For those who didn't know, I started working for a company called Nomanini at the beginning of last year. Nomanini manufactures an airtime point of sale terminal for use in the informal sector (taxis, spaza shops, etc).
I'm excited to say that my boss will be speaking at ScaleConf 2013, which kicks off tomorrow, and myself and my colleagues are going to be there too. See you there!
We looked at Debian bugs that needed to be added to the release or not, as the case may be. Thank you Stefano for organizing, mentoring and driving the coffee machine. Thanks to everyone who donated a couple of hours to make ubuntu better. Thanks codebridge for having us.
Many of you know that I am the project leader of an open source worship presentation program called OpenLP. Yesterday evening, as I was doing something on OpenLP's project page on SourceForge.net (a popular repository for open source projects), I glanced at the reviews page and the one below caught my eye.
Now, I don't normally worry about negative reviews (they lend your project a certain amount of authenticity), I couldn't help but notice the reference AND link to a commercial product. I then simply did a search for the reviewer on Google and one of the first few hits was the reviewer's blog. I went to the About page, and sure enough, not only was it the same person, I found out some interesting facts about him.
Establishing that the blog did indeed belong to the reviewer was easy. Firstly, the reviewer didn't even bother to use a different photo for his profile on SF.net, and secondly his domain name, Twitter account and SF.net username were all identical. Lastly, the product he was promoting over OpenLP was the very same product he is the executive director (or somesuch inflated title) of.
I just couldn't believe my eyes. Here is what I would presume is an upstanding Christian man, and he directly slates a competitor's product without so much as disclosing who he is. I don't go around telling everyone how awful EasyWorship, ProPresenter and MediaShout are. It just is not something you do. If your product is better than the others then let it speak for itself.
This reminds me of Microsoft a few years ago who didn't know how to handle open source software, so they paid people to conduct absurd studies to prove how great they were.
Seriously, are you so scared of OpenLP that you have to pretend to be an unhappy user? I highly doubt you've ever even downloaded OpenLP, nevermind actually used it.
Incidentally, I marked his comment as spam, so it is no longer visible.
Gnome Panel (or more properly, gnome-panel) is the main dock that you would see in the Gnome 2 series desktop, and in the Gnome Fallback session (also called Gnome “Classic” in many distributions) in Gnome 3.
To provide the typical desktop experience, it’s also accompanied by Nautilus and Metacity along with a few other libraries (hence forth, gnome-panel’s friends). Gnome Panel and friends have recently been deprecated so that developers have more time to focus on Gnome Shell, the new default shell for Gnome that has a vastly simplified (and better) technology stack. Last November, Vincent Untz announced that he would stop maintaining Gnome Panel and friends beyond the 3.6 release, which means the death for it unless anyone else takes it up.Then What
I’ve been an avid user of the Gnome 2.x series and also Gnome Fallback in the 3.x series. I’ve gotten rather good at supporting it too. We include it by default in Edubuntu, and even have an option in the installer to make it the default for installations over Unity. It provides a low-footprint, fast and simple desktop experience with very reasonable usability, while being very configurable and lockdownable. (my spell check says that’s not a word, but I don’t care).
I’ve been considering whether we should switch to having Xfce or LXDE as an alternative to Unity, but after discussing it with other Edubuntu contributors, it became clear that if I wanted to do that, I’d have to be willing to maintain it for Edubuntu by myself. In Edubuntu we’ve been pretty good at having at least 2 people being interested in any side-project we pick up and I like to keep it that way if we can. It means that if someone gets a bit busy, there’s someone who can pick up the slack for a little while. Also, Xfce and LXDE had big holes in usability, especially when it came to things like having multiple displays and running on laptops. I decided to put that project on the backburner a little since Ubuntu 13.04 will still be using Gnome 3.6, which meant that we’d have the Fallback session for one more release anyway.The Inevitable Fork
Ikey Doherty forked off Gnome Panel to create a new environment called Consort. Metacity is forked to become Consortium. The website where the Consort desktop environment used to live seems gone now, but here’s a link to some screenshots from Google+.
This caused a bit of a stir, Vincent Untz posted a good chronology of what lead up to it and why he believes that a fork is a bad idea when the Gnome project has effectively put the upstream code up for adoption.
I’ve been interested in the Consort family since it could potentially be something that we could use in Edubuntu once the upstream gnome-panel is no longer in the archives. Also, while Gnome Shell, KDE Plasma Desktop and Unity are great and have come incredibly far in terms of stability and performance, it’s just not always for me. I want to be able to use it for myself in virtual machines, older machines and some other special cases (most notably, on LTSP).
Josselin Mouette, maintainer of Gnome in Debian, approached Ikey after some requests have been made for it in Debian. If you’ve read the post and the IRC logs linked, then you’ll probably agree that it could’ve gone a lot better. I’m not on the SolusOS IRC channel so only saw the conversation after the fact, but I was disappointing since it would need to go into Debian if I’d want to support it in Edubuntu. I think both Josselin and Ikey could’ve handled it better, but humans are just that and emotions and misunderstandings happen.And so I Bite
I was chewing a bit on Josselin’s comment on how the former maintainer “maintainer decided to give the key to anyone who wanted to” and it’s been several weeks since Vincent invited people to take over maintainership. I decided that I’d at least be willing to do the absolute minimum just to keep the project releasable every six months so that it can be included in distributions, maintain its online presence pages, bug tracker status and keep up with component changes in the stack. So I e-mailed Vincent and explained what I’m willing to do. I had very little resistance, Vincent sent an email out to other people who are steakholders in the gnome-panel project and after a week, there were no objections. So here I am, brand new maintainer of the Gnome Fallback session and its components!
This means that the project is, at least for now, alive again. It’s not going to be part of the official Gnome 3.8 release (I still have to figure out exactly what that means), but there will be a 3.8 release of Gnome Panel and friends as tarballs and for people who maintain it in distributions, things will continue to work exactly as it did before.Short-term Goals
Well, the fact is, Gnome Fallback will die. There’s a new project called Gnome Legacy, it implements a Gnome 2.x-like experience in Gnome 3. As time goes by, older machines become more powerful and the missing pieces will be implemented and eventually there would be no more good reason for anyone to want to run what we now know as Gnome Fallback. I think it could still have a good 3-5 years or maybe even more in it. Who knows, by then Gnome 4 might even be in development and all of this will be ancient history.
So, my very quick “Eek, I’m now maintainer of Gnome Panel!” post has become quite lengthy post, if you have any questions, I’ll respond to it in the comments.
Whoosh! I’ve been incredibly quiet on my blog for the last 2-3 months. It’s been a crazy time but I’ll catch up and explain everything over the next few entries.
Firstly, I’d like to get out a few details about the last Ubuntu Developer Summit that took place in Copenhagen, Denmark in October. I’m usually really good at getting my blog post out by the end of UDS or a day or two after, but this time it just flew by so incredibly fast for me that I couldn’t keep up. It was a bit shorter than usual at 4 days, as apposed to the usual 5. The reason I heard for that was that people commented in previous post-UDS surveys that 5 days were too long, which is especially understandable for Canonical staff who are often in sprints (away from home) for the week before the UDS as well. I think the shorter period works well, it might need a bit more fine-tuning, I think the summary session at the end wasn’t that useful because, like me, there wasn’t enough time for people to process the vast amount of data generated during UDS and give nice summaries on it. Overall, it was a great get-together of people who care about Ubuntu and also many areas of interest outside of Ubuntu.Copenhagen, Denmark
I didn’t take many photos this UDS, my camera is broken and only takes blurry pics (not my fault I swear!). So I just ended up taking a few pictures with my phone. Go tag yourself on Google+ if you were there. One of the first interesting things I saw when arriving in Copenhagen was the hotel we stayed in. The origami-like design reminded me of the design of the Quantal Quetzel logo that is used for the current stable Ubuntu release.
The Road ahead for Edubuntu to 14.04 and beyond
This release will mostly focus on the Edubuntu Server aspect. If everything works out, you will be able to use the standard Edubuntu DVD to also install an Edubuntu Server system that will act as a Linux container host as well as an Active Directory compatible directory server using Samba 4. The catch with Samba 4 is that it doesn’t have many administration tools for Linux yet. Stéphane has started work on a web interface for Edubuntu server that looks quite nice already. I’m supposed to do some CSS work on it, but I have to say it looks really nice already, it’s based on the MAAS service theme and Stéphane did some colour changes and fixes on it already.
From the Edubuntu installer, you’ll be able to choose whether this machine should act as a domain server, or whether you would like to join an existing domain. Since Edubuntu Server is highly compatible with Microsoft Active Directory, the installer will connect to it regardless of whether it’s a Windows Domain or Edubuntu Domain. This should make it really easy for administrators in schools with mixed environments and where complete infrastructure migrations are planned.
You will be able to connect to the same domain whether you’re using Edubuntu on thin clients, desktops or tablets and everything is controllable using the Epoptes administration tool.
Many people are asking whether this is planned for Ubuntu / Ubuntu Server as well, since this could be incredibly useful in other organisations who have a domain infrastructure. It’s currently meant to be easily rebrandable and the aim is to have it available as a general solution for Ubuntu once all the pieces work together.Empowering Ubuntu Flavours
This cycle, Ubuntu is making some changes to the release schedule. One of the biggest changes made this cycle is that the alpha and beta releases are being dropped for the main Ubunut product. This session was about establishing how much divergence and changes the Ubuntu Flavours (Ubuntu Studio, Mythbuntu, Kubuntu, Lubuntu and Edubuntu) could have from the main release cycle. Edubuntu and Kubuntu decided to be a bit more conservative and maintain the snapshot releases. For Edubuntu it has certainly helped so far in identifying and finding some early bugs and I’m already glad that we did that. Mythbuntu is also a notable exception since it will now only do LTS releases. We’re tempted to change Edubuntu’s official policy that the LTS releases are the main releases and treat the releases in between more like technology previews for the next LTS. It’s already not such a far stretch from the truth, but we’ll need to properly review and communicate that at some point.Valve at UDS and Steam for Linux
One of the first plenaries was from Valve where Drew Bliss talked about Steam on Linux. Steam is one of the most popular publishing and distribution systems for games and up until recently it has only been available on Windows and Mac. Valve (the company behind Steam and many popular games such as Half Life and Portal) are actively working on porting games to run natively on Linux as well.
Some people have asked me what I think about it, since the system is essentially using a free software platform to promote a lot of non-free software. My views on this is pretty simple, I think it’s an overwhelmingly good thing for Linux desktop adoption and it’s been proven to be a good thing for people who don’t even play games. Since the announcement from Valve, Nvidia has already doubled perfomance in many cases for its Linux drivers. AMD, who have been slacking on Linux support the last few years have beefed up their support drastically with the announcement of new drivers that were released earlier this month. This new collection of AMD drivers also adds support for a range of cards where the drivers were completely discontinued, giving new life to many older laptops and machines which would be destined for the dumpster otherwise. This benefits not only gamers, but everyone from an average office worker who wants snappy office suite performance and fast web browsing to designers who work with graphics, videos and computer aided design.
Also, it means that many home users who prefer Linux-based systems would no longer need to dual-boot to Windows or OS X for their games. While Steam will actively be promoting non-free software, it more than makes up for that by the enablement it does for the free software eco-system. I think anyone who disagrees with that is somewhat of a purist and should be more willing to make compromises in order to make progress.Ubuntu Release Changes
Last week, there was a lot of media noise stating that Ubuntu will no longer do releases and will become a rolling release except for the LTS releases. This is certainly not the case, at least not any time soon. One meme that I’ve noticed increasingly over the last UDSs was that there’s an increasing desire to improve the LTS releases and using the usual Ubuntu releases more and more for experimentation purposes.
I think there’s more and more consensus that the current 6 month cycle isn’t really optimal and that there must be a better way to get Ubuntu to the masses, it’s just the details of what the better way is that leaves a lot to be figured out. There’s a desire between developers to provide better support (better SRUs and backports) for the LTS releases to make it easier for people to stick with it and still have access to new features and hardware support. Having less versions between LTS releases will certainly make that easier. In my opinion it will probably take at least another 2 cycles worth of looking at all the factors from different angles and getting feedback from all the stakeholders before a good plan will have formed for the future of Ubuntu releases. I’m glad to see that there is so much enthusiastic discussion around this and I’m eager to see how Ubuntu’s releases will continue to evolve.Lightning Talks
Lightning talks are a lot like punk-rock songs. When it’s good, it’s really, really amazingly good and fun. When it’s bad, at least it will be over soon :)
Unfortunately, since it’s been a few months since the UDS, I can’t remember all the details of the lightning talks, but one thing that I find worth mentioning is that they’re not just awesome for the topic they aim to produce (for example, the one lightning talks session I attended was on the topic of “Tests in your software”), but since they are more demo-like than presentation-like, you get to learn a lot of neat tricks and cool things that you didn’t know before. Every few minutes someone would do something and I’d hear someone say something like “Awesome! I didn’t know you could do that with apt-daemon!”. It’s fun and educational and I hope lightning talks will continue to be a tradition at future UDSs.Social
Stefano Rivera (fellow MOTU, Debianista, Capetonian, Clugger) wins the prize for person I’ve seen in the most countries in one year. In 2012, I saw him in Cape Town for Scaleconf, Managua during Debconf, Oakland for a previous UDS and Copenhagen for this UDS. Sometimes when I look at silly little statistics like that I realise what a great adventure the year was!
Between the meet ‘n’ greet, an evening of lightning talks and the closing party (which was viking themed and pretty awesome) there was just one free evening left. I used it to gather with the Debian folk who were at UDS. It was great to see how many Debian people were attending, I think we had around a dozen or so people at the dinner and there were even more who couldn’t make it since they work for Canonical or Linaro and had to attend team dinners the same evening. It was as usual, great to put some more faces to names and get to know some people better.
It was also great to have a UDS with many strong technical community folk present who is willing to engage in discussion. There were still a few people who felt missing but it was less than at some previous UDSs.
I also discovered my face on a few puzzles! They were a *great* idea, I saw a few people come and go to work on them during the week, they seem to have acted as good menial activities for people to fix their brains when they got fried during sessions :)
Overall, this was a good and punchy UDS. I’ll probably not make the next one in Oakland due to many changes in my life currently taking place (although I will remotely participate), but will probably make the one later this year, especially if it’s in Europe. I’ll also make a point of live-blogging a bit more, it’s just so hard remembering all the details a few months after the fact. Thanks to everyone who contributed their piece in making it a great week!
2012 was one of those years that was not that bad (well the world did not end) at all but I cannot say that it was great either. So what happened during the year:
I am looking forward to 2013 and make it the year where I spend more time on myself and what is important to me. I do not make new year resolutions since we break them in any case. I just want it to be a year of happiness and prosperity. Oh and hopefully will get some time to take out my golf clubs and get on the course again. This is something I realy neglected in 2012.
To all my friends, family and whomever read this, I wish you all the best for 2013 and may it be a great year.
Who can use these laptop and netbook touchpads, trackpads, whatever you call the thing you-accidentally-tap and lose-focus-and-type-into-the-wrong-spot.
Specialized layout keyboard navigation is the way to go!
Customized Conky to a top horizontal bar, always visible by setting my desktop margins. Installed Pytyle to organize my windows running on top of Openbox, with vi-like keybindings relying on the Super key, And then hacked in a few Openbox global shortcuts for easy volume management and frequently used applications.
Crash course in navigation
So far I can manage 99% of tasks using the keyboard layout I set out below.
The Super is also known as the Winkey
cycle the focused window, Super-J/K
move the active window between panels on the screen, Super-Ctrl-J/K
move the active windows to another desktop, Super-Shift-J/K
switch desktops, Super-Alt-J/K
Change master tile size, Super-H/L
Add/remove master tiles, Super-./,
Ctrl-Ins, up volume
Ctrl-Del, down volume
Ctrl-Backspace, pause/play music
Super-V, alsa volume mixer
Super-M, mocp music player
When it comes to flash in websites that steals your focus, I feel like screaming. Due to bandwidth limits I use the text-mode CLI browser Elinks, and the CLI mail client Alpine.
I rebound many Elinks shortcuts for a vi-like experience to scrolling the page, within the page, browsing history, selecting links and so forth.
These books were a present to our Loco from Heather Fox and Debra Williams-Cauley see for more details.
Problem with this is that the idea behind these books is they were supposed to be shared among the Loco and every one was supposed to have a chance. Our loco Ubuntu-ZA is spread all around and way way across the county. So sharing doesn’t seem like a realistic option. So I am looking for suggestions as to what we can do with these snazzy new books.
Before I requested them Maia suggested we will decide when we get them so now it is time. Possible options are
Any how I am never very good at these type of things so for now I will keep them safe until we can decide what to do with them.