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March 05, 2015

Statement in support of Software Freedom Conservancy and Christoph Hellwig, GPL enforcement lawsuit

On Thursday, March 5, 2015, Christoph Hellwig, with support from the Software Freedom Conservancy, filed suit in Hamburg, Germany against VMware Global, Inc. Hellwig is a prominent contributor to the kernel Linux, releasing his contributions under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL) version 2. VMware, like everyone, is free to use, modify, and distribute such software under the GPL, so long as they make available the human-readable source code corresponding to their version of the software when they distribute it.

This simple and fair obligation is the cornerstone of the successful cooperation we've seen for decades between organizations both for-profit and non-profit, users, and developers—the same cooperation which has given us the GNU/Linux operating system and inspired a wealth of free software programs for nearly every imaginable use.

Unfortunately, VMware has broken this promise by not releasing the source code for the version of the operating system kernel they distribute with their ESXi software. Now, after many years of trying to work with VMware amicably, the Software Freedom Conservancy and Hellwig have sought the help of German courts to resolve the matter. While the Free Software Foundation (FSF) is not directly involved in the suit, we support the effort.

"From our conversations with the Software Freedom Conservancy, I know that they have been completely reasonable in their expectations with VMware and have taken all appropriate steps to address this failure before resorting to the courts. Their motivation is to stand up for the rights of computer users and developers worldwide, the very same rights VMware has enjoyed as a distributor of GPL-covered software. The point of the GPL is that nobody can claim those rights and then kick away the ladder to prevent others from also receiving them. We hope VMware will step up and do the right thing," said John Sullivan, FSF's executive director.

The suit and preceding GPL compliance process undertaken by Conservancy mirror the work that the FSF does in its own Licensing and Compliance Lab. Both the FSF and Conservancy take a fair, non-profit approach to GPL enforcement, favoring education and collaboration as a means of helping others properly distribute free software. Lawsuits are always a last resort.

You can support Conservancy's work on this case by making a donation.

Media Contact

John Sullivan
Executive Director
Free Software Foundation
+1 (617) 542 5942
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March 04, 2015

Passover Satyr shirts available again!

Passover Satyr shirts are again available! You have until March 16 to order, and they’ll be delivered in time for Passover. Everyone (including me) seemed happy with the last run – the screen print quality was high, and the shirt stock was soft and well made, at least the women’s styles I got. I need 32 more orders to get a better profit margin, all of which supports my Seder-Masochism feature film project.

PassoverSatyr_white

 

teespring1You have until November 3 to order one.

 

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The Sixth Plague: Boils (rough)

This one’s only 10 seconds long! Shortest plague ever.

“10 And they took ashes of the furnace, and stood before Pharaoh; and Moses sprinkled it up toward heaven; and it became a boil breaking forth with blains upon man, and upon beast.

11 And the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils; for the boil was upon the magicians, and upon all the Egyptians.” –Exodus 9, King James Version

Music by the Beatles.

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March 03, 2015

FSFE Newsletter - March 2015

FSFE Newsletter - March 2015 FSFE's reply to EU consultation on patents and standard

We believe that proprietary standards and software patents are barriers to Free Software adoption. To get rid of those barriers we have to help the public administration to understand this, too. That is why last month we responded to a consultation on the interaction of standards and patents by the European Commission's Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs.

In our response, we focused mainly on how software patents negatively affect competition and innovation in the software market. We also highlighted that so-called “fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory” (FRAND) licensing terms are in practice a grave discrimination against Free Software. In many segments of the software market, these programs are the most significant competition to non-free offerings. So the FSFE recommends that standards organisations instead implement the successful patent licensing policies of the W3C and other bodies, and make the restriction-free licensing of standard-essential patents mandatory.

If you want to help us to promote Open Standards, please participate in this year's Document Freedom Day (see this month's get active item at the end of the newsletter).

Free Software as integral part of Open Educational Resources

The more we see classic educational environments equipped with computers, the more important becomes an education system that teaches every student to be in control of their technology. For the FSFE, the basis for this is Free Software.

Together with other partners in the “Bündnis Freie Bildung” (Free Education Alliance) we published a position paper about the creation and usage of Open Educational Resources (OER). The paper has a specific focus on the creation and usage of OER inside the German educational system. It should be mandatory to publish educational resources including software that has been paid with public money under free licences. Furthermore, the position paper demands that educational institutions should consider the compatibility with Free Software already during the development or extension of their IT infrastructures. By this it envisions to have “all educational resources usable without any legal or technical barriers”.

If you want to know more about what happened in the education field connected with Free Software, read the January Education team report.

What happened on the “I love Free Software” day?

On 14 February 2015 people all over the world showed Free Software contributors their appreciation. It was the fifth year we asked people to participate in the “I Love Free Software” day. This year's report shows a variety of love declarations that happened this day, including blog posts, pictures, comics, poems, and an #ilovefs Android library.

We want to thank everybody who motivated Free Software contributors at this year's “I love Free Software” day, and ask everybody to mark 14 February in their calendars to motivate the people who enable us to control our technology.

Something completely different Hannes Hauswedell from the German team wrote an update about the situation with secure texting. The last months Hannes and others wanted to improve the situation with Textsecure, which unfortunately did not work out until now. So Hannes changed his mind and is now recommending kontalk. Fellow Cory Doctorow wrote an article in the Guardian imagining how it would look like “If dishwashers were iPhones”. Christian Kalkhoff reported from FSFE's Munich group meeting in January. To find upcoming local meetings close to you, please have a look at our event page. The Fellowship election for one of the seats in FSFE's General Assembly is running until 6 March 2015. All sustaining members should have received the voting instructions to decide between Nicolas Dietrich, Max Mehl, and Felix Stegerman. So if you have not yet voted, do it now! From the planet aggregation: After there have been plenty of reports of Lenovo shipping products with a form of adware known as Superfish, Paul Boddie asks what Lenovo's reasoning was, and from whom they want their money in future. Max Mehl has been asked by a friend why he is “investing so much time in the FSFE instead of putting more energy in other organisations with more focus on privacy issues.” In his blog post, he answers that question. Mirko Böhm summarised his last weeks including what he worked on with his students, about amendments to Julia Reda's report, software patents, and Qt programming. Daniel Pocock wrote about the 3rd birthday of Lumicall. Christian Kallhoff reports from his experience to fix a bug in Free Software. Nico Rikken wrote about understanding software and why it is not magic, and about the freedom Ubuntu phone offers. Get active: Be a part of Document Freedom Day 2015!

Every year since 2008, people who care about a free information society celebrate Document Freedom Day to raise awareness of Open Standards. This year again people around the world come together on 25 March to talk about access to communications, run local public activities, and generally spread the word about Open Standards in a dozen different ways.

We are offering promotion materials in many languages, and artwork you can remix, share and improve to publicise your own event. If you are running a local event, we may be able to offer funding of your local activities or your local print runs - thanks to DFD's sponsors. To get inspired, take a look at what other groups from Mexico to Japan did last year.

Participate in DFD 2015!

Thanks to all the volunteers, Fellows and corporate donors who enable our work, Matthias Kirschner - FSFE

Support FSFE, join the Fellowship
Make a one time donation

March 02, 2015

#ilovefs Report 2015

#ilovefs Report 2015

Someone expressing her love for TOR, because it saves lives in Turkey.

On Saturday, 14 February 2015, people all over the world showed Free Software contributors their appreciation. It was the fifth year the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) asked people to participate in the “I Love Free Software” day. This report shows a variety of love declarations that happened this day, including blog posts, pictures, comics, poems, and an #ilovefs Android library. The FSFE thanks everybody who motivated Free Software contributors this year, and ask everybody to mark 14 February in their calendars for next year's “I love Free Software” day.

Your cryptovalentine and our defenders of privacy

This year many people focused their activities on -- what FSFE's president Karsten Gerloff described as -- “powerful tools that help us defend and regain the freedoms we’ve lost, and the ones we’ve given up”: Our sister organisation encouraged people to ask someone they like -- romantically or otherwise -- to be their “cryptovalentine”. André Ockers, FSFE's vice president Matthias Kirschner, and many people in our photo gallery expressed their appreciation to all the hardworking Free Software contributors who work for our privacy like GnuPG, Tor, Tails, Chatsecure and many others.

In their blog, EFF explained why they love Free Software:

“Without the freedom to fix security holes and share these changes with others, nonfree software leaves computer users to fend for themselves. Free software reintroduces a sense of solidarity amongst computer users. Rather than developing a dependency on a single vendor, users are free  to collaborate with others to add features and fix bugs. In contrast, changes to proprietary programs depend on the whim of a program's owner.”

Maurice Verheesen expressing his love for GnuPG

Cryptie expressing her love for Chatsecure

Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.

There were also many people who praised the value of working together in the huge amount of communities Free Software brought into the world. For example, Robinson Tryon, who already is a very active part in some projects and urges others to acknowledge the people behind Free Software. Similar messages come from successful Free Software communities themselves who build upon the shoulders of giants. Debian, KDE, MegaGlest, OpenSUSE, OwnCloud, and others appreciate the many projects around them from which they can learn and give back to, but also the vast number of individuals who participate by coding, translating, writing documentation, and spending valuable time in general. FSFE's Matija Šuklje takes the same line when saying that there are a lot of (not only) Free Software projects which inspire and impress him every day. And Silke Meyer also looks at the Free Software movement from a political viewpoint when stating that it is crucial for free communication between people and that we do not only need code but also the people who fight as activists for a free society:

"Thanks to all those who do not contribute to free software projects but who work on this by political intervention, campaigning, activism! We can’t win this by just developing free software. But we can’t win it without free software either."

Love poems

Framasoft published two beautiful but unfortunately untranslatable poems in French and in Nico Rikken wrote a love poem dedicated to the diagramming software “Dia”:

Roses are red. Handles are green. You’re the finest diagramming software I have ever seen. Always there to help me out. And you ask nothing in return. Creating things together is all I really yearn.

Dia I know we will be a great team. We can work together even upstream. So let this be my tag line: Would you be my Valentine?

What else happened?

Hackerspace themed with #ilovefs, CC-BY 4.0 Matija Šuklje

There was a huge amount of messages in social networks, people expressed their love in pictures (e.g. in our gallery, or by members of the Vignate GNU/Linux user group), posters were created (e.g. by Linda Martinez), the Document Foundation themed their bug tracker, and Anatolij Zelenin wrote an Android I love Free Software Day library which is already included in the Android app Mirakel.

Like in the last years we had many organisations and individuals thanking Free Software contributors in articles. Beside the others mentioned before, for example Dario Tordoni thanked the F-Droid developers, Jens Leuchtenbörger wrote why he loves learning vocabulary with AnkiDroid in combination with QuickDi, and Max Mehl thanked the contributors of Taskwarrior, command-line task-management tool.

We were happy to see many organisations expressing their love in other languages than English, for example: Framasoft (in French), Wikimedia Germany (in German), KDE Spain (in Spanish) the German Green Party (in German), which also announced that they will soon hand in a parliamentary enquiry about Free Software.

Mark the date for next year!

Comic strip “J’aime le logiciel libre” in French by Grise Bouille.

We hope all Free Software contributors out there were motivated by this year's #ilovefs day. But maybe all the people, who participated this year, missed to thank your favourite Free Software program's contributors. That is not a bug, it is a feature! Add a reminder to your calendar for 14 February and thank those who have been forgotten this year. (Of course you can also show your appreciation for Free Software contributors during the rest of the year, too.)

Support FSFE, join the Fellowship
Make a one time donation

Mentoring Organizations for Google Summer of Code 2015

GoogleSummer_2015logo_horizontal.jpg
We are excited to announce the mentoring organizations that have been accepted for this year’s Google Summer of Code program. As always, we had many more great projects than we could accept. After reviewing 416 applications, we have chosen 137 open source projects, 37 of which are new to Google Summer of Code. You can visit our Google Summer of Code 2015 program website for a complete list of the accepted orgs.

Over the next two weeks, students interested in applying for the Google Summer of Code 2015 program can learn more about the 137 accepted open source projects. The student application period begins on Monday, March 16, 2015 at 19:00 UTC.

Interested? Start by reviewing the Ideas Page from each organization to learn about the project and how you might contribute. Some of the most successful proposals have been completely new ideas submitted by students, so if you don’t see a project on an Ideas Page that appeals to you, don’t be afraid to suggest a new idea to the organization! There are points of contact listed for each organization on their Ideas Page - students can contact the organization directly to discuss a new proposal. All organizations list their preferred method of communication on the organization homepage, available on the Google Summer of Code program website. We strongly encourage students to reach out to the organizations before they apply. Please see our Frequently Asked Questions page for more information.

Congratulations to all of our mentoring organizations! We look forward to working with all of you during this next Google Summer of Code!

By Carol Smith, Open Source Team

March 01, 2015

The semiconductor fab dream

This would be a cynical/realistic view on the semiconductor manufacturing landscape from a totally outsider’s perspective. Hi all, I have always had an interest in semiconductor or more precisely Processor manufacturing since the day I assembled my first PC/box some 10-15 years back. I can still re-collect the wonder I felt the day I saw, […]

February 27, 2015

Google Code-in 2014 wrap up with Wikimedia

The Wikimedia Foundation was one of the twelve mentoring organizations taking part in Google Code-in 2014, our contest introducing 13 to 17 year old students to working in open source communities. Below, Andre Klapper shares the accomplishments of several students who participated with Wikimedia during the contest.


The Wikimedia Foundation was proud to participate for a second time in Google Code-in. In this program, young students are introduced to free and open source software (FOSS) projects and invited to make practical contributions.

Between December 2014 and January 2015, 48 students successfully completed 226 Wikimedia tasks, supported by 30 mentors from our community. Those tasks include not only code development, but also documentation, research, and testing — leading to a wide range of achievements:


Thank you and congratulations to all the students who joined Wikimedia and supported its mission to freely share knowledge! Special kudos to Wikimedia’s two Grand Prize Winners: Danny Wu and Mateusz Maćkowski — and to our finalists Evan McIntire, Geoffrey Mon and Pranav Kumar! The full list of winners across all organizations can be found here.

We also wish to thank all our mentors for their generous commitment: we are especially grateful for the time they spent on weekends, coming up with task ideas, working with students and quickly reviewing their contributions. And last but not least, thank you to Google for organizing and running this contest, creating awareness of and interest in Free and Open Software projects.

We welcome more contributions to help improve our free and open software. Check out how you can contribute and our list of easy software bugs to start with.


By Andre Klapper, Wikimedia Foundation

February 26, 2015

FreeBSD From the Trenches: ZFS, and How to Make a Foot Cannon

This month's story comes to us from Glen Barber, UNIX Systems Administrator.

The ZFS filesystem is regarded for its robustness and extensive feature set.

Its robustness can be haunting, however, if a mistake is made.  I learned this the hard way through a seemingly innocent typo, a mistake I certainly will not soon repeat.

We use ZFS almost exclusively in the FreeBSD cluster.  I say "almost" because there is one remaining machine that does not use ZFS, because the machine is too underpowered to handle it.

All machines are installed in a netboot environment while logged in at the serial console, providing the utilities necessary for extremely customizable installations.  Most of the installations I have performed on machines in the FreeBSD.org cluster have been pseudo-scripted, with subtle differences depending on the machine, such as if the disks are da(4) or ada(4), the number of disks, how much space to allocate for swap, the number of ZFS pools, and so on.

For the most part, a basic installation would be done with a very simple sh(1) script that looks something like:
# for i in $(sysctl -n kern.disks); do \
gpart create -s gpt $i; [...]; done
Nothing too fancy at all.

Most times I would copy/paste from an installation script I've used for years, other times I would manually type the commands.  It really depended on what the end result was supposed to be, as far as configuration.

When I installed the FreeBSD Foundation's new server, I typed the commands manually.  You might ask, "Why did you do it this way?"  To this day, I cannot answer that question.  But if I didn't, this story would be far less interesting.

The machine was installed like this, almost verbatim:
# for i in $(sysctl -n kern.disks); do \
gpart create -s gpt /dev/${i}; \
gpart add -t freebsd-boot -s 512k -i 1 /dev/${i}; \
gpart bootcode -b /boot/pmbr \
-p /boot/gptzfsboot -i 1 /dev/${i}; \
gpart add -t freebsd-swap -s 16G -i 2 /dev/${i}; \
gpart add -t freebsd-zfs -i 3 /dev/${i}; \
done
# zpool create zroot mirror /dev/ada0 /dev/ada1
# for i in tmp var var/tmp var/log \
var/db usr usr/local usr/home; do \
zfs create -o atime=off zroot/${i}; \
done
This creates the GPT partition scheme for all available hard disks, writes the partition layout to the disks, writes the GPT boot code to the first partition on each disk, and allocates the swap space and ZFS space.  Then it creates the ZFS pool named 'zroot' configured as a mirror, and creates the ZFS datasets in the new pool.

The problem is not too obvious unless you are looking for it specifically, but instead of using the 'freebsd-zfs' GPT partitions, which are /dev/ada0p3 and /dev/ada1p3, I created the pool on the full disk (/dev/ada0 and /dev/ada1).

Simple enough to fix, right?  Destroy the 'zroot' pool, destroy the GPT partition layout to be safe, and create it again with the correct arguments to 'zpool create'.

So, that's what I did.

Luckily I wasn't ready to put this machine into production yet.  I still wanted to do some basic stress testing on the machine before moving anything critical to it.

Fast forward about a month.

After being satisfied that the machine did not have any obvious stability problems, such as faulty RAM for example, and after having lowered the relevant TTL entries in DNS, I decided to do one more upgrade on the machine before beginning the independent service migrations to the new machine.

This is where things started to go wrong.  Fast.

The source-based upgrade finished, and I rebooted the machine.  In another terminal, attached to the serial console, saw the machine proceed through the normal reboot routines, killing running services, syncing buffers, and so on.

After the machine completed POST routines, everything went dark.  The machine did not respond to serial console input, and as far as I could tell, this was not due to a change caused by the update.

I should note that, by nature, I am a paranoid sysadmin.  This is a good quality, in my opinion, because I habitually go out of my way to make sure any situation is recoverable if something goes wrong.  Suspecting I did something wrong, I immediately began reviewing the history recorded while being logged in at the console.  Nothing looked suspicious.  This upgrade should have "just worked."

I remotely power-cycled the machine, and booted into our netboot environment to investigate further.

I immediately knew something went wrong after importing the 'zroot' pool into a temporary location, and seeing several tell-tale signs.  For starters, /etc/rc.conf had a timestamp that predated the machine from even being shipped to the colocation facility.  More confusingly, /usr/obj was empty, as if the 'buildworld/buildkernel'-style upgrade that took place less than an hour prior had never happened.

Then panic ensued.  The machine didn't panic -- I did.

Everything was gone.

Every configuration change since the initial install, every jail that was created, every package that was installed.  All of it.  Just gone.

While investigating, I sent a heads-up to the other cluster administrators in case there was an issue that affected other installations.  As investigation progressed, Peter realized he had seen this exact behavior in the past, and provided an example scenario with which it could occur.

It was exactly what I had done - used the raw disk for the ZFS pool instead of the 'freebsd-zfs' GPT partition.

So, what's the problem?

The problem is 'zpool destroy' does not implicitly delete pool metadata from the disks, so as far as ZFS is concerned, I had two different ZFS pools, both named 'zroot', which confused the boot blocks just enough to import the wrong pool at boot.  Well, it didn't just import the wrong pool, it imported an empty pool.

Worse yet, because I had allocated the partitions in the order of 'freebsd-boot', 'freebsd-swap', and 'freebsd-zfs', and that 'freebsd-swap' consisted of 16GB, the swap partition had more than enough space to hold on to the metadata from the pool I did not want to exist.  There was no way to force one pool to be chosen over the other, and worse, no way to tell which pool would be chosen by the loader.

The only good news at this point was that the machine was not yet in production.

How do you fix this, then?

Peter had a suggestion, since he has run into this before.  Reboot the machine into the netboot environment, and try to force the correct pool into being imported by forcibly removing all device entries for the disks and retrying the ZFS pool import.  This would be done by running:
# rm -f /dev/gptid/* /dev/diskid/* /dev/ada?
# zpool import -o altroot=/tmp/zroot zroot
Unfortunately, the wrong pool was imported again, most likely (but unconfirmed) by allocation such a large amount of swap to the disks.
# zpool status
NAME STATE READ WRITE CKSUM
zroot ONLINE
mirror-0 ONLINE
ada0 ONLINE
ada1 ONLINE
Then I realized the partition table was also corrupt.

After several attempts to coerce the correct pool to import, I became increasingly more uncomfortable with leaving the machine in this condition. At this point, there was only one solution - wipe the disks, and start over.

Ultimately, despite disliking the solution, that is what I did to correct the problem, though at the time, I was unaware of the 'labelclear' command to zpool(8), which would have wiped the ZFS pool metadata from the disks.  But at that point, I was not going to take any chances either way.

The takeaway is, despite how innocent a mistake may appear at first, when dealing with metadata stored on disk devices, it surely will come back to haunt you at some point sooner or later.

February 25, 2015

SCALE 13x Trip Report: Michael Dexter

The Foundation recently sponsored Michael Dexter to attend SCALE 13x. Michael provides the following trip report:

SCALE 13x was the 13th Southern California Linux Expo and took place February 19th through 20th in Los Angeles, California. Despite its name, this year's event demonstrated sincere outreach to the BSD community as demonstrated by two booths and several BSD-related talks. The first booth featured FreeBSD, the FreeBSD Foundation, FreeNAS, PC-BSD and pfSense while the second featured OpenBSD and NetBSD. Both booths were filled with familiar faces including Dru Lavigne, Denise Ebery, Matt Olander, James Nixon, David Maxwell, Brooke and Seth and two toddlers!
The FreeBSD Booth Crew -
Photo courtesy of iXsystems

The variety of booth visitors were very familiar for SCALE: a mix of students, consultants, open source developers and military/aerospace contractors. I heard lots of "I got started on FreeBSD" and "I use FreeNAS" plus the occasional "When can we have a military-certified BSD so we can stop using Linux?" The last one is something I have heard at every SCALE I have attended and is representative of the region. Hats off to the SCALE organizers for also attracting such a diverse
audience.

The BSD-related talk topics included David Maxwell's newly-released pipecut that he debuted at MeetBSD (https://code.google.com/p/pipecut/), Brooks Davis' talk on the BERI CPU that he is working on with Robert Watson, Dru Lavigne's talk on new FreeNAS 9.3 features and my talk on FreeBSD Virtualization Options. There were also many overlapping talks such as those on various system containers, embedded systems and of course Brendan Gregg's talk on systems performance. Brendan kindly updated the Netflix statistics that I was already going to address and both Bryan Smith and Randal Schwartz had great user questions. It truly was a pleasure to speak at SCALE and my sincerest thanks to Brendan for live Tweeting my talk.

Impressively, some SCALE speakers were in their teens and the overall outreach to kids was great including an evening kids-only event. The BSD Certification Group scheduled a BSDA exam but alas it was poorly attended. I humbly invite you to take the BSDA exam if you have not done so already and ask that you help spread the word whenever you get a chance.

In a community where we often preach to the converted, I find SCALE to be a very receptive venue for outreach and encourage you to attend and consider submitting a BSD-related talk to SCALE 14x. Special thanks to Gareth Greenaway for reaching out to the BSD community and for the great attitude demonstrated by his team of volunteers. Finally, I would like to thank the FreeBSD Foundation for covering my air travel and O'Reilly Media for allowing me to share a room with one of their amazing team members.

February 22, 2015

A keynote, a panel and FOSS

Hi all, This would be a sort of report of two events -Minidebconf at IIT Mumbai (January) and GNUnify 2015 which happened at SICSR, Pune. #IIT Minidebconf Mumbai 2015, #GNUnify 2015 I would like to start the report with Venkatesh Hariharan’s speech whose key message and takeaway was that it’s no longer the issue that […]

February 14, 2015

I love Free Software: Thanks to all the GnuPG contributors

Today is “I love Free Software”-Day. A day to thank all the hard working people behind Free Software. Beside initiating #ilovefs I also try to write a short thank you note to one project every year. After I thanked Coreboot in 2013, and mpd, ncmpcpp, and MPDroid in 2014 this year I want to thank all the people involved in GnuPG coding and promoting.

Unfortunately I do not remember when exactly I started using the GNU Privacy Guard (GnuPG). I just know that I started using a PGP implementation in 2001 on my GNU/Linux machine. First with some friends from our local Free Software group to encrypt and sign our data and communication, which was a very cool feeling. Later I tried to convince close friends and family with whom I had private conversations to set it up so “we can communicate like we do with letters instead of postcards”.

Person with a red ilovefs balloon and a speaking buble saying GnuPG Someone expressing his love to GnuPG Matthias Kirschner CC BY-SA

February 11, 2015

New committer: Wei Hu (src)

February 03, 2015

FSF adds Guix System Distribution to list of endorsed distributions

The FSF's list consists of ready-to-use full GNU/Linux systems whose developers have made a commitment to follow the Guidelines for Free System Distributions. This means each distro includes and steers users toward exclusively free software. All distros on this list reject nonfree software, including firmware "blobs" and nonfree documentation. The Guix System Distribution is a new and growing distro that currently ships with just over 1000 packages, already including almost all of the programs available from the GNU Project.

As the name suggests, at the heart of the Guix System Distribution is the GNU Guix (pronounced like "geeks") package management system. GNU Guix offers users uncommon features such as transactional upgrades and rollbacks, as well as declarative operating system configuration.

"The Guix System Distribution is a flexible, cutting edge, and bare bones distro ideally suited for experienced users. However, both the distro and the GNU Guix package management system itself have an active and welcoming community of contributors. I look forward to watching this project mature and encourage people to get involved," said Joshua Gay, FSF's licensing and compliance manager.

"The goal of GNU Guix is to bring the GNU system, as was envisioned 31 years ago, and to transcribe its ethical goals in the implementation. For example, functional package management means that Guix provides the complete 'Corresponding Source' of its packages, in the sense of the GNU GPL -- users know precisely how a binary package was obtained. Unprivileged users can install packages, and the whole system is customizable and hackable, à la Emacs. We hope to help federate GNU hackers and computing freedom supporters around the project. It's ambitious, but because it can help strengthen GNU and defend user freedom, I think it's worth it," said Ludovic Courtès, lead maintainer of GNU Guix.

About the Free Software Foundation

The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to promoting computer users' right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free (as in freedom) software -- particularly the GNU operating system and its GNU/Linux variants -- and free documentation for free software. The FSF also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and political issues of freedom in the use of software, and its Web sites, located at fsf.org and gnu.org, are an important source of information about GNU/Linux. Donations to support the FSF's work can be made at https://donate.fsf.org. Its headquarters are in Boston, MA, USA.

More information about the FSF, as well as important information for journalists and publishers, is at https://www.fsf.org/press.

About the GNU Operating System and Linux

Richard Stallman announced in September 1983 the plan to develop a free software Unix-like operating system called GNU. GNU is the only operating system developed specifically for the sake of users' freedom. See https://www.gnu.org/gnu/the-gnu-project.html.

In 1992, the essential components of GNU were complete, except for one, the kernel. When in 1992 the kernel Linux was re-released under the GNU GPL, making it free software, the combination of GNU and Linux formed a complete free operating system, which made it possible for the first time to run a PC without non-free software. This combination is the GNU/Linux system. For more explanation, see https://www.gnu.org/gnu/gnu-linux-faq.html.

Media Contacts

Joshua Gay
Licensing & Compliance Manager
Free Software Foundation
+1 (617) 542 5942
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

February 02, 2015

DevConf.cz 2015: Useful Info

I just returned from FOSDEM (will have to write about it when I have more time) and DevConf.cz is just a few days away, so I jumped into the final preparations right from the airport. Are you going to DevConf.cz? Here is some useful info:

  • Venue – I have spoken to several people who were completely surprised that DevConf.cz was not going to be at the campus of FI MUNI, but at the campus of FIT BUT. You can find instructions how to get to the new venue on the conference website. So make sure you’re going to the right place ;-)
  • Streaming – can’t make it to DevConf.cz? No problem! We most likely will stream all six talk tracks. The stream will be available on our Youtube channel. It will also be linked on the conference website. The program starts at 8am UTC every day. If you miss the stream, no worries, recordings will be available on our channel as videos immediately.
  • Party – the conference is not just about talks and workshops. There will be a conference party on Friday. Again in Klub Fléda. You can get a ticket at the Red Hat booth at the venue during Friday. Make sure you’ll get it early enough because the limit is 600 people and we can’t exceed it because of safety limits of the club. Speakers and volunteers won’t need to get a ticket because their badges will serve as such.
  • Apps – you can have the schedule and important info in your pocket. We’ve created apps for Android, Blackberry 10, SailfishOS, just look up for them in respective catalogs. We’ve also created a DevConf.cz guide for Guidebook.com apps. You will find a schedule and important and useful info in it, all for offline usage.
  • Lightning talks – got an idea for a talk? You still have a chance to talk at DevConf.cz 2015, you can propose a lightning talk in the morning, people will vote during the day, and those with most votes will be picked for the last hour of the schedule.
  • Refreshment – besides your brain you also need to feed your stomach at the conference. We will have refreshment at the venue again so that you won’t die of hunger if you stay there listening to talks all day long. As a response to demand, we will have Club Mate (not for free, but for very reasonable price)! At the campus, there will be a nice cafe open if you’d like to have better coffee, some dessert, or beer (they have great beer Richard from a local microbrewery). If you want a full meal, there are several good restaurants within 100m from the campus including a really good Thai place.

See you in Brno!


February 01, 2015

MariaDB turns 5!

I stopped working on MySQL at Sun Microsystems in late 2009 (after a lengthy period of garden leave), to join Monty Program Ab, and was greatly anticipating a MariaDB release that we could take to market. The first GA release of MariaDB came out February 1 2010 – MariaDB 5.1.42. Today is MariaDB Server’s 5th birthday!

We didn’t even want to call it GA back then — we referred to it as a “stable” release. We didn’t make our own builds because we figured source code tarballs were good enough; so builds were made and hosted at OurDelta. It took some months (around August 2010) when we moved release notes to the Knowledgebase (which you’ll notice has moved from kb.askmonty.org to its current location) from the old front page wiki install that we had at askmonty.org.

I didn’t go to the first company meeting in Malaga due to having the chickenpox, so my first meeting was the one we did in Reykjavik, Iceland. We did it towards the end of February 2010, and planned it literally in a month – maybe a celebration that we brought 5.1 to market on time, and also to plan 5.2.

Speaking of companies, we were Monty Program Ab (professionally this quickly became MariaDB Services Ab), then SkySQL Ab (via merger), and finally MariaDB Corporation Ab (via re-branding). Shortly before the SkySQL Ab merger, we even have the MariaDB Foundation appear.

Anyway, what have we released? MariaDB 5.1, MariaDB 5.2, MariaDB 5.3, MariaDB 5.5, MariaDB 10.0, MariaDB Galera Cluster 5.5 & 10.0, a special MariaDB 5.5 with TokuDB build and a special MariaDB with FusionIO improvements build. To boot, we also have three client libraries (connectors, if you must): C, Java, and ODBC.

So 5 major server releases (7 if you count the Galera series), and we’re now working on MariaDB 10.1. I count 88 releases of the server across various versions (with breakdowns: 9 alphas, 11 betas, 7 release candidates and 61 GAs). We’ve had 23 Galera releases and 15 releases for the various client libraries.

We are shipping in all major Linux and BSD distributions. In many, we are even the default

This birthday is a nice time to look back at our achievements, but also to remind ourselves to not rest on our laurels and continue to focus on growth. The last sanctioned press release talks of over 2 million users globally. 

Thank you to all our users. Thank you to all the contributors and developers. Here’s to a lot more adoption, growth, releases and technology improvements!

January 28, 2015

The GHOST Vulnerability

Heads up everybody – a Linux vulnerability known as GHOST (CVE-2015-0235), discovered by Qualys, has recently been publicized. This particular vulnerability is a nasty one, since it allows for remote code execution.

The vulnerability has been exhaustively documented in this Security Advisory, which you may find interesting. In short, the vulnerability exists within glibc in __ns_hostname_digits_dots(), which deals with hostname resolution via the gethostbyname() call.

Am I Vulnerable?

Yes, most likely. In order to address this, you’ll want to ensure that you have updated and rebooted your systems.

Debian and Ubuntu have updated packages for their supported distributions. Run apt-get update && apt-get dist-upgrade to bring your system up to date, and then reboot to ensure no references to the old libraries still exist.

For other popular distributions, please follow their equivalent steps for upgrading packages.  For more information, you can follow our GHOST guide.

Is Linode Infrastructure vulnerable?

No. Our Security Team has worked to protect our infrastructure from this vulnerability and we have taken the appropriate steps to address this issue on all of our systems.

January 22, 2015

FLOSSK mbështetë Wiki Academy Kukës

FLOSSK do të mbështesë Wiki Academy-n e cila mbahet më 22 dhe 23 mars në Kukës. Akademia e Wikipedia-s përfshinë trajnimin e të rinjëve për të kontribuar në Wikipedia duke përfunduar me një vikend të plotë dedikuar shkrimit të artikujve në Enciklopedinë e Lirë Wikipedia.

January 21, 2015

Books and Music in 2014

As tradition mandates, here's my yearly post about music release and books I've read the previously here.

Click on the images for details.
Top 10 music releases of 2014

Top 5 books I've read in 2014
You can also see last year's list.

January 20, 2015

Smart things powered by snappy Ubuntu Core on ARM and x86

“Smart, connected things” are redefining our home, work and play, with brilliant innovation built on standard processors that have shrunk in power and price to the point where it makes sense to turn almost every “thing” into a smart thing. I’m inspired by the inventors and innovators who are creating incredible machines – from robots that might clean or move things around the house, to drones that follow us at play, to smarter homes which use energy more efficiently or more insightful security systems. Prooving the power of open source to unleash innovation, most of this stuff runs on Linux - but it’s a hugely fragmented and insecure kind of Linux. Every device has custom “firmware” that lumps together the OS and drivers and devices-specific software, and that firmware is almost never updated. So let’s fix that!

Ubuntu is right at the heart of the “internet thing” revolution, and so we are in a good position to raise the bar for security and consistency across the whole ecosystem. Ubuntu is already pervasive on devices – you’ve probably seen lots of “Ubuntu in the wild” stories, from self-driving cars to space programs and robots and the occasional airport display. I’m excited that we can help underpin the next wave of innovation while also thoughtful about the responsibility that entails. So today we’re launching snappy Ubuntu Core on a wide range of boards, chips and chipsets, because the snappy system and Ubuntu Core are perfect for distributed, connected devices that need security updates for the OS and applications but also need to be completely reliable and self-healing. Snappy is much better than package dependencies for robust, distributed devices.

Transactional updates. App store. A huge range of hardware. Branding for device manufacturers.

In this release of Ubuntu Core we’ve added a hardware abstraction layer where platform-specific kernels live. We’re working commercially with the major silicon providers to guarantee free updates to every device built on their chips and boards. We’ve added a web device manager (“webdm”) that handles first-boot and app store access through the web consistently on every device. And we’ve preserved perfect compatibility with the snappy images of Ubuntu Core available on every major cloud today. So you can start your kickstarter project with a VM on your favourite cloud and pick your processor when you’re ready to finalise the device.

If you are an inventor or a developer of apps that might run on devices, then Ubuntu Core is for you. We’re launching it with a wide range of partners on a huge range of devices. From the pervasive Beaglebone Black to the $35 Odroid-C1 (1Ghz processor, 1 GB RAM), all the way up to the biggest Xeon servers, snappy Ubuntu Core gives you a crisp, ultra-reliable base platform, with all the goodness of Ubuntu at your fingertips and total control over the way you deliver your app to your users and devices. With an app store (well, a “snapp” store) built in and access to the amazing work of thousands of communities collaborating on Github and other forums, with code for robotics and autopilots and a million other things instantly accessible, I can’t wait to see what people build.

I for one welcome the ability to install AI on my next camera-toting drone, and am glad to be able to do it in a way that will get patched automatically with fixes for future heartbleeds!

Education Freedom Day registration launched!

efd-banner

We have just opened Education Freedom Day registration, scheduled on March 21st, 2015. For its second edition EFD has been moved to March to facilitate its celebration in both the south of the planet and China (at least…) and we hope to cater to more events this year.

As usual for all our Freedom celebrations the process is similar, you get together and decide to organize an event, then create a page in our wiki and register your team. As the date approaches you get to put more information in your wiki page (or on your organization website which is linked from the wiki) such as the date and time, the location and what people can expect to see.

Education Freedom Day is really the opportunity to review all the available Free Educational Resources available, how they have improved since last year and what you should start planning to implement to deploy in the coming months. More importantly it is the celebration of what is available and letting people aware of it!

So prepare well and see you all in two months to celebrate Education Freedom Day!

Celebrate EFD with us on March 21, 2015!

Education Freedom Day registration launched!

And to continue this busy week in announcements we have just opened Education Freedom Day registration, scheduled on March 21st, 2015. For its second edition EFD has been moved to March to facilitate its celebration in both the south of the planet and China (at least...) and we hope to cater to more events this year.

As usual for all our Freedom celebrations the process is similar, you get together and decide to organize an event, then create a page in our wiki and register your team. As the date approaches you get to put more information in your wiki page (or on your organization website which is linked from the wiki) such as the date and time, the location and what people can expect to see.

Education Freedom Day is really the opportunity to review all the available Free Educational Resources available, how they have improved since last year and what you should start planning to implement to deploy in the coming months. More importantly it is the celebration of what is available and letting people aware of it!

So prepare well and see you all in two months to celebrate Education Freedom Day!

January 19, 2015

Komentet e FLOSSK-ut ndaj ligjit për përgjimin e komunikimeve elektronike në Kosovë

Më 19 janar, përmes një letre dërguar Komisionit Parlamentar për Integrime Evropiane, FLOSSK-u ka reaguar ndaj Projektligjit për përgjimin e komunikimeve elektronike në Kosovë. Në këtë letër numërohet arsyet pse ky Projektligj në formën e tanishme është i dëmshëm për privatësinë e qytetarëve të Kosovës dhe si rrjedhojë i papranueshëm për ne.
 

Key Update

I’m a fossil, apparently. My oldest PGP key dates back to 1997, so around the time when GnuPG just got started – and I switched to it early. Over the years I’ve been working a lot with GnuPG, which perhaps isn’t surprising. Werner Koch has been one of the co-founders of the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) and so we share quite a bit of a long and interesting history together. I was always proud of the work he did – and together with Bernhard Reiter and others was doing what I could to try and support GnuPG when most people did not seem to understand how essential it truly was – and even many security experts declared proprietary encryption technology acceptable. Bernhard was also crucial to start the more than 10 year track record of Kolab development supporting GnuPG over the years. And especially the usability of GnuPG has always been something I’ve advocated for. As the now famous video by Edward Snowden demonstrated, this unfortunately continued to be an unsolved problem but hopefully will be solved “real soon now.”

 

In any case. I’ve been happy with my GnuPG setup for a long time. Which is why the key I’ve been using for the past 16 years looked like this:
sec# 1024D/86574ACA 1999-02-20
uid                  Georg C. F. Greve <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
uid                  Georg C. F. Greve <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
uid                  Georg C. F. Greve <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
uid                  Brave GNU World <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
uid                  Georg C. F. Greve <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
uid                  Georg C. F. Greve <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
uid                  Georg C. F. Greve (Kolab Systems AG, CEO) <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
uid                  Georg C. F. Greve (Kolab Systems AG, CEO) <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
ssb>  1024R/B7DB041C 2005-05-02
ssb>  1024R/7DF16B24 2005-05-02
ssb>  1024R/5378AB47 2005-05-02
You’ll see that I kept the actual primary key off my work machines (look for the ‘#’) and I also moved the actual sub keys onto a hardware token. Naturally a FSFE Fellowship Smart Card from the first batch ever produced.
Given that smart card is battered and bruised, but its chip is still intact with 58470 signatures and counting, the key itself is likely still intact and hasn’t been compromised for lack of having been on a networked machine. But unfortunately there is no way to extend the length of a key. And while 1024 is probably still okay today, it’s not going to last much longer. So I finally went through the motions of generating a new key:
sec#  4096R/B358917A 2015-01-11 [expires: 2020-01-10]
uid                  Georg C. F. Greve (Kolab Systems AG, CEO) <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
uid                  Georg C. F. Greve (Kolab Systems AG, CEO) <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
uid                  Georg C. F. Greve (Kolab Systems AG, CEO) <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
uid                  Georg C. F. Greve (Kolab Community) <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
uid                  Georg C. F. Greve (Free Software Foundation Europe, Founding President) <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
uid                  Georg C. F. Greve (Free Software Foundation Europe, Founding President) <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
uid                  Georg C. F. Greve (digitalSTROM.org Board) <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
uid                  Georg C. F. Greve <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
uid                  Georg C. F. Greve (GNU Project) <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
ssb>  4096R/AD394E01 2015-01-11
ssb>  4096R/B0EE38D8 2015-01-11
ssb>  4096R/1B249D9E 2015-01-11

My basic setup is still the same, and the key has been uploaded to the key servers, signed by my old key, which I have meanwhile revoked and which you should stop using. From now on please use the key
pub   4096R/B358917A 2015-01-11 [expires: 2020-01-10]
      Key fingerprint = E39A C3F5 D81C 7069 B755  4466 CD08 3CE6 B358 917A
exclusively and feel free to verify the fingerprint with me through side channels.

 

Not that this key has any chance to ever again make it among the top 50… but then that is a good sign in so far as it means a lot more people are using GnuPG these days. And that is definitely good news.

And in case you haven’t done so already, go and support GnuPG right now.

 

 

New committer: Jan Beich (ports)

30 years of FSF

After an exciting weekend celebrating Hardware Freedom Day what could possibly be better than going back to the very inspiring video made to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Free Software Foundation? Indeed it’s been made using Free Software only and goes through the work of the foundation for the past thirty years. It’s actually nice to look at, positive and very well animated. We will definitely encourage all our software freedom day teams to use it during their events. But let us say no more and let you enjoy it if you’ve missed it so far:

And then, for the ones into this kind of work, and blender in particular, you can find a detailed explanation of the challenges that the makers of the work went through and how they fixed them right here. Definitely a great read into the whole process from design to finish. Great job guys! And of course a happy 30th anniversary to the FSF from the Digital Freedom Foundation and all its members!

30 years of FSF

After an exciting weekend celebrating Hardware Freedom Day what could possibly be better than going back to the very inspiring video made to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Free Software Foundation? Indeed it's been made using Free Software only and goes through the work of the foundation for the past thirty years. It's actually nice to look at, positive and very well animated. We will definitely encourage all our software freedom day teams to use it during their events. But let us say no more and let you enjoy it if you've missed it so far:

And then, for the ones into this kind of work, and blender in particular, you can find a detailed explaination of the challenges that the makers of the work went through and how they fixed them right here. Definitely a great read into the whole process from design to finish. Great job guys! And of course a happy 30th anniversary to the FSF from the Digital Freedom Foundation and all its members!

January 16, 2015

Linode Datacenter Expansion

Happy New Year! 2014 was a great year at Linode and we’re very excited about all the projects we have planned for 2015.  Here’s a sneak peek at our datacenter expansion plans.

Singapore, SG

First, we’ll be expanding our presence in the Asia-Pacific region with a datacenter in Singapore. This new deployment will support all of the existing Linode services, including NodeBalancers, Backups, native IPv6, and features our latest generation SSD-based servers and 40 Gbit connectivity to each host machine. The facility will be a fantastic alternative/complement to our Tokyo location, with great connectivity to Australia, China, Hong Kong, India and the rest of Asia.

All of the networking and server hardware has been installed, and our team should have Singapore ready for customer Linodes in the next few weeks!

Frankfurt, Germany

We’re also expanding our European footprint with a deployment into Frankfurt, Germany. This will complement our UK-based facility. Interestingly, more than 35% of all European cloud traffic flows through Frankfurt and this location will enable customers to comply with Germany’s Federal Data Protection Act (a.k.a., Bundesdatenschutzgesetz (BDSG)) by hosting their data on German soil. Frankfurt is also centrally located in continental Europe, and we believe this will be a great location for all of Europe.

The Linode Frankfurt deployment will be coming in the next few months.

Tokyo, Japan

Our Tokyo facility has been a great success. So much so that we’ve actually exhausted all of the resources available there. Linodes in Tokyo are in limited supply and the datacenter is frequently sold out. While Singapore will be an excellent alternative for a presence in this region, we are also exploring a second Tokyo datacenter.

Stay tuned for the official announcements of these new locations and several other exciting developments coming soon!

January 13, 2015

Django Girls Workshop at DevConf.cz 2015

One of the events that is co-hosted with DevConf.cz 2015 this year is Django Girls Workshop. It’s organized for females who want to learn to code websites using the Django framework. It takes place in our lovely Red Hat lab on the campus of Faculty of Information Technologies of Brno University of Technology on the 5th of February, one day prior the conference.

It has free admission and thanks to sponsors (Red Hat and ElasticSearch), you can even get financial aid to travel to Brno and get accommodation. The deadline for registration is on January 15th, so don’t hesitate and sign up!


December 23, 2014

GNOME Builder copr now for Rawhide only

GNOME Builder is under heavy development. This usually implies that such an application might require very new versions of its dependencies.

Upstream recently bumped their dependencies, and now require things that are only in Rawhide.

I have no intention to provide development builds of Gtk3 (among other things) in a Fedora 21 copr, as that might imply either breaking half of the distro, or having to rebuild it.

As a result, the GNOME Builder copr will from now on be Rawhide-only.

I have dropped the Fedora 21 repos, they won't be updated any more.

If you were using it on Fedora 21, please delete it:

# rm -f /etc/yum.repos.d/_copr_bochecha-gnome-builder.repo

If you still want to try GNOME Builder on Fedora 21, you'll now have to go the jhbuild route.

November 27, 2014

New stickers and leaflets: No cloud and e-mail self-defense

This week we received new additions for our information materials in the Berlin office.

First of all, the English version of the “e-mail self-defense” leaflet. In September Erik layouted and printed a German version of that leaflet to distribute at the “freedom not fear demonstration“ in Berlin. We received a lot of positive feedback about the leaflet, and had to order the German version three times already. Now we also have the English version, and our translators are working on Dutch, Italian, French, Spanish, Greek, and Chinese.

gnupg-leaflet.en FSFE CC BY-SA

Lollipopp’d

I successfully updated my Nexus devices with Android 5.0 aka Lollipop earlier this week. Finally. After 3 tries with the download failing the first time, the install failing the next time and then it finally going through. Here is what I’m impressed with: * Look and feel polish – the visual change using new material […]

November 22, 2014

Release party in Barcelona

15794067981_0d173ce352_z

Another time, and there has been 16, ubuntaires celebrated the release party of the next Ubuntu version, in this case, 14.10 Utopic Unicorn.

This time, we went to Barcelona, at Raval, at the very centre, thanks to our friends of the TEB.

As always, we started with explaining what Ubuntu is and how our Catalan LoCo Team works and later Núria Alonso from the TEB explained the Ubuntu migration done at the Xarxa Òmnia.

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The installations room was plenty from the very first moment.

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There also was a very profitable auto-learning workshop on how to do an Ubuntu metadistribution.

15772275826_99d1a77d8b_z

 

And in another room, there were two Arduino workshops.

15610528118_927a8d7cc2_z15794076701_cc538bf9ba_z

 

And, of course, ubuntaires love to eat well.

 

15615259540_76daed408b_z 15614277959_c98bda1d33_z

 

Pictures by Martina Mayrhofer and Walter García, all rights reserved.

 
 

November 08, 2014

OpenStack on a diet, redux

Subhu writes that OpenStack’s blossoming project list comes at a cost to quality. I’d like to follow up with an even leaner approach based on an outline drafted during the OpenStack Core discussions after ODS Hong Kong, a year ago.

The key ideas in that draft are:

Only call services “core” if the user can detect them.

How the cloud is deployed or operated makes no difference to a user. We want app developers to

Define both “core” and “common” services, but require only “core” services for a cloud that calls itself OpenStack compatible.

Separation of core and common lets us recognise common practice today, while also acknowledging that many ideas we’ve had in the past year or three are just 1.0 iterations, we don’t know which of them will stick any more than one could predict which services on any major public cloud will thrive and which will vanish over time. Signalling that something is “core” means it is something we commit to keeping around a long time. Signalling something is “common” means it’s widespread practice for it to be available in an OpenStack environment, but not a requirement.

Require that “common” services can be self-deployed.

Just as you can install a library or a binary in your home directory, you can run services for yourself in a cloud. Services do not have to be provided by the cloud infrastructure provider, they can usually be run by a user themselves, under their own account, as a series of VMs providing network services. Making it a requirement that users can self-provide a service before designating it common means that users can build on it; if a particular cloud doesn’t offer it, their users can self-provide it. All this means is that the common service itself builds on core services, though it might also depend on other common services which could be self-deployed in advance of it.

Require that “common” services have a public integration test suite that can be run by any user of a cloud to evaluate conformance of a particular implementation of the service.

For example, a user might point the test suite at HP Cloud to verify that the common service there actually conforms to the service test standard. Alternatively, the user who self-provides a common service in a cloud which does not provide it can verify that their self-deployed common service is functioning correctly. This also serves to expand the test suite for the core: we can self-deploy common services and run their test suites to exercise the core more thoroughly than Tempest could.

Keep the whole set as small as possible.

We know that small is beautiful; small is cleaner, leaner, more comprehensible, more secure, easier to test, likely to be more efficiently implemented, easier to attract developer participation. In general, if something can be cut from the core specification it should. “Common” should reflect common practice and can be arbitrarily large, and also arbitrarily changed.

In the light of those ideas, I would designate the following items from Subhu’s list as core OpenStack services:

  • Keystone (without identity, nothing)
  • Nova (the basis for any other service is the ability to run processes somewhere)
    • Glance (hard to use Nova without it)
  • Neutron (where those services run)
    • Designate (DNS is a core aspect of the network)
  • Cinder (where they persist data)

I would consider these to be common OpenStack services:

  • SWIFT (widely deployed, can be self-provisioned with Cinder block backends)
  • Ceph RADOS-GW object storage (widely deployed as an implementation choice, common because it could be self-provided on Cinder block)
  • Horizon (widely deployed, but we want to encourage innovation in the dashboard)

And these I would consider neither core nor common, though some of them are clearly on track there:

  • Barbican (not widely implemented)
  • Ceilometer (internal implementation detail, can’t be common because it requires access to other parts)
  • Juju (not widely implemented)
  • Kite (not widely implemented)
  • HEAT (on track to become common if it can be self-deployed, besides, I eat controversy for breakfast)
  • MAAS (who cares how the cloud was built?)
  • Manila (not widely implemented, possibly core once solid, otherwise common once, err, common)
  • Sahara (not widely implemented, weird that we would want to hardcode one way of doing this in the project)
  • Triple-O (user doesn’t care how the cloud was deployed)
  • Trove (not widely implemented, might make it to “common” if widely deployed)
  • Tuskar (see Ironic)
  • Zaqar (not widely implemented)

In the current DefCore discussions, the “layer” idea has been introduced. My concern is simple: how many layers make sense? End users don’t want to have to figure out what lots of layers mean. If we had “OpenStack HPC” and “OpenStack Scientific” and “OpenStack Genomics” layers, that would just be confusing. Let’s keep it simple – use “common” as a layer, but be explicit that it will change to reflect common practice (of course, anything in common is self-reinforcing in that new players will defer to norms and implement common services, thereby entrenching common unless new ideas make services obsolete).

November 03, 2014

osquery is neat

Facebook recently made opensource, osquery. It gives you operating system data via SQL queries! Its very neat, and you can test this even on MacOSX (it works on that platform & Linux). It is by far the project with the most advanced functionality, linked here in this post.

I noticed that rather quickly, there was a PostgreSQL project, called pgosquery, based on Foreign Data Wrappers with a similar idea. (apparently it was written in less than 15 minutes; so a much lower learning curve than the regular MySQL storage engine interface)

I immediately thought about an older MySQL project, by Chip Turner (then at Google, now at Facebook), called mysql-filesystem-engine. This idea was kicking around in 2008. I was intrigued by hearing about this at a talk (probably at the MySQL Conference & Expo); it’s a pity no one took this further.

On a similar tangent, did you also know that there is the option to use MySQL as storage via FUSE (see: mysqlfs)? An article by Ben Martin shows some practical examples.

At its heyday, MySQL had many storage engines (maybe around 50). Wikipedia has an incomplete list. I see some engines on that list, and think that some of these folk are also creating MongoDB backends — competition. At MariaDB we are probably shipping the most storage engines of any MySQL-based distribution, however I think we could be doing an even better job at working with upstream vendors, and figuring out how to support & augment business around it.

October 23, 2014

Ten years of Ubuntu

Today marks 10 years of Ubuntu and the release of the 21st version. That is an incredible milestone and one which is worthy of reflection and celebration. I am fortunate enough to be spending the day at our devices sprint with 200+ of the folks that have helped make this possible. There are of course hundreds of others in Canonical and thousands in the community who have helped as well. The atmosphere here includes a lot of reminiscing about the early days and re-telling of the funny stories, and there is a palpable excitement in the air about the future. That same excitement was present at a Canonical Cloud Summit in Brussels last week.

The team here is closing in on shipping our first phone, marking a new era in Ubuntu’s history. There has been excellent work recently to close bugs and improve quality, and our partner BQ is as pleased with the results as we are. We are on the home stretch to this milestone, and are still on track to have Ubuntu phones in the market this year. Further, there is an impressive array of further announcements and phones lined up for 2015.

But of course that’s not all we do – the Ubuntu team and community continue to put out rock solid, high quality Ubuntu desktop releases like clockwork – the 21st of which will be released today. And with the same precision, our PC OEM team continues to make that great work available on a pre-installed basis on millions of PCs across hundreds of machine configurations. That’s an unparalleled achievement, and we really have changed the landscape of Linux and open source over the last decade. The impact of Ubuntu can be seen in countless ways – from the individuals, schools, and enterprises who now use Ubuntu; to proliferation of Codes of Conduct in open source communities; to the acceptance of faster (and near continuous) release cycles for operating systems; to the unique company/community collaboration that makes Ubuntu possible; to the vast number of developers who have now grown up with Ubuntu and in an open source world; to the many, many, many technical innovations to come out of Ubuntu, from single-CD installation in years past to the more recent work on image-based updates.

Ubuntu Server also sprang from our early desktop roots, and has now grown into the leading solution for scale out computing. Ubuntu and our suite of cloud products and services is the premier choice for any customer or partner looking to operate at scale, and it is indeed a “scale-out” world. From easy to consume Ubuntu images on public clouds; to managed cloud infrastructure via BootStack; to standard on-premise, self-managed clouds via Ubuntu OpenStack; to instant solutions delivered on any substrate via Juju, we are the leaders in a highly competitive, dynamic space. The agility, reliability and superior execution that have brought us to today’s milestone remains a critical competency for our cloud team. And as we release Ubuntu 14.10 today, which includes the latest OpenStack, new versions of our tooling such as MaaS and Juju, and initial versions of scale-out solutions for big data and Cloud Foundry, we build on a ten year history of “firsts”.

All Ubuntu releases seem to have their own personality, and Utopic is a fitting way to commemorate the realisation of a decade of vision, hard work and collaboration. We are poised on the edge of a very different decade in Canonical’s history, one in which we’ll carry forward the applicable successes and patterns, but will also forge a new path in the twin worlds of converged devices and scale-out computing. Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the journey thus far. Now, on to Vivid and the next ten years!

October 16, 2014

Ubuntu Security Update on Poodle (CVE-2014-3566) and SSLv3 Downgrade Attack

The following is an update on Ubuntu’s response to the latest Internet emergency security issue, POODLE (CVE-2014-3566), in combination with an
SSLv3 downgrade vulnerability.

Vulnerability Summary

“SSL 3.0 is an obsolete and insecure protocol. While for most practical purposes it has been replaced by its successors TLS 1.0, TLS 1.1, and TLS 1.2, many TLS implementations remain backwards­ compatible with SSL 3.0 to interoperate with legacy systems in the interest of a smooth user experience. The protocol handshake provides for authenticated version negotiation, so normally the latest protocol version common to the client and the server will be used.” -https://www.openssl.org/~bodo/ssl-poodle.pdf

A vulnerability was discovered that affects the protocol negotiation between browsers and HTTP servers, where a man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacker is able trigger a protocol downgrade (ie, force downgrade to SSLv3, CVE to be assigned).  Additionally, a new attack was discovered against the CBC block cipher used in SSLv3 (POODLE, CVE-2014-3566).  Because of this new weakness in the CBC block cipher and the known weaknesses in the RC4 stream cipher (both used with SSLv3), attackers who successfully downgrade the victim’s connection to SSLv3 can now exploit the weaknesses of these ciphers to ascertain the plaintext of portions of the connection through brute force attacks.  For example, an attacker who is able to manipulate the encrypted connection is able to steal HTTP cookies.  Note, the protocol downgrade vulnerability exists in web browsers and is not implemented in the ssl libraries.  Therefore, the downgrade attack is currently known to exist only for HTTP.

OpenSSL will be updated to guard against illegal protocol negotiation downgrades (TLS_FALLBACK_SCSV).  When the server and client are updated to use TLS_FALLBACK_SCSV, the protocol cannot be downgraded to below the highest protocol that is supported between the two (so if the client and the server both support TLS 1.2, SSLv3 cannot be used even if the server offers SSLv3).

The recommended course of action is ultimately for sites to disable SSLv3 on their servers, and for browsers to disable SSLv3 by default since the SSLv3 protocol is known to be broken.  However, it will take time for sites to disable SSLv3, and some sites will choose not to, in order to support legacy browsers (eg, IE6).  As a result, immediately disabling SSLv3 in Ubuntu in the openssl libraries, in servers or in browsers, will break sites that still rely on SSLv3.

Ubuntu’s Response:

Unfortunately, this issue cannot be addressed in a single USN because this is a vulnerability in a protocol, and the Internet must respond accordingly (ie SSLv3 must be disabled everywhere).  Ubuntu’s response provides a path forward to transition users towards safe defaults:

  • Add TLS_FALLBACK_SCSV to openssl in a USN:  In progress, upstream openssl is bundling this patch with other fixes that we will incorporate
  • Follow Google’s lead regarding chromium and chromium content api (as used in oxide):
    • Add TLS_FALLBACK_SCSV support to chromium and oxide:  Done – Added by Google months ago.
    • Disable fallback to SSLv3 in next major version:  In Progress
    • Disable SSLv3 in future version:  In Progress
  • Follow Mozilla’s lead regarding Mozilla products:
    • Disable SSLv3 by default in Firefox 34:  In Progress – due Nov 25
    • Add TLS_FALLBACK_SCSV support in Firefox 35:  In Progress

Ubuntu currently will not:

  • Disable SSLv3 in the OpenSSL libraries at this time, so as not to break compatibility where it is needed
  • Disable SSLv3 in Apache, nginx, etc, so as not to break compatibility where it is needed
  • Preempt Google’s and Mozilla’s plans.  The timing of their response is critical to giving sites an opportunity to migrate away from SSLv3 to minimize regressions

For more information on Ubuntu security notices that affect the current supported releases of Ubuntu, or to report a security vulnerability in an Ubuntu package, please visit http://www.ubuntu.com/usn/.

 

October 13, 2014

CloudOpen 2014 – Mixing Your Open Source Cloud Cocktail

Here’s the presentation I gave at the Linux Foundation’s CloudOpen in Dusseldorf on October 13, 2014 titled Mixing Your Open Source Cloud Cocktail

Add two parts virtualization, one part orchestration add a little networking shake and pour. Unfortunately cloud computing isn’t that easy but then again not all clouds are the same and tastes may vary. This talk will discuss how the varying open source technologies like OpenStack, Docker, LXC and others can be mixed together to make something that appeals to the needs of a wide variety of users. There’s also no problem in abstaining from building your own cloud but still benefiting from the open source tooling to maximize the benefits of the public cloud.

 

September 18, 2014

TL;DW for Clojure Data Science

Edmund Jackson talked at the 2012 Clojure/Conj, and you can see his talk here.

I took these notes as I watched it:
  1. What is "data science"?
    1. "That realm of endeavor that requires, simultaneously, advanced computational and statistical methods."
    2. Some people aren't sure whether "data science" is a thing, or just data analysis dressed up with a fancy name. That question amuses me.
  2. What's new, such that everybody suddenly cares about data science?
    1. widely available computing resources, open source tools such as R, and large amounts of data available in private companies and in public
    2. Compares to early days of Linux, when there was a bunch of new stuff that everybody could hack on
  3. Interactive tools aren't enough; you're not taking some data, analyzing it, and coming back with the answer. You need platform features like native language speed, data structures, language constructs, connectivity, and QC in order to embed your analysis in business processes.
  4. The tools with better analysis features (e.g., R, Mathematica) lack the platform features, and the tools with better platform features (he focuses primarily on C++ as his example here) lack the analysis features.
  5. Python is in the sweet spot, with platform features and (via numpy, scipy, and pandas) analysis features. But:
    1. It's full of mutable data!
    2. The mode of expression in imperative languages poorly matches the content of expression when you're dealing with maths.
  6. F#, Scala, and Clojure are all functional, and therefore (immutable data, more natural expression of maths) better alternatives than Python.
  7. Clojure yay! points:
    1. Native: Incanter, Storm, Cascalog, Datomic
    2. JVM: Mahout (ML on Hadoop), jBLAS, Weka (Java lib with many ML algorithms)
    3. Interop: Rincanter (call out to R), JNI
  8. From here he goes into calculating the entropy of a distribution, and the relative entropy of different distributions.
  9. Demonstrates using relative entropy fns in Datomic queries

September 11, 2014

Mozilla Webmaker at Olivarez College Tagaytay a success

2014-09-05 09.48.21

The Mozilla webmaker party at Olivarez College Tagaytay is a success last September 5, 2014. Which was attended by different department from Olivarez College Tagaytay at Computer Laboratory 2.  Since they only have 20 system units on their laboratory they created a two batches of participants, one in the morning and the other is in the afternoon. The event discussion is about Introduction Mozilla which was discuss by Me, The second lecturer discussed and demo “Thimble” by Mr. Ian Mark Martin and lastly Mr. Leo Caisip which  discussed  about “Popcorn Maker“, Both  attended the Mozilla PH orientation for web maker mentor last August 16, 2014  at Mozilla Community Space Manila. The event ended at exactly 4:00pm as mostly in afternoon participated by the nursing department.

DSC_2881

2014-09-11 12.59.54

We also distributed some Mozilla Swag (Bollard, Mozilla Sticker, Mozilla Tatoos and Mozilla Pins) for participants after the event. As part of the successfull event, based on their survey they are requesting for another event semilar to this.  but internet on the school is not that stable during that day but still we managed to make the event successfull.

 

DSC_2859

Pictures can be found here:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/83515207@N04/sets/72157646987948838/

September 04, 2014

TL;DW for "How To Design A Good API and Why it Matters"

Josh Bloch's Google Tech Talk video How To Design A Good API and Why it Matters is about an hour long, and well worth your time. It's focused on OOP, but has lots of good principles that can be followed elsewhere.

In case you don't have an hour right now, here's a summary/index kind of thing that points out the bits I thought were most important.
  1. 6:27: Characteristics of a good API:
    1. Easy to learn
    2. Easy to use, even without documentation
    3. Hard to misuse
    4. Easy to read and maintain code that uses it
    5. Sufficiently powerful to satisfy requirements
    6. Easy to evolve
    7. Appropriate to audience
  2. 7:52: Gather requirements, but differentiate between true requirements (which should take the form of use cases) and proposed solutions.
  3. 10:02: Start with a short spec; one page is ideal.
    1. Agility trumps completeness at this point.
    2. Get as many spec reviews from as many audiences as possible, modify according to feedback.
    3. Flesh the spec out as you gain confidence.
  4. 15:10: Write to your API early and often
    1. Start writing to your API before you've implemented it, or even specified it properly.
    2. Continue writing to your API as you flesh it out.
    3. Your code will live on in examples and unit tests.
  5. 17:32: Write to SPI [Service Provider Interface]
    1. Write at least three plugins before your release.
    2. Application in Clojure-land: Not sure...
  6. 19:35: Maintain realistic expectations.
    1. You won't please everyone.
    2. Aim to displease everyone equally.
    3. Expect to make mistakes and evolve the API in the future.
  7. 22:01: API should do one thing and do it well.
    1. Functionality should be easy to explain.
    2. If it's hard to name, that's a bad sign.
      1. Example of bad name that I can't leave out of this summary: OMGVMCID
  8. 24:32: API should be as small as possible but no smaller
    1. "When in doubt, leave it out." You can always add stuff, but you can't ever remove anything you've included. (The speaker calls this out as his most important point.)
  9. 26:27: Implementation should not impact API.
    1. Do not over-specify. For example, nobody needs to know how your hash function works, unless the hashes are persistent.
    2. Don't leak implementation details such as SQL exceptions!
  10. 29:36: Minimize accessibility of everything.
    1. Don't let API callers see stuff you don't want to be public, and that includes anything you might want to change in the future.
  11. 30:39: Names matter: API is a little language.
    1. Make names self-explanatory.
    2. Be consistent.
    3. Strive for symmetry. (If you can GET a monkey-uncle, make sure you can PUT a monkey-uncle, too.)
  12. 32:32: Documentation matters.
    1. Document parameter units! ("Length of banana in centimeters")
  13. 35:41: Consider performance consequences of API design decisions.
    1. Bad decisions can limit performance -- and this is permanent.
    2. Do not warp your API to gain performance -- the slow thing you avoided can be fixed and get faster, but your warped API will be permanent.
    3. Good design usually coincides with good performance.
  14. 40:00: Minimize mutability
    1. Make everything immutable unless there's a reason to do otherwise.
  15. 45:31: Don't make the caller do anything your code should do.
    1. If there are common use cases that require stringing a bunch of your stuff together in a boilerplate way, that's a bad sign.
  16. 48:36: Don't violate the principle of least astonishment
    1. Make sure your API callers are never surprised by what the API does.
  17. 50:03: Report errors as soon as possible after they occur.
  18. 52:00: Provide programmatic access to all data that is available in string form.
    1. Rich Hickey makes a similar point here.
  19. 56:15: Use consistent parameter ordering across methods.
    1. Here's a bad example:
      1. char *strncpy (char *dst, char *src, size_t n);
      2. void bcopy (void *src, void *dst, size_t n);
  20. 57:15: Avoid long parameter lists.
  21. 58:21: Avoid return values that demand exceptional processing.
    1. Example: return an empty list instead of nil/null.

August 27, 2014

Preso: Things I Learned about Open Source…The Hard Way

My presentation at the Bay Area Open Source Meet-Up – OS in Big Organizations: Failures, Success Stories & Best Practices on August 13, 2014.

Mark Hinkle runs the Citrix Open Source Business Office and has spent 20 years working with open source communities and delivering open source software. Topics covered in this presentation will include the benefit of his mistakes and successes both in evaluating open source ad an end-user and in delivering enterprise solutions based on open source software.

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August 22, 2014

GNU hackers unmask massive HACIENDA surveillance program and design a countermeasure

After making key discoveries about the details of HACIENDA, Julian Kirsch, Dr. Christian Grothoff, Jacob Appelbaum, and Dr. Holger Kenn designed the TCP Stealth system to protect unadvertised servers from port scanning.

According to Heise Online, the intelligence agencies of the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand are involved in HACIENDA. The agencies share the data they collect. The HACIENDA system also hijacks civilian computers, allowing it to leach computing resources and cover its tracks.

Some of the creators of TCP Stealth are also prominent contributors to the GNU Project, a major facet of the free software community and a hub for political and technological action against bulk surveillance. Free software is safer because it is very hard to hide malicious code in a program anyone can read. In proprietary software, there is no way to guarantee that programs don't hide backdoors and other vulnerabilities. The team revealed their work on August 15, 2014 at the annual GNU Hackers' Meeting in Germany, and Julian Kirsch published about it in his master's degree thesis.

Maintainers of Parabola, an FSF-endorsed GNU/Linux distribution, have already implemented TCP Stealth, making Parabola users safer from surveillance. The FSF encourages other operating systems to follow Parabola's lead.

The Free Software Foundation supports and sponsors the GNU Project. FSF campaigns manager Zak Rogoff said, "Every time you use a free software program, you benefit from the work of free software developers inspired by the values of transparency and bottom-up collaboration. But on occassions like these, when our civil liberties are threatened with technological tools, the deep importance of these values becomes obvious. The FSF is proud to support the free software community in its contributions to the resistance against bulk surveillance."

The Free Software Foundation works politically for an end to mass surveillance. Simultaneously, the Foundation advocates for individuals of all technical skill levels to take a variety of actions against bulk surveillance.

About Julian Kirsch, Christian Grothoff, Jacob Appelbaum, and Holger Kenn

Julian Kirsch is the author of "Improved Kernel-Based Port-Knocking in Linux", his Master's Thesis in Informatics at Technische Universitat Munchen.

Dr. Christian Grothoff is the Emmy-Noether research group leader in Computer Science at Technische Universitat Munchen.

Jacob Appelbaum is an American independent computer security researcher and hacker. He was employed by the University of Washington, and is a core member of the Tor project, a free software network designed to provide online anonymity.

Dr. Holger Kenn is a computer scientist specializing in wearable computing, especially software architectures, context sensor systems, human machine interfaces, and wearable-mediated human robot cooperation.

About the Free Software Foundation

The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to promoting computer users' right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free (as in freedom) software -- particularly the GNU operating system and its GNU/Linux variants -- and free documentation for free software. The FSF also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and political issues of freedom in the use of software, and its Web sites, located at fsf.org and gnu.org, are an important source of information about GNU/Linux. Donations to support the FSF's work can be made at https://donate.fsf.org. Its headquarters are in Boston, MA, USA.

About the GNU Operating System and Linux

Richard Stallman announced in September 1983 the plan to develop a free software Unix-like operating system called GNU. GNU is the only operating system developed specifically for the sake of users' freedom. See https://www.gnu.org/gnu/the-gnu-project.

In 1992, the essential components of GNU were complete, except for one, the kernel. When in 1992 the kernel Linux was re-released under the GNU GPL, making it free software, the combination of GNU and Linux formed a complete free operating system, which made it possible for the first time to run a PC without non-free software. This combination is the GNU/Linux system. For more explanation, see https://www.gnu.org/gnu/gnu-linux-faq.

Media Contacts

Zak Rogoff
Campaigns Manager
Free Software Foundation
+1-617-542-5942
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

"Knocking down the HACIENDA" by Julian Kirsch, produced by GNU, the GNUnet team, and edited on short notice by Carlo von Lynx from #youbroketheinternet is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NoDerivatives 3.0 Unported License.

August 13, 2014

SFD Tagaytay 2014 at Olivarez College

I am now again an official organizer for SFD 2014, but this time I will organized the event in Tagaytay City which will be hosted by Olivarez College in Tagaytay. The said event is scheduled on September 27, 2014.

SFD2014

The venue is on their “AMPITHEATER” where it can hold more than 500 participants. Here are some pictures of the exact venue.

cpdc-20140804131542221  cpdc-20140804131124356We also launch the online registration feel free to register using the this URL : https://www.eventbrite.com/e/software-freedom-day-2014-at-olivarez-college-tagaytay-tickets-12455543867

August 12, 2014

websites on this server

June 30, 2014

Scancation - Scanning the Standing Stones of the Outer Hebrides

I just came back from a vacation where Kio and I went and visited most of the megalithic monuments on the islands of the Outer Hebrides in Scotland. Stone circles are all over the place on these islands and the biggest one is the Callanish Stone Circle. One of the cool things about these places is that there is very little history known about them and so all you can know about them is from your experience of being around them. Most of them all taller than me and you get the sense that these places were the sacred spaces of 5000 years ago.

One of the things I say a lot at MakerBot is that they really make the most sense when you connect your MakerBot to your passion. Since I'm into rocks. I scanned a few of my favorite stones and ran them through 123D Catch which makes a 3D model from up to 70 photos of the object. It’s pretty cool to think that yesterday I was walking among these stones and today I’m printing them out on the MakerBots in my office. 

It’s interesting to note that this feels a lot like the old days of vacation film photography. The process of processing the photos into a 3D model feels a lot like when I used to develop celluloid film after a vacation.

Someday, printing 3D models will be normal for everyone, for now, it’s just normal for all the MakerBot operators in the world.

If you decide to go on your own scanning vacation, aka scancation, here’s my process and tips for acquiring models. I use a Canon S110 camera and then upload my photos later to the 123D Catch site and then upload all the models and a zip file of all the photos to Thingiverse because the photogrammetry software will get better someday and I want to have an archive of the photos so I can make better models later.

 

  • Lighting conditions matter. A cloudy sky is much better than a sunny one so that you can get all the details of your subject. 
  • Fill the frame, but make sure to leave some area around the object in the picture. 123D Catch uses reference points in the object to make everything fit together. 
  • Use all 70 pictures allowed by the software. The more pictures, the better the scan. 
  • Scan weird things. Sometimes the most iconic stuff of a location isn’t the most obvious. Some friends of mine scanned all of Canal St. in NYC and said the interesting parts were the giant piles of trash bags which are one of the local overlooked pieces of landscape art.
  • Don’t forget the top view. If you are capturing a subject that is tall, do your best to get above it and take a picture. A quadcopter could be handy for that
  • Fix it up with Netfabb. After I upload the photos into the 123D Catch online portal, then I use Netfabb basic to slice off all the weird parts and cut a flat bottom onto the object.
  • Make sure to upload your scans to Thingiverse. We can all make models of your SCANCATION. 

 

Do you have any other scanning tips for those that would like to experiment with vacation scanning? Leave them in the comments!

June 22, 2014

the meaning of a word

i learned the word "feminist" at my first job. I was 15 and a trainee engineer in a hydro power scheme. I recall one young man I worked with asking me urgently if i was a feminist. I asked what that was. he said, "women who hate men". oh.. i'm not one of them....

why would i get a job as the only woman deep in a power station if i hated men? It was a long long time before i heard any other definition of feminist.

June 20, 2014

Launceston June Meeting

G'day all

For this month's Launceston meeting, Phil will be giving us an introduction to NAS4Free, a BSD licenced fork/continuation of FreeNAS.

2:00pm
Saturday 28th June
Royal Oak
Launceston


As usual, some of us will be meeting for lunch beforehand at 1:00pm.

Hope to see you there!

Google Maps Link

NAS4Free Website
-----
Gov Hack 2014: June 11-13th (Hobart venue)
OpenStack 4th Birthday: June 17th (RSVP here: http://taslug-openstack.eventbrite.com.au/ )
Next Launceston meeting: 2:00pm July 26th (Topic TBC)

June 11, 2014

Hobart meeting - June 19th - (The aptosid fullstory)

Welcome to June. Yep. short days... stout beers. And source. LOTS OF SOURCE! I'm in the
middle of my exam session at uni so won't have time to prepare the usual slides and news
this month.

When: Thursday, June 19th, 18:00 for an 18:30 start
Where: Upstairs, Hotel Soho, 124 Davey St, Hobart.

Agenda:

18:00 - early mingle, chin wagging, discussion and install issues etc

19:00 - Trevor Walkley - aptosid fullstory


    This months talk will be given by Trevor Walkley, an aptosid
    dev,(bluewater on IRC), on building an iso using aptosid fullstory
    scripts which are currently held on github (and the 'how to do it' is
    not well known).

    A live build will take place (hopefully debian sid will cooperate on the
    night) followed by a live installation of the build to the famous milk
    crate computer belonging Scott, (faulteh on IRC).

20:00 - Meeting end. Dinner and drinks are available at the venue during the meeting.

We will probably get to a discussion on the Hobart LCA 2017 bid, ideas for upcoming
Software Freedom Day in September, Committee nomination and voting,
so our pre-talk discussion should be packed full of jam.

Also in June:
28th - Launceston meeting
July:
11-13th - Gov Hack 2014 - There's at least a Hobart venue for this event.
17th - OpenStack 4th Birthday - RSVP here: http://taslug-openstack.eventbrite.com.au/
September:
20th - Software Freedom Day - events in Hobart and Launceston

June 10, 2014

Integrate ToDo.txt into Claws Mail

I use Claws Mail for many years now. I like to call it “the mutt mail client for people who prefer a graphical user interface”. Like Mutt, Claws is really powerful and allows you to adjust it exactly to your needs. During the last year I began to enjoy managing my open tasks with ToDo.txt. A powerful but still simple way to manage your tasks based on text files. This allows me not only to manage my tasks on my computer but also to keep it in sync with my mobile devices. But there is one thing I always missed. Often a task starts with an email conversation and I always wanted to be able to transfer a mail easily to as task in a way, that the task links back to the original mail conversation. Finally I found some time to make it happen and this is the result:

To integrate ToDo.txt into Claws-Mail I wrote the Python program mail2todotxt.py. You need to pass the path to the mail you want to add as parameter. By default the program will create a ToDo.txt task which looks like this:


<task_creation_date> <subject_of_the_mail> <link_to_the_mail>

Additionally you can call the program with the parameter “-i” to switch to the interactive mode. Now the program will ask you for a task description and will use the provided description instead of the mail subject. If you don’t enter a subscription the program will fall back to the mail subject as task description. To use the interactive mode you need to install the Gtk3 Python bindings.

To call this program directly from Claws Mail you need to go to Configuration->Actions and create a action to execute following command:


/path_to_mail2todotxt/mail2todotxt.py -i %f &

Just skip the -i parameter if you always want to use the subject as task description. Now you can execute the program for the selected mail by calling Tools->Actions-><The_name_you_chose_for_the_action>. Additional you can add a short-cut if you wish, e.g. I use “Ctrl-t” to create a new task.

Now that I’m able to transfer a mail to a ToDo.txt item I also want to go back to the mail while looking at my open tasks. Therefore I use the “open” action from Sebastian Heinlein which I extended with an handler to open claws mail links. After you added this action to your ~/.todo.action.d you can start Claws-Mail and jump directly to the referred mail by typing:


t open <task_number_which_referes_to_a_mail>

The original version of the “open” action can be found at Gitorious. The modified version you need to open the Claws-Mail links can be found here.

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