A Visit to Polwarth Mosque, Idara Trust

For a decade I’ve lived along the road from a mosque, a fairly rare being in Scotland where we have comparatively low migration compared to say London. It’s an old shop front with smoked out windows. It’s nice to know your local community and I’ve been into the church at the other end of the street plenty of times for garden parties, concerts, meetings and Scouts. But I could never find an excuse to go and visit the mosque, a local community that can’t communication within itself is a potentially dangerous thing so I was pleased to find a Facebook page and ask for a visit.

I was met with a friendly young man who invited me in. I took off my shoes as asked and was shown around, there’s a couple of main rooms in it and each had half a dozen boys in a class learning Arabic from an Iman. The decor was simple enough if a bit dated. They spoke Urdu to each other and the junior Iman gave me a long shake of the hand while the children, who seem to go to the same primary school I went to, were very friendly and asked about which footballers I knew.

Invited into the back room I met the chair of the mosque, an older man with a well maintained beard, and got a cup of tea. He said this was everyone’s mosque, not just for Muslims. He showed me some security videos of the prayer from last Friday, it looks like a cross between a yoga move and the hokey-cokey and he said it was indeed exercise for the body. He gave me a copy of the Quoran in English and recommended I watch a TV channel called Peace TV of which he seemed to be a big fan.  He explained how jihad was any struggle but using violence with guns is forbidden in Islam, only states can do that.

He showed me the timetable for prayer, 5 times a day at varying times depending on sunrise and set.  He showed me their washing area to clean feet, hands and face before prayer and said it was very important to be clean for prayer, although if you don’t pass air or go to the toilet or urinate between prayers you don’t need to clean yourself again.

He said that men and women pray separately, when I asked why he used the idiom of if you put cheese next to a fire it will melt.  Women have to cover the heads with a scarf and their hands, I didn’t ask why men didn’t have to do the same.  He said that men and women shouldn’t look each other in the eye.  Girlfriends aren’t allowed in Islam and men can only have up to four wives he continued.  These wives can be at the same time but you have to treat each of them equally in every respect, he wasn’t sure if anyone in Edinburgh did this, it wouldn’t be legal but in Islam marriage is a simple arrangement he continued. Having multiple wives is ok because there are more women in the world than men.

He said that it is now far more common to be gay or lesbian, that 30 years ago if you asked a room full of people only one would be ok with it, but now almost all would.  Eventually everyone might be gay and lesbian and then there would be no more humanity, this is why it’s not allowed in Islam.  He said, and this would apparently shock me, that he thought in 50 years time society would consider it ok to have sex with children.  This seemed to be a strong concern oh his. He continued that there was even a bill in the London parliament last year to allow fathers to have sex with their daughters.  I assured him this was untrue and there was little danger of that happening and the change in attitudes over the last 30 years was incredible and a great thing but he continued to go on like this.  I tried a different topic and asked if they had a testimony to the earth which is the major problem for the next 50 years, he said yes indeed and that if you invade your neighbour you are not allowed to steal their crops. This wasn’t exactly what I was after.  Time up I shook hands with all and they said I should come back for a curry at Ramadan.

So a slightly surreal meeting, it feels that, like most religious people, they are very happy to have visitors and talk about themselves but not so interested in the wider world, but it was mostly just one guy I got to talk to and I would have liked to speak to more younger members.  A curry at Ramadan sounds good.


Reports of KDE neon Downloads Being Dangerous Entirely Exaggerated

When you download a KDE neon ISO you get transparently redirected to one of the mirrors that KDE uses. Recently the Polish mirror was marked as unsafe in Google Safebrowsing which is an extremely popular service used by most web browsers and anti-virus software to check if a site is problematic. I expect there was a problem elsewhere on this mirror but it certainly wasn’t KDE neon. KDE sysadmins have tried to contact the mirror and Google.

You can verify any KDE neon installable image by checking the gpg signature against the KDE neon ISO Signing Key.  This is the .sig file which is alongside all the .iso files.

gpg2 --recv-key '348C 8651 2066 33FD 983A 8FC4 DEAC EA00 075E 1D76'

wget http://files.kde.org/neon/images/neon-useredition/current/neon-useredition-current.iso.sig

gpg2 --verify neon-useredition-current.iso.sig
gpg: Signature made Thu 19 Jan 2017 11:18:13 GMT using RSA key ID 075E1D76
gpg: Good signature from "KDE neon ISO Signing Key <neon@kde.org>" [full]

Adding a sensible GUI to do this is future work and fairly tricky to do in a secure way but hopefully soon.

KDE neon Inaugurated with Calamares Installer

You voted for change and today we’re bringing change. Today we give back the installer to the people. Today Calamares 3 was released.

It’s been a long standing wish of KDE neon to switch to the Calamares installer.  Calamares is a distro independent installer used by various projects such as Netrunner and Tanglu.  It’s written in Qt and KDE Frameworks and has modules in C++ or Python.

Today I’ve switched the Developer Unstable edition to Calamares and it looks to work pretty nicely.

However there’s a few features missing compared to the previous Ubiquity installer.  OEM mode might be in there but needs me to add some integration for it.  Restricted codecs install should be easy to add.  LUKS encrypted hard disk are there but also needs some integration from me.  Encrypted home holders isn’t there and should be added.  Updating to latest packages on install should also be added.  It does seem to work with UEFI computers, but not with secure boot yet. Let me know if you spot any others.

I’ve only tested this on a simple virtual machine, so give it a try and see what breaks. Or if you want to switch back run apt install ubiquity-frontend-kde ubiquity-slideshow-neon''.


Get Yourself on www.kde.org

Google Code-in has just finished where school pupils do tasks to introduce themselves to open development.  I had one to update the screenshots on www.kde.org.  The KDE website is out of date in many ways but here’s a wee way to fix one part of it.  Despite me having about half a dozen students work on it there’s still some old screenshots there so if anyone wants the satisfaction of contributing to www.kde.org’s front page here’s an easy way.

www.kde.org has screenshots of all our apps but many still use the old KDE 4 Oxygen widget theme and icons.

For 10 screenshots which is using the old theme take a new screenshot using the new theme.

They can be checked out from Subversion here https://websvn.kde.org/trunk/www/sites/www/images/screenshots/ also provide one the resized screenshot which is 400 pixels wide exactly.

Keep the filenames the same and in lower case.

Upload as a single .zip or .tar.gz containing the screenshots with the right file name and a folder resized/ with the 400px screenshots

For bonus points you could go through the index file to make sure it’s current with KDE applications https://www.kde.org/applications/index.json

Plasma Wayland ISO

Plasma is nearing a new release and with 5.9 coming shortly we have the question of should we switch Neon to use Wayland by default for the Developer Unstable edition. To evaluate it I updated the Plasma Wayland ISO and found it pleasingly functional on VirtualBox.  Time to install this setup on my real hardware and see what breaks.


KDE neon Now Available on Docker

KDE neon provides an easy and elegant way for people to test the latest from KDE, or use the latest releases of KDE Software.

Our mission statement above is what we try to do and having continuous integration of KDE development and continuous deployment of packages is great, if you have KDE neon installed.  You can test our code while it’s in development and get hold of it as soon as it’s out. But wait, what if you want to do both? You would need to install it twice on a virtual machine or dual boot, quite slow and cumbersome.  Maybe you don’t want to use neon but you still want to test if that bug fix really worked.

So today I’m announcing a beta of KDE neon on Docker. Docker containers are a lightweight way to create a virtual system running on top of your normal Linux install but with its own filesystem and other rules to stop it getting in the way of your OS. They are insanely popular now for server deployment but I think they work just as well for checking out desktop and other UI setups.

I’ve created two Docker repos each available with the same flavours we have for the Neon packages: Developer Unstable & Stable and User normal & LTS.  The repos are kdeneon/plasma (2GB download) which has image with the same Plasma and limited apps our downloadable ISOs do, and kdeneon/all (getting on for 4GB download) which has all the apps built by Neon.

To give it a try first set up docker as you would for your distro.  For Ubuntu distros that means running:

apt-get install docker.io xserver-xephyr
sudo usermod -aG docker $(whoami)

and log out and in again

Then if you want to run a full Plasma session you can:

Xephyr -screen 1024x768 :1 &
docker run -v /tmp/.X11-unix:/tmp/.X11-unix kdeneon/plasma:dev-unstable

This starts the X-server-in-a-window Xephyr then it runs the Docker client which tells your local Docker server to fetch the kdeneon/plasma image from the Docker Hub server and run a full Plasma session.

If you just want to test one application, that’s no problem too:

xhost +
docker run -v /tmp/.X11-unix:/tmp/.X11-unix -e DISPLAY=:0 kdeneon/plasma:dev-unstable okular

This drops access restrictions to your X server (should be safe because network access is still off but reverse it once you’re done if you want to be sure), grabs kdeneon and runs okular.

Here’s me running dev-unstable and user edition at the same time as running Okular from dev-stable to check the recent save-open dialog bug is fixed.

It runs as user ‘neon’ with password ‘neon’ with unrestricted sudo access.

Let me know how you get on (here, Reddit, neon@kde.org mailing list, bugs.kde.org, Telegram, IRC, whatever), I’m quite new to making Docker images so any improvements welcome.


In other news, our friends at OMG Ubuntu tried out KDE neon