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Fedora Magazine

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Guides, information, and news about the Fedora operating system for users, developers, system administrators, and community members.
Updated: 9 hours 19 min ago

What is Silverblue?

Friday 12th of July 2019 08:00:38 AM

Fedora Silverblue is becoming more and more popular inside and outside the Fedora world. So based on feedback from the community, here are answers to some interesting questions about the project. If you do have any other Silverblue related questions, please leave it in the comments section and we will try to answer them in a future article.

What is Silverblue?

Silverblue is a codename for the new generation of the desktop operating system, previously known as Atomic Workstation. The operating system is delivered in images that are created by utilizing the rpm-ostree project. The main benefits of the system are speed, security, atomic updates and immutability.

What does “Silverblue” actually mean?

“Team Silverblue” or “Silverblue” in short doesn’t have any hidden meaning. It was chosen after roughly two months when the project, previously known as Atomic Workstation was rebranded. There were over 150 words or word combinations reviewed in the process. In the end Silverblue was chosen because it had an available domain as well as the social network accounts. One could think of it as a new take on Fedora’s blue branding, and could be used in phrases like “Go, Team Silverblue!” or “Want to join the team and improve Silverblue?”.

What is ostree?

OSTree or libostree is a project that combines a “git-like” model for committing and downloading bootable filesystem trees, together with a layer to deploy them and manage the bootloader configuration. OSTree is used by rpm-ostree, a hybrid package/image based system that Silverblue uses. It atomically replicates a base OS and allows the user to “layer” the traditional RPM on top of the base OS if needed.

Why use Silverblue?

Because it allows you to concentrate on your work and not on the operating system you’re running. It’s more robust as the updates of the system are atomic. The only thing you need to do is to restart into the new image. Also, if there’s anything wrong with the currently booted image, you can easily reboot/rollback to the previous working one, if available. If it isn’t, you can download and boot any other image that was generated in the past, using the ostree command.

Another advantage is the possibility of an easy switch between branches (or, in an old context, Fedora releases). You can easily try the Rawhide or updates-testing branch and then return back to the one that contains the current stable release. Also, you should consider Silverblue if you want to try something new and unusual.

What are the benefits of an immutable OS?

Having the root filesystem mounted read-only by default increases resilience against accidental damage as well as some types of malicious attack. The primary tool to upgrade or change the root filesystem is rpm-ostree.

Another benefit is robustness. It’s nearly impossible for a regular user to get the OS to the state when it doesn’t boot or doesn’t work properly after accidentally or unintentionally removing some system library. Try to think about these kind of experiences from your past, and imagine how Silverblue could help you there.

How does one manage applications and packages in Silverblue?

For graphical user interface applications, Flatpak is recommended, if the application is available as a flatpak. Users can choose between Flatpaks from either Fedora and built from Fedora packages and in Fedora-owned infrastructure, or Flathub that currently has a wider offering. Users can install them easily through GNOME Software, which already supports Fedora Silverblue.

One of the first things users find out is there is no dnf preinstalled in the OS. The main reason is that it wouldn’t work on Silverblue — and part of its functionality was replaced by the rpm-ostree command. Users can overlay the traditional packages by using the rpm-ostree install PACKAGE. But it should only be used when there is no other way. This is because when the new system images are pulled from the repository, the system image must be rebuilt every time it is altered to accommodate the layered packages, or packages that were removed from the base OS or replaced with a different version.

Fedora Silverblue comes with the default set of GUI applications that are part of the base OS. The team is working on porting them to Flatpaks so they can be distributed that way. As a benefit, the base OS will become smaller and easier to maintain and test, and users can modify their default installation more easily. If you want to look at how it’s done or help, take a look at the official documentation.

What is Toolbox?

Toolbox is a project to make containers easily consumable for regular users. It does that by using podman’s rootless containers. Toolbox lets you easily and quickly create a container with a regular Fedora installation that you can play with or develop on, separated from your OS.

Is there any Silverblue roadmap?

Formally there isn’t any, as we’re focusing on problems we discover during our testing and from community feedback. We’re currently using Fedora’s Taiga to do our planning.

What’s the release life cycle of the Silverblue?

It’s the same as regular Fedora Workstation. A new release comes every 6 months and is supported for 13 months. The team plans to release updates for the OS bi-weekly (or longer) instead of daily as they currently do. That way the updates can be more thoroughly tested by QA and community volunteers before they are sent to the rest of the users.

What is the future of the immutable OS?

From our point of view the future of the desktop involves the immutable OS. It’s safest for the user, and Android, ChromeOS, and the last macOS Catalina all use this method under the hood. For the Linux desktop there are still problems with some third party software that expects to write to the OS. HP printer drivers are a good example.

Another issue is how parts of the system are distributed and installed. Fonts are a good example. Currently in Fedora they’re distributed in RPM packages. If you want to use them, you have to overlay them and then restart to the newly created image that contains them.

What is the future of standard Workstation?

There is a possibility that the Silverblue will replace the regular Workstation. But there’s still a long way to go for Silverblue to provide the same functionality and user experience as the Workstation. In the meantime both desktop offerings will be delivered at the same time.

How does Atomic Workstation or Fedora CoreOS relate to any of this?

Atomic Workstation was the name of the project before it was renamed to Fedora Silverblue.

Fedora CoreOS is a different, but similar project. It shares some fundamental technologies with Silverblue, such as rpm-ostree, toolbox and others. Nevertheless, CoreOS is a more minimal, container-focused and automatically updating OS.

Firefox 68 available now in Fedora

Friday 12th of July 2019 01:33:53 AM

Earlier this week, Mozilla released version 68 of the Firefox web browser. Firefox is the default web browser in Fedora, and this update is now available in the official Fedora repositories.

This Firefox release provides a range of bug fixes and enhancements, including:

  • Better handling when using dark GTK themes (like Adwaita Dark). Previously, running a dark theme may have caused issues where user interface elements on a rendered webpage (like forms) are rendered in the dark theme, on a white background. Firefox 68 resolves these issues. Refer to these two Mozilla bugzilla tickets for more information.
  • The about:addons special page has two new features to keep you safer when installing extensions and themes in Firefox. First is the ability to report security and stability issues with addons directly in the about:addons page. Additionally, about:addons now has a list of secure and stable extensions and themes that have been vetted by the Recommended Extensions program.
Updating Firefox in Fedora

Firefox 68 has already been pushed to the stable Fedora repositories. The security fix will be applied to your system with your next update. You can also update the firefox package only by running the following command:

$ sudo dnf update --refresh firefox

This command requires you to have sudo setup on your system. Additionally, note that not every Fedora mirrors syncs at the same rate. Community sites graciously donate space and bandwidth these mirrors to carry Fedora content. You may need to try again later if your selected mirror is still awaiting the latest update.

Fedora job opening: Fedora Community Action and Impact Coordinator (FCAIC)

Wednesday 10th of July 2019 02:50:34 PM

I’ve decided to move on from my role as the Fedora Community Action and Impact Coordinator (FCAIC).  This was not an easy decision to make. I am proud of the work I have done in Fedora over the last three years and I think I have helped the community move past many challenges.  I could NEVER have done all of this without the support and assistance of the community!

As some of you know, I have been covering for some other roles in Red Hat for almost the last year.  Some of these tasks have led to some opportunities to take my career in a different direction. I am going to remain at Red Hat and on the same team with the same manager, but with a slightly expanded scope of duties.  I will no longer be day-to-day on Fedora and will instead be in a consultative role as a Community Architect at Large. This is a fancy way of saying that I will be tackling helping lots of projects with various issues while also working on some specific strategic objectives.

I think this is a great opportunity for the Fedora community.  The Fedora I became FCAIC in three years ago is a very different place from the Fedora of today.  While I could easily continue to help shape and grow this community, I think that I can do more by letting some new ideas come in.  The new person will hopefully be able to approach challenges differently. I’ll also be here to offer my advice and feedback as others who have moved on in the past have done.  Additionally, I will work with Matthew Miller and Red Hat to help hire and onboard the new Fedora Community and Impact Coordinator. During this time I will continue as FCAIC.

This means that we are looking for a new FCAIC. Love Fedora? Want to work with Fedora full-time to help support and grow the Fedora community? This is the core of what the FCAIC does. The job description (also below), has a list of some of the primary job responsibilities and required skills – but that’s just a sample of the duties required, and the day to day life working full-time with the Fedora community.

Day to day work includes working with Mindshare, managing the Fedora Budget, and being part of many other teams, including the Fedora Council.  You should be ready to write frequently about Fedora’s achievements, policies and decisions, and to draft and generate ideas and strategies. And, of course, planning Flock and Fedora’s presence at other events. It’s hard work, but also a great deal of fun.

Are you good at setting long-term priorities and hacking away at problems with the big picture in mind? Do you enjoy working with people all around the world, with a variety of skills and interests, to build not just a successful Linux distribution, but a healthy project? Can you set priorities, follow through, and know when to say “no” in order to focus on the most important tasks for success? Is Fedora’s mission deeply important to you?

If you said “yes” to those questions, you might be a great candidate for the FCAIC role. If you think you’re a great fit apply online, or contact Matthew Miller, Brian Exelbierd, or Stormy Peters.


Fedora Community Action and Impact Coordinator

Location: CZ-Remote – prefer Europe but can be North America

Company Description

At Red Hat, we connect an innovative community of customers, partners, and contributors to deliver an open source stack of trusted, high-performing solutions. We offer cloud, Linux, middleware, storage, and virtualization technologies, together with award-winning global customer support, consulting, and implementation services. Red Hat is a rapidly growing company supporting more than 90% of Fortune 500 companies.

Job summary

Red Hat’s Open Source Programs Office (OSPO) team is looking for the next Fedora Community Action and Impact Lead. In this role, you will join the Fedora Council and guide initiatives to grow the Fedora user and developer communities, as well as make Red Hat and Fedora interactions even more transparent and positive. The Council is responsible for stewardship of the Fedora Project as a whole, and supports the health and growth of the Fedora community.

As a the Fedora Community Action and Impact Lead, you’ll facilitate decision making on how to best focus the Fedora community budget to meet our collective objectives, work with other council members to identify the short, medium, and long-term goals of the Fedora community, and organize and enable the project.

You will also help make decisions about trademark use, project structure, community disputes or complaints, and other issues. You’ll hold a full council membership, not an auxiliary or advisory role.

Primary job responsibilities
  • Identify opportunities to engage new contributors and community members; align project around supporting those opportunities.
  • Improve on-boarding materials and processes for new contributors.
  • Participate in user and developer discussions and identify barriers to success for contributors and users.
  • Use metrics to evaluate the success of open source initiatives.
  • Regularly report on community metrics and developments, both internally and externally.  
  • Represent Red Hat’s stake in the Fedora community’s success.
  • Work with internal stakeholders to understand their goals and develop strategies for working effectively with the community.
  • Improve onboarding materials and presentation of Fedora to new hires; develop standardized materials on Fedora that can be used globally at Red Hat.
  • Work with the Fedora Council to determine the annual Fedora budget.
  • Assist in planning and organizing Fedora’s flagship events each year.
  • Create and carry out community promotion strategies; create media content like blog posts, podcasts, and videos and facilitate the creation of media by other members of the community
Required skills
  • Extensive experience with the Fedora Project or a comparable open source community.
  • Exceptional writing and speaking skills
  • Experience with software development and open source developer communities; understanding of development processes.
  • Outstanding organizational skills; ability to prioritize tasks matching short and long-term goals and focus on the tasks of high priority
  • Ability to manage a project budget.
  • Ability to lead teams and participate in multiple cross-organizational teams that span the globe.
  • Experience motivating volunteers and staff across departments and companies

Red Hat is proud to be an equal opportunity workplace and an affirmative action employer. We review applications for employment without regard to their race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, ancestry, citizenship, age, veteran status, genetic information, physical or mental disability, medical condition, marital status, or any other basis prohibited by law.

Red Hat does not seek or accept unsolicited resumes or CVs from recruitment agencies. We are not responsible for, and will not pay, any fees, commissions, or any other payment related to unsolicited resumes or CVs except as required in a written contract between Red Hat and the recruitment agency or party requesting payment of a fee.

Photo by Deva Williamson on Unsplash.

Red Hat, IBM, and Fedora

Tuesday 9th of July 2019 12:51:40 PM

Today marks a new day in the 26-year history of Red Hat. IBM has finalized its acquisition of Red Hat, which will operate as a distinct unit within IBM.

What does this mean for Red Hat’s participation in the Fedora Project?

In short, nothing.

Red Hat will continue to be a champion for open source, just as it always has, and valued projects like Fedora that will continue to play a role in driving innovation in open source technology. IBM is committed to Red Hat’s independence and role in open source software communities. We will continue this work and, as always, we will continue to help upstream projects be successful and contribute to welcoming new members and maintaining the project.

In Fedora, our mission, governance, and objectives remain the same. Red Hat associates will continue to contribute to the upstream in the same ways they have been.

We will do this together, with the community, as we always have.

If you have questions or would like to learn more about today’s news, I encourage you to review the materials below. For any questions not answered here, please feel free to contact us. Red Hat CTO Chris Wright will host an online Q&A session in the coming days where you can ask questions you may have about what the acquisition means for Red Hat and our involvement in open source communities. Details will be announced on the Red Hat blog.

Regards,

Matthew Miller, Fedora Project Leader
Brian Exelbierd, Fedora Community Action and Impact Coordinator

Command line quick tips: Permissions

Monday 8th of July 2019 08:00:41 AM

Fedora, like all Linux based systems, comes with a powerful set of security features. One of the basic features is permissions on files and folders. These permissions allow files and folders to be secured from unauthorized access. This article explains a bit about these permissions, and shows you how to share access to a folder using them.

Permission basics

Fedora is by nature a multi-user operating system. It also has groups, which users can be members of. But imagine for a moment a multi-user system with no concept of permissions. Different logged in users could read each other’s content at will. This isn’t very good for privacy or security, as you can imagine.

Any file or folder on Fedora has three sets of permissions assigned. The first set is for the user who owns the file or folder. The second is for the group that owns it. The third set is for everyone else who’s not the user who owns the file, or in the group that owns the file. Sometimes this is called the world.

What permissions mean

Each set of permissions comes in three flavors — read, write, and execute. Each of these has an initial that stands for the permission, thus r, w, and x.

File permissions

For files, here’s what these permissions mean:

  • Read (r): the file content can be read
  • Write (w): the file content can be changed
  • Execute (x): the file can be executed — this is used primarily for programs or scripts that are meant to be run directly

You can see the three sets of these permissions when you do a long listing of any file. Try this with the /etc/services file on your system:

$ ls -l /etc/services
-rw-r--r--. 1 root root 692241 Apr 9 03:47 /etc/services

Notice the groups of permissions at the left side of the listing. These are provided in three sets, as mentioned above — for the user who owns the file, for the group that owns the file, and for everyone else. The user owner is root and the group owner is the root group. The user owner has read and write access to the file. Anyone in the group root can only read the file. And finally, anyone else can also only read the file. (The dash at the far left shows this is a regular file.)

By the way, you’ll commonly find this set of permissions on many (but not all) system configuration files. They are only meant to be changed by the system administrator, not regular users. Often regular users need to read the content as well.

Folder (directory) permissions

For folders, the permissions have slightly different meaning:

  • Read (r): the folder contents can be read (such as the ls command)
  • Write (w): the folder contents can be changed (files can be created or erased in this folder)
  • Execute (x): the folder can be searched, although its contents cannot be read. (This may sound strange, but the explanation requires more complex details of file systems outside the scope of this article. So just roll with it for now.)

Take a look at the /etc/grub.d folder for example:

$ ls -ld /etc/grub.d
drwx------. 2 root root 4096 May 23 16:28 /etc/grub.d

Note the d at the far left. It shows this is a directory, or folder. The permissions show the user owner (root) can read, change, and cd into this folder. However, no one else can do so — whether they’re a member of the root group or not. Notice you can’t cd into the folder, either:

$ cd /etc/grub.d
bash: cd: /etc/grub.d: Permission denied

Notice how your own home directory is setup:

$ ls -ld $HOME
drwx------. 221 paul paul 28672 Jul 3 14:03 /home/paul

Now, notice how no one, other than you as the owner, can access anything in this folder. This is intentional! You wouldn’t want others to be able to read your private content on a shared system.

Making a shared folder

You can exploit this permissions capability to easily make a folder to share within a group. Imagine you have a group called finance with several members who need to share documents. Because these are user documents, it’s a good idea to store them within the /home folder hierarchy.

To get started, use sudo to make a folder for sharing, and set it to be owned by the finance group:

$ sudo mkdir -p /home/shared/finance
$ sudo chgrp finance /home/shared/finance

By default the new folder has these permissions. Notice how it can be read or searched by anyone, even if they can’t create or erase files in it:

drwxr-xr-x. 2 root finance 4096 Jul 6 15:35 finance

That doesn’t seem like a good idea for financial data. Next, use the chmod command to change the mode (permissions) of the shared folder. Note the use of g to change the owning group’s permissions, and o to change other users’ permissions. Similarly, u would change the user owner’s permissions:

$ sudo chmod g+w,o-rx /home/shared/finance

The resulting permissions look better. Now, anyone in the finance group (or the user owner root) have total access to the folder and its contents:

drwxrwx---. 2 root finance 4096 Jul 6 15:35 finance

If any other user tries to access the shared folder, they won’t be able to do so. Great! Now our finance group can put documents in a shared place.

Other notes

There are additional ways to manipulate these permissions. For example, you may want any files in this folder to be set as owned by the group finance. This requires additional settings not covered in this article, but stay tuned to the Magazine for more on that topic soon.

Manage your shell environment

Friday 5th of July 2019 07:00:07 AM

Some time ago, the Fedora Magazine has published an article introducing ZSH — an alternative shell to Fedora’s default, bash. This time, we’re going to look into customizing it to use it in a more effective way. All of the concepts shown in this article also work in other shells such as bash.

Alias

Aliases are shortcuts for commands. This is useful for creating short commands for actions that are performed often, but require a long command that would take too much time to type. The syntax is:

$ alias yourAlias='complex command with arguments'

They don’t always need to be used for shortening long commands. Important is that you use them for tasks that you do often. An example could be:

$ alias dnfUpgrade='dnf -y upgrade'

That way, to do a system upgrade, I just type dnfUpgrade instead of the whole dnf command.

The problem of setting aliases right in the console is that once the terminal session is closed, the alias would be lost. To set them permanently, resource files are used.

Resource Files

Resource files (or rc files) are configuration files that are loaded per user in the beginning of a session or a process (when a new terminal window is opened, or a new program like vim is started). In the case of ZSH, the resource file is .zshrc, and for bash it’s .bashrc.

To make the aliases permanent, you can either put them in your resource. You can edit your resource file with a text editor of your choice. This example uses vim:

$ vim $HOME/.zshrc

Or for bash:

$ vim $HOME/.bashrc

Note that the location of the resource file is specified relatively to a home directory — and that’s where ZSH (or bash) are going to look for the file by default for each user.

Other option is to put your configuration in any other file, and then source it:

$ source /path/to/your/rc/file

Again, sourcing it right in your session will only apply it to the session, so to make it permanent, add the source command to your resource file. The advantage of having your source file in a different location is that you can source it any time. Or anywhere which is especially useful in shared environments.

Environment Variables

Environment variables are values assigned to a specific name which can be then called in scripts and commands. They start with the $ dollar sign. One of the most common is $HOME that references the home directory.

As the name suggests, environment variables are a part of your environment. Set a variable using the following syntax:

$ http_proxy="http://your.proxy"

And to make it an environment variable, export it with the following command:

$ export http_proxy

To see all the environment variables that are currently set, use the env command:

$ env

The command outputs all the variables available in your session. To demonstrate how to use them in a command, try running the following echo commands:

$ echo $PWD
/home/fedora
$ echo $USER
fedora

What happens here is variable expansion — the value stored in the variable is used in your command.

Another useful variable is $PATH, that defines directories that your shell uses to look for binaries.

The $PATH variable

There are many directories, or folders (the way they are called in graphical environments) that are important to the OS. Some directories are set to hold binaries you can use directly in your shell. And these directories are defined in the $PATH variable.

$ echo $PATH
/usr/lib64/qt-3.3/bin:/usr/share/Modules/bin:/usr/lib64/ccache:/usr/local/bin:/usr/bin:/bin:/usr/local/sbin:/usr/sbin:/usr/libexec/sdcc:/usr/libexec/sdcc:/usr/bin:/bin:/sbin:/usr/sbin:/opt/FortiClient

This will help you when you want to have your own binaries (or scripts) accessible in the shell.

Jupyter and data science in Fedora

Tuesday 2nd of July 2019 08:00:50 AM

In the past, kings and leaders used oracles and magicians to help them predict the future — or at least get some good advice due to their supposed power to perceive hidden information. Nowadays, we live in a society obsessed with quantifying everything. So we have data scientists to do this job.

Data scientists use statistical models, numerical techniques and advanced algorithms that didn’t come from statistical disciplines, along with the data that exist on databases, to find, to infer, to predict data that doesn’t exist yet. Sometimes this data is about the future. That is why we do a lot of predictive analytics and prescriptive analytics.

Here are some questions to which data scientists help find answers:

  1. Who are the students with high propensity to abandon the class? For each one, what are the reasons for leaving?
  2. Which house has a price above or below the fair price? What is the fair price for a certain house?
  3. What are the hidden groups that my clients classify themselves?
  4. Which future problems this premature child will develop?
  5. How many calls will I get in my call center tomorrow 11:43 AM?
  6. My bank should or should not lend money to this customer?

Note how the answer to all these question is not sitting in any database waiting to be queried. These are all data that still doesn’t exist and has to be calculated. That is part of the job we data scientists do.

Throughout this article you’ll learn how to prepare a Fedora system as a Data Scientist’s development environment and also a production system. Most of the basic software is RPM-packaged, but the most advanced parts can only be installed, nowadays, with Python’s pip tool.

Jupyter — the IDE

Most modern data scientists use Python. And an important part of their work is EDA (exploratory data analysis). EDA is a manual and interactive process that retrieves data, explores its features, searches for correlations, and uses plotted graphics to visualize and understand how data is shaped and prototypes predictive models.

Jupyter is a web application perfect for this task. Jupyter works with Notebooks, documents that mix rich text including beautifully rendered math formulas (thanks to mathjax), blocks of code and code output, including graphics.

Notebook files have extension .ipynb, which means Interactive Python Notebook.

Setting up and running Jupyter

First, install essential packages for Jupyter (using sudo):

$ sudo dnf install python3-notebook mathjax sscg

You might want to install additional and optional Python modules commonly used by data scientists:

$ sudo dnf install python3-seaborn python3-lxml python3-basemap python3-scikit-image python3-scikit-learn python3-sympy python3-dask+dataframe python3-nltk

Set a password to log into Notebook web interface and avoid those long tokens. Run the following command anywhere on your terminal:

$ mkdir -p $HOME/.jupyter
$ jupyter notebook password

Now, type a password for yourself. This will create the file $HOME/.jupyter/jupyter_notebook_config.json with your encrypted password.

Next, prepare for SSLby generating a self-signed HTTPS certificate for Jupyter’s web server:

$ cd $HOME/.jupyter; sscg

Finish configuring Jupyter by editing your $HOME/.jupyter/jupyter_notebook_config.json file. Make it look like this:

{
"NotebookApp": {
"password": "sha1:abf58...87b",
"ip": "*",
"allow_origin": "*",
"allow_remote_access": true,
"open_browser": false,
"websocket_compression_options": {},
"certfile": "/home/aviram/.jupyter/service.pem",
"keyfile": "/home/aviram/.jupyter/service-key.pem",
"notebook_dir": "/home/aviram/Notebooks"
}
}

The parts in red must be changed to match your folders. Parts in blue were already there after you created your password. Parts in green are the crypto-related files generated by sscg.

Create a folder for your notebook files, as configured in the notebook_dir setting above:

$ mkdir $HOME/Notebooks

Now you are all set. Just run Jupyter Notebook from anywhere on your system by typing:

$ jupyter notebook

Or add this line to your $HOME/.bashrc file to create a shortcut command called jn:

alias jn='jupyter notebook'

After running the command jn, access https://your-fedora-host.com:8888 from any browser on the network to see the Jupyter user interface. You’ll need to use the password you set up earlier. Start typing some Python code and markup text. This is how it looks:

Jupyter with a simple notebook

In addition to the IPython environment, you’ll also get a web-based Unix terminal provided by terminado. Some people might find this useful, while others find this insecure. You can disable this feature in the config file.

JupyterLab — the next generation of Jupyter

JupyterLab is the next generation of Jupyter, with a better interface and more control over your workspace. It’s currently not RPM-packaged for Fedora at the time of writing, but you can use pip to get it installed easily:

$ pip3 install jupyterlab --user
$ jupyter serverextension enable --py jupyterlab

Then run your regular jupiter notebook command or jn alias. JupyterLab will be accessible from http://your-linux-host.com:8888/lab.

Tools used by data scientists

In this section you can get to know some of these tools, and how to install them. Unless noted otherwise, the module is already packaged for Fedora and was installed as prerequisites for previous components.

Numpy

Numpy is an advanced and C-optimized math library designed to work with large in-memory datasets. It provides advanced multidimensional matrix support and operations, including math functions as log(), exp(), trigonometry etc.

Pandas

In this author’s opinion, Python is THE platform for data science mostly because of Pandas. Built on top of numpy, Pandas makes easy the work of preparing and displaying data. You can think of it as a no-UI spreadsheet, but ready to work with much larger datasets. Pandas helps with data retrieval from a SQL database, CSV or other types of files, columns and rows manipulation, data filtering and, to some extent, data visualization with matplotlib.

Matplotlib

Matplotlib is a library to plot 2D and 3D data. It has great support for notations in graphics, labels and overlays

matplotlib pair of graphics showing a cost function searching its optimal value through a gradient descent algorithm Seaborn

Built on top of matplotlib, Seaborn’s graphics are optimized for a more statistical comprehension of data. It automatically displays regression lines or Gauss curve approximations of plotted data.

Linear regression visualised with SeaBorn StatsModels

StatsModels provides algorithms for statistical and econometrics data analysis such as linear and logistic regressions. Statsmodel is also home for the classical family of time series algorithms known as ARIMA.

Normalized number of passengers across time (blue) and ARIMA-predicted number of passengers (red) Scikit-learn

The central piece of the machine-learning ecosystem, scikit provides predictor algorithms for regression (Elasticnet, Gradient Boosting, Random Forest etc) and classification and clustering (K-means, DBSCAN etc). It features a very well designed API. Scikit also has classes for advanced data manipulation, dataset split into train and test parts, dimensionality reduction and data pipeline preparation.

XGBoost

XGBoost is the most advanced regressor and classifier used nowadays. It’s not part of scikit-learn, but it adheres to scikit’s API. XGBoost is not packaged for Fedora and should be installed with pip. XGBoost can be accelerated with your nVidia GPU, but not through its pip package. You can get this if you compile it yourself against CUDA. Get it with:

$ pip3 install xgboost --user Imbalanced Learn

imbalanced-learn provides ways for under-sampling and over-sampling data. It is useful in fraud detection scenarios where known fraud data is very small when compared to non-fraud data. In these cases data augmentation is needed for the known fraud data, to make it more relevant to train predictors. Install it with pip:

$ pip3 install imblearn --user NLTK

The Natural Language toolkit, or NLTK, helps you work with human language data for the purpose of building chatbots (just to cite an example).

SHAP

Machine learning algorithms are very good on predicting, but aren’t good at explaining why they made a prediction. SHAP solves that, by analyzing trained models.

Where SHAP fits into the data analysis process

Install it with pip:

$ pip3 install shap --user Keras

Keras is a library for deep learning and neural networks. Install it with pip:

$ sudo dnf install python3-h5py
$ pip3 install keras --user TensorFlow

TensorFlow is a popular neural networks builder. Install it with pip:

$ pip3 install tensorflow --user

Photo courtesy of FolsomNatural on Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Upcoming features in Fedora 31 Workstation

Friday 28th of June 2019 08:00:57 AM

The Fedora Workstation edition is a fabulous operating system that includes everything a developer needs. But it’s also a perfect solution for anyone who wants to be productive online with their desktop or laptop computer. It features a sleek interface and an enormous catalog of ready-to-install software. Recently, Christian Schaller shared information about what’s coming in the Workstation for Fedora 31.

Fedora 31 is currently scheduled for release in late October 2019. With it, as usual, will come an assortment of new and refreshed free and open source software. This includes the GNOME desktop which is planned to be updated to the latest 3.34.

Under the hood of the desktop, many intrepid open source developers have been toiling away. They’ve been working on things like:

  • The Wayland desktop compositor
  • Working with NVidia to provide better driver support
  • PipeWire, for better audio and video handling
  • Expanded Flatpak support and features
  • A container toolbox
  • …and much more!

Long-time and keen readers of the Magazine probably know that Christian is deeply involved in the Workstation effort. He heads up the desktop engineering groups at Red Hat. But he’s also involved heavily in the community Workstation Working Group, which guides these efforts as well. As an experienced developer himself, he brings his expertise to the open source community every day to build a better desktop.

For all the details, check out Christian’s detailed and informative blog post on Fedora 31 Workstation. And stay tuned to the Magazine for more about the upcoming release in the next few months!

RPM packages explained

Thursday 27th of June 2019 08:00:29 AM

Perhaps the best known way the Fedora community pursues its mission of promoting free and open source software and content is by developing the Fedora software distribution. So it’s not a surprise at all that a very large proportion of our community resources are spent on this task. This post summarizes how this software is “packaged” and the underlying tools such as rpm that make it all possible.

RPM: the smallest unit of software

The editions and flavors (spins/labs/silverblue) that users get to choose from are all very similar. They’re all composed of various software that is mixed and matched to work well together. What differs between them is the exact list of tools that goes into each. That choice depends on the use case that they target. The basic unit of all of these is an RPM package file.

RPM files are archives that are similar to ZIP files or tarballs. In fact, they uses compression to reduce the size of the archive. However, along with files, RPM archives also contain metadata about the package. This can be queried using the rpm tool:

$ rpm -q fpaste
fpaste-0.3.9.2-2.fc30.noarch

$ rpm -qi fpaste
Name        : fpaste
Version     : 0.3.9.2
Release     : 2.fc30
Architecture: noarch
Install Date: Tue 26 Mar 2019 08:49:10 GMT
Group       : Unspecified
Size        : 64144
License     : GPLv3+
Signature   : RSA/SHA256, Thu 07 Feb 2019 15:46:11 GMT, Key ID ef3c111fcfc659b9
Source RPM  : fpaste-0.3.9.2-2.fc30.src.rpm
Build Date  : Thu 31 Jan 2019 20:06:01 GMT
Build Host  : buildhw-07.phx2.fedoraproject.org
Relocations : (not relocatable)
Packager    : Fedora Project
Vendor      : Fedora Project
URL         : https://pagure.io/fpaste
Bug URL     : https://bugz.fedoraproject.org/fpaste
Summary     : A simple tool for pasting info onto sticky notes instances
Description :
It is often useful to be able to easily paste text to the Fedora
Pastebin at http://paste.fedoraproject.org and this simple script
will do that and return the resulting URL so that people may
examine the output. This can hopefully help folks who are for
some reason stuck without X, working remotely, or any other
reason they may be unable to paste something into the pastebin

$ rpm -ql fpaste
/usr/bin/fpaste
/usr/share/doc/fpaste
/usr/share/doc/fpaste/README.rst
/usr/share/doc/fpaste/TODO
/usr/share/licenses/fpaste
/usr/share/licenses/fpaste/COPYING
/usr/share/man/man1/fpaste.1.gz

When an RPM package is installed, the rpm tools know exactly what files were added to the system. So, removing a package also removes these files, and leaves the system in a consistent state. This is why installing software using rpm is preferred over installing software from source whenever possible.

Dependencies

Nowadays, it is quite rare for software to be completely self-contained. Even fpaste, a simple one file Python script, requires that the Python interpreter be installed. So, if the system does not have Python installed (highly unlikely, but possible), fpaste cannot be used. In packager jargon, we say that “Python is a run-time dependency of fpaste“.

When RPM packages are built (the process of building RPMs is not discussed in this post), the generated archive includes all of this metadata. That way, the tools interacting with the RPM package archive know what else must must be installed so that fpaste works correctly:

$ rpm -q --requires fpaste
/usr/bin/python3
python3
rpmlib(CompressedFileNames) <= 3.0.4-1
rpmlib(FileDigests) <= 4.6.0-1
rpmlib(PayloadFilesHavePrefix) <= 4.0-1
rpmlib(PayloadIsXz) <= 5.2-1

$ rpm -q --provides fpaste
fpaste = 0.3.9.2-2.fc30

$ rpm -qi python3
Name        : python3
Version     : 3.7.3
Release     : 3.fc30
Architecture: x86_64
Install Date: Thu 16 May 2019 18:51:41 BST
Group       : Unspecified
Size        : 46139
License     : Python
Signature   : RSA/SHA256, Sat 11 May 2019 17:02:44 BST, Key ID ef3c111fcfc659b9
Source RPM  : python3-3.7.3-3.fc30.src.rpm
Build Date  : Sat 11 May 2019 01:47:35 BST
Build Host  : buildhw-05.phx2.fedoraproject.org
Relocations : (not relocatable)
Packager    : Fedora Project
Vendor      : Fedora Project
URL         : https://www.python.org/
Bug URL     : https://bugz.fedoraproject.org/python3
Summary     : Interpreter of the Python programming language
Description :
Python is an accessible, high-level, dynamically typed, interpreted programming
language, designed with an emphasis on code readability.
It includes an extensive standard library, and has a vast ecosystem of
third-party libraries.

The python3 package provides the "python3" executable: the reference
interpreter for the Python language, version 3.
The majority of its standard library is provided in the python3-libs package,
which should be installed automatically along with python3.
The remaining parts of the Python standard library are broken out into the
python3-tkinter and python3-test packages, which may need to be installed
separately.

Documentation for Python is provided in the python3-docs package.

Packages containing additional libraries for Python are generally named with
the "python3-" prefix.

$ rpm -q --provides python3
python(abi) = 3.7
python3 = 3.7.3-3.fc30
python3(x86-64) = 3.7.3-3.fc30
python3.7 = 3.7.3-3.fc30
python37 = 3.7.3-3.fc30 Resolving RPM dependencies

While rpm knows the required dependencies for each archive, it does not know where to find them. This is by design: rpm only works on local files and must be told exactly where they are. So, if you try to install a single RPM package, you get an error if rpm cannot find the package’s run-time dependencies. This example tries to install a package downloaded from the Fedora package set:

$ ls
python3-elephant-0.6.2-3.fc30.noarch.rpm

$ rpm -qpi python3-elephant-0.6.2-3.fc30.noarch.rpm
Name        : python3-elephant
Version     : 0.6.2
Release     : 3.fc30
Architecture: noarch
Install Date: (not installed)
Group       : Unspecified
Size        : 2574456
License     : BSD
Signature   : (none)
Source RPM  : python-elephant-0.6.2-3.fc30.src.rpm
Build Date  : Fri 14 Jun 2019 17:23:48 BST
Build Host  : buildhw-02.phx2.fedoraproject.org
Relocations : (not relocatable)
Packager    : Fedora Project
Vendor      : Fedora Project
URL         : http://neuralensemble.org/elephant
Bug URL     : https://bugz.fedoraproject.org/python-elephant
Summary     : Elephant is a package for analysis of electrophysiology data in Python
Description :
Elephant - Electrophysiology Analysis Toolkit Elephant is a package for the
analysis of neurophysiology data, based on Neo.

$ rpm -qp --requires python3-elephant-0.6.2-3.fc30.noarch.rpm
python(abi) = 3.7
python3.7dist(neo) >= 0.7.1
python3.7dist(numpy) >= 1.8.2
python3.7dist(quantities) >= 0.10.1
python3.7dist(scipy) >= 0.14.0
python3.7dist(six) >= 1.10.0
rpmlib(CompressedFileNames) <= 3.0.4-1
rpmlib(FileDigests) <= 4.6.0-1
rpmlib(PartialHardlinkSets) <= 4.0.4-1
rpmlib(PayloadFilesHavePrefix) <= 4.0-1
rpmlib(PayloadIsXz) <= 5.2-1

$ sudo rpm -i ./python3-elephant-0.6.2-3.fc30.noarch.rpm
error: Failed dependencies:
        python3.7dist(neo) >= 0.7.1 is needed by python3-elephant-0.6.2-3.fc30.noarch
        python3.7dist(quantities) >= 0.10.1 is needed by python3-elephant-0.6.2-3.fc30.noarch

In theory, one could download all the packages that are required for python3-elephant, and tell rpm where they all are, but that isn’t convenient. What if python3-neo and python3-quantities have other run-time requirements and so on? Very quickly, the dependency chain can get quite complicated.

Repositories

Luckily, dnf and friends exist to help with this issue. Unlike rpm, dnf is aware of repositories. Repositories are collections of packages, with metadata that tells dnf what these repositories contain. All Fedora systems come with the default Fedora repositories enabled by default:

$ sudo dnf repolist
repo id              repo name                             status
fedora               Fedora 30 - x86_64                    56,582
fedora-modular       Fedora Modular 30 - x86_64               135
updates              Fedora 30 - x86_64 - Updates           8,573
updates-modular      Fedora Modular 30 - x86_64 - Updates     138
updates-testing      Fedora 30 - x86_64 - Test Updates      8,458

There’s more information on these repositories, and how they can be managed on the Fedora quick docs.

dnf can be used to query repositories for information on the packages they contain. It can also search them for software, or install/uninstall/upgrade packages from them:

$ sudo dnf search elephant
Last metadata expiration check: 0:05:21 ago on Sun 23 Jun 2019 14:33:38 BST.
============================================================================== Name & Summary Matched: elephant ==============================================================================
python3-elephant.noarch : Elephant is a package for analysis of electrophysiology data in Python
python3-elephant.noarch : Elephant is a package for analysis of electrophysiology data in Python

$ sudo dnf list \*elephant\*
Last metadata expiration check: 0:05:26 ago on Sun 23 Jun 2019 14:33:38 BST.
Available Packages
python3-elephant.noarch      0.6.2-3.fc30      updates-testing
python3-elephant.noarch      0.6.2-3.fc30              updates Installing dependencies

When installing the package using dnf now, it resolves all the required dependencies, then calls rpm to carry out the transaction:

$ sudo dnf install python3-elephant
Last metadata expiration check: 0:06:17 ago on Sun 23 Jun 2019 14:33:38 BST.
Dependencies resolved.
==============================================================================================================================================================================================
 Package                                      Architecture                     Version                                                        Repository                                 Size
==============================================================================================================================================================================================
Installing:
 python3-elephant                             noarch                           0.6.2-3.fc30                                                   updates-testing                           456 k
Installing dependencies:
 python3-neo                                  noarch                           0.8.0-0.1.20190215git49b6041.fc30                              fedora                                    753 k
 python3-quantities                           noarch                           0.12.2-4.fc30                                                  fedora                                    163 k
Installing weak dependencies:
 python3-igor                                 noarch                           0.3-5.20150408git2c2a79d.fc30                                  fedora                                     63 k

Transaction Summary
==============================================================================================================================================================================================
Install  4 Packages

Total download size: 1.4 M
Installed size: 7.0 M
Is this ok [y/N]: y
Downloading Packages:
(1/4): python3-igor-0.3-5.20150408git2c2a79d.fc30.noarch.rpm                                                                                                  222 kB/s |  63 kB     00:00
(2/4): python3-elephant-0.6.2-3.fc30.noarch.rpm                                                                                                               681 kB/s | 456 kB     00:00
(3/4): python3-quantities-0.12.2-4.fc30.noarch.rpm                                                                                                            421 kB/s | 163 kB     00:00
(4/4): python3-neo-0.8.0-0.1.20190215git49b6041.fc30.noarch.rpm                                                                                               840 kB/s | 753 kB     00:00
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Total                                                                                                                                                         884 kB/s | 1.4 MB     00:01
Running transaction check
Transaction check succeeded.
Running transaction test
Transaction test succeeded.
Running transaction
  Preparing        :                                                                                                                                                                      1/1
  Installing       : python3-quantities-0.12.2-4.fc30.noarch                                                                                                                              1/4
  Installing       : python3-igor-0.3-5.20150408git2c2a79d.fc30.noarch                                                                                                                    2/4
  Installing       : python3-neo-0.8.0-0.1.20190215git49b6041.fc30.noarch                                                                                                                 3/4
  Installing       : python3-elephant-0.6.2-3.fc30.noarch                                                                                                                                 4/4
  Running scriptlet: python3-elephant-0.6.2-3.fc30.noarch                                                                                                                                 4/4
  Verifying        : python3-elephant-0.6.2-3.fc30.noarch                                                                                                                                 1/4
  Verifying        : python3-igor-0.3-5.20150408git2c2a79d.fc30.noarch                                                                                                                    2/4
  Verifying        : python3-neo-0.8.0-0.1.20190215git49b6041.fc30.noarch                                                                                                                 3/4
  Verifying        : python3-quantities-0.12.2-4.fc30.noarch                                                                                                                              4/4

Installed:
  python3-elephant-0.6.2-3.fc30.noarch   python3-igor-0.3-5.20150408git2c2a79d.fc30.noarch   python3-neo-0.8.0-0.1.20190215git49b6041.fc30.noarch   python3-quantities-0.12.2-4.fc30.noarch

Complete!

Notice how dnf even installed python3-igor, which isn’t a direct dependency of python3-elephant.

DnfDragora: a graphical interface to DNF

While technical users may find dnf straightforward to use, it isn’t for everyone. Dnfdragora addresses this issue by providing a graphical front end to dnf.

dnfdragora (version 1.1.1-2 on Fedora 30) listing all the packages installed on a system.

From a quick look, dnfdragora appears to provide all of dnf‘s main functions.

There are other tools in Fedora that also manage packages. GNOME Software, and Discover are two examples. GNOME Software is focused on graphical applications only. You can’t use the graphical front end to install command line or terminal tools such as htop or weechat. However, GNOME Software does support the installation of Flatpaks and Snap applications which dnf does not. So, they are different tools with different target audiences, and so provide different functions.

This post only touches the tip of the iceberg that is the life cycle of software in Fedora. This article explained what RPM packages are, and the main differences between using rpm and using dnf.

In future posts, we’ll speak more about:

  • The processes that are needed to create these packages
  • How the community tests them to ensure that they are built correctly
  • The infrastructure that the community uses to get them to community users in future posts.

Using i3 with multiple monitors

Monday 24th of June 2019 07:00:58 AM

Are you using multiple monitors with your Linux workstation? Seeing many things at once might be beneficial. But there are often much more windows in our workflows than physical monitors — and that’s a good thing, because seeing too many things at once might be distracting. So being able to switch what we see on individual monitors seems crucial.

Let’s talk about i3 — a popular tiling window manager that works great with multiple monitors. And there is one handy feature that many other window managers don’t have — the ability to switch workspaces on individual monitors independently.

Quick introduction to i3

The Fedora Magazine has already covered i3 about three years ago. And it was one of the most popular articles ever published! Even though that’s not always the case, i3 is pretty stable and that article is still very accurate today. So — not to repeat ourselves too much — this article only covers the very minimum to get i3 up and running, and you’re welcome to go ahead and read it if you’re new to i3 and want to learn more about the basics.

To install i3 on your system, run the following command:

$ sudo dnf install i3

When that’s done, log out, and on the log in screen choose i3 as your window manager and log back in again.

When you run i3 for the first time, you’ll be asked if you wish to proceed with automatic configuration — answer yes here. After that, you’ll be asked to choose a “mod key”. If you’re not sure here, just accept the default which sets you Windows/Super key as the mod key. You’ll use this key for mostly all the shortcuts within the window manager.

At this point, you should see a little bar at the bottom and an empty screen. Let’s have a look at some of the basic shortcuts.

Open a terminal using:

$mod + enter

Switch to a second workspace using:

$mod + 2

Open firefox in two steps, first by:

$mod + d

… and then by typing “firefox” and pressing enter.

Move it to the first workspace by:

$mod + shift + 1

… and switch to the first workspace by:

$mod + 1

At this point, you’ll see a terminal and a firefox window side by side. To close a window, press:

$mod + shift + q

There are more shortcuts, but these should give you the minimum to get started with i3.

Ah! And to exit i3 (to log out) press:

$mod + shift + e

… and then confirm using your mouse at the top-right corner.

Getting multiple screens to work

Now that we have i3 up and running, let’s put all those screens to work!

To do that, we’ll need to use the command line as i3 is very lightweight and doesn’t have gui to manage additional screens. But don’t worry if that sounds difficult — it’s actually quite straightforward!

The command we’ll use is called xrandr. If you don’t have xrandr on your system, install it by running:

$ sudo dnf install xrandr

When that’s installed, let’s just go ahead and run it:

$ xrandr

The output lists all the available outputs, and also indicated which have a screen attached to them (a monitor connected with a cable) by showing supported resolutions. Good news is that we don’t need to really care about the specific resolutions to make the them work.

This specific example shows a primary screen of a laptop (named eDP1), and a second monitor connected to the HDMI-2 output, physically positioned right of the laptop. To turn it on, run the following command:

$ xrandr --output HDMI-2 --auto --right-of eDP1

And that’s it! Your screen is now active.

Second screen active. The commands shown on this screenshot are slightly different than in the article, as they set a smaller resolution to make the screenshots more readable. Managing workspaces on multiple screens

Switching workspaces and creating new ones on multiple screens is very similar to having just one screen. New workspaces get created on the screen that’s currently active — the one that has your mouse cursor on it.

So, to switch to a specific workspace (or to create a new one in case it doesn’t exist), press:

$mod + NUMBER

And you can switch workspaces on individual monitors independently!

Workspace 2 on the left screen, workspace 4 on the right screen. Left screen switched to workspace 3, right screen still showing workspace 4. Right screen switched to workspace 4, left screen still showing workspace 3. Moving workspaces between monitors

The same way we can move windows to different workspaces by the following command:

$mod + shift + NUMBER

… we can move workspaces to different screens as well. However, there is no default shortcut for this action — so we have to create it first.

To create a custom shortcut, you’ll need to open the configuration file in a text editor of your choice (this article uses vim):

$ vim ~/.config/i3/config

And add the following lines to the very bottom of the configuration file:

# Moving workspaces between screens
bindsym $mod+p move workspace to output right

Save, close, and to reload and apply the configuration, press:

$mod + shift + r

Now you’ll be able to move your active workspace to the second monitor by:

$mod + p Workspace 2 with Firefox on the left screen Workspace 2 with Firefox moved to the second screen

And that’s it! Enjoy your new multi-monitor experience, and to learn more about i3, you’re welcome to read the previous article about i3 on the Fedora Magazine, or consult the official i3 documentation.

Making Fedora 30

Friday 21st of June 2019 08:00:35 AM

What does it take to make a Linux distribution like Fedora 30? As you might expect, it’s not a simple process.

Changes in Fedora 30

Although Fedora 29 released on October 30, 2018, work on Fedora 30 began long before that. The first change proposal was submitted in late August. By my count, contributors made nine separate change proposals for Fedora 30 before Fedora 29 shipped.

Some of these proposals come early because they have a big impact, like mass removal of Python 2 packages. By the time the proposal deadline arrived in early January, the community had submitted 50 change proposals.

Of course, not all change proposals make it into the shipped release. Some of them are more focused on how we build the release instead of what we release. Others don’t get done in time. System-wide changes must have a contingency plan. These changes are generally evaluated at one of three points in the schedule: when packages branch from Rawhide, at the beginning of the Beta freeze, and at the beginning of the Final freeze. For Fedora 30, 45 Change proposals were still active for the release.

Fedora has a calendar-based release schedule, but that doesn’t mean we ship whatever exists on a given date. We have a set of release criteria that we test against, and we don’t put out a release until all the blockers are resolved. This sometimes means a release is delayed, but it’s important that we ship reliable software.

For the Fedora 30 development cycle, we accepted 22 proposed blocker bugs and rejected 6. We also granted 33 freeze exceptions — bugs that can be fixed during the freeze because they impact the released artifacts or are otherwise important enough to include in the release.

Other contributions

Of course, there’s more to making a release than writing or packaging the code, testing it, and building the images. As with every release, the Fedora Design team created a new desktop background along with several supplemental wallpapers. The Fedora Marketing team wrote release announcements and put together talking points for the Ambassadors and Advocates to use when talking to the broader community.

If you’ve looked at our new website, that was the work of the Websites team in preparation for the Fedora 30 release:

The Documentation Team wrote Release Notes and updated other documentation. Translators provided translations to dozens of languages.

Many other people made contributions to the release of Fedora 30 in some way. It’s not easy to count everyone who has a hand in producing a Linux distribution, but we appreciate every one of our contributors. If you would like to join the Fedora Community but aren’t sure where to start, check out What Can I Do For Fedora?

Photo by Robin Sommer on Unsplash.

Critical Firefox vulnerability fixed in 67.0.3

Thursday 20th of June 2019 06:50:38 AM

On Tuesday, Mozilla issued a security advisory for Firefox, the default web browser in Fedora. This advisory concerns a CVE for a vulnerability based on type confusion that can happen when JavaScript objects are being manipulated. It can be used to crash your browser. There are apparently already attacks in the wild that exploit the issue. Read on for more information, and how to protect your system against this flaw.

At the same time the security vulnerability was issued, Mozilla also released Firefox 67.0.3 (and ESR 60.7.1) to fix the issue.

Updating Firefox in Fedora

Firefox 67.0.3 (with the security fixes) has already been pushed to the stable Fedora repositories. The security fix will be applied to your system with your next update. You can also update the firefox package only by running the following command:

$ sudo dnf update --refresh firefox

This command requires you to have sudo setup. Note that not every Fedora mirrors syncs at the same rate. Community sites graciously donate space and bandwidth these mirrors to carry Fedora content. You may need to try again later if your selected mirror is still awaiting the latest update.

Get the latest Ansible 2.8 in Fedora

Wednesday 19th of June 2019 08:00:13 AM

Ansible is one of the most popular automation engines in the world. It lets you automate virtually anything, from setup of a local system to huge groups of platforms and apps. It’s cross platform, so you can use it with all sorts of operating systems. Read on for more information on how to get the latest Ansible in Fedora, some of its changes and improvements, and how to put it to use.

Releases and features

Ansible 2.8 was recently released with many fixes, features, and enhancements. It was available in Fedora mere days afterward as an official update in Fedora 29 and 30, as well as EPEL. The follow-on version 2.8.1 released two weeks ago. Again, the new release was available within a few days in Fedora.

Installation is, of course, easy to do from the official Fedora repositories using sudo:

$ sudo dnf -y install ansible

The 2.8 release has a long list of changes, and you can read them in the Porting Guide for 2.8. But they include some goodies, such as Python interpreter discovery. Ansible 2.8 now tries to figure out which Python is preferred by the platform it runs on. In cases where that fails, Ansible uses a fallback list. However, you can still use a variable ansible_python_interpreter to set the Python interpreter.

Another change makes Ansible more consistent across platforms. Since sudo is more exclusive to UNIX/Linux, and other platforms don’t have it, become is now used in more places. This includes command line switches. For example, –ask-sudo-pass has become –ask-become-pass, and the prompt is now BECOME password: instead.

There are many more features in the 2.8 and 2.8.1 releases. Do check out the official changelog on GitHub for all the details.

Using Ansible

Maybe you’re not sure if Ansible is something you could really use. Don’t worry, you might not be alone in thinking that, because it’s so powerful. But it turns out that it’s not hard to use it even for simple or individual setups like a home with a couple computers (or even just one!).

We covered this topic earlier in the Fedora magazine as well:

Using Ansible to set up a workstation

Give Ansible a try and see what you think. The great part about it is that Fedora stays quite up to date with the latest releases. Happy automating!

Personal assistant with Mycroft and Fedora

Friday 14th of June 2019 09:46:12 AM

Looking for an open source personal assistant ? Mycroft is allowing you to run an open source service which gives you better control of your data.

Install Mycroft on Fedora

Mycroft is currently not available in the official package collection, but it can be easily installed from the project source. The first step is to download the source from Mycroft’s GitHub repository.

$ git clone https://github.com/MycroftAI/mycroft-core.git

Mycroft is a Python application and the project provides a script that takes care of creating a virtual environment before installing Mycroft and its dependencies.

$ cd mycroft-core
$ ./dev_setup.sh

The installation script prompts the user to help him with the installation process. It is recommended to run the stable version and get automatic updates.

When prompted to install locally the Mimic text-to-speech engine, answer No. Since as described in the installation process this can take a long time and Mimic is available as an rpm package in Fedora so it can be installed using dnf.

$ sudo dnf install mimic Starting Mycroft

After the installation is complete, the Mycroft services can be started using the following script.

$ ./start-mycroft.sh all

In order to start using Mycroft the device running the service needs to be registered. To do that an account is needed and can be created at https://home.mycroft.ai/.

Once the account created, it is possible to add a new device at the following address https://account.mycroft.ai/devices. Adding a new device requires a pairing code that will be spoken to you by your device after starting all the services.

The device is now ready to be used.

Using Mycroft

Mycroft provides a set of skills that are enabled by default or can be downloaded from the Marketplace. To start you can simply ask Mycroft how is doing, or what the weather is.

Hey Mycroft, how are you ?

Hey Mycroft, what's the weather like ?

If you are interested in how things works, the start-mycroft.sh script provides a cli option that lets you interact with the services using the command line. It is also displaying logs which is really useful for debugging.

Mycroft is always trying to learn new skills, and there are many way to help by contributing the Mycroft community.

Photo by Przemyslaw Marczynski on Unsplash

Installing alternative versions of RPMs in Fedora

Wednesday 12th of June 2019 08:00:29 AM

Modularity enables Fedora to provide alternative versions of RPM packages in the repositories. Several different applications, language runtimes, and tools are available in multiple versions, build natively for each Fedora release. 

The Fedora Magazine has already covered Modularity in Fedora 28 Server Edition about a year ago. Back then, it was just an optional repository with additional content, and as the title hints, only available to the Server Edition. A lot has changed since then, and now Modularity is a core part of the Fedora distribution. And some packages have moved to modules completely. At the time of writing — out of the 49,464 binary RPM packages in Fedora 30 — 1,119 (2.26%) come from a module (more about the numbers).

Modularity basics

Because having too many packages in multiple versions could feel overwhelming (and hard to manage), packages are grouped into modules that represent an application, a language runtime, or any other sensible group.

Modules often come in multiple streams — usually representing a major version of the software. Available in parallel, but only one stream of each module can be installed on a given system.

And not to overwhelm users with too many choices, each Fedora release comes with a set of defaults — so decisions only need to be made when desired.

Finally, to simplify installation, modules can be optionally installed using pre-defined profiles based on a use case. A database module, for example, could be installed as a client, a server, or both.

Modularity in practice

When you install an RPM package on your Fedora system, chances are it comes from a module stream. The reason why you might not have noticed is one of the core principles of Modularity — remaining invisible until there is a reason to know about it.

Let’s compare the following two situations. First, installing the popular i3 tiling window manager, and second, installing the minimalist dwm window manager:

$ sudo dnf install i3
...
Done!

As expected, the above command installs the i3 package and its dependencies on the system. Nothing else happened here. But what about the other one?

$ sudo dnf install dwm
...
Enabling module streams:
dwm 6.1
...
Done!

It feels the same, but something happened in the background — the default dwm module stream (6.1) got enabled, and the dwm package from the module got installed.

To be transparent, there is a message about the module auto-enablement in the output. But other than that, the user doesn’t need to know anything about Modularity in order to use their system the way they always did.

But what if they do? Let’s see how a different version of dwm could have been installed instead.

Use the following command to see what module streams are available:

$ sudo dnf module list
...
dwm latest ...
dwm 6.0 ...
dwm 6.1 [d] ...
dwm 6.2 ...
...
Hint: [d]efault, [e]nabled, [x]disabled, [i]nstalled

The output shows there are four streams of the dwm module, 6.1 being the default.

To install the dwm package in a different version — from the 6.2 stream for example — enable the stream and then install the package by using the two following commands:

$ sudo dnf module enable dwm:6.2
...
Enabling module streams:
dwm 6.2
...
Done!
$ sudo dnf install dwm
...
Done!

Finally, let’s have a look at profiles, with PostgreSQL as an example.

$ sudo dnf module list
...
postgresql 9.6 client, server ...
postgresql 10 client, server ...
postgresql 11 client, server ...
...

To install PostgreSQL 11 as a server, use the following command:

$ sudo dnf module install postgresql:11/server

Note that — apart from enabling — modules can be installed with a single command when a profile is specified.

It is possible to install multiple profiles at once. To add the client tools, use the following command:

$ sudo dnf module install postgresql:11/client

There are many other modules with multiple streams available to choose from. At the time of writing, there were 83 module streams in Fedora 30. That includes two versions of MariaDB, three versions of Node.js, two versions of Ruby, and many more.

Please refer to the official user documentation for Modularity for a complete set of commands including switching from one stream to another.

Applications for writing Markdown

Monday 10th of June 2019 08:56:12 AM

Markdown is a lightweight markup language that is useful for adding formatting while still maintaining readability when viewing as plain text. Markdown (and Markdown derivatives) are used extensively as the primary form of markup of documents on services like GitHub and pagure. By design, Markdown is easily created and edited in a text editor, however, there are a multitude of editors available that provide a formatted preview of Markdown markup, and / or provide a text editor that highlights the markdown syntax.

This article covers 3 desktop applications for Fedora Workstation that help out when editing Markdown.

UberWriter

UberWriter is a minimal Markdown editor and previewer that allows you to edit in text, and preview the rendered document.

The editor itself has inline previews built in, so text marked up as bold is displayed bold. The editor also provides inline previews for images, formulas, footnotes, and more. Ctrl-clicking one of these items in the markup provides an instant preview of that element to appear.

In addition to the editor features, UberWriter also features a full screen mode and a focus mode to help minimise distractions. Focus mode greys out all but the current paragraph to help you focus on that element in your document

Install UberWriter on Fedora from the 3rd-party Flathub repositories. It can be installed directly from the Software application after setting up your system to install from Flathub

Marker

Marker is a Markdown editor that provides a simple text editor to write Markdown in, and provides a live preview of the rendered document. The interface is designed with a split screen layout with the editor on the left, and the live preview on the right.

Additionally, Marker allows you to export you document in a range of different formats, including HTML, PDF, and the Open Document Format (ODF).

Install Marker on Fedora from the 3rd-party Flathub repositories. It can be installed directly from the Software application after setting up your system to install from Flathub

Ghostwriter

Where the previous editors are more focussed on a minimal user experice, Ghostwriter provides many more features and options to play with. Ghostwriter provides a text editor that is partially styled as you write in Markdown format. Bold text is bold, and headings are in a larger font to assist in writing the markup.

It also provides a split screen with a live updating preview of the rendered document.

Ghostwriter also includes a range of other features, including the ability to choose the Markdown flavour that the preview is rendered in, as well as the stylesheet used to render the preview too.

Additionally, it provides a format menu (and keyboard shortcuts) to insert some of the frequent markdown ‘tags’ like bold, bullets, and italics.

Install Ghostwriter on Fedora from the 3rd-party Flathub repositories. It can be installed directly from the Software application after setting up your system to install from Flathub

Contribute to Fedora Magazine

Friday 7th of June 2019 08:00:59 AM

Do you want to share a piece of Fedora news for the general public? Have a good idea for how to do something using Fedora? Do you or someone you know use Fedora in an interesting way?

We’re always looking for new contributors to write awesome, relevant content. The Magazine is run by the Fedora community — and that’s all of us. You can help too! It’s really easy.Read on to find out how.

What content do we need?

Glad you asked. We often feature material for desktop users, since there are many of them out there! But that’s not all we publish. We want the Magazine to feature lots of different content for the general public.

Sysadmins and power users

We love to publish articles for system administrators and power users who dive under the hood. Here are some recent examples:

Developers

We don’t forget about developers, either. We want to help people use Fedora to build and make incredible things. Here are some recent articles focusing on developers:

Interviews, projects, and links

We also feature interviews with people using Fedora in interesting ways. We even link to other useful content about Fedora. We’ve run interviews recently with people using Fedora to increase security, administer infrastructure, or give back to the community. You can help here, too — it’s as simple as exchanging some email and working with our helpful staff.

How do I get started?

It’s easy to start writing for Fedora Magazine! You just need to have decent skill in written English, since that’s the language in which we publish. Our editors can help polish your work for maximum impact.

Follow this easy process to get involved.

The Magazine team will guide you through getting started. The team also hangs out on #fedora-mktg on Freenode. Drop by, and we can help you get started.

Image courtesy Dustin Lee – originally posted to Unsplash as Untitled

Tweaking the look of Fedora Workstation with themes

Wednesday 5th of June 2019 08:00:29 AM

Changing the theme of a desktop environment is a common way to customize your daily experience with Fedora Workstation. This article discusses the 4 different types of visual themes you can change and how to change to a new theme. Additionally, this article will cover how to install new themes from both the Fedora repositories and 3rd party theme sources.

Theme Types

When changing the theme of Fedora Workstation, there are 4 different themes that can be changed independently of each other. This allows a user to mix and match the theme types to customize their desktop in a multitude of combinations. The 4 theme types are the Application (GTK) theme, the shell theme, the icon theme, and the cursor theme.

Application (GTK) themes

As the name suggests, Application themes change the styling of the applications that are displayed on a user’s desktop. Application themes control the style of the window borders and the window titlebar. Additionally, they also control the style of the widgets in the windows — like dropdowns, text inputs, and buttons. One point to note is that an application theme does not change the icons that are displayed in an application — this is achieved using the icon theme.

Two application windows with two different application themes. The default Adwaita theme on the left, the Adapta theme on the right.

Application themes are also known as GTK themes, as GTK (GIMP Toolkit) is the underlying technology that is used to render the windows and user interface widgets in those windows on Fedora Workstation.

Shell Themes

Shell themes change the appearance of the GNOME Shell. The GNOME Shell is the technology that displays the top bar (and the associated widgets like drop downs), as well as the overview screen and the applications list it contains.

Comparison of two Shell themes, with the Fedora Workstation default on top, and the Adapta shell theme on the bottom. Icon Themes

As the name suggests, icon themes change the icons used in the desktop. Changing the icon theme will change the icons displayed both in the Shell, and in applications.

Comparison of two icon themes, with the Fedora 30 Workstation default Adwaita on the left, and the Yaru icon theme on the right

One important item to note with icon themes is that all icon themes will not have customized icons for all application icons. Consequently, changing the icon theme will not change all the icons in the applications list in the overview.

Comparison of two icon themes, with the Fedora 30 Workstation default Adwaita on the top, and the Yaru icon theme on the bottom Cursor Theme

The cursor theme allows a user to change how the mouse pointer is displayed. Most cursor themes change all the common cursors, including the pointer, drag handles and the loading cursor.

Comparison of multiple cursors of two different cursor themes. Fedora 30 default is on the left, the Breeze Snow theme on the right. Changing the themes

Changing themes on Fedora Workstation is a simple process. To change all 4 types of themes, use the Tweaks application. Tweaks is a tool used to change a range of different options in Fedora Workstation. It is not installed by default, and is installed using the Software application:

Alternatively, install Tweaks from the command line with the command:

sudo dnf install gnome-tweak-tool

In addition to Tweaks, to change the Shell theme, the User Themes GNOME Shell Extension needs to be installed and enabled. Check out this post for more details on installing extensions.

Next, launch Tweaks, and switch to the Appearance pane. The Themes section in the Appearance pane allows the changing of the multiple theme types. Simply choose the theme from the dropdown, and the new theme will apply automatically.

Installing themes

Armed with the knowledge of the types of themes, and how to change themes, it is time to install some themes. Broadly speaking, there are two ways to install new themes to your Fedora Workstation — installing theme packages from the Fedora repositories, or manually installing a theme. One point to note when installing themes, is that you may need to close and re-open the Tweaks application to make a newly installed theme appear in the dropdowns.

Installing from the Fedora repositories

The Fedora repositories contain a small selection of additional themes that once installed are available to we chosen in Tweaks. Theme packages are not available in the Software application, and have to be searched for and installed via the command line. Most theme packages have a consistent naming structure, so listing available themes is pretty easy.

To find Application (GTK) themes use the command:

dnf search gtk | grep theme

To find Shell themes:

dnf search shell-theme

Icon themes:

dnf search icon-theme

Cursor themes:

dnf search cursor-theme

Once you have found a theme to install, install the theme using dnf. For example:

sudo dnf install numix-gtk-theme Installing themes manually

For a wider range of themes, there are a plethora of places on the internet to find new themes to use on Fedora Workstation. Two popular places to find themes are OpenDesktop and GNOMELook.

Typically when downloading themes from these sites, the themes are encapsulated in an archive like a tar.gz or zip file. In most cases, to install these themes, simply extract the contents into the correct directory, and the theme will appear in Tweaks. Note too, that themes can be installed either globally (must be done using sudo) so all users on the system can use them, or can be installed just for the current user.

For Application (GTK) themes, and GNOME Shell themes, extract the archive to the .themes/ directory in your home directory. To install for all users, extract to /usr/share/themes/

For Icon and Cursor themes, extract the archive to the .icons/ directory in your home directory. To install for all users, extract to /usr/share/icons/

Submissions now open for the Fedora 31 supplemental wallpapers

Monday 3rd of June 2019 07:30:03 AM

Have you always wanted to start contributing to Fedora but don’t know how? Submitting a supplemental wallpaper is one of the easiest ways to start as a Fedora contributor. Keep reading to learn how.

Each release, the Fedora Design team works with the community on a set of 16 additional wallpapers. Users can install and use these to supplement the standard wallpaper. And submissions are now open for the Fedora 31 Supplemental Wallpapers.

Dates and deadlines

The submission phase opens June 3, 2019 and ends July 26, 2019 at 23:59 UTC.

Important note: In certain circumstances, submissions during the last hours may not get into the election, if there is no time to do legal research. The legal research is done by hand and very time consuming. Please help by following the guidelines correctly and submit only work that has a correct license.

Please stay away to submit pictures of pets, especially cats.

The voting will open August 1, 2019 and will be open until August 16, 2019 at 23:59 UTC.

How to contribute to this package

Fedora uses the Nuancier application to manage the submissions and the voting process. To submit, you need an Fedora account. If you don’t have one, you can create one here. To vote you must have membership in another group such as cla_done or cla_fpca.

For inspiration you can look to former submissions and the  previous winners. Here are some from the last election:

You may only upload two submissions into Nuancier. In case you submit multiple versions of the same image, the team will choose one version of it and accept it as one submission, and deny the other one.

Previously submissions that were not selected should not be resubmitted, and may be rejected. Creations that lack essential artistic quality may also be rejected.

Denied submissions into Nuancier count. Therefore, if you make two submissions and both are rejected, you cannot submit more. Use your best judgment for your submissions.

Badges

You can also earn badges for contributing. One badge is for an accepted submission. Another badge is awarded if your submission is a chosen wallpaper. A third is awarded if you participate in the voting process. You must claim this badge during the voting process, as it is not granted automatically.

Use Firefox Send with ffsend in Fedora

Friday 31st of May 2019 08:00:51 AM

ffsend is the command line client of Firefox Send. This article will show how Firefox Send and ffsend work. It’ll also detail how it can be installed and used in Fedora.

What are Firefox Send and ffsend ?

Firefox Send is a file sharing tool from Mozilla that allows sending encrypted files to other users. You can install Send on your own server, or use the Mozilla-hosted link send.firefox.com. The hosted version officially supports files up to 1 GB, and links that expire after a configurable download count (default of 1) or 24 hours, and then all the files on the Send server are deleted. This tool is still in experimental phase, and therefore shouldn’t be used in production or to share important or sensitive data.

While Firefox Send is the tool itself and can be used with a web interface, ffsend is a command-line utility you can use with scripts and arguments. It has a wide range of configuration options and can be left working in the background without any human intervention.

How does it work?

FFSend can both upload and download files. The remote host can use either the Firefox tool or another web browser to download the file. Neither Firefox Send nor ffsend require the use of Firefox.

It’s important to highlight that ffsend uses client-side encryption. This means that files are encrypted before they’re uploaded. You share secrets together with the link, so be careful when sharing, because anyone with the link will be able to download the file. As an extra layer of protection, you can protect the file with a password by using the following argument:

ffsend password URL -p PASSWORD Other features

There are a few other features worth mentioning. Here’s a list:

  • Configurable download limit, between 1 and 20 times, before the link expires
  • Built-in extract and archiving functions
  • Track history of shared files
  • Inspect or delete shared files
  • Folders can be shared as well, either as they are or as compressed files
  • Generate a QR code, for easier download on a mobile phone
How to install in Fedora

While Fedora Send works with Firefox without installing anything extra, you’ll need to install the CLI tool to use ffsend. This tool is in the official repositories, so you only need a simple dnf command with sudo.

$ sudo dnf install ffsend

After that, you can use ffsend from the terminal .

Upload a file

Uploading a file is a simple as

$ ffsend upload /etc/os-release
Upload complete
Share link: https://send.firefox.com/download/05826227d70b9a4b/#RM_HSBq6kuyeBem8Z013mg

The file now can be easily share using the Share link URL.

Downloading a file

Downloading a file is as simple as uploading.

$ ffsend download https://send.firefox.com/download/05826227d70b9a4b/#RM_HSBq6kuyeBem8Z013mg
Download complete

Before downloading a file it might be useful to check if the file exist and get information about it. ffsend provides 2 handy commands for that.

$ ffsend exists https://send.firefox.com/download/88a6324e2a99ebb6/#YRJDh8ZDQsnZL2KZIA-PaQ
Exists: true
Password: false
$ ffsend info https://send.firefox.com/download/88a6324e2a99ebb6/#YRJDh8ZDQsnZL2KZIA-PaQ
ID: 88a6324e2a99ebb6
Downloads: 0 of 1
Expiry: 23h59m (86388s Upload history

ffsend also provides a way to check the history of the uploads made with the tools. This can be really useful if you upload a lot of files during a scripted tasks for example and you want to keep track of each files download status.

$ ffsend history
LINK EXPIRY
1 https://send.firefox.com/download/#8TJ9QNw 23h59m
2 https://send.firefox.com/download/KZIA-PaQ 23h54m Delete a file

Another useful feature is the possibility to delete a file.

ffsend delete https://send.firefox.com/download/2d9faa7f34bb1478/#phITKvaYBjCGSRI8TJ9QNw

Firefox Send is a great service and the ffsend tools makes it really convenient to use from the terminal. More examples and documentation is available on ffsend‘s Gitlab repository.

More in Tux Machines

Games: Eagle Island, Total War: THREE KINGDOMS, Robo Instructus, Ion Fury, TRI: Of Friendship and Madness

  • The lovely rogue-lite platformer "Eagle Island" can now be picked up on GOG, Linux build soon

    Heads up GOG fans, Eagle Island from Pixelnicks is now available to pick up from GOG with the Linux build expected soon.

  • Total War: THREE KINGDOMS new "Eight Princes" DLC is set 100 years after the main game

    Releasing soon, Total War: THREE KINGDOMS is to get an "Eight Princes" DLC set 100 years after the Three Kingdoms period began. Announced yesterday, Creative Assembly are moving quickly to add in a whole lot more content to THREE KINGDOMS and it does sound pretty sweet. It will feature: an entirely new campaign; eight new playable princes with "substantially different" play-styles with unique buildings, assignments and court options; along with new elite units like cataphracts; four new alignments Wealth, Spirit, Might, and Mind and more.

  • Guide a robot with simple programming in "Robo Instructus", out now

    Robo Instructus from Big AB Games, which is mainly a solo-operation, is a puzzle game where you need to guide a robot using a simple programming language. Is it odd to think programming can be relaxing? If so, I guess I'm pretty strange in that way. Even if you don't know any programming, Robo Instructus walks you through things quite easily and getting started with it is pretty quick.

  • Grab Ion Fury (previously Ion Maiden) before the price shoots up tomorrow

    Interested in slick retro first-person shooters? You may want to act fast as the price of Ion Fury (previously Ion Maiden) goes up tomorrow. Currently in Early Access, Ion Fury offers a very good preview campaign to play through while you wait for the full release on August 15th. The price is currently around $19.99 but from tomorrow they will bump it up to $24.99.

  • TRI: Of Friendship and Madness returns to GOG with Linux support

    After being previously removed from the DRM-free store GOG, TRI: Of Friendship and Madness has now made a return with full Linux support included.

Today in Techrights

8 Top Ubuntu server Web GUI Management Panels

Ubuntu Server with command-line interface might sound little bit wired to newbies because of no previous familiarization. Thus, if you are new to Ubuntu Linux server running on your local hardware or some Cloud hosting and planning to install some Linux Desktop Graphical environment (GUI) over it; I would like to recommend don’t, until and unless you don’t have supported hardware. Instead, think about free and open-source Ubuntu server Web GUI Management panels. Moreover, for a moment, you can think about Desktop Graphical environment for your local server but if you have some Linux cloud hosting server, never do it. I am saying this because Ubuntu or any other Linux server operating systems are built to run on low hardware resources, thus even old computer/server hardware can easily handle it. GUI means more RAM and hard disk storage space. Read more

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