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Debian Bits: DebConf16 welcomes its first nine sponsors!

Planet HantsLUG - Wed, 30/03/2016 - 16:00

DebConf16 will take place in Cape Town, South Africa in July 2016. We strive to provide an intense working environment and enable good progress for Debian and for Free Software in general. We extend an invitation to everyone to join us and to support this event. As a volunteer-run non-profit conference, we depend on our sponsors.

Nine companies have already committed to sponsor DebConf16! Let's introduce them:

Our first Platinum sponsor is Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE). HPE is one of the largest computer companies in the world, providing a wide range of products and services, such as servers, storage, networking, consulting and support, software, and financial services.

HPE is also a development partner of Debian, and provides hardware for port development, Debian mirrors, and other Debian services (hardware donations are listed in the Debian machines page).

Our first Gold sponsor is Valve, a company developing games, social entertainment platform, and game engine technologies.

Our second Gold sponsor is Google, the technology company specialized in Internet-related services as online advertising and search engine.

Rusbitech (developers of the Astra Linux Debian derivative), credativ (a service-oriented company focusing on open-source software and also a Debian development partner), Catalyst (a company offering IT solutions using open source software), the Bern University of Applied Sciences (with over 7,000 students enrolled, located in the Swiss capital), and Texas Instruments (the global semiconductor company) are our four Silver sponsors.

And last but not least, the open source company Univention has agreed to support us as Bronze-level.

Become a sponsor too!

Would you like to become a sponsor? Do you know of or work in a company or organization that may consider sponsorship?

Please have a look at our sponsorship brochure (or a summarized flyer), in which we outline all the details and describe the sponsor benefits.

For further details, feel free to contact us through sponsors@debconf.org, and visit the DebConf16 website at https://debconf16.debconf.org.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Debian Bits: Debian Project Leader elections 2016

Planet HantsLUG - Sun, 27/03/2016 - 19:55

It's that time of year again for the Debian Project: the elections of its Project Leader!

Neil McGovern who has held the office for the last year will not be seeking reelection. Debian Developers will have to choose between voting for the only candidate running Mehdi Dogguy or None Of The Above. If None Of The Above wins the election then the election procedure is repeated, many times if necessary.

Mehdi Dogguy was a candidate for the DPL position last year, finishing second with a close amount of votes to the winner Neil McGovern.

We are in the middle of the campaigning period that will last until April 2nd. The candidate and Debian contributors are expected to engage in debates and discussions on the debian-vote mailing list.

The voting period starts on April 3rd, and during the following two weeks, Debian Developers will vote to choose the person who will guide the project for one year. The results will be published on April 17th with the term for new the project leader starting immediately that same day.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Chris Lamb: Generating dynamic Python tests using metaclasses

Planet ALUG - Sun, 27/03/2016 - 16:09

One common testing anti-pattern is a single testcase that loops over multiple yet independent inputs:

from django.test import TestCase class MyTests(TestCase): def test_all(self): for x in ( 'foo', 'bar', 'baz', # etc. ): self.assertEqual(test(x), None)

Whilst this code style typically occurs in an honourable attempt to avoid a DRY violation, these tests:

  1. Can only report the first failure
  2. Prevent individual inputs from being tested independently
  3. Are typically slower than their neighbours, or a performance hotspot generally
  4. Do not allow for parallel computation, a feature recently added to Django 1.9

(Note that whilst foo, bar, etc. are defined statically above for simplicity, the values could be determined dynamically by, for example, iterating over the filesystem.)

If you have such tests, consider splitting them out using a metaclass like so:

class MyTestsMeta(type): def __new__(cls, name, bases, attrs): for x in ( 'foo', 'bar', 'baz', ): attrs['test_%s' % x] = cls.gen(x) return super(MyTestsMeta, cls).__new__(cls, name, bases, attrs) @classmethod def gen(cls, x): # Return a testcase that tests ``x``. def fn(self): self.assertEqual(test(x), None) return fn class MyTests(TestCase): __metaclass__ = MyTestsMeta

This has the effect of replacing the single testcase with individual test_foo, test_bar & test_baz testcases. Each test can then be run separately:

$ ./manage.py test myproject.myapp.tests.MyTests.test_baz Creating test database for alias 'default'... . ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Ran 1 test in 0.039s OK Destroying test database for alias 'default'...

... or we can test them all in parallel:

$ ./manage.py test myproject.myapp.tests.MyTests --parallel Creating test database for alias 'default'... . ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Ran 3 tests in 0.065s OK Destroying test database for alias 'default'...

You must ensure that the tests have unique names to avoid cases masking each other. In the above example we could simply use the input string itself, but if you have no obvious candidate you could try using Python's enumerate method to generate a unique, if somewhat opaque, suffix:

for idx, x in enumerate(( 'foo', 'bar', 'baz', )): attrs['test_%d' % idx] = cls.gen(x)

One alternative approach to a metaclass is to generate the test methods and use setattr, to bind them to the TestCase class. However, using a metaclass:

  1. Is cleaner and/or more "Pythonic"
  2. Avoids a number of subtle pitfalls with parameter binding
  3. Prevents your TestCase class from being polluted with loop variables, etc.
  4. Can be composed or abstracted into reusable testing components


Note that you can still use setUp and all the other unittest.TestCase and django.test.TestCase methods as before:

from .utils import MyBaseTestCase # custom superclass class MyTestsMeta(type): # <snip> @classmethod def gen(cls, x): def fn(self): self.assertRedirects(...) return fn class MyTests(MyBaseTestCase): __metaclass__ = MyTestsMeta def setUp(self): super(MyTests, self).setUp() # Code here is run before every test def test_other(self): # Test some other functionality here

UPDATE: Stu Cox asked: Do you even need the metaclass, or could you do this with __new__ straight on the TestCase? Curiously, unittest does not initialise classes in the typical way if you do not explicitly define at least one test_ method.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Jonathan McDowell: Dr Stoll: Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the GPL

Planet ALUG - Sat, 26/03/2016 - 17:28

[I wrote this as part of BelFOSS but I think it’s worth posting here.]

My Free Software journey starts with The Cuckoo’s Egg. Back in the early 90s a family friend suggested I might enjoy reading it. He was right; I was fascinated by the world of interconnected machines it introduced me to. That helped start my involvement in FidoNet, but it also got me interested in Unix. So when I saw a Linux book at the Queen’s University bookshop (sadly no longer with us) with a Slackware CD in the back I had to have it.

The motivation at this point was to have a low cost version of Unix I could run on the PC hardware I already owned. I had no knowledge of the GNU Project before this point, and as I wasn’t a C programmer I had no interest in looking at the source code. I spent some time futzing around with it and that partition (I was dual booting with DOS 6.22) fell into disuse. It wasn’t until I’d learnt some C and turned up to university, which provided me with an internet connection and others who were either already using Linux or interested in doing so, that I started running a Linux box full time.

Once I was doing that I became a lot more interested in the Open Source side of the equation. Rather than running a closed operating system that even the API for wasn’t properly specified (or I wouldn’t have needed my copy of Undocumented DOS) I had the complete source to both the underlying OS and all the utilities that it was using. For someone doing a computer science degree this was invaluable. Minix may have been the OS discussed in the OS Design module I studied, but Linux was a much more feature complete option that I was running on my desktop and could also peer under the hood of.

In my professional career I’ve always welcomed the opportunities to work with Open Source. A long time ago I experienced a particularly annoying issue when writing a device driver under QNX. The documentation didn’t seem to match the observed behaviour of the subsystem I was interfacing with. However due to licensing issues only a small number of people in the organisation were able to actually look at the QNX source. So I ended up wasting a much more senior engineer’s time with queries like “I think it’s actually doing x, y and z instead of a, b and c; can you confirm?”. Instances where I can look directly at the source code myself make me much more productive.

Commercial development also started to make me more understanding of the Free Software nature of the code I was running. It wasn’t just the ability to look at the code which was useful, but also the fact there was no need to reinvent the wheel. Need a base OS to build an appliance on? Debian ensures that the main component is Free for all usage. No need to worry about rolling your own compilers, base libraries etc. From a commercial perspective that allows you to concentrate on the actual product. And when you hit problems, the source is available and you can potentially fix it yourself or at least more easily find out if there’s been a fix for that issue released (being able to see code development in version control systems rather than getting a new upstream release with a whole heap on unrelated fixes in it really helps with that).

I had thus progressed from using FLOSS because it was free-as-in-beer, to appreciating the benefits of Open Source in my own learning and employment experiences, to a deeper understanding of the free-as-in-speech benefits that could be gained. However at this point I was still thinking very much from a developer mindset. Even my thoughts about how users can benefit from Free Software were in the context of businesses being able to easily switch suppliers or continue to maintain legacy software because they had the source to their systems available.

One of the major factors that has helped me to see beyond this is the expansion of the Internet of Things (IoT). With desktop or server software there is by and large a choice about what to use. This is not the case with appliances. While manufacturers will often produce a few revisions of software for their devices, usually eventually there is a newer and shiny model and the old one is abandoned. This is problematic for many reasons. For example, historically TVs have been long lived devices (I had one I bought second hand that happily lasted me 7+ years). However the “smart” capabilities of the TV I purchased in 2012 are already of limited usefulness, and LG have moved on to their current models. I have no intention of replacing the device any time soon, so have had to accept it is largely acting as a dumb display. More serious is the lack of security updates. For a TV that doesn’t require a network connection to function this is not as important, but the IoT is a trickier proposition. For example Matthew Garrett had an awful experience with some ‘intelligent’ light bulbs, which effectively circumvented any home network security you might have set up. The manufacturer’s defence? No longer manufactured or supported.

It’s cases like these that have slowly led me to a more complete understanding of the freedom that Free Software truly offers to users. It’s not just about cost free/low cost software. It’s not just about being able to learn from looking at the source to the programs you are running. It’s not even about the freedom to be able to modify the programs that we use. It’s about giving users true Freedom to use and modify their devices as they see fit. From this viewpoint it is much easier to understand the protections against Tivoization that were introduced with GPLv3, and better appreciate the argument sometimes made that the GPL offers more freedom than BSD style licenses.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Debian Bits: DebConf16: Call for Proposals

Planet HantsLUG - Thu, 24/03/2016 - 10:00

The DebConf Content team is pleased to announce the Call for Proposals for the DebConf16 conference, to be held in Cape Town, South Africa from 2 through 9 July 2016.

Submitting an Event

In order to submit an event, go to "Submit a talk" on your profile page in the DebConf16 website and describe your proposal. Please note, events are not limited to traditional presentations or informal sessions (BoFs). We welcome submissions of tutorials, performances, art installations, debates, or any other format of event that you think would be beneficial to the Debian community.

Please include a short title, suitable for a compact schedule, and an engaging description of the event. You should use the field "Notes" to provide us information such as additional speakers, scheduling restrictions, or any special requirements we should consider for your event.

Regular sessions may either be 20 or 45 minutes long (including time for questions), other kinds of sessions (like workshops) could have different durations. Please choose the most suitable duration for your event and explain any special requests.

Timeline

The first batch of accepted proposals will be announced in April. If you depend on having your proposal accepted in order to attend the conference, please submit it as soon as possible so that it can be considered during this first evaluation period.

All proposals must be submitted before Sunday 1 May 2016 to be evaluated for the official schedule.

Topics and Tracks

Though we invite proposals on any Debian or FLOSS related subject, we have some broad topics on which we encourage people to submit proposals, including:

  • Debian Packaging, Policy, and Infrastructure
  • Security, Safety, and Hacking
  • Debian System Administration, Automation and Orchestration
  • Containers and Cloud Computing with Debian
  • Debian Success Stories
  • Debian in the Social, Ethical, Legal, and Political Context
  • Blends, Subprojects, Derivatives, and Projects using Debian
  • Embedded Debian and Hardware-Level Systems
Video Coverage

Providing video of sessions amplifies DebConf achievements and is one of the conference goals. Unless speakers opt-out, official events will be streamed live over the Internet to promote remote participation. Recordings will be published later under the DebConf license, as well as presentation slides and papers whenever available.

Contact and Thanks to Sponsors

DebConf would not be possible without the generous support of all our sponsors, especially our platinum sponsor HPE. DebConf16 is still accepting sponsors; if you are interested, please get in touch!

You are welcome to contact the Content Team with any concerns about your event, or with any ideas or questions about DebConf events in general. You can reach us at content@debconf.org.

Registration Reminder

Registration for DebConf is open. Please log into the DebConf16 website and register from your profile page.

To request bursaries (sponsorship) for food, accommodation, or travel, you must be registered by Sunday, 10 April 2016.

After this date, registrations will still be accepted in any of the basic, professional, and corporate categories. However, accommodation on the campus will no longer be guaranteed, and requests for sponsorship will no longer be accepted.

Even if you are not certain you will be able to attend, we recommend registering now. You can always cancel your registration, before the deadline. We do suggest that attendees begin making travel arrangements as soon as possible, of course.

We hope to see you all in Cape Town!

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Debian Bits: DebConf16: Call for Proposals

Planet HantsLUG - Sat, 19/03/2016 - 12:00

The DebConf Content team is pleased to announce the Call for Proposals for the DebConf16 conference, to be held in Cape Town, South Africa from 2 through 9 July 2016.

Submitting an Event

In order to submit an event, go to "Submit a talk" on your profile page in the DebConf16 website and describe your proposal. Please note, events are not limited to traditional presentations or informal sessions (BoFs). We welcome submissions of tutorials, performances, art installations, debates, or any other format of event that you think would be beneficial to the Debian community.

Please include a short title, suitable for a compact schedule, and an engaging description of the event. You should use the field "Notes" to provide us information such as additional speakers, scheduling restrictions, or any special requirements we should consider for your event.

Regular sessions may either be 20 or 45 minutes long (including time for questions), other kinds of sessions (like workshops) could have different durations. Please choose the most suitable duration for your event and explain any special requests.

Timeline

The first batch of accepted proposals will be announced in April. If you depend on having your proposal accepted in order to attend the conference, please submit it as soon as possible so that it can be considered during this first evaluation period.

All proposals must be submitted before Sunday 1 May 2016 to be evaluated for the official schedule.

Topics and Tracks

Though we invite proposals on any Debian or FLOSS related subject, we have some broad topics on which we encourage people to submit proposals, including:

  • Debian Packaging, Policy, and Infrastructure
  • Security, Safety, and Hacking
  • Debian System Administration, Automation and Orchestration
  • Containers and Cloud Computing with Debian
  • Debian Success Stories
  • Debian in the Social, Ethical, Legal, and Political Context
  • Blends, Subprojects, Derivatives, and Projects using Debian
  • Embedded Debian and Hardware-Level Systems
Video Coverage

Providing video of sessions amplifies DebConf achievements and is one of the conference goals. Unless speakers opt-out, official events will be streamed live over the Internet to promote remote participation. Recordings will be published later under the DebConf license, as well as presentation slides and papers whenever available.

Contact and Thanks to Sponsors

DebConf would not be possible without the generous support of all our sponsors, especially our platinum sponsor HPE. DebConf16 is still accepting sponsors; if you are interested, please get in touch!

You are welcome to contact the Content Team with any concerns about your event, or with any ideas or questions about DebConf events in general. You can reach us at content@debconf.org.

Registration Reminder

Registration for DebConf is open. Please log into the DebConf16 website and register from your profile page.

To request bursaries (sponsorship) for food, accommodation, or travel, you must be registered by Sunday, 10 April 2016.

After this date, registrations will still be accepted in any of the basic, professional, and corporate categories. However, accommodation on the campus will no longer be guaranteed, and requests for sponsorship will no longer be accepted.

Even if you are not certain you will be able to attend, we recommend registering now. You can always cancel your registration, before the deadline. We do suggest that attendees begin making travel arrangements as soon as possible, of course.

We hope to see you all in Cape Town!

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Debian Bits: New Debian Developers and Maintainers (January and February 2016)

Planet HantsLUG - Mon, 14/03/2016 - 21:30

The following contributors got their Debian Developer accounts in the last two months:

  • Otto Kekäläinen (otto)
  • Dariusz Dwornikowski (darek)
  • Daniel Stender (stender)
  • Afif Elghraoui (afif)
  • Victor Seva (vseva)
  • James Cowgill (jcowgill)

The following contributors were added as Debian Maintainers in the last two months:

  • Giovani Augusto Ferreira
  • Ondřej Nový
  • Jason Pleau
  • Michael Robin Crusoe
  • Ferenc Wágner
  • Enrico Rossi
  • Christian Seiler
  • Daniel Echeverry
  • Ilias Tsitsimpis
  • James Clarke
  • Luca Boccassi

Congratulations!

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Happy Pi Day! #piday #piday2016 #pi #pie

Planet SurreyLUG - Mon, 14/03/2016 - 10:05
from Instagram: http://ift.tt/1piA3MV

The post Happy Pi Day! #piday #piday2016 #pi #pie appeared first on life at warp.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Debian Bits: Debian selected to participate in the Google Summer of Code

Planet HantsLUG - Sun, 13/03/2016 - 16:00

For the tenth time running, Debian has been selected as a mentoring organization for the Google Summer of Code (Debian-specific program page), an internship program open to university students aged 18 and up.

Our team of amazing mentors has cooked up an exciting list of projects this year, and we would be glad to have you on board with Debian for one of those summer internships. The student application period will open on March 14 (and close on March 25), but feel free to subscribe to our mailing list and get in touch with our mentors. You can also catch us on our IRC channel #debian-soc.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Debian Bits: Debian is looking for three interns in the Outreachy Program

Planet HantsLUG - Sat, 12/03/2016 - 20:10

As part of its diversity outreach initiatives, Debian will be participating in the upcoming 12th round (May - August 2016) of Outreachy, an internship program open worldwide to women (cis and trans), trans men and genderqueer people, as well as nationals and residents of the United States of any gender who are Black/African American, Hispanic/Latin@, American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander.

Thanks to the generosity of our donors, and specifically of our sponsor Intel who has given us funds specifically for one intern, Debian will be able to welcome three interns this round.

Applications for the program are open until March 22nd, so don't wait up! Debian has a lot of interesting internship opportunities this year. More info about the program is available on the Debian specific program page, as well as on the official website. Feel free to contact the outreach team and mentors on our mailing list or IRC channel #debian-soc in irc.oftc.net

If you want Debian to keep participating in such programs, and expand its outreach efforts, you can donate to one of the organizations supporting the Debian project, or volunteer some time by participating in discussions on our mailing list.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Bring-A-Box, Saturday 12th March 2016, Lion Brewery, Ash

Surrey LUG - Thu, 10/03/2016 - 23:09
Start: 2016-03-12 12:00 End: 2016-03-12 12:00

We have regular sessions on the second Saturday of each month. Bring a 'box', bring a notebook, bring anything that might run Linux, or just bring yourself and enjoy socialising/learning/teaching or simply chilling out!

This month's meeting is at the Lion Brewery Pub in Ash, Surrey.

New members are very welcome. We're not a cliquey bunch, so you won't feel out of place! Usually between 15 and 30 people come along.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

A new, maintained fork of Freight

Planet SurreyLUG - Thu, 10/03/2016 - 12:33

In Foreman, we use the Freight repository manager to generate Debian package archives for a range of Debian and Ubuntu releases. It's a neat little project, just a handful of shell scripts which build and maintain the archive pool and necessary files for the dists and components. The output can then be served up by any web server.

Unfortunately the project ended up unmaintained and was missing some fixes required for newer apt client versions. Three of us have taken maintenance on and have forked the project to freight-team/freight on GitHub. So if you're looking to download it or send patches, please do so via the repo above. We hope this will serve as the canonical version in future.

Yesterday we cut the first release (v0.3.6) containing:

  • apt 1.1 support, required for Debian Stretch and Ubuntu 16.04
  • multiple GPG key support for better key rolling
  • some queued up bug fixes
  • a new test suite to catch regressions
... read more in the release notes.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Debian Bits: Hewlett Packard Enterprise Platinum Sponsor of DebConf16

Planet HantsLUG - Tue, 08/03/2016 - 12:00

We are very pleased to announce that Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has committed support to DebConf16 as a Platinum sponsor.

"We're excited to support Debian's annual conference which brings together Debian contributors from all around the world. In addition to our sponsorship, we will actively participate in DebConf", said Steve Geary, Senior Director at Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

HPE is one of the largest computer companies in the world, providing a wide range of products and services, such as servers, storage, networking, consulting and support, software, and financial services.

HPE is also a development partner of Debian, and provides hardware for port development, Debian mirrors, and other Debian services (hardware donations are listed in the Debian machines page).

With this additional commitment as Platinum Sponsor, HPE contributes to make possible our annual conference, and directly supports the progress of Debian and Free Software helping to strengthen the community that continues to collaborate on Debian projects throughout the rest of the year.

Thank you very much Hewlett Packard Enterprise, for your support of DebConf16!

Become a sponsor too!

DebConf16 is still accepting sponsors. Interested companies and organizations may contact the DebConf team through sponsors@debconf.org, and visit the DebConf16 website at http://debconf16.debconf.org.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Inventor of email sadly passes

Planet SurreyLUG - Sun, 06/03/2016 - 20:17

http://www.theverge.com/2016/3/6/11168718/ray-tomlinson-dead-inventor-of-email-obituary

Ray Tomlinson passed away Saturday.  What a legacy to leave.

The post Inventor of email sadly passes appeared first on life at warp.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

The 10 biggest problems with Debian’s GNOME

Planet SurreyLUG - Fri, 04/03/2016 - 00:37

This post is not intended to start a flame/holy war or any other kind of religious conflict with regard to Linux desktop environments (DEs).  What it is intended to do, is to simply catalogue the multitude of problems I have been encountering while using Debian Jessie and GNOME 3.14.  

I LOVE GNOME (I truly do)

Let’s put this one right out there:  The GNOME Shell/GNOME 3 UI is, IMHO, the BEST desktop user experience out there for Linux.

Wait,” you might say, “doesn’t this conflict with the title of this blog post?

Well yes, it does.  But I want you, my learned reader, to understand that I wish that the GNOME DE was as stable and solid as it should be.  As it could be.  And hopefully as it will be.

You see, this is what Linux and other Unix-like operating systems have been known and reputed for – their stability.  I love what the GNOME devs did when they decided to reimagine the desktop for GNOME 3:  they used space sensibly, vertically, which to me feels more natural and intuitive.  And I love how it’s meant to stay out of the way – another good design motif.

But in terms of stability, sadly, GNOME has been something of a disappointment to me, and I wish this were not the case.  Perhaps this is just a consequence of its ambition, and that will always garner my respect.  Or maybe my install went terribly wrong, somewhere.  But I don’t reckon.  So, without further ado…

DISCLAIMER: WRT the issues with Debian Jessie‘s implementation of GNOME Shell/GNOME 3, I shall simply refer to it as GNOME.  I apologise to the purists out there.  I am only commenting on my experience in Debian Jessie, not anyone else’s, nor of any other GNU/Linux distribution.  Finally, I intentionally do not go into detail here and am not providing numerous distro/upstream links to “validate” my own claims.  I don’t need to.  If you’re interested, just search anything I have put below.  I am pretty confident you will find stuff…

The 10 Problems

Have you had similar experiences to these?  Do comment below.

1.  Tracker

The problems with GNOME start from the very moment you log in: it’s a disk-thrashing, sluggard of a desktop.  And yes, I am using a disk, not a SSD.  Why?  Because badly written software doesn’t deserve a place in my CPU, let alone being so resource-hogging as to require an SSD.

So yes, Tracker is the first problem with GNOME.  From logging in, all the way through your session, to shutting down your machine, it’s there – consuming all available CPU, disk I/O and (perhaps due to a memory leak), system memory.  Happily gobbling it all up like a sickly child with no manners.

Perhaps I am being unfair, inferring that Tracker is “bad software”.  It’s not a bad idea and its search seems to work well.  But it doesn’t reign itself in.  And software that doesn’t adhere to users’ choices through its own preferences panel is software that needs attention.

There are too many people/posts on the web with/of similar experiences.  But, why not just disable tracking completely, you ask?  Like, through the GUI you mean..?  Mmm.

Screenshot showing Tracker consuming loads of everything, just after log-in.

2. Crashes and Freezes

Next up is something akin to heresy: crashing and freezing of the whole desktop UI.  Seriously, it’s that bad.

You are in the middle of something, as you might be in a productive desktop environment, and BAM! no window response.  That’s it.  All gone.  This single issue is by far the most perplexing and irritating, totally demolishing my productivity recently.

When you start searching on t’interweb about this, you realise that this has haunted GNOME for years, and in multiple versions.  The nearest posts I have found on the web which seem related to the problem I have are here:

3. Crashes and Freezes after Live User Switching

Put GNOME through its paces by trying this one.

An alternative way to make GNOME hang on you is to use the live user switching.  Just set up another user account, then Switch User via this menu. Then, as your new user, switch back to your original account.

Do this a few times for maximum effect, until you get stuck looking at the frozen greeter, just after it’s accepted your password for logging back in.

Enjoy the view.

It’ll last a while.

In fact, no need to take a photo.  This’ll last long enough.

 

Moving on…

4. GNOME Online Accounts

Ahh, GOA.  Such a good idea.  Implemented in such an average way.

GNOME Online Accounts is meant to centralise internet service (or “cloud”, hwk-ding) accounts through one easy GUI component, and then share the online resources of each account with the appropriate desktop software.  Think, Google Calendar being visible in your desktop calendar, which is a separate desktop application than, say, your email reader (where you could read your GMail).  But no need to set up each application separately; just set up the GOA and each application gets relevant access.  Get the idea?

The account set-up bit of this is, actually, great.  I’m all for it too – this whole concept.  It just makes so much sense.

One of the problems with it is that things don’t work properly.  For example, if you use two-factor authentication in your Google account, and rely on application-specific passwords, then GOA doesn’t like that.  You will be constantly prompted for your Google account password, which is never accepted.

To be fair to Jessie, I haven’t seen this happen recently, so it may have finally been plugged.  Or I may just be lucky.

5. Evolution’s management of GOA’s SMTP/IMAP accounts

Another problem is SMTP/IMAP accounts.  Sure, they integrate nicely with Evolution.  Until you edit parts of the account in Evolution, which are more application-specific.  Then, you return to your account folders list with your GOA mail account being renamed to “Untitled”.  A rummage through, and edit of, the relevant ~/.config files is required to correct this error.  Not so slick.

I still have hope though.  One day this stuff will work great.

6. Evolution Hangs

Yep, another hangy-crashy thing.  Sometimes, for no discernible reason, when you close Evolution is hangs, mid-termination.  Forever.  You have to send a KILL to it to actually get it to close off completely.  Why?  Who knows.  It appears to be a timeout or spinlock type of problem.  Sorry for being vague, but look, just do this Google search and pick a year.  It looks like this bug has been around in one incarnation or another for a very long time.

7. Nautilus Hangs

Are you seeing a pattern here?  Yep, our faithful friend and file utility, Nautilus, also hangs.  Quite often.  Why it does this, I have not yet been able to determine.  Sigkill to the rescue.  (You can do a Google search on this too…)

8. Standby and resume with remote file system mounted

It might be chunky, but the T420 is a solidly-built machine, with good internals.

Now, I admit, this is a silly thing to do when you look at it, because you are clearly asking for trouble if you have a remote filesystem mounted into your own filesystem, and then put your machine to sleep for a while.

You can make the problem worse still, if you have laptop with a docking station.  Simply put it to sleep, undock, wake the machine, then reconnect using your wireless instead of ethernet.  The outcome varies from a locked desktop (where nothing works), to a frozen nautilus.

Again, a silly thing to do, perhaps, but also an innocent mistake at times.  Like, when you’re rushing to attend a meeting, for example.

So, why not be offered a notification, when requesting to “sleep” the machine, saying that remote filesystems are mounted?  I think even I might be able to knock up some code for that one (but I’d prefer to leave it to the experts, who I respect fully and who would do it far better than I).

9. Audio Output Switching

GNOME allows a nice, quick way of locating and launching its Settings dialogs.

As you may have gathered from previous comments, when it comes to GNOME I am primarily a business user.  My business runs and relies on GNU software & Linux.  For the experience and knowledge I have gained – not to mention being able to sustain an income and lifestyle I’m happy with, I am indebted to many people for their determined efforts in the free software community.

Unfortunately, little bugs creep in here and there – that’s the rule of life.  One minor annoyance with Jessie, that wasn’t present in its predecessor Wheezy, is automatic audio output switching.  In Wheezy, after a small tweak to the kernel module loading (via /etc/modprobe.d), the audio output would be directed to my docking station’s analogue jack when the laptop was docked, and then automatically switch to the laptop’s speakers when undocked.

Unfortunately, in Jessie, when my laptop is docked I have to hit the Super (Windows) key and get to the Sound preferences, then switch the output device.  After undocking, the same story.  This is, apparently, fixed upstream, but regressive and annoying nonetheless.

The “Search and Indexing” preferences in GNOME Shell. I think the idea was to make things easier. :-/

10. The long pauses and (what seems like) catastrophic resource “sharing”

This is so subjective an issue that I thought it barely worth mentioning, but an issue it is nonetheless.  And one that I actually feel is perhaps the worst of all.

When key processes are busy in the GNOME Desktop Environment – say Tracker for sake of argument, the “hit” on the rest of the system is shocking.  Right now, as I type this blog entry, any mouse-based GUI interactions are extremely sluggish.  This could be the reason why:

top - 16:34:34 up 2:00, 2 users, load average: 16.31, 15.97, 13.93

 

So what is causing such a load on my machine?  It doesn’t take long to figure it out, in top:

PID USER PR NI VIRT RES SHR S %CPU %MEM TIME+ COMMAND 9187 smd 39 19 2239548 210440 34852 R 83.7 1.3 3:50.74 tracker-extract 9148 smd 20 0 693940 59696 8652 S 7.6 0.4 4:33.53 tracker-store

For reference, my trusty ThinkPad T420 uses a 2nd gen Core i7 processor (dual core w/hyperthreading), 16GB DDR3 memory (dual channel), a 64GB mSATA SSD system drive and 500GB Seagate Momentus 7200.4 drive for my /home.  It’s a set-up that’s still powerful enough for getting things done, and I’ve grown quite fond of this chunky, heavy laptop (by 2016 standards).  Yes, it’s a bit clunky now, but it’s still got it where it counts, and has only required minimal servicing over the years (since 2011).

Back to the main issue, though.  You see, I grew up on Amigas.  Fully pre-emptive multitasking spoilt me, and I’ve never looked back, or sideways, since.  These days, all modern operating systems provide significantly more advanced multitasking and far, far more powerful hardware, but the user’s needs should always come first in a desktop environment.  So, having an unresponsive desktop for hours, because a non-GUI process is taking too much CPU and I/O, is not a productivity boon, to say the least.

And just when you thought my tirade was complete, for a special BONUS… 11. Dejadup/duplicity and the inability to restore a backup!!

I love how well integrated Dejadup is into Nautilus.  It’s a neat idea, to be able to just navigate to anywhere on your file-system and then say “hey, you know what?  I wonder if that file I was looking for used to live here?“, or “I really must restore the earlier version of this file, or that file…”.. And so on.  It even states on its website, that it “hides the complexity of doing backups the Right Way (encrypted, off-site, and regular) and uses duplicity as the backend” [my link].

‘GNOME Backups’ was designed to facilitate exactly this, using the Dejadup/duplicity combo, with two main Nautilus integration actions.  Firstly, you can right-click in a folder (on blank space) and select “Restore missing files”.  Or, you can right-click on a specific file and select “Revert to previous version”.  In either case, a dialog will appear prompting you to select a date, from a range of dates when backups occurred.  Great, huh?

Except a backup is only good when you’re able to restore it.  I was not able to restore mine.  The “Revert” functionality simply failed, every time I tried, with a “File not found in archive”-style error message each time.  I also tried restoring the entire backup, which also failed.  This issue pretty much covers it.

So, perhaps using duplicity (and not Duplicity) as the backend is exactly what it does.  I don’t trust it with my back-ups.  For that job, I use BackInTime.

Conclusion: I STILL LOVE GNOME

I was originally going to entitle this blog post, Debian’s GNOME is a broken user experience, but shied away from making such a bold, and somewhat unfair, claim.  However, it’s hard not to conclude that this might actually be the case.

GNOME 2 used to be amazingly solid.  In fact, in my younger years I didn’t use it because I perceived it as being a little boring, instead opting for KDE (v2, then v3) as my go-to desktop for quite a while.  I would love to have the stability of GNOME 2 – at least as I experienced it – just in GNOME 3 form.

The biggest problem about GNOME 3 / Gnome Shell, is that I like it so damn much.  For me, despite all the wrinkles and annoyances, the occasional memory leaks of “background” indexing processes, the frequent hanging of various applications and the seemingly (at times) untested nature of the software, it’s actually brilliant.  It’s fast, feature-full, yet fluid.  That’s a rare combination in software.

For me, it’s faster to work in than any other DE, because it combines enough functionality with equally enough transparency.  For instance, when I am editing a client’s website files and want to upload them, Nautilus is the hero – allowing me to quickly mount the remote filesystem, upload my files, and then disconnect.  No need to launch additional software for that task.  We’re just moving data from one filesystem to another, right?  That’s what a file manager does and, in the main, Nautilus is exceptional at it.

As an Emacs user, I know I could do a similar thing using Tramp and Dired mode.  And I’ll keep that as an option to probably explore someday soon.

I’ve been using Debian for some time now, migrating away from Fedora on my netbook to start with, and then later on my main work laptop.  In general it’s an operating system that does so much right, it’s hard when things occasionally don’t work as expected.

I won’t say that Jessie’s innings with GNOME have been the best; fair from it.  But hopefully we can look forward to a smoother experience as time goes on.

The post The 10 biggest problems with Debian’s GNOME appeared first on life at warp.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

New Aston Martin? Go on, then.

Planet SurreyLUG - Wed, 02/03/2016 - 11:44

The new 5.2L V12 twin turbo DB11 from Aston has appeared at Geneva, with rather delicious body styling and gorgeous paint.  Why say no! (apart from price and availability)

http://www.cnet.com/roadshow/auto/2017-aston-martin-db11/

The post New Aston Martin? Go on, then. appeared first on life at warp (stevedowe.me).

Categories: LUG Community Blogs
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