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Debian

Unity 8 + Mir Is Being Packaged Up For Debian

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Debian
Ubuntu

Debian developer Mike Gabriel in cooperation with the UBports developers continuing to maintain Ubuntu Touch and Unity 8 are working to offer Unity 8 (and in turn, Mir) packages within Debian.

With the Unity 8 desktop support being revived ahead and with Debian having no good desktop environment for Debian on tablets, Unity 8 and Mir packaging is being prepared for upstream Debian. This in turn will also help Debian derivatives wanting to offer Unity 8 as an option in the future

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Original: UBports: Packaging of Unity8 Desktop for Debian

Sparky 5.10.1

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Debian

There is a minor update of live/install media of Sparky 5.10.1 “Nibiru” of the stable line.

Changes between 5.10 and 5.10.1:
– the base system has been upgraded from Debian stable repos as of February 04, 2020
– added new Sparky repository public key to avoid problems during fresh installation and upgrading Sparky after the first boot

Existing Sparky users: system reinstallation is not required, install the new Sparky public key as follows...

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Threats, Violence, Suicide, Palestine and Censorship in Debian

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Debian

There have been renewed discussions about aggression, violence and suicide messages in Debian recently.

Since the Debian Project Leader Chris Lamb started denouncing volunteers in 2018, some volunteers have been receiving extraordinarily abusive messages. Some of those messages refer to suicide or encourage volunteers to kill themselves. H

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Debian Leftovers

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Debian
  • Jonathan Dowland: FOSDEM 2020

    So as already implied I attended FOSDEM 2020, my second FOSDEM. The weather was nicer than last year and I was better prepared for trying to manage the conference, although a helpful analogy I heard this weekend was to think of it more like a festival than a conference: You go for one or two headliners and everything else is a bonus.

    The business reason to be there was to attend (and help out the on-the-day running of) the Free Java dev room. We had the same room as last year, and just like last time, there were queues out the doors right from the first talk. The quality of the talks was very high. Of note was the presence of Microsoft, both with Nikola Grcevski's interesting talk about selectively stack-allocating some objects to reduce GC time and their contribution towards the Free Java dinner that evening.

  • The Powerful World of Debian Keyboard Shortcuts
  • Mike Gabriel: My Work on Debian LTS (January 2020)

    In January 2020, I have worked on the Debian LTS project for 20 hours (of 20 hours planned).

    Due to a reduced need of developers in Freexian's ELTS project for Debian wheezy, I have moved my activity completely over to the LTS project (and also took the amount of assigned hours with me).

The Verdict On systemd Is In

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Debian

The winning option was to support systemd, but to explore other alternatives. By contrast, officially supporting multiple init systems was the first to be dropped in the multiple rounds of Debian’s complicated Condorcet voting system, no doubt because it would seriously complicate packaging many applications.

Clearly systemd has reached a level of acceptance that would have been unimaginable when it was first introduced eight or nine years ago. In fact, probably no other application had been so reviled since Mono, the Linux version of Microsoft’s .NET Framework. Critics claimed systemd’s centralized controls violate the Unix philosophy of using one small program for a single, limited purpose. Since systemd was developed by Red Hat, others viewed systemd as part of a ploy to dominate the Linux desktop.

On the technical side, many considered systemd as an unnecessary overlay of existing functions. Systemd was also condemned as making the entire system easier to crash, and acting on different assumptions from the rest of the system. Others praised elements of systemd like the systemctl command while objecting to the binary logging system. The wide-ranging debate was often venomous, and the venom often spilled over into personal attacks on Lennart Poettering and Kay Sievers, systemd’s original developers, who sometimes responded in kind.

Today, systemd is regarded differently. Arguments about the true Unix philosophy have proved moot, and the worst case scenarios have not materialized. Probably, too, the fact that most distributions use aliases to integrate systemd keeps non-administers unaware of its omnipresence.

In proposing the winning option, former Debian Project Leader Martin Michlmayr argued foremost that, “Cross-distribution standards and cooperation are important factors in the choice of core Debian technologies. It is important to recognize that the Linux ecosystem has widely adopted systemd and that the level of integration of systemd technologies in Linux systems will increase with time.” For Michlmayr, the technical benefits of supporting multiple init systems do not justify the efforts required.

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What is a Debian Developer?

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Debian

When I started doing things with Debian in 1997, it was prompted by a visit from another Debian Developer. His generosity with his time, skill and advice have left an impression on me to this day about what it means to be a Debian Developer.

Virtual Moreland was just starting out with a $100,000 grant to get us moving. Some second-hand servers had been donated to run web sites and mail systems, thin clients to build a training lab. I had been using Slackware Linux for a number of years and anticipated using it for Virtual Moreland.

Fortunately, I was introduced to another local Debian Developer who pointed out the benefits of the Debian packaging system over Slackware. He brought the latest Debian archive to me on his hard disk so I could get a local mirror up and running more quickly. When I introduce people to Debian today, I hope I can be equally helpful to them.

That was before Debian had a constitution and before SPI, Inc, a US organisation which has kept many Developers off the books, had seized a Debian trademark. It was before Debian had decided to experiment with a Code of Conduct.

Today, after more than 20 years, Debian still means much the same thing for me: technical excellence. Giving back to the community. Following the principles laid out in the Debian Social Contract.

Yet being on the Debian keyring has become a poisoned chalice. After the events of 2018, it is clear that people are both added to the keyring and removed for reasons that are related to politics and control.

To put it another way, rogue elements of Debian want to flex their muscles and have the power of an employer, without paying us.

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Installing Debian on the Pinebook Pro

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GNU
Linux
Debian
HowTos

There are a couple of different pre built operating system images one can dd to SD cards or the eMMC and there are also some scripts to install (instead of dding) systems. The laptop comes preinstalled with what is usually (in the forums and the wiki) called Debian Desktop. It is a Debian based image with a Mate Desktop and a lot of modifications. The images for this system are distributed via a github repository. I did not find any source code for the images nor documentation about the changes from upstream Debian, so I have no idea how they are built (the archives behind the Source code links on the release page of the images only contain the README.md file). I only started the preinstalled system once or twice, but it seemed to work very well (suspend worked) and it ships a lot of useful software for end users. But I did not take a deeper look at this image. There are also two Ubuntu based images listed in the Pine64 wiki, one of which comes with LXDE as desktop system, the other one with the Mate Desktop. They are also distributed via github release pages, but in these cases the repository also contains the code of the build scripts. Manjaro, an Arch Linux based distribution, also provides images for the Pinebook Pro. Besides those there are Armbian images, Android images, Chromium images and some more.

I did not really want to use any of the provided images, but rather install my own Debian system. There is an installer script which installs Debian on a SD card or the eMMC using debootstrap. This script does a lot of useful stuff, and a good part of my approach of installing Debian is based on it.

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Also: Thorsten Alteholz: My Debian Activities in January 2020

LibreOffice and Debian at FOSDEM (DebConf/MiniDebCamp)

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LibO
Debian
  • Come meet the LibreOffice community at FOSDEM!

    Yes, LibreOffice is at FOSDEM in Brussels – come to our stand (H.A1) and chat with our community – and also grab cool swag! (T-shirts, stickers, candy and more…)

  • Jonathan Carter: Free Software Activities for 2020-01

    I spent some time migrating highvoltage.tv from a Mediadrop instance to a PeerTube instance. Overall, I think it provides a much better user experience and it has some great new features.

    PeerTube allows federation with other instances (read more about the fediverse on Wikipedia), my instance follows a few other instances that hosts free software and electronics content (like share.tube and diode.zone). During tis process I also discovered and enabled HLS (HTTP Live Streaming). If you’ve noticed how NetFlix switches between resolutions without any pauses or stuttering when a connection goes bad/saturated, then that’s exactly what HLS enables. It fragments mp4 files into a a whole lot of smaller files in different resolutions, allowing to quickly switch between resolutions. The only big downside is that content consumes quite a bit more disk space (about 50% more), but I think it’s worth it.

    I haven’t created much content in 2019 but I hope to do a whole bunch of Debian Package of the Day vidoes this year and also some interviews with interesting people.

    [...]

    The last 3 days of the month I was at MiniDebCamp FOSDEM, a get together of Debian contributors preceding the FOSDEM conference. We were hosted by HSBXL, an interesting hacker space in Brussels. Turnout was quite good, with more than 50 people showing up, working on all kinds of things and with impromptu lightning talks at the end.

    The first two days of the minidebcamp I worked on a Python script for parsing DebConf archive metadata and automatically uploading videos to our peertube instance. Initially I used the PeerTube CLI tools, which has a huge dependency chain and a somewhat intrusive setup. I made good progress with this, but started hitting some limitations and seeked out a proper Python module instead. I found peertube-uploader, a Python CLI script, but it’s a bit too basic for our use case. After talking about it with Stefano over dinner, we ended up concluding that it’s going to be best to use the PeerTube API (which is well documented with examples) with some inspiration from peertube-uploader. I should find some quiet time over February to finish that up.

    On the last day I worked a bit on the Calamares framebuffer session, which is part of my Calamares roadmap for buster. Soon you’ll be able to pass a kernel command line parameter like “calamaresfb” and then the Calamares will start up without loading an entire desktop environment or a Xorg/Wayland session, which can be beneficial for low memory/resource systems. It still looks a bit ugly but upstream has mentioned some potential solutions that I’ll try out at some later stage.

  • DebConf Video team sprint (and stuff) @ MiniDebCamp FOSDEM 2020

    I’ve been (very pleasantly!) surprised by the number of people present at the MiniDebCamp, as well as the variety of topics they were working on. A great atmosphere, the welcoming environment provided by the HSBXL, and the low-key organization were something that I think other event organizers can get inspiration from: just get a room, and basic amenities (power, tables, seats, heating), and this will turn into a successful event!

New Sudo Vulnerability Could Allow Attackers to Obtain Full Root Privileges

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Security
Debian

The Debian Project published today a new security bulletin to inform users about a Sudo vulnerability that affects the Debian GNU/Linux 9 “Stretch” operating system series.

It would appear that there’s a vulnerability (CVE-2019-18634) in the Sudo package, a program that allows users to run programs in a UNIX system with the security privileges of another user, which could allow an unprivileged user to obtain full root privileges.

The vulnerability affects Sudo versions prior to version 1.8.26, from 1.7.1 to 1.8.25p1, but only if the pwfeedback option was set in the /etc/sudoers file by the system administrator. This could allow users to trigger a stack-based buffer overflow in the privileged sudo process.

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Remembering Lucy Wayland

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Debian

The Cambridgeshire coroner recently held a final hearing into the death of Lucy Wayland. Wayland died almost immediately after the Debian 2018 Christmas lynchings.

Before getting into where Debian has gone wrong, it is important to emphasize consideration for Wayland's family at this time. Speculation about the details of Wayland's death is both distressing for people and un-necessary when considering the problems in the Debian environment.

The purpose of this blog is not to focus on Wayland, rather, it is about the issues.

[...]

At the time Wayland passed away, she was at the lowest tier of the Debian hierarcy, a Debian Contributor. When I resigned from my role in the GSoC team citing extraordinary personaly circumstances, Chris Lamb, Enrico Zini and other ruthless individuals had decided to "demote" me to this same lowly tier. It was a deliberate and malicious attempt to humiliate me, but it also served to humiliate other people, like Wayland, at the same tier. None of them knew the pain my family was going through at that time. Their callous behaviour only made it worse.

When any organization goes through restructuring, it impacts everybody.

As noted in the blog about enforcers, all the witnesses to shaming suffer just as much, if not more, than the victims. How would Lucy Wayland feel seeing other experienced volunteers being subjected to cruel demotions at Christmas?

[...]

When I saw what Chris Lamb, Molly de Blanc and their underlings did to Dr Preining in Christmas 2018, I couldn't help feeling outrage. If the supposedly ruthless merchant banks of London didn't dare to violate Christmas, how could Debian, an organization constituted on volunteering, do so?

Yet it only got worse.

The more questions I asked, the more evidence of corruption emerged. For example, developers sending veiled threats to interns, behind the backs of the mentors. It reminded me of the case where a manager walked out on a plum job in Canary Wharf when HR sent communications behind his back.

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More in Tux Machines

This is my shoestring photography setup for image editing

Saving money is not the only major benefit of using inexpensive hardware and free open-source software. Somewhat surprisingly, the more important benefit for me personally is peace of mind. My primary machine is a 9-year old ThinkPad X220 with 4GB RAM and 120GB SSD. I bought it on eBay for around 200 euros, plus about 30 euros for a 120GB SSD. The digiKam application I use for most of my photo management and processing needs cost exactly zero. (I’m the author of the digiKam Recipes book.) I store my entire photo library on a USB 3.0 3TB Toshiba Canvio hard disk I bought for around 113 euros. If any component of my hardware setup fails, I can replace it without any significant impact on my budget. I don’t have to worry about a company deciding to squeeze more money out of me by either forcing me into a paid upgrade or a subscription plan, and I sleep better knowing that I own the software crucial for my photographic workflow. You might think that managing and processing RAW files and photos on a relatively old machine with a paltry amount of RAM is unbearably slow, but it’s not. While Windows would bring the ThinkPad X220 to its knees, the machine briskly runs openSUSE Linux with the KDE graphical desktop environment. The word Linux may send some photographers away screaming, but a modern Linux system is hardly more complicated in use than Windows. Read more

elementary OS: Hera Updates for March, 2020

Fresh on the heels of the AppCenter for Everyone Remote Sprint, we still managed to push out a good amount of updates over the course of March (and early April), bundled up in an OS 5.1.3 update. Let’s dive into what’s new. We continued our quest to make Code the best editor for elementary OS this month. A file’s Git status now shows in its tooltip in the project sidebar, making it easier to understand what the status icons mean—especially if you’re colorblind or just don’t remember. We also added an option for explicit case-sensitive find/replace for those times when you want to find or replace the word foo but not Foo. Read more Also: elementary OS 5.1.3 New Features Revealed

Kaidan 0.5.0 released!

After more than half a year the next release is here, but the waiting was worth it! It includes the all new onboarding, which aims at better usability for new XMPP users and improved security, while minimizing additional effort by the user. For further information look at the blog post dedicated to this topic. And even more! Now recording and sending audio and video is possible with Kaidan, as well as searching for contacts and messages. Additionally, many smaller features and fixes are included in this release. But have a look at the changelog yourself. We sadly have to inform you that we encountered difficulties building Kaidan for Windows and building the Flatpak as one option to use Kaidan on Linux. But we are already working on fixing it and Kaidan 0.5 will hopefully be available on Windows and as a Flatpak for Linux soon™. Read more

Chrome OS Terminal App Gains New Features, Makes Working with Linux Easier

As spotted by the focally-blessed hawks at Android Police, Chrome OS 83 (currently on the developer channel) ships with an updated terminal app boasts a solid set of welcome new features. If you’re unfamiliar with it, the Chrome OS terminal app is available to users of Chrome OS on compatible Chromebooks who opt-in to the Linux (beta) feature. The feature (through the power of containers) provides a full Linux development environment in which they can apt install popular open software like GIMP, LibreOffice, and, yes, even Mozilla Firefox on a Chromebook and run them alongside other software, native software. Read more