On the road to LottaNZB 0.6

Get the right robot for your business

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As promised in the post announcing the availability of daily builds of LottaNZB 0.6, Id 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 LottaNZBs 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 dont require any additional text.

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

Also related to setting up LottaNZB, theres 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 dont even provide SABnzbd in the form of a package. Also, the LottaNZB package doesnt have a hard dependency on SABnzbd anymore, as its 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 SABnzbds side, it will be reverted shortly after.

A major downside of HellaNZB was that it didnt 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.

Its 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

Its 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 dont upgrade LottaNZB manually, but perform an upgrade to a newer version of their distribution. Of course, those users cannot be warned beforehand that LottaNZBs 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 doesnt 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 isnt 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 Kiwis 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 doesnt 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 werent bored reading this overly long text. As mentioned in the previous post, youre encouraged to report any bugs you encounter when using the daily builds.