Tuesday, June 7, 2011

TEVS Live CD now online

One of the most frustrating things about the TEVS software has been its dependence on a modified version of an open source image utility library. It was an early mistake but, because it worked for me on my setup, it wasn't until very recently that I removed the dependency on this modified version. The dependency made it needlessly difficult for others to build TEVS. But it's gone now.

In addition, a lot of cleanup, documenting, and restructuring of the ballot handling code has been done by James Frasche, thanks to funding provided by Lori Grace and the Grace Institute for Democracy and Election Integrity. (Thanks!) This will make it easier for people to add handling for new ballot types going forward.

So it finally makes sense to make a Live CD available to those who might want to have an environment in which they can run the code, figure out what they want to add or improve, and just add and improve it.

The Live CD is a version of the Ubuntu Live CD which includes TEVS, all the programs it uses, a few sample ballot images, and a link to the code repository at tevs.googlecode.com. While it's NOT slick, it does provide a few buttons that allow you to run TEVS on a small set of provided ballot images and see the results, see the XML templates that get built, then run it again on the same images to re-use the templates, then run it on the images at a lower resolution, to see the difference in speed between 300 dpi images and 150 dpi images. Because the Live CD's 900 meg size won't fit on a CD, it needs to be burned onto a DVD. Once you've burned it to a DVD, though, you can just pop it into any PC or modern Mac and run Ubuntu and TEVS without installing them on your machine.

If you've never used Ubuntu Linux, don't worry. It should be perfectly straightforward how to use things for the demo. You can also see how easy it is to use Ubuntu for things like web browsing and general office work.

The Live CD should be a good tool for demonstrating the possibilities TEVS provides. It can be downloaded from this link: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/18212385/customdist.iso