News aggregator

Steve Kemp: Time to get back to my roots: Perl

Planet HantsLUG - Fri, 07/03/2014 - 22:46

Today I wrote a perl Test::RemoteServer module:

#!/usr/bin/perl -w -I. use strict; use warnings; use Test::More tests => 4; use Test::RemoteServer; # # Ping Tests # ping_ok( "192.168.0.1", "Website host is up: IPv4" ); ping6_ok( "www.steve.org.uk", "Website host is up: IPv6" ); # # Socket tests # socket_open( "ipv4.steve.org.uk", "2222", "OpenSSH is running" ); socket_closed( "ipv4.steve.org.uk", "22", "OpenSSH is not available on :22" );

I can see a lot of value in defining tests that are carried out against remote hosts - even if they're more basic than the kind of comprehensive testing you'd get via Custodian, Nagios, etc.

Being able to run "make test" and remotely probe services is cool.

Unfortunately I suspect the new-hotness is to couple the testing with your Chef, Puppet, CFengine, Slaughter, Ansible, etc, policies. That way you have two things:

  • A consistent way to define system-state.
  • A consistent way to test that the damn thing worked.

Coming to CPAN in the near future anyway, I can throw it up on Github in advance if there is any interest..

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Jono Bacon: Open Source Think Tank Community Leadership Summit Soon

Planet WolvesLUG - Fri, 07/03/2014 - 00:03

As some of you will know, I founded the Community Leadership Summit that takes place in Portland, Oregon every year. The event brings together community leaders, organizers and managers and the projects and organizations that are interested in growing and empowering a strong community. Each year we discuss, debate and continue to refine the art of building an effective and capable community, structured in a set of presentation and attendee-driven unconference sessions.

This year’s event is happening on 18th – 19th July 2014 (the two days before OSCON), and is shaping up to be a great event. We have over 180 people registered already, with a diverse and wide-ranging set of attendees. The event is free to attend, you just need to register first. We hope to see you there!

In a few weeks though we have an additional sister-event to the main Community Leadership Summit at the Open Source Think Tank.

The Community Leadership Summit and Open Source Think Tank have partnered to create a unique event designed for executives and managers involved in community management planning and strategic development. While the normal annual Community Leadership Summit serves practicing community managers and leaders well, this unique event is designed to be very focused on executives in a strategic leadership position to understand the value and process of building a community.

I have been wanting to coordinate a strategic leadership event such as this for some time, and the Think Tank is the perfect venue; it brings together executives across a wide range of Open Source organizations, and I will be delivering the Community Leadership Summit track as a key part of the event on the first day.

The event takes place on 24th March 2014 in Napa, California. See the event homepage for more details – I hope to see you there!

The track is shaping up well. We will have keynote sessions, break-out groups discussing gamification, metrics, hiring community managers, and more, a dedicated case study (based on a real organization with the identity anonymized) to exercise these skills and more.

If you want to join the Community Leadership Summit track at the Open Source Think Tank, please drop me an email as space is limited. I hope to see you there!

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Jono Bacon: Ubuntu Developer Summit Next Week

Planet WolvesLUG - Thu, 06/03/2014 - 23:51

Next week we have our Ubuntu Developer Summit, taking place online from Tues 11th March 2014 – Thurs 13th March 2014. Go and see the schedule – we still have lots of schedule space if you want to run a session. For details of how to propose a session, see this guide.

I just want to highlight a session I would like to really invite input on in particular.

Today the online Ubuntu Developer Summit is largely based on the formula from our physical UDSs that we used to have, and that formula goes back to 2004. While these have traditionally served the project well, I am cognizant that our community is much bigger and more diverse than it used to be, and our current Ubuntu Developer Summit doesn’t serve our wider community as well as it could; there is more to Ubuntu to rigorous software engineering.

UDS is great if you are a developer focused on building software and ensuring you have a plan to do so, but for our translators, advocates, marketeers, app developers, and more…the format doesn’t suit those communities as well.

As such, I would like to discuss this and explore opportunities where UDS could serve our wider community better. The session is here and is on Wed 12th March at 15.00UTC. I hope you can join me!

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Surrey LUG Bring-A-Box 8th March 2014

Surrey LUG - Thu, 06/03/2014 - 18:47
Start: 2014-03-08 12:00 End: 2014-03-08 18:00

We have regular sessions each month.  Bring a 'box' meetings, usually allow any box to be brought, and re-installed, but this month we are in a Pub,  so small boxes only please -  bring a notebook, bring anything that might run Linux, or just bring yourself and enjoy socialising/learning/teaching or simply chilling out!

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Steve Kemp: So I bought some new hardware, for audio purposes.

Planet HantsLUG - Thu, 06/03/2014 - 16:48

This week I received a logitech squeezebox radio, which is basically an expensive toy that allows you to listen to either "internet radio", or music streamed from your own PC via a portable device that accesses the network wirelessly.

The main goal of this purchase was to allow us to listen to media stored on a local computer in the bedroom, or living-room.

The hardware scans your network looking for a media server, so the first step is to install that:

The media-server has a couple of open ports; one for streaming the media, and one for a user-browsable HTML interface. Interestingly the radio-device shows up in the web-interface, so you can mess around with the currently loaded playlist from your office, while your wife is casually listening to music in the bedroom. (I'm not sure if that's a feature or not yet ;)

Although I didn't find any alternative server-implementations I did find a software-client which you can use to play music from the central server - slimp3slave - and again you can push playlists, media, etc, to this.

My impressions are pretty positive; the device was too expensive, certainly I wouldn't buy two, but it is functional. The user-interface is decent, and the software being available and open is a big win.

Downsides? No remote-control for the player, because paying an additional £70 is never going to happen, but otherwise I can't think of anything.

(Shame the squeezebox product line seems to have been cancelled (?))

Procmail Alternatives?

Although I did start hacking a C & Lua alternative, it looks like there are enough implementations out there that I don't feel so strongly any more.

I'm working in a different way to most people, rather than sort mails at delivery time I'm going to write a trivial daemon that will just watch ~/Maildir/.Incoming, and move mails out of there. That means that no errors will cause mail to be lost at SMTP/delivery time.

I'm going to base my work on Email::Filter since it offers 90% of the primitives I want. The only missing thing is the ability to filter mails via external commands which has now been reported as a bug/omission.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

David Goodwin: Automated twitter compilation up to 06 March 2014

Planet WolvesLUG - Thu, 06/03/2014 - 15:15

Arbitrary tweets made by TheGingerDog (i.e. David Goodwin) up to 06 March 2014

(2014/03/06 src)
  • My teeth have been successfully sharpened. £18… (2014/03/05 src)
  • Pancake day? That’ll never catch on. #PancakeDay (2014/03/04, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire src)
  • Bromsgrove’s high street. #BobTheBuilder t.co/8tIGN8UA8J
  • (2014/03/04, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire src)
  • Looking for Ukraine analysis? This a good place to start www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/02/crimea-crisis-russia-ukraine-cold-war (2014/03/02 src)
  • Happy RAID check day ! #linux (2014/03/02, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire src)
  • It’s a hard fact to swallow but we all live life alone www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/feb/28/marital-expectations-couples-complete-one-other (2014/03/02, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire src)
  • Bromsgrove hockey ladies awesome Saturday. Played 3 won 3 scored 21 conceded 3. Could it get any better? @BromStandard @BromsgroveHC (2014/03/01 src)
  • ‘Murica700 via @mikko @TrustyCon www.youtube.com/user/TrustyCon t.co/3WYn6EDWbB
  • (2014/03/01 src)
  • Hockey Bromsgrove men’s 3rds vs Droitwich. 0:0. :-/ (Cc @BromsgroveHC ) (2014/03/01, Wychavon, Worcestershire src)
  • IKEA grammar fail (“Why not add a bowl of potato’s…”) #fail t.co/Ml89N57Qa6
  • (2014/03/01, Walsall, Walsall src)
  • @Ansible 1.5 now available with a faster OpenSSH transport, Vault, and many updates: blog.ansibleworks.com/2014/02/28/ansible-1-5-released/ (2014/02/28 src)
  • Massive weekend 4 Bromsgrove Hockey. Men & Ladies in huge games. Like to give it a try yourself? Let me know @BromStandard @BromsSchool (2014/02/28 src)
  • Men use a pontoon to move a car in floodwaters in England. More Photos of the Day: on.wsj.com/N8SL6E (Getty) t.co/QeaNAsRj0r
  • (2014/02/28 src)
  • When using APC with PHP, set `apc.stat_ctime=1` in php.ini. Found the tip in Scaling PHP Book by @stevencorona. Thanks for saving my sanity. (2014/02/28 src)
  • .@mattcutts I think I have spotted one, Matt. Note the similarities in the content text: t.co/uHux3rK57f
  • (2014/02/27 src)
  • Trying to figure out why Chrome (OSX) gives “The site’s security certificate is not trusted!” for Foursquare.com #foursquare (2014/02/27 src)
  • Funky 3D eye in a browser near you – www.vill.ee/eye/ (webgl demo of an eye). (2014/02/26 src)
  • IKEA fail. #bjursta t.co/PL7IsarVXB
  • (2014/02/26, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire src)
  • I think I may have eaten too much rhubarb crumble. #feelingSedentary (2014/02/26, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire src)
  • You wouldn’t steal a handbag… you wouldn’t write your own SSH Daemon in PHP… You wouldn’t deploy said code? Oh wait, MTGOX CEO did. (2014/02/26 src)
  • This is why you ALWAYS use `{` and `}` in conditional blocks in C-syntax languages, friends: https://www.imperialviolet.org/2014/02/22/applebug.html Laziness is never okay. (2014/02/22 src)
  • ★ On the Timing of iOS’s SSL Vulnerability and Apple’s ‘Addition’ to the NSA’s PRISM Program: df4.us/mgh (2014/02/22 src)
  • Hockey: Bromsgrove 3xi 4:3 Kings Heath. Great result. (Cc @BromsgroveHC ) (2014/02/22 src)
  • ‘Offshored’ jobs heading back to region: Rising costs in China and the Far East means a boost for Midlands emp… bit.ly/1heh2kQ (2014/02/21 src)
  • Dog poo minefield. t.co/V9JbjDCRBM
  • (2014/02/18, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire src)
  • “All of our operators are currently engaged. …”
    Presumably lots of weddings soon then NatWest ??? (2014/02/18 src)
  • Your call is important to us and will be answered as soon as possible. #lies (2014/02/18 src)
  • Watching my tablet slow to a crawl as it installs weeks of app updates. #almostUnused #firstWorldProblems #nexus10 (2014/02/18 src)
  • In Norway they’re spraying reindeer antlers w a reflective coating to protect them from cars j.mp/1ftOscV t.co/mtiq89AItU
  • (2014/02/17 src)
  • Less commonly used UNIX commands: www.danielmiessler.com/blog/collection-of-less-commonly-used-unix-commands (2014/02/17 src)
  • Apostrophes. Commas. There/their. Were/we’re. To/too/two. Was/were. Definitely. It’s/Its. Those/them. It’s not that hard really is it? #ARGH (2014/02/17 src)
  • Today I’ve filled in a Winding up order to possibly present to Mr LatePayingCustomer #funtimes https://www.gov.uk/wind-up-a-company-that-owes-you-money (2014/02/17 src)
  • Bromsgrove 3xi hockey vs Wolverhampton – we won 3:0 (2014/02/15 src)
  • PHP is Awesome bit.ly/MQgg4e (2014/02/14 src)
  • Google, I’m sorry to keep complaining, but can you please make using your apps with multiple accounts suck less? Pretty please? (2014/02/14 src)
  • Never quite gotten the point of flowers. “Here, I killed these for you… now watch them die.” (2014/02/14 src)
  • “I wanted to ask you a very important and timely question…”
    i.imgur.com/74iclM6.png (2014/02/14 src)
  • Bitter single man scuppered Valentine’s Day by booking every other seat at a cinema to stop couples sitting together www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/10637954/Bitter-single-man-scuppers-Valentines-Day-for-cinema-goers.html (2014/02/14 src)
  • hahaha I thought I had feelings before I had children. I had no idea, NO IDEA what feelings even were. Recalibrated all axes. (2014/02/14 src)
  • Just another rainy day in Newlyn, UK, apparently. [via @traceysuckling] t.co/aTsApsoxLy
  • (2014/02/14 src)
  • We have rules. t.co/pfXKgviu8w
  • (2014/02/14, Manchester, Manchester src)
  • Roses are red
    Violets are blue
    Nagios is red
    OH FUCK THE SITE’S DOWN (2014/02/14 src)
  • Roses are red
    Violets are blue
    Your bitcoins are in escrow
    on The Silk Road 2
    …bugger. (2014/02/14 src)
  • Meanwhile on erlang-questions, the lurking, it was good, and profitable… t.co/eCMw1BgbZa
  • (2014/02/14 src)
  • Headteacher’s award ! Excellent tricky word spelling! t.co/f1jZ03XUfP
  • (2014/02/14 src)
  • “Is it me, or is it a bit hot in here? Ah – you must be with @OvoEnergy!” #feellovedagain (2014/02/14 src)
  • The school jester #hair t.co/jGmZTVO12I
  • (2014/02/13 src)
  • Sent my girlfriend a dozen roses for Valentine’s Day. Hope she’s not upset that I ate the rest of the box. (2014/02/09 src)
  • Free petrol in Bromsgrove ! t.co/WL1WEPnyJY
  • (2014/02/06, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire src)
  • Breaking Flanders #simpsons t.co/dKRJEFkp1J
  • (2014/02/05 src)
  • Cannot. Be. Unseen. t.co/z7ZLKrrbQh
  • (2014/02/03 src)
  • Rebooting an unbacked up server which had/has I/o issues & locked up. If only $customer listened to my warnings. Crossing fsck fingers ATM! (2014/02/03 src)
  • Simply brilliant. A poem. RT @iancawsey: I don’t normally like graffiti but……. t.co/CgFU0sYNcP
  • (2014/02/01 src)
  • @suejaned: so what did the ancient Herdwicks live on during winter without an awesome shepherd to feed hay?”They had an ancient shepherd
  • (2014/02/01 src)
  • Instant feedback on your #phpunit tests while you’re editing code or tests. In case your editors won’t.. https://github.com/jaytaph/RealTimePHPUnit (2014/02/01 src)
  • Bromsgrove men 3xi vs streetly. Lost 2-1 #hockey (Cc @BromsgroveHC ) (2014/02/01, Walsall, Walsall src)
  • Theiyr’reTake that, grammar police.
  • (2014/01/31 src)
  • Happy Chinese New year!! And it’s going to be a filthy one if BBC news subtitles are anything to go by….. t.co/Mie1zV1MAs
  • (2014/01/31 src)
  • Harsh working conditions in Silicon Valley t.co/XlJJL3kPZN
  • (2014/01/31 src)
    Categories: LUG Community Blogs

    Steve Engledow (stilvoid): Things

    Planet ALUG - Thu, 06/03/2014 - 00:28

    I've been meaning to write something for weeks but somehow I never quite seem to get around to it.

    Never say never. That old chestnut. Two in the bush gathers no broth.

    Troy's Moan

    It was my birthday recently and my wife and parents clubbed together and bought me something I'd often talked about before (if somewhat whimsically): a telescope.

    After an evening of setting it up indoors, figuring out how all the bits, and performing some initial calibration of the sighting scope, the skies proceeded to be full of cloud for several nights afterwards.

    The first night of clear skies happened to tie in very nicely with what was apparently the perfect night for viewing Jupiter. I got myself warmly attired, put some wellies on, and went out into the garden with my telescope (and a bottle of scotch). After some more time getting used to the equipment and better calibrating the sighting scope now that I was looking at celestial bodies rather than neighbour's aerials, I finally got sight of Jupiter! At first, I was just finding my way with a low magnification but once I'd got the hang of it, I stuck my best lens in and was utterly blown away by what I saw.

    It's not that I'm anywhere near tinfoil-hatted scepticism but actually seeing an object in the sky - that to the naked eye is a mere white dot - so much closer with equipment that I could naively understand felt like I was properly confirming to myself that what I'd been taught was true.

    I could see the colours and some shapes on the planet itself and after some steadying and patience, I realised I could also see all of the moons :)

    A great experience and I think I'll head out to a meeting of my local astronomical society one of these days.

    Snakes on a screen

    In other news, I have been really enjoying getting stuck into Python again recently. I have a couple of smallish projects I'm working on when I get chance which I'll unveil at some point.

    Take a sad song

    This evening I had my first ever* Judo lesson and thoroughly enjoyed it.

    * OK, technically my second; I had a taster lesson when I was at high school nearly 20 years ago.

    Categories: LUG Community Blogs

    Steve Engledow (stilvoid): Things

    Planet ALUG - Thu, 06/03/2014 - 00:28

    I've been meaning to write something for weeks but somehow I never quite seem to get around to it.

    Never say never. That old chestnut. Two in the bush gathers no broth.

    Troy's Moan

    It was my birthday recently and my wife and parents clubbed together and bought me something I'd often talked about before (if somewhat whimsically): a telescope.

    After an evening of setting it up indoors, figuring out how all the bits, and performing some initial calibration of the sighting scope, the skies proceeded to be full of cloud for several nights afterwards.

    The first night of clear skies happened to tie in very nicely with what was apparently the perfect night for viewing Jupiter. I got myself warmly attired, put some wellies on, and went out into the garden with my telescope (and a bottle of scotch). After some more time getting used to the equipment and better calibrating the sighting scope now that I was looking at celestial bodies rather than neighbour's aerials, I finally got sight of Jupiter! At first, I was just finding my way with a low magnification but once I'd got the hang of it, I stuck my best lens in and was utterly blown away by what I saw.

    It's not that I'm anywhere near tinfoil-hatted scepticism but actually seeing an object in the sky - that to the naked eye is a mere white dot - so much closer with equipment that I could naively understand felt like I was properly confirming to myself that what I'd been taught was true.

    I could see the colours and some shapes on the planet itself and after some steadying and patience, I realised I could also see all of the moons :)

    A great experience and I think I'll head out to a meeting of my local astronomical society one of these days.

    Snakes on a screen

    In other news, I have been really enjoying getting stuck into Python again recently. I have a couple of smallish projects I'm working on when I get chance which I'll unveil at some point.

    Take a sad song

    This evening I had my first ever* Judo lesson and thoroughly enjoyed it.

    * OK, technically my second; I had a taster lesson when I was at high school nearly 20 years ago.

    Categories: LUG Community Blogs

    Steve Engledow (stilvoid): Things

    Planet ALUG - Thu, 06/03/2014 - 00:28

    I've been meaning to write something for weeks but somehow I never quite seem to get around to it.

    Never say never. That old chestnut. Two in the bush gathers no broth.

    Troy's Moan

    It was my birthday recently and my wife and parents clubbed together and bought me something I'd often talked about before (if somewhat whimsically): a telescope.

    After an evening of setting it up indoors, figuring out how all the bits, and performing some initial calibration of the sighting scope, the skies proceeded to be full of cloud for several nights afterwards.

    The first night of clear skies happened to tie in very nicely with what was apparently the perfect night for viewing Jupiter. I got myself warmly attired, put some wellies on, and went out into the garden with my telescope (and a bottle of scotch). After some more time getting used to the equipment and better calibrating the sighting scope now that I was looking at celestial bodies rather than neighbour's aerials, I finally got sight of Jupiter! At first, I was just finding my way with a low magnification but once I'd got the hang of it, I stuck my best lens in and was utterly blown away by what I saw.

    It's not that I'm anywhere near tinfoil-hatted scepticism but actually seeing an object in the sky - that to the naked eye is a mere white dot - so much closer with equipment that I could naively understand felt like I was properly confirming to myself that what I'd been taught was true.

    I could see the colours and some shapes on the planet itself and after some steadying and patience, I realised I could also see all of the moons :)

    A great experience and I think I'll head out to a meeting of my local astronomical society one of these days.

    Snakes on a screen

    In other news, I have been really enjoying getting stuck into Python again recently. I have a couple of smallish projects I'm working on when I get chance which I'll unveil at some point.

    Take a sad song

    This evening I had my first ever* Judo lesson and thoroughly enjoyed it.

    * OK, technically my second; I had a taster lesson when I was at high school nearly 20 years ago.

    Categories: LUG Community Blogs

    Steve Kemp: Replacing ugly things would save the world many hours

    Planet HantsLUG - Wed, 05/03/2014 - 19:56

    There are some tools that we use daily, whether we realize it or not, that are unduly ugly. Over time you learn to use them and you forget just how hard they are to learn, and you take it for granted.

    Today I had to guide somebody through using procmail, and I'd forgotten how annoying it is.

    In brief I use procmail in three ways, each of which I had to document:

    • Run a command, given a new email, and replace the original email with the output of that command.
    • Run a command, silently. Just for fun.
    • Match a regular expression on a header-field, and file accordingly.
      • Later extended to matching regexps on multiple headers. ("AND" + "OR" )

    There are some projects that are too entrenched to ever be replaced ("make", I'm looking at you), but procmail? I reckon there's a chance a replacement would be useful, quickly.

    Then again, maybe I'm biased.

    Categories: LUG Community Blogs

    Steve Kemp: Anti-social coding

    Planet HantsLUG - Mon, 03/03/2014 - 12:12

    I get all excited when I load up Github's front-page and see something like:

    "robyn has forked skx/xxx to robyn/xxx"

    I wonder what they will do, what changes do they have in mind?

    Days pass, and no commits happen.

    Anti-social coding: Cloning the code, I guess in case I delete my repository, but not intending to make any changes.

    Categories: LUG Community Blogs

    Meeting at "The Moon Under Water"

    Wolverhampton LUG News - Mon, 03/03/2014 - 10:09


    53-55 Lichfield St
    Wolverhampton
    West Midlands
    WV1 1EQ

    Eat, Drink and talk Linux

    Event Date and Time:  Wed, 05/03/2014 - 19:30 - 23:00
    Categories: LUG Community Blogs

    Aq: Writing a simple desktop widget for Ubuntu

    Planet WolvesLUG - Mon, 03/03/2014 - 01:47

    I needed a way to display the contents of an HTML file on my desktop, in such a way that it looks like it’s part of the wallpaper. Fortunately, most of the answer was in How can I make my own custom desktop widgets? on Ask Ubuntu, along with Create a Gtk Window insensitive to Show Desktop and Won’t show in Launcher. Combining that with the excellent Python GI API Reference which contains everything and which I can never find when I go looking for it, I came up with a simple little Python app. I have it monitoring the HTML file which it displays for changes; when that file changes, I refresh the widget.

    from gi.repository import WebKit, Gtk, Gdk, Gio import signal, os class MainWin(Gtk.Window): def __init__(self): Gtk.Window.__init__(self, skip_pager_hint=True, skip_taskbar_hint=True) self.set_wmclass("sildesktopwidget","sildesktopwidget") self.set_type_hint(Gdk.WindowTypeHint.DOCK) self.set_size_request(600,400) self.set_keep_below(True) # transparency screen = self.get_screen() rgba = screen.get_rgba_visual() self.set_visual(rgba) self.override_background_color(Gtk.StateFlags.NORMAL, Gdk.RGBA(0,0,0,0)) self.view = WebKit.WebView() self.view.set_transparent(True) self.view.override_background_color(Gtk.StateFlags.NORMAL, Gdk.RGBA(0,0,0,0)) self.view.props.settings.props.enable_default_context_menu = False self.view.load_uri("file://path/to/html/file") box = Gtk.Box() self.add(box) box.pack_start(self.view, True, True, 0) self.set_decorated(False) self.connect("destroy", lambda q: Gtk.main_quit()) self.show_all() self.move(100,100) def file_changed(monitor, file, unknown, event): mainwin.view.reload() if __name__ == '__main__': # the HTML file needs to have background colour rgba(0,0,0,0) gio_file = Gio.File.new_for_path("/path/to/html/file") monitor = gio_file.monitor_file(Gio.FileMonitorFlags.NONE, None) monitor.connect("changed", file_changed) mainwin = MainWin() signal.signal(signal.SIGINT, signal.SIG_DFL) # make ^c work Gtk.main()

    Lots of little tricks in there: the widget acts as a widget (that is: it stays glued to the desktop, and doesn’t vanish when you Show Desktop) because of the Gdk.WindowTypeHint.DOCK, skip_pager_hint=True, skip_taskbar_hint=True, and set_keep_below(True) parts; it’s transparent because the HTML file sets its background colour to rgba(0,0,0,0) with CSS and then we use override_background_color to make that actually be transparent; the window has no decorations because of set_decorated(False). Then I just add it to Startup Applications and we’re done.

    Categories: LUG Community Blogs

    Aq: I bought a new computer

    Planet WolvesLUG - Sat, 01/03/2014 - 14:49

    In the most recent episode of Bad Voltage I reviewed my new computer, but we diverged mainly into a discussion of why anyone should buy laptops at all, in which I was right and everyone else in the world was wrong. Anyway, I’ve been promising for a while that I’d talk about my lovely new machine once I had it, and I now have it. So, a review.

    A few months ago, my laptop, a Lenovo ultrabook running Ubuntu, decided to corrupt its disk when resuming from suspend. Now, admittedly, I’d suspended it and then let it run out of battery, and I’d understand it if it’d lost my session. But, no, it wouldn’t boot at all. A few panicked hours later, and with quite a bit of help from the #ubuntu-uk IRC channel, I got it back and I hadn’t lost anything. However, tragically, this now meant that my formerly innocent SSD1 had learned about the existence of disk errors. If you’ve worked in an office you’ll know that you mustn’t use whiteboard cleaner, because once you’ve taught a whiteboard that special cleaning fluid exists, it sulks and refuses to be cleaned without it for ever more. Well, disks are just the same: once they’ve learned that they’re allowed to error and you’ll just fix it, they feel able — actually, they feel obliged — to throw more errors just to see how much you’ll put up with. So I started shopping around for a new laptop.

    Over Christmas, my mum, who is lovely but is about as good with technology as I am with blindfolded rock climbing, said: why are you buying a laptop? Why not buy a desktop computer?

    This is a better question than you might initially think.

    What benefit is there to a laptop? Well, there are I think two things. The first is that it has a zillion peripherals built in. Speakers, mouse, webcam, keyboard, it’s all part of the one package. And the second is that you can use it without it being plugged in, in coffee shops and conferences and on the sofa and the like.2 Other than that, every single thing about a desktop computer is better. It’s more upgradeable. It’s cheaper. It’s prettier, if you try and buy prettiness rather than a ghastly beige case from the 1980s. It’s got more USB ports. And you can make one which works how you want it to rather than how your laptop manufacturer wants it to. I want loads of RAM and a gorgeous case and I couldn’t give a damn about graphics, as long as it can drive my 27 inch monitor. So that’s what I built.

    There are quite a lot of custom PC builders. There’s no way on God’s green earth that I’m going to buy a bunch of components and fit them together myself. For a start, I don’t give a crap about which type of RAM fits in which motherboard — I want someone else to decide that for me. I don’t want to have to touch a radiator and wear an anti-static strip and lose all those tiny screws every nine seconds. So I shopped around a bit and ended up with PC Specialist, a custom PC builder here in the UK. I got an Inwin 904 case, which is stone cold gorgeous — tempered glass, brushed steel. It’s a bloody work of art is what it is. And all the RAM I can stuff in my pockets, and decent Logitech speakers and webcam and wireless mouse and keyboard and an Asus 27 inch monitor and HDMI and just everything I wanted, and it was pretty well priced… and I can stick with it almost forever. Remember Trigger’s broom in Only Fools and Horses? It’d had 16 new heads and 14 new handles. This machine can be poked and have bits swapped out and keep on trucking long after any five laptops have been consigned to the laptop graveyard in your basement or the slow death of being given to your parents. So well done PC Specialist.

    My requirements look roughly like this:

    1. machine will run Ubuntu, not Windows
    2. it’s not for gaming (I use my PS3 for that, and don’t use it much), so the integrated graphics is fine; I do not need a separate graphics card.
    3. I want my box to be attractive. This takes precedence over almost every other requirement, and is obviously massively subjective.
    4. I want a huge amount of RAM. Two years ago I bought the ultrabook laptop I’m typing this on, which has 4GB of RAM, and I thought that was loads. It’s now struggling a bit. I do not want to have to buy more memory a year from now, and Ubuntu is pretty heavy on RAM use, especially since I have about a zillion Chrome tabs open. So, 16GB for me. This will be sufficient for whatever Ubuntu requires for a couple of years at least, and will let me spin up VMs to my heart’s content. I did think about 32GB, but it’s just extra memory I don’t need, and because I have a desktop machine I can easily upgrade later if I need that, and not having it saves me a hundred notes or so now.
    5. I’d like a decent (that is: better than 1920 HD) monitor. However, 4K monitors are three grand each, which is way too much. So, 2560x1440 if I can. Note that the integrated graphics I pick has to support this.
    6. Other things needed: speakers (I’d like three-piece, but they don’t have to be great), keyboard and mouse (again, I’m not picky here, but wireless would be nice), wifi (doesn’t have to be good wifi, and I’ll be wired most of the time, but it’s a very handy fallback).
    7. Total budget: ~£1500
    8. adequate cooling. I don’t know anything about cooling.
    9. not overclocked.

    The actual spec of the machine looks like this, which is a long boring list but can’t be helped:

    table.pcspec { border-collapse: collapse; } table.pcspec th { font-weight: bold; background: #333; color: white; } table.pcspec td { background: #f7f6f5; color: #333; } table.pcspec tr:nth-child(2n) td { background: white; } Component type Component chosen notes Case InWIN 904 so gorgeous a case. wow. Processor (CPU) Intel® Core™i5 Quad Core Processor i5-4670 (3.4GHz) 6MB Cache didn’t get the K model because I don’t plan to overclock it. Haswell, because that’s the newest. Only an i5, though; the i7 was quite a bit extra and I decided I could do without it Motherboard ASUS® Z87-A: ATX, USB3.0, SATA6GB/S, SLi, XFIRE Memory (RAM) 16GB KINGSTON DUAL-DDR3 1600MHz (2 x 8GB) memory! yes! never going to run out again, ever Graphics Card INTEGRATED GRAPHICS ACCELERATOR (GPU) Hard Disk 180GB INTEL® 530 SERIES SSD, SATA 6 Gb/s (upto 540MB/sR | 490MB/sW) don’t need a lot of storage (I have a home server for that) but I do want SSD. 180GB is enough; currently have 120GB which is a tiny bit tight 1st DVD/BLU-RAY Drive 24x DUAL LAYER DVD WRITER ±R/±RW/RAM Memory Card Reader NONE irritatingly, this can’t go in my chosen case; they’re all to fit 3.5” spaces. I may buy a blanking plate and put one in the 5.25” slot. Power Supply CORSAIR 350W VS SERIES™ VS-350 POWER SUPPLY Processor Cooling Super Quiet 22dBA Triple Copper Heatpipe Intel CPU Cooler as per recommendation from the PC Specialist forums Extra Case Fans & Fan Controller NONE because I am not a lunatic gamer Sound Card ONBOARD 6 CHANNEL (5.1) HIGH DEF AUDIO Wireless/Wired Networking WIRELESS 802.11N 150Mbps PCI-E CARD Monitor ASUS 27" Professional SERIES PB278Q twenty seven inches of glory3 Keyboard & Mouse LOGITECH® MK520 WIRELESS KEYBOARD & MOUSE COMBO always rated Logitech stuff, personally Speakers LOGITECH LS21 2.1 SILVER/BLACK SPEAKER SYSTEM ditto Webcam Logitech® HD Webcam C525 - 720p HD Video, 8 Megapixel Photos ditto Warranty 3 Year Silver Warranty (1 Year Collect & Return, 1 Year Parts, 3 Year Labour) Price £1,365.00 have to skip lunch and save the money. Possibly several times a day.

    I’m super-pleased with it. It looks gorgeous, which is precisely what I was hoping for. And the screen’s massive.

    I’d like to live in a world where it’s possible to buy off-the-shelf gorgeous Ubuntu computers. At the moment, we’re not quite in that world. It is possible to buy pretty desktop PCs; in the UK, the place to go for that is Utopia Computers. Unfortunately, everyone who sells attractive machines rather than beige boxes is either (a) Apple or (b) primarily catering to an audience of gamers. So the machines you buy have super-high-end graphics cards and nutty cooling systems. I don’t want one of those; I’m not a gamer. I want raw power, but Intel graphics is enough for me, and it’s better supported by Ubuntu. So, annoyingly, that meant having to spec my own machine. I didn’t want to do that, because I have no idea which RAM to buy or which motherboard. PC Specialist did a pretty reasonable job of checking that sort of thing — their online wizard thing pops up saying “that card doesn’t fit with that motherboard”. Part of the issue here, I think, is that most people don’t consider it a good use of money to buy an attractive computer, and those that do are already in the Apple camp. Linux users are even worse at this — spending money on something because it looks nice is actively discouraged, which is thunderously wrong but I can’t stop people from doing it. Ubuntu is attempting to project a different vibe — that form is just as important as function — but because it’s still at least partially most popular among Linux people, it’s not making much headway. I surely can’t be the only person alive who appreciates the Apple aesthetic but wants Ubuntu machines, who thinks that we the Ubuntu community are allowed beautiful machines and should not be inured to the idea that you buy cheap-looking plastic stuff because that’s all you can get that runs Ubuntu. But it feels like I am, some days. I’d like to say that someone4 should set up a business selling pretty Ubuntu computers, but I fear that the subset of users who

    1. want a desktop rather than a laptop
    2. want Ubuntu
    3. value attractiveness over cheapness

    is small enough that there’s not enough of a business model there.

    Anyway, I shan’t rant. I have a lovely computer and I am happy. Hooray! I hope your machine is beautiful too. If not… maybe think about that, next time.

    1. even if it is some weird Lenovo-specific weird thing
    2. If you’re interested in further discussion of why having a laptop is important, and the idea that lots of people have one unmoving “main” laptop” and one small “conference” laptop, and that the “main” laptop could be a desktop instead, then see the Bad Voltage episode above
    3. an essential part of a good evening
    4. yes, I’m aware that I could be someone
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