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Planet Debian - https://planet.debian.org/
Updated: 9 hours 5 min ago

Holger Levsen: 20200801-debconf3

Saturday 1st of August 2020 05:28:28 PM
DebConf3

This tshirt is 17 years old and from DebConf3. I should probably wash it at 60 celcius for once...

DebConf3 was my first DebConf and took place in Oslo, Norway, in 2003. I was very happy to be invited, like any Debian contributor at that time, and that Debian would provide food and accomodation for everyone. Accomodation was sleeping on the floor in some classrooms of an empty school and I remember having tasted grasshoppers provided by a friendly Gunnar Wolf there, standing in line on the first day with the SSH maintainer (OMG!1 (update: I originally wrote here that it wasn't Colin back then, but Colin mailed me to say that he was indeed maintaining SSH even back then, so I've met a previous maintainer there)) and meeting the one Debian person I had actually worked with before: Thomas Lange or MrFAI (update: Thomas also mailed me and said this was at DebConf5). In Oslo I also was exposed to Skolelinux / Debian Edu for the first time, saw a certain presentation from the FTP masters and also noticed some people recording the talks, though as I learned later these videos were never released to the public. And there was this fiveteen year old called Toresbe, who powered on the PDP's which were double his age. And then actually made use of them. And and and.

I'm very happy I went to this DebConf. Without going my Debian journey would have been very different today. Thanks to everyone who made this such a welcoming event. Thanks to anyone who makes any event welcoming!

Andrew Cater: Debian 10.5 media testing - continuing quite happily - 202001081320 - post 2 of several

Saturday 1st of August 2020 05:24:03 PM
We've now settled into a reasonable rhythm: RattusRattus and Isy and Sledge all working away hard in Cambridge: Schweer in Germany and me here in Cheltenham.
Lots of chat backwards and forwards and a good deal of work being done, as ever.
It's really good to be back in the swing of it and we owe thanks to folk for setting up infrastructure for us to use for video chat, which makes a huge difference: even though I know what they're like, it's still good to see my colleagues.

Andrew Cater: Debian 10.5 media testing process started 202008011145 - post 1 of several.

Saturday 1st of August 2020 01:01:52 PM
The media testing process has started slightly late. There will be a _long_ testing process over much of the day: the final media image releases are likely to be at about 0200-0300UTC tomorrow.
Just settling in for a long day of testing: as ever, it's good to be chatting with my Debian colleagues in Cambridge and with Schweer in Germany. It's going to be a hot one - 30 Celsius (at least) and high humidity for all of us.
EDIT: Corrected for UTC :)

Andrew Cater: Debian 10.5 Buster point release 20200801 - all of the fixes :)

Saturday 1st of August 2020 11:13:56 AM
The point release is happening today for Debian Buster 10.5. This is an important release because it incorporates all the recent security fixes from the latest GRUB / Secure Boot "Boothole" security problems.
Behind the scenes, there has been a lot of work to get this right: a release subject to an embargo to allow all the Linux releases to co-ordinate this as far as possible, lots of consistent effort, lots of cooperation - the very best of Free/Libre/Open Source working together.
Secure Boot shims are signed with a different key to go to upstream this time around: in due course, when revocation of old, insecure code happens to plug the security hole, older media may be deny-listed. All the updates for all the affected packages (listed in https://www.debian.org/security/2020-GRUB-UEFI-SecureBoot/ ) are included in this release.

This has been a major wake-up call: the work behind the scenes has meant that each affected Linux distribution will be in a much better position going forward and working together is always good.

Utkarsh Gupta: FOSS Activites in July 2020

Saturday 1st of August 2020 09:00:00 AM

Here’s my (tenth) monthly update about the activities I’ve done in the F/L/OSS world.

Debian

This was my 17th month of contributing to Debian. I became a DM in late March last year and a DD last Christmas! \o/

Well, this month I didn’t do a lot of Debian stuff, like I usually do, however, I did a lot of things related to Debian (indirectly via GSoC)!

Anyway, here are the following things I did this month:

Uploads and bug fixes: Other $things:
  • Mentoring for newcomers.
  • FTP Trainee reviewing.
  • Moderation of -project mailing list.
  • Sponsored php-twig for William, ruby-growl, ruby-xmpp4r, and uby-uniform-notifier for Cocoa, sup-mail for Iain, and node-markdown-it for Sakshi.
GSoC Phase 2, Part 2!

In May, I got selected as a Google Summer of Code student for Debian again! \o/
I am working on the Upstream-Downstream Cooperation in Ruby project.

The first three blogs can be found here:

Also, I log daily updates at gsocwithutkarsh2102.tk.

Whilst the daily updates are available at the above site^, I’ll breakdown the important parts of the later half of the second month here:

  • Marc Andre, very kindly, helped in fixing the specs that were failing earlier this month. Well, the problem was with the specs, but I am still confused how so. Anyway..
  • Finished documentation of the second cop and marked the PR as ready to be reviewed.
  • David reviewed and suggested some really good changes and I fixed/tweaked that PR as per his suggestion to finally finish the last bits of the second cop, RelativeRequireToLib.
  • Merged the PR upon two approvals and released it as v0.2.0!

Paul Wise: FLOSS Activities July 2020

Saturday 1st of August 2020 12:58:13 AM
Focus

This month I didn't have any particular focus. I just worked on issues in my info bubble.

Changes Issues Review Administration
  • Debian wiki: unblock IP addresses, approve accounts, reset email addresses
Communication Sponsors

The purple-discord, ifenslave and psqlodbc work was sponsored by my employer. All other work was done on a volunteer basis.

Junichi Uekawa: August and feels like it finally.

Saturday 1st of August 2020 12:54:04 AM
August and feels like it finally. July didn't feel like July and felt like June because it rained so much. This is summer.

Ben Hutchings: Debian LTS work, July 2020

Friday 31st of July 2020 10:40:00 PM

I was assigned 20 hours of work by Freexian's Debian LTS initiative, but only worked 5 hours this month and returned the remainder to the pool.

Now that Debian 9 'stretch' has entered LTS, the stretch-backports suite will be closed and no longer updated. However, some stretch users rely on the newer kernel version provided there. I prepared to add Linux 4.19 to the stretch-security suite, alongside the standard package of Linux 4.9. I also prepared to update the firmware-nonfree package so that firmware needed by drivers in Linux 4.19 will also be available in stretch's non-free section. Both these updates will be based on the packages in stretch-backports, but needed some changes to avoid conflicts or regressions for users that continue using Linux 4.9 or older non-Debian kernel versions. I will upload these after the Debian 10 'buster' point release.

Chris Lamb: Free software activities in July 2020

Friday 31st of July 2020 09:55:07 PM

Here is my monthly update covering what I have been doing in the free and open source software world during July 2020 (previous month):

  • Opened a pull request to make the build reproducible in PyERFA, a set of Python bindings for various astronomy-related utilities (#45), as well as one for PeachPy assembler to make the output of codecode/x86_64.py reproducible (#108).

SPI is a non-profit corporation that acts as a fiscal sponsor for organisations that develop open source software and hardware.
  • As part of being on the board of directors of the Open Source Initiative and Software in the Public Interest I attended their respective monthly meetings and participated in various licensing and other discussions occurring on the internet, as well as the usual internal discussions regarding logistics and policy etc. This month, it was SPI's Annual General Meeting and the OSI has been running a number of remote strategy sessions for the board.

  • Fixed an issue in my tickle-me-email library that implements Getting Things Done (GTD)-like behaviours in IMAP inboxes to ensure that all messages have a unique Message-Id header. [...]

  • Reviewed and merged even more changes by Pavel Dolecek into my Strava Enhancement Suite, a Chrome extension to improve the user experience on the Strava athletic tracker.

  • Updated travis.debian.net, my hosted service for projects that host their Debian packaging on GitHub, to use the Travis CI continuous integration platform) to fix a compatibility issue with the latest version of mk-build-deps. [...][...]


Lintian analyses Debian packages and reports bugs and policy violations. It contains automated checks for many aspects of Debian policy as well as checks for common errors.

For Lintian, the static analysis tool for Debian packages:

  • Update the regular expression to search for all the released versions in a .changes file. [...]

  • Avoid false-positives when matching sensible-utils utilities such as i3-sensible-pager. (#966022)

  • Rename the send-patch tag to patch-not-forwarded-upstream. [...]

  • Drop reminders from 26 tags that false-positives should be reported to Lintian as this is implicit in all our tags. [...]


§


Reproducible Builds

One of the original promises of open source software is that distributed peer review and transparency of process results in enhanced end-user security. However, whilst anyone may inspect the source code of free and open source software for malicious flaws, almost all software today is distributed as pre-compiled binaries. This allows nefarious third-parties to compromise systems by injecting malicious code into ostensibly secure software during the various compilation and distribution processes.

The motivation behind the Reproducible Builds effort is to ensure no flaws have been introduced during this compilation process by promising identical results are always generated from a given source, thus allowing multiple third-parties to come to a consensus on whether a build was compromised.


Conservancy is not-for-profit 501(c)(3) charity focused on ethical technology and user freedom.

The project is proud to be a member project of the Software Freedom Conservancy. Conservancy acts as a corporate umbrella allowing projects to operate as non-profit initiatives without managing their own corporate structure. If you like the work of the Conservancy or the Reproducible Builds project, please consider becoming an official supporter.

This month, I:



§


diffoscope
diffoscope is our in-depth and content-aware diff utility that can locate and diagnose reproducibility issues.

Elsewhere in our tooling, I made the following changes to diffoscope, including preparing and uploading versions 150, 151, 152, 153 & 154 to Debian:

  • New features:

    • Add support for flash-optimised F2FS filesystems. (#207)
    • Don't require zipnote(1) to determine differences in a .zip file as we can use libarchive. [...]
    • Allow --profile as a synonym for --profile=-, ie. write profiling data to standard output. [...]
    • Increase the minimum length of the output of strings(1) to eight characters to avoid unnecessary diff noise. [...]
    • Drop some legacy argument styles: --exclude-directory-metadata and --no-exclude-directory-metadata have been replaced with --exclude-directory-metadata={yes,no}. [...]
  • Bug fixes:

    • Pass the absolute path when extracting members from SquashFS images as we run the command with working directory in a temporary directory. (#189)
    • Correct adding a comment when we cannot extract a filesystem due to missing libguestfs module. [...]
    • Don't crash when listing entries in archives if they don't have a listed size such as hardlinks in ISO images. (#188)
  • Output improvements:

    • Strip off the file offset prefix from xxd(1) and show bytes in groups of 4. [...]
    • Don't emit javap not found in path if it is available in the path but it did not result in an actual difference. [...]
    • Fix ... not available in path messages when looking for Java decompilers that used the Python class name instead of the command. [...]
  • Logging improvements:

    • Add a bit more debugging info when launching libguestfs. [...]
    • Reduce the --debug log noise by truncating the has_some_content messages. [...]
    • Fix the compare_files log message when the file does not have a literal name. [...]
  • Codebase improvements:

    • Rewrite and rename exit_if_paths_do_not_exist to not check files multiple times. [...][...]
    • Add an add_comment helper method; don't mess with our internal list directly. [...]
    • Replace some simple usages of str.format with Python 'f-strings' [...] and make it easier to navigate to the main.py entry point [...].
    • In the RData comparator, always explicitly return None in the failure case as we return a non-None value in the success one. [...]
    • Tidy some imports [...][...][...] and don't alias a variable when we don't end up using. [...]
    • Clarify the use of a separate NullChanges quasi-file to represent missing data in the Debian package comparator [...] and clarify use of a 'null' diff in order to remember an exit code. [...]
  • Misc:


§



Debian

In Debian, I made the following uploads this month:


§


Debian LTS

This month I have worked 18 hours on Debian Long Term Support (LTS) and 12 for the Extended LTS project. This included:

You can find out more about the project via the following video:

Jonathan Carter: Free Software Activities for 2020-07

Friday 31st of July 2020 05:01:03 PM

Here are my uploads for the month of July, which is just a part of my free software activities, I’ll try to catch up on the rest in upcoming posts. I haven’t indulged in online conferences much over the last few months, but this month I attended the virtual editions of Guadec 2020 and HOPE 2020. HOPE isn’t something I knew about before and I enjoyed it a lot, you can find their videos on archive.org.

Debian Uploads

2020-07-05: Sponsor backport gamemode-1.5.1-5 for Debian buster-backports.

2020-07-06: Sponsor package piper (0.5.1-1) for Debian unstable (mentors.debian.net request).

2020-07-14: Upload package speedtest-cli (2.0.2-1+deb10u1) to Debian buster (Closes: #940165, #965116).

2020-07-15: Upload package calamares (3.2.27-1) to Debian unstable.

2020-07-15: Merge MR#1 for gnome-shell-extension-dash-to-panel.

2020-07-15: Upload package gnome-shell-extension-dash-to-panel (38-1) to Debian unstable.

2020-07-15: Upload package gnome-shell-extension-disconnect-wifi (25-1) to Debian unstable.

2020-07-15: Upload package gnome-shell-extension-draw-on-your-screen (6.1-1) to Debian unstable.

2020-07-15: Upload package xabacus (8.2.8-1) to Debian unstable.

2020-07-15: Upload package s-tui (1.0.2-1) to Debian unstable.

2020-07-15: Upload package calamares-settings-debian (10.0.2-1+deb10u2) to Debian buster (Closes: #934503, #934504).

2020-07-15: Upload package calamares-settings-debian (10.0.2-1+deb10u3) to Debian buster (Closes: #959541, #965117).

2020-07-15: Upload package calamares-settings-debian (11.0.2-1) to Debian unstable.

2020-07-19: Upload package bluefish (2.2.11+svn-r8872-1) to Debian unstable (Closes: #593413, #593427, #692284, #730543, #857330, #892502, #951143).

2020-07-19: Upload package bundlewrap (4.0.0-1) to Debian unstable.

2020-07-20: Upload package bluefish (2.2.11+svn-r8872-1) to Debian unstable (Closes: #965332).

2020-07-22: Upload package calamares (3.2.27-1~bpo10+1) to Debian buster-backports.

2020-07-24: Upload package bluefish (2.2.11_svn-r8872-3) to Debian unstable (Closes: #965944).

François Marier: Extending GPG key expiry

Friday 31st of July 2020 03:45:00 AM

Extending the expiry on a GPG key is not very hard, but it's easy to forget a step. Here's how I did my last expiry bump.

Update the expiry on the main key and the subkey:

gpg --edit-key KEYID > expire > key 1 > expire > save

Upload the updated key to the keyservers:

gpg --export KEYID | curl -T - https://keys.openpgp.org gpg --keyserver keyring.debian.org --send-keys KEYID

Reproducible Builds (diffoscope): diffoscope 154 released

Friday 31st of July 2020 12:00:00 AM

The diffoscope maintainers are pleased to announce the release of diffoscope version 154. This version includes the following changes:

[ Chris Lamb ] * Add support for F2FS filesystems. (Closes: reproducible-builds/diffoscope#207) * Allow "--profile" as a synonym for "--profile=-". * Add an add_comment helper method so don't mess with our _comments list directly. * Add missing bullet point in a previous changelog entry. * Use "human-readable" over unhyphenated version. * Add a bit more debugging around launching guestfs. * Profile the launch of guestfs filesystems. * Correct adding a comment when we cannot extract a filesystem due to missing guestfs module.

You find out more by visiting the project homepage.

Russell Coker: Links July 2020

Thursday 30th of July 2020 11:59:23 PM

iMore has an insightful article about Apple’s transition to the ARM instruction set for new Mac desktops and laptops [1]. I’d still like to see them do something for the server side.

Umair Haque wrote an insightful article about How the American Idiot Made America Unlivable [2]. We are witnessing the destruction of a once great nation.

Chris Lamb wrote an interesting blog post about comedy shows with the laugh tracks edited out [3]. He then compares that to social media with the like count hidden which is an interesting perspective. I’m not going to watch TV shows edited in that way (I’ve enjoyed BBT inspite of all the bad things about it) and I’m not going to try and hide like counts on social media. But it’s interesting to consider these things.

Cory Doctorow wrote an interesting Locus article suggesting that we could have full employment by a transition to renewable energy and methods for cleaning up the climate problems we are too late to prevent [4]. That seems plausible, but I think we should still get a Universal Basic Income.

The Thinking Shop has posters and decks of cards with logical fallacies and cognitive biases [5]. Every company should put some of these in meeting rooms. Also they have free PDFs to download and print your own posters.

gayhomophobe.com [6] is a site that lists powerful homophobic people who hurt GLBT people but then turned out to be gay. It’s presented in an amusing manner, people who hurt others deserve to be mocked.

Wired has an insightful article about the shutdown of Backpage [7]. The owners of Backpage weren’t nice people and they did some stupid things which seem bad (like editing posts to remove terms like “lolita”). But they also worked well with police to find criminals. The opposition to what Backpage were doing conflates sex trafficing, child prostitution, and legal consenting adult sex work. Taking down Backpage seems to be a bad thing for the victims of sex trafficing, for consenting adult sex workers, and for society in general.

Cloudflare has an interesting blog post about short lived certificates for ssh access [8]. Instead of having user’s ssh keys stored on servers each user has to connect to a SSO server to obtain a temporary key before connecting, so revoking an account is easy.

Related posts:

  1. Links January 2020 C is Not a Low Level Language [1] is an...
  2. Links March 2020 Rolling Stone has an insightful article about why the Christian...
  3. Links June 2020 Bruce Schneier wrote an informative post about Zoom security problems...

Norbert Preining: KDE/Plasma Status Update 2020-07-30

Wednesday 29th of July 2020 11:03:25 PM

Only a short update on the current status of my KDE/Plasma package for Debian sid and testing:

  • Frameworks 5.72
  • Plasma 5.19.4
  • Apps 20.04.3
  • Digikam 7.0.0
  • Ark CVE-2020-16116 fixed in version 20.04.3-1~np2

Hope that helps a few people. See this post for how to setup archives.

Enjoy.

Dima Kogan: An awk corner case?

Wednesday 29th of July 2020 10:45:00 PM

So even after years and years of experience, core tools still find ways to surprise me. Today I tried to do some timestamp comparisons with mawk (vnl-filter, to be more precise), and ran into a detail of the language that made it not work. Not a bug, I guess, since both mawk and gawk are affected. I'll claim "language design flaw", however.

Let's say I'm processing data with unix timestamps in it (seconds since the epoch). gawk and recent versions of mawk have strftime() for that:

$ date Wed Jul 29 15:31:13 PDT 2020 $ date +"%s" 1596061880 $ date +"%s" | mawk '{print strftime("%H",$1)}' 15

And let's say I want to do something conditional on them. I want only data after 9:00 each day:

$ date +"%s" | mawk 'strftime("%H",$1) >= 9 {print "Yep. After 9:00"}'

That's right. No output. But it is 15:31 now, and I confirmed above that strftime() reports the right time, so it should know that it's after 9:00, but it doesn't. What gives?

As we know, awk (and perl after it) treat numbers and strings containing numbers similarly: 5+5 and ="5"+5= both work the same, which is really convenient. This can only work if it can be inferred from context whether we want a number or a string; it knows that addition takes two numbers, so it knows to convert ="5"= into a number in the example above.

But what if an operator is ambiguous? Then it picks a meaning based on some internal logic that I don't want to be familiar with. And apparently awk implements string comparisons with the same < and > operators, as numerical comparisons, creating the ambiguity I hit today. strftime returns strings, and you get silent, incorrect behavior that then demands debugging. How to fix? By telling awk to treat the output of strftime() as a number:

$ date +"%s" | mawk '0+strftime("%H",$1) >= 9 {print "Yep. After 9:00"}' Yep. After 9:00

With the benefit of hindsight, they really should not have reused any operators for both number and string operations. Then these ambiguities wouldn't occur, and people wouldn't be grumbling into their blogs decades after these decisions were made.

Enrico Zini: Building and packaging a sysroot

Wednesday 29th of July 2020 08:15:15 AM

This is part of a series of posts on compiling a custom version of Qt5 in order to develop for both amd64 and a Raspberry Pi.

After having had some success with a sysroot in having a Qt5 cross-build environment that includes QtWebEngine, the next step is packaging the sysroot so it can be available both to build the cross-build environment, and to do cross-development with it.

The result is this Debian source package which takes a Raspberry Pi OS disk image, provisions it in-place, extracts its contents, and packages them.

Yes. You may want to reread the last paragraph.

It works directly in the disk image to avoid a nasty filesystem issue on emulated 32bit Linux over a 64bit mounted filesystem.

This feels like the most surreal Debian package I've ever created, and this saga looks like one of the hairiest yaks I've ever shaved.

Integrating this monster codebase, full of bundled code and hacks, into a streamlined production and deployment system has been for me a full stack nightmare, and I have a renewed and growing respect for the people in the Qt/KDE team in Debian, who manage to stay on top of this mess, so that it all just works when we need it.

Dirk Eddelbuettel: Installing and Running Ubuntu on a 2015-ish MacBook Air

Wednesday 29th of July 2020 01:52:00 AM

So a few months ago kiddo one dropped an apparently fairly large cup of coffee onto her one and only trusted computer. With a few months (then) to graduation (which by now happened), and with the apparent “genuis bar” verdict of “it’s a goner” a new one was ordered. As it turns out this supposedly dead one coped well enough with the coffee so that after a few weeks of drying it booted again. But give the newer one, its apparent age and whatnot, it was deemed surplus. So I poked around a little on the interwebs and conclude that yes, this could work.

Fast forward a few months and I finally got hold of it, and had some time to play with it. First, a bootable usbstick was prepared, and the machine’s content was really (really, and check again: really) no longer needed, I got hold of it for good.

tl;dr It works just fine. It is a little heavier than I thought (and isn’t “air” supposed to be weightless?) The ergonomics seem quite nice. The keyboard is decent. Screen-resolution on this pre-retina simple Air is so-so at 1440 pixels. But battery live seems ok and e.g. the camera is way better than what I have in my trusted Lenovo X1 or at my desktop. So just as a zoom client it may make a lot of sense; otherwise just walking around with it as a quick portable machine seems perfect (especially as my Lenovo X1 still (ahem) suffers from one broken key I really need to fix…).

Below are some lightly edited notes from the installation. Initial steps were quick: maybe an hour or less? Customizing a machine takes longer than I remembered, this took a few minutes here and there quite a few times, but always incremental.

Initial Steps
  • Download of Ubuntu 20.04 LTS image: took a few moments, even on broadband, feels slower than normal (fast!) Ubuntu package updates, maybe lesser CDN or bad luck

  • Startup Disk Creator using a so-far unused 8gb usb drive

  • Plug into USB, recycle power, press “Option” on macOS keyboard: voila

  • After a quick hunch… no to ‘live/test only’ and yes to install, whole disk

  • install easy, very few questions, somehow skips wifi

  • so activate wifi manually — and everythings pretty much works

Customization
  • First deal with ‘fn’ and ‘ctrl’ key swap. Install git and followed this github repo which worked just fine. Yay. First (manual) Linux kernel module build needed need in … half a decade? Longer?

  • Fire up firefox, go to ‘download chrome’, install chrome. Sign in. Turn on syncing. Sign into Pushbullet and Momentum.

  • syncthing which is excellent. Initially via apt, later from their PPA. Spend some time remembering how to set up the mutual handshakes between devices. Now syncing desktop/server, lenovo x1 laptop, android phone and this new laptop

  • keepassx via apt and set up using Sync/ folder. Now all (encrypted) passwords synced.

  • Discovered synergy now longer really free, so after a quick search found and installed barrier (via apt) to have one keyboard/mouse from desktop reach laptop.

  • Added emacs via apt, so far ‘empty’, so config files yet

  • Added ssh via apt, need to propagate keys to github and gitlab

  • Added R via add-apt-repository --yes "ppa:marutter/rrutter4.0" and add-apt-repository --yes "ppa:c2d4u.team/c2d4u4.0+". Added littler and then RStudio

  • Added wajig (apt frontend) and byobu, both via apt

  • Created ssh key, shipped it to server and github + gitlab

  • Cloned (not-public) ‘dotfiles’ repo and linked some dotfiles in

  • Cloned git repo for nord-theme for gnome terminal and installed it; also added it to RStudio via this repo

  • Emacs installed, activated dotfiles, then incrementally install a few elpa-* packages and a few M-x package-install including nord-theme, of course

  • Installed JetBrains Mono font from my own local package; activated for Gnome Terminal and Emacs

  • Install gnome-tweak-tool via apt, adjusted a few settings

  • Ran gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.wm.preferences focus-mode 'sloppy'

  • Set up camera following this useful GH repo

  • At some point also added slack and zoom, because, well, it is 2020

  • STILL TODO:

    • docker
    • bother with email setup?,
    • maybe atom/code/…?

Chris Lamb: Pop culture matters

Tuesday 28th of July 2020 11:02:36 PM

Many people labour under the assumption that pop culture is trivial and useless while only 'high' art can grant us genuine and eternal knowledge about the world. Given that we have a finite time on this planet, we are all permitted to enjoy pop culture up to a certain point, but we should always minimise our interaction with it, and consume more moral and intellectual instruction wherever possible.

Or so the theory goes. What these people do not realise is that pop and mass culture can often provide more information about the world, humanity in general and — what is even more important — ourselves.

This is not quite the debate around whether high art is artistically better, simply that pop culture can be equally informative. Jeremy Bentham argued in the 1820s that "prejudice apart, the game of push-pin is of equal value with the arts and sciences of music and poetry", that it didn't matter where our pleasures come from. (John Stuart Mill, Bentham's intellectual rival, disagreed.) This fundamental question of philosophical utilitarianism will not be resolved here.

However, what might begin to be resolved is our instinctive push-back against pop culture. We all share an automatic impulse to disregard things we do not like and to pretend they do not exist, but this wishful thinking does not mean that these cultural products do not continue to exist when we aren't thinking about them and, more to our point, continue to influence others and even ourselves.


"There's a direct tie between millennial fondness for the markers of childhood nostalgia and their restricted access to the markers of 'adulthood'."

Take, for example, the recent trend for 'millennial pink'. With its empty consumerism, faux nostalgia, reductive generational stereotyping, objectively ugly æsthetics and tedious misogyny (photographed with Rose Gold iPhones), the very combination appears to have been deliberately designed to annoy me, curiously providing circumstantial evidence in favour of intelligent design. But if I were to immediately dismiss millennial pink and any of the other countless cultural trends I dislike simply because I find them disagreeable, I would be willingly keeping myself blind to their underlying ideology, their significance and their effect on society at large. If I had any ethical or political reservations I might choose not to engage with them economically or to avoid advertising them to others, but that is a different question altogether.

Even if we can't notice this pattern within ourselves we can first observe it in others. We can all recall moments where someone has brushed off a casual reference to pop culture, be it Tiger King, TikTok, team sports or Taylor Swift; if you can't, simply look for the abrupt change of tone and the slightly-too-quick dismissal. I am not suggesting you attempt to dissuade others or even to point out this mental tic, but merely seeing it in action can be highly illustrative in its own way.

In summary, we can simultaneously say that pop culture is not worthy of our time relative to other pursuits while consuming however much of it we want, but deliberately dismissing pop culture doesn't mean that a lot of other people are not interacting with it and is therefore undeserving of any inquiry. And if that doesn't convince you, just like the once-unavoidable millennial pink, simply sticking our collective heads in the sand will not mean that wider societal-level ugliness is going to disappear anytime soon.

Anyway, that's a very long way of justifying why I plan to re-watch TNG.

Dirk Eddelbuettel: ttdo 0.0.6: Bugfix

Tuesday 28th of July 2020 10:36:00 PM

A bugfix release of our (still small) ttdo package arrived on CRAN overnight. As introduced last fall, the ttdo package extends the most excellent (and very minimal / zero depends) unit testing package tinytest by Mark van der Loo with the very clever and well-done diffobj package by Brodie Gaslam to give us test results with visual diffs:

This release corrects a minor editing error spotted by the ever-vigilant John Blischak.

The NEWS entry follow.

Changes in ttdo version 0.0.6 (2020-07-27)
  • Correct a minor editing mistake spotted by John Blischak.

CRANberries provides the usual summary of changes to the previous version. Please use the GitHub repo and its issues for any questions.

If you like this or other open-source work I do, you can now sponsor me at GitHub. For the first year, GitHub will match your contributions.

This post by Dirk Eddelbuettel originated on his Thinking inside the box blog. Please report excessive re-aggregation in third-party for-profit settings.

Jonathan Carter: Free Software Activities for 2020-06

Tuesday 28th of July 2020 06:15:46 PM

Hmm, this is the latest I’ve posted my monthly updates yet (nearly by a month!). June was both crazy on the incoming side, and at the same time I just wasn’t that productive (at least since then I caught up a lot). In theory, lockdown means that I spend less time in traffic, in shops or with friends and have more time to do stuff, in practice I go to bed later and later and waste more time watching tv shows and playing mobile games. A cycle that I have at least broken free from since June.

Debian Package Uploads

2020-06-04: Upload package btfs (2.21-1) to Debian unstable.

2020-06-04: Upload package gnome-shell-extension-disconnect-wifi (24-1) to Debian unstable.

2020-06-18: Sponsor package gamemode (1.5.1-5) for Debian unstable (Games team request).

2020-06-21: Upload package calamares (3.2.26-1) to Debian unstable.

2020-06-21: Upload package s-tui (1.0.1-1) to Debian unstable.

2020-06-29: Sponsor package libinih (48-1~bpo10+1) for Debian buster-backports.

2020-06-30: Upload packge calamares (3.2.26-1~bpo10+1) to Debian buster-backports.

2020-06-30: Upload package toot (0.27.0-1) to Debian unstable.

2020-06-30: Upload package calamares (3.2.26.1-1) to Debian unstable.

More in Tux Machines

Linux Devices and Open Hardware

  • Mini-PC and SBC build on Whiskey Lake

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

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

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

  • Onyx Boox Poke2 Color eReader Launched for $299

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Programming Leftovers

  • Engineer Your Own Electronics With PCB Design Software

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

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

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

  • Excellent Free Tutorials to Learn ECMAScript

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

  • Alexander Larsson: Compatibility in a sandboxed world

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

  • GXml-0.20 Released

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

  • Let Mom Help You With Object-Oriented Programming

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

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

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

  • [rakulang] 2020.32 Survey, Please

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

Hardware With Linux Support: NUVIA and AMD Wraith Prism

  • Performance Delivered a New Way

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

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

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

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

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

The Massive Privacy Loopholes in School Laptops

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