Category Archives: General

Plasma Release Schedule Updated

I’ve made some changes to the Plasma 5.8 release schedule.  We had a request from our friends at openSUSE to bring the release sooner by a couple of weeks so they could sneak it into their release and everyone could enjoy the LTS goodness.  As openSUSE are long term supporters and contributors to KDE as well as patrons of KDE the Plasma team chatted and decided to slide the dates around to help out.  Release is now on the first Tuesday in October.

 

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Neon News: Frameworks 5.25, Kontact in Dev Editions, Maui bases on Neon

Things move fast in the land of Neon light.

Today KDE Frameworks 5.25 was added to Neon User edition.  KDE’s selection of Qt addon libraries gets released every month and this update comes with a bunch of fixes.

Finally Kontact has built in Developer Editions, apologies to those who had a half installed build for a while, you should now be able to install all of KDE PIM and get your e-mail/calendar/notes/feed reader/a load of other bits.  Suggestions now taken for what I should add next to Neon builds.

And in free software you are nobody until somebody bases their project off yours.  Yesterday Maui Linux released its new version based off KDE neon.  Maui was previously the distro used for Hawaii Qt Desktop but now it’s Plasma all the way and comes from the Netrunner team with a bunch of customisations for those who don’t appreciate Neon’s minimalist default install.

Maui Linux based off Neon
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Your New Monospace Font: Hack

A few cycles ago the VDG asked for the default Plasma font to be changed from Oxygen, a custom made but poorly maintained font for Plasma, to Noto.  Noto is a Google project which is intended to provide complete Unicode coverage.  It is based off Google’s Droid font for Latin and some other fonts for other scripts.  But it lacked a monospace font which is important to us hackers who likes to use a console and write code in it.

Annoyingly all fonts are poorly organised in interesting and mysterious ways.  In the case of Noto people think there’s a mono font because there does exist Noto Mono CJK but of course that’s only for oriental languages.  But search around a bit more and the Mono font is in the Git repository where it was committed at the start of the year only it’s not available in the download options on the website.  Some distros package it straight from Git because the website download is incomplete but then some don’t.  But trying it out a problem cropped up, there’s no Bold variant of the font which is used for highlighting in Kate and to some extent in consoles.

Looking around Adobe has Source Code Pro, a freely licenced font that contains all the goodness but many distros don’t package it.  The tools used to create it are non-free but for fonts I’ve never seen a package which actually compiles the font from source.  Even if the tools are free they’re as bad with their release management as you can imagine: for years Font Forge’s maintained website wasn’t findable with Google.  When I was doing the build system of Oxygen Font I had an option to use Font Forge but the default was just to copy the TTF files directly.  A TTF file can be opened and edited so it can be considered a “preferred modifiable form” which is what free software distros need to ship it.  Regardless if there’s no packages then it won’t get used so Source Code Pro isn’t an option.

Which is when a nice Debian spod pointed out Hack, an openly developed font using widely supported formats and tools based off Bitstream and DejaVu’s earlier work.  It supports lots of scripts, has bold and Italics and is widely packaged.  So I updated Plasma Integration, the Qt plugin to make Qt stuff look like Plasma stuff, to use Hack.  I also added kconf-update scripts to update old apps to Hack: Plasma’s new monospace font, coming in Plasma 5.8.

How Hack looks in Kate with source code

And for comparison, Oxygen Mono and Noto Mono without bold.

 

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Neon Updates – KDE Network, KDE Applications

Not a great week for Neon last week.  I server we used for building packages on filled up limiting the work we could do and then a patch from Plasma broke some people’s startup and they were faced with a dreaded black screen.  Apologies folks.

But then magically we got an upgrade to the server with lots of nice new disk space and the problem patch was reverted so hopefully any affected was able to upgrade again and recover.

So I added some KDE Network bits and rebuilt the live/installable ISO images so they’re all updated to Applications 16.04.3 in User Edition.  And Applications forked so now Dev Edition Stable Branches uses the 16.08 Beta branches and you can try out lots of updated apps.  And because the developer made a special release just for us and wears cute bunny ears I added in Konversation to our builds for good old fashioned IRC chit chat (none of your modern Slacky/Telegram/Web2.0 protocols here).

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Plasma 5.8 LTS Kickerd Off for Stability and Performance

Plasma 5.8 has its Kickoff meeting yesterday and we Kickered the plans into shape.  The big news is it’ll be an LTS release with bugfix releases coming out for 18 months after the .0.  This matches Qt 5.6 which is also on an LTS schedule and we’ll still to 5.6 as the minimum Qt version for Plasma 5.8 LTS.  Full schedule on wiki.

As an LTS cycle we will focus on stability and performance for the 5.8 release.

The exception is for work on Wayland which won’t get LTS support but we do hope to be feature complete in time for the 5.8 release in October.

We went over the Plasma To Do board and tidied it up and added some new items.

And you can look forward to talks at Akademy by David and other Plasma developers, plus BoF sessions through the week.

To help out with Plasma developing say hi in #plasma on Freenode.

 

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KDE neon Adds KDE Games

Are you feeling too productive in your day?  Then try the latest addition to KDE Neon!  I’ve added the KDE Games applications to our repositories.  16.04.2 for User Edition, or the relevant Git branch for Developer Editions.
apt install bomber bovo granatier kapman katomic kblackbox kblocks kbounce kbreakout kdiamond kfourinline killbots kiriki kjumpingcube klickety klines kmahjongg kmines knavalbattle knetwalk kollision kpat kshisen ksquares ktuberling picmi

Gaun try them aa.

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Plasma Wayland Image Update

It’s time to check in on the Plasma Wayland image for an update. Built on Neon infrastructure, this comes with the latest from KDE Git master for crack of the day fun. Actually it’s from the end of last week because we paused updates while we add Qt 5.7 but it’s close enough.

Download image

You can now backspace in Konsole and the rest is pleasingly functional as long as it’s single screen you use.  The pesky blue coloured window header comes and goes to show that bugs still exist and are, like the UK government’s existence, unpredictable.

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KDE neon Press Coverage and Comments

KDE neon User Edition 5.6 came out a couple of weeks ago, let’s have a look at the commentry.

Phoronix stuck to their reputation by announcing it a day early but redeemed them selves with a follow up article KDE neon: The Rock & Roll Distribution. “KDE neon feels amazing. There’s simply no other way to say it.

CIO had an exclusive interview with moi, “It is a continuously updated installable image that can be used not just for exploration and testing but as the main operating system for people enthusiastic about the latest desktop software.”

For the Spanish speaker MuyLinux wrote KDE Neon lanza su primera versión para usuarios. “La primera impresión ha sido buena.” or “The first impression was good”.

On YouTube we got a review from Jeff Linux Turner. “This thing’s actually pretty good.  I like it.” While Wooden User gives an unvoiced tour with funky music.  Riba Linux has the same but with more of an indy soundtrack.

Reddit had several threads on it including a review by luxitanium which I’ll selectively quote with “Is it ready for consumers? It is definitely getting there, oh yes“.

The award winning Spanish language KDE Blog covered Probando KDE Neon User Edition 5.6. “Estamos ante un gran avance para la Comunidad KDE” or “We are facing a breakthrough for the KDE Community“.

Meanwhile on Twitter:

Want to meet the genius behind the neon light? Harald is giving a talk at the opensuse conference on Thursday. Do drop by in Nürnberg.

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Test Out Plasma 5.7 Beta with KDE Neon Developer Edition Git-Stable Branch

The gears have been churning away and Plasma 5.7 beta is out for testing.  But what’s that I hear? How can you test it?

Why with KDE Neon Developer Edition Git-Stable Branches of course, until now the little sister of Git-Unstable Branch variant, it comes into its own when you need to test betas such as this.

Grab the ISO, install it (on virtual machine or real hardware as you please) and find issues to report to the Plasma team.

neonroundtext

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KDE neon User Edition 5.6

Polishing is important but after a while you need to put a fork in it and decide it’s done and so we’ve announced KDE neon User Edition 5.6, our first edition which we advocate for our target audience.

  • Someone who relishes frequent updates of features
  • Someone who cares what software is on their desktop and is a fan or curious about KDE software

If that’s you, give it a go.

There’s some known issues in it, many of them fixed in Plasma 5.7 which will come out next month.

And we still have lots of ideas for ways to improve it. But the beauty of a continuous integration system is those ideas will be available as soon as they’re implemented.

We don’t test or advise adding the repo to an existing Ubuntu install, although I expect it’ll work, no sympathy if it doesn’t 🙂

It’s a really exciting chapter in the evolution of KDE, a community who’s projects get continuously wider in scope, now there’s a way to get KDE’s software immediately.

Swapnil has the scoop on CIO.com.

With the infrastructure up and running the next step is to add KDE Applications to the build servers, I’ve started with the most important one first and kteatime is now available to install.

 

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The Purpose of Planets

Planet KDE and similar sites exist to show the people in the communities, what they are working on and what their interests and characters are.  It’s not an official news site like KDE Dot News and it’s not even on the kde.org domain which I find disappointing.  Posts on topics outwith KDE are encouraged as that gives insight into our friends we work with and builds community.

Some Planet sites take that a bit too far with people posting daily updates on what they had for breakfast each day which is just boring so we long since added a rule that the majority of content on the feed should be about KDE, but not by any means all of it.

A community where people are afraid to politics because they might annoy people is a scary community indeed.  One of the problems with the EU and indeed the referendum the UK is having is there is precious little discussion about it, even though it affects the future of the UK, everyone in the EU and indeed everyone in KDE.

From the policy which you can find under Add your Blog:

The majority of content in your blog should be about KDE and your work on KDE. Blog posts about personal subjects are also encouraged since Planet KDE is a chance to learn more about the developers behind KDE.

 

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Voted Remain to Should the United Kingdom remaing a member of the European Union or leave the European Union

At the end of the second world war Europe was broke and divided and a plan was made to help both, by pooling coal and steel markets the countries could work together to be richer and at the same time make war socially impossible.  43 years ago the UK joined the EC and 41 years ago had a referendum to decide if it should stay in.  The UK voted to stay in.

The 1975 Out campaign.  Hard left politicians working with racist Tory Enoch Powel and showing a weird ignorance of the difference between the UK and England & Wales.

Since then the EC has become the EU and expanded to a single market which has largely removed borders for people to travel and work as well as companies to trade.

Now there is another referendum on whether the UK should stay in the EU.  This time it’s the hard right of politics leading it.  The Conservative (Tory) party in England wants to deal with its internal divisions as well as the anti-EU UKIP party by having a referendum.  Nobody else sees the need and unlike the referendums for Scottish or Catalan independence there’s zero engagement from the public.  I’ve seen not one poster in windows or on cars, there has been not one rally in the streets and it’s extremely hard to find even debates or talks to attend.  There’s no campaign to join, the political parties who worked together in the anti-Scottish independence campaign all lost lots of the vote after it so now no party wants to work together and instead there’s a campaign fronted by Tories and run by Blairite Labour family member Will Straw who’s dad is responsible for kidnapping and mass surveillance.

Which I find extremely frustrating because this is important.  With Scottish Independence the issue was taking a risk of change for a promise of a government that reflects the people who vote for it.  Here the risk is destroying working with neighbouring countries with a replacement that literally nobody knows what it would be and it would be implemented by a government that doesn’t want to implement it (the UK government is split on the issue but the Prime Minister is a Remain campaigner).

The EU allows basic freedoms which I have no idea why anyone would want to give up.  I can live and work in Stirling and I’d object to any government telling me I couldn’t but I can also live and work in Guadeloupe (politically if not geographically in Europe) or in Barcelona and I see zero reason why a government should say where I can go.

So I watched some debates and went to some meetings to try to understand why anyone would want to vote leave.  Some of the main arguments:

It’s undemocratic – no it’s not and it’s extremely dishonest to claim it is.  The problem is there’s zero media coverage of EU politics but that’s not the EU’s fault.

Judges make our laws – that’s very normal and called common law, a principle founded in England.  The supreme court of the UK overrides the Scottish Government as much as the European Court of Justice.

It undermines the workers – very occasionally you hear the old left argument against the EU that it allows more competition for the workers.  But this is basic economics, more competition improves the economy overall and everyone wins.  The economically right wing politicians should be a big supporter of the EU it’s mystifying they are not.

41 years later the campaign is between these posh English politicians who won’t debate each other because they know it’ll highlight that the problem is one within their own political party. Now that’s undemocratic.

Beware the immigrants! – this is the big one.  The leave campaign is going all out with this message and it works.  The idea that lines on a map should decide where we can and can’t go is incredible but tribal instincts are strong and potential leave voters all seem to be happy to dislike people from across those lines.

I was doing a political stall at the weekend and one person really did start his questions with “I’m not a racist but… when’s it going to stop all these refugees from Pakistan” which is incredible but people really do mix up an imaginary problem with real problems (refugees from Syria for example) with the unrelated EU referendum (which wouldn’t stop any refugees that are delt with under different treaties).

But look at what they did to Greece! Another popular line with left wing voters is the conditions for a Greek bail out and with right wing voters is the problems with the Euro.  Certainly the Euro was badly managed by fudging the figures to allow in countries that didn’t meet the criteria. And certainly that’s been harsh on Greece, although nobody complained when their politicians were lying about their finances to allow them into the Euro and now 90% of people in Greece want to remain in the EU.  But the UK leaving the EU will do nothing to solve that.  (By the way it’s still my preferred option for an independent Scotland to join the Euro but only if the economic conditions are met rather than by fudging the figures.)

But you want an independent Scotland so you should want an independent UK I want an independent Scotland largely because we have the EU which means we can work with our neighbouring countries on common regulations and ignore the boring details of how you class bananas in shops.  If the EU didn’t exist I might still be all for the UK but as it is the UK is a middle layer of government that serves no particular purpose, we have a larger union now.

But the banana laws make it illegal to sell bent bananas in bunches of four! One of the weirder lies from the Leave campaigners is the myth that the EU makes some bananas illegal.  I find it insanely frustrating that the media don’t cover this as a straight lie and pretend it might be true.  There were rules for the classification of fruit which were based on an British standards before them, they never prohibited anything and the rules were scrapped 7 years ago.

The EU will destroy our NHS with TTIP! TTIP being the trade agreement between the EU and the US which might make more government services put out to tender.  Voters in the UK are weirdly attached to the health service (a good thing) forgetting the hundreds of other services the government runs, if TTIP is bad for the NHS why isn’t it bad for the Procurator Fiscal service? But the debate seems to be only about the precious NHS, which shows how limited it is possible to have a debate on the complex world of international tariffs.  TTIP is being promoted by the governments of the EU and lead by the UK government.  The democratic EU parliament is the best chance we have of scrutiny and probably scrapping it.

But but sovereignty! Along with immigration this is the main battle cry from the leave campaigns (they’re so fractured there’s multiple campaigns). Sovereignty is a weird mediaeval idea that was used to justify absolute power in a monarch over an arbitrary circle on a map.  It’s a good thing we’ve mostly got past that idea and lines on a map don’t matter and power is shared between different places for checks and balances.  English politics has a cognitive dissonance of believing England/Britain to be a great world power but not actually having much power since the Empire long since dissolved and somehow that gets blamed on the EU.  Winston Churchill is often quoted with talk of fighting not to let Germans rule us, it’s straight xenophobia I find repugnant.  And Winston Churchill was all for a United States of Europe.

But the polling is for 50% of people to vote to allow governments to once again be able to say where you can live.  And that 50% is more motivated than the remain side so it’s quite likely we will not be in the EU in two weeks time.  The polling in Scotland is for about 54% of people to vote remain and 32% for leave, that’s very different from England.  Scotland is likely to be taken out of the EU against its political will (remember there’s no shared democracy in Scotland compared to England, Scotland voted for 53 of its 56 members of parliament to be from the Scotland only SNP). This may be a good excuse for another Scottish independence referendum at which point who knows what will happen. Scotland could be the continuing member of the EU? Or maybe the public will get bored of referendums and not bother to vote.

So I’m voting remain.  Voting remain to work with common standards that allow free movement and trade without the lowest common denominator problem of say NAFTA.  Voting remain to be able to go and live wherever I want to.  Voting remain to not have England dominate Scotland politically.  Voting remain to remove arbitrary lines on a map.  Voting remain for a layer of government that investigates tax avoidance to stop it turning into tax evasion.  Voting remain for a control on bankers bonuses that destroyed the economy.  Voting remain for workers rights and paid holiday.  Voting remain on pollution controls which don’t care about lines on a map. Voting remain to work with my friends and colleagues in the rest of the continent because a person in London is no more foreign than a person in Barcelona or Brno.

I strongly advocate for British, Irish or Commonwealth citizens living in the UK to vote similarly.

Flag of Europe. Used by but created long before the EU.

 

 

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ScotLeave.eu “The Logical Case”

In my quest to find any rational reason to leave the EU I read the booklet of long time nationalist campaigner Jim Sillars called “The Logical Case“.

  • Leaving the EU means an independent Scotland can re-enter the EU as a normal entry rather than a breakaway entry and stop Spain vetoing it due to fears of breakaway Catalunya.
    Well yes, and it might also trigger a second independence referendum, but it’s seriously high risk and could cause the collapse of the economy and it’s just hypocritical to say you want out so you can stay in.
  • Scotland should join EFTA like Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein
    And pay for EU membership without having a democratic input? Now that really would be illogical.
  • The EU is run by an unelected elite
    Nonsense worthy of Nigel Farage this one.  It’s run by a commission appointed by democracies, reviewed by a democratic parliament and finalised by a council of democracies.  I think the commission should be chosen from the parliament by any government but I don’t hear anyone else proposing that so the status quo seems sensible enough.
  • Economic Immigration is bad, except when it’s good
    Jim’s booklet goes a bit UKIP here and while it says refugee migration should be helped in a humane way economic migration should be controlled.  But then it says Scotland needs more migrants so nothing should change.  It does nothing whatsoever to say why a government should allow me to migrate to Stirling but restrict me migrating to Barcelona or Guadeloupe.  I see no reason why arbitrary lines on a map should restrict what I can or cannot do.
  • Sovereignty
    Ah, that old argument.  A medaeval word to appeal to people’s tribalistic instincts and justify a monarch’s absolute rule over some arbitrary lines on a map.  No thanks, absolute power should not be in any person or body but spread about which, as one of our four layers of government, the EU helps do quite nicely.

Having looked at the nutters’ case and at the more sensible case of Jim Sillars here, I conclude there are zero reasons to leave the EU.

 

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Completed Foundation Safety and Rescue Training Provider

I completed my FSRT provider training and should shortly be able to provide this course.

At the start of the process I was disappointed at how few club coaches did it and how little encouragement there was in doing so (e.g. few provider training days) but now I think I’ve changed my mine.  It’s a large effort to run courses like this and to do so to the required standard takes time and money and commitment which is typically beyond what club coaches can do.  I see 1 star courses running all the time with bad practice and not following the syllabus so I can understand why there needs to be a process to keep the courses to a decent standard.

All of the items in the syllabus are simple enough but doing them with the right techniques and tweaks to follow best practice, knowing different ways to explain it and what common mistakes people make that need pointed out and then knowing alternative methods when one method fails is quite a lot to know.

On the course I ran I struggled a bit with emptying a large Pyranha Fusion, they’re so rounded you can’t get a good grip on the end to rotate it.  You typically separate kayak empty and getting a swimmer back in a kayak to keep people dry for that bit longer but best not to do this with Canadian canoes as getting back in the boat is typically done when the boat is still full of water.  I also demonstrated Canadian canoe towing by tying the painter onto the same boat which isn’t clear at all, best to demo with two boats.

It’s a lot for students to take in for one day and if they’re not already at a high two star standard they won’t manage everything, it’s ok to leave a bit of stuff out if you have to concentrate on the more relevant parts.  But also don’t be afraid to say it’s time to move on if an exercise is taking too long.  Just remember to put it on the action plan at the end.

For kayak self rescue I did eskimo rescues and missed out a simple swim to the side and empty kayak, but during the eskimo rescues people swam out anyway and did swimming and bank empty wrong so I should have included that before any eskimo rescues.

drysuit £360.00
second drysuit cos I lost my first £330.00
training £60.00
whiteboard pens printing £15.00
hotel for training £156.00
hotel for observation £46.45
second hotel for observation cos I booked on wrong day £56.00
equipment lomo (throw line, tow line) £26.99
equipment tiso (sling) £5.40
fuel to training £50.00
fuel to observation 1 £5.00
fuel to observation 2 £15.24
total £1,126.08

With the travel and equipment I bought it comes out a over £1000 to do this, eek.  I could save money by not being a fool and losing my dry suit and booking my hotel for the correct night and finding courses which were closer, but who needs to pay off a mortgage really?

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