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Review Report 1

Tuesday 30th of June 2020 12:00:00 AM
GSoC Review 1 - Qt3D based backend for KStars

In the fourth week of GSoC, I worked on adding support for Skybox which supports the projection modes implemented last week. I also added the grid implementation in KStars based on the prototype.

What’s done this week
  • Custom Skybox and Skybox shaders for Lambert, Azimuthal, Orthographic, Equirectangular, Stereographic and Gnomic projections.

  • Custom Window3D class extending Qt3DWindow for mouse movements.

  • Equatorial grid based on the prototype.

The Challenges
  • Integration issues with the original SkyPainter API written to support multiple backends - Had to prototype outside of KStars.

  • Had to remove QCamera and first person controllers since they don’t conform to projection modes we use.

  • Switching SkyQPainter’s 2D projector class to GLSL.

What remains

My priorities for the next week include.

  • Adding mouse input.

  • Display of basic star catalog.


The Code

Google Summer of Code 2020 - Week 3

Monday 29th of June 2020 11:00:00 PM

This week, I spent most of my time testing the Rocs graph-layout-plugin. I needed to test the method that applies the force-based layout algorithm to a graph, whose signature is the following.

static void applyForceBasedLayout(GraphDocumentPtr document, const qreal nodeRadius, const qreal margin, const qreal areaFactor, const qreal repellingForce, const qreal attractionForce, const bool randomizeInitialPositions, const quint32 seed);

Unfortunately, there is not much that is guaranteed by this method. Basically, given a graph and some parameters, it tries to find positions for each node in such a way that, if we draw the graph using these positions, it will look nice. What does it mean for the drawing of a graph to look nice? How can we test it? This is a subjective concept, and there is no clear way to test it. But there is still something that can be done: non-functional tests.

Before going to the non-functional part, I decided to deal with the easy and familiar functional tests. I was not precise in my description of the method deliberately. Actually, there is at least one guarantee that it should provide: if we draw each node as a circle of radius nodeRadius with centers at the positions calculated by the method, these circles should respect a left-margin and a top-margin of length margin. This was a nice opportunity for me to try the QtTest framework. I wrote a data-driven Unit Test and everything went well.

Back to the non-functional part, I decided to write a quality benchmark. The idea is to measure some aesthetic criteria of the layouts generated for various classes of graphs. The metrics already implemented are: number of edge crosses, number of edges that cross some other edges, number of node intersections and number of nodes that intersect some other node. Although there is no formal definition of a nice layout, keeping the values of these metrics low seems to be desirable. Currently, I already implemented generators for paths, circles, trees and complete graphs. For each one of these classes of graph, I generate a number of graphs, apply the layout algorithm a certain number of times to each of them, and calculate summary statistics for each one of the considered aesthetic metrics.

For now, there is only one layout algorithm which can applied to any graph. The idea of the quality benchmark is to compare it to other layouts algorithms I will implement. But it does not mean that the quality benchmark is currently useless. Actually, the results I got were quite revealing. The good part is that there were no intersection between nodes. But the results about edge crossing are not so good. Despite my efforts in tuning the parameters, the algorithm can fail to eliminate all edge crosses even for very simple graphs such as paths and circles. Fortunately, choosing parameter values specifically for a graph can sometimes help, and the user can do that in the graph-layout-plugin user interface.

Phase 1 Evaluation Status Report

Monday 29th of June 2020 11:05:00 AM
It has been over a month since the start of GSoC. Phase #1 evaluations will start today. This post is to summarise all the work done by me during phase #1

Implementing the MyPaint Brush engine This involved writing the core brush engine classes like KisMyPaintBrush, KisMyPaintSurface, MyPaintOpPlugin, KisMyPaintOp and KisMyPaintOpFactory. At a very high level, all I had to do was override the draw_dab and get_color methods of MyPaintBrushSurface with my own version to draw over a Krita Paintdevice (Krita Surface class). While working on this, I faced a problem related to lagging that I have discussed in the previous posts. With the help of my mentors, I was able to solve this and bring the lag under acceptable limits. Then, I went on to fix some bugs, which occurred in using some specific presets. The brush engine seems to work fine mostly =]

Calligraphy                                                                       Loading MyPaint Brushes This was the second most important thing in my TODO. The mypaint brush engine would be of no use if it can load the installed mypaint brushes from the system. Also, testing the brush engine was a pain if you base off all your testing work on the default brush. This thing was much needed from the start of the project itself.
Loaded MyPaint brushes
Hopefully, I will pass this evaluation. Don't know. 
Till then, Good Bye :)


OpenUK Awards Close Tomorrow

Monday 29th of June 2020 09:52:56 AM
OpenUK Awards are nearly closed. Do you know of projects that deserve recognition? Entries close midnight ending UTC tomorrow   Individual, young person or open source software, open Hardware or open data project or company   The awards are open to individuals resident in the UK in the last year and projects and organisations with notable open source contributions from individuals resident in the UK in the last year.

Qt Visual Studio Tools 2.5.2 Released

Monday 29th of June 2020 06:30:00 AM

We are happy to announce the release of the Qt Visual Studio Tools version 2.5.2. Installation packages are now available at the Visual Studio Marketplace.

SPDX and the KDE FLA

Sunday 28th of June 2020 10:00:00 PM

KDE repositories are switching over to SPDX identifiers following the specifications. This machine-readable form of licensing information pushes for more consistency in licensing and licensing information.

Long, long ago I wrote some kind of license-checker for KDE sources, as part of the English Breakfast Network. The world has moved on since then, and supply-chains increasingly want to know licensing details: specifically, what exact license is in use (avoiding variations in wording that have cropped up) and what license-performative actions are needed exactly (like in the BSD license family, “reproduce the Copyright notice above”).

Andreas Cord-Landwehr has been chasing license information in KDE source code recently, and has re-done tooling and overall made things better. So there’s now changes – via merge requests on our GitLab instance KDE invent – showing up.

There is one minor thing of note which I’ve discussed with him, and which bears upon the Fiduciary License Agreement (FLA) that KDE e.V. has.

The FLA is a voluntary license agreement that individual contributors can enter into, which assigns such rights (remember, Free Software leverages Copyright!) as are assignable, to the fiduciary, and the fiduciary grants a broad license back. This leverages Copyright laws again, to ensure that the fiduciary can act as copyright holder, while leaving the original contributor with (almost) all the original possibilities for using and sharing the contribution.

I’ll be giving a short talk about the FLA at this year’s online KDE Akademy, so I’ll skip a bunch of general background information.

Since I signed the FLA quite some time ago, with the intent that KDE e.V. is the fiduciary – and therefore the holder of my Copyrights in a bunch of KDE code – Andreas has been converting my statements of copyright like this:

SPDX-FileCopyrightText: 2010 KDE e.V. <> SPDX-FileContributor: 2010 Adriaan de Groot <>

I don’t hold this copyright: the KDE e.V. does. But I’m still morally the author and contributor in this file, so my name is in the file.This is a combination of SPDX tags you’ll probably see more of in the (gradual) conversion of KDE sources to using SPDX tags.

Many other projects also used SPDX statements and follow the REUSE specification: Calamares (a non-KDE project where I’m the maintainer) is slowly switching over, and I have some other projects elsewhere that are following suit. In greenfields (new) code it’s easy to stick to REUSE from the start, but retro-fitting it to an existing codebase can lead to a lot of tedious busywork, so none of my other projects have gone whole-hog over – none of them are “REUSE compliant”, so to speak.

I admire, and salute, Andreas for his dedication to improving the quality of KDE’s codebase in this (tedious and busyworky) way.

Edit 2020-06-29: salute the right name

Cantor Integrated Documentation : Week 3 and 4 Progress

Sunday 28th of June 2020 06:33:00 PM
Hello KDE people. First phase evaluations is due from today onward until 3rd of July. It has been coupe of weeks since I had posted about my project. I was quite busy writing code implementing the documentation panel for the various backends supported by Cantor. In the last post I have explained about how I generated the help files namely qhc (Qt Help Collection) and qch (Qt Compressed Help) from the documentation's source file. In today's post I will explain how I utilized Maxima's help files to actually display help inside the Cantor application itself. So here are the things done:- Things Done 1. Implementation of Documentation Panel Cantor has dedicated panels for Variable manager and some general Help. So I have created a new panel dedicated to display the documentation of the backend which is currently active. To implement it, I have borrowed some basic code from the cantor/src/panelplugins and added widgets similar to any documentation help. I have added tabs for displaying Contents, Index and Search for the documentation. These widgets are populated by loading the help files using a QHelpEngine instance. Currently, Search functionality is yet to be implemented.
2. Display of documentation inside the Documentation Panel I have kept the design as simple as possible. I have divided the display area into 2 halves, one half is the QTabWidget which displays the above listed widgets and the other half is the QWebEngineView, which I am using as a display area for the contents of the documentation. To make the display responsive to the events on the QTabWidget, I have connected the signals of the index and content widget to a slot which displays the contents in the View. 3. Context Sensitive Search Capabilities I have successfully implemented the Context Sensitive Search capability. The user can now while in the worksheet, can select any keyword and then press F2 to show the relevant documentation about that topic. The QWebEngineView updates in real time.
User selected 'sin' and then pressed F2 to forward to the related documentation On pressing F2 key while 'sin' keyword was selected, the index was filtered and the corresponding topic documentation was shown in the view area. 
For those interested in trying it out themselves and/or playing with the code, can clone my repository and build it from source. Here is the link to my repository on which I am working.
That's all folks for this time, until then, Good bye!!

GSoC'20 with KDE

Sunday 28th of June 2020 06:30:00 PM
Part 1 -

With the first month of the coding period almost over, I have been working on completing the first part of my GSoC project.

I have been porting to hugo. The website is very old and has lots and lots of pages. It is even older than me! I have been working on porting these pages to markdown removing the old PHP syntax and adding improvements to the design, responsiveness and accessibility of the website.

I have completed porting the announcements upto the year 2013. I ported the year 2014 as well but I replaced the formatted links into normal ones but I didn’t realise It would break the translations for the pages. So I may have to port these announcements again :( . KDE provides a pot file to its translators and they provide translations in a po file in return. We use a custom extraction script to extract the strings to be translated from the markdown files. The translator is smart enough to ignore some changes to the strings but the changes to the links that I made would break it. It also doesn’t work well with HTML that isn’t inline. I will keep these things in mind in the future.

I am also working on automating (RegEx is Awesome!) much of the work involved in porting these files which may make up for the time lost.

About my Project

The project involves improving KDE Web Infrastructure. KDE has a lot of websites and some of them like the main website could use an update.

The first part of the project involves porting to use Hugo- A go based static site generator. is very old and thus contains a lot of pages. This project would involve porting most of the pages to markdown so as to make the website faster and easier to develop.

The second part of the project involves updating Season of KDE website. The goal is to use more modern tooling and add some new features. This project is a part of the transition of KDE websites from LDAP to OAuth based authentication. OAuth is a much more modern approach to authentication and would solve some headaches with the current authentication system.

Current Working Repository: repo

If you would to join in, Say Hi at #kde-www on irc or telegram.

KDE Connect SMS App (First Evaluation)

Sunday 28th of June 2020 04:14:45 PM

Hi Everyone! It’s been a while since my last post and during this period I continued adding MMS support in KDE Connect SMS app. After the addition of MMS support in android app, My next step was to enable the desktop SMS client to allow users to reply to multi-target messages. I had some discussion with my mentors related to the structure of the network packets to allow sending multimedia files from android to desktop. Since the Attachment field should be an optional field and replacing the current packet type entirely was not feasible keeping in mind the backward compatibility for the desktop app. Simon suggested a nice idea of converting the thumbnails into Base64 encoded string and then adding it into the network packet. This solved the issue of replacing the entire method of pushing the messages to the desktop.

After successfully completing and testing the code on android studio, I added the support to receive and display the optional attachment object on the desktop side. The desktop side was mostly straight forward except transferring the QImage from C++ to QML but at the end I figured it out.

This brings us to my last task of this period i.e. requesting the original attachment file when a user will click on the thumbnail. The click event generates a attachment request packet and send to remote device. Android on the other side on receiving the request packet fetches the requested attachment file from the MMS database and send it to the desktop. Then desktop downloads the file and stores it locally for the future references.

This would not have been possible without the guidance and support of my mentors Simon, Philip, Nicolas and Piyush.

Changelog: Nitrux 1.3.0

Sunday 28th of June 2020 09:41:24 AM

Today is the day! — Nitrux 1.3.0 is available to download

We are pleased to announce the launch of Nitrux 1.3.0. This new version brings together the latest software updates, bug fixes, performance improvements, and ready-to-use hardware support.

Nitrux 1.3.0 is available for immediate download.

What’s new
  • We’ve upgraded the kernel to version 5.6.0-1017.

  • We’ve updated KDE Plasma to version 5.19.2, KDE Frameworks to version 5.71.0, KDE Applications to version 20.04.02.
  • We’ve updated the GTK theme to match closer the Kvantum theme and the Plasma color scheme.
  • We’ve updated the SDDM theme and Plasma look and feel package too (splash, and lock screen) with the colors of the color scheme.
  • We’ve added more wallpapers to our default selection, including our new default wallpaper Opal.

  • Inkscape is updated to version 1.0, and Firefox to version 77.0.1.
  • We’ve updated the Nvidia driver and its libraries to version 440.100.
  • appimage-cli-tool is replaced with its newer version appimage-manager. This new version of appimage-manager is rewritten in Go.
  • We’ve added a new AppImage to the system, Wine.
  • We’ve added a Day/Night wallpaper plugin, which allows users to simulate the color transition of the background to match the daylight. Thanks to dark-eye for the wallpaper plugin.
  • We’ve changed the default font from Chivo to Fira Sans for a more modern look and readability.
Known issues
  • Resizing a window from the top-right corner doesn’t work, this is a problem with the Aurorae decoration; we will be using a native QStyle window decoration to replace it in future releases.
  • When using the tiling windows feature (Khronkite), the system tray plasmoids will be treated as regular windows.
  • OpenGL acceleration is used by default, if you use Nitrux in a VM open System Settings>Monitor>Compositor and select XRandr in addition to disabling desktop effects like Blur.

The post Changelog: Nitrux 1.3.0 appeared first on Nitrux — #YourNextOS.

GSoC 2020 and KDE

Sunday 28th of June 2020 12:00:00 AM

Tomorrow (29/06/2020) begins the first evaluation of the Google Summer of Code 2020. Last GSoC, when I was participating as a student, I wrote in my final report a set of future proposals that could be done in the ROCS graph IDE (Section What’s Next?). This year, some students got interested in these ideas but only one could enter the program (we didn’t have enough mentors for more than one project). Here are the list that I proposed:

  • Implementation of a better algorithm to position the nodes and edges on the plane. I can recommend the use of Force-directed graph drawing algorithms, because they are usually fast and are physics-based;
  • Create a better interface workflow for the program. I can recommend something like the Possible New Configuration image. This configuration consider that the user will spend most part of the time programming, so it creates a better writing space, while the view has a more square shape, which is (in my opinion), better for visualization;
  • Remodelation of how each graph is represented in the javascript code. The type system is good to provide a global configuration, but I think it falls apart when dealing with individual edges and dynamic creation of subgraphs and new edges/nodes (which is needed in some algorithms);
  • Rewrite the view to deal with some problems related to the space of the graphs that is really limited, mouse clicks not working correctly and bad navigation;
  • Change how the icons are used by the ROCS, as some icons don’t have cross-compatibility between some systems.

From this list, Dilson decided to tackle the first one listed. Here is his proposal. Most of the best algorithms involves some type of heuristic inspired in physical motions in the graph, being really fast and good in most graph classes (although there is specialized algorithms for some graph classes). You can see more of his work here. He is doing a great job by showing a good understanding of the algorithms and methods while giving a great amount of thought in the test process (as it is not trivial to test random algorithms).

For now, he implemented a layout algorithm that is an adaptation of the Fruchtermani-Reingold algorithm that works only on connected graphs in a special plugin that controls each physical forces inside the model. I will be giving some updates on his work sparsely in this blog. Please check his blog for more details if interested. :)


Saturday 27th of June 2020 10:00:00 PM

Packaging a big stack like the software from the KDE community – Frameworks, Plasma, and all the applications and libraries and tools from the KDE Release Service – takes a fair bit of time and energy. The KDE-FreeBSD team works on both packaging and porting – making sure that KDE applications behave well on FreeBSD just like on other operating systems.

The majority of the work of compatibility happens in Qt, which is also maintained by the KDE-FreeBSD team. Then the KDE frameworks – 80 or so libraries that are small, lightweight, tiered-so-you-know-about-dependencies and LGPL-licensed – pile a bunch of compatibility on top of that for desktop purposes.

But sometimes, an application needs to dig into the system itself. A text editor edits text regardless of the underlying system, but a memory-usage monitor needs to know how to ask the OS about memory-usage.

So this week I spent a fair bit of time in the KSysGuard codebase, because there’s a FreeBSD bug report that says that the memory-usage monitor shows nothing, and another report that says the graph and the status bar don’t match.

This isn’t the first time: apparently in 2009 I did some work on KSysGuard for OpenSolaris. Different times.

Something that has vaguely bugging me since 2017 is the display of micro-kibibytes in KSysGuard. A micro-kibibyte is one one-hundred-and-twenty-secondth of a single bit – let’s call it a centibit – and that is not useful as a measure of memory usage.

It turns out that in 2016, when porting from KLocale (a kdelibs4-era class) to QLocale, some edge cases were missed. Porting is rarely simple. So today I reintroduced the relevant bits, and in the spirit of modern C++ replaced some magic numbers by static constexpr const int values. As a result, KSysGuard tooltips no longer annoy me (assuming the MRs are accepted over on KDE invent).

And then I looked at the upstream bug list, and fixed a buffer overflow if you have implausibly long disk-device names (I suspect this is only relevant with the old Solaris naming scheme).

Once the bug list is open, it’s natural to click around a bit, and I tracked down another bug to a typo in an entirely different repository, which causes translated rich-text markup to break.

The next bug is about column alignment, and I ended up with 10 commits to illustrate the thinking behind what was a relatively simple refactoring, but a single change would be a lot harder to justify.

.. and then it was 2am. What was I trying to fix? I forget.

Rendering OSM Maps with MapCSS

Saturday 27th of June 2020 07:45:00 AM

After having written about where we get the data for KDE Itinerary’s train station and airport maps from, this post is about how we actually render this data.

Rendering OSM Data

When looking at the geometry, OSM data consists basically just of lines and polygons, so technically there’s only few primitives to render. To make this look like a useful map though, a lot depends on the map styling. That is, the decision with which colors, line strokes, fill patterns, z order, and iconographic or textual labels those geometric primitives should be rendered. Here we are talking about hundreds of rules to make a good map.

Since writing all those rules in code is hard to work with and to maintain, using a declarative way to define the rules is attractive. Several such systems exist in the OSM space already, such as MapCSS or CartoCSS, so we followed that and are using MapCSS for our indoor map renderer.


As the name suggests, there’s quite a few similarities to CSS, which makes it fairly straightforward to work with. Selectors and conditions are tied to querying OSM element types, OSM tags and the current zoom level instead of HTML elements and attributes, and similarly the properties you can declare refer to the styling capabilities of the map renderer instead.

Let’s look at a simple example for rendering railway tracks:

way[railway=rail] { color: #eff0f1; dashes: 2,2; width: 1.5m; casing-width: 3px; casing-color: #31363b; linecap: none; }

One thing you might notice there is the support for the size unit “m”, meters. Unlike sizes specified in pixel, the size on screen changes depending on the current zoom level. Another powerful mechanism is being able to refer to values from OSM tags here. Let’s expand the above example by the following additional rule:

way[railway=rail][gauge] { width: gauge; }

This will cause railway tracks being rendered in a width matching their track gauge. The following screenshot of the mixed-gauge Swiss station of Visp shows the result.

Visp train station, narrow gauge tracks at the bottom, normal gauge tracks at the top.

Just like CSS, MapCSS also supports importing of rules from other files. This allows a modular design, sharing common rules between a dark and a light style for example, or even to define special-purpose variations of a common base style. This could for example be used to specifically highlight things depending on a users need or the current use-case/workflow.

Another nice side-effect of not having this in (compiled) code is the ability to load and reload MapCSS stylesheets arbitrarily at runtime, which speeds up development considerably: just make a change, reload the stylesheet and check if things look like you want them to look.

One can also twist this into a fancy debug output for the data processing, by creating a diagnostic stylesheet which e.g. just shows geometric primitives as-is.

Diagnostic MapCSS stylesheet showing navigation paths and elevator ids on a train station platform.

Such flexibility often has its price though. And indeed, the initial naive implementation didn’t scale up well enough to a realistically sized rule set. However, after a few rounds of optimizations MapCSS evaluation for an entire large building floor now easily happens within a single frame cycle, on a mobile phone. Even loading the data of an entire city into this as a stress test just takes a few seconds. And should we ever hit the limit again, there’s a few more ideas on how to further improve this.

There’s still a number of things from the MapCSS spec we haven’t implemented yet, due to so far not having needed them (e.g. fill textures, extrusion properties, chained selectors or eval expressions). Similarly, there are a few things that seem not easily doable by standard MapCSS features, such as indicating line directions (e.g. on one way streets or escalators), so a few custom extensions might become necessary. This is all fine though, having a system now that we can tailor exactly to our needs.


While there is of course still plenty of work to do all over this, I think we are getting close to an initial integration into KDE Itinerary. While initially not offering more than showing a basic map, it would enable work on deeper integration features, and make all improvements on the map side immediately useful.

If you are interested in contributing, no matter if feedback, ideas or code, check out the workboard on Gitlab.

For playing with this locally, the best starting point is probably the QML example. After building KPublicTransport, add the bin/ sub-folder of the build directory to the QML2_IMPORT_PATH environment variable (or install to a properly setup prefix), and then load tests/indoormap.qml with qmlscene.

More (mis-)adventures in Qt Quick land

Saturday 27th of June 2020 06:08:10 AM

There’s no escaping that Qt Quick, sometimes also referred to by its language QML, has become the major focus of the framework. At least until the company decides to drastically change course in Qt 7. There will always be a place for QWidgets-based UI and C++ (everything compiles to C++ anyway, more or less), Qt Quick is really being pushed as the future of building user interfaces, especially for touch, mobile, and embedded.

A few years back, I tried playing around with using Qt Quick for rapid app prototyping by creating some reusable components and I wanted to build upon that by prototyping some non-conventional and even fictional user interfaces from prototype devices and concept videos. I didn’t get far with my limited knowledge of Qt Quick and was only able to implement an extremely crude version of MeeGo’s column-based home screen (a dream from long ago, don’t ask).

Inspired by my success (dripping with sarcasm), I ventured to try out other unconventional UI ideas that I had that I presumed would probably be easier to pull off in QtQuick compared to a traditional widget-based application. Especially since QML is always advertised for in-vehicle HUDs and instrumentation control panels.

Lastly, there was this sort of program I’ve long been thinking of, more as a fun and whimsical nod to some anime of my childhood. Yes, it’ll probably bring back not so fond memories of Clippy, but eh. Like I said, mostly for fun (for now).

I wish I could report that I have become a QML Qonvert (SCNR). I’m still on the fence about the whole Qt Quick matter, regardless of whether it’s the future or not. It’s probably possible to implement all of the fancy animation and touch-based gestures in C++ (since that’s what Qt Quick uses underneath anyway), but it will be like bending over backward just to have a “pure” C++ implementation. And since KDE Plasma, both desktop and mobile, are pretty centered around Qt Quick, the argument is pretty moot for a KDE developer working on those parts.

It’s not that I found the experience terrible. In fact, I’ve probably grown a bit fond of declarative programming, at least for some parts that make sense. I also appreciate how easy it is to play around with non-traditional widgets and controls or even make your own using QML, something I think would have taken me more than a day to pull off in C++ given the same level of proficiency (read: noob).

That freedom and flexibility, however, do come at a price, when the things you’ve taken for granted on the QWidgets side of the fence now become critical knowledge. Positioning, layouting, parenting, and the like have been particular stumbling blocks. They’re easy for the most common use cases but then become exponentially more complicated once you step outside of those. And don’t even get me started on how Qt Quick still lacks a proper tree view after so long.

My main takeaway? Qt Quick is almost like a separate and independent framework of its own, just one that’s built on top of Qt’s core classes. It almost shares very little in common with the widget-based paradigm that it’s probably best to treat it as an entirely different beast rather than just “another way” to develop Qt applications. In other words, it’s definitely something I’ll have to invest in learning deeper, as deep as I tried learning Qt ages ago. And considering the kinds of applications I want to write or am interested in, it is, as one purple dude said, inevitable.

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This week in KDE: We really hate bugs and we want to squash them all

Saturday 27th of June 2020 03:56:50 AM

The bugfixing and polish continue this week, but we also managed to squeeze in some welcome UI improvements, particular for our Kate text editor!

New Features

File move and copy operations and other similar I/O related jobs now support nanosecond timestamp precision (Méven Car, Frameworks 5.72)

File copy operations throughout KDE software can now make use of the copy-on-write functionality of the Btrfs filesystem (Méven Car, Frameworks 5.72)

Bugfixes & performance Improvements

.Desktop files whose icons are defined to be SVG files with the full path included now render correctly in Dolphin (Alexander Lohnau, Dolphin 20.04.3)

Hitting Ctrl+Shift+W in Yakuake now closes the session as expected rather than displaying an unpleasant “Ambiguous Shortcut Detected” dialog (Nicolas Fella, Yakuake 20.04.3)

Fixed a case where Discover could hang on launch and then crash (Aleix Pol Gonzales, Plasma 5.12.10 and beyond)

Fixed a bug that could cause Plasma Panels to be incorrectly drawn on top of full-screen game windows (Vlad Zahorodnii, Plasma 5.18.6 and beyond)

When an application exits very soon after inhibiting screen locking, the inhibition is now correctly cleared (Kai Uwe Broulik, Plasma 5.18.6 and beyond)

Fixed a bug that could cause the system to log out instead of restarting or shutting down (David Edmundson, Plasma 5.19.2)

Fixed a crash on Wayland when dragging-and-dropping a URL from Telegram to Firefox (David Edmundson, Plasma 5.19.2)

Switching between KWin rendering backends now lets you return to the original one without having to navigate elsewhere and then return (Benjamin Port, Plasma 5.19.2)

Fix Plasma 5.19 regression: The logout action in the Lock/Logout widget now works again (David Edmundson, Plasma 5.19.3)

Fix Plasma 5.19 regression: window rules using the WM_CLASS property now work again (Ismael Asensio, Plasma 5.19.3)

Fix Plasma 5.19 regression: window rules created from the rule dialog accessible by right-clicking on a window’s titleabar are now saved and applied properly (Ismael Asensio, Plasma 5.19.3)

Fix Plasma 5.19 regression: deleting multiple applications’ shortcuts in the new Global Shortcuts page no longer either fails or causes System Settings to crash (David Redondo, Plasma 5.19.3)

That incredibly annoying bug whereby scrolling with a scroll wheel mouse in a GTK app stops working when a Plasma notification appears has just been fixed!!! (Vlad Zahorodnii, Plasma 5.19.3)

The System Settings Default Applications page now lists Nautilus as a filemanager when it’s installed (Méven Car, Plasma 5.19.3)

Setting detailed locale format settings now works properly (Alexander Lohnau, Plasma 5.19.3)

The Media Player widget now has a saner default size when not in the System Tray (Riccardo Robecchi, Plasma 5.19.3)

Fixed a bug that could cause re-colorable icons to be re-colored incorrectly when changing an application-specific color scheme (David Redondo, Frameworks 5.72)

Plasma no longer crashes when configuring a WPA2-Enterprise encrypted Wi-Fi network with an EAP-TLS with public key only CA certificate file (Albert Astals Cid, QCA 2.3.1)

User Interface Improvements

Yakuake’s window can now be de-maximized with the same keyboard shortcut used to maximize it if you hit it a second time (Anton Karmanov, Yakuake 20.04.3)

Kate’s tab bar is now visually consistent with all the tab bars in other KDE apps (Tomaz Canabrava, Kate 20.08.0):

In case you noticed that the wallpaper is blurry, don’t worry, I’m fixing it

Kate’s tab bar now opens new tabs on the right, like most other tabs bars do (Christoph Cullmann, Kate 20.08.0)

Plasma’s Emoji picker window(which you can open with the Meta+period keyboard shortcut) now closes when you hit the escape key (Alexander Lohnau, Plasma 5.20)

That same Emoji picker window now lets you copy emojis using the standard Ctrl+C shortcut (me: Nate Graham, Plasma 5.20)

When the user has applied updates that require a reboot, the System Tray icon becomes a “Restart” icon and prompts you to restart when you click on it (me: Nate Graham, Plasma 5.20)

The System Tray’s expanded view now displays a button you can click on to configure the System Tray itself (me: Nate Graham):

The file dialog now behaves the same as Dolphin in that when you navigate to the parent folder, the child folder is highlighted (Ahmad Samir, Frameworks 5.72)

When you user trash a file, empty the trash, then undo the deletion, the message shown is now more accurate (Ahmad Samir, Frameworks 5.72)

How You Can Help

Have a look at to discover ways to help be part of a project that really matters. Each contributor makes a huge difference in KDE; you are not a number or a cog in a machine! You don’t have to already be a programmer, either. I wasn’t when I got started. Try it, you’ll like it! We don’t bite!

Finally, consider making a tax-deductible donation to the KDE e.V. foundation.

First Evaluation

Friday 26th of June 2020 06:30:00 PM
Part 5 -

Hi everyone

It has been two weeks since my last post. In this time period, I took forward my project, adding multiple datasets and completed “share pieces of candies” and “locate the regions” activities.

Our motive behind adding multiple datasets in activities is to make the difficulty range of activities wider. This way the same activity can be easily configured to be played by pupils of different ages or capabilities.

GCompris code has been divided into two parts/folders i.e “activities” and “core” parts.

Activities parts

The Activities folder includes the implementation of each activity, it contains 1 folder per activity and every folder further contains a QML file, javascript file, and resource folder. Here QML is for designing the user interface, javascript (.js) files contain the main logic of the activity and resource folders, as the name suggests it, contains all the resources for activities. Images are good examples for resource folder.

Core Parts

Many elements i.e, help button, bonus which pupils see after successfully completing the level, menu bar and even the base container of each activity are the same in many activities. So, obviously rewriting them every time for each activity is time-consuming and makes the code difficult to maintain. This is why we have a core folder that contains core files which can be easily imported and used by any activity.

Visualization is always easy :).

src/ activities/ sudoku/ Sudoku.qml Sudoku.js resources/ core/ ActivityBase.qml Bonus.qml

Multiple dataset is implemented in core components of Gcompris. So, whenever I say I have added multiple datasets in an activity, it means I have changed the code of the activity to adapt multiple datasets and added JSON files. We use 1 JSON file to represent 1 dataset and datasets are a resource for an activity so we put them inside the resource folder.

I can further show you the json file and how anyone can easily customize them by discussing my past week’s work on share pieces of candies.

Share Pieces of Candy

As the name suggests, in this activity pupils have to equally distribute candies between their friends.

These are the datasets

Part of JSON file, which anyone can use to customize levels

We always try to make these keys self-explanatory. One can change values and rerun the application to see the effects.

In Proposal, I planned to only have 2 datasets for this activity but later I found that we have some random levels too, in which we can’t guarantee the extra candies. So after discussing with mentors, we decided to add one flag for each level (you can see the “randomisedInputData” flag in above JSON pic) and the third dataset, which will contain randomized levels. The Share activity contains lots of levels, sublevels and instructions...

Simplifying unit tests using a custom markup language

Friday 26th of June 2020 12:33:31 PM

Today I want to present a testing technique I now use in Nanonote unit tests.

Nanonote main component is a QTextEdit with several "extensions" to provide custom behaviors such as indenting/unindenting selected lines with tab/shift+tab or moving selected lines up and down with alt+shift+arrow keys (next version feature, #spoileralert!).

Testing these extensions is not particularly difficult but it requires tedious setup to set the text, position the cursor, define the selection. Then you perform the action and have to write more tedious code to check the new text, cursor position and selection match your expectations. Not only is it tedious to write, it is also error-prone and hard to read.

Here is an example:

SECTION("indent whole lines") { // GIVEN a TextEdit with 3 lines, the first two being selected edit->setPlainText("1\n" "2\n" "3\n"); auto cursor = edit->textCursor(); cursor.movePosition(QTextCursor::Down, QTextCursor::KeepAnchor, 2); edit->setTextCursor(cursor); // WHEN I press Tab QTest::keyClick(edit, Qt::Key_Tab); // THEN the selected lines are indented CHECK(edit->toPlainText() == QString(" 1\n" " 2\n" "3\n")); // AND the selected lines are still selected CHECK(cursor.selectionStart() == 4); CHECK(cursor.selectionEnd() == 12); }

(The SECTION and CHECK macros come from the Catch2 test framework I use to write Nanonote tests)

To simplify this I created two helper functions. The first one, setupTextEditContent(), is responsible for setting up a TextEdit in the state I need for my test. It takes a TextEdit instance and a string describing the wanted state in a tiny "markup" language. This language is the text content for the TextEdit with some special characters to define the selection:

  • It must contain a | character to indicate the cursor position.
  • It can contain a * character to indicate the selection start.
  • | may appear before * in the case of an upward selection.

Using this function, we can rewrite our the GIVEN part of our test code like this:

SECTION("indent whole lines") { // GIVEN a TextEdit with 3 lines, the first two being selected setupTextEditContent(edit, "*1\n" "2\n" "|3\n"); // WHEN I press Tab QTest::keyClick(edit, Qt::Key_Tab); // THEN the selected lines are indented CHECK(edit->toPlainText() == QString(" 1\n" " 2\n" "3\n")); // AND the selected lines are still selected CHECK(cursor.selectionStart() == 4); CHECK(cursor.selectionEnd() == 12); }

The second function, dumpTextEditContent(), does the opposite: it returns the representation of the TextEdit state using the markup language. It can be used to check the state of the TextEdit instance matches what is expected. Our test code can thus be further simplified into this:

SECTION("indent whole lines") { // GIVEN a TextEdit with 3 lines, the first two being selected setupTextEditContent(edit, "*1\n" "2\n" "|3\n"); // WHEN I press Tab QTest::keyClick(edit, Qt::Key_Tab); // THEN the selected lines are indented // AND the selected lines are still selected REQUIRE(dumpTextEditContent(edit) == QString(" *1\n" " 2\n" "|3\n")); }

As you can see the test code is much shorter and, at least for me, easier to read. Furthermore, in case of failures, the error message shows the difference between the actual and the expected state using the markup language instead of telling you that the cursor position is at 3 instead of the expected 2.

I find this technique makes it a lot less painful to write tests and will look into using it in other places when it makes sense. One drawback to keep in mind though is that the implementation of setupTextEditContent() and dumpTextEditContent() must not be buggy itself! It might make sense to write tests for those...

That's it for this article, I hope it was useful for you. I doubt I actually invented this technique, so I'd be interested to hear if you have ever used a similar testing technique in your own projects!

Plasma 6 porting work we need help doing now!

Thursday 25th of June 2020 08:00:29 AM

"6.0" is a word that brings a lot of excitement but also a lot of aprehension and for good reason. The reason our .0 releases sometimes struggle to match the quality isn't due to changes in the underlying libraries changing but how much we have to port away from the things that we've deprecated internally and have put off porting to.

Too many changes in one release becomes overwhelming and bugs creep in without time to get address them.

We want to be proactive in avoiding that.

At a recent Plasma sprint, we went through some of our bigger targets that we want to finish completely porting away from in time for the 6.0 release that we can actively start doing within the 5.x series where we can do things more gradually and inrecementally.

I've listed two big topics below.

DataEngines History

DataEngines were a piece of tech from the KDE4 era. Effectively the idea was to provide an abstract mechanism to expose arbitrary data or plugins to a scriptable format usable by various language bindings. A valid task at the time, but Qt5 provided a much more efficent mechanism to do this capitalising on the metaobject system and models

DataEngines mostly form a now unnecessary layer of indirection that makes QML code hard to parse and suboptimal to run. They also are Plasma specific, which doesn't help other QML consumers of the same data.

We kept with them for Plasma 5 as there's some valid, perfectly working code exposed through them, and have been slowly porting away.


The task isn't to port all existing DataEngines. Some already have replacements under different names, some aren't widely used.

We want to find all existing applets that use DataEngines and make sure there are modern new QML bindings we can port the repsective applets to.

A list of tasks can be found:

System settings modules History

Systemsettings is powered by a multitude of KDE Configuration Modules (KCMs) each one is a standalone plugin. There are nearly 100 modules, and with dated code stretching back over 20 years.

KDE, plasma especially is on the turning point between two toolkits. Some things are written in QWidgets and other things use the newer QtQuick. We try and hide this from the user; everything should of course look seamless. Implementation details shouldn't affect the UI.

We've been slowly porting our system settings modules, and whilst some were rocky at first, the later results are looking really nice and really polished, able to make use of emerging new patterns in our Kirigami toolkit.

Mixing two toolkits in the same process leads to a lot of complications that leak into the UI as well as overhead. We want to make it an objective to see if we can port everything to lead to an overall simpler stack.


The overall task is to find KCMs that haven't been ported yet and make the appropriate changes.

However, this isn't just a goal of blindly porting.

We want to take a step back, really polishing the UX, tidying the code to have a good logic vs UI split and revsit some modules that haven't been touched in a long time, putting effort into our underlying frameworks to make sure we have everything ready on the QtQuick side to do so.

A list of KCMs and their porting status can be found:

Getting involved

The best way to get involved is to comment on the relevant phabricator ticket. Or swing by #plasma on IRC and let people know what you want to work on and we'll help you get started.
Some of the systemsettings modules have mockups from the VDG and we want to keep them in the loop.

Week 3: GSoC Project Report

Tuesday 23rd of June 2020 10:13:18 AM

This week I implemented views, drag and drop of storyboard items in the central view and made some small changes. I also ran unit-tests, checked for memory leaks and debugged code, but unfortunately we couldn’t get it tested by users as we got some crashes.

There are three views to customize what part of the storyboard item you see. Namely they are Thumbnail only, Comments only and Both. This was easy to implement as we only had to make changes to delegate and view class to draw the right parts based on the chosen view.

All view Comments Only View Thumbnails only View

I also implemented drag and drop of storyboard items. For this I implemented the mimeData and dropMimeData functions and then called the moveRows function in the dropMimeData function to move the rows.

Drag and drop

Also we made the add and delete buttons permanent instead of show on hover as their might be some tablet devices that do not support hover.

I made some changes to unit-tests to account for the changes in the design. All the unit-tests passed. I also got some memory leaks that I investigated and fixed using valgrind. But we got some crashes that couldn’t be fixed this week so we couldn’t get the GUI tested by users.

This week I would focus on debugging the code and getting it tested by users.

2020 KDE roadmap: mid-year update

Monday 22nd of June 2020 10:17:24 PM

Here’s a mid-year update on the 2020 roadmap I proposed six months ago:

FUSE mounts to better support accessing remote locations in non-KDE apps: DONE

kio-fuse was released in beta form early this year and is already packaged in many distros. It’s working great! The final release will happen later this year.

Privilege escalation in KIO and Dolphin: AT RISK

It turned out that there was more work remaining here than I had anticipated. Unfortunately nobody seems to have the critical combination of domain knowledge, interest in working on it, and time to do so. Assistance on would be appreciated to help make it happen this year.

Improved Samba share discovery in Dolphin: DONE

This was implemented for Dolphin 20.04. By all accounts, it’s working quite well!

Auto-rotation for tablets, convertibles, and other hardware with rotation sensors: DONE

This was implemented for Plasma 5.18 and works on Wayland (getting it working on X11 is a lost cause, apparently). If it isn’t working for you on Wayland, it’s likely that you don’t have the iio-sensor-proxy package installed, or your hardware isn’t supported by the kernel yet.

Implement more of the proposed visual design changes to the Breeze style and KDE apps: ON TRACK

Work is proceeding at a good pace. The new System Tray design was shipped with Plasma 5.19. We’re targeting 5.20 for the new application appearance and patches are landing. Things are on track.

Better wallpapers in the extra wallpapers repo: AT RISK

This is blocked on implementing a wallpaper cache. I took a stab at it for Plasma 5.18 but it turned out to be more complicated than I had anticipated and I kind of got demoralized and dropped it. Need to resume the work.

Per-screen scale factors on X11: UNLIKELY

Focus has shifted toward Wayland in a big way, and for the past few months, veteran KDE developers have been smashing Wayland problems left and right. They’ve gotten clipboard support working with Klipper and going between Wayland and XWayland windows; made Spectacle work properly; fixed a number of drag-and-drop issues, and are very close to finishing task manager thumbnails, screencasting, and more! Given the progress and momentum, there’s a strong desire to make Wayland finally usable rather than hack things into X11 that it was never designed to support and are unlikely to ever work properly.

Inertial scrolling throughout Plasma and QML apps: UNLIKELY

No work has happened here. A lot of the issue are in Qt itself and are very challenging to resolve, especially on X11. There may be more hope for getting it done on Wayland.

Power/session controls on the lock screen: AT RISK

I started implementing this and got it kinda-sorta working but then lost motivation and forgot about it. Sorry about that. I need to get back into it.

Well there you have it! Of course this is just a tiny fraction of the stuff actually going on, it’s just what’s relevant to the proposed roadmap I outlined earlier.

As always, if you want to see these things happen faster, please feel free to help out! The code is public and the people are friendly.

More in Tux Machines

Linux Devices and Open Hardware

  • Mini-PC and SBC build on Whiskey Lake

    Supermicro’s 3.5-inch “X11SWN-H-WOHS” SBC and “SYS-E100-9W-H” mini-PC based it feature an 8th Gen UE-series CPU, HDMI and DP, 4x USB 3.1 Gen2, 2x GbE, and 3x M.2. Supermicro has launched a fanless, 8th Gen Whiskey Lake SBC and mini-PC. The SYS-E100-9W-H mini-PC (or SuperServer E100-9W-H), which was reported on by Fanless Tech, is certified only to run Windows 10, but the 3.5-inch X11SWN-H-WOHS SBC supports Ubuntu. Applications include industrial automation, retail, smart medical expert systems, kiosks, interactive info systems, and digital signage.

  • Exor nanoSOM nS02 System-on-Module Features the 800MHz version of STM32MP1 Processor

    Exor provides a Linux RT board support package (BSP) or Android BSP for the module which also fully supports the company’s X Platform including Exor Embedded Open HMI software, Corvina Cloud IIoT platform, and IEC61131 CODESYS or Exor xPLC runtime.

  • Onyx Boox Poke2 Color eReader Launched for $299

    Manga and comics fans, rejoice! After years of getting black & white eReaders, the first commercial color eReaders are coming to market starting with Onyx Boox Poke2 Color eReader sold for $299 (but sadly sold out at the time of writing). The eReader comes with a 6-inch, 1448 x 1072 E-Ink display that supports up to 4096 colors, and runs Android 9.0 on an octa-core processor coupled with 2GB RAM and 32GB storage.

  • xDrill Smart Power Drill Supports Intelligent Speed/Torque, Laser Measuring, Digital Leveling (Crowdfunding)

    Many home appliances now have smart functions, and in my cases, I fail to see the added value, and I’m not sure why I’d want/need a connected refrigerator with a touchscreen display. So when I first saw somebody make a “smart” power drill with a small touchscreen display I laughed. But after having a closer look, Robbox xDrill smart power drill could actually be a very useful device saving you time and helping work better.

  • Raspberry Pi calls out your custom workout routine
  • Odyssey Blue: A powerful x86 and Arduino machine that supports Windows 10 and Linux

    It has been a few months since we reported on the Odyssey, a single-board computer (SBC) designed by Seeedstudio. Unlike many SBCs, the Odyssey, or ODYSSEY-X86J4105800 to give it its full name, supported the x86 instruction set. While the Odyssey can run Windows 10, it is also compatible with the Arduino ecosystem. Now, Seeedstudio has expanded on the design of the Odyssey with the Odyssey Blue.

  • Bring two analog meters out of retirement to display temperature and humidity

    Tom of Build Comics created a unique analog weather station that shows temperature and humidity on a pair of recycled gauges. An Arduino Nano reads the levels using a DHT22 sensor and outputs them in the proper format for each display. Both units have a new printed paper backing to indicate conditions, along with a trimmer pot for calibration. To set the build off nicely, the Nano and other electronics are housed inside a beautiful custom wooden box, to which the antique meters are also affixed.

Programming Leftovers

  • Engineer Your Own Electronics With PCB Design Software

    A lot of self-styled geeks out there tend to like to customize their own programs, devices, and electronics. And for the true purists, that can mean building from the ground up (you know, like Superman actor Henry Cavill building a gaming PC to the delight of the entire internet). Building electronics from the ground up can mean a lot of different things: acquiring parts, sometimes from strange sources; a bit of elbow grease on the mechanical side of things; and today, even taking advantage of the 3D printing revolution that’s finally enabling people to manufacture customized objects in their home. Beyond all of these things though, engineering your own devices can also mean designing the underlying electronics — beginning with printed circuit boards, also known as PCBs. [...] On the other hand, there are also plenty of just-for-fun options to consider. For example, consider our past buyer’s guide to the best Linux laptop, in which we noted that you can always further customize your hardware. With knowledge of PCB design, that ability to customize even a great computer or computer setup is further enhanced. You might, for instance, learn how to craft PCBs and devices amounting to your own mouse, gaming keyboard, or homemade speakers — all of which can make your hardware more uniquely your own. All in all, PCB design is a very handy skill to have in 2020. It’s not typically necessary, in that there’s usually a device or some light customization that can give you whatever you want or need out of your electronics. But for “geeks” and tech enthusiasts, knowledge of PCB design adds another layer to the potential to customize hardware.

  • Programming pioneer Fran Allen dies aged 88 after a career of immense contributions to compilers

    Frances Allen, one of the leading computer scientists of her generation and a pioneer of women in tech, died last Tuesday, her 88th birthday. Allen is best known for her work on compiler organisation and optimisation algorithms. Together with renowned computer scientist John Cocke, she published a series of landmark papers in the late '60s and '70s that helped to lay the groundwork for modern programming. In recognition of her efforts, in 2006 Allen became the first woman to be awarded the AM Turing Award, often called the Nobel Prize of computing.

  • Excellent Free Tutorials to Learn ECMAScript

    ECMAScript is an object‑oriented programming language for performing computations and manipulating computational objects within a host environment. The language was originally designed as a scripting language, but is now often used as a general purpose programming language. ECMAScript is best known as the language embedded in web browsers but has also been widely adopted for server and embedded applications.

  • Alexander Larsson: Compatibility in a sandboxed world

    Compatibility has always been a complex problems in the Linux world. With the advent of containers/sandboxing it has become even more complicated. Containers help solve compatibility problems, but there are still remaining issues. Especially on the Linux desktop where things are highly interconnected. In fact, containers even create some problems that we didn’t use to have. Today I’ll take a look at the issues in more details and give some ideas on how to best think of compatibility in this post-container world, focusing on desktop use with technologies like flatpak and snap. [...] Another type of compatibility is that of communication protocols. Two programs that talk to each other using a networking API (which could be on two different machines, or locally on the same machine) need to use a protocol to understand each other. Changes to this protocol need to be carefully considered to ensure they are compatible. In the remote case this is pretty obvious, as it is very hard to control what software two different machines use. However, even for local communication between processes care has to be taken. For example, a local service could be using a protocol that has several implementations and they all need to stay compatible. Sometimes local services are split into a service and a library and the compatibility guarantees are defined by the library rather than the service. Then we can achieve some level of compatibility by ensuring the library and the service are updated in lock-step. For example a distribution could ship them in the same package.

  • GXml-0.20 Released

    GXml is an Object Oriented implementation of DOM version 4, using GObject classes and written in Vala. Has a fast and robust serialization implementation from GObject to XML and back, with a high degree of control. After serialization, provides a set of collections where you can get access to child nodes, using lists or hash tables. New 0.20 release is the first step toward 1.0. It provides cleaner API and removes old unmaintained implementations. GXml is the base of other projects depending on DOM4, like GSVG an engine to read SVG documents based on its specificacion 1.0. GXml uses a method to set properties and fill declared containers for child nodes, accessing GObject internals directly, making it fast. A libxml-2.0 engine is used to read sequentially each node, but is prepared to implement new ones in the future.

  • Let Mom Help You With Object-Oriented Programming

    Mom is a shortcut for creating Moo classes (and roles). It allows you to define a Moo class with the brevity of Class::Tiny. (In fact, Mom is even briefer.) A simple example: Mom allows you to use Moo features beyond simply declaring Class::Tiny-like attributes though. You can choose whether attributes are read-only, read-write, or read-write-private, whether they're required or optional, specify type constraints, defaults, etc.

  • Perl Weekly Challenge 73: Min Sliding Window and Smallest Neighbor

    These are some answers to the Week 73 of the Perl Weekly Challenge organized by Mohammad S. Anwar. Spoiler Alert: This weekly challenge deadline is due in a few days from now (on Aug. 16, 2020). This blog post offers some solutions to this challenge, please don’t read on if you intend to complete the challenge on your own.

  • [rakulang] 2020.32 Survey, Please

    The TPF Marketing Committee wants to learn more about how you perceive “The Perl Foundation” itself, and asks you to fill in this survey (/r/rakulang, /r/perl comments). Thank you!

Hardware With Linux Support: NUVIA and AMD Wraith Prism

  • Performance Delivered a New Way

    The server CPU has evolved at an incredible pace over the last two decades. Gone are the days of discrete CPUs, northbridges, southbridges, memory controllers, other external I/O and security chips. In today’s modern data center, the SoC (System On A Chip) does it all. It is the central point of coordination for virtually all workloads and the main hub where all the fixed-function accelerators connect, such as AI accelerators, GPUs, network interface controllers, storage devices, etc.

  • NUVIA Published New Details On Their Phoenix CPU, Talks Up Big Performance/Perf-Per-Watt

    Since leaving stealth last year and hiring some prominent Linux/open-source veterans to complement their ARM processor design experts, we have been quite eager to hear more about this latest start-up aiming to deliver compelling ARM server products. Today they shared some early details on their initial "Phoenix" processor that is coming within their "Orion" SoC. The first-generation Phoenix CPU is said to have a "complete overhaul" of the CPU pipeline and is a custom core based on the ARM architecture. They believe that Phoenix+Orion will be able to take on Intel/AMD x86_64 CPUs not only in raw performance but also in performance-per-Watt.

  • Take control of your AMD Wraith Prism RGB on Linux with Wraith Master

    Where the official vendor doesn't bother with supporting Linux properly, once again the community steps in to provide. If you want to tweak your AMD Wraith Prism lighting on Linux, check out Wraith Master. It's a similar project to CM-RGB that we previously highlighted. With the Wraith Master project, they provide a "feature-complete" UI and command-line app for controlling the fancy LED system on AMD's Wraith Prism cooler with eventual plans to support more.

The Massive Privacy Loopholes in School Laptops

It’s back to school time and with so many school districts participating in distance learning, many if not most are relying on computers and technology more than ever before. Wealthier school districts are providing their students with laptops or tablets, but not all schools can afford to provide each student with a computer which means that this summer parents are scrambling to find a device for their child to use for school. Geoffery Fowler wrote a guide in the Washington Post recently to aid parents in sourcing a computer or tablet for school. Given how rough kids can be with their things, many people are unlikely to give their child an expensive, premium laptop. The guide mostly focuses on incredibly low-cost, almost-disposable computers, so you won’t find a computer in the list that has what I consider a critical feature for privacy in the age of video conferencing: hardware kill switches. Often a guide like this would center on Chromebooks as Google has invested a lot of resources to get low-cost Chromebooks into schools yet I found Mr. Fowler’s guide particularly interesting because of his opinion on Chromebooks in education... Read more Also: Enabling Dark Mode on a Chromebook (Do not try this at home)