SSL Certs on my sites

LetsEncrypt is wonderful — SSL certificates automatically generated and updated. CertBot does the actual work in one of its many incarnations. Most of my sites use LetsEncrypt to auto-renew certificates. Recently the CertBot at my hoster stopped updating, and now certificates are expiring. The hoster isn’t responding to mail asking them to give CertBot a kick in the pants, so I’m starting to look at other options. It’s weird because for the past 10 years they’ve been good Open-Source-Friendly hosters.

If things move there will probably be a hiccup in access, but I’ll give a shout when it does. The Calamares site runs on GitHub, so is unaffected by this whole thing.

QtWS post (-scriptum)

This week I was briefly in Berlin for the Qt World Summit, or QtWS for short. I was there to run the KDE booth as part of the exposition at the summit, rather than to do any talks (or, for that matter, watch any). First, a bunch of thanks are in order: to Sari and Milja from Moodboard for organising most of the things, to Katica from the Qt Company for doing PR on the show floor, to Kai and Roman from KDE for standing at the booth with me, and to the 700-or-so attendees for listening to us when we talk about KDE as a community, about KDE Frameworks and Plasma in laptops, tablets, phones and embedded. Thanks also to Paul and kde-promo for getting us some nice source material for stickers and shirts.

Photo of Kai and some laptops

Kai at the KDE booth at QtWS

The picture shows some of the stuff we did for the booth: a canvas banner, demo machines, and happy T-shirts. If the Italians (from a Sardinian argricultural-technology firm?) who wanted a T-shirt get in touch with me, we’ll make it happen.

One of the nice things about QtWS is meeting all the KDE people who have wandered away from the active KDE community, and are now inside the Qt Company, or KDAB, or all over the Qt ecosystem. KDAB, of course, gave a bunch of talks at the event and also contributes lots of code to both Qt and KDE; it’s still good to actually meet old KDevelop people and such. When talking to “old hands” is the fordness with which they talk about the community and participating in such a large Open Source project.

So the things we mostly talked about were KDE Frameworks — a fair subset of them are useful for small-footprint devices, embedded, automotive — and that Qt is Open Source. Reminder: Qt is Open Source. And so are all the things KDE builds on top of Qt. There’s a large number of very proprietary software companies around Qt in the automotive world. One really cool one does handwriting recognition, and does it well; I tested it in English, French, and Arabic with my untidy scrawl and its accuracy was pretty good. But .. no, not my cup of tea. The Pinebook got a fair amount of attention, but even more attractive to attendees was a prototype laptop that had been 3D-printed the day before. It looked like it had stepped right out of the 80s, but was running a pretty snappy Plasma desktop on top of mainline and Debian (can’t say more than that for now). We installed KDE neon on my Slimbook again, alongside openSUSE, to try out Wayland, and in particular gaming with Steam under Wayland. That .. turns out to work just fine, but people look at you funny when you’re playing CS:GO (please note my ambivalent and inconsistent treatment of proprietary software here) at the stand.

So, here’s to the Qt community and see you next time!

Freenode#live

This weekend, Freenode#live is in Bristol, in the UK. It’s a FOSS-community type event. I’ll be there with David, and we’ll be doing a KDE booth to show off our technologies (which are cool) and our community (which I think is a great one). Stop by and see the Pinebook. Chat about the Nextcloud Include project. Or tell us you prefer to use i3 — that’s diversity in action (and i3 works fine together with other software from the KDE community).

Multiboot Pinebook KDE neon

Recently a KDE neon image for the Pinebook was announced. There is a new image, with a handful of fixes, which the KDE Plasma team has been working on over the past week and a half.

Photo of Pinebook

Pinebook running KDE neon

Here’s a picture of my Pinebook running KDE neon — watching Panic! At the Disco’s High Hopes — sitting in front of my monitor that’s hooked up to one of my openSUSE systems. There are still some errata, and watching video sucks up battery, but for hacking on documentation from my hammock in the garden, or doing IRC meetings it’s a really nice machine.

But one of the neat things about running KDE neon off of an SD card on the Pinebook is that it’s portable — that SD card can move around. So let’s talk about multiboot in the sense of “booting the same OS storage medium in different hardware units” rather than “booting different OS from a medium in a single hardware unit”. On these little ARM boards, u-boot does all the heavy lifting early in the boot process. So to re-use the KDE neon Pinebook image on another ARM board, the u-boot blocks need to be replaced.

I have the u-boot from a Pine64 image (I forget what) lying around, 1015 blocks of 1024 bytes, which I can dd over the u-boot blocks on the SD card, dd bs=1k conv=notrunc,sync if=uboot.img of=/dev/da0 seek=8, and then the same SD card, with the filesystem and data from the Pinebook, will boot on the Pine64 board. Of course, to move the SD card back again, I need to restore the Pinebook u-boot blocks.

Photo of a dusty circuit board

KDE neon Pinebook edition running on a Pine64, with console output

Here’s a picture of my Pineboard (the base is a piece of the garden fence, it’s Douglas pine, with 4mm threaded rods acting as the corner posts for my Pine64 mini-rack), with power and network and a serial console attached, along with the serial console output of the same.

The nice thing here is that the same software stack runs on the Pine64 but then has a wired network — which in turn means that if I switch on the other boards in that mini-rack, I’ve got a distcc-capable cluster for fast development, and vast NFS storage (served from ZFS on my FreeBSD machines) for source. I can develop in a high(er) powered environment, and then swap the card around into the Pinebook for testing-on-the-go.

So to sum up: you can multiboot the KDE neon Pinebook image on other Pine64 hardware (i.e. the Pine64 board). To do so, you need to swap around u-boot blocks. The blocks can be picked out of an image built for each board, and then a particular image (e.g. the latest KDE neon Pinebook) can be run on either board.

Akademy, Akadeyou

Akademy is the yearly conference of the KDE community, and of KDE e.V. What makes the conference isn’t so much the technical content — see Kevin’s sketchnotes for instance — but the people. Seeing KDE Brasil grow the way it has is great (hey, people, please post a date for LaKademy). Aracele gives a good overview. Even bigger is KDE India, what a bunch of happy and talented contributors. Shout-out to Abhijeet for being one of the far-flung travelers.

I could only stay until wednesday morning, so I didn’t talk with anywhere near all the people I would have liked to sit down with. I did sit with Tobias, so that half of the KDE-FreeBSD team was hacking together, and with Leinir, and there was beer with Paul, .. with a conference of 200 people, the list of darn-didn’t-talk-to is always going to be longer than the list of good-seeing-you-again people. Such is life.

In the sense that Akademy is about me, and you, and making connections within the community, I’ll share one more anekdote: I stayed in a dorm room at the recommended hostel, and the first morning, still in my shorts, had a brief conversation in German with some guy about the ventilation mechanism in the bathroom. Then I pulled on my KDE India shirt, and the conversation turned a corner: hey, are you going to that KDE contributors thing? Turns out that roommate was also going, to his first Akademy.

Turns out, mr. Schiffner was “just a user” who “just runs the 20 Linux desktops” in a company. Wow! I’m really happy we got some “just users” at the conference, because where it’s important for the developer community to “put a face to names” to improve communication the rest of the year, it is also important for users to know that there’s regular people behind the software, as well. Personally I’d be really happy to have some user-talks; talks about deployments or specific use-cases of applications; a KDEnlive talk from a movie-maker would be keen. (That said, Paul did give a talk somewhat like that, about KDEnlive and promo films).

So, take-away things from Akademy are:

  • Debugging KConfig is full of surprises, even now, and having KDE-FreeBSD CI is really useful.
  • The Netherlands is just a local transportation network, for Itinerary.
  • Distro’s generally all feel the same pain.
  • Nobody wants to think about LDAP.
  • People are more important than things.

Coming back from the conference is always a bit weird; there is tons of neat stuff from the event still whirling around in my brain, and there’s 900 unread email messages in my inbox that need attention. I’ve sorted through most of it, done some communications things, pushed a bunch of commits to Calamares, and am now gearing up for an event next week in Brussels. But in september, things will be calm again.

(PS: gosh, I missed Carlos Soriano at the event, who has written a really cool I-went-to-Akademy from another kind of outsider’s perspective — we’re all in this Free Software thing together.)

More Laptops

One of the things to come out of Akademy is the first community release of the KDE neon Pinebook Remix image. I’ve been carrying around the Pinebook for some time — since FOSDEM, really, where I first met some of the Pine folks. At Akademy, TL was back and we (that’s a kind of royal “we”, because TL and Rohan and Bhushan and other people did all the hard work) got around to putting the finishing touches on the Pinebook image.

There’s not much to show beyond what you can see on the Dot already (my own Pinebook is looking a bit beat-up after a year, and the drawing Timothée did on it is rubbing off), really, so I’m not going to add photos: the Pinebook is a low-cost, low-power, quite adequate laptop, and it runs a modern KDE Plasma.

Best Service

How often do you meet your laptop vendor in person? Last year, I picked up a KDE Slimbook, and the machine has been great, acting as my development-box-on-the-go for lots of KDE travels. It has a few stickers, and some scratches, and the screen had gotten a bit wobbly by now .. so, at this year’s Akademy I stopped by the Slimbook stand, admired the newer Slimbook II (alas, the old one isn’t written off yet), and mentioned the wobbly screen.

Photo of an envelope from SlimbookHow often does your laptop vendor say “we can fix that” and do it right there and then? So I had a nicely tightened, fast and friendly Slimbook by the end of the next talk. Not only that, but when I got home from Akademy, I found an envelope with some stickers and the right tool to fix it myself if it happens again.

Now that’s developer-friendly service! Thanks, Alejandro and Raúl, and hope to see you again next year.

One does not simply walk into Møn

It was summer, and the sun was shining, and I had posted that Calamares was going to sleep for the summer, so then I went with my family to bicycle in Denmark.

Screenshot of map

Route to (light green) and from (dark green) Møn. Map image from OSM.

We took the train to Flensburg, and headed east. Lots of ferries on the way, and at the wonderful Edible Campground on Ærø we found three messages-in-a-bottle. Denmark has mørk pålægchokolade, which is great for breakfast and lunch but needs to be purchased daily because it melts and sticks together (and four people can eat a lot of chocolate). In the 28-degrees-and-sunny weather we drank ¾ litre of water per person per hour of bicycling — getting enough water meant planning stops a little more carefully.

Photo of tents and bicyclesOn the way back we went through Germany, where “moin” is the standard greeting and the Aldi has white wheaties (breakfast of bicyclists). We camped in the Hüttener Berge, which was beautiful and quiet — previously I only knew about that area as “the last rest stop on the Autobahn before Denmark” which is neither beautiful, nor quiet.

And now after 710km on the bike I’m back in the Netherlands, preparing for Akademy and gently poking Calamares to see if it will wake up from slumber.

Going to Deventer^WVienna^WAkademy

Today I’m heading out to Deventer to say “hi” to Valorie and Boud, whom I’m be seeing again next week in Vienna, at Akademy.

Akademy is, for me, first and foremost a way to see everyone again and re-calibrate my social settings for everyone. After all, I communicate with most KDE people only electronically, though text, and it’s sometimes really important to see the faces behind the IRC nicknames. So I’m particularly excited that Michael Pyne will be there, who has been a voice in KDE for as long as I care to remember, but whom I’ve never actually met. And there will be lots of GSoC students there, new people who deserve all the support they can get — and commendations for the work they have done in KDE this year.

Personally I’m not planning anything specific at Akademy. I may chair a panel during the conference parts, and the Distro BoF is something I’ll definitely attend with my FreeBSD hat on. Other than that, it’ll mostly be spur-of-the-moment what I’m doing. Tug on my sleeve if you want coffee and a chat, about portability, installers, OEM stuff, codes of conduct, or Rick Astley.

Those top Konsole Contributors

Whenever I see a post about community growth or participation — like Tomasz Canabrava’s most recent “From Nothing to top 20 contributors of Konsole in Less Than a Month” — I reach for the toolkit written by Kevin Ottens, because that makes it easy to obtain good numbers and graphs for community measurement.

Graph of Konsole's Entire History, all scrunched up and made tinyLooking at the graph (click to enlarge, but it’s still hardly readable — I’d suggest using Kevin’s tooling directly if you want to zoom in or experiment) of Konsole development since the very beginning shows a few striking facts:

  • Konsole has been in continuous development since 1998
  • Except for a gap 2006-2009, Kurt Hindenburg has been active in Konsole since roughly 2004
  • By looking at the density of commits and the length of commit-streaks, you can guess at maintainers and co-maintainers of Konsole, alongside all the occasional committers. There’s maybe five people whose histories suggest that.

Of personal interest to me is that in 2002 I contributed to Konsole for FreeBSD compatibility, and in 2009 for OpenSolaris compatibility, but nothing else in the history of the project. And Konsole spent a year licensed as Artistic, rather than the GPL2-or-later, in 1999.

Graph of Konsole's Recent HistoryRecently, you can definitely see that Tomaz has been really active, and Kurt has slightly more quiet time. But Ahmad and Mariusz are also consistently putting in work, albeit with a lower rate of commits. Judging by the commit messages, those have gone through Phabricator. That means that their commit counts are reduced because arc squashes commits (just like Tomaz, and as pointed out by Eike elsewhere). Keep in mind that commit-counts are poor proxies for contributions — that’s something we’ve been saying for years and years.

Also of interest in the history: there are 1090 commits by people not in the top-twenty; if those were grouped together they would hold second place!

So, thanks Tomaz for being noisy about what you’re doing. I think we need more of the “hey, I can improve the world” kind of noise — like KDE’s GSoC stories as well. And also, thanks Kurt and KDE community for being consistent and productive in small amounts for many years.