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Jono Bacon: Join the Ubuntu App Showdown and Win Prizes!

Planet WolvesLUG - Thu, 27/02/2014 - 01:59

Today we launched our next Ubuntu App Showdown.

The idea is simple: you have six weeks to build an application with the Ubuntu SDK that converges across both phone and tablet (which is simple). We have the following categories, each of which has a prize:

  • QML – a native app written in QML (wins a Nexus 7 (2013) tablet).
  • HTML5 – a native app written in HTML5 (wins a Nexus 7 (2013) tablet).
  • Ported – an app that has been ported from another platform to Ubuntu and used the Ubuntu SDK (wins a Nexus 7 (2013) tablet).

We are also delighted to include an additional category with two prizes sponsored by Meizu:

  • Chinese – an app that is written in either QML or HTML5 that would be of most interest to Chinese users, such as connecting to Chinese sites and services (2 x Meizu MX3s as prizes).

If you would like to get involved in the showdown, you can find out all the details here or for our Chinese friends here.

HTML5 Refinements

In preperation for the showdown we have also landed a number of significant improvements to HTML5 in the Ubuntu SDK. This includes:

  • Our HTML5 technology has been fully revamped and now all works from a single container.
  • A new single default template for creating your HTML5 app.
  • Full access to device sensors via cordova.
  • Full access to platform APIs via Javascript.
  • API documentation.
  • A brand new HTML5 section on complete with new guides, tutorials, API docs, and more.

Remember, we award extra point for blogging about and sharing on social media about your app and how it is developing, so be sure to share your work! Good luck!

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Jono Bacon: Ten Years of LugRadio, Zero Years of Bad Voltage

Planet WolvesLUG - Thu, 27/02/2014 - 01:23

Ten years ago today we started LugRadio. For those of you who don’t know what LugRadio was, it was a podcast that some friends and I did that took a loose, fun, and eclectic look at Open Source and Linux. It developed a bit of a cult following to the point where 40+ people still hang out in the #lugradio channel today.

A am proud of what we achieved with LugRadio. Over 100 shows, 7 full-time presenters and countless guest presenters, 200+ hours of audio, 100+ guests, 2million+ downloads, multiple awards, 1000+ forums members, 40000+ forums posts, 6 live events in two countries, 5000+ emails to the show and an incredible community of people who surrounded the show, discussed it, got involved in some way, and otherwise gave us all immense enthusiasm to keep doing it.

I remember the day I started discussing the idea with Stuart Langridge, stood in my kitchen in Wolverhampton after a Linux User Group meeting, and I don’t think either of us would have ever dreamed of how far it went.

If you want to get a good idea of the show, check out the excellent documentary about LugRadio called Don’t Listen Alone by Tony Whitmore.

Although LugRadio is now wedged in the historical record, the good news is that there is a new kid on the block in the form of Bad Voltage.

Much is the same as with LugRadio (four presenters, show every two weeks, a focus on informative but entertaining content) but we don’t just limit the show to Linux and Open Source and we also cover technology, politics, gaming, and more. Check it out here.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Aq: There WILL be only one Ubuntu

Planet WolvesLUG - Wed, 26/02/2014 - 19:23

Michael Hall declares that there is no “Touch”, only “Ubuntu”. And he’s absolutely correct. Sadly for the rest of us, though, he’s writing that post from the future. There will be One Ubuntu, but we’re not quite there yet.

Mike says that the difference is Unity 8. Actually, for the purposes of most people writing apps, I think that Unity 8 and Unity 7 don’t really enter into it. Unity works roughly the same way and presents roughly the same APIs. The biggest discrepancy right now between “Ubuntu Desktop” and “Ubuntu Touch” is that there’s a bunch of stuff available on the desktop which is not yet part of the platform API, which means that that stuff is not available on my Ubuntu phone yet and so I can’t use it.

Let’s take a little example. Right now, push notifications are still being worked on for Ubuntu (which is fine; it’s a difficult project and needs care), and in their absence I don’t have a way to have something on my phone which tells me when I get an email. I hate that. I really don’t like not having email notifications: they were the first thing I turned on on my new machine. So I thought: how can I do that on my phone? I’m prepared to sacrifice a bit of battery life for this, if need be.

Voice of the audience: just use cron! that’s what it’s for!

Sadly, I can’t use cron on an Ubuntu phone. If I ssh into my phone (which I’m happy to do) and then do crontab -e, it doesn’t work, because the main filesystem is read-only and so crontab can’t save a cron file. Nor can I use upstart, because upstart doesn’t include time-based scheduling, sadly.1 I could, I suppose, run a daemon which schedules for me (and that’s what I’m looking at doing) but that’s not very excellent a solution.

Voice of the audience: you can make the filesystem read-write!

Yes. You can. I do not want to. If I do that I don’t get to have system updates any more. More importantly, though, if I do that, I’m not an app developer. I’m a platform developer. I don’t want to be a platform developer. I want to make apps. If I’ve done some platform-developer things — marked the filesystem read-write, written things to it, installed other packages, tweakd the config — then I lose one of the most important things about mobile development, which is knowing that your device is the same as everyone else’s. I’ll no longer be sure whether “it works on my device” means “it’ll work on someone else’s”, because now it might work on my device because I’ve poked the platform. I’m not running Ubuntu, then; I’m running Stubuntu. It’s the same reason I won’t install third-party non-Ubuntu stuff with sudo — Ubuntu owns the root filesystem. If you’re a third-party package or package manager, you go in my home folder. If you insist on not going in my home folder, or you make it really difficult to do so2 then you just don’t get installed at all.

Look, I know this stuff is being worked on, and it’s fantastic. Ubuntu will be even better than it is at the moment, which is saying something. But at the moment there’s just no way to do a bunch of stuff on “Ubuntu Touch” which is possible on “Ubuntu Desktop”, until the ability to do that stuff appears in the platform API. That gap closes every day, and it’ll be brilliant when it’s finally gone, but until then there still is a difference between “Ubuntu Touch” and “Ubuntu Desktop”. Because when I ask the question “how do I get notified of new mails on Ubuntu?”3, the answer for my desktop is “install this app”, and the answer for my phone is “we can’t do that yet but we’ll be able to soon”. I’m fine with that being the answer: this is not a complaint that it’s not done yet, and I’d like to stress that point. This stuff is being worked on, and I know it’ll be great when done, but the fact remains that it’s not done yet. Until that day, there’s a distinction between “Ubuntu for my phone” and “Ubuntu for my desktop”, and it’s not just about phone-specific stuff like hardware access or app confinement. That distinction is currently present. Roll on the day when it’s not.

  1. and presumably will not, now that the focus has generally switched to systemd. That does have cron-ish abilities, but the phone isn’t using it yet
  2. rubygems, you are the weakest link, goodbye
  3. or “how do I get notified of new G+ posts” or “store key data from my app in a secure way” or “programmatically list what’s pinned to the launcher” or “update my desktop background whenever a particular file changes” or anything which requires some sort of background processing
Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Dick Turpin: Eager

Planet WolvesLUG - Wed, 26/02/2014 - 10:38
Colleague: "I understand you're moving, can we quote you for moving and setting up your equipment?"
Prospect: "It's not even built yet!"
Colleague: "Oh..........."

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Steve Kemp: What do you pay for, and what would you pay for?

Planet HantsLUG - Tue, 25/02/2014 - 15:30

There are times when I consider launching my own company again, most often when it is late at night and the inpetitude of so many other companies gets me too worked up. Then I sit back and think about details and write it off.

I've worked for myself in the past a couple of times, and each time it was both more fun and more difficult than expected. Getting a couple of clients is usually easy, getting a ten more is common, but getting "many" is hard and getting "lots" is something I've never done - lots of users for free sites though, along with the associated support burdon!

So the though dies away once I sit down and work out the net profit I'd need to live. My expenses are low, so let us pretend I can easily live on £1000 a month. So the "company" has to make more than that, to cover costs, but perhaps not much.

Pretend you were offering DNS hosting you'd probably be able to implement that easily on, say 10, virtual machines, net of £150 a month. Imagine clients pay £5 for an unlimited number of domains that means you need to have 1000+150/5 = 230 clients. Not impossible, but also not easy.

Pretend instead you're offering backup space, and the numbers get bigger because disk is expensive. Again getting some users would be easy, but getting lots would be hard because your competition is dropbox, skydrive, etc, etc.

Once you start thinking of "ideas" they come easily, but the hard part is being realistic about what people would pay for. As always the idea is the easy part, the execution is the hardest part. Realistically if I were to be desperate to work for myself at short notic I'd do the obvious thing - I'd buy a pair of ladders, a bucket, and clean windows. Low overheads, reasonable demand, and I'd be both "fit" and "outdoors".

When it comes to paying for online services off the top of my head I personally pay for maybe two things, both of them niche (although profitable for their providers I'm sure), and I know many people who live on the internet but pay for nothing.

For example I'm a VIP member of an online modeling community, which in theory allows me a higher chance of persuading interesting people to pose for me.

In practice the turnover on those sites is immense. Lots of cute boys and girls hear constantly "You're so pretty, you should be a model", which is true in perhaps 1% of cases, and the net result is you have a few hard working people who do good things day in day out, and many flighty teenagers who'll pose for two-three people, and then never do it again because they realise it is neither glamourous nor easy money.

Two things I've semi-serously considered recently where hosted "status pages", and hosted "domain parking", but both have many competitors and both I can see a) some people would pay for but b) not very many.

I suspect there is no universal "I'd pay for this" online service hwich is both competition free and genuinely trivial to setup, but I'd be curious to see what people are missing, and even more curious to see what people do pay for.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Debian Bits: Call for participants in the Google Summer of Code for Debian

Planet HantsLUG - Tue, 25/02/2014 - 11:15

The Google Summer of Code is a program that allows post-secondary students aged 18 and older to earn a stipend writing code for Free and Open Source Software projects during the summer.

Debian has just been accepted as a mentoring organization for this year's program! We're looking for students and mentors to make this GSoC in Debian the best ever!

Eligible students, now is the time to take a look at our project ideas list, engage with the mentors for the projects you find interesting, and start working on your application! For more information, please read the FAQ and the Program Timeline on Google's website.

Mentors for prospective projects can still submit proposals on the project ideas list. You also need to send an email to the mailing list linked below to present your project in a few words. Feel also free to propose yourself as a co-mentor for one of the listed projects, more help is always welcome!

If you are interested, we encourage you to come and chat with us on irc (#debian-soc on, or to send an email to the SoC coordination mailing-list (subscribe). Most of the Debian-specific GSoC information can be found on our wiki pages, but don't be afraid to ask us directly on irc or via email.

We're looking forward to work with an amazing team of students and mentors again this summer!

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Jono Bacon: Ubuntu Development Update Presentation

Planet WolvesLUG - Tue, 25/02/2014 - 06:59

This last weekend I was in LA at SCALE12x and gave a presentation providing a detailed update of much of the work going on as we build a convergent Ubuntu. As I have mentioned before, there is lots of other foundational pieces being built as part of this work (app insulation, SDK, click packages,, platform services etc), and this presentation covered where we stand today in this work.

Obviously a lot more of you couldn’t be at SCALE than couldn’t, so I have recorded the presentation to share online. You can see it below or click here to watch it. Enjoy!

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Tony Whitmore: I think we’re going to need torches

Planet HantsLUG - Mon, 24/02/2014 - 23:19

I spent nearly 7 hours in the same cinema seat this weekend. The BBC and the BFI were celebrating the return of several missing episodes of Doctor Who to the archives by holding a marathon screening at the Prince Charles cinema in Leicester Square. All twelve episodes of “The Enemy of the World” and “The Web of Fear” were shown back-to-back, with only two short comfort breaks. That’s a lot of Doctor Who, even for me.

The panel after the screening was expertly moderated by Toby Hadoke. Deborah Watling and Frazer Hines were joined by Ralph Watson, who played Captain Knight in “The Web of Fear,” the role that was originally going to be played by Nicholas Courtney before he was promoted to play the Brigadier. Ralph was certainly talkative and brought some fresh stories and recollections, particular about his working relationship with Douglas Camfield. Michael Troughton was also on stage to reminisce about his father’s dual roles in “The Enemy of the World” and his visit to the London Underground set with the yetis.

I think the BBC and the BFI were using this event to see if there is sufficient interest in screenings now that the anniversary year celebrations are over. I hope they are convinced, although I would happily settle for a single six episode story rather than two! It was great to geek out with James from the Doctor Who Podcast again.

The Prince Charles cinema, which is slightly smaller than NFT1 at the BFI Southbank, is a great choice of venue for this sort of cult screening. However, the availability of cinema snacks, combined with the duration of the screening, meant there was a lot more rustling going on than at the BFI. But I can live with that if I get to see more Doctor Who on the big screen.


Pin It
Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Dick Turpin: Switch it off.

Planet WolvesLUG - Mon, 24/02/2014 - 16:22
Customer: "Our servers broken!"
Engineer: "When you say broken what do you mean?"
Customer: "We switched the plug on and pushed the button like we normally do and it has a black screen with text on it."
Engineer: "You switched the plug on?"
Customer: "Yeah, of a night time when we've finished we switch the plug off."
Engineer: "After you've shutdown?"
Customer: "No, it asks us questions when we do that so we just switch the plug off."

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Debian Bits: Invitation to the MiniDebConf 2014 Barcelona: 15-16 March 2014

Planet HantsLUG - Mon, 24/02/2014 - 12:00

Debian Women will hold a MiniDebConf in Barcelona on Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th of March, 2014. Everyone is invited to both talks and social events, but the speakers will all be people who identify themselves as female. This is not a conference about women in Free Software, or women in Debian, rather a usual Debian Mini-DebConf where all the speakers are women.

The talks schedule has already been published. It is going to be an exciting event, packed with interesting talks for all audiences, in a beautiful venue, in one of the most famous European cities.

Registration is not mandatory, but strongly encouraged, as it helps the event's organisation and logistics. Please, register in the wiki.

We are still raising funds to cover the costs of running the conference and to offer travel sponsorship to people who can't pay for it. Please, consider donating any amount you can in our crowd-funding campaign, or contact us if you would like to become a sponsor.

The conference organisers want to thank the organisations that have already became sponsors, making this event possible, and specially our Platinum sponsor, Google; our Gold sponsors, Càtedra de Programari Lliure - Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Blue Systems and our Silver sponsors, CAtalan LInux Users, CAPSiDE and Fluendo.

For more information, visit the website of the event:

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Steve Kemp: Two minor toys ..

Planet HantsLUG - Sun, 23/02/2014 - 08:56

Two minor things:


A simple shell-script to submit metrics to a graphite server, extensible via local plugins, but covers the obvious metrics by default.

Metrics are submitted via simple calls to netcat.

Trivial, but much more lightweight than collectd and similar.


A perl module for converting HTML like "<p>:smile:</p>" into something graphical.

This was written for my markdown sharing site, but is pretty fun.

The konami-code page demonstrates usage.

(This parses the HTML so it won't transform attributes, ids, or anything that isn't in the "text" part of any HTML input.)

The graphite sending script is perhaps the most useful, but at the same time it feels too small to be a package of its own. I'm tempted to bundle it up into my sysadmin-util collection, but I can't quite decide if it belongs there either.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Dick Turpin: Black Friday

Planet WolvesLUG - Sat, 22/02/2014 - 20:37
I had a really bad day last Friday.

Prospect: "I'd like to order one of those Optiplex 745's at £140.00 please."
Me: "OK."
Prospect: "It will be for putting info in a spreadsheet. Just basic stuff."
Me: "You do know there's no Office package?"
Prospect: "What do you mean?"
Me: "There's no Office, you know, Word Excel etc."
Prospect: "But it says Windows 7 here!"
Me: "That's the operating system."
Prospect: "Well how much is Office then?"
Me: "I can do it for £165.00"
Prospect: "Does the Dell come with a keyboard and mouse?
Me: "Not normally but I'll throw them in."
Prospect: "What monitors have you got?"
Me: "What size do you want?"
Prospect: "I've no idea, I'll measure this one it's diagonal in't it?"
Me: "Yes."
Prospect: "20" inch"
Me: "I don't have any refurbed 20" I can do 19" inch for £35.00"
Prospect: "What about a bigger one?"
Me: By bigger one do you mean 22" Inch?"
Prospect: "Yeah"
Me: "OK they are £xyz"
Prospect: "And the next one?"
Me: "So a 23" inch is £xyz"
Prospect: "What's the next size up?"
Me: "24" inch. You can have a 48" inch plasma if you like?"
Prospect: "Nah, I'll have the £35 19" inch."
Me: [Through gritted teeth] "OK."
Prospect: "That keyboard and mouse, they are wireless?"
Prospect: "Oh."
Me: I'll get you a price, that will be £xyz"
Prospect: "Are they flat keys?"
Me: "What?"
Prospect: "Are the keys flat? They look so much smarter."
Me: "No they are not flat."
Prospect: "Have you got any flat ones?"
Me: With the greatest of respect, they don't generally put 'has flat keys' in the specifications and tbh I'm not looking at loads of pictures to find a flat key one."
Prospect: "It's OK I'll stick with the ones you're throwing in."

Fortunately he bought the items discussed before my head exploded.

Categories: LUG Community Blogs

Steve Kemp: Changing my stack ..

Planet HantsLUG - Sat, 22/02/2014 - 12:32

For the past few years I've hosted all my websites in a "special" way:

  • Each website runs under its own UID.
  • Each website runs a local thttpd / webserver.
  • Each server binds to localhost, on a high-port.
    • My recipe is that the port of the webserver for user "foo" is "$(id -u foo)".
  • On the front-end I have a proxy to route connections to the appropriate back-end, based on the Host header.
  • The webserver I chose initially was thttpd, which gained points because it was small, auditable, and simple to launch. Something like this was my recipe:

    #!/bin/sh exec thttpd -D -C /srv/

    Unfortunately thttpd suffers from a few omissions, most notably it doesn't support either "Keep-Alive", or "Compression" (i.e. gzip/deflate), so it would always be slower than I wanted.

    On the plus side it was simple to use, supported CGI scripts, and served me well once I'd patched it to support X-Forwarded-For for IPv6 connections.

    Recently I setup a server optimization site and was a little disappointed that the site itself scored poorly on Google's page-speed test. So I removed thttpd for that site, and replacing it with nginx. The end result was that the site scored 98/100 on Google's page-speed test. Progress. Unfortunately I couldn't do that globally because nginx doesn't support old-school plain CGI scripts.

    So last night I removed both nginx and thttpd, and now every site on my box is hosted using lighttpd.

    There weren't too many differences in the setup, though I had to add some rules to add caching for *.css, etc, and some of my code needed updating.

    Beyond that today I've setup a dedicated docker host - which allows me to easily spin up containers. Currently I've got graphite monitoring for my random hosts, and a wordpress guest for plugin development/testing.

    Now to go back to reading Off to be the wizard .. - not as good as Rick Cook's wizardry series (which got less good as time went on, but started off strongly), but still entertaining.

    Categories: LUG Community Blogs

    Wayne Stallwood (DrJeep): Outlook 2003, Cutting off Emails

    Planet ALUG - Sat, 22/02/2014 - 09:43
    I had a friend come to me with an interesting problem they were having in their office. Due to the Exchange server and Office licencing they have they are running Outlook 2003 on Windows 7 64bit Machines.

    After Internet Explorer updates to IE11 it introduces a rather annoying bug into Outlook. Typed emails often get cut off mid sentence when you click Send ! So only part of the email gets sent !

    What I think is happening is that Outlook is reverting to a previously autosaved copy before sending.

    Removing the IE11 update would probably fix it but perhaps the easiest way is to disable the "Autosave unsent email" option in Outlook.

    Navigate to:-
    Tools, Options, E-Mail Options, Advanced E-Mail Options, and disable the "Autosave unsent" option.

    Categories: LUG Community Blogs
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