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Wednesday
09 January, 2019


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The Elections Committee announced today, Tuesday, January 8, 2019, the first two Candidates who have passed the application and eligibility process and are declared as officially running for the 2018-2019 openSUSE Board Elections as the January 13 deadline for Candidate Applications is swiftly approaching.

Sarah Julia Kriesch aka AdaLovelace, incumbent

Outgoing Board Member Sarah Julia Kriesch, aka AdaLovelace, is seeking her second term on the Board as an encumbent.  Sarah, from Nuremberg, Germany, is a work-experienced student in Computer Science at the Nuremberg Institute of Technology and has been working as a Student Research Assistant.

A very active openSUSE Contributor, Sébastien Poher, has also thrown his hat into the ring for the first time and is bringing energy and an impressive list of openSUSE activity to the elections race.

Three openSUSE Board Seats Vacant

Three Board Seats are vacant in this election with the January 13 deadline to apply as a Candidate looming.  Eligibility to run for the Board positions is based on having an openSUSE Membership in Good Standing, so anyone who qualifies still has a few days left to join the Elections process and give the Members a good variety of choices for these important positions.

More Candidates are Required

The Project is best served if it has a good variety of openSUSE Enthusiasts to choose from during the Elections.

Members who are willing to step up and pay things forward by serving on the openSUSE Board are urged to apply by sending an application to the Project Mailing List and to the Elections Officials following the instructions on the official Elections page.

openSUSE Membership Drive Still Underway

The Elections Committee would like to remind all openSUSE Contributors that a healthy Project is only possible if it has a robust roster of Members, and it is especially important for the Elections process.  Applications for openSUSE Membership are accepted and processed on an ongoing basis, but a Membership Drive has been declared by the Elections Officials in an effort to get as many qualified Project Contributors to take part in the voting process, which is scheduled to begin February 4, 2019, and run for 12 days with ballots closing February 15.

All openSUSE Contributors and Members are requested to actively urge other Contributors who are not Members to get their Membership and get out and vote.  All Members who have been approved by the Membership Committee before the start of balloting February 4 will be eligible to vote in this election.

You can apply for openSUSE Membership by following the instructions here.

 

 


Tuesday
08 January, 2019


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Managing issues is part of the daily life of most software projects. Reacting to bug reports, feature requests, pull requests, tracking what's going on and where to put attention, all that is usually handled in the bug or issue tracker of the project's choice.

On GitHub there are the GitHub issues, and they have become quite powerful over time. Just recently GitHub added the capability to show related issues, pin issues to repositories and to move them between repositories.

One important tool to manage issues on GitHub are labels, those nicely colored badges you can add to issues to get a better overview, to filter lists and queries, or to build further automation such as the presentation of good first issues to people new to the project.


If you have a lot of labels it tends to become a bit of effort to manage them well, especially if you want to keep colors consistent and descriptions up to date. It becomes even more effort when you try to do so across different repositories. We have all seen the psychedelic potpourri of colorful labels which tends to happen when you use labels generously.

Last year I saw Mitchell Hashimoto's excellent talk about anything as code at the Open Source Datacenter Conference in Berlin. He showed there how to use Terraform to manage infrastructure as code beyond the typical management of computing infrastructure such as servers or networks. He showed how to use it for more administrative tasks such as managing teams on GitHub.

This is a great approach because it replaces clicking around in a user interface by a more programming-like approach of maintaining configurations, preferably version controlled, and applying the same rules on them as on code. So you can do pull requests, review changes, have the history of what happened in git, run tests and other automation easily, etc.

The GitHub provider for Terraform also handles labels so I thought I would give it a try to manage labels as code. Directly doing this in the Terraform configuration is possible but it's a bit cumbersome and limited in what you can do with the data in this format. So I decided to put the data into a good old YAML file and writing a bit of Python code to deal with it.

The result is beautiful-labels, a small tool to manage GitHub labels from a YAML description via Terraform. It scans your repository for existing labels and their data, creates a YAML description from it, and then provides you the tools to turn it into a Terraform configuration.

Terraform is great in handling the state of things in the cloud, it takes care of operating the API in an effective way, figuring out what needs to be updated, and gives the user control, for example by providing a dry run which tells what would change without applying the changes yet. This is all quite convenient and powerful.

One thing beautiful-labels is supposed to make easy


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This continues, and concludes a series of items on Vendor Neutral FLOSS projects and how they do marketing which you can read here.

TDF / LibreOffice Branding

If we want to grow our community, and to drive this with marketing – we need to position our brands to make this easy and ideally unconscious. Currently we have two brands, taking the descriptions from their websites:

  • LibreOffice is Free and Open Source Software Development is open to new talent and new ideas, and our software is tested and used daily by a large and devoted user community (link).
    • ie. it is pretty clear: 'LibreOffice' is software.
  • The Document Foundation - It is an independent self-governing meritocratic entity, created by a large group of Free Software advocates, in the form of a charitable Foundation under German law (gemeinnützige rechtsfähige Stiftung des bürgerlichen Rechts). (link).
    • ie. it is clear this is a Stiftung – and by association / default comes to also mean the handful of employees who comprise the paid team there with some oversight from the board.

Unfortunately – it seems we have two brands, and neither of these means “The community”, or “The people who do most of the hard work”. These are the people we need to be encouraging, recruiting, building up, and talking about. The degree to which TDF’s paid staff represent ‘the community’ is unclear. The board is elected to represent the community, and oversees TDF but is also not itself the community (but the board). When TDF says “our software” - how can we ensure that everyone feels included in that ‘our’ ?

It seems clear that we need to solve this dis-connection with some formulation, strap-line, brand or form of words that we use to highlight and emphasize our contributor’s input – and use this repeatedly.

LibreOffice vs. Commercial branding

Branding is really important as we have seen: shipping identical software, at the same price in the Mac app store with just the LibreOffice vs. Collabora Office brand changed shows – that the LibreOffice brand is simply far better known & sought after gathering the overwhelming majority of interest. This however brings a problem – if development work is funded by leads generated from brands then TDF promoting eg. LibreOffice Online under its own brand can easily radically impair leads, investment and thus code-flows into LibreOffice Online without any offsetting advantage. The picture below compares two branding approaches for the 95%+ of commits that Collabora has put into LibreOffice Online. The 0.05% is the proportion of visitors to LibreOffice that discover that they should fund development buying professional services (from anyone) – as we shall see below.

Which way to brand something such that re-investment and growth is possible ?

TDF marketing in practice

How does LibreOffice get marketed from this perspective ? How do companies get leads from TDF so that they can sell to some fraction of them their products, support & services thus allowing re-investment back into LibreOffice ? Answer: very poorly. Recently we’ve done a better job of telling people about LibreOffice, a recent release announcement says:

"LibreOffice 6.1’s new features

Michael Meeks: 2019-01-08 Tuesday

14:29 UTCmember

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  • Poked at vendor neutral marketing bits and updated some pictures; mail chew, pleased to get a Purchase Order six months after signing a contract, nice.

Monday
07 January, 2019


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i heart commodore-64

I am a Commodore 64 enthusiast. It is still my favorite computer system ever made. My childhood initiation into the computer world was through this machine. I dreamed of making an “Ultimate” Commodore 64 with sketches and specs with all kinds of nonsense. Today, my Commodore 64 sits beside me in my SuperCubicle with an SD2IEC drive from TheFutureWas8bit.com and an Ethernet adapter from Individual Computers. There is a back-burner project that has been on going with my C64. I hope to be able to get all that to a point that it is worth talking about.

 

Recently, I stumbled upon this very interesting bit of hardware. It is a replacement main board for the Commodore 64. It’s called the Ultimate 64. According to the site, it is a hardware implementation using FPGA of the entire C64 and it includes the Ultimate-II+ solution so a kind of all-in-one machine with the latest “enhancements” as it were.

ultimate64-motherboard-sm

Features

No more is there an RF modulated output. The original component remains but now there is an HDMI output. There is even a mode to emulate the CRT feel on a modern screen. That probably won’t be how I’d use it but most certainly the HDMI output will be used.

An upgraded yet compatible audio system is built in. It has an 8 voice SID implementation as well as 7 voices of sampled audio in 8 or 16-bit samples of up to 48 kHz sample rate. There are open slots to put in original SID chips if you so choose.

ultimate64-sid-sm

It still accepts cartridges and you can set the machine to have the RAM Expansion Unit (REU) of up to 16 MB. How they get that to work is a mystery to me since the 6510 can only address 64KB of RAM. Some sort of bank switching… I guess… according to this. How they do that sounds like some magic to me.

A bunch of C64 cartridge emulations to include the Epyx Fastloader, Retro Replay and many others.

Flexible Freezer menu that allows you to select, mount and create D64 (the native Commodore 64 disk images).

Most importantly, are the little upgrades that make me smile, 3 USB ports, Ethernet and even Wifi. I am interested in seeing what fantastic software creations will come of these little upgrades, especially those that would make use of Commodore 64 networking.

ultimate64-ports-sm

It can still make use of the original disk drives, if you so choose. Also note, there is no userport on this board. There are headers, however so that you can either create a cable to userport or eventually one will be released.

Commodore 64 Unix

Although it hasn’t been updated since 2004, there is a project on Sourceforge called LUnix, meaning, Little Unix. It is a preemptive multitasking operating system for the Commodore 64 and Commodore 128 with dynamic memory management. It supports TCP/IP networking has a terminal with basic support for shell scripts and quite a lot


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This continues a series of items on Vendor Neutral FLOSS projects and how they do marketing which you can read here.

Marketing in the commercial world

In order for companies to sell products based on LibreOffice, it is vital that they find customers to whom they can sell (or that customers find them). Here is a picture of how the process of an enterprise customer finding a product might work:

Some Marketing approaches, converting to sales

People who have expressed an interest in your product are called leads - there are many ways in today’s world to get people to be aware of your products and register an interest (ie. to generate leads). Leads are the people that are focused on by the sales team to encourage them to enjoy the great results from using a LibreOffice based product. Here are some examples:

  1. You can buy per-click advertising in search engines and on web-pages. This is expensive, and the returns are typically less than the investment for low cost products in a mixed consumer & enterprise market. TDF itself has free advertising donated by Google which makes this possible for us.
  2. You can sponsor conferences, and attend them. Picking the right conference is a real trick, and the costs here are prohibitive. Imagine spending ~€5k attending a conference filled with Open Source interested Government IT decision makers. Imagine presenting your product, and having the friendly & enthusiastic conference moderator personally and explicitly promote buying your products to the entire conference. Imagine the zero leads that result in paid business, and/or any return at all. Repeat until convinced that this is a dead end. TDF itself has free booths at many conferences donated by the organizers, companies do not.
  3. Realize that news driving links and organic search for your brand – along with links from friendly projects, partners and products are the only cost-effective (ie. nearly free) way to get the volume of leads you need into the top of the sales funnel.

Clearly generating as many, relevant high quality leads to feed the sales pipeline is vital for any FLOSS business. If LibreOffice wants to build a successful ecosystem it needs to be deeply interested in the life-blood of sales: leads, how we can gently steer enterprises who visit us towards being interested in support and services, and encourage them towards companies who can serve them, and in doing so significantly improve LibreOffice ? Expecting companies to generate their own leads – particularly without having strong independent brands is extremely difficult, there are few, cost-effective pro-active marketing strategies available in today’s world for small companies.

Marketing & Framing in the FLOSS world

The Marketing / Investment mismatch problem

One of the particular pathologies of the FLOSS world is that where marketing and investment get out of step. This was particularly obvious around the Linux Desktop and contributed to the tragic commercial failure not only of individual desktop Linux distributions (remember Mandriva?), but also to the significant pruning of both SUSE, and ultimately RedHat’s desktop investment – before finally claiming much of


Michael Meeks: 2019-01-07 Monday

21:00 UTCmember

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  • Sync call with Kendy; admin, chat with Simon. Clever idea wrt. unit-testing failed, bother.

Peter Cannon: FOSDEM 2019

13:33 UTC

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Yes, I’m finally going to FOSDEM after years of breaking my promise to people that I’d go and a failed crowdfunding campaign in an attempt to get me there I finally spent some of my children’s inheritance and booked a flight and hotel room from the Friday through to Monday morning. I’ve always viewed fosdem … Continue reading "FOSDEM 2019"


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Chafa (github) started out as a small piece of supporting code for an obscure personal project I may announce at some indefinite point in the future. Then I decided to release it as a tongue-in-cheek thing for the VT100 anniversary last year, and, well… it gathered a bit of steam.

Chafa 1.0

Since I’m not one to leave well enough alone, I packaged it up over the holidays for the 1.0 release. It brings a pile of improvements, e.g. new symbol ranges like ASCII and Braille, better image preprocessing and a new --fill option for halftone/dithering. It’s also, like, real fast now, and the build is much less brittle.

Big thanks to everyone who contributed to this release: Adam Borowski, Felix Yan, Lajos Papp, Mo Zhou, Ricardo Arguello, Robert-André Mauchin, @dcb314 and @medusacle.

You’ll find packages out there for Arch, Debian, Fedora, Gentoo and Ubuntu now; check your repositories. Extra big thanks to the package maintainers.

As the post title implies, I think Chafa is now the least bad tool in this tiny but tradition-rich niche. So what’s so not-quite-terrible about it?

Only the best for your aixterm

If you’ve been around text terminals for a while, you’ll know what this means:

16 colors

Up until fairly recently, the most colorful terminal applications would operate within the confines of some variant of the above palette, and many still do. It’s a nice and distinct (not to mention cheerful) set of colors, but it’s not a great match for most image material you’ll come across, which makes legible Chafa output a challenge. And that is precisely why I had to try (here with a nice woodblock print):

ANSI art variations

The top left image is the best reproduction you can get with Chafa using a modern 24-bit color terminal emulator (in this case, GNOME Terminal) at 60 characters wide. At top right is the 16-color mapping you get without applying any tricks; this is pretty close to the mark given the muted moonlight colors of the input image, but it doesn’t make good use of our palette, nor does it convey the essence of the scene very well. Blue sky, rolling hills, green grass. A shady waterfront pavilion. Given our limitations, the output will look nothing like the original anyway, so we’re better off trying to capture the gist of it.

We do this simply by cranking up the contrast and saturation to levels where our cheerful old palette can do a decent job (bottom left). Chafa no longer relies on ImageMagick for this, so it’s available in the library API, and integer-only math makes it performant enough to run in real time on animations and video (more on this in a later post, perhaps).

It gets even better if you do color assignment in DIN99d space (bottom right), but that’s way slow, so you have to explicitly enable it.

No ANSI? No problem

Braille and ASCII art

You can generate varied output


Sunday
06 January, 2019


Michael Meeks: 2019-01-06 Sunday

21:00 UTCmember

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  • All Saints; Marcus & Zoe over for lunch - good to see them. Poked at E's computer in the evening - odd HDMI sound mis-detection; hmm.

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About two years ago, I wrote a mail titled "Another openSUSE Board candidate". These two years passed quickly, and I really enjoyed being part of the Board and helping the community whenever needed.

I'd like to continue this "job", and therefore decided to run for re-election.

I use openSUSE since years (it was still named „SuSE Linux“ with lowercase „u“ back then) and started annoying people in bugzilla, err, started betatesting in the 9.2 beta phase. Since then, I reported more than 1300 bugs. Nowadays, OBS ruins my bugzilla statistics by introducing the option to send a SR ;-)

One of my current activities in openSUSE is working in the Heroes team, where I started with moving and upgrading the wiki. I also help out on various *.opensuse.org servers since someone was evil enough to give me root permissions on lots of them ;-) (Transparency note: I helped to setup the elections.opensuse.org server before last year's elections - but will of course not touch it until the elections finish.)

My other openSUSE hobbies ;-) are AppArmor and PostfixAdmin, where I'm active in upstream development and as packager. AppArmor also turned out to be a good opportunity for cross-distribution collaboration.

You can find me on several mailinglists and on IRC (nickname "cboltz"), and of course I still scare people in bugzilla. I‘m also a regular visitor and speaker at the openSUSE Conference, and visit other conferences as time permits.

My day job has nothing to do with computers. I produce something you can drink that is named after a software we ship in openSUSE ;-)

Oh, and I collect funny quotes from various mailinglists, IRC, bugzilla etc. that then end up as random [1] signatures under my mails, so be careful what you write ;-)

There are some things I‘ll never do (you might remember them from two years ago):

  • use a stable release on my main computer – Tumbleweed is just too good ;-)
  • open a bugreport if fxing the bug and sending a SR is faster
  • be too serious – hey, our motto is „Have a lot of fun...“ ;-)
  • drink beer ;-) (sorry, not even openSUSE beer)

If you want to read more from or about me, have a look at


I wish all candidates good luck, and hope that we‘ll see some more candidates and lots of voters!



[1] sometimes I hand-pick signatures, and this is one of these cases with a non-random signature ;-) (yes, I know it's unusual for a blog post to have a signature at all, so this will stay a rare exception)
--
Christian, there are times you are a pain in the ass, there are times I really like you.
This is one of both of those times ;)
[Richard Brown]


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peppermintos review title

PeppermintOS is a bit of a different distribution that I have become aware of in recent months. Peppermint is built with the LXDE interface that is very nicely customized. It can be downloaded from here in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions. The latest version, Peppermint 9 Respin can be downloaded in both to see how they would perform on both old hardware and in a virtual machine.

So it is understood from the very beginning, I am a huge openSUSE fan and a member of the project. I am fantastically satisfied with the distribution, nothing is perfect, but this distribution and its culture fits me well. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t other fantastic projects that work fantastically well for other users. I also primarily use KDE Plasma as my desktop. There are many other fantastic desktop environments out there but Plasma just happens to work best for me by catering to my preference. With my biases clearly stated, I will now get into my experience with PeppermintOS, as an openSUSE user.

Installation

Using the SUSE Studio Imagewriter, I burned a 32 bit image onto a USB flashdrive and installed it into a Dell Inspiron 10 with 1 GB of RAM. It was stated that Peppermint will work with older hardware, so that is exactly what I used. I also installed this on a Virtualbox Virtual Machine so that I could capture some better images.

For starters, I really appreciate that I am able to install Peppermint right from the boot menu. This is one of those features that is important to me when I install a Linux distribution. I am glad that they give the option to try it live but that particular feature is not as important to me.

peppermintos-01-installer boot menu

The next two steps are basic but necessary questions of your language and keyboard layout. It’s good to knock this out immediately.

Next you are asked to specify the installation type. In this case of this Dell Inspiron Netbook, I chose to erase the entire disk and let the the defaults reign. Next you asked if you would like additional software such as downloading and installing updates immediately and to install third-party software for graphics, wifi hardware and such. I did notice a minimal installation option, I did not try this out but from my experience, distributions often offer a ‘minimal’ set of applications. I wanted to see what I was specifically given with Peppermint.

After you confirm the updates and other software, you are given a warning about how the partition tables are going to be written. Maybe this is better than what I am used to with openSUSE but I do prefer stepping through and setting all my options before I am given the final warning. Peppermint warns you in the middle of the install. After the whipping of the drive, you are asked to identify your location. I am puzzled by the sequence of steps here a bit.

After you enter your user


Saturday
05 January, 2019


Michael Meeks: 2019-01-05 Saturday

21:00 UTCmember

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  • Mail chew; N. out for a swim - and N.B. over for a sleep-over. Tied the house, packed away Xmas decorations, re-organized stowage. Watched The Martian in the evening.

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Dear readers, there is a announcement

Note : I moving to use Gitlab services to host my Jeklly static web-blog, which mean I will continue to write blog post at https://robbinespu.gitlab.io, I will keep the old post here and start a new one. See you there!

I started to like Gitlab features such as WebIDE, CI pipeline, snippet and more. Everything looks more powerful :)


Friday
04 January, 2019


Michael Meeks: 2019-01-04 Friday

21:00 UTCmember

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  • Calls; plugged away at unit testing. Pair of long calls.

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One period is more quickly left than you can imagine and I am running for re-election for the openSUSE Board!
My name is Sarah Julia Kriesch and I am a work experienced Student in Computer Science at 2 universities.
I am completing my Study Abroad Semester at the University of Bristol at the moment and I have a running IT project at my home university Nuremberg Institute of Technology Georg Simon Ohm. In addition, I am working as a Student Research Assistant at my home university.

A lot has happened in the last years and I try to combine my studies with openSUSE Contributions as best as possible. I am the Founder of the Working Group Open Source  at the Faculty of Computer Science of the Nuremberg Institute of Technology. We offer workshops in Linux and Open Source bi-weekly. These are open for Students by other Faculties, too. I am the Educator for our Orga Team with Linux Trainers. We have presentations and workshops in cooperation with openSUSE every semester. I want to forward such Open Source education everywhere in Germany.

Our IT project is a migration of our Linux Laboratory from Ubuntu to openSUSE Leap. We automate that with Salt and that all have to work with Kerberos authentication. So our Students are able to use their AD accounts and special sums have to be debited against our student cards for printing with Kerberos tickets then. We are working in cooperation with SUSE here.

I have occupied myself with different units in Bristol. I have HPC, Embedded & Real-Time Systems, Security and Sustainability. I am glad to be allowed to combine a part of my exam in Sustainability with openSUSE. I wanted to create a project plan to improve our Sustainability for my next period in the openSUSE Board. My election pledge is the switch from DVDs to USB flash drives in the marketing material.

My efforts within openSUSE is mainly an education part at our university to receive new openSUSE/ Open Source Contributors and being active as an Advocate at different conferences and expos. I have switched from Germany to the United Kingdom for this semester. This year I will return to Germany. Another role is the Global Coordinator Localization incl. German translations and the Wiki.

Going forward and joining Germany again, I want to concentrate more on the well-being of the openSUSE Community. You don‘t receive new Contributors if you don‘t have the correct climate in the community and some would be unsatisfied. I want to build that on the introduction of the Board publicity by our elected Board Members in the last year. That would improve the collaboration and respect within openSUSE.

I am much obliged to be an elected Board Member for 2 years. I appreciate


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With the impending demise of Google Plus I’ve pretty much stopped posting on my account, personally, I can’t see the point of adding data to something that’s scheduled to shut-down in April? I had already scaled back on my involvement with Steam and so that only really left me with Mastodon. True I also have … Continue reading "Back to WordPress"


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Dear Tumbleweed users and hackers,

Today, I am cheating by writing/publishing the review of week52 of 2018 and having a look at the last snapshots that were published with versions 2018*. The pace has been quite a bit lower and thus only 5 more snapshots had been published in 2018 that had not yet been covered in earlier reviews: 1213, 1214, 1218, 1219 and 1224. After that, OBS decided to force us on a break and not produce new snapshots.

Anyway, the few things that got published with those 5 snapshots were:

  • Mesa 18.3.1 (updated from 18.1.x)
  • Qt 5.12.0
  • Linux kernel 4.19.8 & 4.19.11
  • Mozilla Firefox 64.0
  • KDE Applications 18.12.0
  • KDE Frameworks 5.53.0
  • Switch to LLVM 7
  • Perl 5.28.0

Slow speed, but quite some impact. Nice to see so many larger stacks could be updated/submitted/tested/published before the year ended.

But, as you are certainly used to, openSUSE Tumbleweed would not be called stable rolling distribution if there were not many more things already piled up. And stable means we are not publishing snapshots until the openQA tests have passed. So, there are major updates happening in the coming days/weeks:

  • Installer redesign: the sidebar is coming back, showing where in the installation workflow one is currently. This is already checked in to Factory and will take a bit of work to get all the needles right for openQA. This is also the main reason for no new snapshots at the moment
  • glibc 2.28, Python 3.7, openssl 1.1.1: The staging is still far from ready though, as Python 3.7 is known to be incompatible to Salt. Additionally, some build cycles in Factory make it close to impossible to update python to 3.7.
  • Linux kernel 4.20
  • tcl 8.6.9, currently breaks sqlite3’s test suite

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There are less than 10 days left to apply as a Candidate for the openSUSE Board Elections, yet as of this date, no eligible Candidates have stepped up to run for the three vacant Board Member Seats.  If there are no Candidates by the closing date of January 13, 2019, the three remaining members of the openSUSE Board will be tasked to choose new Board Members, based on their own personal choices, to fill those three vacant seats.

2018-2019 Election Poster contributed by Aris Winardi

2018-2019 Election Poster contributed by Aris Winardi

Healthy Project Needs Members

The Elections Committee would like to remind all openSUSE Contributors that a healthy Project is only possible if it has a robust roster of Members, and if enough of those Members step up to participate in the duties performed by the various openSUSE teams.  That includes serving as Members of the openSUSE Board, which is best chosen by the openSUSE Members in the voting process.

Is openSUSE Worth It to You?

In order for that to happen, the Project needs several openSUSE Enthusiasts to pay it forward by stepping up to run in the 2018-2019 openSUSE Board Elections and thus provide a full slate of Quality Candidates.  Therefore, the Elections Committee is appealing for those contributors who believe openSUSE is a Project worth keeping alive to forward their applications as Candidates in the upcoming elections.

Deadline is Approaching Fast

In order to do that, you must have an openSUSE Membership in Good Standing.  If you do not have a Membership, yet would like to show your dedication to openSUSE by running for the Board, you need to get your Membership Application in immediately so it is approved before the January 13 Candidate Application deadline.

You can apply for openSUSE Membership by following the instructions here.

You can apply to run as an openSUSE Board Candidate by sending e-mail to:

More information can be found here and here.

 

… and we can get the 2018-2019 Board Elections underway.

 


Thursday
03 January, 2019


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This continues a series of items on Vendor Neutral FLOSS projects and how they do marketing which you can read here.

The shape of our ecosystem - what is sold ?

In order to understand how we can best shape the ecosystem to drive LibreOffice’s success – it is helpful to understand first what products and services companies currently sell, and then consider how we want to shape the environment that they adapt to to encourage behaviors that we want.

Consultancy / Professional Services

Perhaps the most obvious contribution to LibreOffice is that of consultancy. A user has a problem, a budget, finds someone to fix it for them, contracts with them to address this issue, and then to contribute this back to LibreOffice.

A consultancy model at first glance appears to fit well with FLOSS development, and indeed there are several successful FLOSS consultancies in the market (of which Collabora is one). However there are a number of significant problems with the consultancy business model:

  • Investment & Scaling – the creation and scaling of new consultancies is extremely tricky and risky, which has an impact on investment. Try to find a Venture Capitalist who wants to start a new, risky, low-margin consultancy.
  • Margins – typical margins on consultancy are low with net margins in the region of 15-20% (cf. 2018 Professional Services Maturity Benchmark). This makes re-investment, and future investment problematic. Margins are significantly smaller when tendering – good for the purchaser, but providing less money for LibreOffice.
  • Estimation - the literature on the trials of estimation, project management and so on is extremely extensive. Newspapers are littered with examples of projects overruns and failures by vast blue-chip consultancies. Even an excellent consultancy that delivers on time & to budget, has a challenging task - particularly when considering the previous point on margin. Can you estimate to within 20% how much resource a software project takes ? how about 50% ?
  • Timelines – a typical consultancy timeline is outlined below. Frequently a very small amount of work takes an inordinate amount of sales, business development, and contractual time compared with the amount of work done. This is particularly true for smaller contracts of a few weeks of work.
  • Overruns – Fixed Cost projects even those estimated and managed by extremely experienced consultants have a very significant risk of over-running (costing more than expected to deliver on time), eating into already thin margins.
  • Pipelining – due to the long sales cycle, it is necessary to have a large number of consultancy projects on the go at once to fill gaps. This is familiar to many people who have ever hired a builder.
  • A typical consultancy engagement timeline 9-24 months from finding a problem to deploying a fix
  • Tail maintenance – due to the long cycle time of releases, and community feedback it is normal to find regression bugs long after the work is performed, paid for and the next (of many) projects commenced. Finding time & resource to manage to address these is often a challenge particularly when they do not affect the original customer.
  • Staffing – the consultancy pipeline is highly cyclical moving from feast to famine rapidly. This makes it hard

Michael Meeks: 2019-01-03 Thursday

21:00 UTCmember

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  • Admin; lots of it. Discovered my Mac Mini 2011 - won't run the latest OSX; poked at XCode autotools to attempt with an older Mac/XCode. Customer feedback / product feature ranking for next round of investment.

Wednesday
02 January, 2019


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Summary

Against the backdrop of a number of companies getting ‘cute’ with licensing, to attempt to encourage companies who use their software to re-invest into the product; vendor neutral non-profits that steward the project, trademark and other assets while allowing many parties to invest - seem increasingly attractive to sustain software beyond its (often) VC fuelled birth. LibreOffice is hosted by just such a project The Document Foundation (TDF) – and this is a huge strength.

Unfortunately, there are also very significant impacts on how a commercial ecosystem can be grown and sustained around such vendor neutral projects – particularly as relates to encouraging ongoing corporate investment into such projects. This paper (which I will serialize into several sections and re-aggregate here) – examines this space and I’ll try to keep it somewhat alive by incorporating feedback. This also exists to inform a wider discussion in the LibreOffice community along these lines.

Let me start with a quote from “Open Sources”: from a section by Bob Young (founder of RedHat) entitled “How Do You Make Money in Free Software”:

"No one expects it to be easy to make money in free software. While making money with free software is a challenge, the challenge is not necessarily greater than with proprietary software. In fact you make money in free software exactly the same way you do it in proprietary software: by building a great product, marketing it with skill and imagination, looking after your customers, and thereby building a brand that stands for quality and customer service."

It is hard not to subscribe to this view, seeing RedHat’s extraordinary success over many years. Unfortunately – when this is applied to a vendor neutral project such as LibreOffice – encouraging companies to invest in TDF’s brand and project, if marketed unhelpfully, can achieve the opposite – of obscuring the brand of those investing into the project - damaging everyone involved.

This paper is written from my perspective both from running Collabora Productivity (whereby I have a clear interest in growing our piece of the ecosystem) and also as a long standing Director of The Document Foundation (with an interest in growing the whole ecosystem), and as a long term FLOSS contributor (with an interest in nurturing a sustainable ecosystem around all Free Software). With lots of hats - things can become unclear; I try to talk here with my TDF hat on here; so 'our' means 'TDF & the LibreOffice project'. Of course, I speak only for myself – not for TDF.

While this may have wider application, and is presented in the hope that it will be more generally useful, this paper will argue that the way LibreOffice is positioned by The Document Foundation (TDF) is at times counter-productive to its mission, and that its focus needs to change. A new focus should be to give significantly more emphasis to growing and crediting the community and ecosystem – both volunteer and commercial, and away from product marketing.

Do we really need to make money / get investment ?

One of the exciting


Michael Meeks: 2019-01-02 Wednesday

21:00 UTCmember

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  • L - possible ear infection impacting flights; got an app't for her, mail chew, bid a fond 'bye to dear Brother, Sister-in-law and babes. Lunch. Christmas tear-down, and/or re-configuration of the house variously. More mail & admin.

Frank Karlitschek: 2018 and 2019

17:20 UTCmember

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2018 is over and 2019 starts. This is a great opportunity to look back, reflect and to try to look into the future. I predict that 2019 will be a very good year for privacy, open source and decentralized cloud software. Maybe even the mainstream breakthrough of federated and decentralized internet services!

Let me explain why:

The mainstream opinion about centralized services started to change in 2018 and I think this trend will continue in 2019. More and more people see the issue with large, centralized data silos that control more and more of our private lives, democratic processes and society as a whole. Some examples from 2018 where bad news hit the press include:

  • The never ending list of Facebook scandals: Wired
  • Twitter election meddling: BostonGlobe
  • Amazon Alexa is listening to private conversations and is leaking the data: Heise and  BusinessInsider
  • Dropbox is leaking private date: TechTarget
  • Google Plus is insecure and will shut down: CNBC

This year, Europe introduced the GDPR to regulate the collection of private data. I believe it is a good start and think we ultimately we need rules as described in the User Data Manifesto
I expected that people in the US and Asia wouldn’t take the GDPR seriously and make fun of Europeans tendency to ‘over-regulate’. So I was surprised to see that the GDPR was widely praised as a step into the right direction. People in Asia and US are already asking for similar regulations in their markets, California has already announced its own variant of the GDPR with the California Consumer Privacy Act.

This clearly shows that the world is changing. People realize more and more that extensive centralized data collection is a problem. This is an opportunity for open source and decentralized and federated alternatives to enter the mainstream.

At Nextcloud we have become widely recognized as one of the major alternatives. And this year was big for us, with three big releases introducing new technologies the world needs going forward. Let me name just a few:

  • End-to-end Encryption. In 2018 Nextcloud launched support for full end 2 end encrypted file sync and share.
  • Nextcloud Talk. Beginning of 2018 we launched Nextcloud Talk as a fully integrated self hosted, open source and decentralized chat and audio/video call solution
  • Just a few weeks ago we launched Social with ActivityPub support to integrated with Mastodon and other projects of the Fediverse.
  • Simple Signup. In summer we launched the Simple Signup feature to make it possible for new users to sign up at one of the Nextcloud providers directly from the Mobile and Desktop apps.
  • We launched our unique Video Verification feature to become the most secure file share platform.
  • In summer we announced the initiative to ship Nextcloud preinstalled on millions of NEC routers, something that will take off in 2019, you might have seen the prototype devices on social media.
  • This fall we launched the Nextcloud Include program with funding from the Reinhard von König Preis for innovation

Tuesday
01 January, 2019


Michael Meeks: 2019-01-01 Tuesday

21:00 UTCmember

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  • Up late, slugging, out to Lackford Lakes with the wider family; nice walk, fun. Becky cooked a nice meal, relaxed together & chatted with R&A too.

Monday
31 December, 2018


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Churches generally have no budget for technology and frankly, I don’t think that a church should really avoid spending on technology as much as possible. I’m sure this isn’t a view many people share but it is my view. I believe it using whatever is available whenever possible and only making upgrades or purchasing new hardware when it is absolutely necessary.

There are several pieces of equipment in varying states of age and functionality. I haven’t sorted out everything, yet, and it is also not completely on my shoulders, as another tech and audio enthusiast in the church, Phil, has taken care of the audio equipment. It is all a work in progress.

My focus, for now, is to restore multimedia capabilities of the computer, Dell Inspiron 3646 and even improve it somewhat. Upon my initial assessment, I knew what my first steps were.

The Problems

Dell Inspiron 3646-04-System.jpgThe machine originally came equipped with Windows 10 which would annoyingly upgrade at the the most inopportune time and using it on under powered hardware is often problematic. The few times I spent any amount of time on the machine, it didn’t perform very well but it was working and I wasn’t really interested in thrusting the greatness of Linux on those not ready for it.

At some point in time, the system fell into disarray and I was recently asked to see what I could do to make the computer functional. Phil had already made the sound system functional enough to be used so it was my turn to make the computer functional.

Like it or not, sometimes your volunteers have things come up and just don’t make it in one day leaving the available workers short handed. Back in my days of childhood, multimedia meant slide show or overhead projector, but it’s hard to convinced a 20 something pastor that the right investment with no budget is a slide projector…

The Limitations

A budget of zero, or rather, whatever I am willing to dig up to make improvements. Since I had already been informed there is no budget for any upgrades or equipment, I was only going to do what was necessary to make the computer system as functional as possible. I already knew, with the power and capabilities of Linux, I could make substantial improvements very easily.

Here is the hardware I have to work with:

  • Dell Inspiron 3646
  • Intel Celeron CPU J1800 @ 2.41 GHz
  • 4GB RAM
  • Single Head Video Output
  • A bunch of other audio equipment with which to integrate

Preparing the Installation

I prepared a USB drive with openSUSE Leap 15.0. I downloaded the ISO from here and put the image on an ISO using SUSE Studio Imagewriter. Once the image completed writing, I inserted the drive into the Dell Inspiron 3646 and powered it up.

In order to access the BIOS, when the machine is going through the POST process and you are greeted with the Dell Logo


Michael Meeks: 2018-12-31 Monday

21:00 UTCmember

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  • Checked mail quickly; into Cambridge with T&B, S&L for a walking tour - chips at Gardies, back to relax, write a few cards and more.

Sunday
30 December, 2018


Michael Meeks: 2018-12-30 Sunday

21:00 UTCmember

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  • All Saints - canned music, and fun. Home for a pizza lunch; slugged, watched a Mission Impossible movie.

Saturday
29 December, 2018


Michael Meeks: 2018-12-29 Saturday

21:00 UTCmember

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  • Slugged much of the day; assembled Naomi's dresser, played with new bass guitar. Out for a walk on the heath with the babes in the evening.

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MX Linux review titleMX Linux is a distribution I have heard many good things about for several months. It even ranks high on the arbitrary DistroWatch.com site (3rd as of late December 2018). Having had a fantastic experience with BunsenLabs Linux on old hardware, I wanted to give MX Linux a spin. The latest version, MX-18 has been released and can be downloaded from here. I downloaded both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions to see how they would perform on older hardware. I am a die-hard openSUSE fan and I was also curious to see how using MX compares to openSUSE Tumbleweed with KDE Plasma. Additionally, it was also presented as a challenge from the BigDaddyLinux community.

So it is well understood, this is a biased review from an openSUSE Tumbleweed user. I prefer the KDE Plasma Desktop Environment as I believe it to be superior to anything else I have ever used. I will be looking at MX Linux from this perspective but I will be fair.

Installation

The MX Linux installer, although not the simplest installer I’ve ever used, is easy to navigate. The MX installer is straight forward and in my opinion easy enough for a new-to-Linux user to set up and get going with it.

From the initial machine startup, you are greeted with a pretty typical boot screen.

MX Linux-01-Live Media Start.png

The only aspect of this I wish could change would be the option to directly install MX Linux to the drive instead of going through the Live Media portion. It should be noted, that MX boots pretty quickly, I didn’t time it but even when installing it on old 32-bit hardware, it was surprisingly fast.

The welcome window, the MX-18 Continuum, is a real nice touch. For a new user or one that is getting acquainted with a new environment, this is absolutely fantastic. I would describe this like a landing page to get you access to the important bits of the system or information. Importantly, the codecs installer as well as the Tweaks cab be accessed from here. More on the Tweaks later. Should you close this window and not be able to find it, just type “MX” in the menu search to see all the MX tools.

MX Linux-02-MX Welcome.png

The installation of MX is a pleasant experience and to kick it off, the terms of service can be read in its entirety and in just a few seconds. I selected to auto-install using the entire disk. I am a one distro for one machine kind of guy so this is the way I like to roll. You will be asked for confirmation of the disk changes before it installed, so no need to worry about the installer doing anything without your explicit permission.

The machine then installs the operating system to your machine and while doing so gives you a series of “commercials” for the various features of MX. The feature I am particularly fascinated by is the ability to “repair your system”. I haven’t had

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