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Debian News/Reports

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  • When distributions get it wrong

    So this story starts with Debian removing XChat from its repo on 2016-01-30 which is not terrible in comparison to other distros but the problem arises when on 2017-08-08 it was accepted back into the repository to my surprise. Since then the maintainer has backported a few patches from HexChat including some CVE fixes and making UI changes to the input box totaling up to 44 patches as of today. Since no other upstream exists this project is no longer XChat really it is a Debian specific fork and due to timing this will land in Ubuntu 18.04 meaning this is theoretically “supported” (by the community) until 2023.


    I have no real conclusion for this story as I cannot solve it but I hope users of these distros don’t just accept that software in the repos is maintained or safe and I hope members of the Debian and Ubuntu community can recognize that pulling in completely dead software into their repositories is a bad idea.

  • BOB Konferenz’18 in Berlin

    Recently Pranav Jain and I attended Bob Conference in Berlin, Germany. The conference started with a keynote on a very interesting topic, A language for making movies. Using Non Linear Video Editor for making movies was time consuming, ofcourse. The speaker talked about the struggle of merging presentation, video and high quality sound for conferences. Clearly, Automation was needed here which could be achieved by 1. Making a plugin for non linear VE, 2. Writing a UI automation tool like an operating system macro 3. Using shell scripting. However, dealing shell script for this purpose could be time consuming no matter how great shell scripts are. While the goal to achieve here was to edit videos using a language only and let the language get in the way of solving this. In other words a DSL Domain-Specific Language was required along with Syntax Parse. Video ( a language for making movies which integrated with Racket ecosystem. It combines the power of a traditional video editor with the capabilities of a full programming language.


    This is just a summary of our experiences and what we were able to grasp at the conference and also share our individual experience with Debian on GSoC and Outreachy.

  • trains & snow

    unsurprisingly, my work was mostly focussed on Debian Perl Group stuff. we managed to move our repos from alioth to salsa during the weekend, which involved not only importing ~3500 repositories but also e.g. recreating our .mrconfig setup.

  • February 2018 report: LTS, ...

    This is my monthly Debian LTS report. This month was exclusively dedicated to my frontdesk work. I actually forgot to do it the first week and had to play catchup during the weekend, so I brought up a discussion about how to avoid those problems in the future. I proposed an automated reminder system, but it turns out people found this was overkill. Instead, Chris Lamb suggested we simply send a ping to the next person in the list, which has proven useful the next time I was up.

Petter Reinholdtsen: Debian used in the subway info screens in Oslo, Norway

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Today I was pleasantly surprised to discover my operating system of choice, Debian, was used in the info screens on the subway stations. While passing Nydalen subway station in Oslo, Norway, I discovered the info screen booting with some text scrolling.

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Debian and Derivatives: SnowCamp, Debian Gitlab, Debian/TeX Live, Snap Apps

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  • Report from Debian SnowCamp: day 3

    Thanks to Valhalla and other members of LIFO, a bunch of fine Debian folks have convened in Laveno, on the shores of Lake Maggiore, for a nice weekend of relaxing and sprinting on various topics, a SnowCamp.

  • Report from SnowCamp #1

    As Nicolas already reported, a bunch of Debian folk gathered in the North of Italy for a long weekend of work and socialisation.

  • Debian Gitlab ( tricks
  • Debian/TeX Live 2017.20180225-1

    To my big surprise, the big rework didn’t create any havoc at all, not one bug report regarding the change. That is good. OTOH, I took some time off due to various surprising (and sometimes disturbing) things that have happened in the last month, so the next release took a bit longer than expected.

  • Ubuntu Software Will Soon Let You Install Beta, Bleeding Edge Snap Apps

    No, not TV channels, or the sort the that ferries goods between countries, but development channels, e.g, beta, bleeding edge, stable, etc.

    Snap developers are able to distribute different versions of their app over “channels”, and have for almost as long as Snappy has been around in fact.

Remembering Tom Wallis, The System Administrator That Made The World Better

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So it was a shock to get an email this week that Tom had married for the first time at age 54, and passed away four days later due to a boating accident while on his honeymoon.

Tom was a man with a big laugh and an even bigger heart. When I started a Linux Users Group (LUG) on campus, there was Tom – helping to arrange a place to meet, Internet access when we needed it, and gave his evenings to simply be present and a supporter.

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Report from Debian SnowCamp and a Look at Solyd XK, a Debian-Based Distribution

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  • Report from Debian SnowCamp: day 1
  • Report from Debian SnowCamp: day 2

    Of course, we’re still sorely lacking volunteers who would really care about; the codebase is a pile of hacks upon hacks upon hacks, all relying on an old version of a deprecated Python web framework. A few attempts have been made at a smooth transition to a more recent framework, without really panning out, mostly for lack of time on the part of the people running the service. I’m still convinced things should restart from scratch, but I don’t currently have the energy or time to drive it… Ugh.

  • Installing Solyd XK, a Debian based Linux distribution : Cooking With Linux

    It's time for some more "Cooking With Linux" without a net, meaning the video you are about to watch was recorded live. Today, I'm going to install a new Linux distribution (new to me, anyhow) called Solyd XK.

Top 8 Debian-Based Distros

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Most people tend to forget that despite Ubuntu's success over the years, it's still just a distro based on another distro - Debian. Debian on its own, however, isn't really well suited for newer users...hence the explosion of distros based on Debian over the recent years. There are lot of great choices for Linux users. Which one is best for you?

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Debian and Ubuntu Leftovers

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  • Listing and loading of Debian repositories: now live on Software Heritage

    Software Heritage is the project for which I’ve been working during the past two and a half years now. The grand vision of the project is to build the universal software archive, which will collect, preserve and share the Software Commons.

    Today, we’ve announced that Software Heritage is archiving the contents of Debian daily. I’m reposting this article on my blog as it will probably be of interest to readers of Planet Debian.

    TL;DR: Software Heritage now archives all source packages of Debian as well as its security archive daily. Everything is ready for archival of other Debian derivatives as well. Keep on reading to get details of the work that made this possible.

  • Canonical announces Ubuntu Core across Rigado’s IoT gateways
  • Collecting user data while protecting user privacy

    Lots of companies want to collect data about their users. This is a good thing, generally; being data-driven is important, and it’s jolly hard to know where best to focus your efforts if you don’t know what your people are like. However, this sort of data collection also gives people a sense of disquiet; what are you going to do with that data about me? How do I get you to stop using it? What conclusions are you drawing from it? I’ve spoken about this sense of disquiet in the past, and you can watch (or read) that talk for a lot more detail about how and why people don’t like it.

    So, what can we do about it? As I said, being data-driven is a good thing, and you can’t be data-driven if you haven’t got any data to be driven by. How do we enable people to collect data about you without compromising your privacy?

    Well, there are some ways. Before I dive into them, though, a couple of brief asides: there are some people who believe that you shouldn’t be allowed to collect any data on your users whatsoever; that the mere act of wanting to do so is in itself a compromise of privacy. This is not addressed to those people. What I want is a way that both sides can get what they want: companies and projects can be data-driven, and users don’t get their privacy compromised. If what you want is that companies are banned from collecting anything… this is not for you. Most people are basically OK with the idea of data collection, they just don’t want to be victimised by it, now or in the future, and it’s that property that we want to protect.

    Similarly, if you’re a company who wants to know everything about each individual one of your users so you can sell that data for money, or exploit it on a user-by-user basis, this isn’t for you either. Stop doing that.

Ubuntu and Debian/Freexian News

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  • A Simple App Menu Editor for Ubuntu

    If you’re looking for an easy way to edit application launchers and menu entries on Ubuntu you’ll want to check out AppEditor.

    AppEditor is an easy to use

    Alacarte has been the go-to menu editor for almost as long as I’ve been using Ubuntu. It’s still perfectly functional, but it hasn’t really changed since then.

    ‘AppEditor’ would probably be better named Menu Entry Editor or Launcher Editor, or something other than App Editor as, rather than edit apps, it lets you edit app menu entries for apps, rather than the apps itself.

  • Canonical got Juju eyeballs for storage

    Canonical’s is mixing new potions in its Juju charm store.

    Juju is Canonical’s open source modelling tool for cloud software — it handles operations designed to deploy, configure, manage, maintain and scale applications via the command line interface, or through its optional GUI.

  • Freexian’s report about Debian Long Term Support, January 2017

Debian: The SysVinit Migration, Debian Debates, and package-hosting repository,

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  • The SysVinit upstream project just migrated to git

    Surprising as it might sound, there are still computers using the traditional Sys V init system, and there probably will be until systemd start working on Hurd and FreeBSD. The upstream project still exist, though, and up until today, the upstream source was available from Savannah via subversion. I am happy to report that this just changed.

  • futures of distributions

    Seems Debian is talking about why they are unable to package whole categories of modern software, such as anything using npm. It's good they're having a conversation about that, and I want to give a broader perspective.

  • What is Debian all about, really? Or: friction, packaging complex applications

    This weekend, those interested in Debian development have been having a discussion on the debian-devel mailing list about "What can Debian do to provide complex applications to its users?". I'm commenting on that in my blog rather than the mailing list, since this got a bit too long to be usefully done in an email.

  • Updated my package-repository

    Yesterday I overhauled my Debian package-hosting repository, in response to user-complaints.

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More in Tux Machines

OSS Leftovers

  • What Is Fuchsia, Google’s New Operating System?
    Fuchsia first popped up on the tech world’s radar in mid-2016, when an unannounced open source project from Google appeared on the GitHub repository. According to initial inspection by the technology press, it was designed to be a “universal” operating system, capable of running on everything from low-power smartwatches to powerful desktops. That potentially includes phones, tablets, laptops, car electronics, connected appliances, smarthome hardware, and more.
  • Google created an AI-based, open source music synthesizer
    Move over musicians, AI is here. Google's 'NSynth' neural network is designed to take existing sounds and combine them using a complex, machine learning algorithm. The result? Thousands of new musical sounds, and an instrument you can play them on.
  • March Add(on)ness: uBlock (1) vs Kimetrack (4)
  • TenFourFox FPR6 SPR1 coming
    Stand by for FPR6 Security Parity Release 1 due to the usual turmoil following Pwn2Own, in which the mighty typically fall and this year Firefox did. We track these advisories and always plan to have a patched build of TenFourFox ready and parallel with Mozilla's official chemspill release; I have already backported the patch and tested it internally.
  • GCC 8 Compiler Offering More Helpful Debug Messages, Usability Improvements
    Red Hat's David Malcom has outlined some of the usability improvements coming with the imminent release of GCC 8.
  • Friday Free Software Directory IRC meetup time changed: March 16th starting at 12:00 p.m. EDT/16:00 UTC
  • Your guide to LibrePlanet 2018, wherever you are, March 24-25
    The free software community encompasses the globe, and we strive to make the LibrePlanet conference reflect that. That's why we livestream the proceedings of the conference, and encourage you to participate remotely by both watching and participating in the discussion via IRC.
  • Open Source Advocate Dr. Joshua Pearce Publishes Paper on Inexpensive GMAW Metal 3D Printing
    One of the most outspoken advocates of open source philosophy in the 3D printing industry is Dr. Joshua M. Pearce, Associate Professor, Materials Science & Engineering and Electrical & Computer Engineering for Michigan Technological University (Michigan Tech).
  • ONF Launches Stratum Open-Source SDN Project
    The growing adoption of software-defined networking over the past several years has given a boost to makers of networking white boxes. The separation of the network operating system, control plane and network tasks from the underlying proprietary hardware meant that organizations could run that software on white-box switches and servers that are less expensive than those systems from the likes of Cisco Systems, Juniper Networks, Dell EMC and Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Network virtualization technologies such as software-defined networking (SDN) and network-functions virtualization (NFV) have proven to be a particular boon for hyperscale cloud providers like Google and Facebook and telecommunications companies like AT&T and Verizon, which are pushing increasingly massive amounts of traffic through their growing infrastructures. Being able to use less expensive and easily manageable white boxes from original design manufacturers (ODMs) has helped these organizations keep costs down even as demand rises.

KDE: Discover, Qt Creator, LibAlkimia

  • This week in Discover, part 10
    This week saw many positive changes for Discover, and I feel that it’s really coming into its own. Discover rumbles inexorably along toward the finish line of becoming the most-loved Linux app store!
  • Qt Creator 4.6 RC & Qt 5.11 Beta 2 Released
    The Qt Company has some new software development releases available in time for weekend testing. First up is the Qt Creator 4.6 Release Candidate. Qt Creator 4.6 has been working on better C++17 feature support, Clang-Tidy and Clazy warnings are now integrated into the diagnostic messages for the C++ editor, new filters, and improvements to the model editor.
  • LibAlkimia 7.0.1 with support for MPIR released
    LibAlkimia is a base library that contains support for financial applications based on the Qt C++ framework. One of its main features is the encapsulation of The GNU Multiple Precision Arithmetic Library (GMP) and so providing a simple object to be used representing monetary values in the form of rational numbers. All the mathematical details are hidden inside the AlkValue object.
  • Last Weeks Activity in Elisa and Release Schedule
    Elisa is a music player developed by the KDE community that strives to be simple and nice to use. We also recognize that we need a flexible product to account for the different workflows and use-cases of our users. We focus on a very good integration with the Plasma desktop of the KDE community without compromising the support for other platforms (other Linux desktop environments, Windows and Android). We are creating a reliable product that is a joy to use and respects our users privacy. As such, we will prefer to support online services where users are in control of their data.

SwagArch 18.02 - U Got Swag?

SwagArch sounds like an interesting concept. The aesthetic side of things is reasonable, although brown as a color and a dark theme make for a tricky choice. The fonts are pretty good overall. But the visual element is the least of the distro's problems. SwagArch 18.02 didn't deliver the basics, and that's what made Dedoimedo sad. Network support plus the clock issue, horrible package management and broken programs, those are things that must work perfectly. Without them, the system has no value. So you do get multimedia support and a few unique apps, however that cannot balance out all the woes and problems that I encountered. All in all, Swag needs a lot more work. Also, it will have a tough time competing with Manjaro and Antergos, which are already established and fairly robust Arch spins. Lastly, it needs to narrow down its focus. The overall integration of elements is pretty weak. Eclectic, jumbled, not really tested. 2/10 for now. Let's see how it evolves. Read more

How Open Source Approach is Impacting Science

Dive into the exciting world of Innovative Science to explore and find out about how the Linux-based Operating System and Open Source are playing a significant role in the major scientific breakthroughs that are taking place in our daily lives. Read more