KDE Slimbook II at Scottish Linux User Group 20th Anniversary

Glasgow’s group of Linux nerds has been gathering for 20 years so I was pleased to eat lots of curry at the Scottish Linux User Group’s 20th anniversary dinner.  In the pub afterwards I showed off the new KDE Slimbook II and recorded a little intro.  It’s maybe not the most slick presenting skills but it’s my first time making a video 🙂

The partnership with KDE and Slimbook is unique in the open source world and it’s really exciting they want to continue it with this new even-higher end model.  Faster memory, faster hard disk, larger screen, larger touchpad, USB-C, better wifi signal, this baby has it all. It’s a bargain too from only 700euro.

 

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A Decade of Plasma

I realised that it’s now a decade of KDE releasing its Plasma desktop.  The KDE 4 release event was in January 2008.  Google were kind enough to give us their office space and smoothies and hot tubs to give some talks and plan a way forward.

The KDE 4 release has gained something of a poor reputation, at the time we still shipped Kubuntu with KDE 3 and made a separate unsupported release for Plasma, but I remember it being perfectly useable and notable for being the foundation that would keep KDE software alive.  It had been clear for sometime that Kicker and the other elements of the KDE 3 desktop were functional but unlikely to gain much going forward.  When Qt 4 was announced back in (I’m pretty sure) 2004 Akademy in Ludwigsberg it was seen as a chance to bring KDE’s desktop back up to date and leap forward.  It took 4 long years and to keep community momentum going we had to release even if we did say it would eat your babies.

2008-02-kde4-release-event-kubuntu

Kubuntu at KDE 4 release event

Somewhere along the way it felt like KDE’s desktop lost mindshare with major distros going with other desktops and the rise of lightweight desktops.  But KDE’s software always had the best technological underpinnings with Qt and then QtQuick plus the move to modularise kdelibs into many KDE Frameworks.

This week we released Plasma 5.12 LTS and what a fabulous reception we are getting.  The combination of simple and familiar by default but customisable and functional is making many people realise what an offering we now have with Plasma. When we tried Plasma on an ARM laptop recently we realised it used less memory then the “lightweight” Linux desktop that laptop used pre-installed.  Qt being optimised for embedded use means KDE’s offerings are fast whether you’re experimenting with Plasma Mobile or using it on the very latest KDE Slimbook II means it’ll run smooth and fast.

Some quotes from this week:

“Plasma, as tested on KDE neon specifically, is almost perfect” Ask Noah Show

“This is the real deal.. I’m going all in on this.. ” Linux Unplugged

“Become a Plasma Puppy”

Elite Ubuntu community spod Alan Pope tired to install KDE neon in aeroplane mode (fails because of a bug which we have since fixed, thanks for the poke).

Chris Fisher takes the Plasma Desktop Challenge, can’t wait to find out what he says next week.

On Reddit Plasma 5.12 post:

“KDE plasma is literally worlds ahead of anything I’ve ever seen. It’s one project where I felt I had to donate to let them know I loved it!”
“I’ve switched to Plasma a little over a year ago and have loved it ever since. I’m glad they’re working so hard on it!”
“Yay! Good to see Kickass Desktop Environment get an update!”

Or here’s a random IRC conversation I had today in a LUG channel

<yeehi> Riddell – I adore KDE now!
<yeehi> It is gobsmackingly beautiful
<yeehi> I put in the 12.0 LTS updates yesterday, maybe over a hundered packages, and all the time I was thinking, “Man, I just love those KDE developers!
<yeehi> It is such a pleasure to use and see. Also, I have been finding it to be my most stable GNU+Linux experience

So after a decade of hard work I’m definitely feeling the good vibes this week. Take the Plasma Challenge and be a Plasma Puppy! KDE Plasma is lightweight, functional and rocking your laptop.

 

 

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Maintenance of Tenement Communal Property

There is a motion discussing Maintenance of Tenement Communal Property next week in parliament which asks that “the government should review the situation and consider any legislative changes, new initiatives, enhanced use of existing rules and/or further action by local authorities that could facilitate improved upkeep of Scheme Property.”  I couldn’t agree more as I’ve written several times about the problems my tenement has here.  In summary we have 11 flats in the tenement, 8 of them rented out, and nobody besides me, not one person, will look at the property to ensure it is maintained.  They won’t communicate with their neighbours to discuss the communal property.  Some examples from 2017:

I took Findholm to a council HMO licence panel to object to them getting a licence for a job they were not doing.  I explained how they had done unilateral incomplete repairs when they had an immediate leak and how this had left cement blocking the gutter and the damn in the attic continued because of the incomplete nature of their repair.  I explained how they had never communicated with their neighbours about this except in response to my questions.  The council said they had to organise a stair meeting.  This they failed to do until I told them and guided them through how to do it.  At the stair meeting they said they were just here to help us organise and everyone else would know better how to maintain the property than them.  They did have a quote to replace the whole roof which would have cost a fortune and would not have fixed the leaks in the chimney stacks.  They had never bothered to look at the roof and seemed surprised that I should expect them to have done so.  I organised these repairs and completed the task they had chosen not to do.  The council passed Findholm’s HMO licence without question, licensing them to do a job they had not done.

I organised a second set of repairs for a blocked communal drain pipe. Graeme Inglis is another landlord who has never once communicated with his neighbours or done any maintainance.  When payment was due he kicked out the single mother and her child from his flat and sold it. His agent, Dick Rudkin, sent only terse e-mails asking not to be communicated with and with a non-functional e-mail address for the owner.  The money did come through after the deadline so someone had been receiving my e-mails or letters but not returned with a single word of communication.

In August one of the owners/landlords reported water ingress in a window in his flat, this means the property clearly doesn’t meet the Repairing Standard and is illegal to rent out.  Already busy with the second communal repair I was organising for the year I asked if anyone could help him and got zero reply.  When I asked people individually they were all impolite and made me sound unreasonable for expecting them to do their jobs.  Neil Baxter said he’d be out the country until December, eventually asked his agent Braemore Lettings to send “a contractor”, nothing more has been heard from them even answers to simple queries like what the contractor was contracted to do.  Owner Morag Bramwell called me aggressive for asking when she would look at it.  And Colin Pretty, agent to a flat for Hamish and Julie Middleton did eventually look at it then refused to discuss it with me or any of the neighours saying I’d “be waiting a very long time” if I expected him to do his job.  Nothing has happened here and the property is being rented out illegally but all the landlords.

This is just from the last year. None of the owners or their agents seem willing or capable of looking at the property, discussing it with their neighbours or helping with repairs.  It’s their jobs to do so or it’s their homes to live in but they are not interested and there’s no means to convince them to do it.  None of them are fit and proper to be landlords but the set up of the law, licensing and the culture of cheap mortgage money during the last Labour government means they are encouraged to take on jobs they do not do.  Renters are not interested in problems which will occur several years down the line, it’s not worth the hassle to them.

So it needs a requirement on owners and agents that they will look at the property and discuss it with co-owners at least annually.  If they are not able to walk up a ladder and look they should not be allowed to rent property.  It needs co-owners to be able to take owners to housing tribunals in the way renters already can.  And it needs councils to give a damn enough that agents and owners who do not do the basics of their jobs  are removed them from the landlord register.

 

 

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On Brexit

In 2015 the Conservative party won the UK election on a manifesto promise of holding a referendum on the UK’s EU membership.  I highlighted this by changing my Facebook profile picture but was told this was unnecessary.

The referendum was a depressing affair.  Nobody took it seriously even though the consequences were huge. None of the political parties wanted to work together to create a decent In campaign, they were so divided within themselves in England and had such a bad memory of getting a bad reputation from working together during the Scottish independence referendum.  I went to an SNP meeting with the MEP Alyn Smith who told us all why being in the EU was such a useful thing, I asked him what we could do to help campaign on it and he shrugged and said there was some stuff SNP members could buy if they wanted.

I quit the SNP and joined the Greens, not from any specific annoyance just a longer term realisation that I tended to agree with their policies more. But the Greens had also decided not to have any campaigning, at least locally.  When someone was hired three months before the referendum to run the Green EU campaign I e-mail them asking to run a stall but got no reply. Eventually I was told the e-mail address advertised didn’t work.

Days before the referendum people still told me there was nothing to worry about. Only there was.  Then the media and politicians and everyone said we’d stay in the single market and custom’s union. Only that wasn’t to be either. I still hear people say that something will happen to fudge the issue or revert it because nobody would be so daft as to destroy so many sensible arrangements, this despite over two years of all the signs saying terrible things will happen and that being exactly what has happened.

The UK government uses the rhetoric “no deal is better than a bad deal”.  Yet nobody challenges that.  No deal means we lose our freedom to travel to Paris or Barcelona.  Currently we can work in these cities as easy as we can Birmingham or Glasgow, that right will be gone.  It means hundreds of thousands of new Scots being forced to move back overseas (and more in the rest of the UK) with hundreds of thousands of emigrated Scots coming back often to use pensions and health services.  It means no nuclear material for our power stations.  It means the system of food will break with farms being immediately unsustainable due to minimal subsidies or labour.  It means our ability to take our government to court when they want to lock us up for no reason (which was common in Northern Ireland not too long ago) is gone.  It means great schemes which allow my girlfriend to spend some months in the Netherlands for university will be gone.  It means science research will be killed off.  For that matter the funding for our universities will dry up due to lack of students from the EU.  I won’t be able to use a phone for free in the EU as I can now.  I’m contracted by a German company to work, I have no idea if this will even be legal or if my monthly bank transfer for pay will be possible.  No deal will be a social and economic disaster, and while it is hard for people to believe it will be that bad, it is exactly what Theresa May is promising, just as David Cameron promised a referendum nobody thought would happen.

I joined a couple of anti-EU social media forums during the referendum to see what the arguments could be.  They quickly turned to talk of “our race being the only one to voluntarily wipe itself out”, there’s nothing to argue with that so I quit.  The seemingly rational chair of that forum was last seen posting links to the EDL founder on Twitter.  There is no reason I have ever seen for leaving the EU which isn’t a horrible British nationalist racism.

The arguments in the media are about the rights of immigrants and the Irish border.  Those are very important.  But I never see anything about my rights and freedoms which are about to be taken away.  And I never see anything about any other UK border which is about to get a lot more closed.  The media and politicians never make these fundamental points.

A clearly incompetent UK government is failing to make the slightest attempt to solve a problem of their own making and is now calling the EU “the enemy”.  The Scottish Government has made some sensible suggestions but been ignored. The UK parties seem to be unable to understand there’s a different legal system here never mind another layer of government who will be affected. The UK is taking all the powers which the Scotland Act said were for the Scottish parliament, it is destroying the devolution settlement.  It is destroying the UK parliament too.

(1) A Minister of the Crown may by regulations make such provision as the Minister considers appropriate for the purposes of implementing the withdrawal agreement if the Minister considers that such provision should be in force on or before exit day.

(2) Regulations under this section may make any provision that could be made by an Act of Parliament (including modifying this Act).

The EU Withdrawl bill killing hundreds of years of English and British democracy.

That’s from the government who talk about being a big fan of free trade.  Nobody ever queries why they are taking us out of the biggest free trade block there is.  Nobody queries suggestions that a post-brexit deal will be better than the single market. You can not get a better free trade deal than a single market.  Nobody makes the point that a free trade deal is a very bad thing without the associated regulations to protect workers rights, the environment and every other tragedy of the commons for which governments exist.

The leave campaign was a fraud. Vast amounts of money went to the DUP to hide the source, who then used in outside Northern Ireland.  The UK government has now decided not to make them publish the sources even though this was what all the parties in Northern Ireland were told would happen, it’s no coincidence the DUP is now the supporter of the UK government.  The Vote Leave part of that campaign lied about 350 million pounds a week, but besides being a lie it’s a meaningless figure since no government spending is given in amount per week. How does that compare to the annual NHS budget? Anyone who cares will already have realised it’s a lie and anyone who doesn’t want to care won’t care.

The EU is one of our four layer of government.  That’s one layer of government too many for my liking but it makes no sense to get rid of the top layer which helps neighbouring countries work together to sort out the boring stuff like office chair standards and keep an eye on each other for basic rights and freedoms. It’s not sufficiently democratic, but that is mostly a facet of people’s unwillingness to see it as just another layer of government rather than as some international talking shop. Like all governments it screws up, when it apologised for paramilitary force being used to stop a vote in Catalunya this last week it failed itself and its 500 million citizens badly.  But it’s not a reason to want to kill off that government layer.

I’m angry and frustrated and exhausted at the politicians, public and media.  The SNP, who won this year’s UK election in Scotland, are a shining beacon of light at Westminster and I look forward to a Scottish independence referendum on the issue but it may well not happen and it’ll be as filled with nonsense about being too small and too wee and PR-company made “grassroots” campaigns about Vote no Borders as it was previously, and people will believe that.  I plan to apply for an Irish passport but I really don’t want to move away from the country and city and family and friends I call home.

 

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KGraphViewer 2.4.2

KGraphViewer 2.4.2 has been released.

KGraphViewer is a visualiser for Graphviz’s DOT format of graphs.
https://www.kde.org/applications/graphics/kgraphviewer

Changelog compared to 2.4.0:

  • add missing find dependency macro https://build.neon.kde.org/job/xenial_unstable_kde-extras_kgraphviewer_lintcmake/lastCompletedBuild/testReport/libkgraphviewer-dev/KGraphViewerPart/find_package/
  • Fix broken reloading and broken layout changing due to lost filename https://phabricator.kde.org/D7932
  • kgraphviewer_part.rc: set fallback text for toplevel menu entries
  • desktop-mime-but-no-exec-code
  • Codefix, comparisons were meant to be assignments

KGraphViewer 2.4.1 was made with an incorrect internal version number and should be ignored

It can be used by massif-visualizer to add graphing features.

Download from:
https://download.kde.org/stable/kgraphviewer/2.4.2/

sha256:
49438b4e6cca69d2e658de50059f045ede42cfe78ee97cece35959e29ffb85c9 kgraphviewer-2.4.2.tar.xz

Signed with my PGP key
2D1D 5B05 8835 7787 DE9E E225 EC94 D18F 7F05 997E
Jonathan Riddell <jr@jriddell.org>
kgraphviewer-2.4.2.tar.xz.sig

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Surf Kayak Safety and Rescue

Photo by Tony Hammond

I went on the Glenmore Lodge to take the kayak out for the day.  It was led by elite surf paddlers Tracy and Ian Sherrington and a couple of other staff and there was about 14 of us punters there.  We all had a great time trying different boats, surfing on easy waves then surfing on the Shitpipe, a great and mostly consistent wave on a reef which means you can sit alongside and watch before you join in.

We did some safety and rescue training, here’s some notes while I remember.

If you have a capsized paddler out their boat in deep water you can do a deep water rescue similar to on a river.  The problem is that decent surf kayaks are much lower lying than a creek boat or sea kayak so getting the paddler back in will end up with the boat being filled with water.  I did this the first time and then paddled through the surf with me and another rescuer on either side of the victim in his swamped to empty on shore.

One way to keep the boat from not getting swamped is to have the rescuer and victim boat parallel but facing different directions. A second rescuer holds the bow of the victim’s boat down while the victim climbs onto the rescuer’s boat and into his boat.

Another way is to have two rescuers side-by-side put the victim’s boat onto their bows, the victim then climbs onto the bow and into his boat before being pushed off.

If you are being blown into the surf zone get a helper to drag you out to sea.

More likely you’ll have a swimmer and swamped boat in the surf.  Easiest way to get in is have the casualty swimming into shore, probably holding onto their paddle and paddling with it.  A rescuer can nudge the boat onto shore while full of water.  Rescuer should stay a safe distance away from a swimmer, a common problem is the rescue boat causing an injury.

Another way to bring a swimmer to shore is have them hold onto the back of your boat as rescuer, possibly holding onto the back of the cockpit.

Boats should always have airbags in them.  Many of the experienced paddlers at the gathering didn’t get their foundation safety and rescue right so that’s worth practicing.

Keep a first aid kit, warm drink, clothes, group shelter etc near.  Use a mobile phone (but beware that touch screen is unlikely to work with wet hands so consider a simpler waterproof model), possibly a locator beacon and possibly VHF radio around (but beware VHF is line of site only so contact is often limited).

Signals are similar to on river, pointing in direction of travel, hand on head for come to me. if unsure go to shore.  Distress signal for swimmers is clenched fist waving side-to-side.

Swim lines on boats are important, especially since a lot of surf kayaks seem to have tiny grab handles.

Beware of rip currents and paddle along the shore or in a ferry glide if you get one.

 

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KGraphViewer 2.4.0

KGraphViewer 2.4.0 has been released.

KGraphViewer is a visualiser for Graphviz’s DOT format of graphs.
https://www.kde.org/applications/graphics/kgraphviewer

This ports KGraphViewer to use KDE Frameworks 5 and Qt 5.

It can be used by massif-visualizer to add graphing features.

Download from:
https://download.kde.org/stable/kgraphviewer/2.4.0/

sha256:
88c2fd6514e49404cfd76cdac8ae910511979768477f77095d2f53dca0f231b4 kgraphviewer-2.4.0.tar.xz

Signed with my PGP key
2D1D 5B05 8835 7787 DE9E E225 EC94 D18F 7F05 997E
Jonathan Riddell <jr@jriddell.org>
kgraphviewer-2.4.0.tar.xz.sig

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massif-visualizer 0.7.0 released

Massif Visualizer is a visualiser for output generated by Valgrind’s massif tool.  It shows you graphs which measure how much heap memory your program uses.

Download link: https://download.kde.org/stable/massif-visualizer/0.7.0/src/

sha256:
f8a4cc23c80a259a9edac989e957c48ed308cf9da9caeef19eec3ffb52361f6d  massif-visualizer-0.7.0.tar.xz

PGP signature is mine:
Jonathan Riddell with 0xEC94D18F7F05997E.

It has an optional dependency on KGraphViewer which is due for a release shortly.

 

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QQC2 Desktop Style Beta Release

Using Breeze

Using Oxygen

qqc2-desktop-style is a style for Qt Quick Controls 2 to make it follow your desktop’s theme.

It will be released with a future release of KDE Frameworks 5 but in the mean time it’s due to be an optional dependency to Plasma 5.11 which has a beta next week.

Download the beta now: sha256 checksum is
bafa0600f096826ba371a1e1366e04b6c9a47c7de81cb403df1caec5d809d82f 

PGP signature is mine:
Jonathan Riddell with 0xEC94D18F7F05997E.

 

 

 

 

 

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Surf Life Saving Course

I’m doing a surf life saving course with Stevie from Dunbar Surf Life Saving Club and Strive.  I didn’t realise it but this is taken very seriously, and I don’t mean it’s treated as important. In canoeing first aid and safety & rescue is done as an important part of other qualifications but in surfing it’s a sport in itself with whole qualifications, studies, clubs, national governing bodies and competitions. Even the warm ups get turned into entire competitive disciplines with their own tactics and serious prize money.  We played the flag game to warm up which is a knockout game/deadly competition.

University departments have entire professorships for studying the best way to run into the sea. You start with running through shallow water using a silly looking run with hands held high and skipping your feet out to the side to lift your feet above the water. Once the water is knee height you start to porpoise which is a duck dive into the water then push off the bottom and back up to duck dive again.  Then front crawl keeping hands up high and head out the water to see where you’re going.

When a wave comes you can dive under it.  When swimming parallel to the beach, remember to breath with head turned towards the shore to not get waves in your mouth.

When you reach the victim don’t go near them, they’ll just pull you under and drown you. Instead ask 5 questions: are you alone? have you taken in water? have you been unconscious? have you hit your head? are you on any medications?  Then you can give the victim any float you have and guide them back to shore.

On returning to shore you can body surf waves to give you more speed.

 

 

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More KDE Twits

After reading up on some Bootstrap I managed to move the Twitter feeds to the side on Planet KDE so you can get suitably distracted by #KDE and @kdecommunity feeds while reading your blog posts.

I also stepped down from Dot and KDE promo stuff after getting burnt out from doing it for many years hoping others would fill in which I hope they now will.

 

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Policy Updates

KDE is getting good at writing statements on visions  and missions and values which define who we are. But less sexy and more technical is our various policies some of which are getting out of date.  Pleasingly at Akademy we’ve been able to update two of these policies to comply with current practices and define our activities better.

Application Lifecycle policy defines how projects get into KDE and how they die.  The new version adds in Incubator our method of bringing projects into KDE from elsewhere. It also says what is allowed to be done with Playground projects, you can make an alpha release but if you want to make a beta or final release it should go through kdereview.

Projects must live in kdereview for two weeks and there’s a link to a sanity checklist for things which are often checked in new apps.  There’s a new timelimit of two months to stop stuff living in kdereview forever.

Then your project can become a live project and the policy lists the options it can go into: Applications, Frameworks, Plasma or Self Released.  Self Released used to be called extragear but now it’s just stuff that isn’t somewhere else.

When something a project is no longer useful the KDE gardening team could be asked to help out or it could move to unmaintained. All the kdelibs4 apps in KDE Applications will move to unmaintained in the next few months.

Even more exciting is the updated Licensing Policy.  The big changes here are moving docs and wikis to CC-BY-SA 4.0 which is better recognised and more interchangeable than GNU FDL. We also now allow Affero GPL for server software and infact recommend it. It updates some versions of bits such as noting that Qt is now GPL 3 in places and uses a better variant of MIT.  It also requires use of GPL 2+3 or later approved by KDE e.V. unless there’s some reason not to which simplifies a choice away.

Thanks to Matija and others who have helped out on this.

 

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ISO Image Writer

ISO Image Writer is a tool I’m working on which writes .iso files onto a USB disk ready for installing your lovely new operating system.  Surprisingly many distros don’t have very slick recommendations for how to do this but they’re all welcome to try this.

It’s based on ROSA Image Writer which has served KDE neon and other projects well for some time.  This adds ISO verification to automatically check the digital signatures or checksums, currently supported is KDE neon, Kubuntu and Netrunner.  It also uses KAuth so it doesn’t run the UI as root, only a simple helper binary to do the writing.  And it uses KDE Frameworks goodness so the UI feels nice.

First alpha 0.1 is out now.

Download from https://download.kde.org/unstable/isoimagewriter/

Signed by release manager Jonathan Riddell with 0xEC94D18F7F05997E. Git tags are also signed by the same key.

It’s in KDE Git at kde:isoimagewriter and in bugs.kde.org, please do try it out and report any issues.  If you’d like a distro added to the verification please let me know and/or submit a patch. (The code to do with is a bit verbose currently, it needs tidied up.)

I’d like to work out how to make AppImages, Windows and Mac installs for this but for now it’s in KDE neon developer editions and available as source.

 

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Plasma 5.11 and Greater Kicked Off

The Plasma team had a mammoth 2.5 hour meeting to discuss some of the aspects of the Plasma releases going forward.  Much of the debate was around when to do an LTS release and we’ve gone with Plasma 5.12 due in January.  There will continue to be a couple of 5.8LTS releases in 2018 and more as necessary. We’re picking up 5.12 as an LTS at the request of openSUSE who wanted it for their next Leap release.  We also banned new features which might affect the Wayland port unless they’re already functional in Wayland.  Here’s the full list.

  • Stick to current schedule for Plasma 5.11, release Sep 21 2017
  • Plasma 5.8LTS to get 5.8.8LTS in April and 5.8.9LTS in October then become very strict update (security fixes only, no translations, releases as necessary)
  • Plasma 5.12 to be LTS on similar Fibonacci schedule as 5.8LTS, expected to require Qt 5.9, supported for at least 2 years
  • Schedule 4 month releases for 2018 to sync with frameworks
  • No more new workspace features that would need Wayland porting unless Wayland version is done first
  • bshah to create a meta 5.11 task and add features as dep to that one
  • bshah to poke people into filling out itemised To Do cards
  • Riddell to be kicked until adding openqa to Neon
  • Beta time to become three weeks
  • Promote https://community.kde.org/Plasma/Live_Images#Ships_Plasma_5.10_beta harder at beta time and nudge developers and contributors into running beta code
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Voted SNP and Jim Eadie in Edinburgh South General Election

There’s another election on Thursday called by a prime minister who thought she could increase her small majority in parliament and see off her rivals who will oppose her.  Except that’s politics, you have an opposition.  Theresa May’s dictatorial instinct has got worse during the campaign and she is now talking about removing human rights and banning encryption. She was home secretary for 6 years, in charge of MI5, GCHQ and English police, she has taken zero responsibility for the attacks that happened recently nor made the more valid point that there is nothing you can do to stop a determined person driving a van into people.

She was incharge of GCHQ which catalogues vulnerabilities in Windows and works with the NSA who create viruses used to attack systems in Iran (and probably elsewhere).  These viruses were used to blackmail everyone in the UK by blocking our health records and other systems.  There has been no political fallout from this which I’m astonished at.  The responsibility lies with Theresa May and she’s getting away with her incompetence.

But this election is primarily about one issue so important it has created its own ugly word, Brexit.  Our freedoms will be taken away.  I should have the freedom to go to Barcelona and Guadeloupe just as I would to Glasgow or London. That will be removed.  All the political parties have let us down by letting the isolationist nationalism of Brexit persuade people that somehow removing freedoms and mis-aligning regulations will improve their quality of life.  It will not.  Paperwork will increase, taxes will go up to pay for the bill, rights will be removed.  None of the parties have even vaguely said how they will pay for the EU bill or get their magic free-trade deal or why that’s a good thing without the necessary regulation.

The SNP is the only party offering a realistic alternative to Brexit.  An independent Scotland would continue with a strong relationship with rUK and the EU same as Ireland can.  We need a referendum and I’m looking forward to it.  London will try to block it in an undemocratic repressive move, a sign of things to come under a Tory government.

Labour want a hard Brexit same as the Tories.  They want to waste money on vanity projects like nuclear bombs same as Tories.  It is very pleasing to see the English get a genuine economic alternative for the first time in my adult life.  But it doesn’t forgive for their destructive Brexit nationalism.

The Lib Dems have the nonsense situation of wanting a second referendum on EU membership but not on Scottish independence.  They were government for 5 years in charge of GCHQ organising mass surveillance.  They aren’t liberal or democratic.

And the Greens don’t have a hope to win and will just split the vote.  The nonsense first-past-the-post system doesn’t make it sensible to vote for them (or ‘us’, I’m a member).

The Tories will win in the UK.  The SNP will win in Scotland.  The Tories will claim the SNP doesn’t have a mandate for a referendum despite already having one and everything will get very Catalan.  Ara es l’hora.

Modern elections are weird, they are won by spending thousands and millions on Facebook adverts which can target swing voters in swing constituencies.  The party (or referendum campaign) with the most money can buy the most adverts and wins.  Except for the SNP who win by offering the best choice, we can be proud of that.

 

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KDE neon Translations

One of the best things about making software collaboratively is the translations.  Sure I could make a UML diagramming tool or whatever all by my own but it’s better if I let lots of other people help out and one of the best crowd-sourcing features of open community development is you get translated into many popular and obscure languages which it would cost a fortune to pay some company to do.

When KDE was monolithic is shipping translation files in separate kde-l10n tars so users would only have to install the tar for their languages and not waste disk space on all the other languages.  This didn’t work great because it’s faffy for people to work out they need to install it and it doesn’t help with all the other software on their system.  In Ubuntu we did something similar where we extracted all the translations and put them into translation packages, doing it at the distro level makes more sense than at the collection-of-things-that-KDE-ships level but still has problems when you install updated software.  So KDE has been moving to just shipping the translations along with the individual application or library which makes sense and it’s not like the disk space from the unused languages is excessive.

So when KDE neon came along we had translations for KDE frameworks and KDE Plasma straight away because those are included in the tars.  But KDE Applications still made kde-l10n tars which are separate and we quietly ignored them in the hope something better would come along, which pleasingly it now has.  KDE Applications 17.04 now ships translations in the tars for stuff which uses Frameworks 5 (i.e. the stuff we care about in neon). So KDE neon User Editions now include translations for KDE Applications too.  Not only that but Harald has done his genius and turned the releaseme tool into a library so KDE neon’s builder can use it to extract the same translation files into the developer edition packages so translators can easily try out the Git master versions of apps to see what translations look missing or broken.  There’s even an x-test language which makes xxTextxx strings so app developers can use it to check if any strings are untranslated in their applications.

The old kde-l10n packages in the Ubuntu archive would have some file clashes with the in-tar translations which would often break installs in non-English languages (I got complaints about this but not too many which makes me wonder if KDE neon attracts the sort of person who just uses their computer in English).  So I’ve built dummy empty kde-l10n packages so you can now install these without clashing files.

Still plenty to do.  docs aren’t in the Developer Edition builds.  And System Settings needs some code to make a UI for installing locales and languages of the base system, currently that needs done by hand if it’s not done at install time  (apt install language-pack-es).  But at last another important part of KDE’s software is now handled directly by KDE rather than hoping a third party will do the right thing and trying them out is pleasingly trivial.

 

 

 

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Edinburgh Council Elections 2017 Morningside Ward

My vote has arrived for Edinburgh Council elections.  These decide the politicians who will run the city council a layer of government tasked with important but often boring tasks like running schools and social care.  Choosing who to vote for is based on a mix of what you think of the candidates, the party policy for Edinburgh and the party policy nationally.  The last one is unfortunate but seems inevitable as the parties often promote their national politics above those that the election is for, Theresa May even said it was a sign of whether or not we wanted a Scottish referendum and even respected bloggers like ScotGoesPop James Kelly vote entirely on national issues and not local ones.  The sensible but faffy STV voting system means you get to vote for all of them (and should vote for all of them) raked in number order.

My street has moved up in the world and instead of the working class Fountainbridge we’re now part of rich banker land Morningside. Hustings for Morningside ward are next Wednesday.

My main local issue is ensuring landlords and owners in tenements with shared communal property do their job and help out with repairs.  I’ve tried in vain for well over a year to get any of my neighbours to even look at the leaks in my flat and so far only 1 out of the 10 has.  The council even licenced an HMO in my stair knowing that the property didn’t meet The Repairing Standard and was illegal to rent out.  Other issues I care about include support for the new 20mph speed limit in Edinburgh and improved cycling provision.  So how to they match up?

Melanie Main for Scottish Greens, I like their national policies and have found myself voting for them at all 3 other layers of government.  At the HMO licence committee meeting Melanie was the most useful of the people on the panel for understanding the problem. She’s also taken an interest in a wee road improvement I pointed out that would ease my commute to work.  The Green manifesto is packed with good ideas

On tenement repairs it says

Help homeowners to make homes wind and watertight
with a trusted not-for-profit service to manage major
repairs, including to tenements; explore more ways to
help with the cost of repairs – for example, investigating
a “tenement contract” for owners to agree matters like
maintenance and cleaning; with grants for low-income
households, interest-free loans, or options to defer
paying repair costs until the property is sold; and work
with industry bodies to press for legal reform to make
common repairs easier to organise;
Which is all well and good but won’t be any use if owners and agents can’t even be bothered to look at the property.
They are all for 20mph zones and cycling.
Sandy Howat for SNP, nice guy and with competent political presentation skills. When I went to a housing hustings he gave the best answer to my grumble about tenement repairs and said more enforcement was needed.  Weirdly the SNP Edinburgh manifesto seems to be a PDF squashed into small images so it’s very hard to read and can’t be searched.  On repairs it says a return to the staturoty repairs scheme is not wanted (it’s not it’s what led to the culture of lazy landlords I now suffer from) and suggests factoring instead.  Well maybe but I’d rather people just spoke to their neighbour and did their jobs rather than paying someone else to do it.  Nationally they are doing what they can to save us from a destructive Brexit policy so I’m all for them.  I can’t search their manifesto so I’ve no idea about 20mph zones or cycling but they implemented them in the current administration so I assume they’re all for them.
Mandy Watt Labour, no web presence from candidate (the local party picked a candidate who it turned out wasn’t eligible and had to bring someone in at short notice).  Labour Edinburgh Manifesto says
Strengthen the Registration System for private
landlords to ensure that they maintain their own
properties, participate fully in common repairs, and
treat tenants fairly. We will set up an inspection
team to back this up
Which is exactly the answer I want.  Except as the main party in power currently they didn’t and the HMO licence committee licenced my illegal landlord upstairs and Fineholm agent.  When I pointed  this out to the council leader Andrew Burns his reply was

Which feels a lot like throwing jargon at someone to make them get confused and go away.

They have taken the lead in increasing spending on cycling and implemented the 20mph polity.  Nationally they’re a disaster and leading us into a destructive policy of taking away our freedoms and rights and citizenship.

Neil Ross Lib Dem, seems to be a pin stripe suit wearing church elder type. They have no manifesto and a few uninteresting bullet points is all I can find about politices.  When I’ve seen Lib Dems at hustings they are amateur and unprepared.  Nationally they have picked the UK over the EU while pretending they can have both which they can’t, so I’ve little interest in them.

Nick Cook and Chris Land, Conservative and Unionist. I sat next to Nick at a hustings while he told well-kent Edinburgh figure Gandolf that he was wrong.  Tory boy politician who from his online presence is only interested in cars and higher speed limits even if that means death from pollution. Nationally they are the nasty party with support for a the rape clause and driving the hardest of Brexits to kill off our freedoms and economy. The Conservative Edinburgh manifesto leads with nasty politics like removing need for affordable housing and stopping the 20mph zones.  But from their campaigning all they are about is stopping a Scottish Referendum and putting us at the mercy of a government we did not vote for.  They are feeling brave enough to put up two candidates, no idea who Chris Land is and don’t really want to find out.

With all that in mind my vote is as follows:

  1.  Melanie Main Green
  2. Sandy Howat SNP
  3. Mandy Watt Labour
  4. Neil Ross Lib Dem
  5. Chris Land Tory
  6. Nick Cook Tory

 

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Chef Intermediate Training

I did a day’s training at the FLOSS UK conference in Manchester on Chef. Anthony Hodson came from Chef (a company with over 200 employees) to provide this intermediate training which covered writing receipes using test driven development.  Thanks to Chef and Anthony and FLOSS UK for providing it cheap.  Here’s some notes for my own interest and anyone else who cares.

Using chef generate we started a new cookbook called http.

This cookbook contains a .kitchen.yml file.  Test Kitchen is a chef tool to run tests on chef recipes.  ‘kitchen list’ will show the machines it’s configured to run.  Default uses Virtualbox and centos/ubuntu.  Can be changed to Docker or whatever.  ‘kitchen create’ will make them. ‘kitchen converge to deploy. ‘kitchen login’ to log into v-machine. ‘kitchen verify’ run tests.  ‘kitchen test’ will destroy then setup and verify, takes a bit longer.

Write the test first.  If you’re not sure what the test should be write stub/placeholder statements for what you do know then work out the code.

ChefSpec (an RSpec language) is the in memory unit tests for receipes, it’s quicker and does finer grained tests than the Kitchen tests (which use InSpec and do black box tests on the final result).  Run with  chef exec rspec ../default-spec.rb  rspec shows a * for a stub.

Beware if a test passes first time, it might be a false positive.

ohai is a standalone or chef client tool which detects the node attributes and passes to the chef client.  We didn’t get onto this as it was for a follow on day.

Pry is a Ruby debugger.  It’s a Gem and part of chefdk.

To debug recipes use pry in the receipe, drops you into a debug prompt for checking the values are what you think they are.

I still find deploying chef a nightmare, it won’t install in the normal way on my preferred Scaleway server because they’re ARM, by default it needs a Chef server but you can just use chef-client with –local-mode and then there’s chef solo, chef zero and knife solo which all do things that I haven’t quite got my head round.  All interesting to learn anyway.

 

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