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Verizon, Cable Lobby Oppose Spec-Bump For Broadband Definition - Hën, 26/01/2015 - 2:06md
WheezyJoe writes Responding to the FCC's proposal to raise the definition of broadband from 4Mbps downstream and 1Mbps upstream to 25Mbps down and 3Mbps up, the lobby group known as the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) wrote in an FCC filing Thursday that 25Mbps/3Mbps isn't necessary for ordinary people. The lobby alleges that hypothetical use cases offered for showing the need for 25Mbps/3Mbps "dramatically exaggerate the amount of bandwidth needed by the typical broadband user", referring to parties in favor of the increase like Netflix and Public Knowledge. Verizon, for its part, is also lobbying against a faster broadband definition. Much of its territory is still stuck on DSL which is far less capable of 25Mbps/3Mbps speeds than cable technology. The FCC presently defines broadband as 4Mbps down and 1Mbps up, a definition that hasn't changed since 2010. By comparison, people in Sweden can pay about $40 a month for 100/100 mbps, choosing between more than a dozen competing providers. The FCC is under mandate to determine whether broadband is being deployed to Americans in a reasonable and timely way, and the commission must take action to accelerate deployment if the answer is negative. Raising the definition's speeds provides more impetus to take actions that promote competition and remove barriers to investment, such as a potential move to preempt state laws that restrict municipal broadband projects.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Daniel G. Siegel: summing up 68

Planet GNOME - Hën, 26/01/2015 - 1:35md

i am trying to build a jigsaw puzzle which has no lid and is missing half of the pieces. i am unable to show you what it will be, but i can show you some of the pieces and why they matter to me. if you are building a different puzzle, it is possible that these pieces won't mean much to you, maybe they won't fit or they won't fit yet. then again, these might just be the pieces you're looking for. this is summing up, please find previous editions here.

  • start-ups and emotional debt, i realize that many people who do successful start-ups say it was the best thing that ever happened to them. but they've also become different people, and they are not the same people they would have been if they had decided to pursue another course. they have different sets of relationships, different skills, different attitudes, and different desires. they really have no idea what kind of person they otherwise would have been become. recommended
  • waffling, i've always been very dubious about the idea of learning from people who have been successful. there's this whole cult of worshipping rich people, reading interviews with them, getting their opinions on things, trying to learn what made them successful. i think it's mostly nonsense. the thing is, if you just look at who the biggest earners are, it's almost entirely luck. the point is if you just look at successful business people, they will probably be confident, decisive, risk takers, aggressive at seizing opportunities, aggressive about growing the business quickly, etc. that doesn't mean that those are the right things to do. it just means that those are variance-increasing traits that give them a chance to be a big success
  • why don't software development methodologies work?, my own experience, validated by cockburn's thesis and frederick brooks in no silver bullet, is that software development projects succeed when the key people on the team share a common vision, what brooks calls "conceptual integrity." this doesn't arise from any particular methodology, and can happen in the absence of anything resembling a process. i know the feeling working on a team where everyone clicks and things just get done
  • 7 principles of rich web applications, the web remains one of the most versatile mediums for the transmission of information. as we continue to add more dynamism to our pages, we must ensure that we retain some of its great historical benefits while we incorporate new ones
  • "the road to wisdom? - well, it's plain and simple to express: err and err and err again but less and less and less", piet hein

Lubuntu Blog: Spammers and trolls

Planet UBUNTU - Hën, 26/01/2015 - 12:04md

Hello. This blog, as many others, is continuously receiving disgusting spam messages and troll comments. Of course all of them go directly to the trash can and marked as non-welcomed, so they no longer can annoy us. It's ok, I can deal with it with the help of Google.

But what I'm not going to tolerate is, under the appearance of nice readers and users, allow offensive comments or trolling about non-related things or articles on this blog. So please, you non-bots, humans that intentionally work for those companies colelcting data from blogs, public profiles and other stuff to feed the beast, you know you work sucks and I doubt about your human quality and integrity. You're banned.

Thanks everyone for your patience.

For New Yorkers, Cablevision Introduces a Wi-Fi-Centric VoiP Network - Hën, 26/01/2015 - 11:54pd
The New York Times reports that Cablevision Systems plans to announce on Monday the start of a low-cost mobile phone service that will use Wi-Fi for connectivity rather than standard cellular networks, the first such service to be introduced by a cable operator. Called Freewheel, the service will offer unlimited data, talking and texting worldwide for $29.95 a month, or $9.95 a month for Cablevision’s Optimum Online customers — a steep discount compared with standard offerings from traditional cellular carriers. Freewheel customers initially must use a specific Motorola Moto G smartphone, which is being sold for $99.95. The service goes on sale next month, and no annual contract is required. (Reuters carries a similar story.)

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Christian Hergert: Cambridge DX Hackfest

Planet GNOME - Hën, 26/01/2015 - 11:09pd

Like @ebassi and many others, I'm here at the DX Hackfest in Cambridge. Thanks Collabora for hosting us in your lovely office!

It's a bit cold for a laid-back hippy Californian like me, but good beer fixes that.

Lot's to update you all on, and I hope to get to that soon as I collect my thoughts. But in the mean time, there is about 20 hours left on the crowdfunding campaign. As I write this, we are at 46k. That means only 4k more to get external hardware support and a graphical debugger!

My primary goal for this hackfest is to start solidifying the designs around LibIDE, which will implement the core IDE features underneath Builder. It is sort of a meta-layer above tools like autotools, clang, hardware devices, debuggers, profilers, and such.

Lot's to do, more updates soon :)

Emmanuele Bassi: Cambridge GNOME DX Hackfest / Day 1

Planet GNOME - Hën, 26/01/2015 - 10:40pd

we’re here in sunny (and cold) Cambridge, in the offices kindly sponsored by Collabora.

attendees arrived on Sunday, and various discussions already started on the performance of the GLib slice allocator; GNOME Builder; and improvements of GTK+.

the evening continued at a local curry house, and ended with a pint at the pub — thus giving everyone the full English experience.

this morning is starting a bit slowly — evidently, the jet lag is hitting everyone really hard — but we’ll surely kick it up a notch as soon as a proper amount of caffeine enters our bodies.

I’m going to be working on a bunch of things, this week:

  • incorporating feedback from users of the OpenGL support in GDK
  • GSK, the GTK scene graph API
  • performance improvements in GLib/GObject

and I’ll also keep an eye on what GNOME Builder needs from GTK to improve the user experience.

I’d like to thank Collabora for giving us access to their office and their coffee machine, and to the GNOME Foundation to sponsor various attendees.

Jim Campbell: GNOME Docs in Cambridge: Day One

Planet GNOME - Hën, 26/01/2015 - 10:34pd

The Winter 2015 edition of GNOME docs hackfests is underway in Cambridge, UK, and the first day is in the books. We're making some good, initial progress. Thus far we've been able to update the status of Application Help on our wiki, triaged a lot of bug and docs-feedback reports, and have made some initial updates to platform developer documentation.

Application Help Status Review

Ekaterina Gerasimova and I discussed GNOME Application Help, reviewing the status of each application's help, and setting priorities for the upcoming release and for future releases. We want to make sure that our core set of applications is consistently covered for each release, and setting the right priorities will help us in this effort.

Based on this, Kat went through and updated the Application Help wiki page, bringing the status of each application's notes up to date, and making it more clear as to where our priorities are focused.

Feedback and Bug Review, Plus Various Fixes

Jana Švárová focused on responding to comments that we receive on the documentation feedback mailing list. The mailing list is actually the receiving end of mail that users send via the GNOME help website. If users spot a problem in our help, they're able to click on a link at the bottom of the page, and let us know of the issue they're experiencing via a simple email.

We're finding it to be a useful resource. It's helping us to get feedback from users who don't know how to (or don't want to) use Bugzilla. Also, each email that they send us includes a reference to the help page that they were visiting, making it easier for us to see and fix the problem ourselves.

With regards to bugs, Petr Kovar did a great job of triaging bugs yesterday. Actually, because he triaged over 50 bugs in one day, I think that raises his status from that of a bug triager to that of a one-person Bug Medi-vac Unit. Good job, Petr.

I spent my time alongside Petr, triaging bugs and implementing fixes in the user docs that were referenced in the bugs. For me, personally, the user docs for GNOME and GNOME Shell will be my primary focus during this event.

As part of updating the user help, we're making sure to reference the latest bits by using jhbuild builds of GNOME Shell and GNOME applications. Of course, this also means that we occasionally run into new application bugs. Fortunately, David King is here to help us out in such situations. Yesterday he fixed issues in both GNOME Control Center and Nautilus, making our documentation tasks a bit easier.

GNOME Help Website and Developer Documentation Updates

Bastian Ilsø is focusing his attention on the GNOME help website, giving an initial review of the CSS on the site. Beyond that, though, he's focusing on the developer documentation as part of this hackfest. He arrived here later in the day yesterday, but is off to a good start.

His main focus for the hackfest is update of the GNOME Platform demos. This includes GTK code examples and small tutorials that help developers get oriented to GTK and GNOME development tools. Because he's coming into this from the perspective of a new GTK developer himself, he's able to identify areas that need to be fleshted-out and made more clear for others who may be knew to the platform, as well. He and David King are working through this quite a bit as we begin day two.

Hosting and Sponsorship Thanks

All of this is possible because we have a good venue and have been able to travel here to work together. Many thanks to Collabora for providing the office space for this event, and kudos from the Documentation Project team for their helpful, clear kitchen cleanliness documentation:

Additional thanks go out to the GNOME Foundation for sponsoring my travel to this hackfest. We are off to a steady, and productive start, and are making good use of our time here.

Francois Marier: Using unattended-upgrades on Rackspace's Debian and Ubuntu servers

Planet Debian - Hën, 26/01/2015 - 9:25pd

I install the unattended-upgrades package on almost all of my Debian and Ubuntu servers in order to ensure that security updates are automatically applied. It works quite well except that I still need to login manually to upgrade my Rackspace servers whenever a new rackspace-monitoring-agent is released because it comes from a separate repository that's not covered by unattended-upgrades.

It turns out that unattended-upgrades can be configured to automatically upgrade packages outside of the standard security repositories but it's not very well documented and the few relevant answers you can find online are still using the old whitelist syntax.

Initial setup

The first thing to do is to install the package if it's not already done:

apt-get install unattended-upgrades

and to answer yes to the automatic stable update question.

If you don't see the question (because your debconf threshold is too low -- change it with dpkg-reconfigure debconf), you can always trigger the question manually:

dpkg-reconfigure -plow unattended-upgrades

Once you've got that installed, the configuration file you need to look at is /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/50unattended-upgrades.

Whitelist matching criteria

Looking at the unattended-upgrades source code, I found the list of things that can be used to match on in the whitelist:

  • origin (shortcut: o)
  • label (shortcut: l)
  • archive (shortcut: a)
  • suite (which is the same as archive)
  • component (shortcut: c)
  • site (no shortcut)

You can find the value for each of these fields in the appropriate _Release file under /var/lib/apt/lists/.

Note that the value of site is the hostname of the package repository, also present in the first part these *_Release filenames ( in the example below).

In my case, I was looking at the following inside /var/lib/apt/lists/stable.packages.cloudmonitoring.rackspace.com_debian-wheezy-x86%5f64_dists_cloudmonitoring_Release:

Origin: Rackspace Codename: cloudmonitoring Date: Fri, 23 Jan 2015 18:58:49 UTC Architectures: i386 amd64 Components: main ...

which means that, in addition to site, the only things I could match on were origin and component since there are no Suite or Label fields in the Release file.

This is the line I ended up adding to my /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/50unattended-upgrades:

Unattended-Upgrade::Origins-Pattern { // Archive or Suite based matching: // Note that this will silently match a different release after // migration to the specified archive (e.g. testing becomes the // new stable). // "o=Debian,a=stable"; // "o=Debian,a=stable-updates"; // "o=Debian,a=proposed-updates"; "origin=Debian,archive=stable,label=Debian-Security"; "origin=Debian,archive=oldstable,label=Debian-Security"; + "origin=Rackspace,component=main"; }; Testing

To ensure that the config is right and that unattended-upgrades will pick up rackspace-monitoring-agent the next time it runs, I used:

unattended-upgrade --dry-run --debug

which should output something like this:

Initial blacklisted packages: Starting unattended upgrades script Allowed origins are: ['origin=Debian,archive=stable,label=Debian-Security', 'origin=Debian,archive=oldstable,label=Debian-Security', 'origin=Rackspace,component=main'] Checking: rackspace-monitoring-agent (["<Origin component:'main' archive:'' origin:'Rackspace' label:'' site:'' isTrusted:True>"]) pkgs that look like they should be upgraded: rackspace-monitoring-agent ... Option --dry-run given, *not* performing real actions Packages that are upgraded: rackspace-monitoring-agent Making sure that automatic updates are happening

In order to make sure that all of this is working and that updates are actually happening, I always install apticron on all of the servers I maintain. It runs once a day and emails me a list of packages that need to be updated and it keeps doing that until the system is fully up-to-date.

The only thing missing from this is getting a reminder whenever a package update (usually the kernel) requires a reboot to take effect. That's where the update-notifier-common package comes in.

Because that package will add a hook that will create the /var/run/reboot-required file whenever a kernel update has been installed, all you need to do is create a cronjob like this in /etc/cron.daily/reboot-required:

#!/bin/sh cat /var/run/reboot-required 2> /dev/null || true

assuming of course that you are already receiving emails sent to the root user (if not, add the appropriate alias in /etc/aliases and run newaliases).

How Do We Know the Timeline of the Universe? - Hën, 26/01/2015 - 9:01pd
StartsWithABang writes The history of the Universe happened in a well-known order: inflation ends, matter wins out over antimatter, the electroweak symmetry breaks, antimatter annihilates away, atomic nuclei form, then neutral atoms, stars, galaxies, and eventually us. But scientists and science magazines often publish timelines of the Universe with incredibly precise times describing when these various events occur. Here's how we arrive at those values, along with the rarely-publicized uncertainties.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

NOKUBI Takatsugu: Weak ssh public keys in github

Planet Debian - Hën, 26/01/2015 - 6:15pd

A presentation slide, named ”Attacking against 5 millions SSH public keys – 偶然にも500万個のSSH公開鍵を手に入れた俺たちは” is published, it is a lightning talk in “Edomae security seminar” in Jan 24, 2015.

 He grabbed ssh public keys with  GitHub API (${user}.key), the API is obsoleted, but not closed.

He found short (<= 512 bit) DSA/RSA keys and can solve prime decomposition 256bit RSA key in 3 seconds.

And he repoted there are 208 weak ssh keys generated by Debian/Ubuntu (CVS-2008-0166). It was already announced  by GitHub.

On the other hand, such ssh keys couldn’t solve prime decomposition with fastgcd. It means almost ssh keys in GitHub has no bias in almost random number generators implementations, it is a good news.

Google Handed To FBI 3 Wikileaks Staffers' Emails, Digital Data - Hën, 26/01/2015 - 6:04pd
Ariastis writes Google took almost three years to disclose to the open information group WikiLeaks that it had handed over emails and other digital data belonging to three of its staffers to the FBI under a secret search warrant issued by a federal judge. WikiLeaks were told last month of warrants which were served in March 2012. The subjects of the warrants were the investigations editor of WikiLeaks, the British citizen Sarah Harrison; the spokesperson for the organisation, Kristinn Hrafnsson; and Joseph Farrell, one of its senior editors. When it notified the WikiLeaks employees last month, Google said it had been unable to say anything about the warrants earlier as a gag order had been imposed.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

3.19-rc6: mainline

Kernel Linux - Hën, 26/01/2015 - 5:04pd
Version:3.19-rc6 (mainline) Released:2015-01-26 Source:linux-3.19-rc6.tar.xz PGP Signature:linux-3.19-rc6.tar.sign Patch:patch-3.19-rc6.xz
Kategoritë: Kernel Linux

Anonymous Asks Activists To Fight Pedophiles In 'Operation Deatheaters' - Hën, 26/01/2015 - 3:08pd writes The Independent reports that hacktivist group Anonymous, in a project named Operation DeathEaters, is calling for help in its fight against international pedophile networks, or what it calls the "paedosadist industry" and has issued a video instructing activists on how they can aid in the operation. The Anonymous project is intended to break what it says is a conspiracy of silence among sympathetic politicians, police and mainstream media to downplay the full extent of the online child sex industry. "The premise behind OpDeathEaters is to expose high level complicity, obstruction of justice and cover-up in the paedo-sadist industry in order to show the need for independent inquiries," says Heather Marsh, an online activist who is helping to co-ordinate the operation and describes herself as an "old friend" of Anonymous. The Anonymous database, which will be hosted on the GitHub online repository, promises to collate cases from all around the world, cross-referencing connections within sub-groups including the police, armed forces, schoolteachers, politicians, media, academics and religious organisations. The database's ultimate purpose has yet to be fully determined, but in the first instance the group says it wants to shut down the child-sex industry by "dismantling the power structure which held it there" and by "educating to create a cultural change". The group is calling on volunteers to help with the ongoing work, which has been divided into three steps. The first is about collecting "all the factual information," second is to "share that information as widely as possible," and the third step is "to set up an independent, internationally linked, inquiry into all the areas which do not appear to have been investigated properly." Activists point to the muted media coverage given to a recent case in Washington DC in which Michael Centanni, a senior Republican fundraiser, was charged with child sex offences after investigators traced transmissions of child pornography to his computers in his basement. The case was not covered by The Washington Post or the New York Times, and was only picked up by a local NBC affiliate state and The Washington Examiner, a small conservative paper in the city. According to the court filings, Centanni was found in possession of 3,000 images, many apparently filmed in his own bedroom, including one showing a man raping a five-year-old girl who cries "no" and "mommy" while the man says "good baby" and "stop crying," according to one filing.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Philip Withnall: DX hackfest 2015: day 1

Planet GNOME - Hën, 26/01/2015 - 1:25pd

It’s a sunny Sunday here in Cambridge, UK, and GNOMErs have been arriving from far and wide for the first day of the 2015 developer experience hackfest. This is a week-long event, co-hosted with the winter docs hackfest (which Kat has promised to blog about!) in the Collabora offices.

Today was a bit of a slow start, since people were still arriving throughout the day. Regardless, there have been various discussions, with Ryan, Emmanuele and Christian discussing performance improvements in GLib, Christian and Allan plotting various different approaches to new UI in Builder, Cosimo and Carlos silently plugging away at GTK+, and Emmanuele muttering something about GProperty now and then.

Tomorrow, I hope we can flesh out some of these initial discussions a bit more and get some roadmapping down for GLib development for the next year, amongst other things. I am certain that Builder will feature heavily in discussions too, and apps and sandboxing, now that Alex has arrived.

I’ve spent a little time finishing off and releasing Walbottle, a small library and set of utilities I’ve been working on to implement JSON Schema, which is the equivalent of XML Schema or RELAX-NG, but for JSON files. It allows you to validate JSON instances against a schema, to validate schemas themselves and, unusually, to automatically generate parser unit tests from a schema. That way, you can automatically test json-glib–based JsonReader/JsonParser code, just by passing the JSON schema to Walbottle’s json-schema-generate utility.

It’s still a young project, but should be complete enough to be useful in testing JSON code. Please let me know of any bugs or missing features!

Tomorrow, I plan to dive back in to static analysis of GObject code with Tartan

Riccardo Padovani: Ubuntu Phone Hardware

Planet UBUNTU - Hën, 26/01/2015 - 1:00pd

After a week, it’s time to publish another mail I receive as Insider for the launch of the first Ubuntu Phone.

In last month there were a lot of rumors and speculations (some of them were very accurated), but now it’s time to clarify: it’s time to see what’s the hardware of the first Ubuntu Phone!

The Hardware

Next up in this Phone Glimpse, we’ll be shining the spotlight on our hardware device for the Ubuntu phone.

We are confident and excited to be partnering with Spanish mobile device manufacturers bq for the Ubuntu phone. bq is dedicated to designing and manufacturing multimedia devices. It’s six directors only formed seven years ago where they met as telecommunications students who would repair computers in their spare time. Today it’s one of the top-selling tablet, e-reader and smartphone brands within Spain that is continually spearheading innovation notably with their entry into 3D printing and robotic kits. The company developed the DIY: My First Robotics Kit in an attempt to demystify technology by stimulating kids to start building their own robotic models. And their entry into 3D printing with bq Witbox has been commercially impressive where they’ve recruited leading professionals from Spain’s printing and robotic sectors.

A strong innovative brand who operates in Europe with over 600 staff. With mobile, in 2013 bq shipped almost 1.5 million devices and in less than a year has become Spain’s second biggest seller of unlocked smartphones. The Aquarius E4.5 Ubuntu edition will be available in Europe and can be purchased soon via the bq site.

Here are the core specs which you can see for real soon, at the Insider event!

  • Screen: 4.5” qHD (960x540)
  • Camera: 5MP Fixed Focus+13MP Autofocus Dual Flash
  • SIM: Dual micro sim
  • Battery: 2150mAh
  • Connectivity: GSM/GPRS/EDGE/WCDMA/HSPA+
  • CPU: Quad A7/1.3GHz
  • RAM: 1GB
  • Sensors: Gyroscope, Proximity, Light

Not long to go!

Ed Felten: California Must Lead On Cybersecurity - Hën, 26/01/2015 - 12:49pd
An anonymous reader writes In a Sacramento Bee op-ed, (in)famous computer security researcher Ed Felten responds to the State of the Union cybersecurity proposal. He doesn't mince words: "The odds of clearing Congress: low. The odds of materially improving security: even lower. "What he suggests as an alternative, though, is a surprise. "California," he writes, "could blaze a trail for effective cybersecurity policy." He calls for the state government to protect critical infrastructure and sensitive data, relying on outside auditors and experts. It's an interesting idea. Even if it doesn't go anywhere, at least it's some fresh thinking in this area of backward policy. From Felten's essay: Critical infrastructure increasingly relies on industrial automation systems. And those systems are often vulnerable – they keep a default password, for instance, or are accessible from the public Internet. These are not subtle or sophisticated errors. Fixing them requires basic due diligence, not rocket science. Requiring the state’s critical infrastructure providers to undergo regular security audits would be straightforward and inexpensive – especially relative to the enormous risks. Areas of sensitive data are also low-hanging cyber fruit. In health care, education and finance, California already imposes security and privacy requirements that go beyond federal law. Those legal mandates, though, are mostly enforced through after-the-fact penalties. Much like critical infrastructure, sectors that rely upon sensitive data would benefit from periodic outside auditing. Of any state government's, California's policies also have the chance to help (or harm) the most people: nearly 39 million people, according to a 2014 U.S. Census estimate.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Pasi Lallinaho: Simple desktops with Xubuntu

Planet UBUNTU - Hën, 26/01/2015 - 12:38pd

In 2012, I wrote an article about default configuration for an operating system and the challenges involved with it. For a related, but slightly different topic, I thought it would be useful to share some of my experiences in setting up environments for more or less technically limited people.

Please note that this is just a pointer and a suggestion and the needs and wants of real people may and will vary.

Relevant visual elements Panel

The first thing I would suggest to do is to remove any unnecessary panel applets (and panels, where appropriate). Automatically hidden panels can be really hard to use, especially for those users who have limited experience with mice or other problems that affect hand-cursor coordination. These can vary anywhere from bad eyesight to difficulties with accurate movement or simply having a hard time understanding the concept of a cursor.

What is relevant in the panels for a simple desktop experience? If you are striving for the simplest possible configuration, I would say that you only need launchers for applications, window list of open applications, a clock and a shutdown button with no choice of logout, suspend or other actions. With this setup, I recommend using the confirmation dialog to prevent unwanted shutdown cycles.

When deciding which launchers to show, please remember that you can enable access to the full application menu on right-clicking the desktop. Because of that option, it’s not always worth the trouble to try to add a launcher for every application, especially if they are used only rarely. Consider picking ones that users need daily, weekly or monthly, depending on how much you want to avoid right-clicking.

I believe people that want or need a simple desktop want to see anything that they think is irrelevant. This is especially true to indicators, because they use symbols that are more or less hard to understand for a technically limited person.

There are a few exceptions: If you’re setting up a laptop that’s actually unplugged now and then, you might want to show the battery indicator. If you have a laptop that needs to be used in various locations, you’ll want to show the network manager as well. If controlling volume is necessary, you might want to consider whether the sound indicator or shortcut keys (Fn+Fx in laptops) are the better choice.


In addition to the panel launchers, it’s wise to add launchers for the desktop as well along with a shutdown button. Make sure the launchers user generic names instead of application names eg. Email instead of Mozilla Thunderbird. It’s usually wise to bump up the icon and label size up as well. If the users will not run several applications at a time, you can simply drop the panel and only use the desktop icons. If you want to show the clock without a panel, you can use a simple Conky setup. Conky is available in the Ubuntu repositories.

Other accessibility considerations

If the users have problems with their eyesight, there are a few things that can help make the system more usable for them.

The first one is adjusting the font and DPI settings. Bumping up the font size by just one step and increasing the DPI value makes the text more easily readable. Xubuntu has a very legible default font, even in smallish fonts, but it’s good to remember you can change the font as well

The other thing you can do is change the window border theme. The default Xubuntu theme is designed to be elegant and keep out of the way, but sometimes this is not ideal. If the user has a hard time seeing where a window ends and the other starts, it might be a good idea to try another window border theme. On the other hand, if too many buttons is the problem – or you simply don’t need or want to enable some features – you can remove some of the window buttons as well.

There is also many accessibility congifuration options under the Accessibility tab in Window Manager Tweaks found in the Settings Manager. The one I tend to turn off is rolling up windows with the mouse wheel. This prevents the accidentally “disappearing” windows.

Accessibility version of Greybird?

Currently, Greybird, the Xubuntu default theme, ships two window border themes: a regular and a compact one. It has been brought up to discussion by me and others that we should ship an accessibility version as well. This accessibility version would sport bigger window buttons as well as a bigger border to grab for resizing the window.

So far, the accessibility on the drawing board phase and not much has been done yet, as it’s currently one of the most low priority items for the development teams of Xubuntu and Shimmer. That being said, all constructive feedback is welcome. Furthermore, if we see a lot of people asking for the accessibility version, it’s likely that its priority will be bumped up at least a little.

Smoother user experience

Since we are talking about a simple desktop experience, I can assume at least part of our target group is people who don’t either understand or want to understand why updating is important or how to install updates. For this reason, I’d simply turn on the automatical security updates but turn off all manual updates.

Depending on the situation, I would make sure apport will not pop up and ask to send new bug reports. It’s self-evident that bug reports are important, but if the user doesn’t understand or want to understand the importance, it’s better to turn any reporting that needs user input off. The possibility that these users with the simplest possible desktops would run into bugs that haven’t been already found is really rare. Moreover, the possibility of developers getting further information from these users are really slim.

While I don’t use autologin myself and can’t suggest using it for security reasons, setting it up might save a lot of frustration. But please, only use autologin after a good assessment of the situation and understanding the security considerations related to that.

Manual maintenance needs

Even though a system can run smoothly without daily maintenance, manual maintenance is sometimes required. I’ve been maintaining a few computers for family remotely during the years, and the two tools I’ve needed the most are an SSH server and remote desktop viewing ability – for which I’m currently using an X11vnc setup.

While SSH is usually fine for most of the regular maintenance, being able to view (and use) the desktop remotely has been an invaluable help in situations where the user can’t describe the issue accurately enough via text or voice based communication. This is even more useful if the computer is far from you and you have limited possibilities to access it physically.

Naturally, you need to take security considerations into account when accessing a computer remotely. Making servers listen on unusual ports and securing with them firewalls is highly encouraged.


There are numerous opinions on the best desktop configuration, both in the look and feel. However, if you are setting a system up for somebody else, you will need to consider how they usually use the computer and how you could support their workflow to make the experience smoother.

Xfce allows a great deal of customizability by default. On top of that, the Xubuntu team has worked to bring the users even more tools that can help them configure their system. The options brought by these alone give you a vast amount of different things you can control. This article is just scratching the surface for even those options. If you want to go deeper, there is always more software on the Ubuntu repositories that can help you set up the system in the way you like it.

If you have other ideas and suggestions for simple and/or accessible desktops, feel free to drop them in the comments. If you write (or have written) a blog article about customizing Xubuntu, especially ones that cover accessbility issues, I’d like to hear back from those as well.

Happy configuring!

SpaceX, US Air Force Settle Spy Sat Dispute - Dje, 25/01/2015 - 11:47md
hypnosec writes The US Air Force and private space flight company SpaceX have settled their dispute involving the military's expendable rocket program, thereby paving the way for SpaceX to join the spy satellite launch program known as Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV). The settlement opens doors for SpaceX to compete with United Launch Alliance (ULA) for launch of spy satellites. ULA is a joint Boeing-Lockheed venture – the only private player to have received clearance for launching black ops satellites.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

DirectX 12 Lies Dormant Within Microsoft's Recent Windows 10 Update - Dje, 25/01/2015 - 10:48md
MojoKid writes After last Wednesday's Windows 10 event, early adopters and IT types were probably anxious for Microsoft to release the next preview build. Fortunately, it didn't take long as it came out on Friday, and it's safe to say that it introduced even more than many were anticipating (but still no Spartan browser). However, in case you missed it, DirectX 12 is actually enabled in this Windows 10 release, though unfortunately we'll need to wait for graphics drivers and apps that support it, to take advantage of DX 12 features and performance enhancements.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Richard Hartmann: KDE battery monitor

Planet Debian - Dje, 25/01/2015 - 10:11md

Dear lazyweb,

using a ThinkPad X1 Carbon with Debian unstable and KDE 4.14.2, I have not had battery warnings for a few weeks, now.

The battery status can be read out via acpi -V as well as via the KDE widget. Hibernation via systemctl hibernate works as well.

What does not work is the warning when my battery is low, or automagic hibernation when shutting the lid or when the battery level is critical.

From what I gather, something in the communication between upower and KDE broke down, but I can't find what it is. I have also been told that Cinnamon is affected as well, so this seems to be a more general problem

Sadly, me and anyone else who's affected has been unable to fix this.

So, dear lazyweb, please help.

In loosely related news, this old status is still valid. UMTS is stable-ish now but even though I saved the SIM's PIN, KDE always displays a "SIM PIN unlock request" prompt after booting or hibernating. Once I enter that PIN, systemd tells me that a system policy prevents the change and wants my user password. If anyone knows how to get rid of that, I would also appreciate any pointers.


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