OpenSuSE Conference 14 in Dubrovnik, Croatia

I had the pleasure to be invited to the 2014 edition of the OpenSuSE Conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia. That event was flying under my radar for a long time and I am glad that I finally found out about it.

The first thing that impressed me was Dubrovik. A lovely city with a walled old town. Even a (rather high) watch tower is still there. The city manages to create an inspiring atmosphere despite all the crowds moving through the narrow streets. It’s clean and controlled, yet busy and wild. There are so many small cafés, pubs, and restaurants, so many walls and corners, and so many friendly people. It’s an amazing place for an amazing conference.

The conference itself featured three tracks, which is quite busy already. But in addition, an unconference was held as a fourth track. The talks were varying in topic, from community management, to MySQL deployment, and of course, GNOME. I presented the latest and greatest GNOME 3.12. Despite the many tracks, the hallway track was the most interesting one. I didn’t know too many faces and as it’s a GNU/Linux distribution conference which I have never attended before, many of the people I met had an interesting background which I was not familiar with. It was fun meeting new people who do exciting things. I hope to be able to stay in touch with many of them.

The conference was opened by the OpenSuSE Board. I actually don’t really know how OpenSuSE is governed and if there is any legal entity behind it. But the Board seems to be somehow elected by the community and was to announce a few changes to OpenSuSE. The title of the conference was “The Strength to Change” which is indeed inviting to announce radical changes. For better or worse, both the number and severity of the changes announced were limited. First and foremost, handling marketing materials is about to change. A new budget was put in place to allow for new materials to be generated to have a much bigger presence in the world. Also, the materials were created by SuSE’s designers on staff. So they are considered to be rather high quality. To get more contributors, they introduce formalised sponsorship program for people to attend conferences to present OpenSuSE. I don’t know what the difference to their Travel Support Program is, though. They will also reimburse for locally produced marketing materials which cannot be shipped around the world to encourage more people to spread the word about OpenSuSE. A new process will be put in place which will enable local contributors to produce materials up to 200 USD from a budget of 2000 USD per quarter. Something that will change, but not just yet, is the development and release model. Andrew Wafaa said that OpenSuSE was a victim of its own success. He mentioned the number of 7500 packages which should probably indicate that it is a lot for them to handle. The current release cycle of 8 months is to be discussed. There is a strong question of whether something new shall be tried. Maybe annual releases, or even longer to have more time for polish. Or maybe not do regular releases at all, like rolling releases or just take as long as it takes. A decision is expected after the next release which will happen as normal at the end of this year. There was an agreement that OpenSuSE wants to be easy to contribute to. The purpose of this conference is to grow the participants’ knowledge and connections in and about the FLOSS environment.

The next talk was Protect your MySQL Server by Georgi Kodinov. Being with MySQL since 2006 he talked about the security of MySQL in OpenSuSE. The first point he made was how the post-installation situation is on OpenSuSE 13.1. It ships version 5.6.12 which is not too bad because it is only 5 updates behind of what upstream released. Other distros are much further away from that, he said. Version 5.6 introduced cool security related features like expiring passwords, password strength policies, or SHA256 support. He urged the audience to stop using passwords on the command line and look into the 5.6 documentation instead. He didn’t make it any more concrete, though, but mentioned “login paths” later. He also liked that the server was not turned on by default which encourages you to use your self-made configuration instead of a default one. He also liked the fact that there is no pre-packaged database as that does not configure users that are not very well protected. Finally, he pointed out that he is pleased to see that no remote access is configured in the default configuration. However, he did not like that OpenSuSE does not ship the latest version. The newest upstream version 5.6.15 not only fixes around 25 security problems but also adds advanced AES functionalities such as keys being bigger than 128 bits. He also disliked that a mysql_secure_installation script is not run after installation. That script would put random passwords to the root account, would disallow anonymous access, and would do away with empty default passwords. Another regret he had was that mysql_config_editor is not packaged. That tool would help to get rid of passwords in scripts using MySQL by storing credentials in encrypted files. That way you would have to protect only one file, not a lot of scripts. For some reason OpenSuSE activates the “federated plugin” which is disabled upstream.
Another weird plugin is the archive plugin which, he said, is not needed. In fact, it is not even available so that the starting server throws errors… Also, authentication plugins which should only be used for testing are enabled by default which can be a problem as it could allow someone to log in as any user. After he explained how this was a threat, the actual attack seems to be a bit esoteric. Anyway, he concluded that you get a development installation when you install MySQL in OpenSuSE, rather than an installation suited for production use.

He went on to refer about how to harden it after installation. He proposed to run mysql_secure_installation as it wouldn’t cause any harm even if run multiple times. He also recommended to make it listen on specific interfaces only, instead of all interfaces which is does by default. He also wants you to generate SSL keys and certificates to allow for encrypted communication over the network.

Even more security can be achieved when turning off TCP access altogether, so you should do it if the environment allows it. If you do use TCP, he recommended to use SSL even if there is no PKI. An interesting advice was to use external authentication such as PAM or LDAP. He didn’t go into details how to actually do it, though. The most urgent tip he gave was to set secure_file_priv to a certain directory as it will restrict the paths MySQL can write to.

As for new changes that come with MySQL 5.7, which is the current development version accumulating changes over 18 months of development, he mentioned the option to log to syslog. Interestingly,
a --ssl option on the client is basically a no-op (sic!) but will actually enforce SSL in the upcoming version. The new version also adds more crypto functions such as RANDOM_BYTES() which interface with the SSL libraries. He concluded his talk with a quote: “Security is like plastic surgery. the more you invest, the prettier it gets.”.

Michael Meeks talked next on the history of the Document Foundation. He explained how it used to be in the StarOffice days. Apparently, they were very process driven and believed that the more processes with even more steps help the quality of the software they produced. He didn’t really share that view. The mind set was, he said, that people would go into a shop and buy a box with the software. He sees that behaviour declining steeply. So then hackers came and branched StarOffice into OpenOffice which had a much shorter release cycle than the original product and incorporated fixes and features of the future version. Everyone shipped that instead of the original thing. The 18 months of the original product were a bit of a long thing in the free software world, he said. He quoted someone saying “StarDivision a problem for every solution.”

He went on to rant about Contributor License Agreements and showed a graph of Fedora contributions which spiked off when they dropped the requirement of a CLA. The graph was impressive but really showed the number of active accounts in an unspecified system. He claimed that by now they have around the same magnitude of contributions as the kernel does and with set a new record with 3000 commits in February 2014. The dominating body of contributors is volunteers which is quite different when compared to the kernel. He talked about various aspects of the Document Foundation like the governance or the fact that they want to make it as easy to contribute to the project as possible.

The next talk was given on bcache by Oliver Neukum. Bcache is a disk cache which is probably primarily used to cache rotational disks with SSDs. He first talked about the principles of caching, like write-back, write-through, and write-around. That is, the cache is responsible for writing to the backing store, the cache places the data to be written in its buffer, or write to the backing storage, but not the cache, respectively. Subsequently, he explained how to actually use bcache. A demo given later revealed that it’s not fool proof and that you do need to get your commands straight in order to make it work properly. As to when to actually use Bcache, he explained that SSDs are cool as they are fast, but they are small and expensive. Fast, as he continued, can either mean throughput or latency. SSDs are good with regards to latency, but not necessarily with throughput. Other, probably similar options to Bcache are dm-cache, but it does not support safe writes. I guess that you cannot use it if you have the requirement of a write-through or write-around scenario. A different alternative is EnhanceIO, written originally by Facebook, which keeps hash structure of the data to be cached in RAM. Bcache, on the other hand, stores a b-tree on the SSD instead of in the RAM. It works on block devices, so anything goes. Tape drives, RAIDs, … It places a special superblock to indicate the partition is a bcache partition. A second block is created to indicate what the backing store is. Currently, the kernel does not auto detect these caches, hence making it work with the root filesystem is a bit tricky. He did a proper evaluation of the effects of the cache. So his statements were well founded which I liked a lot.

It was announced that the next year’s conference, oSC15, will be in The Hague, Netherlands. The city we had our GUADEC in, once. If you have some time in spring, probably in April, consider to go.

LGM 2014 – Free Movies for Everyone

I am at the LGM in Leipzig. The venue, the university of Leipzig, is amazing. Infrastructure is optimal and rooms are spacious enough. The organisers have also made sure that the weather is great ;-)

I’ve never attended an LGM and I regret not having visited one earlier. It’s a cosy event with around 200 people from various parts of the world and from various projects. I am glad to have met a few great minds that I could exchange ideas with.

One of the highlights, so far, for me was the open movie night which showed movies which were either created using Free Software or at least licensed freely. Everybody knows tears of steel or big buck bunny. I was surprised by the long list of movies I didn’t know. Many of them were really good! So good that I can’t even select my favourite. My personal top three movies are, however, Mortys, which I consider to be a good mix of drama and comedy:

Mac n Cheese movies are definitely more on the action side of things, well worth watching:

A very good drama is Palmipedarium.

These movies are, as far as I am aware, licensed under CC-BY-NC-ND. So very restrictive. Much more liberally licensed videos are the Caminandes videos.

I show many more very great videos, but I’ll just link to them here: Parigot, which I’d say is an action comedy. The Forest, definitely worth watching, also as artsy as the Palmipedarium. Camanchango is also interesting, more dramaesque, well animated. Happy Hour has some interesting effects, more on the humorous side.

There are so many great free movies. Is there any database like web site that lists and ranks free movies?

If you know, or if you just want to talk about GNOME, come and find me at LGM :)

Installing Fedora 20 on an Exo PC Slate

For our booth at FOSDEM we had some hardware to show off the latest and greatest GNOME. I brought the tablet I got from the Desktop Summit. In order to prepare it I installed Fedora 20 which comes with a nice and shiny installer. I found a few issues and glitches and will present then them in the course of this post.

It worked well enough, but it has a few glitches. One of them is that GNOME apparently does not detect that it is running on hardware which does not have a keyboard. So it was a bit to enter a password for a wifi when there is no (soft) keyboard…

Some incoherences exist. One of them is that it shows the “Next” button on the bottom right. Which is what I’d expect. But sometimes it also asks the user to press a button on the upper left. I didn’t even remotely expect having to press a button on the “back” side of the screen in order to continue installation.

It was very nice though that it seems to offer installation along an existing operating system *and* full disk encryption. The Ubuntu installer can install you a fully encrypted system nicely, but only if you install Ubuntu on the whole disk. The Fedora installer seems to manage that nicely.

As it seems to be normal nowadays, installation starts even though you haven’t provided all the necessary information yet. That is very convenient and have a much fast installation experience.

Another coherence issue is on the user dialogue. I can actually guess what the thinking was when designing these menus. You have this “overview” screen as seen above and then you “dive” into the sub menus. I expected a more linearly following set of menus. Why would I need return to the overview menu at all? I claim that it is much easier to just continue, not to go forth and back… Anyway, a real bug is visible: Mnemonics are not formatted properly.

The user dialogue, while being at it, seemed to have forced me to enter a strong password. I just wanted to install a system for a demo machine. Probably not the usual usecase, but annoying enough if it doesn’t work smoothly. I think I found out later that I needed to double press the “Next” button (labelled “done” and being placed in the area of the screen where I’d expect “back” buttons to be).

Turns out, that the same thing happened with the root password, which really annoyed me. Especially as the soft keyboard doesn’t really allow for convenient input of complicated characters.

But then I discovered something. On the very bottom there something weirdly coloured. It was a notification for the current menu. Why on earth complain about the password I’ve entered on the very bottom when the widget is on the very top? That was surprising and confusing. Plus, the warning itself was not very visible due to the onscreen keyboard obstructing the view. So I guess it’d be smarter to not have the warnings there.

Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised how smooth the installation experience was. It could, of course, have been better, but all in all it was quite good. I finished in less than half and hour. Too bad that I didn’t know that neither Eye of GNOME nor Epiphany were installed by default.

GNOME@FOSDEM 2014 – Stand and Panel

It is this time of the year again *yay*. The biggest and greatest Free Software conference took place in Brussels, Belgium. It’s good to see all those interested and passionate people care about Free Software. I hope that the (intellectual) gravity of the people gets more people interested and strengthens our communities. In fact, I feel it was one of the better FOSDEMs so far. Maybe even the best. We, GNOME, had a hand full (not kidding) of new members of our communities staffing the booth or just being available. I was very please to see new faces and to identify them as people who were very committed to Free Software and GNOME.

As indicated, we, GNOME, had a booth and a fun time entertaining people stopping by. With the help of many volunteers, we presented our most recent GNOME release, sold some t-shirts, and discussed our future ideas. It’s not necessarily a venue to convince people to use Free Software, or even to use GNOME. But I have the feeling we manage to get both messages across. Bar one case in which an unlucky fellah was angry about everything and especially that this Linux 20 we had installed wouldn’t ship Emacs by default. Other than that we showed people how cool the GNOME Shell extensions are, how to quickly launch applications, or how to access the notification area quickly. Or, yes of course, how to suspend. Or to shutdown…

I also had the pleasure of being interviewed by an Irish dude who produced episodes for Hacker Public Radio. I didn’t know about that but it seems to be a cool project. I don’t know when it will go live or whether it actually has been published already.

We also had panel with the governing bodies of GNOME and KDE. The intention was to debunk some myths and to make the work more visible. I was on the Panel (on behalf of GNOME) with Kat (from GNOME…) and Lydia from KDE. She was joined by Cornelius who serves on the KDE board for more than 9 years. We were lamenting about various aspects of our work such as where does money come from, where does it go to, what are the processes of getting rid of the money. But also why we were doing that, why we think it is important and what achievements we are proud of. Our host, Paul, was a nice and fun guy and did his job very well. I think it was a successful event. It could probably have been better in the sense that we could have focussed more on the audience and making them want to step up and take over responsibilities. But the way it went and the participation of the audience makes me happy nonetheless.

Update: The interviews have been posted: http://hackerpublicradio.org/eps.php?id=1452

GUADEC 2013 in Brno

I also attended this year’s GUADEC and it was quite good. Especially because the weather was so nice. It was so burning hot that I sometimes wished it wasn’t; especially in the night… My room in the Taufer dormitories, whose service was basic at best, was heating up so heavily over the day that it took until 4 in the morning to be cool enough to be able to sleep. When opening the cold (!) water tap, the water was as warm as a mildly hot shower… But well, GUADEC is not about sleeping anyway, right? ;-)

I was kept busy with various meeting before, while and after the conference and I piled up work lasting for a few months, I guess…

The conference itself was nicely organised. The bar was set quite high last year, so I didn’t expect this year’s team to match the overall quality. And they didn’t, but they were close. The staff was helpful and professional. Issues were dealt with promptly and quite well. I hope, again, that the knowledge gained can be transferred to future GUADEC organisers.

As for the talks, I couldn’t follow many of them. The ones I have seen were mostly great. We had (too?) many keynotes which were generally interesting. Too bad the crowd didn’t notice it was trolled by Ethan Lee. He is a game developer who ported games to Linux. The message was poor and I doubt we, GNOME, profited from this keynote. The next keynote was given by the CEO of Endless Mobile, a company which tries to leverage the potential of the “middle of the pyramid” to get the next billion users and “get 50% of the market share”. The idea is to bring a cheap enough, but also elegant enough device to the people who can afford a 40 inch TV (via loans) but not a PC. As they want to sell ARM devices, he asked us to make GNOME run better on ARM chips. Cathy Malmrose, CEO of computer manufacturing company zareason, was keynoting the last day. The company puts only GNU/Linux systems on their machines before shipping them to customers. The computers they sell range from desktops over laptops to tablets. She told us that we were quite well positioned, because GNOME was so easily usable by people who don’t have much or any experience with computers. That was very refreshing and I am happy that she told us that we were doing very well. She was opening a perspective many of us probably didn’t think about before. She was really enthusiastic about Free Software and my feeling was that she cared more about the Freedoms than many of the participants.

Other talks by members of the GNOME community were lively and one the most enjoying talks was given by the sysadmin team. It was nice to be able to applaud for them in person, because they are doing such a great job.

There were Twitter walls (hehe) in every room (supposedly made with QML) and I found it to be mainly distracting while at the same time not very informative. The news running over it were mostly not worth the electricity they consumed.

Anyway, thanks to the local team and all the sponsors for making such a great event happen! If you have anything to say, leave your feedback on the wiki.

Sponsored by GNOME!

Individuals contribute 20000 USD to make GNOME more secure and more privacy aware

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I’m so excited. I’ve just pushed the last update to the current Friends of GNOME banner. We received donations worth 20000 USD to make GNOME more secure and privacy aware. It’s so awesome to see so many individuals donating to make GNOME better for them and ultimately for all of us.

finished

We got 250 one-off payments and roughly 650 periodic payments from payment plans over the last 7 months. During that period, 52 payment plans were created with the average amount of 10 USD per month (the default setting). However, 51 plans were cancelled :-\ The one-off payments were worth 17600 USD and hence the average donation was about 70 USD.

Depending on how you do the math, the cost of taking the one-off donations was between 3.3% and 4.4%. I find that number surprisingly low, probably because I still can’t make sense out of PayPal’s fee structure. But there are probably some hidden fees that turn up once you actually want to do something with the money, i.e. have it wired somewhere.

A very big “Thank You” to all the donors who generously allow us to continue our mission to produce a Free Software desktop for everyone. You guys rock. Seriously.

The new GNOME board, which is already serving since the beginning of this month, will meet during GUADEC and probably call for bids some weeks later.

GNOME.Asia Summit 2013

This year’s GNOME.Asia Summit took place in Seoul, Korea. It’s my second GNOME.Asia Summit after the previous one in Hongkong and it’s again amazing to see how nice the local team put everything together.

SAM_1416

Initially I thought I’ll go to Seoul straight from LinuxTag which would have been quite stressful. Unfortunately, LinuxTag didn’t happen for GNOME :-\ We lacked people to run the booth and it’s insane to try to run the booth with only two or three people over four days. So I went more or less straight to Seoul. Via CDG. So far I didn’t like that airport because it is huge and transfers between terminals are very slow and the terminals themselves rather poor in terms of infrastructure (power, seats, WiFi, shops). But terminal 2E was surprisingly nice. It’s got designeresque chairs to sit in, lots of power sockets, free WiFi, some shops, water fountains, and it’s generally airy. So thumbs up for that.

SAM_1418

As for Seoul, things went surprisingly well. While i did organise this GNOME.Asia Summit to some extent I didn’t expect things to work out that nicely. The local team, which was pretty much unknown to me, was surprisingly big and they found a good venue and good sponsors.

GNOME Asia Summit

Lemote gave us a few laptops to give away *yay*. A raffle was organized and the best speaker got the biggest machine. I didn’t win in the raffle, but I got a machine as the best speaker. It’s a Lemote Loongson. I don’t know yet whether it is what I need. I have a very underspecced Lenovo ideapad which barely runs GNOME. Running anything that requires memory is really dreadful. Yes Firefox, looking at you. And some things like Gajim, an XMPP client, don’t even work because the machine starts to swap so heavily that every TCP connection times out. Again and again. I have to explore whether the Lemote laptop performs any better. It’s MIPS after all. And according to Wikipedia the CPU alone draws 15W.

SAM_1452

Anyway, the conference itself was good and I felt that it was bringing together people nicely. I hope that it relevant Korean businesses are happy, too. We will have to see though whether any measurable output has been generated.

The reactions to my talk about GNOME 3.8 were, as already mentioned, positive. To my surprise I have to say. I was still a bit tired and jetlagged, but from talking to people afterwards I know that I inspired some folks to take a closer look at GNOME. You can find my slides here.

CAM00344

I found a surprising large number of other talks interesting, too. Unfortunately, the aforementioned laptop died while taking notes so I can’t provided a nice summary. The most interesting thing I found was a talk about seafile. A Dropbox-like tool which sounds really good. But to be ready they have to fix some design problems like depending on a local webserver or not using established authentication and encryption protocols (think SSH).

SAM_5438

I’m happy for the GNOME.Asia. May it prosper in the future. I hope we can gain some more sponsors for future editions of the event and also for GNOME. As other people already stated: I’d like to thank the GNOME Foundation for sponsoring my attendance at the conference. I’d also like to thank the conference sponsors for their support, including NIPA, Lemote, LG, Google, Linux Pilot, ONOFFMIX and Bloter.net.

Sponsored by GNOME!

A journey to an updated Linux 18

Oh what joy this whole GNU/Linux thing brings. I took a few days off to upgrade my machines. I had the pleasure to update one laptop twice, i.e. from the Ubuntu 12.04 LTS to the current 13.04 and a desktop from Fedora 17 to Fedora 18.

The Laptop was almost easy. It took long time for the system to install packages. And there are stupid dialogues to confirm which block the whole process. Not very nice. I let it run for a couple of hours, everything went more less fine until I couldn’t log in anymore. LightDM saved my GNOME preference but there was no gnome-session left. So I went to the console and got myself ubuntu-gnome-desktop (arr. stupid wordpress doesn’t render apt:// links).

The second update from 12.10 to 13.04 took as long as the first, with nothing noteworthy happening. Interestingly though, it didn’t want to install the 13.04 unless being told to install a “development release”. Bollocks.

Anyway, Ubuntu’s GNOME runs almost nicely on my tiny laptop. GNOME-Shell is very slow when it comes to alt-tab. It takes three or four seconds to switch a window. Distraction free computing at its best.

The Fedora desktop is full bucket of joy. The FedUp utility keeps what it promises. It’s surprisingly refreshing. This time, the whole upgrade procedure worked flawlessly. No really! In 2013! I’m amazed. It only took a while for it to fetch everything but then a reboot straight into the upgrade system made the magic happen. Very cool.

Not so cool was the surprise of the machine not booting. Of course. Systemd hung somewhere in NFS related daemons and bailed out because they failed. The old GRUB menu entry booted a little further, just until sendmail, and enabled me to investigate.

Sendmail could not be brought up, because “-bd is not supported by sSMTP”. Right. I have sSMTP installed. And to make a long story short, something did place an init script in /etc/rc.d/init.d/. And that script failed now. NOW. After a couple of years. It was probably never used but got activated with the migration to systemd. Anyway, you might want to delete your stray init scripts and eventually get rid of the packages altogether.

Then GDM wouldn’t come up. Only flicker. It took me a while to find the relevant log files (thinking that everything was in the Journal by now…) but grepping for the usual “EE” and “WW” didn’t reveal much.

# grep -r -e EE -e WW /var/log/gdm/
/var/log/gdm/:5.log.1: (WW) warning, (EE) error, (NI) not implemented, (??) unknown.
/var/log/gdm/:5.log.1:Initializing built-in extension MIT-SCREEN-SAVER
/var/log/gdm/:5.log.1:(WW) Falling back to old probe method for vesa
/var/log/gdm/:5.log.1:(WW) Falling back to old probe method for modesetting
/var/log/gdm/:5.log.1:(WW) Falling back to old probe method for fbdev
/var/log/gdm/:5.log: (WW) warning, (EE) error, (NI) not implemented, (??) unknown.
/var/log/gdm/:5.log:Initializing built-in extension MIT-SCREEN-SAVER
/var/log/gdm/:5.log:(WW) Falling back to old probe method for vesa
/var/log/gdm/:5.log:(WW) Falling back to old probe method for modesetting
/var/log/gdm/:5.log:(WW) Falling back to old probe method for fbdev
/var/log/gdm/:1.log.2: (WW) warning, (EE) error, (NI) not implemented, (??) unknown.

But. There were also the logs for the “slaves”. They contained:

gdm-simple-slave[1030]: WARNING: Failed to give slave programs access to the display. Trying to proceed.
gdm-launch-environment][1046]: pam_unix(gdm-launch-environment:session): session opened for user gdm by (uid=0)
gdm-launch-environment][1046]: pam_unix(gdm-launch-environment:session): session closed for user gdm
gdm-simple-slave[1030]: GLib-GObject-CRITICAL: g_object_ref: assertion `object->ref_count > 0′ failed
gdm-simple-slave[1030]: GLib-GObject-CRITICAL: g_object_unref: assertion `object->ref_count > 0′ failed

And there was a hint given by systemd:

# systemctl status gdm --full
gdm.service - GNOME Display Manager
Loaded: loaded (/usr/lib/systemd/system/gdm.service; enabled)
Active: active (running) since Fr 2013-05-03 12:22:04 CEST; 9s ago
Main PID: 1843 (gdm-binary)
CGroup: name=systemd:/system/gdm.service
└─1843 /usr/sbin/gdm-binary

Mai 03 12:22:07 bigbox gdm[1843]: gdm-binary[1843]: WARNING: GdmDisplay: display lasted 0.510350 seconds
Mai 03 12:22:07 bigbox gdm-binary[1843]: WARNING: GdmDisplay: display lasted 0.510350 seconds
Mai 03 12:22:07 bigbox gdm-simple-slave[1997]: WARNING: Failed to give slave programs access to the display. Trying to proceed.
Mai 03 12:22:08 bigbox gdm-simple-slave[1997]: GLib-GObject-CRITICAL: g_object_ref: assertion `object->ref_count > 0' failed
Mai 03 12:22:08 bigbox gdm[1843]: gdm-binary[1843]: WARNING: GdmDisplay: display lasted 0.507905 seconds
Mai 03 12:22:08 bigbox gdm-binary[1843]: WARNING: GdmDisplay: display lasted 0.507905 seconds
Mai 03 12:22:08 bigbox gdm-binary[1843]: WARNING: GdmLocalDisplayFactory: maximum number of X display failures reached: check X server log for errors
Mai 03 12:22:08 bigbox gdm-binary[1843]: WARNING: GdmDisplay: display lasted 0.509609 seconds
Mai 03 12:22:08 bigbox gdm[1843]: gdm-binary[1843]: WARNING: GdmLocalDisplayFactory: maximum number of X display failures reached: check X server log for errors
Mai 03 12:22:08 bigbox gdm[1843]: gdm-binary[1843]: WARNING: GdmDisplay: display lasted 0.509609 seconds

Aha! There is the problem! But.. what is it? No indication whatsoever. Not even a tiny hint as to where to look next.

I decided to make baby steps and tried to bring up X on my own. My computer liked “X”. But it didn’t “startx”. That in turn revealed a missing library. libicule.so.48. But the current version is .49. Why on earth would something try to link against an old version? “yum distro-sync” proves me right that my packages are up to date. I thus set out to find the weird library causing me trouble. But there were many!


# ldd /lib64/libgailutil-3.so | grep not
libicule.so.48 => not found
libicuuc.so.48 => not found
libicudata.so.48 => not found

I thought I got rid of them by doing

for f in /lib64/*.so; do ldd $f | (grep -q “not found” && echo $f); done | xargs yum remove -y

but that didn’t help. The ldd resolves symbols recursively but I really want to know the symbols needed by the library itself, not its dependencies. Readelf comes to mind. And after chasing a few libraries manually, I was tired so I came up with

for lib in $(cat /tmp/libs); do echo $lib; for l in $(readelf -d /lib64/$lib | grep NEEDED | cut -d[ -f2 | cut -d] -f1); do echo $lib: $l; done; done | less

which showed nicely which library the culprit was.

It was /lib64/libharfbuzz.so.0 from harfbuzz-0.9.13-1.fc20.x86_64. Where does this package come from, you may ask. So did I. I didn’t know how to make yum tell me, but I found out that it belonged to the F17 texlive repository.

Interestingly enough, yum check told me that there was a problem but couldn’t handle it. The solution, very similar to the command above, but with an important difference:

yum --disablerepo texlive distro-sync

Hope this will be useful to someone in the future. Chances are quite good.

GNOME.Asia 2013 is now Calling for Papers

A shameless copy from over there:

GNOME.Asia 2013 is calling for papers. GNOME.Asia Summit is Asia’s GNOME user and developer conference, spreading the knowledge of GNOME across Asia. The conference will be held in NIPA Business Center, Sangam-dong Seoul, Korea on May 24 -25, 2013. The conference follows the release of GNOME 3.8, helping to bring new desktop paradigms that facilitate user interaction in the computing world. It will be a great place to celebrate and explore the many new features and enhancements to the ground breaking GNOME 3 release and to help make GNOME as successful as possible.

Call for Papers

Submit a Talk!

Important Information

The deadlines:

  • Submission: March 8th, 2013
  • Notification of Acceptance: March 15th, 2013

Conference:

  • Conference Date: May 24th – 25th , 2013
  • Venue: Nuritkum Square – Business tower(3F, 4F), Sangam-dong 1605, Mapo-gu, Seoul, Korea

Main Topics

Possible topics include, but are not limited to

    1. How to Promote/Contribute to GNOME in Asia
      • GNOME Marketing
      • Promotion of Free and Open Source Software
      • How to run a Local GNOME User Group
      • Asia Success Stories/Local GNOME Projects
      • GNOME and Education
      • GNOME Outreach Program for Women
      • Google Summer of Code
    2. Hacking GNOME
      • Lastest Development in GNOME
      • GNOME 3 & GNOME 3 Usability
      • GNOME Human Interface Engineering (Icons and Graphic Design)
      • Bugsquadding in GNOME
      • GNOME Accessibility
      • GNOME 3 Coding How-to
    3. Adapting GNOME to New Types of Devices
      • Develop GNOME on mobile device, like smart phone, tablet PC
      • Develop GNOME on embedded system or open source hardware
      • On-going Projects, Success Stories
      • Find FOSS Friendly Hardware Manufacturers
    4. Localization & Internationalization
      • Translation
      • Input Methods
      • Fonts
    5. Other topics

Any topics related to free and open source which are not listed above is still welcome.

Lightning talks

A five-minutes presentation to demonstrate your work or promote an interesting topic. Reservation and on-site application are both accepted.

A standard session at GNOME.Asia 2013 will be scheduled as 45 mins (35 mins talk + 10 mins Q&A). Please take into consideration any time you will need for preparation. The session could be a technical talk, panel discussion, or BOF.

If you’d like to share your knowledge and experience at GNOME.Asia 2013, please fill in the form at http://2013.gnome.asia/cfp before March 8th, 2013. Please provide a short abstract about your proposal (under 150 words). Include your name, biographical information, a photo suitable for the web, a title, and a description of your presentation . The reviewing team will evaluate the entries based on the submitted abstracts and available time in the schedule. You will be contacted before March 15th, 2013 on whether your submission has been accepted or not.

All interested contributors are highly encouraged to send in their talks. Please help us to spread the invitation to other potential participants. Even you do not plan to be a speaker, please consider joining GNOME.Asia 2013. This is going to be a great event!

GNOME @ FOSDEM 2013

Phew, I’m excited about FOSDEM and also exhausted. We had a nice GNOME presence with a lovely booth, many helpers and nice shirts. Thanks to everyone involved who made it such a success.

Our current T-shirt was designed last minute by Andreas, printed last second by an awesome printing shop, and I like it very much. Especially the girly shirts have a nice colour. The shirt accompanies our current Friends of GNOME campaign about Privacy and Security.

In case you haven’t heard: GNOME is raising money to make GNOME more privacy aware, i.e. to allow to you to use your computer anonymously or leave as few traces behind as possible. Also security is a vital part, so maybe the money will be spent on enabling the chat to transfer files encryptedly or better OpenPGP integration into GNOME. If you want to support these goals, consider becoming a Friend of GNOME. Also, if you only want one of those shirts, become a Friend of GNOME, because at a certain level, you will be eligible to get hold of one of those t-shirts :-)

Unfortunately, our donation process depends heavily on Paypal and is quite US centric. That’s not very nice, the majority of donations does not come from the US. In fact, many donations come from Europe.

Anyway, I couldn’t attend a single talk at FOSDEM, because I was so busy with the booth and with maintaining relationships with friends from other Free Software projects, i.e. OpenSuSE. They had, again, a very nice presence and “The Old Toad”, a nice German beer, which is really needed since the Belgian beer is barely drinkable ;-)

As for the GNOME night out, the GNOME Beer Event, it was seriously crowded. While we occupied the upper floor of a bar the last year, we had two floors this year. We did advertise it. Well enough it seems. We went through the building we had our booth in and taped loads of paper onto the walls and pillars. Not only beer event ads but also posters about GNOME Outreach program for Women or the fact that we had T-Shirts on sale.

Our stand was probably the second most beautiful after the OpenSuSE one. Our T-Shirts were aligned up nicely and we sold quite a few of them. Preliminary statistics suggest that we managed to convince people to buy something between 100 and 150 t-shirts. Next time we better try to provide more girly shirts in larger sizes as they ran out quickly. The KDE folks did have many girly shirts but overall their booth didn’t seem to be as well run as the other years.

While the booth generally went well, our interaction story with the people isn’t great. So far, we have a demo machine in the middle of the table which makes it really hard to do stuff together or to show off things, because you can’t really look at what the person is doing neither can you easily show stuff. So maybe putting the machine on either edge of the table would help.

I’m looking very forward to next year’s FOSDEM, hoping that we will have, again, a great set of people willing to spend their time standing there for GNOME.