually be released. There are still quite a few flaws that need to be ironed out. You can already test LottaNZB 0.6 today using the daily builds. Also, the screenshot page has been updated. Because of the new features and documentation, there are many new strings to be translated! Contributions to the translation of LottaNZB into your language are highly appreciated!

Stay tuned!

Is LottaNZB a Ubuntu project?

August 6th, 2010 - Severin

A recent blog post about the availability of a PPA with daily builds caused Xgates to question the relationship of LottaNZB with Ubuntu and the rest of the Linux ecosystem. Because this comment encouraged me to write a more verbose response and because I think that it’s a topic that other LottaNZB users also might be interested in, the comment as well as my response are included in this blog post. I’d love to hear what you think about it.

Is this a Open-Source project or and Ubuntu project?

From the looks of the site at first glance it has nothing to do with Ubuntu but then a closer look, Launchpad, Ubuntu bug reporting, PPA builds for Ubuntu, Bazaar and so on….

Please don’t be wrapped up so much in Canonical, there’s a BIG world of Linux out there and so much of your site seems to be only geared towards Ubuntu and you’re going to turn the rest of the Liniux community off thinking all this is, is for Ubuntu and it shouldn’t be like that at all, if this is just an Open-Source project, you shouldn’t be so focused on one distro unless all you are doing is building for them.

I hope you will switch gears on this and appear a bit more friendly to Linux in general and not appear so biased towards Ubuntu. I personally don’t like Ubuntu and there are other great distros out there.

So what are you a Ubuntu project or a Linux open-source project?

Yes it’s silly to be a Fan boy for a certain distro but they are out there and what they use in their mind is the best and some of the others are trash. Just remember that ‘Distro Wars’ do exist this is why as an open-source project you should be looking like you are favoring one particular distro over another, you look like you are playing favoritism to them and leaving the rest of us out.

My response:

Hi Xgates,

thanks for asking this question. I can assure you that LottaNZB aims to be usable for any Linux user, no matter what distribution. It doesn’t depend on any distribution-specific software and if a user encounters a bug that is specific to any distribution, I’ll do my best to fix it.

As a developer of LottaNZB, I also personally maintain the package for Debian and Ubuntu, but each release is also provided in the form of an RPM package for Fedora, which has been created in collaboration with LottaNZB users who prefer Fedora. Additionally, a source tarball including a sophisticated installation routine is provided for all Linux distributions.

It’s not the developer’s responsibility to provide packages for numerous distributions. Firstly, because the focus should be on improving the project itself and secondly, because providing packages for distributions not used by oneself is likely to cause the packages to be of low quality. This is why it’s recommended to leave packaging to those people how know their distribution in detail. And this is exactly what has been done in the case of distributions like Gentoo or Arch Linux. In other words, anyone who’s interested in and capable of packaging LottaNZB for his or her distribution of choice is highly encouraged to do so. I’d be glad to help when questions arise in the process.

You imply that using Launchpad, Bazaar etc. somehow makes LottaNZB a Ubuntu project. I respectfully disagree. We use Launchpad because it provides a multitude of features like code hosting and bug tracking, not because it happens to be used for the development of Ubuntu. Also, thanks to Launchpad, it’s easy for LottaNZB users to translate the application into their native language. As for Bazaar, it’s a powerful, open-source DVCS similar to Git and Mercurial that simply fits our needs. The fact that we use Launchpad and Baazar for the development of LottaNZB does by no means exclude users of other distributions than Ubuntu from using LottaNZB or participating in the development of it. If anyone refuses to use either of them just because they happen to be created by Canonical, there’s no reason for them to accuse the LottaNZB development team of favoritism. In contrary, spreading FUD is also something that weakens the FOSS community as a whole.

It’s true that the PPA daily builds can only be used on Ubuntu and its derivatives. The purpose of daily builds is to get the latest code to users who are interested in testing the upcoming version of LottaNZB and providing bug reports. They only make sense when updated on a regular basis and when they’re installable in a convenient way, i.e. through the distribution’s update mechanism. I currently don’t have the capacity nor the knowledge required to set up such a repository for any other distribution, but I suggest anyone who’s interested in it to do so.

The latest code is of course publicly available through Bazaar, which makes it possible for anyone to give the upcoming version of LottaNZB a try. I recognize that it may be a good idea to add some documentation to this website on how to get the latest code using Bazaar. If anyone doesn’t feel comfortable doing so, I’ll provide a source tarball (which is basically a snapshot of the source repository), just as I’ve done here. I’d rather not provide daily source tarballs because they don’t make it possible for the user to keep the application up-to-date easily.

I hope you agree that lowering the barrier for testing for a majority of LottaNZB users has the better impact on the project’s future than not doing it just so that a minority of users doesn’t feel left out in some way.

I’m wrapping up my response in the hope that it answers your question. Again, I hereby encourage all Linux users to package LottaNZB for their favorite distribution and tell me if and how their experience of LottaNZB on their distribution could in some way be made smoother.

Regards,
Severin

On the road to LottaNZB 0.6

July 8th, 2010 - Severin

As promised in the post announcing the availability of daily builds of LottaNZB 0.6, I’d like to present you the most important changes since the last progress report in April.

Setting up LottaNZB

I guess everyone agrees that LottaNZB should be as easy to set up as possible, especially for novice users. Previous versions of LottaNZB were not quite optimal in this regard, as the dialog for selecting LottaNZB’s usage mode (screenshot) reflected too much what was going on behind the scenes. Usage mode names like Standalone and Local front-end were not so easy to understand, which required a more verbose explanatory text to be added to the window. The whole progress has been redesigned from the ground up and the first progress report has already given you a glimpse at what it looks like. The user is now presented with two options, which are easy to understand and don’t require any additional text.

  • Download to this computer
  • Manage the downloads of another computer

Also related to setting up LottaNZB, there’s an important aspect to the new backend, SABnzbd. LottaNZB depends on the recently-released SABnzbd 0.5.2, which is not available in the repositories of common distributions yet. Additionally, there are many distributions like Fedora or OpenSuSE that don’t even provide SABnzbd in the form of a package. Also, the LottaNZB package doesn’t have a hard dependency on SABnzbd anymore, as it’s perfectly reasonable to install LottaNZB without SABnzbd and manage the downloads of another computer.

This means that LottaNZB users will be required to ensure that a supported version of SABnzbd is available on their computers. LottaNZB 0.6 aims to provide as much assistance as possible. For instance, if a supported version of SABnzbd is already ready for installation on a Debian-based system, installing it is as simple as clicking a button. If this is not the case, the user is provided with instructions on how to install or upgrade SABnzbd. The text varies depending on whether the user has already installed an unsupported version of SABnzbd or not.

Download queue

The download queue has seen a major overhaul in LottaNZB 0.6. Behind the scenes, many changes were made to make the download queue much more responsive. In order to do that, a layer of indirection has been torn down and any operation performed on the download queue, like reordering and renaming downloads, will take place instantaneously, without waiting for SABnzbd to respond. Should such an operation fail on SABnzbd’s side, it will be reverted shortly after.

A major downside of HellaNZB was that it didn’t track the progress of post-processing operations, let alone provide such information to third-party applications. This implied that LottaNZB 0.5 would just display “Processing…” for a while. Using LottaNZB 0.6, the user is not only informed about what type of post-processing is being performed, but even about the progress in the form of a percentage value.

It’s now possible to search all downloads in the list of downloads by just starting to type a part of the name of the download of interest.

Adding NZB files by URL

It’s now possible to add an NZB file to the download queue by providing LottaNZB with a URL.


Existing LottaNZB users

Migrating from LottaNZB 0.5 to LottaNZB 0.6 should be as painless as possible. This is of special importance for users who don’t upgrade LottaNZB manually, but perform an upgrade to a newer version of their distribution. Of course, those users cannot be warned beforehand that LottaNZB’s backend has changed.

This is why LottaNZB automatically imports all settings including servers from the existing HellaNZB configuration file managed by LottaNZB. Also, after having set up LottaNZB 0.6, the user will be asked whether unfinished downloads of the previous version of LottaNZB should be imported.


Behind the scenes

An important change behind the scenes is that LottaNZB doesn’t depend on the Kiwi framework anymore. It was introduced in LottaNZB 0.4 with the goal of simplifying UI development. Even though this held true, one soon faced problems as Kiwi isn’t actively being developed anymore. New PyGTK features like gtk.Builder are not supported, which required me to write ugly work-arounds. Also, it would certainly represent a blocker when it comes to making LottaNZB ready for Python 3. Some of Kiwi’s functionality has been reimplemented within LottaNZB, such as the validation of forms, loading UI files and the composition of them.

A couple of LottaNZB users have reported that post-processing downloads (verifying and extracting archives) causes their computers to slow down to such an extent that it becomes impossible to use them. This is something that I also experienced many times. Fortunately, SABnzbd makes it possible to run post-processing programs using lower priorities, even though this is not enabled by default. LottaNZB 0.6 will use the most conservative values for both nice and ionice. This doesn’t cause post-processing to take much longer, but it causes it to have the least possible impact on the user experience. It was possible for me to watch HD video material while the post-processing of a download took place, accessing the same hard drive.

I really hope that you weren’t bored reading this overly long text. As mentioned in the previous post, you’re encouraged to report any bugs you encounter when using the daily builds.

LottaNZB 0.6 Daily Builds available

July 7th, 2010 - Severin

In the past months, I wrote two posts about the progress of LottaNZB 0.6, but no code was released for testing. This is because some important features of LottaNZB 0.6 were not yet implemented and also, the overall stability of the application needed to be improved. In June, LottaNZB’s development was as active as never before. There were a staggering number of 310 commits. All of them have contributed to LottaNZB 0.6 getting closer to a release and ready for testing.

It’s a pleasure for me to announce the availability of a brand-new PPA with daily builds of LottaNZB 0.6 (ppa:lottanzb/daily-build). It provides packages for both Ubuntu 9.10 and 10.04. Additionally, as LottaNZB 0.6 requires SABnzbd 0.5.2 or newer, which is not available in these versions of Ubuntu, it’s recommended to use the SABnzbd PPA (ppa:jcfp/ppa) maintained by JCFP which always contains the latest version of SABnzbd. Instructions on how to add these PPAs to your software sources can be found by following the two links.

Launchpad.net is currently in the process of gaining an exciting new feature called recipes, allowing developers to request PPA builds from a source branch using only a few clicks. This greatly lowers the barrier for testing, as adding a PPA is much easier than downloading the source and its dependencies, building and installing it. From the view of the developer, less time is wasted preparing releases and writing release announcements ;-) . Most importantly, fixes are made available much quicker, tightening the feedback loop between developers and testers.

As with all pre-release software, it’s important for you to know that the daily builds will not be perfectly stable. This is the whole point of daily builds, as I recommend all testers to report any bugs, glitches, papercuts, etc. so that they can be fixed before the actual release of LottaNZB 0.6. You can report bugs by directly visiting LottaNZB’s project page. It’s even better to run

ubuntu-bug lottanzb

in a terminal, causing relevant files like logs and configuration files to be attached to the bug report automatically. By default, those bugs will not be visible to anyone except you and the LottaNZB Development Team. Additionally, most of the sensitive information like usernames and passwords is removed beforehand.

Also, please note that unfinished downloads will not be migrated from LottaNZB 0.5 (HellaNZB-based) to LottaNZB 0.6 (SABnzbd-based). The final version of LottaNZB 0.6 might do that. In the meanwhile it’s recommended to complete all downloads before making the switch to LottaNZB 0.6.

Of course, it would not only be great to get bug reports, but also general feedback regarding LottaNZB 0.6. You can also ask questions here or at Launchpad’s Answer section. Unfortunately, it’s only possible to use PPAs on Ubuntu and its derivatives. Of course, users of other distributions are also encouraged to participate in testing. You’re free to get LottaNZB’s source code and follow the instructions in the README file.

Besides tons of bug fixes, new features have also been introduced since the last progress report. Originally, I wanted to give you an overview of the most interesting additions, but while going through the commit log, I noticed that there were just too many of them to cover in the blog post about daily builds. This is why the new features will be presented in a separate post in the near future.

Happy testing!

LottaNZB 0.5.4 released

May 23rd, 2010 - Severin

It’s a pleasure for me to announce another (and may be the last) maintenance release in the 0.5 series: LottaNZB 0.5.4! This release features not only a few minor bug fixes, but also a brand-new plug-in and a bunch of new and updated translations. Let’s have a look at the changes in more detail.

In order to save energy, some people prefer their computers to suspend themselves if no input is detected within a certain time interval. However, this behavior is not desirable if the computer is left running, allowing LottaNZB to finish its downloads. When the new plug-in infrastructure was set up last year for the release of LottaNZB 0.5, a plug-in has been written that prevented the computer from being suspended as long as there were active downloads. However, this plug-in was based on deprecated software, namely HAL, which caused the plug-in to stop working on Ubuntu 9.10 or any other GNU/Linux distribution shipping GNOME Power Manager 2.26 or newer. However, due to a bug in this new version of GNOME Power Manager (now based on DeviceKit), it was impossible to port the plug-in. This is why the plug-in went to the virtual attic for a while. Earlier this year, I gave it another shot and traced down the cause of the bug and reported it to the developers of GNOME Power Manager. I was delighted to see the bug being fixed in GNOME Power Manager 2.29.2 shortly after by Chris Coulson. However, the plug-in was not released as part of LottaNZB 0.5.3 because Ubuntu 9.10 still used the old version of GNOME Power Manager. Now that Ubuntu 10.04 has been released, the plug-in works out-of-the-box again and is waiting for you to give it a try!

You might ask what the future of this plug-in is with relation to the transition to SABnzbd. Well, preventing the computer from being suspended is not actually the job of a front-end application like LottaNZB. In the case of the HellaNZB backend, we didn’t have a choice because HellaNZB doesn’t offer this functionality on its own. However, this implied that the plug-in would only work if LottaNZB was connected to an instance of HellaNZB on the very same computer. SABnzbd has recently gained a new functionality (thanks to Marcel!) that serves a similar purpose, but takes a different approach. It allows the user to select the action to be performed by SABnzbd after all downloads have been completed. For instance, the computer may be shut down, hibernated or suspended. These two approaches could be combined, which is why I might provide the SABnzbd developers with the code the plug-in is based on.

The number of people who have contributed to translations of LottaNZB keeps surprising me. I wrote a simple script that collects the list of all translators, which currently contains 114 names! The work of each one of you is highly appreciated! In this release of LottaNZB, translations to Hungarian, Occitan (post 1500), Brazilian Portuguese and Swedish have been added and other translations have been improved significantly. The current status of individual translations is shown below.

In the coming months, the translation focus will shift to LottaNZB 0.6, as soon as the code gets more stable and fewer strings are being added. I’ll let you know when this happens.

In this version of LottaNZB, the Newzbin plug-in has been removed. This decision is justified because firstly, the Newzbin.com service is no longer operational to our regret and secondly, the plug-in was never that user-friendly, as copying a report ID into a LottaNZB dialog isn’t much faster than just downloading the actual NZB file and adding it to LottaNZB’s download queue.

Besides, a bug has been fixed that caused LottaNZB to crash on startup and the order of the menu entries in the panel menu has been improved.

I really hope that you don’t mind the frequency of how Ubuntu is mentioned in this blog. Even though I exclusively use Ubuntu at this point of time, it’s really important to me that LottaNZB runs equally well on any GNU/Linux distribution such as Fedora, openSUSE, Gentoo or Arch Linux. Any help with packaging or suggestions regarding a better integration of a particular distribution are always welcome!

You can get LottaNZB 0.5.4 in the download section. As always, we’re grateful for bug reports, translations, as well as ideas for new features!

For the curious and impatient of you

April 23rd, 2010 - Severin

It’s been two months since the last progress report. We’ve got quite some feedback by people who look forward to the upcoming version of LottaNZB and can hardly wait. Of course, all of this is an encouragement for us to keep going and deliver you the best version of LottaNZB ever, based on a new and powerful backend.

In other words: The project is alive, even though the pace of development was a bit slower during the past months because studies are keeping me busy. Some parts of the software have clearly become more mature since the last progress report and I’ve continued to collaborate with the SABnzbd crew to fix a bug that also affects LottaNZB 0.6.

Much has happened in the world of SABnzbd. After a long time of intensive development, SABnzbd 0.5 has been released. Congratulations to everyone who has made this possible! The most important changes include:

  • Multi-language web interface
  • Start-up wizard (LottaNZB aims to make this even easier)
  • QuickCheck: On-the-fly check of downloads
  • Configuration changes take immediate effect
  • New skins, better RSS support and sorting capabilities
  • and last but not least, an extensive API for third-party applications like LottaNZB!

The new version of SABnzbd will not be part of the Ubuntu 10.04 repositories, but a source tarball as well as a PPA maintained by JCFP are available.

Also, the SABnzbd crew has moved from Assembla to Launchpad, allowing more people to get involved with the development and contribute translations. I’m particularly happy about this, as it makes collaboration even easier. Unfortunately, the existing bugs have not yet been imported by the Launchpad crew, but it’s work in progress.

Now, let me present you what steps have been made towards the release of LottaNZB 0.6.

The dialog displaying information about an individual download has finally been merged into the main branch of the project. Marcel de Vries did a great job! The dialog is now also capable of directly opening the directory that contains the download. In the future, we aim to make it even easier to access the downloaded files. Suggestions are always welcome!

On the other hand, I’ve been working on the Preferences dialog. It’s a pleasure to present you some of the new features. A new capability has been added to SABnzbd that allows LottaNZB to know if utilities for verification and extraction of downloads (par2, unrar, unzip) are available on the system SABnzbd is running on. This allows LottaNZB to display a helpful message if this isn’t the case:

Next, the ability to create, edit and delete servers has finally been ported to the SABnzbd API. What’s special about it is that any changes made in LottaNZB will instantaneously take effect and will be visible in SABnzbd’s web interface and vice-versa. The following screencast (which unfortunately contains some German labels) demonstrates this:

OGV version, if you don’t like Adobe Flash (who does anyway?)

What’s important to say is that this kind of responsiveness and tight integration with SABnzbd will be present all over the application.

A major chunk of work remaining to be done  is the user interface for setting up LottaNZB, but some progress has already be made on this as seen in the previous progress report. And of course, lots of testing will be necessary before the release of LottaNZB 0.6. Plug-ins might not be present in LottaNZB 0.6 in order to prevent the release from being put off even further. This means that some functionality like support for categories or Newzbin might not be available in LottaNZB 0.6, but it will of course be accessible through SABnzbd’s web interface.

Stay tuned!

Update: As pointed out by zerwas, SABnzbd 0.5.0 actually is included in the Ubuntu 10.04 repository. However, LottaNZB 0.6 will depend on SABnzbd 0.5.2 (that is yet to be released) because this version includes a fix for the bug mentioned at the beginning of this post. Also, I didn’t notice that the release of SABnzbd 0.5 was already mentioned in the previous progress report. Please excuse this redundancy.

Progress report

February 22nd, 2010 - Severin

In the past months, I kept promising that I would eventually write a blog post about about what has been going on related to the development of LottaNZB and what you can except in the next couple of months.

More than a year ago, I announced that we’re evaluating SABnzbd as the new LottaNZB backend, replacing HellaNZB that hasn’t been developed for years. Although we’re not close to a release of LottaNZB 0.6 yet, I’m glad to tell you that the migration went really well so far and many things have already been accomplished.

SABnzbd 0.5, which LottaNZB 0.6 builds upon, has been released today. Congratulations to the whole SABnzbd crew who’ve made this possible! They’ve also revamped the project homepage and a wiki provides detailed information for anyone who’s interested. I’m also grateful that the SABnzbd developers (especially ShyPike) were so open to suggestions regarding API improvements by third-party developers like me. LottaNZB will directly profit from this healthy collaboration. Fortunately, JCFP has already set up a PPA, making it easy to install SABnzbd on Ubuntu machines and automatically keep SABnzbd up-to-date.

While I’ve been focusing on carefully creating a new modular and extensible backend for asynchronous communication with SABnzbd, allowing access to all interesting data in a convenient way, handling configuration files etc., we’ve now moved on to the UI that makes use of all the new infrastructure. The screenshots below showcase the current code in the main branch (already more than 1000 revisions) as well as several experimental branches by me and Marcel. Everything is still work in progress and many things are still incomplete and subject to change. Of course, we always appreciate fresh new ideas regarding UI design.

Right now, we’re only working on getting the basic features in place that are essential for the release of LottaNZB 0.6. With all the handy features SABnzbd provides (RSS feeds, categorization, scheduling, sorting, etc.) we won’t run out of work for later versions of LottaNZB.

At this point of time, it’s impossible for me to say when LottaNZB 0.6 will be released. 2010 is definitely a target though. ;-)  As soon as LottaNZB 0.6 reaches something between alpha and beta quality, we’ll provide a PPA with daily builds of the latest LottaNZB code and some source tarballs now and then so that courageous people can give LottaNZB 0.6 a spin and provide us with valuable input in the form of bug reports and feature requests.

Stay tuned!

LottaNZB 0.5.3 released

February 10th, 2010 - Severin

It’s a pleasure for me to announce another maintenance release in the 0.5 series. Clear the stage for the first LottaNZB release in the new decade: LottaNZB 0.5.3! This release both features some new bells and whistles, making the application ready for future releases of your favorite GNU/Linux distribution, but also includes numerous bug fixes.

I’d like to present you the most important changes.

Ubuntu 10.04 is going to introduce a new approach to the notification area, making it consistent so that each icon would behave identically, allowing people to use them in an easier way. LottaNZB 0.5.3 also uses a so-called application indicator, given that the “Panel menu” plug-in is activated in LottaNZB’s preferences. Users of other Linux distributions or older version of Ubuntu have no reason to worry: LottaNZB will still work like before.

Thanks to Chris Conway, the “Show main window” checkbox has become much more intuitive, as it will not only bring LottaNZB back on the screen if the window has previously been closed, but also if the window has been minimized to the window list.

In this version of LottaNZB, the icons have undergone a minor update, making them a bit cleaner. The warmer color palette fits much better into a desktop that uses the Humanity icon theme introduced in Ubuntu 9.10, but will hopefully also look friendly on any other GNOME desktop. The rightmost column shows you the new icon set:

Apart from that, two severe crashes have been fixed that only affect machines with new development versions of GTK to be included in distributions like Fedora 13 and Ubuntu 10.04. We’re glad to get these fixes out in time so that the people (like me) who prefer to always be on the bleeding edge will still be able to use LottaNZB.

You can get LottaNZB 0.5.3 in the download section. As always, we’re grateful for bug reports, translations, as well as ideas for new features!

I still owe the readers of this blog a sneak preview of the upcoming LottaNZB 0.6 release based on SABnzbd. We’ve made some great progress and I’d like to share that with you.

LottaNZB 0.5.2 released

November 28th, 2009 - Severin

It’s a pleasure for me to announce the release of LottaNZB 0.5.2!

While one’s been working mostly on the upcoming LottaNZB 0.6, we spent some time fixing a few remaining bugs and giving translators the time to update the translations. We’ve never had more complete translations of LottaNZB! Thanks to all who have contributed to it. Also, an objective was to prepare the LottaNZB 0.5 series for the upload to Debian and Ubuntu.

An important change is that the proprietary unrar application used to extract completed archives isn’t automatically installed anymore together with LottaNZB. For those who are interested, we made this change to prevent the LottaNZB package from being moved to the “contrib” repository in Debian and “multiverse” repository in Ubuntu. However, installing unrar is as easy as clicking on a link and LottaNZB 0.5.2 will display a useful hint if the application cannot be found.

This version of LottaNZB also works around a bug in HellaNZB that causes post-processing of certain downloads to stop. Marcel did a great job locating the bug in the HellaNZB’s code and providing a true fix that has already been uploaded to Debian.

In Ubuntu 9.10, all application toolbars are now more compact, which saves space on the screen. We made sure that LottaNZB will also look great on Ubuntu 9.10. Here is what it looks like:

LottaNZB 0.5.2 on Ubuntu 9.10

You can get LottaNZB 0.5.2 in the download section. Packages for Ubuntu 9.04 and 9.10 as well as Fedora 11 and 12 are ready for you to install. Unfortunately, as some Fedora users might already have noticed, HellaNZB isn’t part of the official Fedora 12 repository. That’s why you’ll need to download and install the package we provide in our download section.

As always, we’re grateful for bug reports, translations as well as ideas for new features!