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Patrick Griffis: Using host Nvidia driver with Flatpak

Planet GNOME - Dje, 26/08/2018 - 6:00pd

This post is going to be a bit of a deep dive into how GL driver extensions work on Flatpak, why they work the way they do, and how we can best use them moving forward. Some of this information is useful for distro packagers and of course just anybody interested in Flatpak details.

Just as a quick recap Flatpak does not use host libraries. This is required to be portable and reproducable on nearly any Linux distro. This even applies to very important libraries like libgl but this is rarely a problem as Mesa supports a wide range of hardware. The exception to this is properietary drivers which for desktop users means Nvidia. This isn’t necessarily a problem since we can just package more drivers but Nvidia’s userspace drivers must be the same version as the kernel driver which becomes a bit of a packaging nightmare because then we have to package every version that is in use.

The logical solution to this is for the Flatpak GL driver to come from the same place that your host GL driver did. Flatpak supports “unmanaged extensions” allowing loading extensions installed externally into /var/lib/flatpak/extension and $XDG_DATA_HOME/flatpak/extension. This does make my previous paragraph a lie but it places trust in the host to be responsable and understand how ABI works to keep things portable which we will get into later.

Before we get into packaging the Nvidia driver on the host for this lets look at how the GL driver extension point specifically works. This extension point is defined as such:

'Extension org.freedesktop.Platform.GL': versions: "18.08;1.4" version: "1.4" directory: "%{lib}/GL" subdirectories: "true" no-autodownload: "true" autodelete: "false" add-ld-path: "lib" merge-dirs: "vulkan/icd.d;glvnd/egl_vendor.d" download-if: "active-gl-driver" enable-if: "active-gl-driver"

I will point out the important parts of this later but I will just cover what active-gl-driver means really quick. The -if properties run custom checks within flatpak to know if an extension should be downloaded or enabled. This check specifically looks up your nvidia version from the kernel and maps that to a string e.g. nvidia-396-54. What your current version is can be checked with flatpak --gl-drivers where you will notice host and default are always inserted. This value can also be overriden with the env var FLATPAK_GL_DRIVERS.

So here is a real world example of me packaging this on Fedora: negativo17/nvidia-driver. The path it ends up installed into is: …/ As you can see host is used here because it is always in the default driver list and thus will always get used first. The 1.4 version might also be confusing since the 1.4 runtime is ancient and nobody uses it. The reason this is used is because the Nvidia driver has no ABI requirements outside of libc basically and will run on every freedesktop runtime that exists so far. That guarentee does not exist for all drivers and must be used cautiously. The layout of files ends up being this because of merge-dirs and add-ld-path shown above:

├── glvnd │   └── egl_vendor.d │   └── 10_nvidia.json ├── lib │   ├── │   └── All libs omitted for brevity… ├── OpenCL │   └── vendors │   └── nvidia.icd └── vulkan └── icd.d └── nvidia_icd.json

That should cover all the details for host extensions but this extension point is also still very useful for normal flatpaked extensions. There is a MR for mesa-git that would end up being used by setting FLATPAK_GL_DRIVERS=mesa-git to try out newer versions.

If you are a distro packager I do believe it makes sense to start making a nvidia package for the Flatpak extension especially for beta versions. This should probably not be used to package host versions of Mesa though because they link to host libraries outside of libc. There is some work done to make this possible but most distro packages are not acceptable for this usage and there is rarely an upside as fdo 18.08 might even have newer Mesa versions than some distros and can get updates.

Jordan Petridis: GUADEC 2018

Planet GNOME - Sht, 25/08/2018 - 12:23md

Its has been more than a month since Guadec wrapped up, though I’ve been busy and did not manage to write my report till now.


I was a bit anxious about the travel, It was my first time flying and not only that but I had to spent the night in the Airport due to departure being at 6am. The flights went smoothly and I arrived at Málaga in the evening. Afterwards I took a bus to get to Almeria, it was a pleasant surprise to find out that other gnomies were also on board.

View of Málaga from a plain, right before landing.


There were many exciting talks. In particular I really enjoyed the Auditorium track, on Saturday, about Flatpak and Buildstream. At Sunday I attended Carlos Soriano’s talk Devops for GNOME and Tobias Bernard’s Designing GNOME Mobile. I was really looking forward to Federico’s talk too, sadly couldn’t make it in time and watched it online instead.

BoF days

On Monday morning I attended the Librem 5 BoF along with Julian Sparber in order to talk about Fractal and the Messages Application with the folks from Purism. We discussed Fractal’s upcoming features and plans going forward. Afterwards I head over to the Gitlab Workshop to help with whatever I could. During that time Jean Felder and I debugged an issue and we got Music Development build to run along side Music stable/system install succesfully!

The highlight of Tuesday was the Theming BoF. It was really interesting so many different groups attending and discussing the issues the Design Team brought forward. App developers, Platform developers, Downstream, Designers and even Elementary folks were there to give their opinion and talk about their experience and how they deal with such issues in Elementary. Tobias Bernard and Elementary Summarized them both really well in their posts here, and here. Cassidy James also took great notes and added them to the wiki page of the BoF here.

Jakub presenting the new Icon designs.


Wednesday was also packed. In the morning we had the What is a GNOME App BoF. More on that another time though, Carlos and Tobias are working on a proper Proposal. After that Tobias and I took some time to work on the blocker issues, before making the first “public” release of the new Podcasts app for GNOME. We’ve been working on the app for the past year, and its now available on Flathub!

Social Events

By far the thing I enjoyed the most from GUADEC was the social events. Talking with people about all sorts of thing and seeing perspectives of others from all around the world was a magical experience and though-provoking. I don’t really like going to the beach, but I loved both the beach party and the Sandcastle BoFs. The visit to the Alcazaba Castle and the Flamenco show afterwards was absolutely delightful too.


View of the Alcazaba Castle Walls.



A big thanks to the Foundation

My trip was sponsored by the GNOME Foundation. Thanks a lot to the volunteers at the Travel committee for all their hard work and making it possible for me to attend GUADEC!

David Tomaschik: Hacker Summer Camp 2018: Wrap-Up

Planet Ubuntu - Sht, 25/08/2018 - 9:00pd

I meant to write this post much closer to the end of Hacker Summer Camp, but to be honest, I’ve been completely swamped with getting back into the thick of things. However, I kept feeling like things were “unfinished”, so I thought I’d throw together at least a few thoughts from this year.

BSides Las Vegas

I can’t say much about BSides as a whole this year, as I spent the entire time Gold Teaming for Pros vs Joes CTF. (Gold Team is responsible for running the game infrastructure, scoreboard, etc.) It was a great experience to be on Gold Team, but I do miss having a team to support and educate. Overall, the CTF went fairly well, but there were a few bumps that I hope we can avoid next year.

BSides also announced that they are ending their free badges. In some ways, I’m disappointed, but I also understand the reasons they are doing this. Even though I’ve had a badge included with my participation in the PvJ CTF for years, I’ve also been a personal sponsor of BSidesLV for those years as well. I’m lucky enough to be well-employed in the industry that BSidesLV supports, and I want to support their mission. I hope others will do so as well, but I also want to try to find a way to support those who aren’t able to shell out for a badge. Once details are announced for badges next year, I’ll look for an opportunity to support passionate students in our community.


DEF CON 26 was an incredible event. I know there were some bumps and warts to it, but I had a great con. (Also, I think it’s the only conference I attend that I refer to simply as “con”.) The villages are my favorite part of DEF CON, and the villages were in rare form this year with the expansion.

This year was my first year speaking at DEF CON (as a village speaker) and I am incredibly humbled by the experience. To think that something I had done was seen as interesting enough for 150 or so attendees to choose to spend 45 minutes of their time listening to me really makes me feel like I’m making an impact. The audience was great, and thanks to the IoT village for having me. (Maybe one day I’ll get a DEF CON speaker badge to place on my wall of badges.)

I have hopes that next year, villages will have some way to divide their rooms or reduce noise for the presentations in their space. So many run another activity (a CTF, hands on activities, etc.) and the noise from that can be problematic when it comes to speakers in the same space. (I experienced this both as a speaker and as an attendee for the talks.)

I also hope that next year, DEF CON will have helped to work through the issues we had with Caesar’s security this year. A good friend of mine landed in hot water over a misunderstood tweet, and there were the obvious reports of “room checks” that were not going according to the established policy. (I’m not even a fan of the room checks, but rifling through guests belongings is completely unacceptable.)

Splitting across Las Vegas Boulevard was also not the best situation. I look forward to moving back to Paris/Bally’s and having Planet Hollywood join the con. (Plus, breakfast crepes!) Getting over to Flamingo was such an ordeal that I only went over there once, and it was a brief visit at that. The ICS village over there was really impressive, and I missed out on a chance to get a Car Hacking Village badge. Some of this was poor planning on my part, but also the sheer distance between the two conference areas made it anything but convenient.


I can’t wait until next year. I’ll begin my planning guide around the beginning of 2019 to try to provide support to those looking for travel information, and I have a feeling that DEF CON 27 will be an even stronger showing. Here’s to all the contributions of the hacker family!

The Fridge: Ubuntu Membership Board call for nominations

Planet Ubuntu - Pre, 24/08/2018 - 10:12md

As you may know, Ubuntu Membership is a recognition of significant and sustained contribution to Ubuntu and the Ubuntu community. To this end, the Community Council recruits from our current member community for the valuable role of reviewing and evaluating the contributions of potential members to bring them on board or assist with having them achieve this goal.

We have five members of our boards expiring from their terms, which means we need to do some restaffing of this Membership Board.

We have the following requirements for nominees:

  • be an Ubuntu Member (preferably for some time)
  • be confident that you can evaluate contributions to various parts of our community
  • be committed to attending the membership meetings broad insight into the Ubuntu community at large is a plus

Additionally, those sitting on membership boards should have a proven track record of activity in the community. They have shown themselves over time to be able to work well with others and display the positive aspects of the Ubuntu Code of Conduct. They should be people who can discern character and evaluate contribution quality without emotion while engaging in an interview/discussion that communicates interest, a welcoming atmosphere, and which is marked by humanity, gentleness, and kindness. Even when they must deny applications, they should do so in such a way that applicants walk away with a sense of hopefulness and a desire to return with a more complete application rather than feeling discouraged or hurt.

To nominate yourself or somebody else (please confirm they wish to accept the nomination and state you have done so), please send a mail to the membership boards mailing list (ubuntu-membership-boards at You will want to include some information about the nominee, a Launchpad profile link, and which time slot (20:00 or 22:00) the nominee will be able to participate in.

We will be accepting nominations through Monday, September 10th at 13:00 UTC. At that time all nominations will be forwarded to the Community Council who will make the final decision and announcement.

Thanks in advance to you and to the dedication everybody has put into their roles as board members.

Jonathan Riddell: Akademy Group Photo Automator

Planet Ubuntu - Pre, 24/08/2018 - 3:50md

Every year we take a group photo at Akademy and then me or one of the Kennies manually marks up the faces so people can tag them and we can know who we all are and build community.  This is quite old school effort so this year I followed a mangazine tutorial and made Akademy Group Photo Automator to do it.  This uses an AI library called face_recognition to do the hard work and Docker to manage the hard work and spits out the necessary HTML.  It was a quick attempt and I’m not sure it did much good in the end alas.  The group photos tend to be quite disorganised and whoever takes it upon themselves to direct it each year makes basic mistakes like putting everyone on a flat stage or making everyone wave their hands about which means many of the faces are half covered and not recognised.  And it seems like the library is not a fan of glasses.  It also outputs rect coordinates rather than circle ones which ment Kenny had to do many adjustments.  Still it’s an interesting quick dive into a new area for me and maybe next year I’ll get it smoother.

Faces recognisedby

Raphaël Hertzog: Freexian’s report about Debian Long Term Support, July 2018

Planet Ubuntu - Pre, 24/08/2018 - 1:59md

Like each month, here comes a report about the work of paid contributors to Debian LTS.

Individual reports

In July, about 224 work hours have been dispatched among 14 paid contributors. Their reports are available:

Evolution of the situation

The number of sponsored hours did not change.

The security tracker currently lists 51 packages with a known CVE and the dla-needed.txt file has 43 packages needing an update.

Thanks to our sponsors

New sponsors are in bold.

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Benjamin Mako Hill: Heading to the Bay Area

Planet Ubuntu - Pre, 24/08/2018 - 4:39pd

On September 4th, I’ll be starting a fellowship at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS), a wonderful social science research institute at Stanford that’s perched on a hill overlooking Palo Alto and the San Francisco Bay. The fellowship is a one-year gig and I’ll be back in Seattle next June.

A CASBS fellowship is an incredible gift in several senses. In the most basic sense, it will mean time to focus on research and writing. I’ll be using my time there to continuing my research on the social scientific study of peer production and cooperation. More importantly though, the fellowship will give me access to a community of truly incredible social social scientists who be my “fellow fellows” next year.

Finally, being invited for a CASBS fellowship is a huge honor. I’ve been preparing by reading a list of Wikipedia articles I built about the previous occupants of the study that I’ll be working out of next year (the third fellow to work out of my study was Claude Shannon!). It’s rare for junior faculty like myself to be invited and I’m truly humbled.

The only real downside of the fellowship is that it means that I’ll be spending the academic year away from Seattle. I’m going to miss working out of UW, my department, and the Community Data Science Collective lab here enormously.

In a personal sense, it means I’ll be leaving a wonderful community in Seattle in and around my home at Extraordinary Least Squares. I’m going to miss folks deeply and I look forward to returning.

Of course, I’m also pretty excited about moving to Palo Alto. It will be the first time either Mika or I have lived in California and we hope to take advantage of the opportunity.

Please help us do so!  If you’re at Stanford, in Silicon Valley, or are anywhere in the Bay Area and want to meet up, please don’t hesitate to get in contact! We’ll be arriving with very little community and I’m really interested in meeting and making friends  and taking advantage of my nine-months in the area to make connections!

Jono Bacon: Design The Bacon Family Crest

Planet Ubuntu - Enj, 23/08/2018 - 9:01md

Designers! We need your help! We want to produce a fun family crest for the Bacon family, something that really reflects us and who we are. This will go on a flag poll at our house and on napkins/coasters for parties.

Hello, Designers! The Bacon family needs a Family Crest designing. We have a flag poll in our new house, and we thought it could be fun to have a family crest that reflects us, our personalities, and background. This will also go on some napkins and coasters for parties. We want it to be amusing and fun, but also professional and classy. Please make it: * Modern and classy. We don't want this to look medieval or old-school. We want it to look classy, but contemporary. * Amusing, but not cheesy. * Either a single-color design, or max of 2 - 3 colors (that contrast really well). * This should be hi-res so it can be printed on material with a solid background color. As you design it, please try to incorporate the following (in priority order): * Include the text "The Bacon Family" near the top. * Add the latin "Sicut delectamentum cibum prandium." near the bottom (which is latin for "Like the delicious breakfast meat" - we say this when we say our name and check in hotels, because people always assume our name isn't as ridiculous as "Bacon") * The USA, British, and Italian flags in some form. * Incorporate key symbols that reflect us: - Food/Cooking. - Music/Heavy Metal (e.g. a Rhandy Rhoads guitar.) - Technology. - People/Community (people getting together to do cool things.) As food for thought, I like these: * *



There is only four days to submit entries!

The post Design The Bacon Family Crest appeared first on Jono Bacon.

Ubuntu Podcast from the UK LoCo: S11E24 – Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore - Ubuntu Podcast

Planet Ubuntu - Enj, 23/08/2018 - 12:30md

One of us has been vacationing in France. Alan went to Akademy and explains what went on. We’ve got some Webby love and go over all your feedback.

It’s Season 11 Episode 24 of the Ubuntu Podcast! Alan Pope, Mark Johnson and Martin Wimpress are connected and speaking to your brain.

In this week’s show:

That’s all for this week! You can listen to the Ubuntu Podcast back catalogue on YouTube. If there’s a topic you’d like us to discuss, or you have any feedback on previous shows, please send your comments and suggestions to or Tweet us or Comment on our Facebook page or comment on our Google+ page or comment on our sub-Reddit.

Jim Hall: Getting back into Outreachy

Planet GNOME - Enj, 23/08/2018 - 12:44pd
Outreachy is a great organization that helps women and other minorities get involved in open source software. (Outreachy was formerly the GNOME Outreach Program for Women.) I've mentored several cycles in Outreachy, doing usability testing with GNOME. I had a wonderful time, and enjoyed working with all the talented individuals who did usability testing with us.

I haven't been part of Outreachy for a few years, since I changed jobs. I have a really hectic work schedule, and the timing hasn't really worked out for me. Outreachy recently posted their call for participation in the December-March cycle of Outreachy. December to March should be a relatively stable time on my calendar, so this is looking like a great time to get involved again.

I don't know if GNOME plans to hire interns for the upcoming cycle of Outreachy, at least for usability testing. But I am interested in mentoring if they do.

Following conversations with Allan Day and Jakub Steiner, from GNOME Design, I'm thinking about changing the schedule we would use in usability testing. In previous cycles, I set up the schedule like a course on usability. That was a great learning experience for the interns, as they had a ramp-up in learning about usability testing before we did a big usability project.

But Allan and I would like to get interns involved more quickly. Also, Allan would prefer to have testing be more integrated to a current design project. Allan has a great point in saying, "rather than releasing something and having it tested weeks or months later, we need to be testing what we are working on right now."

My idea for the next cycle is to accelerate usability testing! I would imagine restructuring the internship so applicants would do a "crash course" in usability concepts the first week, then start doing usability tests immediately after that. Learn by doing!

For a 13 week internship, I imagine an intern or interns could spend almost the whole time leading usability tests, especially focusing on "you need five testers for an iterative process" so they are doing basically the same test throughout the internship, against different iterations of different designs. That would provide more immediate feedback to designs you are working on at the time.

A possible schedule could be:
  1. Quick study of usability testing background and methods
  2. Review test needs with Design Team; plan test #1
  3. Execute test #1
  4. Discuss results with Design Team
  5. Plan test #2
  6. Execute test #2
  7. Discuss results with Design Team
  8. Plan test #3
  9. Execute test #3
  10. Discuss results with Design Team
  11. Plan test #4
  12. Execute test #4
  13. Discuss results with Design Team; wrap-up

Based on that schedule, we could fit 4 usability test iterations in 13 weeks. We might do as many as 5 if things accelerate toward the end, such as shorter turnaround in refining the design. This depends on the time required to generate a new design based on the input of the usability tests.

The key would be to connect the design process and timeline to the internship timeline. And then to be realistic in testing. For example, we might have the intern do a paper prototype test one week, then spend the next week discussing results and figuring out the next iteration, and the intern does another paper prototype test, etc.

Paper prototypes are probably the fastest to turn around, because they don't require coding. But if there's a working interface or some animatic, the intern could do usability tests based on iterations of that.

For a simpler paper prototype, a more aggressive schedule could be:
  1. Quick study of usability testing background and methods
  2. Review test needs with Design team; plan test #1
  3. Execute test #1
  4. Discuss results with Design Team; plan test #2
  5. Updated prototype; execute test #2
  6. Discuss results with Design Team; plan test #3
  7. Updated prototype; execute test #3
  8. Discuss results with Design Team; plan test #4
  9. Updated prototype; execute test #3
  10. Discuss results with Design Team; plan test #5
  11. Updated prototype; execute test #3
  12. Discuss results with Design Team; plan test #6
  13. Wrap-up

But that may not be realistic, even for a paper prototype. There's still logistical issues, such as finding test volunteers. We'll have to adjust the schedule as we go. I think the thing to remember is we'd target at least 4 and maybe 6 usability tests during the Outreachy cycle.

If you're interested in participating in Outreachy, the anticipated schedule is:

Sept. 10, 2018 Applications and the eligibility check opens. Applicants can see and apply to listed projects.Oct. 2, 2018 Last date for new mentoring community listingsOct. 9, 2018 Last date for new internship project listingsOct. 23, 2018 Application deadlineOct. 30, 2018 Late application deadlineNov. 5, 2018 Deadline for mentors to select internsNov. 14, 2018 Accepted interns announcedDec. 4, 2018 to March 4, 2019 Internships period

Bastian Ilsø Hougaard: New Videos & New Opportunities

Planet GNOME - Mër, 22/08/2018 - 10:46md

Flatpak 1.0 has released which is a great milestone for the Linux Desktop. I was asked at GUADEC whether a release video could be in place. In response, I spontaneously arranged to produce a voice-over with Sam during the GUADEC Video Editing BoF. Since then, I have been storyboarding, animating and editing the project in Blender. The music and soundscape has been produced by Simon-Claudius who has done an amazing job. Britt edited the voice-over and has lended me a great load of rendering power (thanks Britt!).

The GNOME 3.30 Release Video is also on its way, with release due at September the 5th. The video will be the 10th release video I have been involved since i started (time flies!).


From 2019 I’ll be looking for full-time opportunities to continue working with UX, User Onboarding and Motion Graphics in FOSS (see also my website). This summer I graduated as MSc. Medialogy at Aalborg University in Denmark. Since then, I have been working for Aalborg University over the summer to design Learning Analytics UI. In parallel I have enrolled in The Drawing Academy to engage full-time in the visualization craft until 2019.

My past six years of world-wide remote collaboration to GNOME have been greatly rewarding. Apart from the release videos, I have designed the GNOME Newcomer Guide with Carlos, working on Polari UX in Google Summer of Code and most recently engaged in the Developer Center Initiative.

I am on the lookout for short-term or long-term occupation which allow me to continue my contributions in the GNOME and FOSS ecosphere.  Don’t be afraid to get in touch! :-)

Bradley M. Kuhn: Software Freedom Ensures the True Software Commons

Planet GNOME - Mër, 22/08/2018 - 6:21md

[ A similar version was crossposted on Conservancy's blog. ]

Proprietary software has always been about a power relationship. Copyright and other legal systems give authors the power to decide what license to choose, and usually, they choose a license that favors themselves and takes rights and permissions away from others.

The so-called “Commons Clause” purposely confuses and conflates many issues. The initiative is backed by FOSSA, a company that sells materiel in the proprietary compliance industrial complex. This clause recently made news again since other parties have now adopted this same license.

This proprietary software license, which is not Open Source and does not respect the four freedoms of Free Software, seeks to hide a power imbalance ironically behind the guise “Open Source sustainability”. Their argument, once you look past their assertion that the only way to save Open Source is to not do open source, is quite plain: If we can't make money as quickly and as easily as we'd like with this software, then we have to make sure no one else can as well.

These observations are not new. Software freedom advocates have always admitted that if your primary goal is to make money, proprietary software is a better option. It's not that you can't earn a living writing only Free Software; it's that proprietary software makes it easier because you have monopolistic power, granted to you by a legal system ill-equipped to deal with modern technology. In my view, it's a power which you don't deserve — that allows you to restrict others.

Of course, we all want software freedom to exist and survive sustainably. But the environmental movement has already taught us that unbridled commerce and conspicuous consumption is not sustainable. Yet, companies still adopt strategies like this Commons Clause to prioritize rapid growth and revenue that the proprietary software industry expects, claiming these strategies bolster the Commons (even if it is a “partial commons in name only”). The two goals are often just incompatible.

At Software Freedom Conservancy (where I work), we ask our projects to be realistic about revenue. We don't typically see Conservancy projects grow at rapid rates. They grow at slow and steady rates, but they grow better, stronger, and more diverse because they take the time to invite everyone to get involved. The software takes longer to mature, but when it does it's more robust and survives longer.

I'll take a bet with anyone who'd like. Let's pick five projects under the Affero GPL and five projects under the Commons Clause, and then let's see which ones survive longer as vibrant communities with active codebases and diverse contributors.

Finally, it's not surprising that the authors chose the name “Commons”. Sadly, “commons” has for many years been a compromised term, often used by those who want to promote licenses or organizational models that do not guarantee all four freedoms inherent in software freedom. Proprietary software is the ultimate tragedy of the software commons, and while it's clever rhetoric for our opposition to claim that they can make FLOSS sustainable by proprietarizing it, such an argument is also sophistry.

Carlos Soriano: Desktop icons goes beta

Planet GNOME - Mër, 22/08/2018 - 3:08md

Hi all,

Today I have good news for “classic mode” users and those used to desktop icons.

Context & random thoughts

As you might know, few months ago we removed the handling of desktop icons in Nautilus. As mentioned in the past, the desktop icons code was blocking at that point any further major development of Nautilus, and the quality was not up to our standards that we want to deliver.

The most important responsibility I have as (now one of the two) maintainer is to ensure the project progresses in its main goal, which is being an excellent file manager app. This includes building and maintaining a healthy community of contributors around, which I’m proud to have. I take these points very seriously, and as such, sometimes I have to take hard decisions to make sure this is achieved. When put into a position where either the project stagnates in its main goal and lose all interest from community contributors I have no doubt what is the path to go. And sometimes those decisions has to be taken shortly, after years trying to overcome the problem. Sometimes that happens when no others resources/time/people for providing a complete drop-in alternative are available.

This is also true for users, when put into the choice of having reliable file operations, search not blocking the computer, proper views, etc.  the decision seems clear.

Good news is that this all is paying off! The gtk4 port of Nautilus is now almost ready, we are having a hackfest soon with gtk+ developers to plan putting the new views in Nautilus, the work on the reliable file operations and search is now free to continue, and we had put a testing framework that consolidates this effort. The community of contributors has also been working as ever, and the results are clear in the Nautilus 3.30 release.

Classic mode

For Fedora and RHEL we have had an option called classic desktop, where desktop icons and some shell extensions were enabled.

It’s useful to bring to those users an option that works better than what we had with Nautilus, so as part of that I spent my time at Red Hat working on providing this.

Desktop icons extension

So here we are, I worked a lot lately in Nautilus and in the extension I prototyped few months ago to reach a point where it’s ready to enter a beta phase, now for everyone to use!

It has the regular things someone would expect. Some screenshots:

  • Opening files
  • Executing desktop files
  • Drag and drop to reorder (with no more overlapping as the old desktop icons in Nautilus had!)
  • Proper multi-monitor support, another big improvement compared to the old Nautilus code.
  • Open in terminal
  • Cut/copy
  • Integration with Nautilus for all operations
  • Undo/redo
  • Shortcuts
  • Rubber banding selection
  • Pure Wayland

Things that are missing are renaming files popover and DnD to “paste into a folder”.

Try it out

To try it out, you need latest Nautilus. Install from the nightly flatpaks following these instructions. Then you need GNOME Shell 3.28 and to install the extension from the extensions GNOME website. Then make sure to have development nightly Nautilus running and then in GNOME Tweaks enable the extension.

Note: For Fedora it’s needed to disable the “Fedora logo” extension, as it collides with the desktop icons.


Beta also means you may find some visible bugs, please report them. As I get more feedback I will change, remove, introduce stuff to make it ready for 1.0.

Also more importantly, merge request welcome! If you have a feature that would like to implement or fixing a bug or behavior, feel free to download the code and create a merge request in the extensions repository at GitLab. I’ll glad to review your code!

Thanks Antonio, Ernestas, Florian and Didier for helping with review, testing and planning.

Will Thompson: They should have called it Mirrorball

Planet GNOME - Mër, 22/08/2018 - 1:51md

TL;DR: there’s now an rsync server at rsync:// from which mirror operators can pull Endless OS images, along with an instance of Mirrorbits to redirect downloaders to their nearest—and hopefully fastest!—mirror. Our installer for Windows and the eos-download-image tool baked into Endless OS both now fetch images via this redirector, and from the next release of Endless OS our mirrors will be used as BitTorrent web seeds too. This should improve the download experience for users who are near our mirrors.

If you’re interested in mirroring Endless OS, check out these instructions and get in touch. We’re particularly interested in mirrors in Southeast Asia, Latin America and Africa, since our mission is to improve access to technology for people in these areas.

Big thanks to Niklas Edmundsson, who administers the mirror at Academic Computer Club, Umeå University, who recommended Mirrorbits and provided the nudge needed to get this work going, and to and Mythic Beasts who are also mirroring Endless OS already.

Read on if you are interested in the gory details of setting this up.

We’ve received a fair few offers of mirroring over the years, but without us providing an rsync server, mirror operators would have had to fetch over HTTPS using our custom JSON manifest listing the available images: extra setup and ongoing admin for organisations who are already generously providing storage and bandwidth. So, let’s set up an rsync server! One problem: our images are not stored on a traditional filesystem, but in Amazon S3. So we need some way to provide an rsync server which is backed by S3.

I decided to use an S3-backed FUSE filesystem to mount the bucket holding our images. It needs to provide a 1:1 mapping from paths in S3 to paths on the mounted filesystem (preserving the directory hierarchy), perform reasonably well, and ideally offer local caching of file contents. I looked at two implementations (out of the many that are out there) which have these features:

  • s3fs-fuse, which is packaged for Debian as s3fs. Debian is the predominant OS in our server infrastructure, as well as the base for Endless OS itself, so it’s convenient to have a package.1
  • goofys, which claims to offer substantially better performance for file metadata than s3fs.

I went with s3fs first, but it is a bit rough around the edges:

  • Our S3 bucket name contains dots, which is not uncommon. By default, if you try to use one of these with s3fs, you’ll get TLS certificate errors. This turns out to be because s3fs accesses S3 buckets as $, and the certificate is for *, which does not match s3fs has a -o use_path_request_style flag which avoids this problem by putting the bucket name into the request path rather than the request domain, but this use of that parameter is only documented in a GitHub Issues comment.
  • If your bucket is in a non-default region, AWS serves up a redirect, but s3fs doesn’t follow it. Once again, there’s an option you can use to force it to use a different domain, which once again is documented in a comment on an issue.
  • Files created with s3fs have their permissions stored in an x-amz-meta-mode header. Files created by other tools (which is to say, all our files) do not have this header, so by default get mode 0000 (ie unreadable by anybody), and so the mounted filesystem is completely unusable (even by root, with FUSE’s default settings).

There are two ways to fix this last problem, short of adding this custom header to all existing and future files:

  1. The -o complement_stat option forces files without the magic header to have mode 0400 (user-readable) and directories 0500 (user-readable and -searchable).
  2. The -o umask=0222 option (from FUSE) makes the files and directories world-readable (an improvement on complement_stat in my opinion) at the cost of marking all files executable (which they are not)

I think these are all things that s3fs could do by itself, by default, rather than requiring users to rummage through documentation and bug reports to work out what combination of flags to add. None of these were showstoppers; in the end it was a catastrophic memory leak (since fixed in a new release) that made me give up and switch to goofys.

Due to its relaxed attitude towards POSIX filesystem semantics where performance would otherwise suffer, goofys’ author refers to it as a “Filey System”.2 In my testing, throughput is similar to s3fs, but walking the directory hierarchy is orders of magnitude faster. This is due to goofys making more assumptions about the bucket layout, not needing to HEAD each file to get its permissions (that x-amz-meta-mode thing is not free), and having heuristics to detect traversals of the directory tree and optimize for that case.3

For on-disk caching of file contents, goofys relies on catfs, a separate FUSE filesystem by the same author. It’s an interesting design: catfs just provides a write-through cache atop any other filesystem. The author has data showing that this arrangement performs pretty well. But catfs is very clearly labelled as alpha software (“Don’t use this if you value your data.”) and, as described in this bug report with a rather intemperate title, it was not hard to find cases where it DOSes itself or (worse) returns incorrect data. So we’re running without local caching of file data for now. This is not so bad, since this server only uses the file data for periodic synchronisation with mirrors: in day-to-day operation serving redirects, only the metadata is used.

With this set up, it’s plain sailing: a little rsync configuration generator that uses the filter directive to only publish the last two releases (rather than forcing terabytes of archived images onto our mirrors) and setting up Mirrorbits. Our Mirrorbits instance is configured with some extra “mirrors” for our CloudFront distribution so that users who are closer to a CloudFront-served region than any real mirrors are directed there; it could also have been configured to make the European mirrors (which they all are, as of today) only serve European users, and rely on its fallback mechanism to send the rest of the world to CloudFront. It’s a pretty nice piece of software.

If you’ve made it this far, and you operate a mirror in Southeast Asia, South America or Africa, we’d love to hear from you: our mission is to improve access to technology for people in these areas.

  1. Do not confuse s3fs-fuse with fuse-s3fs, a totally separate project packaged in Fedora. It uses its own flattened layout for the S3 bucket rather than mapping S3 paths to filesystem paths, so is not suitable for what we’re doing here.
  2. This inspired a terrible “joke”.
  3. I’ve implemented a similar optimization elsewhere in our codebase: since we have many "directories", it takes many less requests to ask S3 for the full contents of the bucket and transform that list into a tree locally than it does to list each directory individually.

Jono Bacon: ZBiotics Crowdfunding Campaign Launched

Planet Ubuntu - Mër, 22/08/2018 - 2:16pd

A little while ago I worked with a client called ZBiotics. They are producing an engineered probiotic which that can be a hangover cure, but the technology has a wealth of other potential applications outside of making your morning-after a little less brutal.

They were interested in running a crowdfunding campaign. I have run a few campaigns before (the $12.7 million Ubuntu Edge, and the $1million Global Learning XPRIZE) and I provided strategic guidance for the Mycroft Mark II (which raised $395k of it’s $50k goal).

I like Zack and Stephen. They seem like good guys who want to build a company the right way. I sat down and provided some training around how to structure and deliver their campaign. This was a complex one because they are not only delivering a practical consumer product (hangover cure) but their technology is also the secret sauce. Both of these are important parts of the message.

They launched it yesterday with a goal of $25,000 and already smashed past that in Day 1. Here is their overview video:

Can’t see it? See it here.

Go and check it out.

The post ZBiotics Crowdfunding Campaign Launched appeared first on Jono Bacon.

Alexander Larsson: Kick-starting the revolution 1.0

Planet GNOME - Mar, 21/08/2018 - 12:05md

Yesterday marked the day when we finally released Flatpak 1.0 (check out the release video!). I want to thank everyone who helped make this a reality, from writing code, to Flathub packaging, to just testing stuff and spreading the word. Large projects like this can’t be done by a single person, its all about the community.

With 1.0 out, I expect the rate of change in Flatpak itself to slow down. Going forward the focus will be more on the infrastructure around it. Things like getting 1.0 into all distributions, making portals work well, ensuring Flathub works smoothly and keeps growing, improving our test-suites and working on the runtimes.

Most of my blog posts are about technical details, but the reason for the existence of Flatpak is not technical. I created flatpak because the Linux application desktop ecosystem is fundamentally broken. As a app developer you have no sane way to distribute the result of your work to users.

Unless you have massive resources, the only realistic way is to wait for distributions to pick up your app. However, there are many problems with this. First of all, not all distros pick up all apps, and even if they do they often wait until the app is well known leading to a chicken-and-egg problem for new apps. And when they finally ship it you have no control of what version is shipped, or when it is updated.

This is a real problem! For instance, maybe some web service it uses changed API. Its a quick fix for your app, but it takes a long time before it propagates to distros. In fact many stable distros never ever update to new versions.

This model leads to a disconnect between the developer and the users. Users file bugs against older versions, about bugs that are already fixed, yet don’t get any fixes. Developers add new features that users can’t use, and get no feedback on them.

With Flatpak, the goal is for the upstream developer to have control of updates. If the developer fixes an important bug, a new stable version is released that users can immediately use. Any bugs filed will be against the latest stable version, so they are not stale, and once the bug report is closed the user will actually get the fix. That means reporting bugs is useful to the user. Similarly, any new feature development will get immediate feedback, and user feedback will be based on the current state of the app.

This kind of virtuous cycle helps improving both speed of development and software quality. My hope is that this in turn will increase the interest in writing native Linux applications and trigger a revolution, leading to the YEAR OF THE LINUX DESKTOP! (ahem)

Robert Roth: Five or More GSoC

Planet GNOME - Mar, 21/08/2018 - 11:25pd
So, Google Summer of Code came to an end. I did (try my best to) mentor Ruxandra on her quest to modernize Five or More.

Some quick thoughts on the reasoning why using Vala as the language. And no flame-wars intended here. Just my personal thoughts:
* GObject with C requires too much boilerplate code
* Vala source is translated to C
* Most of the games under the GNOME umbrella are in Vala (they have been ported some time ago), thus potential new contributors can get involved easier
* is a very comprehensive API reference, easy to browse (although similar ones exist for each language advertised on the - see javascript, c++, python, c with some of them being easier to browse than others) - hoping that the new Developer portal will solve this and make API references browsable and have a programming language combobox for toggling between all of the ones listed, regardless of the chosen technology stack for it.

There are some arguments against Vala (not that efficient, syntax not OK for everyone, Vala being internally developed by GNOME), and I even agree with some of them (not sure if maintaining a language or finding a language and maintaining proper bindings for it takes more development effort - I saw interest in Gtk development with Rust, but other than librsvg - from the GNOME world - no one seemed to really jump on it).

So, given the above, Ruxandra did successfully port the old game from C to Vala, carefully rewriting the game piece-by-piece, mostly independently from the existing code (although there are some parts which have been ported line by line) and the existing Vala port (used as a reference in some places). The only thing which didn't get in (and honestly, I think I can say fortunately) is raster-based themes for the game. I think that these days, when we are transitioning to having the application icons only in scalable vector format (svg) it's not worth investing in raster-based themes, which either look horrible on huge resolutions, or need huge resource files at a huge resolution to look fine on big screens/hidpi screens and downscaling on non-hidpi screens.

I am sorry if anyone will feel offended by the removal of the two raster-based themes (dots and gumball), please let me know, and I will personally handle them being replace by similar vector-based art. Until then, if you somehow preferred using any of those themes, after the next release you will fall back to the default theme, which is the color balls vector theme.

So, what next?
* I'm waiting until the 3.30 release mid-september