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Updated: 2 hours 28 min ago

Jeremy Bicha: gksu is dead. Long live PolicyKit

12 hours 17 min ago

Today, gksu was removed from Debian unstable. It was already removed 2 months ago from Debian Testing (which will eventually be released as Debian 10 “Buster”).

It’s not been decided yet if gksu will be removed from Ubuntu 18.04 LTS. There is one blocker bug there.


Categories: Linux

Omer Akram: Software security over convenience

Tue, 03/20/2018 - 13:42
Recently I got inspired (paranoid ?) by my boss who cares a lot about software security. Previously, I had almost the same password on all the websites I used, I had them synced to google servers (Chrome user previously), but once I started taking software security seriously, I knew the biggest mistake I was making was to have a single password everywhere, so I went one step forward and set randomly generated passwords on all online accounts and stored them in a keystore. I then enabled 2FA authentication on some important services (GMail, GitHub, Twitter, DO) and adopted the policy to never login to my browser's sync features. Doing that, I realize that the browser is just a commodity, it doesn't matter which browser I use as long as I can log into my online accounts and of course a browser that actually works. I am pretty sure there are many things that I could still improve around my computing patterns, which I will over time. Motto: software security over convenience.
Categories: Linux

Daniel Pocock: Can a GSoC project beat Cambridge Analytica at their own game?

Tue, 03/20/2018 - 06:15

A few weeks ago, I proposed a GSoC project on the topic of Firefox and Thunderbird plugins for Free Software Habits.

At first glance, this topic may seem innocent and mundane. After all, we all know what habits are, don't we? There are already plugins that help people avoid visiting Facebook too many times in one day, what difference will another one make?

Yet the success of companies like Facebook and those that prey on their users, like Cambridge Analytica (who are facing the prospect of a search warrant today), is down to habits: in other words, the things that users do over and over again without consciously thinking about it. That is exactly why this plugin is relevant.

Many students have expressed interest and I'm keen to find out if any other people may want to act as co-mentors (more information or email me).

One Facebook whistleblower recently spoke about his abhorrence of the dopamine-driven feedback loops that keep users under a spell.

The game changer

Can we use the transparency of free software to help users re-wire those feedback loops for the benefit of themselves and society at large? In other words, instead of letting their minds be hacked by Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, can we give users the power to hack themselves?

In his book The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg lays bare the psychology and neuroscience behind habits. While reading the book, I frequently came across concepts that appeared immediately relevant to the habits of software engineers and also the field of computer security, even though neither of these topics is discussed in the book.

Most significantly, Duhigg finishes with an appendix on how to identify and re-wire your habits and he has made it available online. In other words, a quickstart guide to hack yourself: could Duhigg's formula help the proposed plugin succeed where others have failed?

If you could change one habit, you could change your life

The book starts with examples of people who changed a single habit and completely reinvented themselves. For example, an overweight alcoholic and smoker who became a super-fit marathon runner. In each case, they show how the person changed a single keystone habit and everything else fell into place. Wouldn't you like to have that power in your own life?

Wouldn't it be even better to share that opportunity with your friends and family?

One of the challenges we face in developing and promoting free software is that every day, with every new cloud service, the average person in the street, including our friends, families and co-workers, is ingesting habits carefully engineered for the benefit of somebody else. Do you feel that asking your friends and co-workers not to engage you in these services has become a game of whack-a-mole?

Providing a simple and concise solution, such as a plugin, can help people to find their keystone habits and then help them change them without stress or criticism. Many people want to do the right thing: if it can be made easier for them, with the right messages, at the right time, delivered in a positive manner, people feel good about taking back control. For example, if somebody has spent 15 minutes creating a Doodle poll and sending the link to 50 people, is there any easy way to communicate your concerns about Doodle? If a plugin could highlight an alternative before they invest their time in Doodle, won't they feel better?

If you would like to provide feedback or even help this project go ahead, you can subscribe here and post feedback to the thread or just email me.

Categories: Linux

Sebastian Dröge: GStreamer Rust bindings 0.11 / plugin writing infrastructure 0.2 release

Tue, 03/20/2018 - 05:42

Following the GStreamer 1.14 release and the new round of gtk-rs releases, there are also new releases for the GStreamer Rust bindings (0.11) and the plugin writing infrastructure (0.2).

Thanks also to all the contributors for making these releases happen and adding lots of valuable changes and API additions.

GStreamer Rust Bindings

The main changes in the Rust bindings were the update to GStreamer 1.14 (which brings in quite some new API, like GstPromise), a couple of API additions (GstBufferPool specifically) and the addition of the GstRtspServer and GstPbutils crates. The former allows writing a full RTSP server in a couple of lines of code (with lots of potential for customizations), the latter provides access to the GstDiscoverer helper object that allows inspecting files and streams for their container format, codecs, tags and all kinds of other metadata.

The GstPbutils crate will also get other features added in the near future, like encoding profile bindings to allow using the encodebin GStreamer element (a helper element for automatically selecting/configuring encoders and muxers) from Rust.

But the biggest changes in my opinion is some refactoring that was done to the Event, Message and Query APIs. Previously you would have to use a view on a newly created query to be able to use the type-specific functions on it

let mut q = gst::Query::new_position(gst::Format::Time); if pipeline.query(q.get_mut().unwrap()) { match q.view() { QueryView::Position(ref p) => Some(p.get_result()), _ => None, } } else { None }

Now you can directly use the type-specific functions on a newly created query

let mut q = gst::Query::new_position(gst::Format::Time); if pipeline.query(&mut q) { Some(q.get_result()) } else { None }

In addition, the views can now dereference directly to the event/message/query itself and provide access to their API, which simplifies some code even more.

Plugin Writing Infrastructure

While the plugin writing infrastructure did not see that many changes apart from a couple of bugfixes and updating to the new versions of everything else, this does not mean that development on it stalled. Quite the opposite. The existing code works very well already and there was just no need for adding anything new for the projects I and others did on top of it, most of the required API additions were in the GStreamer bindings.

So the status here is the same as last time, get started writing GStreamer plugins in Rust. It works well!

Categories: Linux

Costales: uNav 0.75: A libre GPS navigator for your libre pocket device!

Mon, 03/19/2018 - 14:16
A new release for your Ubuntu Phone powered by UBports!

Why? Because we have a dream \o/

uNav 0.75

  • Migrated to Openrouteservice.
  • Car | Walk | Bicycle routes.
  • New default map by default powered by Carto.
  • Fixed unit in review the route steps.

Install/update it from the Open Store.
Categories: Linux

Daniel Pocock: GSoC and Outreachy: Mentors don't need to be Debian Developers

Mon, 03/19/2018 - 02:10

A frequent response I receive when talking to prospective mentors: "I'm not a Debian Developer yet".

As student applications have started coming in, now is the time for any prospective mentors to introduce yourself on the debian-outreach list if you would like to help with any of the listed projects or any topics that have been proposed spontaneously by students without any mentor.

It doesn't matter if you are a Debian Developer or not. Furthermore, mentoring in a program like GSoC or Outreachy is a form of volunteering that is recognized just as highly as packaging or any other development activity.

When an existing developer writes an email advocating your application to become a developer yourself, they can refer to your contribution as a mentor. Many other processes, such as requests for DebConf bursaries, also ask for a list of your contributions and you can mention your mentoring experience there.

With the student deadline on 27 March, it is really important to understand the capacity of the mentoring team over the next 10 days so we can decide how many projects can realistically be supported. Please ask on the debian-outreach list if you have any questions about getting involved.

Categories: Linux

Costales: Podcast Ubuntu y otras hierbas S02E05: Creative Commons & Ubuntu en servidores

Sun, 03/18/2018 - 07:00
En esta ocasión, Francisco MolineroFrancisco Javier Teruelo y Marcos Costales, charlamos sobre los siguientes temas:

  • ¿Qué es Creative Common y por qué deberíamos de usarlo?
  • Ubuntu en servidores.

Capítulo 5º de la segunda temporada
El podcast esta disponible para escuchar en:
Categories: Linux

Omer Akram: How to install Android Studio on Ubuntu

Fri, 03/16/2018 - 14:59
In a terminal run:
$ sudo snap install android-studio --classic
Categories: Linux

James Page: Winning with OpenStack Upgrades?

Fri, 03/16/2018 - 04:00

On the Monday of the project teams gathering in Dublin a now somewhat familiar gathering of developers and operators got together to discuss upgrades – specifically fast forward upgrades but discussion over the day drifted into rolling upgrades and how to minimize downtime in supporting components as well. This discussion has been a regular feature over the last 18 months at PTG’s, Forums and Ops Meetups.

Fast Forward Upgrades?

So what is a fast forward upgrade? A fast forward upgrade takes an OpenStack deployment through multiple OpenStack releases without the requirement to run agents/daemons at each upgrade step; it does not allow you to skip an OpenStack release – the process allows you to just not run a release as you pass through it. This enables operators using older OpenStack releases to catch up with the latest OpenStack release in as short an amount of time as possible, accepting the compromise that the cloud control plane is down during the upgrade process.

This is somewhat adjunct to a rolling upgrade, where access to the control plane of the cloud is maintained during the upgrade process by upgrading units of a specific service individually, and leveraging database migration approaches such as expand/migrate/contract (EMC) to provide as seamless an upgrade process as possible for an OpenStack cloud. In common with fast forward upgrades, releases cannot be skipped.

Both upgrade approaches specifically aim to not disrupt the data plane of the cloud – instances, networking and storage – however this may be unavoidable if components such as Open vSwitch and the Linux kernel need to be upgraded as part of the upgrade process.

Deployment Project Updates

The TripleO team have been working towards fast forward upgrades during the Queens cycle and have a ‘pretty well defined model’ for what they’re aiming for with their upgrade process. They still have some challenges around ordering to minimize downtime specifically around Linux and OVS upgrades.

The OpenStack Ansible team gave an update – they have a concept of ‘leap upgrades’ which is similar to fast-forward upgrades – this work appears to lag behind the main upgrade path for OSA, which is a rolling upgrade approach which aims to be 100% online.

The OpenStack Charms team still continue to have a primary upgrade focus on rolling upgrades, minimizing downtime as much as possible for both the control and data plane of the Cloud. The primary focus for this team right now is supporting upgrades of the underlying Ubuntu OS between LTS releases with the imminent release of 18.04 on the horizon in April 2018, so no immediate work is planned on adopting fast-forward upgrades.

The Kolla team also have a primary focus on rolling upgrades, for which support starts at OpenStack Queens or later. There was some general discussion around automated configuration generation using Oslo to ease migration between OpenStack releases.

No one was present to represent the OpenStack Helm team.

Keeping Networking Alive

Challenges around keeping the Neutron data-plane alive during an upgrade where discussed – this included:

  • Minimising Open vSwitch downtime by saving and restoring flows.
  • Use of the ‘neutron-ha-tool’ from AT&T to manage routers across network nodes during an OpenStack cloud upgrade – there was also a bit of bike shedding on approaches to Neutron router HA in larger clouds. Plan are afoot to endeavor to make this part of the neutron code base.
Ceph Upgrades

We had a specific slot to discuss upgrade Ceph as part of an OpenStack Cloud upgrade; some deployment projects upgrade Ceph first (Charms), some last (TripleO) but there was general agreement that Ceph upgrades are pretty much always a rolling upgrade – i.e. no disruption to the storage services being provided. Generally there seems to be less pain in this area so it was not a long session.

Operator Feedback

A number of operators shared experiences of walking their OpenStack deployments through fast forward upgrades including some of the gotchas and trip hazards encountered.

Oath provided a lot of feedback on their experience of fast-forward upgrading their cloud from Juno to Ocata which included some increased complexity due to the move to using cells internally for Ocata. Ensuring compatibility between OpenStack and supporting projects was one challenge encountered – for example, snapshots worked fine with Juno and Libvirt 1.5.3, however on upgrade live snapshots where broken until Libvirt was upgraded to 2.9.0. Not all test combinations are covered in the gate!

Some of these have been shared on the OpenStack Wiki.

Upgrade SIG

Upgrade discussion has become a regular fixture at PTG’s, Forums, Summits and Meetups over the last few years; getting it right is tricky and the general feeling in the session was that this is something that we should talk about more between events.

The formation of an Upgrade SIG was proposed and supported by key participants in the session. The objective of the SIG is to improve the overall upgrade process for OpenStack Clouds, covering both offline ‘fast-forward’ and online ‘rolling’ upgrades by providing a forum for cross-project collaboration between operators and developers to document and codify best practice for upgrading OpenStack.

The SIG will initially be led by Lujin Luo (Fujitsu), Lee Yarwood (Redhat) and myself (Canonical) – we’ll be sorting out the schedule for bi-weekly IRC meetings in the next week or so – OpenStack operators and developers from across all projects are invited to participate in the SIG and help move OpenStack life cycle management forward!

Categories: Linux

Daniel Pocock: OSCAL'18, call for speakers, radio hams, hackers & sponsors reminder

Fri, 03/16/2018 - 02:46

The OSCAL organizers have given a reminder about their call for papers, booths and sponsors (ask questions here). The deadline is imminent but you may not be too late.

OSCAL is the Open Source Conference of Albania. OSCAL attracts visitors from far beyond Albania (OpenStreetmap), as the biggest Free Software conference in the Balkans, people come from many neighboring countries including Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia, Greece and Italy. OSCAL has a unique character unlike any other event I've visited in Europe and many international guests keep returning every year.

A bigger ham radio presence in 2018?

My ham radio / SDR demo worked there in 2017 and was very popular. This year I submitted a fresh proposal for a ham radio / SDR booth and sought out local radio hams in the region with an aim of producing an even more elaborate demo for OSCAL'18.

If you are a ham and would like to participate please get in touch using this forum topic or email me personally.

Why go?

There are many reasons to go to OSCAL:

  • We can all learn from their success with diversity. One of the finalists for Red Hat's Women in Open Source Award, Jona Azizaj, is a key part of their team: if she is announced the winner at Red Hat Summit the week before OSCAL, wouldn't you want to be in Tirana when she arrives back home for the party?
  • Warm weather to help people from northern Europe to thaw out.
  • For many young people in the region, their only opportunity to learn from people in the free software community is when we visit them. Many people from the region can't travel to major events like FOSDEM due to the ongoing outbreak of immigration bureaucracy and the travel costs. Many Balkan countries are not EU members and incomes are comparatively low.
  • Due to the low living costs in the region and the proximity to larger European countries, many companies are finding compelling opportunities to work with local developers there and OSCAL is a great place to make contacts informally.

Sponsors sought

Like many free software communities, Open Labs is a registered non-profit organization.

Anybody interested in helping can contact the team and ask them for whatever details you need. The Open Labs Manifesto expresses a strong commitment to transparency which is a vital feature for many other non-profit organizations wanting to understand an organization before making a decision about the right amount to contribute.

Due to the low costs in Albania, even a small sponsorship or donation makes a big impact there.

If you can't make a direct payment to Open Labs, you could also potentially help them with benefits in kind or by contributing money to one of the larger organizations supporting OSCAL.

Getting there without direct service from Ryanair or Easyjet

These notes about budget airline routes might help you plan your journey. It is particularly easy to get there from major airports in Italy. If you will also have a vacation at another location in the region it may be easier and cheaper to fly to that location and then use a bus to Tirana.

Making it a vacation

For people who like to combine conferences with their vacations, the Balkans (WikiTravel) offer many opportunities, including beaches, mountains, cities and even a pyramid (in Tirana itself).

It is very easy to reach neighboring countries like Montenegro and Kosovo by coach in just 3-4 hours. For example, there is the historic city of Prizren in Kosovo and many beach resorts in Montenegro.

If you go to Kosovo, don't miss the Prishtina hackerspace.

Categories: Linux

Raphaël Hertzog: Freexian’s report about Debian Long Term Support, February 2018

Fri, 03/16/2018 - 02:08

Like each month, here comes a report about the work of paid contributors to Debian LTS.

Individual reports

In February, about 196 work hours have been dispatched among 12 paid contributors. Their reports are available:

Evolution of the situation

The number of sponsored hours did not change but a new platinum sponsor is about to join our project.

The security tracker currently lists 60 packages with a known CVE and the dla-needed.txt file 33. The number of open issues increased significantly and we seem to be behind in terms of CVE triaging.

Thanks to our sponsors

New sponsors are in bold.

No comment | Liked this article? Click here. | My blog is Flattr-enabled.

Categories: Linux

Ubuntu Podcast from the UK LoCo: S11E02 – A Tale of Two Cities - Ubuntu Podcast

Thu, 03/15/2018 - 09:00

This week we interview Will Cooke, Manager of the Ubuntu Desktop team, about the changes we can expect to see in Ubuntu 18.04.

It’s Season 11 Episode 02 of the Ubuntu Podcast! Alan Pope, Mark Johnson and Martin Wimpress are connected and speaking to your brain.

In this week’s show:

  • We interview Will Cooke about the upcoming Ubuntu Desktop (Bionic Beaver) 18.04 LTS release.

  • Image credit: Kim Gorga

That’s all for this week! You can listen to the Ubuntu Podcast back catalogue on YouTube. If there’s a topic you’d like us to discuss, or you have any feedback on previous shows, please send your comments and suggestions to or Tweet us or Comment on our Facebook page or comment on our Google+ page or comment on our sub-Reddit.

Categories: Linux

Mathieu Trudel: Call for testing: in 18.04

Thu, 03/15/2018 - 07:18
Since 17.10, netplan has been the default network configuration tool in Ubuntu. Since then, it has grown in features, bug fixes, and even got its package renamed in the archive from "nplan" to We added better routing, improved handling for bridges, support for marking devices as "optional" for boot (so that the system doesn't wait for them to come up at boot time), lots of documentation updates... There's even been work to get it building for other distros.

We have a website for it, too:

As we get closer to the release of Ubuntu 18.04, it is past due to involve everyone in testing netplan and making sure it is solid and as featureful as possible for a wide range of use cases.

This is where you get to participate.

Let us know about any feature gaps that remain in what
netplan supports, so that we can add the features when it's possible, or so that these feature gaps can be properly documented if they can't be closed by release time.

Report any bugs you find in netplan on Launchpad.

If you are unsure whether something is a bug, it might well be, so it doesn't hurt to file a bug. At the very least, we do want to know if something feels really difficult to do, so we can look into improving the experience.

If you're unsure how to do something you can look up questions and answers, or add your own, on AskUbuntu here:

Netplan is being actively developed and we can use your help; so if there's one feature you care deeply about, or a bug that bugs you and you want to have a hand in fixing it, you can also jump right in to the code in Github:
Categories: Linux

Omer Akram: Lets Snap The World

Wed, 03/14/2018 - 09:36
I am a long-time Ubuntu user and community contributor. I love how open-source communities generally work, sure there are hiccups, like companies mandating decisions that aren't popular amongst the community. The idea of I being able to fix an issue and getting that released to hundreds of thousands of people is just priceless for me.

For the long time, I have distinguished some issues in Linux on the desktop that I want fixed. Biggest is always having the latest version of the software I use. Think of Android for example, you always get the latest version of the app, directly from the developers with no package maintainer in between. That's the ideal scenario but for us currently on Linux it may not be possible in all cases because of the fragmentation we have.

Snaps, I believe tries to solve that.

Whenever I find a new software that I want to install these days, the first thing I do is search the snap store (snap find my_query). I have found some unexpected snaps while doing that but other times I faced disappointment. On a personal level I have slowly started to fix that. I published Android Studio as a snap, Sublime Text is work-in-progress and I am looking into snapping Keybase.

The other apps that are absolutely important for me are already available, like PyCharm and Slack.

I have also discovered that MySQL and Firefox to some extent have their snaps there, which is super awesome.

The great thing today is that most new open-source projects are doing development on GitHub, so we can just go and contribute snap support for a project and quickly get automatic builds on I hope more people who care about Ubuntu, and Linux in general get behind this effort and make application delivery on Linux the best amongst all Desktop OSes.

Its time to put our egos aside and work for a larger cause.
Categories: Linux

Andres Rodriguez: MAAS 2.4.0 Alpha 2 released!

Tue, 03/13/2018 - 06:56
Hello MAASters! I’m happy to announce that MAAS 2.4.0 alpha 2 has now been released and is available for Ubuntu Bionic. MAAS Availability MAAS 2.4.0 alpha 1 is available in the Bionic -proposed archive or in the following PPA: ppa:maas/next MAAS 2.4.0 (alpha2) Important announcements NTP services now provided by Chrony

Starting with 2.4 Alpha 2, and in common with changes being made to Ubuntu Server, MAAS replaces ‘ntpd’ with Chrony for the NTP protocol. MAAS will handle the upgrade process and automatically resume NTP service operation.

Vanilla CSS Framework Transition

MAAS 2.4 is undergoing a Vanilla CSS framework transition to a new version of vanilla, which will bring a fresher look to the MAAS UI. This framework transition is currently work in progress and not all of the UI have been fully updated. Please expect to see some inconsistencies in this new release.

New Features & Improvements NTP services now provided by Chrony.

Starting from MAAS 2.4alpha2, chrony is now the default NTP service, replacing ntpd. This work has been done to align with the Ubuntu Server and Security team to support chrony instead of ntpd. MAAS will continue to provide services exactly the same way and users will not be affected by the changes, handling the upgrade process transparently. This means that:

  • MAAS will configure chrony as peers on all Region Controllers
  • MAAS will configure chrony as a client of peers for all Rack Controllers
  • Machines will use the Rack Controllers as they do today
MAAS Internals optimization

MAAS 2.4 is currently undergoing major surgery to improve various areas of operation that are not visible to the user. These updates will improve the overall performance of MAAS in larger environments. These improvements include:

  • AsyncIO based event loop
    • MAAS has an event loop which performs various internal actions. In older versions of MAAS, the event loop was managed by the default twisted event loop. MAAS now uses an asyncio based event loop, driven by uvloop, which is targeted at improving internal performance.

  • Improved daemon management
    • MAAS has changed the way daemons are run to allow users to see both ‘regiond’ and ‘rackd’ as processes in the process list.
    • As part of these changes, regiond workers are now managed by a master regiond process. In older versions of MAAS each worker was directly run by systemd. The master process is now in charge of ensuring workers are running at all times, and re-spawning new workers in case of failures. This also allows users to see the worker hierarchy in the process list.
  • Ability to increase the number of regiond workers
    • Following the improved way MAAS daemons are run, further internal changes have been made to allow the number of regiond workers to be increased automatically. This allows MAAS to scale to handle more internal operations in larger environments.
    • While this capability is already available, it is not yet available by default. It will become available in the following milestone release.
  • Database query optimizations
    • In the process of inspecting the internal operations of MAAS, it was discovered that multiple unnecessary database queries are performed for various operations. Optimising these requires internal improvements to reduce the footprint of these operations. Some areas that have been addressed in this release include:
      • When saving node objects (e.g. making any update of a machine, device, rack controller, etc), MAAS validated changes across various fields. This required an increased number of queries for fields, even when they were not being updated. MAAS now tracks specific fields that change and only performs queries for those fields.
        • Example: To update a power state, MAAS would perform 11 queries. After these improvements, , only 1 query is now performed.
      • On every transaction, MAAS performed 2 queries to update the timestamp. This has now been consolidated into a single query per transaction.
    • These changes  greatly improves MAAS performance and database utilisation in larger environments. More improvements will continue to be made as we continue to examine various areas in MAAS.
  • UI optimisations
    • MAAS is now being optimised to reduce the amount of data loaded in the websocket API to render the UI. This is targeted at only processing data for viewable information, improving various legacy areas. Currently, the work done in this area includes:
      • Script results are only loaded for viewable nodes in the machine listing page, reducing the overall amount of data loaded.
      • The node object is updated in the websocket only when something has changed in the database, reducing the data transferred to the clients as well as the amount of internal queries.
Audit logging

Continuing with the audit logging improvements, alpha2 now adds audit logging for all user actions that affect Hardware Testing & Commissioning.

KVM pod improvements

MAAS’ KVM pods was initially developed as a feature to help developers quickly iterate and test new functionality while developing MAAS. This, however, because a feature that allow not only developers, but also administrators to make better use of resources across their datacenter. Since the feature was initially create for developers, some features were lacking. As such, in 2.4 we are improving the usability of KVM pods:

  • Pod AZ’s.
    MAAS now allows setting the physical zone for the pod. This helps administrators by conceptually placing their KVM pods in a AZ, which enables them to request/allocate machines on demand based on its AZ. All VM’s created from a pod will inherit the AZ.

  • Pod tagging
    MAAS now adds the ability to set tags for a pod. This allows administrators to use tags to allow/prevent the creation of a VM inside the pod using tags. For example, if the administrator would like a machine with a ‘tag’ named ‘virtual’, MAAS will filter all physical machines and only consider other VM’s or a KVM pod for machine allocation.
Bug fixes

Please refer to the following for all bug fixes in this release.

Categories: Linux

Ubuntu Podcast from the UK LoCo: S11E01 – One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest - Ubuntu Podcast

Mon, 03/12/2018 - 17:30

This week we discuss what we’ve been up to during the season break and the changes we’re making to the podcast this year.

It’s Season 11 Episode 01 of the Ubuntu Podcast! Alan Pope, Mark Johnson and Martin Wimpress are connected and speaking to your brain.

In this week’s show:

That’s all for this week! You can listen to the Ubuntu Podcast back catalogue on YouTube. If there’s a topic you’d like us to discuss, or you have any feedback on previous shows, please send your comments and suggestions to or Tweet us or Comment on our Facebook page or comment on our Google+ page or comment on our sub-Reddit.

Categories: Linux

Jono Bacon: Keeping Governance Simple and Uncomplicated

Sun, 03/11/2018 - 23:08

I have noticed an interesting pattern when some new projects and initiatives get started: they have an excessive application of governance, in many cases to deliver an impression of “completeness” or project independence. I want to share a few words on how to avoid this over-complexity.

I understand why this happens. Generally, successful collaborative communities strive to be very objective environments, with process, workflow, and governance clearly documented as a means to ensure anyone and everyone can contribute. The governance piece plays a key role in affirming objective leadership and avoiding conflicts of interest.

These are valiant goals, but there needs to be a careful balance of this process and governance, where it is blended with a robust focus on simplicity and efficiency. I have seen many projects unwittingly sacrifice agility and the plain joy of participating with an overly bureaucratic machine that a few governance nerds obsess over.

There are countless examples (that shall remain anonymous here), such as a new advocacy group of around 10 people who had 2 boards to govern them (everyone was on a board) and had excessively long meetings. There was the concensus-based board with 18 members that could never make decisions. There was the community that required excessive commitments from their members to overly bureaucratic governance mantra handed down from high. In all of these cases those communities were worsened, not strengthened by governance.

Start Simple

The solution here is start small and simple, and then observe and iterate.

Just like how a chef applies salt to a dish, you should apply the smallest amount possible and adjust to taste. Start by putting in place the thinnest layer of governance possible to accomplish your goals.

To start with this we need to understand what our governance goals actually are. Again, simplicity is key here. I generally recommend you strive to build an environment in which formal governance is kept out of the day to day of participation in the community and instead focused on the rules and policies that underlay the project. Don’t bottleneck your community by requiring governance approval on decisions unless absolutely necessary (e.g. community-wide policy is a great governance-target, but not pull request approvals). Effective governance is as much about knowing where governance boards should steer clear of as well as where they should focus their attention.

Governance can of course be as long as a piece of string. The simplest start in many cases is no governance at all. See how the project runs and if there is even a requirement for a governance function. In many, many cases you simply don’t need any governance: just a communicative set of community participants who can make decisions collaboratively.

If there is a need for something more expansive, I recommend you start with a simple board of 3 – 5 people whose charter is focused on general community matters (e.g. handing sponsor funds, how the community is moderated, publishing policy etc). For technology communities, the board would not have any technical authority: that is for the developers to decide (this avoids impacts on engineering agility). You could grandfather in the initial board members, have them meet every month on a public channel, and log outcomes on a wiki. After a set period of time, open up nominations, and form the first independently elected board.

We did this in Ubuntu. We started with some core governance boards (the Community Council, focused on community policy and the Technical Council focused on technical policy). The rest of the extensive governance structure came as Ubuntu grew significantly. Our goal was always to keep things as lightweight as possible.

Iterate and Improve

I am a firm believer that the way in which we collaborate should be as much of a collaborative product as the output of a community project. Just like an open source project, we should review, iterate, and review the performance of our iterations. We should constantly assess how we can optimize our governance to be as simple and thin as possible. We should build an environment where someone can file a metaphorical or literal pull request with pragmatic ways to optimize how the project is governed. This assures the project is pulling the best insight from members to ensure it is as efficient and as lightweight as possible.

To do this, honestly observe how the governance performs. Is it accomplishing the goals it is designed for? Are governance members enjoying their work and fulfilled in the delivery? Is it supporting the success of community members? Evaluate how the meetings are run, if actions are followed up on, and whether people are late.

On a regular basis (e.g. once a quarter) plan some adjustments and changes based on these observations and track if these changes improve overall performance.

Throughout this process, deliberately practice muntzing (as I wrote about here) to remove anything that isn’t neccessary. This keeps your governance to a minimum and ensures there is a culture of challenging current norms and optimizing how the project works. This ultimately results in healthier more pragmatic communities that still benefit from the many benefits of well-structured governance.

The post Keeping Governance Simple and Uncomplicated appeared first on Jono Bacon.

Categories: Linux

Jeremy Bicha: webkitgtk in Debian Stretch: Report Card

Sat, 03/10/2018 - 10:25

webkitgtk is the GTK+ port of WebKit. webkitgtk provides web functionality for many things including GNOME Online Accounts’ login panels; Evolution’s HTML email editor and viewer; and the engine for the Epiphany web browser (also known as GNOME Web).

Last year, I announced here that Debian 9 “Stretch” included the latest version of webkitgtk (Debian’s package is named webkit2gtk). At the time, I hoped that Debian 9 would get periodic security and bugfix updates. Nine months later, let’s see how we’ve been doing.

Release History

Debian 9.0, released June 17, 2017, included webkit2gtk 2.16.3 (up to date).

Debian 9.1 was released July 22, 2017 with no webkit2gtk update (2.16.5 was the current release at the time).

Debian 9.2, released October 8, 2017, included 2.16.6 (There was a 2.18.0 release available then but for the first stable update, we kept it simple by not taking the brand new series.)

Debian 9.3 was released December 9, 2017 with no webkit2gtk update (2.18.3 was the current release at the time).

Debian 9.4 released March 10, 2018 (today!), includes 2.18.6 (up to date).

Release Schedule

webkitgtk development follows the GNOME release schedule and produces new major updates every March and September. Only the current stable series is supported (although sometimes there can be a short overlap; 2.14.6 was released at the same time as 2.16.1). Distros need to adopt the new series every six months.

Like GNOME, webkitgtk uses even numbers for stable releases (2.16 is a stable series, 2.16.3 is a point release in that series, but 2.17.3 is a development release leading up to 2.18, the next stable series).

There are webkitgtk bugfix releases, approximately monthly. Debian stable point releases happen approximately every two or three months (the first point release was quicker).

In a few days, webkitgtk 2.20 will be released. Debian 9.5 will need to include 2.20.1 (or 2.20.2) to keep users on a supported release.

Report Card

From five Debian 9 releases, we have been up to date in 2 or 3 of them (depending on how you count the 9.2 release).

Using a letter grade scale, I think I’d give Debian a B or B- so far. But this is significantly better than Debian 8 which offered no webkitgtk updates at all except through backports. In my grading, Debian could get a A- if we consistently updated webkitgtk in these point releases.

To get a full A, I think Debian would need to push the new webkitgtk updates (after a brief delay for regression testing) directly as security updates without waiting for point releases. Although that proposal has been rejected for Debian 9, I think it is reasonable for Debian 10 to use this model.

If you are a Debian Developer or Maintainer and would like to help with webkitgtk updates, please get in touch with Berto or me. I, um, actually don’t even run Debian (except briefly in virtual machines for testing), so I’d really like to turn over this responsibility to someone else in Debian.


I find the Repology webkitgtk tracker to be fascinating. For one thing, I find it humorous how the same package can have so many different names in different distros.

Categories: Linux

The Fridge: Bionic Beaver 18.04 Beta 1 Released!

Fri, 03/09/2018 - 21:38
"The beaver told the rabbit as they stared at the Hoover Dam: No, I didn't build it myself, but it's based on an idea of mine". -- Charles Hard Townes The first beta of the Bionic Beaver (to become 18.04) has now been released, and is available for download! This milestone features images for Kubuntu, Ubuntu Budgie, Ubuntu Kylin, Ubuntu MATE, and Xubuntu. Pre-releases of the Bionic Beaver are *not* encouraged for anyone needing a stable system or anyone who is not comfortable running into occasional, even frequent breakage. They are, however, recommended for Ubuntu flavour developers and those who want to help in testing, reporting, and fixing bugs as we work towards getting this release ready. Beta 1 includes some software updates that are ready for broader testing. However, it is quite an early set of images, so you should expect some bugs. While these Beta 1 images have been tested and do work, except as noted in the release notes, Ubuntu developers are continuing to improve the Bionic Beaver. In particular, once newer daily images are available, system installation bugs identified in the Beta 1 installer should be verified against the current daily image before being reported in Launchpad. Using an obsolete image to re-report bugs that have already been fixed wastes your time and the time of developers who are busy trying to make 18.04 the best Ubuntu release yet. Always ensure your system is up to date before reporting bugs. [Kubuntu] Kubuntu is the KDE-based flavour of Ubuntu. It uses the KDE Plasma desktop and includes a wide selection of tools from the KDE project. The Kubuntu 18.04 Beta 1 images can be downloaded from: * More information about Kubuntu 18.04 Beta 1 can be found here: * [Ubuntu Budgie] Ubuntu Budgie is the Budgie Desktop based flavour of Ubuntu. Combines the simplicity and elegance of the Budgie interface to produce a traditional desktop orientated distro with a modern paradigm. The Ubuntu Budgie 18.04 Beta 1 images can be downloaded from: * More information about Ubuntu Budgie 18.04 Beta 1 can be found here: * [Ubuntu Kylin] Ubuntu Kylin is a flavour of Ubuntu that is more suitable for Chinese users. The Ubuntu Kylin 18.04 Beta 1 images can be downloaded from: * More information about Ubuntu Kylin 18.04 Beta 1 can be found here: * [Ubuntu MATE] Ubuntu MATE is the MATE Desktop based flavour of Ubuntu. It is ideal for those who want the most out of their computers and prefer​_ a traditional desktop metaphor. The Ubuntu MATE 18.04 Beta 1 images can be downloaded from: * More information about Ubuntu MATE 18.04 Beta 1 can be found here: * [Xubuntu] Xubuntu is the Xfce Desktop based flavour of Ubuntu. It is perfect for those who want the most out of their desktops, laptops and netbooks with a modern look. It works well on older hardware too. The Xubuntu 18.04 Beta 1images can be downloaded from: * More information about Xubuntu 18.04 Beta 1 can be found here: * If you're interested in following the changes as we further develop the Bionic Beaver, we suggest that you subscribe to the ubuntu-devel-announce list. This is a low-traffic list (a few posts a week) carrying announcements of approved specifications, policy changes, beta releases and other exciting events. * A big thank you to the developers and testers for their efforts to pull together this Beta release! On behalf of Ubuntu Release Team, Dustin Krysak Originally posted to the Ubuntu Release mailing list on Fri Mar 9 19:51:58 UTC 2018 by Dustin Krysak, on behalf of the Ubuntu Release Team
Categories: Linux

Kubuntu General News: Kubuntu Bionic Beaver (18.04) Beta 1 Released!

Fri, 03/09/2018 - 15:05

The first beta of the Bionic Beaver (to become 18.04) has now been released, and is available for download!

This milestone features images for Kubuntu, Ubuntu Budgie, Ubuntu Kylin, Ubuntu MATE, and Xubuntu.

Pre-releases of the Bionic Beaver are not encouraged for:
* anyone needing a stable system
* anyone who is not comfortable running into occasional,
even frequent breakage.

They are, however, recommended for:
* Ubuntu flavour developers
* those who want to help in testing, reporting, and fixing
as we work towards getting this release ready.

Beta 1 includes some software updates that are ready for broader testing. However, it is quite an early set of images, so you should expect some bugs.

The full text of the announcement:

The Kubuntu 18.04 Beta 1 images can be downloaded from:

More information about Kubuntu 18.04 Beta 1 can be found here:

Categories: Linux