KDE neon Developer Edition Installable Image FAQ

The tech preview of the KDE neon developer edition installable image was out yesterday.  It’s an 800MB download you can dd onto a USB disk and run live or install.


Why are there no apps?

KDE neon doesn’t have builds of applications yet, we’re doing Qt, Frameworks and Plasma for now to keep it manageable while we get it up and running. Apps will come in future weeks.

No Konsole?

No apps yet as I say, xterm is included.

How do I install software?

Appstream issues mean Muon isn’t working well, you can use apt on an xterm.

It has “stable” in the name, does that mean it’s stable?

Not necessarily, it’s built from Git stable branches, not released software.

When will the user edition be available?

No timelines, whenever we can get it done

Does this include Qt 5.6?

It comes with Qt 5.5.  Backporting Qt will be done when possible, it’s not our priority and there’s a bug with 5.6 currently anyway.

Why no Xenial?

Neon only uses a stable base, we’ll move to Xenial when it’s stable.

How do I install this?

It’s the developer edition, if you don’t know how to install it then it’s probably not for you.

Is this or is this not a distribution? You are a leader we must be told!

Look, you’ve got it all wrong! You don’t need to follow me. You don’t need to follow anybody! You’ve got to think for yourselves! You’re all individuals!


KDE neon developer edition install tech preview

To celebrate the release of KDE Plasma 5.6 we’ve made a tech preview of our KDE neon developer edition installable images built directly from developer Plasma/5.6 Git branches

Remember it’s the developer’s edition built directly from Git.  There’s still plenty bits we need to tidy up still.  Have fun with it and let us know how you get on.



KDE neon Press

Since it’s announcement KDE neon has had some pleasingly positive press coverage (and one not so positive).

First off was Swapnil’s article on CIO.com Jonathan Riddell to announce project Neon at FOSDEM

On the Rio Noguera Palasera in sunny Catalunya I learned freestyle kayak by surfing against the current on a standing wave and realized we should go to the source. Upstream is where the beauty comes from so working upstream is where we should be.

Not the force it once was but still a badge of achievement, Slashdot covered it Project Neon Will Bring Users Up-to-Date KDE Packages
KDE neon is a project to give KDE users and contributors a way to get KDE’s desktop software while it’s still fresh

I gave a talk at FOSDEM and the video is up.

For video podcast views with chatty Americans I did an interview for the Linux Action Show (start 37 minutes in).

And for English audio podcast polite chat with tea and biscuits I did an interview for Linux Luddites.

I also gave an interview to Hacker Public Radio podcast at FOSDEM.

Even Bryan “Terrible Idea” Lunduke gets a ribbing on his podcast Bad Voltage.


Grumping Out of the Forth Canoe Club AGM

I grumped out of the Forth Canoe Club AGM tonight which probably left a bad atmosphere so here’s some explanation why for anyone who’s interested or just for my own therapy.

I’ve been on the committee for the last 8 years as website editor.  That’s a pretty simple role if you’re into making websites but I spent most time filling in whatever gaps needed filling in at the club.  Some of that is time consuming hard work like organising club nights, baths sessions, bookings for coaches, running the Div 1 slalom and some of it is simple but needs doing like buying a new diary each year or taking out the dustbin.  I negotiated access to the 1/4 of the boathouse we didn’t have access to and managed to prevent our landlords moving us to Wester Hails.  And some of it is just making sure people follow the rules like paying for using boats or signing the diary.  It’s exhausting but very satisfying.  When someone breaks into the boathouse or throws the toilet into the canal I go and sort it out.  Others help plenty too but I like to think I do my part.

Over the years I had to put up with quite a lot of hassle from people.  We had a coaching coordinator who didn’t coordinate coaches and kept trying to stop people getting qualifications, that was tricky to work through.  Then the treasurer said I was full of bullshit for asking him to make a budget.  I was called immoral for waiting to buy new boats to replace old ones.  I was told I’d have the police called on me because someone had abandoned boats years ago and I’d no idea where they were.  And a long rant about a grievance with me because I pointed out someone should pay for borrowing a boat for a month.    I even had to take over being coaching coordinator while living abroad after the previous one had given me hassle. It’s draining stuff and at no point did the committee minute any criticism of the people who were hassling me or thanks for me.  In normal committees or workplaces the person taking hassle would get supported and thanked but here I was just expected to accept it because we’re British and we don’t like confrontation.

I returned last summer from a year living abroad to find the club was running smoothly (with me filling in various bits) and all was well.  Except the hut custodian had stopped hut custodianing as happens with volunteers.  One day I came in and there had been some mystery boats put in the boathouse.  Looking around there were several others that weren’t accounted for.  We have limited spaces in the boathouse so this means spaces used by club boats get taken away, spaces which could be used for private boats get taken by others without asking, boats go in unsafe locations and boats end up outside the boathouse which attracts crime.  I then spent 6 months repeatedly notifying the committee and the people who had dumped the boats they needed shifted and nothing happened.  Eventually we did get a proposal from Mick the commodore to deal with it by continuing to do nothing.  I didn’t see that as an option, it’s unfair on the rest of the club and I had people asking me if they could store boats and I had to say they couldn’t because others have just taken spaces without asking.  One of the boat owners asked for my lawyers details claiming I’d damaged his boat and threatened to sue me which was a lie.  Eventually I said I wasn’t doing committee duties for the moment and eventually the committee agreed to send a letter to this one boat owner to tell him to remove the boat.  He didn’t do this for over a month during which he started writing cheeky notices in the diary.

In normal situations when you have rules and they get ignored the person gets some penalty, if they threaten you with legal action they get told to go away but none of this happened because we’re nice and don’t like a fuss and I should just put up with it.  So I proposed a motion for the AGM to document it and require an explanation and apology from the people who had ignored our rules, cheated us out of unpaid fees or threatened us with legal action.  But the committee made up some further rules to say they wouldn’t take the motions at the AGM.  So I flounced out.  Or minced, I like to think.

It’s an amateur sports club so it’s not terribly important, but after putting in so much energy I’m burnt out from getting no support from the committee back.  Making up rules to aid people who cheat the rules rather than support volunteers is just bad management.  The club will continue to flourish, I even managed to find people to fill all the empty roles on the committee this year except my own and I like everyone on the committee now.  I’ll find something else to spend my energy on, should be fun.


Neon Gains Developer Stable-Branch Builds; Plasma Wayland Update

KDE neon’s developer edition has gained builds of Git stable branches for Plasma.  These are ideal for contributors and testers who want to check out the state of Plasma 5.6 branch and check it’s still sane.  sources.list line is:

deb http://archive.neon.kde.org/stable wily main

Of course it’s not compatible with the unstable git branch packages.

And I updated the Wayland image so you can check out how well Plasma works running Wayland.  Main issue today seems to be that strangely the window decorations are blue instead of black.

FSRT Lesson Plans

Here’s some lesson plans, or at least coaching points, for the bits needed for a BCU FSRT course.


  • Assessing risks
  • How to get help
  • What kit to have to hand
  • Ask/give option to warn about medical issues
  • Group management, communication and boundaries
  • clean rope principle, one handed knife
  • safety features of boats
  • safety features of clothes and kit
  • manual handling issues


  • Shout, Reach, Throw, Row
  • Self, Team, Victim/Swimmer, Equipment
  • Communication, Line of Sight, Avoidance/Awareness, Position of max usefulness

Coach a Swimmer to Shore

  • eye contact, use name, clear instructions, be firm
  • consider hand signal to group to tell them to keep still
  • good foot grip or kneel down
  • use this for all the other rescues

Paddle rescue

  • leg stance
  • firm grip


  • accurate throw to person over 10m or more
  • swimmer on their back
  • thumbs up for hand grip
  • can be under arm, over arm or lob around. under arm usually best, hand on scruff of bag with two fingers on the bag
  • finish throw with hand pointing where you want it to go

Throwline Rethrow

  • Get it right first time, rethrows will always be rubbish
  • large coils in hand and throw all
  • large coils onto ground, get water in bag for weight, throw bag
  • large coils on ground, small coils in hand, wrap bag round small coils, throw bag

The above can all be done on the land

Contact tows

  • front or back

Sling towlines

  • watch out for putting over head or in teeth(!)


  • quick to deploy, quick to release, quick to re-set
  • know where the release is and what angle to pull it at

Boat Empties

  • like for like craft
  • boat empties can be done separate from swimmer stuff to keep people out of cold water for longer
  • for GP kayak orientate front to front using footrest bolts
  • palm roll upright
  • roll on side, one hand at front of cockpit holding it up, one hand on top at back of cockpit pushing down to gently empty
  • when all water out use knee to ratchet over your boat and sea-saw to empty
  • if the boat still has water in it get swimmer to help pull over and down
  • if can’t get swimmer to help then just leave water in it, don’t strain your back
  • you can use a sling to help you rotate and lift the boat
  • for sea kayaks/touring boats with gunwales rotate bow of boat onto your boat by rolling it away from you and sliding knee under
  • Canadians can do same as touring boats above
  • or curl method with boats parallel, using gunwale to lift other boat then throw away from you to get it upright

Deep water rescue

  • straight lift into kayak easiest
  • heel hook into kayak if not so strong, quite faffy
  • climb over your kayak, risky
  • sling around cockpit as step up
  • in canadians they sit in the boat then step into yours

Swimmer rescue

  • ensure they are calm before you approach
  • holding on to front or back
  • keep head away from front of boat
  • get them to kick legs if on back

Unconscious rescue

  • go alongside swimmer, drop paddle if you need to
  • lean onto near side of their boat, reach over and pull from other side
  • hold onto their clothes
  • first aid: shout to get them to open eyes, squeeze shoulders or hand, check breathing (if not breathing 5 CPR breaths but not much point in chest compressions)
  • get assistant to raft up with them and push both boats to shore
  • if you can’t get their boat upright them jump in the water and roll it
  • if you can’t roll it then pop their deck and drag them out

Self rescue

  • This means an eskimo rescue
  • get them to practice rolling down and up on bow of another boat if new
  • three bangs, hands outwards
  • rescuer at 45 degree approach
  • also try paddle presentation


  • unconcious person in water rescue into canadian
  • rescue and kayak from a canadian
  • rescue a canadian from a kayak
  • sea kayak paddle float



Everyone who cares about the continued smooth running of the free software world where communities of independent parties gather around working on projects as we do in KDE or Linux should keep an eye on recent developments.

The VMWare case has a Linux developer suing VMWare for using Linux as part of their proprietary product.  Harald ‘LaForge’ Welte has a nice write up on his blog.  It will define how much modification can be done and then whether linking to a modified Linux build will be a derived work of the original.

The other one is Canonical who have announced it plans to ship zfs with Ubuntu.  An employee wrote in a confusing blog post “As we have already reached the conclusion, we are not interested in debating license compatibility, but of course welcome the opportunity to discuss the technology.” but in linking to differing opinions feels the need to highlight “please bear in mind that these are opinions.”  The Software Freedom Conservancy wrote an post discussing why it was a derived work and why that’s illegal to distribute.  And the SFLC’s Eben Moglen wrote another one which based on a link from Dustin’s blog is the opinion they are replying upon for thinking everything is ok.  Eben’s blog post is fascinating and makes for page turning bed-time reading by going into exactly why it’s a derived work.  It all depends on “literal interpretation of GPLv2’s system library exception” and that based on that

If there exists a consensus among the licensing copyright holders to prefer the literal meaning to the equity of the license, the copyright holders can, at their discretion, object to the distribution of such combinations. They would be asserting not that the binary so compiled infringes their copyright, which it does not, but that their exclusive right to the copying and redistribution of their source code, on which their copyright is maximally strong, is infringed by the publication of a source tree which includes their code under GPLv2 and ZFS filesystem files under CDDL, when that source tree is offered to downstream users as the complete and corresponding source code for the GPL’d binary.

Which nicely explains why an unlinked nvidia driver is ok but a linked zfs driver is not.

Canonical are already distributing Linux illegally because their previous Intellectual Property Policy claimed additional restrictions which do not exist so they have lost the right to copy it under the GPL 2 licence.  My guess would be that they realised nobody much cared about that and reasoned they had nothing more to lose.

I can’t find zfs in the Ubuntu archive or queue, as an archive admin I would of course reject it as it’s not compatible with Ubuntu’s policy.


Mass Bugzilla Product Version Number Updates

There’s no API to update Bugzilla product versions. This is weird because projects like Plasma release dozens of bits of software at the same time and we need to update the version numbers in Bugzilla so people can correctly report bugs against them. Even if it was only 1 bit of software we released it would still be nice to automate that rather than click through lots of web pages.

For Plasma I’ve written a wee shell script which uses Curl to load the relevant page to update the version. It takes a list of Bugzilla products (which in KDE land don’t have any direct relation to Git archives or tars we release so this has to be maintained manually) and a cookie which you need to extract out of your web browser.


git clone git://anongit.kde.org/releaseme

Wayland Image Updated

My image for testing Wayland has had an update.

This includes the latest sources from Git master with KWin providing the Wayland compositor and built from a mix of Neon/Ubuntu/Kubuntu packages.

It’s full of obvious bugs for you to hunt down and help fix.  It’s not at all ready for every day use.

The KDE Plasma team is distribution agnostic which is described in this quote from the KDE neon FAQ,

“KDE believes it is important to work with many distributions, as each brings unique value and expertise for their respective users”.